2018 Week 14 NFL Predictions – Fantasy Football Playoffs Quarterfinals Edition

Greetings, Fantasy Footballers! Colin Wynner here to add some levity to the most stressful time of the year. And no, it’s not the stress form the holidays, it’s from the fantasy playoffs! Yes, that is a fact, right now those involved in fantasy playoffs are not worried about what gift to get their significant other but rather are spending inordinate amounts of time pondering the following questions: can Patrick Mahomes keep up his amazing season?; will Saquon Barkley hit the rookie wall?; and what is the weather forecast for Green Bay and how will that affect Julio Jones and Devante Adams this week?

After hanging up my draft charts for good at the end of the 2017 season, I have been asked at least a dozen times if I missed fantasy football. My response has been a resounding “NO” or maybe a “Hell, NO!” Of course, I have no idea how I will pay my mortgage in January without the influx of fantasy winnings, but still I have not missed the fantasy football or regretted retirement.

Given that, when the commish asked me to put together a fantasy playoff prediction column, I jumped at the chance. See for me, I am feeling as much stress as your typical Coloradoan after visiting the local dispensary; this would be fun. Yet, I had to ask myself how much I really knew about the 2018 fantasy season. Sure I am still watching and engaged in football, but I doubted if I knew detailed stats about any player, other than what is publicized in the media (for example, Mahomes TD passes). For my prep, I challenged myself to the top 20 at each “key” position – QB, RB, WR and TE – and compare that to actual results. Here are my predictions for QB/RB lists:

QB and RB are by far these two easiest positions to “guess” players in the top. Look there are only 32 starting quarterbacks to start with and, as stated above, I still have a vested interest in the NFL. Meaning I know who I have backed on the road and been burnt (looking at you Darnold), who manages games, who has been injured and who is lighting it up. Pretty much the same story for running backs, teams with a primary RB are well known to me and likely in the top 20 due to activity.

Not surprising the numbers look good! I only missed six players and had five bad calls (all in RB, S. Barkley, J. White, M. Ingram, L. Miller and L. McCoy), the worst of which was the omission of S. Barkley. I guess I completely forgot about him, just like the Heisman voters did in 2017. #StillBitter

The biggest surprise to me was just how much L. McCoy has sucked this year. Imagine having McCoy and L. Bell as your first two picks! Did you imagine that? Ok, now clean up the puke!

Here are my WR/TE lists:

Oh boy! Name recognition can only get you so far. Some good calls, like A. Thielen, but these positions featured far more bad to bad AF calls – K. Stills, Fitz, A. Miller, L. Wilson, C. Clay and D. Walker. I think I got confused on B-List comedy actors when I slotted Luke Wilson into the 19th position. I completely forgot that Delanie Walker was out for the season, which shocking considering I lost a few clams when Mike Vrabel decided to give the ball, on a dive play no less, to the now TE for the Titans, Luke Stocker. The game turned on that play and the subsequent refusal to tackle Lamar Miller on a 98-yard TD run. Lamar Miller out ran the entire Titans defense – let that sink in! Oh, and that explains my Lamar Miller top 10 pick above as well.

And what is a NJOKU? If you asked me who Mark Andrews was last week, I would have told you that famous surgeon, who performs the ACL reconstruction for athletes.

Overall, however, I think that exercise made my point rather well, I really have no clue who is performing well fantasy-wise this season as my lists were mainly composed of name recognition, media hype and recency bias.

Ok, with that aside onto the predictions. Here is the criteria I am using to make these fantasy predictions:

  • Matchup – the single biggest factor in fantasy football is the matchup.
  • Team situation – is the team fighting for something? If not, coaches are more likely to pack it in and hand off to a third team RB, than to risk an injury to a multi-year contracted star.
  • Player – both situation and performance to-date. Look we have all seen it – sometimes these guys lay an egg regardless of the matchup. I think back to Adrian Peterson’s rookie season in 2007, raise your hand if AP killed your 2007 fantasy season in week 14 (me):
    • Week 13: 15-116-2; 1-10-0 25.1 FP
    • Week 14: 14-3-0; 0-0-0 .3 FP
    • Week 15: 20-78-2; 1-17-0 22.0 FP
  • My gut – served me well over the course of 25+ FF seasons, sometimes you just feel a guy is due for a stinker or ready to go off.

Before I get to my official predictions, a few disclaimers:

  1. This is for entertainment purposes, so enjoy, don’t take it personal. Fantasy football is like an Apple Pie from Costco, it’s exceptional, so good that most people grab a slice, what is left, if you’re lucky, is a small piece. That small piece is your skill when it comes to fantasy success; the large portion of the pie is random luck that decides most fantasy seasons.
  2. I am using the “dance with the one who brought ya” approach to lineups. By the way, that is great advice to follow, the last thing you want to do is bench your season-long starting quarterback for journeyman like Ryan Mallet in a playoff game. Don’t over-think it, except for . . .
  3. Weather. Bad weather should give an owner serious concern. It’s hard to predict weather tomorrow, let alone three weeks from now, but we all know the bad weather spots. And bad weather affects teams with disappointing teams more than teams fighting for something. Makes sense, right? How eager would you be to get hit in sub-freezing temps with 20 MPH winds just to go from three wins to four?

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business and start with the futures market, the odds to hoist the “Colin Wynner” trophy (isn’t that what leagues do – name the trophy after a retired legend?):

  • Desperados (+175) – That is a big plus that A. Luck got his stinker out of the way in week 13, also, he has three dome games for playoffs; A. Jones and E. Sanders have terrific match-ups the entire playoff season. B. Cooks and S. Diggs have a tough match-ups in week 14, but each has very favorable matchups in weeks 15/16. {Editor’s Note: Horrible news on Sanders, but next man up, Devin Funchess! Odds went from +150 to +175; The Boys to +225 from +250}
  • The Boys (+225) – Top seed but losing Conner is a big loss, and if that turns into a multi-game absence it will be tough to overcome. That said, this team goes as goes A. Kamara and M. Thomas. The matchups are favorable for both, starting with a revenge spot in Tampa this weekend. After that, a tougher matchup awaits in Carolina, but lookout in the Super Bowl if they survive the next weeks as the Saints boys might light up the fantasy scoreboard for 60+ points.
  • The GSW Rule (+575) – Pulling J. Samuels out of the dumpster may prove to be the key move of the playoff season. How the Steelers use him remains to be seen especially considering the comments by Tomlin about “using a committee approach.” Look Tomlin is an amazing leader, which in the NFL gets you 2-3 wins you shouldn’t get, but in terms of game day coaching and game management he makes Marvin Lewis look like Belichick. I am not buying for a second that there will be a committee, Samuels will get most of the touches. How effective he is remains to be seen? GSW did draw the toughest match-up in the first round, meaning their playoff run might be short lived.
  • Sidewinders (+650) – T. Gurley, who almost single-handedly won fantasy owners the title last year, will be the key. Will the Rams limit his activity? Although the Rams are fighting for home field advantage, I am not sure coach McVay cares, he didn’t last year. That could be a concern beyond this weekend, that they limit Gurley’s touches to preserve him for the playoffs. I am not a huge fan of the match-up this week in Chicago, but the thing about Gurley is the receptions, he might get shut down on the ground, but catch 8-100-1. If the Snakes prevail in week 14 they are very dangerous moving forward.
  • Ragin Asian (+1200) – The “fighting Saquon’s” are the ultimate “meh” team in this playoff season. Not much to get excited about in the lineup but any given week this roster could rise up with a 170 and end someone’s season. Though, I doubt they can do that three straight weeks
  • Weekend Warriors (+1500) – The cliché’s for this team are endless – “just give us a chance” and “everyone counted us out but they don’t know the heart of the 19 guys in this locker room” and “survive and advance.” The formula for success is simple – P. Mahomes, K. Allen and D. Hopkins need to put up 75+ points each week, that should get them to 145 or so and make them an extremely tough out.
  • Runnin Rebels (+1800) – After a devastating 2017 Super Bowl loss, RR’s motto was “unfinished business.” They have a chance but the week 14 matchups for his stars are not good – Zeke v,. Eagles and Ertz v. Cowboys. Gronk is a mess but maybe he will step up for the playoffs. Maybe RR can get the league to pass an emergency rule change awarding 10 fantasy points for every brace a player wears during the game – if that happened, Gronk (elbow, knee, ankle and neck) would post a 50+ on his own.
  • Freshman 15 (+3000) – Le’Veon Bell, Le’Veon “effing” Bell! Unless Newton and Kelce have a 2017 Gurley-esque playoff run this season will end without a title and likely without a playoff win. There are enough wildcards at WR to make things interesting and maybe Lamar Miller will break off another 98-yard TD run, but that seems very unlikely to happen three straight weeks.

Colin’s Picks: 1 unit on The GSW Rule and .5 unit on Weekend Warriors

Before I get to the week 14 fantasy matchups here are my NFL picks for the week, which is what I largely used for fantasy projections.

SuperContest Plays (five best plays of the week):

Colts at Texans (-4.5) – this Texans team is living a lie, while the Colts have played much better than expected this season, yeah they laid an egg in J-Ville last week but this is the NFL it happens. I expect max effort from the Colts and again this Texans is highly over-valued right now. Should be an “over” game, so all fantasy players should perform close to expectations. Pick: Colts +4.5

Falcons at Packers (-5.5) – Stick with me here – Aaron Rodgers seems like a dreadful person; I mean his family is estranged, former teammates struggle to find anything good to say about him and his longtime coach, McCarthy, did not have the affection for him that one would think he would. If add that up the sum comes out that he is a self-absorbed prick. Well, I guess all QB (and most WR’s) fall into that category, so let’s say A-Rod is a self-absorbed prick on steroids. Anyway, I think Mr. State Farm has been playing QB to get McCarthy fired, because he didn’t like “Big Mike.” Now that Mikey is gone, expect the best game of the season from the puppet master – “See, it was always McCarthy’s fault!” Oh and it’s going to be 27 degrees on Sunday, that is too cold for a team that wished the season ended last week. Pick: Packers -5.5

Saints (-8) at Bucs– I will take some grief for this pick as this might be the biggest “square” play of the week. And yeah, it is true I hate laying points in the NFL (home tams catching more than a TD are a modest 100-92 since 2002), but I love revenge spots especially when it involves a guy walking around with a perpetual chip on his shoulder, Brees, and a coach, Payton, who loves running up the score to hide his own insecurities. Remember that modest 100-92 mentioned above, change it to a revenge spot (previous meeting was a win) and home teams are a “foreclosure on the horizon” 19-25. Make it 19-26! Pick: Saints -8

Eagles at Cowboys (-3.5) – I hate this Eagles team, I mean really hate them but, in terms of the Cowboys hype, let’s not pull Vince and Jules move here, and as Winston Wolf put it, “start sucking each other’s *(%^#” quite yet on this Cowboys team. There a ton of reasons to fade this Cowboys team – the offense essentially is either hand to Zeke or throw an out to Amari and hope the tackling is the equivalent of a 4th grade pick-up game; the Boys are emotionally spent after four monster wins in a row, Eagles, Falcons, Skins and Saints; did you know the Cowboys are now everyone’s sleeper pick for the Super Bowl?; and finally, it’s still Jason Garrett roaming the sideline for the Cowboys. The defense is legit but I expect a little let down from them, which might be a good thing for Eagles receivers and Carson Wentz. Pick: Eagles +3.5

Rams (-3) at Bears – The best gift I can receive this holiday season would be the Bears at home in the playoffs favored by a 3.5 or more. Oh man, hello early retirement! That said, this is a tough spot for the Rams – who locked up the division last week and are ripe for a letdown. Weather should not be too bad but I expect the Bears to treat this like their Super Bowl, you know because they know what everyone knows – they have ZERO shot at the Super Bowl this year. Quick tip for Bears fans – make sure you get either the NFC North Champs or the NFC Wildcard Winner t-shirt, don’t hold out for something better. Pick: Bears +3

Still like but these games did not quite make the cut:

Ravens at Chiefs (-6.5) – This is the SPOY! Sucker Play Of the Year! As everyone knows with commercialization of fantasy football, information is available to highest degree we have ever witnessed in history. What that means is the books are forced get creative to churn profits, sure they loot on the 10-team $20 parlays that never win, but that doesn’t get the Sportsbook director his giant bonus. So, what do you make of a -6.5 line, that has crossed over a key number of 7? Doesn’t that create an illusion that “sharp” money is moving the line to -6.5. That illusion is then turned into public betting action because everyone wants to be considered a “sharp.” It’s the ultimate mind game. Chiefs roll – the idea that this Ravens defense is good enough to keep it close is a fallacy. Pick: Chiefs -6.5

Jags at Titans (-4.0) – Think about the Jags season, opened 3-1, essentially anointed as the AFC champs, seven games later they are 3-8 and done. Life comes at you fast when Blake Bortles is your quarterback. And they fit the mold of “out of contention” teams in the last quarter of the season – play tough at home against a division opponent. The other games – road and non-division are mailed in. Oh, and I did mention I hate the Titans and their moron coach. I guess the NFL thinks anyone who touched the cape of Belichick can coach. Still this is a great spot for the Titans. – Titans -4.0

Patriots (-7.5) at Dolphins – See the Bears, this is the Super Bowl for a team with ZERO shot, that team being the Patriots, just making sure you were paying attention. The Dolphins seem to be stuck in perpetual mediocrity, like the movie Groundhog Day, they are just good enough to not get a high draft but not good enough to win something. Beware of K. Drake this week, had one of his biggest games last year against the Pats. – Dolphins +7.5

The “WTF are they doing giving points to anyone?” games:

Jets at Bills (-3.5) & Giants (-3.5) at Redskins – Have to take the points in both games here. I really don’t care if Gary Sanchez (the Yankees strikeout machine catcher) is playing quarterback for the Skins, Eli Manning giving points on the road is free money. Jets +3.5; Redskins +3.5

Lions (-2.5) at Cardinals – Yep, two things I love doing backing Matty Stafford as a road favorite and getting stomped in the balls. Cardinals +2.5

Games I wouldn’t bet with your money (hey wait, I still have a fair amount of “your” money!):

Panthers (-2) at Browns – This Browns team is frisky, well at least they were until last week when they laid an egg in Houston. I guess that is what you get with a rookie QB, inconsistent play. I bet Mayfield is longing for the quarterback friendly Sooner offense and the soft AF Big 12 defenses! Quick tip from Colin – if you want to make some money in 2019 – find out the starting quarterback for the Sooners next season and pound his Heisman futures. That is a virtual lock as Heisman voters are a collection of “Shallow Hal’s,” caring more about physical appearance than substance. As long as the BIG12 plays defense like they have for the last 10 years, the quarterback of the best team in the BIG12 put up numbers that will make Heisman voters drool, even if those numbers have a terrible personality, are selfish and have a steaming case of herpes. Good luck with that. #StillBitterTour2018 Wait, what game was I picking prior to the rant – oh yeah, the Panthers have big problems. Browns +2

Broncos (-5.5) at 49ers – Yuck, Case Keenum on the road giving 5.5. Did you know – Nick Mullens threw for 414 against the Seahawks last week. Yes, he did. 49ers +5.5, to keep it close.

Vikings at Seahawks (-3) – Did you see some guy named Mullet threw for 414 last week v. the Seahawks? Yes, I did. Have you seen this Vikings defense struggle on the road? Yes, I have. High scoring affair here, but Vikings +3 walk off with an outright win.

The NFL double digit dog system (Home Teams >= 10 points since 2002 = 41-35; Road teams >= 10 points since 2002 = 191-218).

Bengals at Chargers (-14) & Steelers (-11) at Raiders – Raiders +11 will keep it close; Bengals (Chargers -14) will not.

Ok, on to what you came here for – the “experts” picks on the fantasy games for week 14, a.k.a. Playoff Round #1:

Week 14 Matchups:

The Boys (-7.8) vs. Weekend Warriors

WW has a punchers chance here but the pressure is all on Mahomes, Allen and Hopkins to go off, the rest of the cast will have a difficult time keeping up with the depth of The Boys. The Chiefs have a supposed tough matchup against the Ravens, though I have seen Cam Newton shred the Ravens defense in the past five weeks. And while the Ravens have played better on defense since that game, their opponents have been the Bengals, Raiders and Falcons. Not exactly murderers row of offenses. I know you are thinking, “wait, the Falcons offense is pretty good.” My response to you would be to read the Atlanta newspaper, rumor has it that Matty Ice’s wife suspected him of cheating on her and wanted him out of out their house but she couldn’t stop him from getting in, so she called the police, who politely gave her the answer, “Ma’am, put an end zone in front of the door.” This number is light at 7.8 but I am taking the points here . . .
Pick: Weekend Warriors +7.8

Deperados (-15.1) vs. Freshman 15

My only concern for Desperados is the WR’s four road matchups, in four outdoor venues, with three of the four in potential bad weather. I really don’t like Cooks this week for a variety of reasons but mainly Jared Goff looks like he spent the bye week pumping iron and the ball felt so much lighter that he overthrew Cooks multiple times. Well, either that he didn’t adjust for the altitude in Detroit.

I hate laying points, absolutely hate it but sometimes you must do it. . .
Pick: Desperados -15.1

Ragin Asian (-3.2) vs. Runnin Rebels

This is the one game this week where I will not be surprised to see a 30+ point margin. Problem is I don’t have a clue which side will win. Maybe I will “please” (opposite of a teaser, where you give 6 points, RA -9.2 and Runnin Rebels -2.8 at 6-1 for two teams) both sides of this and leave an open spot to give me a 3-1 shot down the road. Hmm, if only I could bet on these games.

This is a “gun to my head” pick, and I love those, so gun to my head, I will take the Asian minus the points, simply more explosiveness on that side of the fantasy ledger.

Pick: Ragin Asian -3.2

Sidewinders (-3.1) vs. The GSW Rule

This should be the best game of the weekend, culminating on Monday with a battle of QB v. WR on the same team – Cousins v. Thielen. You can pencil Thielen in for 9 catches, 100 yards, a TD and a couple comments for Peter Carroll. Cousins will need to find TDs to two other receivers to pull out the win. He will, give me the points and a half unit on the underdog money line . . .

Pick: The GSW Rule +3.1 and The GSW Rule +145 money line (.5 unit)

Good luck to all this week – enjoy!

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