Instead of your classic fantasy football start and sit column, I’ve decided to spice it up, using “roast” instead of start to describe a player who is not only a clear start, but is in for just a monster game, and “ghost” instead of sit to describe a player who might be a straight up bench, but also might just be a star player who gives you less than you were expecting. Personally, I like this because it offers a lot more flexibility in the players I can talk about.
So, without further ado, a roast and ghost for each position for Week 14 fantasy football.
Roast: Justin Herbert vs Atlanta Falcons
It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve seen the Justin Herbert we’ve all come to know and love. After averaging almost three total touchdowns per game (2.7 to be precise) through his first nine games, Herbert has scored only one touchdown while throwing three interceptions in his last two games.
Never fear Herbert managers for the Atlanta Falcons are here! No team this season is allowing more points to quarterbacks than the Falcons, giving up giving up a whooping 28.7 points per game to the position. They’ve allowed the 2nd most passing yards (3,608) and 4th most passing touchdowns (T-24) while also allowing the 3rd most rushing yards (322) and MOST rushing touchdowns (T-6) to the position.
We know just how good Herbert can be both in real life and in fantasy (*cough* Week 7 vs the Jaguars *cough*) and I’m fully expecting a bounce back performance for the ROTY candidate.
Ghost: Josh Allen vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The Josh Allen apology tour has certainly been making its rounds this season, and deservedly. I know I have bad mouthed the young gun-slinger plenty on both this site and on the RB1 podcast so I will be adding my name to the growing lists of apologists. It’s hard to stay negative about a quarterback who’s thrown for 3,403 yards, 26 touchdowns, only eight interceptions, a 69.9 completion percentage, and has added six touchdowns on the ground. Those are some All-Pro/maybe even MVP numbers.
However, Allen and the Bills face the buzzsaw that is the Steelers defense this week. Only the Rams have allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and that’s just by 0.2 points (18.6 vs 18.8). The Steelers lead the NFL in interceptions (16) and have allowed the 4th fewest passing touchdowns (T-17). They are also just one of four teams to have not allowed a quarterback rushing touchdown this season which only continues to cap Allen’s upside.
The Steelers defense is dealing with a rash of injuries which could ultimately prove to be their undoing, but for now, I’m playing Allen with the expectation he won’t return QB1 numbers.
Roast: Giovani Bernard vs Dallas Cowboys
I debated putting Aaron Jones facing off against the trash ass Lions defense here, or Derrick Henry playing the team he co-owns with Shahid Khan, but ultimately, I shouldn’t need to tell you those guys are going to roast this week. You should already be well aware of that. So instead I went with a running back who’s far more unheralded and might even be available on your waiver wire right now as you read this article. If so, you should stop reading this and go add Bernard this instant.
While Gio certainly hasn’t lit the world on fire since taking over for Joe Mixon, he is the Bengals lead running back, seeing at least 65% of the snaps since Week 7. Even if Bernard sees just 12 to 15 touches this week, that’ll still be plenty to put numbers on this Cowboys run defense which has been BIG time struggling in recent weeks.
Over the last four weeks, the Cowboys have given up the most fantasy points to running backs, allowing a staggering 35.4 points per game to the position. I could list all the stats that they’re surrendering to backs, but the most damning is the 5.94 yards per carry they’ve allowed in those four weeks. ALMOST SIX YARDS A CARRY. That’s why I’m none too worried if Bernard only sees 12 or so touches.
Ghost: Miles Sanders vs New Orleans Saints
This is just your straight up, run of the mill, basic ass sit. Sit Miles Sanders this week. In fact, drop Miles Sanders this week. Sanders has managed to post over 15 PPR points twice this season, back in Weeks 2 and 5. Since then, it’s been a whole bunch of nothing, including his wildly disappointing outing last week against the Packers—who are giving up the 3rd most fantasy points to backs this season—in which he managed just 31 yards on 10 carries. Yikes. Gross. No thank you.
Honestly, I would’ve had Miles Sanders on this list regardless of his opponent but it makes matters only worse when he’s facing off against the best run defense in fantasy this year. The Saints have allowed only 16.2 PPR points to running backs this season and have given up only three rushing touchdowns, fewest in the NFL.
I have exactly zero expectations for Sanders this week.
Roast: Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m sure the amount of hype I’m putting out into the universe will somehow comeback to bite me but I just can not help myself. Thielen and Jefferson are coming off a Week 13 in which they both saw over 10 targets, went over 70 yards, and each scored a touchdown. These are without a doubt, two of the best fantasy receivers in the league right now and every week they have a good chance of going off, regardless of their opponent.
But you feel extra good when they get to face a defense giving up the 6th most points to wide receivers this season, and the MOST points over the last month or so. Yes, the Buccaneers secondary has been picked on all season long, but recently has hit an absolute low, allowing 55 points per game to opposing receivers over the last five weeks. The next worst team is the Jaguars who are giving up 46.2 PPG. If you’re giving up almost 10 more fantasy points than the Jaguars at any point in an NFL season, you know you’ve hit rock bottom.
With Thielen and Jefferson thriving in their element, I’m ready for them to roast once again this week.
Ghost: Diontae Johnson vs Buffalo Bills
It’s been a tale of two halves for the Bills pass defense this year. Over the first nine weeks of the 2020 NFL season, the secondary was allowing the 7th fewest points to wide receivers, giving up just 33.4 points to the position. Since then, the defense has struggled stopping the pass, allowing 40.7 points per game, sliding to 20th in the league. With that preamble, you might be wondering why Diontae Johnson, clearly the Steelers number one receiver, would be on the ghost list facing a struggling Bills defense.
While the Bills defense as a whole has been struggling, star corner back Tre’Davious White has actually been pretty strong, allowing just a 67.6 QBR (quarterback rating) against, which ranks top 10 among cornerbacks who’ve seen at least 45 pass attempts. (Jalen Ramsey’s QBR against is 66.2 for what it’s worth.) White is exclusively a boundary cornerback which means he’s more than likely who Johnson will be facing this week as Johnson spends most of his time on the outside. Johnson will still likely see his double digit targets, but don’t be surprised if he posts a game similar to his Week 12 performance against the Ravens—8/13-46.
Roast: Noah Fant vs Carolina Panthers
While the Broncos passing game as a whole has been rather inconsistent, Fant’s involvement in it has not. The young tight end is 2nd on the team in targets (67) and has only seen fewer than five targets twice this season. What’s even better is when the Broncos make it to the red zone, it’s Fant they’re looking to get the ball to as he leads the team in red zone targets (9).
The Panthers meanwhile have given up the 3rd most points to tight ends over the last five weeks (20.0) and have surrendered a terrible 10.2 yards per target during that time (leads the league by a wide margin). This has all the makings of a Noah Fant breakout game as Drew Lock and the Broncos offense look to get back on track.
Ghost: Logan Thomas vs San Francisco 49ers
It may sound crazy, but Thomas is currently the TE8 in PPR leagues which both is a credit to what Thomas has done this season, but also the barren wasteland that is the tight end position in fantasy football. Still, you can’t argue against the man who’s scored a touchdown in each of his last two games and is coming off his best game of the year, posting 9/9-98-1 against the Steelers no less.
I still have the utmost faith in Thomas moving forward—especially since he gets to play the Panthers in Week 16 which should be most league’s fantasy championship—however this week he draws a really tough 49ers defense who’ve been coming on as of late. Over the last five weeks, the Niners have allowed the 2nd fewest points to tight ends, giving up just 7.1 PPG to the position.
I might look to stream a tight end this week, especially if it’s the start of your fantasy playoffs.