Week 14: Player Upgrades
Player Upgrades is intended for fantasy football diehards. Each week when setting a lineup, a closer analysis is necessary to find out which players are destined for a great performance. Sometimes it is a favorable matchup or it can be as simple as an increased role due to an injury. Very few players are matchup-proof in this game. For every Aaron Rodgers or Ray Rice, there are a dozen players who could potentially be interchangable depending upon a number of factors.
This weekly article isolates your best options for a statistical breakout from Week 1 to Week 17. Let FFToolbox do the homework for you! Instead of scouring the waiver wire and opening up 20 tabs to compare and contrast players, let Player Upgrades be your guide. Each week, we will identify seven players (typically two QBs, two RBs, two WRs and one TE) that you should consider starting and we'll break each player down with some analysis.
Since their Week 7 bye, the Philadelphia Eagles' pass defense has been getting abused. Opposing quarterbacks have averaged 253 yards and 2.7 TDs per game. This leads us to Josh Freeman and his Tampa Bay Bucs hosting the Eagles in Week 14. Tampa has a long way to go to secure a spot in the postseason, while the Eagles are in a perpetual downward spiral and losers of their last eight games. If there's any game for a quarterback to get back in his groove, it comes against Philly. Back-to-back losses should have the Bucs playing hungry and WR Vincent Jackson's two game streak without finding the endzone is his longest drought of the season. Freeman is a sneaky good start this week.
Despite less than stellar yardage numbers, Russell Wilson has been on fire in his last five games by throwing 11 TDs with only one INT. Add another 179 rushing yards in those contests and you've got Wilson quietly locked in as the third-best rookie QB in the NFL behind RG3 and Andrew Luck. The last time Wilson faced Arizona, it was his first ever game and it showed with only 153 passing yards, one TD, one INT, and one FL. This Week 14 meeting is at home and while it's easy to make the argument that the Cards have a stifling defense that should shut Seattle Down, you could have said the same thing about Miami or Chicago, Seattle's previous two opponents on the road. With Sidney Rice and Golden Tate peaking at the right time, this team is hot when it matters.
Facing the league's worst fantasy defense against RBs gives Knowshon Moreno a great opportunity to carry some teams to an opening round fantasy playoffs victory. Are his numbers exciting? Not really. Has he underachieved throughout his career? Sure. We're not talking about history, instead we are focusing on matchup potential. Oakland has allowed RBs to score eight TDs over their last five games. Considering that Peyton Manning should have little trouble jumping out to an early lead against the Raiders, that means there should be plenty of garbage time work for Moreno. He is available in half of all ESPN leagues and 20 percent at MyFantasyLeague.com leagues. Moreno's eight receptions for 40 yards over the last two weeks only add to his value in PPR leagues.
It may seem like a foregone conclusion for some, but DeMarco Murray was only started in less than a third of most fantasy leagues last week across major sites like ESPN and MyFantasyLeague. This message is dedicated to the two-thirds who were skeptical of him. Murray travels to Cincinnati this week and the Bengals' run defense has ranked near the bottom of the NFL for most of the season. Disregard last week's hiccup when San Diego rushed only nine times for 26 yards against the Bengals. Dallas fed Murray heartily in his return with 29 touches. The lesson here is that a well-rested Murray can be dominant since the Cowboys matched a season-high 38 points scored last week with him back in the starting lineup.
A healthy Pierre Garcon is far and away the Washington Redskins' best receiving threat. In his last two games, he has caught 12 passes for 192 yards and two TDs. Those are WR1-type numbers from a guy who should be starting in 100-percent of leagues. Even though he has a fairly solid matchup upcoming against the Baltimore Ravens, Garcon's 18 targets in his last two games rank him among the Top 20 at his position. So while he is no Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall, his presence as a potential WR3/flex should be huge. As long as Robert Griffin is force-feeding him the ball and giving him nearly triple the number of targets compared to the next Redskins receiver, Garcon is certainly a Player Upgrade.