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.
This week, most games aren’t between two competitive NFL teams. There are also Saturday games, which I won’t cover here. I like having this article drop on Sunday morning, so I’ll stick to the Sunday or Monday games as my options. I also want to try and pick some teams that I haven’t talked about yet, although I recognize that a few teams are mostly irrelevant for dynasty purposes.
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!
Vikings vs. Bears
The Vikings are one of my favorite teams to watch in dynasty formats. We know that Dalvin Cook is a stud running back and Adam Thielen is a solid but aging stud wide receiver. However, I always want to watch their two young receiving weapons: Justin Jefferson and Irv Smith Jr.
Jefferson is having a ridiculous rookie season. He has 65 receptions on 92 targets for 1,078 yards and seven touchdowns through 13 games. Jefferson won’t even turn 22 years old until June 2021, and he’s already a first-round value for me in dynasty startups. Honestly, I love watching Jefferson play. I could easily see him reaching the 1.01 value, similar to Odell Beckham after his standout rookie season.
As for Smith Jr., Kyle Rudolph will miss this game with a foot injury, allowing Smith Jr. to see more snaps and targets. Unfortunately, Jefferson and Thielen dominate targets on the Vikings, capping Smith Jr.’s upside. However, I believe Smith Jr. has enormous upside as a receiving tight end. He only turns 23 years old in August 2021, far away from the classic tight end breakout age of 25. The Vikings’ offense could look completely different by the time Smith Jr. is fully ready to contribute. I want to watch Smith develop over time, even if he’s not fantasy-relevant.
The Bears also have some intriguing young receiving weapons in rookies Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney. They also have veterans Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, although Robinson is a free agent after this season. Additionally, their 2021 backfield is likely mostly set with David Montgomery as the starter and Tarik Cohen returning from injured reserve as the pass-catcher.
However, the Bears’ main storyline on the field is their quarterback situation. They started the season with Mitchell Trubisky as their quarterback before switching to Nick Foles midway through the third game. Then, Foles suffered an injury, forcing the Bears to start Trubisky again. But Trubisky played well in his first start, and head coach Matt Nagy named Trubisky the starter moving forward.
The Bears are 6-7, placing them on the edge of the playoff picture. Right now, they would have the 15th overall pick, likely putting them out of contention for a top quarterback. Somehow, they would owe Foles $14 million in dead cap for 2021 with only a $6.6 million cap hit. Based on those numbers, Foles will be on the Bears’ 2021 roster barring a trade, but I don’t think Foles is a serious contender to be the Bears’ 2021 starting quarterback.
Therefore, Trubisky has a chance to retain this starting job in 2021 if he continues to play well. This week is critical for his chances, so I’ll watch him closely. The Bears would need to re-sign Trubisky after the season, and he needs to excel for them to do so. Although, if they keep winning, the Bears might not have any alternative options at quarterback.
Colts vs. Texans
I’m truly interested in Jonathan Taylor and his breakout. Over the past three games, he’s still only played around 50% of the offensive snaps, but he’s averaged 18.3 carries per game. Honestly, I just want to see Taylor consolidate a workhorse role, especially against the Texans’ porous run defense. I doubt that actually happens, as Nyheim Hines is a capable third-down back.
But the Colts have to realize that Taylor is their best option on the ground. I want to see them stop giving carries to Wilkins and stop giving Hines random goal-line carries. Taylor and Hines would make a perfect one-two punch if the Colts used them correctly. It’s on head coach Frank Reich to figure it out, and I don’t think it’s incredibly complicated, to be honest.
The Texans are less interesting from a dynasty landscape than the Colts. We know that Deshaun Watson is a stud quarterback, and we know neither David nor Duke Johnson is the long-term answer at running back. I’m not sure if either back will return to the team for 2021, but they desperately need an upgrade at the position.
Brandin Cooks will return to the lineup this week, and he’ll resume the top receiver role vacated by Will Fuller. The Texans only owe Cooks $12, 13, and 14 million over the next three years, although none of it is guaranteed. Therefore, they essentially have him on a series of team options at a reasonable price. I believe Cooks will be on the Texans for at least two more years, especially considering their lack of draft capital. I also expect them to re-sign Fuller, who had a great 2020 season until his suspension for PEDs.
However, the Texans need someone else to step up in the receiving game behind Cooks this week. Three players come to mind: Jordan Akins, Keke Coutee, and Chad Hansen. Akins is the least interesting of the bunch to me. He turns 29 years old in April, and he’s had many chances to put it all together after the Texans drafted him in the second round in 2018. Akins is a decent tight end for an NFL team, but I don’t think he’ll ever become a consistent fantasy option.
Coutee and Hansen provide more intrigue, though. The Texans drafted Coutee in the fifth round in 2018, and he’s still only 23 years old. He’s seen value at times throughout his career, although he ended up in Bill O’Brien’s doghouse. I like seeing him get opportunities under interim head coach Romeo Crennel, and I want to continue to pay attention to his possible return to form. Coutee is under contract for 2021 on his rookie deal, so he’ll be on this team for another year.
As for Hansen, he came out of nowhere over the previous two weeks. The Jets drafted him in the fourth round in 2017, but he hadn’t appeared in a game since his rookie year. However, he has 12 receptions for 157 yards over the last two games. The Texans recently signed Hansen off their practice squad to their active roster, so perhaps they see something in him. I just want to know if Hansen is a flash in the pan or a real breakout.
Cardinals vs. Eagles
I could spend a lot of time discussing the Cardinals’ running backs or wide receivers, but I think that’s all been beaten to death over the past month. I’m just not that interested in Kenyan Drake or Chase Edmonds as a long-term starting running back. I also believe that DeAndre Hopkins will be the only relevant wide receiver of those currently on the roster in a year.
However, I want to see Kyler Murray return to lighting the world on fire. Murray suffered a shoulder injury in Week 11 versus the Seahawks, and he just hasn’t been the same fantasy force since then. Earlier in the season, I moved Murray up to my #2 overall dynasty superflex asset behind Patrick Mahomes. I stand by that ranking, but I hope Murray has a fantastic game this week. If he continues to struggle, I might have to re-evaluate his dynasty value.
There’s no point in discussing anything on the Eagles other than Jalen Hurts from a dynasty perspective. I chose this game solely so I could talk about Hurts and his dynasty outlook. It’s straightforward: Hurts is playing for this starting job in 2021. If he plays well over the final three weeks, he will be the Eagles’ 2021 starting quarterback. I don’t care how much dead cap Carson Wentz would cost. If Hurts gives the Eagles the best chance to win, they will make him their starting quarterback.
Therefore, I’m not just looking at the statistics or who wins this game. I want to see if I think Hurts can be a competent starting NFL quarterback. I’m not a scout or anything like that, but I want to get insight into what the Eagles may think going into the offseason. Each of these final three games is high-stakes for Hurts’ dynasty value, so I’ll be locked-in to his every throw and scramble.
Saints vs. Chiefs
Drew Brees will return for this game, replacing Taysom Hill as the starting quarterback. However, I believe that Brees will retire after the 2020 season. I’m not entirely sure who the Saints’ 2021 starting quarterback will be, but I’m not that interested in watching Brees’ return.
Michael Thomas will miss this game with an ankle injury, opening up Alvin Kamara to have a massive game. I love watching Kamara, and I hope Brees delivers him at least 10 targets. The Saints need to get Kamara involved in their offense, no matter who plays quarterback.
Unfortunately, that means there’s not too much to watch on the Saints from a dynasty perspective. We know that Kamara is a stud, and Thomas is a target monster. I also believe that we’re seeing the end of Jared Cook and Emmanuel Sanders’ careers. While I like Adam Trautman as a flier, I’m not sure he’ll develop this year or even in 2021. Additionally, Tre’Quan Smith is not the answer as the WR2.
Therefore, I hope that the Saints see what I expect to see when watching this game: they need a real third weapon behind Thomas and Kamara. They should draft a receiver early in the deep 2021 NFL Draft receiver class. That way, they won’t have a completely depleted receiver corps if Thomas has another injury-riddled season.
Like some of the other teams discussed earlier, the Chiefs have one main dynasty asset worth discussing. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill are stud assets. They’re at the top or near the top of their positions, and we know how great they all are. I love watching the Chiefs’ offense, mostly because of those three players.
We also know that neither Sammy Watkins nor Mecole Hardman is the long-term answer at WR2 for the Chiefs. Watkins had three years to consolidate that role, and he’s never done much of anything. He’s an acceptable depth option, but nothing more. As for Hardman, the Chiefs only selected him when they thought Hill would face a massive suspension or expulsion from the NFL. Hardman is purely a gadget player and an excellent returner, but he’s not helpful for our fantasy teams. I expect the Chiefs to sign, trade for, or draft someone new to play as their WR2 behind Hill.
However, I want to finally see Clyde Edwards-Helaire become the 1.01 value that dynasty owners spent on him in 2020 rookie drafts. Edwards-Helaire hasn’t been awful in 2020, averaging 60.3 rushing yards/game and 4.3 YPC. He also has 35 receptions on 52 targets for 293 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers are not RB1 numbers, and it’s certainly not what dynasty owners wanted when they selected him in rookie drafts.
Edwards-Helaire did see a 74% snap share in Week 14, his highest mark of the entire season. I know snap count isn’t everything, especially for running backs, but I hope that it’s a sign of good things to come. I haven’t quit on Edwards-Helaire, although I feel like I’m waiting to see signs of life every week. I want this week to be the game where Edwards-Helaire breaks out.
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, Week 14