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Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Writer
How about that Jalen Hurts, eh? Not many (including myself) would have thought the Eagles would be leaving the field last night with the W, but the rookie QB has at the very least reinvigorated this Eagles team that looked dead with Carson Wentz under center. Need some cold water thrown all over that Hurts heat? New Orleans QB Taysom Hill actually had the higher QBR of the two scramblers that faced off last night. Nobody pays attention to that though when you run for over 100 yards as a QB.
Anyway, I hope not too many of you are relying on a miracle to stay alive tonight, but if you are feel free to enjoy this article as you sweat out Ravens at Browns. Most likely you are more worried about the Browns from a fantasy perspective, which I did not think I would be saying at the beginning of the year.
Week 14 Sunday Storylines
Are This Year's Fill-ins Next Year's Starters?
Mike Davis, Wayne Gallman, maybe even Kalen Ballage? All three have made the case in multiple games this season that they could handle the starting role on an NFL team. All three are in the last year of their contracts (hear that, dynasty managers?) and have had at least a three week stretch where they were a fantasy starter. Chargers RB Ballage shed the "played poorly under Adam Gase" label from Week 9 to Week 11, finishing RB5 while averaging 15.2 PPR points. The return of Austin Ekeler seems to have ended Ballage's time as a starter in 2020 but as an unrestricted free agent next year at only 24 years old, teams will be looking to make him an integral part of an RBBC at the very least. Given that Joshua Kelley was a scratch this week, Ballage may simply return as the RB2 for Los Angeles.
Mike Davis and Wayne Gallman should definitely be the starter somewhere next year, especially Gallman. While Mike Davis has been the RB7 over the entire season, he has essentially produced the same results he did in 2018 on the Seahawks. To be fair, that performance was enough to get him the starting job in Chicago... which he promptly lost to Bears RB David Montgomery. Despite being only 27 and probably available cheap, teams may avoid him based on his past. Wayne Gallman on the other hand is a year younger and has less baggage than Davis, and will certainly be looking to get out from fellow RB Saquon Barkley's shadow. He has been RB7 since claiming the starting role as his in Week 7, and his career stats show a fairly efficient runner. Personally, Houston strikes me as the perfect landing spot for him, as David Johnson's contract is the only reason he should remain a Texan next year. With a dead-money hit of only $2.1 million in 2021, the Texans may feel it is worth it to cut bait and pair Deshaun Watson with a more dynamic runner to keep their star QB happy.
The Broncos May Have The Best WR Corps Right Now. Will They in 2021?
Between Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and the currently injured Courtland Sutton, there is an embarrassment of talent in the Broncos WR group. Unfortunately, their QB is an embarrassment, but that is not the point of this article. Sutton will hopefully come back from an ACL tear around the beginning of the regular season, and he should provide plenty of offensive firepower alongside current rookies Jeudy and Hamler, who have shown flashes of talent in 2020. Jeudy is a deep threat that currently is in the top-12 for most yards before the catch per reception, and Hamler breaks tackles like a pro already, with one broken tackle per 7.3 receptions. He also has an 11.5% drop rate, but if he can fix that next year, nobody will care about the rookie season being slightly sloppy.
Unfortunately for Denver, it remains to be seen if their best receiver on the season will be back next year. Tim Patrick has come out of nowhere since Sutton's Week 2 injury to be a fantasy WR3, and that designation is weighed down by a missed game and the Week 12 matchup against New Orleans when RB Phillip Lindsay was technically the starting QB for Denver. Take that out, and from Week 3 on Patrick has averaged nearly 15 points in PPR. He is 21st in the league in receiving TDs and has not dropped a single pass. Patrick will become a restricted free agent at 27 after the season ends, and should still have enough left in the tank for another contract from the Broncos. Given that DaeSean Hamilton only has a cap hit of around $1 million in 2021, I would not be shocked if they cut bait with the former Penn State WR in the final year of his contract to ensure Patrick has a space in the lineup.
Is The Seahawks DST For Real?
Enough contract talk about next year, it is the fantasy playoffs and the Seahawks DST is rolling! Despite being a joke earlier in the year, the Seattle Seahawks DST has been a borderline DST1 since Week 11. Seriously, over the past four weeks, they have finished DST12, DST13, DST9, and DST7. That is a vast improvement from the DST18 they had been before that point.
Why the change? Well, the simple answer is they stopped giving up 400-500+ yards per game. In three of the past four weeks, the Seahawks have given up less than 200 passing yards. In three of the past four weeks, they have given up less than 100 passing yards. Against the Eagles and Jets, they did both. The more complicated answer is likely a combination of a softer schedule recently and the Week 9 return of Jamal Adams. Still, with the Washington Football Team and *checks notes* possibly QB Dwayne Haskins coming up in Week 15, you can probably count on the Seahawks for another week. Even if Alex Smith suits up for Washington, his 202.9 yards per game and 4:6 TD-to-INT ratio do not scare me if I need Seattle in the fantasy playoff semifinals.
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