Last Second Decisions: Malcolm Mitchell or Pierre Garcon?

On Sunday morning, fantasy owners will inevitably struggle through decisions of which similarly priced players to start. Let fantasy expert Ricky Sanders guide you through five difficult decisions many will dealing with heading into Week 14:

QB – Jameis Winston/Russell Wilson – No team is implied to score more points this week than the Buccaneers and it is looking more and more like snow is on the horizon in Green Bay. Therefore, Jameis Winston will be playing in the Florida sunshine while Russell Wilson is going to have to battle the elements. While there is more analysis to dive into, the weather differential between the two locations should be enough to distinguish which of the duo is a better play. Both are facing bad defenses and their offenses are projected to score a healthy amount of points but Winston will have a clearer path to a dominant fantasy performance. Instead of rambling, it is easier to just cut to the chase in this instance. Verdict: Jameis Winston

RB – Todd Gurley/Frank Gore – “Old reliable” Frank Gore’s game log is amazing especially for a 33-year old player in his 12th NFL season; he has topped 14 fantasy points in five of his last seven games and in eight out of 12 games overall. The issue here is two of his quietest performances of the season have come in the last two weeks as he has posted a combined 12.00 fantasy points during that stretch. On the other hand, Todd Gurley has topped 14 fantasy points just thrice this season but he draws a matchup against a Falcons team that has been torched by literally every RB they have faced as of late. Last week, Spencer Ware scored both a rushing and receiving TD against them.  The week before, David Johnson rushed for 58 yards but caught eight passes for 101 yards receiving and a TD. In Week 10, Ryan Mathews busted out for 109 yards rushing and two TDs while Darren Sproles caught eight passes for 57 yards. Although Gurley is not a monster in the passing game, he has at least been targeted seven times over the past two games and he is simply too talented to be held down for this long. I am choosing upside over consistency here and taking the back who has disappointed so far. Verdict: Todd Gurley

RB – Carlos Hyde/Theo Riddick – One of the more eye-opening ownership percentages of the Thursday night slate was Carlos Hyde at 10-percent against a Jets rush defense that ranks second best in the league according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) metric. Not only have the Jets limited LeGarrette Blount to 6.70 fantasy points and Frank Gore to 7.90 fantasy points in consecutive weeks but the Jets have also allowed the eighth fewest fantasy points per game (FPPG) to the RB position over the past four weeks. I suppose the theory is Colin Kaepernick’s rushing ability opens up space for Hyde who has posted back-to-back-to-back double-digit fantasy outings. However, the ceiling seems capped in this difficult matchup. As for Theo Riddick, he will be facing a defense who shut him down in the first meeting but the Bears are also now missing star linebacker Jerrell Freeman. This is important because Freeman graded as the second best linebacker in coverage so far this season, per Pro Football Focus. Additionally, the Bears are missing Danny Trevathan as well so their ability to tackle and cover opposing RBs is severely hindered. Oh by the way, Dwayne Washington is going to be playing at less than 100-percent. This opinion is probably in the minority, especially since the same sort of volume will not be there, but Riddick is my preference. Verdict: Theo Riddick

WR – Malcolm Mitchell/Pierre Garcon – Malcolm Mitchell’s targets and receptions have risen for three consecutive weeks and this streak has led to 16-plus fantasy points in every game during that span. Hell, Mitchell has been targeted 5, 7 and 10 times respectively in the last three games and Mitchell only played one less snap (67) than team-leader Chris Hogan amongst WRs (68) last week after playing nearly half that many snaps (34) in Week 12. Clearly, Mitchell is a talent on the rise and the Patriots coordinators and Tom Brady are taking notice. Another streaking player as of late is Pierre Garcon who has been targeted at least seven times in four of his last five games and has top 12.50 fantasy points in each game he has seen at least that many targets. Once again, Garcon draws the team’s most favorable individual matchup this week (per Pro Football Focus) as he will square off against Nolan Carroll of the Eagles. The best way to beat the Eagles is to pick on their subpar collection of corners so Garcon will definitely be active. When it comes to choosing between the top target in a Brady offense and one in a Kirk Cousins offense, however, there really is no decision. Verdict: Malcolm Mitchell

TE – C.J. Fiedorowicz/Jason Witten – This is probably the most difficult decision of the entire weekend, especially in tournaments, because C.J. Fiedorowicz only came in one-percent owned in the Thursday slate. Why would a guy in arguably the absolute best possible matchup only warrant one-percent ownership? It feels like there is a ton of value to be had rostering him in that spot especially considering he caught 6-7 targets for 85 yards, one TD and 20.50 fantasy points when eh squared off against this same defense on Oct. 16. Then again, Jason Witten garnered a 22-percent ownership and there is a strong case to be made for him as well. The Giants struggle covering anyone in the middle of the field including slot receivers and opposing TEs and the Cowboys took notice the last time around. Whether it was the offensive coordinator or the head coach, someone sought out to get Witten involved as he was targeted a whopping 14 times against the Giants in Week 1. Fast forward to Week 14 and the Giants still rank 27th in DVOA and have allowed 78.3 yards per game to the position. While Fiedorowicz is awfully enticing in tournaments, Witten gets the nod overall. Verdict: Jason Witten

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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