I love writing these storyline pieces. I will go through some of the games and discuss one dynasty-relevant storyline per team that I’m excited to see. I won’t cover every game, as I don’t feel like there’s necessarily an exciting storyline to discuss for every team. However, I’ll bring you my best insights from the games I select each week.
This piece will give you something specific to look for in each contest, which I hope helps you enjoy the games even more. We all play fantasy football to enhance our enjoyment of football, and I’m trying to add to that sense of happiness here. Fun is the most essential part of this hobby for all of us, including me.
I’ve listed the home team first for each game to keep things organized. I won’t waste any more time, so let’s jump straight in!
Dolphins vs. Chiefs
The Dolphins are an intriguing dynasty team to watch going into 2021. They’re an 8-4 team, but they’re succeeding on the back of a strong defense, not based on Tua Tagovailoa’s play. Myles Gaskin has played well at running back, but he’s not a real difference-maker.
However, I’m mostly intrigued by the Dolphins’ primary receiving weapons, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. I fully expect the Dolphins to add a true alpha wide receiver in free agency or the NFL Draft who will jump to the top of the target pecking order. Some examples include Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Ja’Marr Chase, and DeVonta Smith.
Therefore, Parker and Gesicki will need to fight for targets behind a new top weapon in 2021. Gesicki had a strong game in Week 13, but he’s had an inconsistent career. Parker finally broke out as a viable wide receiver in 2019, although he’s not a number one threat. I want to see which of these players finds chemistry with Tagovailoa, especially in a marquee matchup versus the Chiefs.
With the Chiefs, all eyes are on rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Edwards-Helaire was active but played no snaps in the Chiefs’ last game versus the Broncos. In 2020, Edwards-Helaire has 151 carries for 692 yards and four rushing touchdowns, averaging 4.6 YPC.
However, his receiving production has disappointed, especially since he excelled as a receiver at LSU. Edwards-Helaire does have 30 catches on 46 targets for 234 yards and a touchdown, but I expected more in a Mahomes-led offense. Le’Veon Bell looks horrible every week, and Darrel Williams is purely a pass-blocker, so we should see Edwards-Helaire dominate touches. I hope the Chiefs finally realize that Edwards-Helaire is by far their best running back and that he has a strong game this week.
Eagles vs. Saints
Of course, the attention here goes to Jalen Hurts, who will make his first NFL start. I’m not going to talk too much about Hurts’ stats or fantasy potential, as we’ve covered that in detail in multiple other articles. I want to say that I’m excited to see someone else play quarterback for the Eagles, as watching Carson Wentz throughout 2020 has made me want to puke.
I love the Eagles’ primary receiving weapons in Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert. I hope that Hurts can unlock those players, especially by avoiding pressure and taking fewer sacks than Wentz did. Also, Hurts’ mobility could open rushing lanes for Miles Sanders. I still believe in Sanders’ talent, but he’s had no room to run recently in this offense. Opposing defenses have stacked the box, daring Wentz to throw, causing Sanders to struggle.
More than anything, I want to see something new. Sometimes, change for the sake of change is all you need. It’s a tough matchup versus the Saints, but there could be long-term positive takeaways from this game even if the Eagles lose.
Taysom Hill will get at least one more start this week, although it seems like Drew Brees will return for Week 15. However, I’m not that interested in watching Hill at this point. I think the Saints have decided that Hill is their 2021 starter, at least to open the season. I expect Drew Brees to retire and the Saints to let Jameis Winston walk in free agency. The Saints will likely add a younger quarterback at some point during free agency or the NFL Draft as their long-term successor, who will sit behind Hill in 2021 before taking over in 2022.
Outside of Hill, the Saints’ primary relevant dynasty weapons are Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. We all know about Kamara’s struggles under Hill and that Hill loves to target Thomas heavily. But, I’m intrigued by third-round rookie tight end Adam Trautman.
Trautman has started to take snaps from starter Jared Cook, who is a free agent after 2020. Cook turns 34 years old in April, and he’s far past his prime as a real-life tight end and a fantasy asset. I want to keep a close eye on Trautman, both to see whether he gains chemistry with Hill and if head coach Sean Payton designs plays for him. If Cook moves on, Trautman could be a substantial second-year breakout in 2021.
Bills vs. Steelers
The NFL truly gets a great matchup in prime time, where the 9-3 Bills take on the 11-1 Steelers. The Bills are just one game ahead of the Dolphins in the AFC East, so they need to win this game to ensure they have a firm hold on first place. For the Bills, I always love watching Josh Allen every week, as he’s improved so much as a quarterback in his third season.
However, I’m most excited to watch Gabriel Davis’ ascent to a starting role in the Bills’ offense. He’s played 97% of snaps over the past two weeks with John Brown out, and he’s caught three passes and a touchdown in each game. The Bills spent a fourth-round pick on Davis, so they clearly envisioned him as part of their offense. I honestly love Davis as a story and as a raw talent, so he always captures my attention when watching the Bills.
My storyline for the Steelers relates to their abundance of riches at the wide receiver position. For now, Diontae Johnson is locked as their top outside receiver, while Juju Smith-Schuster is their dedicated slot receiver. I believe that Smith-Schuster will move onto another team in the offseason, but he will soak up short targets while he remains on the roster.
However, I’m curious about the Steelers’ split between James Washington and Chase Claypool for the WR3 spot in their offense. For multiple weeks, Claypool had played ahead of Washington, but in Week 13, Washington saw more snaps than Claypool. Washington came through with two receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown, validating the Steelers’ decision.
Ironically, I think the Steelers somehow managed to have four viable wide receivers while also having a reliable receiving tight end in Eric Ebron. I think all four players plus Ebron deserve playing time, so we’ll likely have some frustration with Claypool and Washington for the rest of 2020. With that said, the Steelers can certainly afford to let Smith-Schuster walk, and I want to watch Claypool and Washington to see how they’ll step up to fill his void in 2021.
Browns vs. Ravens
I think it’s evident that Baker Mayfield is a better quarterback without Odell Beckham Jr. on the field. I’m not exactly sure why that is, as I believe that Beckham Jr. is still a talented receiver. However, it just doesn’t work out between those two together, and I expect Beckham Jr. to find himself traded elsewhere during the 2021 offseason.
Mayfield is my dynasty focus for this game, as I want to see a massive improvement from his Week 1 performance versus the Ravens. In that game, he completed 21/39 passes for 189 yards in a horrific 38-6 loss. I know the Ravens aren’t the same team now that they were then, especially on defense.
But, I want to see Mayfield prove that he can win the big games. He’s certainly done enough to earn the Browns’ starting job in 2021, and I expect the Browns to pick up his fully guaranteed 2022 fifth-year option, locking him in for 2022 as well. However, I’m still not entirely convinced that Mayfield is a long-term starter for five or more years in the NFL. That’s what I’m watching for in this game and other tough matchups.
The Ravens’ offense has been a disappointment in 2020. Lamar Jackson hasn’t hit the same heights he found in 2019 during his MVP season, and Marquise Brown has been a disaster as the Ravens’ WR1. While they’ve managed to run the ball successfully, they didn’t commit to one running back for most of the season, and they just recently started to phase Mark Ingram out of the offense.
However, I’m most focused on Mark Andrews in this game. I believe that Andrews hasn’t lost any of his talents that led him to score 10 touchdowns in 2019. Andrews remains one of my favorite younger tight ends, and the Browns’ defense isn’t strong versus the passing game. Jackson must re-establish his chemistry with Andrews if he wants to find fantasy success over the final few games. Considering the Ravens must win this game to stay in the playoff hunt, I’m hoping for a big game from Andrews.
Thanks for reading this article. You can find me on Twitter at @DFF_Karp. I love to interact with anyone in the community, so reach out at any time! I take fantasy questions and help with all formats, so keep sending those questions my way.
Previous Storyline Articles: Week 6 Early Games, Week 6 Late Games, Week 7 Thursday Night, Week 7 Early Games, Week 7 Late Games, Week 8 Thursday Night, Week 8 Early Games, Week 8 Late Games, Week 9 Thursday Night, Week 9 Early Games, Week 9 Late Games, Week 10 Thursday Night, Week 10 Early Games, Week 10 Late Games, Week 11 Thursday Night, Week 11 Early Games, Week 11 Late Games, Thanksgiving Day, Week 13