Week 14 Rankings & Game Flowbotics
Week 14 is here, and with it comes the start of the fantasy football playoffs for most leagues. Not every team to survive this long is a juggernaut, though. Whether you want to call it luck, positive variance, or something else, some teams have been more fortunate than others to this point in the season. But don’t chalk up all of your success so far to dumb luck. Give yourself some credit. Showing up every week to manage rosters and set lineups takes dedication. Celebrate the hard work it took to make it this far and keep at it for the playoffs. To help you break down the upcoming slate of matchups and inform your Week 14 rankings, the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet is once again at your service:
Editor’s Note: If you need a primer on the Flowbotics spreadsheet, check out this previous rankings article.
The Week 14 rankings are a quick mouse-scroll or touchscreen-swipe away, but for the space between, I want to dissect the quarterback decision I’m processing in one of my own leagues. Let’s dive in.
BARF League Win-and-In
For those paying close attention, I’ve referenced the Bay Area Roto Fantasy (a.k.a. “BARF”) Superflex league a few times this season, but it’s not quite playoff time in this 12-teamer because only four teams make the final bracket. Despite busts from David Johnson, Allen Robinson, Carson Palmer, my squad sits in fourth place at 8-5 with a 95-point lead over the 8-5 team in fifth, not to mention the second-most points overall. Drafting Mark Ingram in the fifth round and Deshaun Watson in the ninth round repaired a lot of the damage done by those earlier-round busts and staying active on waivers did the rest, but I’m still chasing three different teams with 9-4 records.
Because the third- and fifth-place teams play each other, Week 14 is a win-and-in situation for me. Unfortunately, I’m facing Khang Do’s first-place team. He just so happens to be the only owner with more total points than me, and his roster is absolutely loaded. Take a look:
I don’t even need to show you my roster to prove I’m the underdog. To make matters worse, I’m in a tight spot with my quarterbacks in Week 14. The backbone of my team has been Russell Wilson, but he’s facing Jacksonville, the league’s best defense against passers. My other rostered options are Brett Hundley at Cleveland and Blaine Gabbert facing Tennessee at home. Tom Savage is also available in free agency, but I wouldn’t start him over any of my current QBs, so he’s not worth a roster spot with the Jags on tap for Houston in Week 15.
On this week’s 2QB Experience podcast, Scott Pianowski and I agreed Wilson is start-worthy despite facing Jacksonville’s staunch defense. Great players are capable of transcending bad matchups, Russ has the highest ceiling of my available options, and I need the upside he provides as I jump up in weight class to face Khang. I’ve lived with Russell Wilson in my lineup, and I’m willing to die with him there, which leaves me to decide between Hundley and Gabbert for my Superflex spot.
Matchup & Player Comparisons
Cleveland has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, while Tennessee has allowed the 15th-most, so Hundley appears to have matchup advantage on paper, but the gap between those defenses is only 0.96 fantasy points per game. That’s the equivalent of 24 passing yards, but the Titans actually allow slightly more yardage per game (passing and rushing) to opposing quarterbacks than the Browns. Turnovers are the primary driver of Tennessee’s status as a “tougher” matchup, but I blame the schedule for their six-turnover advantage over the Browns. Tennessee has only faced three quarterbacks ranked in the top-15 of fantasy points per game, and, according to Football Outsiders, the Titan’s defense has faced the NFL’s second-easiest schedule to date. For comparison, Cleveland’s schedule rates as the 16th-easiest. Meanwhile, Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA has these two teams ranked back-to-back, so the difference between Hundley and Gabbert’s matchups is negligible.
This is about as close as it gets to comparing two players and their respective offenses in a vacuum, and Gabbert feels like the clear choice if I’m aiming for upside as a Week 14 underdog. He has compiled an admittedly smaller sample of data than Hundley, but in this battle of backups turned starters, Gabbert owns advantages in attempts per game, yards per game, yards per attempt, touchdown-to-interception ratio, quarterback rating, and, most importantly, fantasy points per game. Hundley’s primary saving grace is his rushing ability, but production on the ground correlates more to floor than ceiling. Ultimately, Gabbert is the play because his team is dedicated to passing the ball. He has thrown 34.7 passes per game in his three starts, averaging 20.7 completions per game. Hundley has only topped 34 attempts twice in seven tries, averaging only 17.9 completions per game. I need volume, plain and simple, and Gabbert is more likely to give me that volume than Hundley.
I hope this foray into my decision between two mediocre quarterbacks was at least somewhat enlightening. These are the types of factors I consider when I rank players. Without further ado, here are the fruits of that labor.