Entering into week 14, there isn’t a team eliminated from the NFL playoffs. That fact bodes well for fantasy football players and daily owners on the cusp of the playoffs themselves.
The NFL is a match-up-driven league and a copycat one at that. So if you have a match-up or formation that causes problems in a game, guess what? Other NFL teams will exploit that personnel or buildings until you find a way to stop them.
For fantasy players, week 14 is usually close to the start of your league’s playoffs. Still, with the expanded 17 game schedule, we’re not even through all the bye-weeks yet, meaning there are a ton of outstanding players sitting and unavailable.
Other issues this season are the huge numbers of underperforming and injured running backs. At last count, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffery, Saquan Barkley, Derrick Henry, Chris Carson, Josh Jacobs, Cam Akers, David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Ezekiel Elliot have either underperformed or missed considerable playing time due to injury.
Those are the top running backs by draft status, and those are large holes in traditional fantasy leagues.
It has been a little easier for daily fantasy players to develop a comprehensive NFL dfs strategy based on injury and match-ups. However, who would have predicted in a short week that the running back, Dalvin Cook for the Vikings would destroy the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Thursday night game?
If you thought it would happen, then you need to share your secret with the rest of us.
Regardless of your current standing in your fantasy league or looking for an edge in NFL daily fantasy, there are a few players every week, whether due to volume, opportunity, or match-ups, that are bound to overperform.
Here’s a list of sleepers with significant upside both in daily and traditional leagues.
Your budget for daily strategy should be running back heavy and top-flight receiver with a more budget-friendly quarterback.
Cam Newton: The change at the Offensive Coordinator position for the Carolina Panthers makes Cam Newton an attractive streaming option in both daily and traditional formats. The change to Joe Nixon should also include more reliance on the run game, which plays to Cam Newton’s strength(s) as a QB.
Trevor Lawrence: Back in week 5, the “generational prospect” that is Trevor Lawrence had one of the best outings of his young career against the Tennessee Titans. Currently, the Titans give up the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing QBs, and Lawrence is a reasonably cheap streaming option in all daily contests.
Spending a little on a premier runner and adding a low-cost option is an excellent strategy for daily players, but knowing who to stack with a premier running back takes a little insight into match-ups and possible usage.
Austin Ekeler: Not the cheapest option out there, but with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both being added to the COVID list this week, the Chargers may need to lean heavily on their run game. Though the Giants have a decent defensive performance so far this year, by sheer volume, Ekeler should be on pace to touch the ball more than 25 times in this tilt.
Chubba Hubbard/Ameer Abdullah: The loss of CMC and the promotion of new Offensive Coordinator Joe Nixon bodes well for a run-oriented offensive scheme that will benefit both running backs Chubba Hubbard and Ameer Abdullah. At the same time, the volume and usage may be difficult to determine between the two if you’re looking for a player at a reasonable price and with a high ceiling, you can’t go wrong with either option here.
Dontrelle Hilliard: Another replacement player option with a high-ceiling is Dontrelle Hilliard of the Tennessee Titans. A match-up against the less-than-stout Jacksonville Jaguars is just the type of matchup that a low-cost, high-reward player like Hilliard can provide to your daily roster.
If you were fortunate to get Justin Jefferson for a daily tilt on Thursday night, pairing him with a sleeper to keep you under budget but ultra-competitive may be a bit challenging.
CeeDee Lamb: Any of the trios of talented Dallas pass-catchers against the Washington Football Team is a good building block to pair with low-cost, high-ceiling match-up wide receivers, but CeeDee leads our list as he’s the number 3 wide receiver in yardage and touchdowns in the NFL so far.
Marvin Jones: The resurgence of Marvin Jones, who had an outstanding start to the 2021 season, provides an excellent opportunity for cost and production capabilities. The matchup this week against the porous Titans pass defense should see Jones outperform.
D.J. Moore: Did we mention the change in the offensive scheme at Carolina yet? Well, don’t rush only to pick up a running back. This season, D.J. Moore has been a security blanket for whoever is calling the plays and throwing the ball for Carolina, and D.J. Moore offers intriguing upside going into week 14.
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