There are a lot of things to be excited about at this time of year. Christmas is coming, the annual Army-Navy football game is this weekend, and the NBA is right around the corner. But it’s hard to beat the excitement and anticipation of the fantasy football playoffs! Congratulations to those who have navigated through this helter-skelter NFL season and now have a chance to battle for fantasy football glory. Just as we have all season, Hank’s Bank is here to help you amplify your fantasy football strategy and dominate your first-round playoff matchups. If we’ve come this far, we may as well finish out as winners. BANK THAT!
Hank’s Bank Vocabulary Key
Asset: Trade Target
Transfer: Trade Away
Invest: Free Agent Acquisition
Loan: Weekly Streamer
Week 14 Banking
Cash: Jamison Crowder | WR | New York Jets
What better way to kick off our first postseason edition of Hank’s Bank than to recommend a start on the worst team in the NFL? A brutal season only got worse for the Jets last week with their last-second Hail Mary loss. New York is a two-touchdown underdog this weekend in Seattle but starting slot receiver Jamison Crowder in your lineups is actually a solid fantasy football strategy call.
Crowder has consistently been the go-to target for Sam Darnold. After an anomaly in Week 12, we saw this once again be the case last week as Crowder caught five of seven targets. While the 47 yards weren’t exactly eye-popping, he was also Darnold’s focal point down in the red zone and his two touchdown grabs yielded a strong fantasy day. Crowder and Breshad Perriman both figure to be in line for an uptick in targets this week by default as rookie standout Denzel Mims will miss the game due to a family matter. Add in the likely game script of the Jets trailing and needing to push the ball through the air and I’m fully on board with Crowder this week.
Cash: Logan Thomas | TE | Washington Football Team
Everything seemed to suggest that fading Logan Thomas in his matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers last week was the way to go. Nine receptions, 98 receiving yards, and a TD later and many fantasy owners (perhaps myself included) realized that we might’ve overthought things just a bit. So, in this week’s similarly daunting matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, I’m bucking conventional fantasy football strategy and saying Thomas needs to be in your playoff lineups.
What makes Thomas’ situation unique is the fact that he has now played with three different quarterbacks this season. The check-down mentality of Alex Smith affords Thomas, who regularly lines up as a slot receiver, a great opportunity to produce on short and intermediate routes. The 49ers enter the week allowing the fewest fantasy points to tight ends on a per-game basis, but their soft zone defense regularly leaves holes over the middle that Thomas should be able to exploit with his route tree.
Deposit: Todd Gurley II | RB | Atlanta Falcons
He might’ve made his return from injury last week, but Todd Gurley’s final stat line was far from encouraging. A consistent weekly producer over the first half of the season, Gurley had both fewer carries and snaps than backfield mate Ito Smith. Brian Hill also was involved, and the Falcons’ backfield has turned as murky as any at the most inopportune time for fantasy managers.
An additional cause for concern comes in the fact that Gurley has been dealing with a knee injury this week, failing to practice in more than a limited capacity. While he was removed from the injury report on Friday and appears likely to play against the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend, the situation is just too risky to play with. Gurley could very well be out-snapped once again, despite the favorable matchup. Outside of Calvin Ridley, my current fantasy football strategy involves avoiding the Falcons as much as possible.
Deposit: Jarvis Landry | WR | Cleveland Browns
Many waited all year for the kind of production that Jarvis Landry has provided in each of the last two weeks. His 21 targets and 16 receptions over the last two games have easily been the two best games of the entire season. Unfortunately, those came against two porous pass defenses in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans. Things don’t look as promising for this week’s matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Fantasy football strategy suggests that sitting Landry in Week 14 would be a wise choice.
The other ever-present factor when debating Browns receivers is Baker Mayfield. He may have been terrific last week, but I’m suspect that this will carry over to a critical AFC North showdown in primetime. Cleveland can’t continue to outperform their underlying metrics forever, i.e., regression has to be coming. I have Landry ranked as a fringe WR3 candidate this week, below names like T.Y. Hilton, Tim Patrick, and Brandon Aiyuk.
Invest: Jeff Wilson Jr. | RB | San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers’ backfield is completely healthy for the first time since, well, I honestly can’t even remember. Despite Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon both being available, Jeff Wilson Jr. appears to be the complementary piece for starter Raheem Mostert at this juncture. In fact, Wilson only had two fewer carries in Monday’s loss and averaged two yards more with his touches than Mostert. San Francisco isn’t out of postseason contention just yet, but wins are of the essence. While this week’s matchup against Washington isn’t an opportune spot to deploy Wilson as a starter, he definitely warrants a roster spot going forward based on last week’s usage numbers.
Loan: Carolina Panthers D/ST
When it comes to positive fantasy matchups for defenses, only the helpless Jets are more favorable on a per-game basis than the Denver Broncos. The matchup makes the young Panthers D a promising fantasy football strategy streamer for the first round of the fantasy playoffs this weekend. To date, the Broncos have only scored 225 points on the season, while coughing up 28 turnovers and allowing 24 sacks. Led by star rookie safety Jeremy Chinn, Carolina’s defense figures to be in line for a top-10 showing this week.