The first week of the fantasy playoffs is almost over, so there is still hope for those of you with Packers or Falcons in your lineup. Although this article is about those who had outstanding performances this week, most people are talking about the studs who let them down when they needed it the most. Last year it was Drew Brees who laid an egg in week 14, but now it was Peyton's turn to do so, even though Brees did it again as well. Jimmy Graham and Demaryius Thomas suffered as a result as well. Every year this happens, so it is important to remember that you had the right thought process behind starting Manning, as no one would have thought otherwise.
After going over my thoughts on the top performers at each position, I will also select a few other players who either performed above expectations, or maybe have you questioning whether you should continue starting him or not. Starting this week since most fantasy playoffs will be going, I will start to talk about player's values as it pertains to 2015 as well to help give you readers that are out of it something to look for as well.
The goal of this article is to highlight those top guys, and if you can expect some similar performances in the future from them or if it was a flash-in-the-pan, and also whether you should be worried about top picks in drafts that put up less than stellar performances. So without rambling on longer in this intro, let's take a look at those who performed well in week 14.
QB - Cam Newton 226 Passing Yards, 3 TD's, 12 Rushes for 83 Yards and 1 TD 35 Fantasy Points
Well what has been a season of mediocrity for Newton up to this point to a sharp turn up against the Saints. This entire season Newton has been hard to trust starting as he hadn't shown any upside. Going forward you can't expect a performance like this again, as he doesn't get to play against New Orleans each week. He can be looked at as a borderline top 10 QB the rest of the way. His draft stock for the 2015 season will be fairly low after this season, so he could present a nice draft day bargain. I see a better year from Newton next year, and should be the second best of the mobile QB's behind Wilson. The best thing that could happen for Newton during the offseason would be a new Offensive Coordinator to implement a different offensive scheme.
QB - Ben Roethlisberger 350 Passing Yards, 3 TD's, 1 Two Point Conversion, 28 Fantasy Points
The Steelers offense was able to do whatever they wanted against the Bengals on Sunday, whether that was running the ball with Bell, or having Big Ben throw it. Just like Newton, he has been inconsistent this year, but at least his lows are better, and highs are usually better. I would rank Roethlisberger in the top 10 the rest of the season, but not inside the top 5. Going into drafts next year it will be tough trying to decide his value. His overall point total will look great at the end of the year, but he is such an inconsistent option that you leave weeks wondering why you are trusting him. At the end of the day he will be rated around the top 10 for me and that is where he will probably be drafted.
QB - Russell Wilson 263 Passing yards, 2 TD's, 10 Rushes for 48 Yards and 1 TD, 28 Fantasy Points
Wilson has had a fantastic season up to this point, and that is thanks to his running abilities. Unlike many of the other mobile QB's that are struggling this year, Wilson is bucking that trend and putting up the best numbers of his career. Going into the week he was the 5th best QB, but after this week he will jump ahead of Brees for 4th place. After the top 3 QB's, there is another tier of 3 QB's afterwards that is made up of Brees, Wilson, and Brady. It is hard to say right now what order those three will be in for me, but that tier is locked in.
RB - Le'Veon Bell 26 Carries for 185 Yards and 2 TD's, 6 Catches for 50 Yards and 1 TD, 41 Fantasy Points
Well after a terrific performance last week, Bell made it look like it was nothing on Sunday. Again on the list, but this time he was able to eclipse the ever elusive 40 point club. He is one of, if not the best RB for fantasy purposes with the guy next on the list making his case as well. Next year I will have Bell ranked inside my top 5, and I could easily make the case that he should be the number one overall pick as well.
RB - DeMarco Murray 32 Carries for 179 Yards and 1 TD, 9 Catches for 49 Yards, 27 Fantasy Points
This is nothing new for Murray as he has been a beast all season long. As I mentioned with Bell above those two are in a class for best fantasy RB right now, and that can even be expanded to include Lynch, Forte, Foster, and Charles. Next year owners will have a tough decision on where to draft Murray with his big workload this year. I would be shocked if Murray ended the season with less than 370 Carries, which has been known as a death sentence to NFL running backs the next season. I would have these guys ranked ahead of Murray next year: Charles, Forte, Bell, and Foster, maybe Lynch and Peterson depending on their individual situations. Right now Murray is ahead of McCoy and Lacy, and then after that the RB position looks like a crapshoot for drafting purposes.
RB - Joique Bell 18 Carries for 83 Yards, 5 Catches for 50 Yards and 1 TD, 25 Fantasy Points
This marks the second straight week where Bell found the endzone two times. I expected him to be a bigger factor in the passing game like in the past few years, but that really hadn't been the case until this game. Bell is borderline top 15 back the rest of the way, and that ranking will be based upon his matchup as it will fluctuate around that 15 number. His value next year is tough to decipher at this moment, but I could see him being around the top 20 in my rankings, which gives room for him to still provide some upside in 2015.
WR - A.J. Green 15 Targets, 11 Receptions for 224 Yards and 1 TD, 28 Fantasy Points
I am not a fan of Andy Dalton, but for some reason Green is still able to put up the numbers he does. I have always wondered what would happen if the Bengals had a better QB for Green, but maybe it is because Dalton is who he is that Green can put up these great numbers. A top 5 WR for the rest of the way, and will be ranked as such. For 2015 Green will be ranked in the top 5 as well, but I will still always wonder if he had a real QB if he could finish number one at the position.
WR - T.Y. Hilton 19 Targets, 10 Receptions for 150 Yards and 2 TD's, 25 Fantasy Points
This has truly been a breakout season for Hilton, and he continues to show why he is going to be a force in this league for a long time to come. Hilton is a borderline top 5 guy the rest of the way, probably closer to number 7, but that is still something great. Even after a fantastic season, next year he will still be ranked behind, in no particular order, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, and possibly some of Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham Jr. This makes him a borderline top 10 WR going into drafts next year for me.
WR - Calvin Johnson 9 Targets, 8 Receptions for 158 Yards and 1 TD, 21 Fantasy Points
Once again Calvin did what he always does when healthy and that is dominate the game. He is clearly a top 5 guy the rest of the way, like I said last week. My thoughts on his 2015 season are that he will be drafted later than he was this year, but still a second round pick where you only have to worry about another potential nagging injury taking away from his value.
TE - Jared Cook 5 Targets, 4 Receptions for 61 Yards and 2 TD's, 18 Fantasy Points
Why is it that every week Cook looks like he could have a big week since his opponents are bad at defending the TE, but he still doesn't play well. Well that finally changed this week against the woeful Redskins, but I still don't buy it going forward. At best he is a top 15 play the rest of the way, but not someone I would trust to perform well. I am staying away from him in drafts in 2015, as he will be ranked outside of my top 15.
TE - Mychal Rivera 7 Targets, 7 Receptions for 109 Yards and 1 TD, 16 Fantasy Points
After taking a few weeks off, Rivera came back and reminded us he is the best receiver on the Raiders roster. He has been a little inconsistent, which makes him a top 15 option the rest of the way only. Next year I could see Rivera taking a huge step forward and vaulting into the top 7 TE class, and you won't have to spend an early pick on him. He is someone you take in one of the last rounds of the draft when you skipped the TE position all together in your draft strategy.
Now a look at a couple of other performances that stood out to me from Sunday's games:
QB - Eli Manning 260 Passing Yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, 12 Fantasy Points
Not a good performance from Eli this week, but I am looking forward with next week in mind here. In week 15 Manning gets to play against the Redskins, and they have looked awful trying to play defense. If Shaun Hill can throw for 2 TD's and 200 Yards against them, Eli should be able to go for close to 300 Yards and at least 2 scores. If you are looking for a waiver wire option to start next week I would strongly consider picking up Manning to use.
RB - Jonathan Stewart 20 Carries for 155 Yards and 1 TD, 21 Fantasy Points
This the second straight game where Stewart has put up good numbers, and he has been running well in that span. DeAngelo Williams sat out of this game, which meant that Stewart was able to get a bulk of the backfield work against a struggling Saints defense. Playing against the Saints helps, but he still looked good while running. Next week he faces the bad Buccaneers defense, and as long as Williams is out he should he looked at as a potential top 15 RB for week 15.
WR - Brandon Marshall 4 Targets, 3 Receptions for 61 Yards and 0 TD's, 6 Fantasy Points
Marshall was well on his way to having a great game on Thursday night, but a rib injury ended his night early. It has been reported that Marshall will be out for the rest of the regular season, which opens up opportunities in the Bears offense. Jeffery's value will stay the same from before, as Marshall didn't have any effect on his targets. The main beneficiary will be Martellus Bennett. After Marshall went down, Bennett immediately became the go-to-guy for Cutler. I expect him to turn into a Greg Olsen like guy the rest of the way, with upside to do better. The receiver that will step up will be rookie Marquess Wilson, but he hasn't been relied on much this season. He is a raw guy who will need seasoning, so it is best to stay away from him unless you are in a 14 team or deeper league.
Want thoughts on a specific player? Leave a comment on who it is, and I will respond with my thoughts on that guy's performance and where he stands going forward.