Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season is here, meaning the time is now for many fantasy football owners.
While some fantasy seasons ended before the playoffs even began, the real season has just begun for those who successfully navigated through the regular season. Bragging rights are on the line and a loss at this point of the season could cost you a league championship.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at Week 14’s “Boom or Bust” fantasy prospects heading into this weekend’s slate of games:
Josh McCown, QB, New York Jets
No, this is not a typo. Josh McCown is a legitimate No. 1 quarterback in fantasy football this season. Let’s all just let that sink in for a moment.
Believe it or not, the 38-year-old McCown is the No. 7 quarterback in fantasy this season. He has thrown for 2,880 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season, scoring 25.08 and 31.14 fantasy points in the last two weeks.
He has topped the 300 passing yards mark in his past two games while throwing four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s a legitimate starter at this late point of the season if you’re scrambling for a last minute replacement.
It’s hard to trust a player that doesn’t have much star power, but McCown has been getting it done on Sundays. He’s projected to score 15.15 points against the Denver Broncos this week, but the Broncos defense has allowed the second-most points per game this season (26.2).
If you’re in need of a signal-caller this week, look no further than McCown.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
I said last week that it would be difficult to play Josh Gordon as soon as he came back from suspension. And while it was unknown how Gordon would perform in his first regular season game action in nearly three years, he passed his first test with flying colors.
Welcome back to the NFL, Josh Gordon. pic.twitter.com/c49UMIyshC— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 4, 2017
Gordon hauled in 85 yards on four receptions. While he didn’t find the end zone, he did receive 11 targets in the passing game, which is a good indication of things to come as Gordon gets more reps under his belt on the practice field.
Arguably the best receiver in the NFL before he was suspended from the game, “Flash” Gordon is back and should be treated like the No. 1 wideout he is.
If you were smart enough to pick him up when he was reinstated a couple weeks back, kudos to you. Enjoy the rewards of starting him this weekend against the Green Bay Packers, who allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
Now that Gordon is doing what he does best by shredding apart opposing secondaries, that leaves the middle of the field wide open for other players to contribute.
Enter rookie tight end David Njoku.
It’s been criminal that an athletic player like Njoku, albeit a rookie, hasn’t been given the opportunities to shine so far this season. But now that Cleveland has two legitimate nfl receivers in Corey Coleman and Gordon in play, Njoku will be open a lot more to make plays.
The sample size is small -- one game, to be exact -- but Gordon’s presence on the field took the safeties away from the line of scrimmage and deep into the secondary, which allowed for Njoku to see coverage from opposing linebackers who just couldn’t keep up. Njoku finished Week 13 with four receptions and a career-high 74 yards to go along with a touchdown.
Going up against the Green Bay Packers this weekend, look for Njoku to keep his loyal fantasy owners happy with another stellar performance.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans might be 8-4 this season, but it’s not because of stellar quarterback play from Marcus Mariota.
The former Heisman Trophy winner has taken a step back this season. He has thrown for 2,423 yards this season with 10 touchdowns and 12 (yes, 12) interceptions. He ranks as the 23rd best quarterback in fantasy this season, and hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown in a game since Week 9, back on November 5th.
Deshaun Watson, who didn't start Week 1 and hasn't played since Week 8, still has more fantasy points than Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr this season.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) December 4, 2017
Since Week 9, Mariota has thrown for 904 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions. While he does show some value with his legs by breaking containment and gaining rushing yards, he’s hard to trust week in, week out.
Mariota is going up against the Arizona Cardinals this weekend in what should be an easy matchup for the former No. 2 overall pick considering the Cardinals surrender the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
If Mariota doesn’t turn it around this weekend, he won’t for the rest of the season.
Jermaine Kearse, WR, New York Jets
Jermaine Kearse Has gone over the 100-yard mark in consecutive games. So why isn’t he a must-start in Week 14? The answer is simple: Denver has some good cornerbacks.
While Kearse's quarterback (Josh McCown) is a must-play this week, Kearse is not as cornerbacks Aqib Talib or Chris Harris will follow around Kearse all-game long. McCown will look to get Robby Anderson more involved this week as he shies away from Kearse’s side of the field.
Despite scoring 16.50 and 15.70 fantasy points in each of the past two weeks, Kearse is projected to score just 6.04 points against the Broncos. It’s a risky play, and this is not the time of year to gamble. Leave him on the bench this week.
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
When Jordan Reed went down for the Washington Redskins, Vernon Davis wa there to pick up the pieces. And he did so effectively for a couple weeks, especially in fantasy. But in the past two weeks, Davis has not been getting the touches he or his fantasy owners need at such a crucial point of the season.
Davis has recorded two catches on three targets in the past two weeks, hauling in 15 yards. No touchdowns, no nothing.
Vernon Davis' production this year - esp in games Reed misses while the NYG have allowed a TE TD in EVERY game this year except last wk, when Kelce went over 100... and VD getting a bagel is as surprising a fantasy performance as there is this year. Wow. Bad call by me.— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) November 24, 2017
In fact, Niles Paul has outperformed Davis at the tight end during that span, leaving many fantasy owners scratching their heads for an answer. What is that answer? Give up on Davis and find someone new to play.
The former All-Pro tight end isn’t the same player he used to be in San Francisco, and won’t be able to put together a good game this weekend against the Los Angeles Chargers, who give up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
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