WR A.J. Brown, TEN
Twice over the last three games, Brown flashed impact upside as a big-play wide receiver. He beat the Jaguars for 135 yards with a TD and four catches in Week 9 followed up by a better showing last week (5/153/2). Brown also flashed in Week 1 (3/100) and Week 4 (3/94/2), but the Titans only gave him 4.5 targets per game over the first 12 contests despite a respectable catch rate (62.9) and a considerable edge in yards per catch (18.4). In Week 14, he finished with seven targets plus Tennessee game one rush for 13 yards. His game is on the rise along with the success of the Titans passing game with Ryan Tannehill behind center. With the next two games at home vs. the Texans and the Saints, Brown may very well be the impact piece to the puzzle in the championship round in the high-stakes market.
Just for reference, here’s a look at his preseason player profile written last May:
Brown can’t match the speed of the top WRs in the 2019 draft class, but his game looks the most NFL ready. His movements with the ball in his hands seem to be uncanny, creating yards after the catch, which is somewhat surprising for his size (6’0″ and 226 lbs.). A.J. has the wheels to have success in the NFL (4.49 40 yards dash). His route running is advanced, helping his value at the goal line and the deep passing game. Over the last two seasons at Ole Miss, he caught 160 passes for 2,572 yards and 17 TDs highlighted by his junior year (85/1320//6). He played along D.K. Metcalf in college. Fantasy owners have been searching for the next impact 100-catch WR to replace the loss of Brandon Marshall , Andre Johnson , or Calvin Johnson . Brown fits the WR1 mold in his rookie season, but he landed on a team with a weak passing game. I’m excited about his upside, but I have to temper my expectations based on the WR structure and the expected passing opportunity in Tennessee. I’ll start his initial prediction with about 50 catches for 750 yards and a handful of TDs. If he hits the ground running, Brown will make the players around him better.
DEF Pittsburgh Steelers
After losing Ben Roethlisberger a game and a half into the 2019 season, the Steelers franchise looked destined for a long non-playoff season with questionable options at quarterback. Also, their defense gave up 472 yards to the Patriots, 451 yards to the Seahawks, and 445 yards to the 49ers over their first three games, leading to a 0-3 record with 85 points allowed.
With future in mind, Pittsburgh made a brilliant move to add S Minkah Fitzpatrick in mid-September. Over 11 games, Fitzpatrick picked up 46 tackles with nine defended passes, five interceptions, two TDs, and two recovered fumbles to help solidity the Steelers’ secondary.
Over the past ten games, Pittsburgh went 8-2 with 42 sacks, 17 Ints, and eight fumble recoveries plus three defensive TDs and a returned punt to put them back in the playoff hunt. Over this span, the Steelers allowed 15.7 points per game.
Their path to the playoff requires a minimum of two wins vs. BUF, @NYJ, and @BAL. It would be great to see must win against the Ravens with their defense laying the foundation on how to defend Lamar Jackson in the cold weather in late December.
QB Drew Lock, DEN
The most popular jersey in Denver this week is Mr. Lock. He delivered a dominating performance in Houston (324 combined yards with three TDs and one Int), helping him to back-to-back wins to start his NFL career. After two weeks in the NFL, Lock delivered an exceptional completion rate (72.7) while gaining 8.1 yards per pass attempt.
Over his last three seasons at Missouri, he passed for 10,861 yards with 95 TDs and 31 Ints with some value in the run game (151/409/8).
With some play on defense, the Broncos only need him to be a mistake-free game manager with some value in passing TDs in the red zone. Denver has a developing WR1 in Courtland Sutton , and Noah Fant is showing signs of an upside option at TE.
QB Russell Wilson, SEA
There is no doubt that Wilson is a great QB who knows how to win late in games when the ball is in his hands. As the Fantasy calendar turned to the championship rounds, a big game was a must. Unfortunately, the Rams dominated the lineup scrimmage on passing downs, which led to no TDs for Wilson with 273 combined yards. LA sacked him five times while forcing him to run for his life on many other plays.
Despite ranking fourth in QB scoring coming into the week, Wilson has not been an edge in Fantasy points six of his previous seven games (17.75, 17.50, 19.90, 13.50, 20.30, and 14.30). His high ranking falls on five qualify games (28.20, 45.40, 32.60, 31.85, and 43.00 Fantasy points) over the first nine weeks.
Even with an empty score in Week 14 and a questionable path of late, Wilson may very well deliver two 30-plus Fantasy games over the next two weeks vs. Carolina and Arizona.
I’m sure this puppy has been kicked around for multiple days after the Cowboys third straight loss coming last Thursday vs. the Bears.
After starting the year with a 3-0 record while averaging 32.3 points per game and allowing just under 15 points per contest, Dallas has gone 3-7 with three wins coming vs. the Eagles, the Giants, and the Lions.
In fairness, five of their recent losses did come against teams that look to be headed to the playoffs (@NO, GB, MIN, @NE, and BUF). At some point, they have to defend their home field (three losses over four games in Dallas) if they want to be considered a top team in the NFL.
The Cowboys lead the NFL in offensive yards gained while ranking ninth in scoring (334) and points allowed (267).
Even with the team fading in the standings, they still control their destiny thanks to a 4-0 record in their division and no other team having the structure to push them for the division title.
Despite their woeful ways, the Cowboys could be a dark horse in the NFC if Dak Prescott can figure out how to improve his play on the road and Dallas attack more on defense.
The lifeline of Jason Garrett is down to a 50/50 question after too many years of using his phone a friend option to keep his job. It’s put-up or shut-up time for America’s team.
QB Tom Brady, NE
The end is near for Brady after a stellar NFL career. There was a time when he made the players around him better in the passing game. In 2019, his weak offensive line and lack of options at WR and TE crimp his ability to make plays when given a short passing window. Brady can still make all the throws while offering excellent decision making when reading defenses, but defenses can now attack at the line of scrimmage with no real fear of being beat with long scoring plays.
The Patriots have three games to figure out how to run the ball better and incorporate some of the young players in the deep passing game. If they don’t solve those two issues, the Patriots’ best defense in the Tom Brady ERA can’t save him from an early exit from the playoffs.
Based on the previous two decades, it wouldn’t be smart to write off the Patriots based on the exceptional success and coaching staff. Unfortunately, this gravy train can’t last forever, and New England fans should be embarrassed by their booing late in their loss to the Chiefs.
Sports fans may never see another run by a football team, and Brady is the reason why the Patriots have had so many great wins and memories this century.