“The Hard Bargain” is a year-round column by Dave Stewart offering parenting advice and weekly fantasy football advice for deeper (16+ team) leagues. Dave brings over a year of experience writing this column to NFL Week 14 and will be here to help provide lineup recommendations throughout the fantasy football season.
NFL Week 13 Recap
Week 13 of the NFL schedule was a bit of a wild one. Several of the early games were close contests with a few exciting finishes. The afternoon games were also competitive, with the day culminating in a Sunday night beatdown of the Colts at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.
Unfortunately, it was a week with multiple injuries to meaningful players. Hopefully, your fantasy teams did not suffer any losses right before the playoffs begin. If you did lose a mainstay on your fantasy roster, I cannot magically heal your players, but I think I can put a smile on your face with my latest story.
A Purveyor of Positivity
If you spend any time among the fantasy football community on Twitter, you probably know the subject of this column. He is the purveyor of positivity and has developed quite a niche for himself, spreading joy in a way that only he can. If you have ever been on the receiving end of one of his patented “Coopliments,” you know it is like a warm hug for your heart.
Matthew G. Cooper, aka “Coop,” 43 years old from Beaverton, Ore., has been playing fantasy football longer than some of you have even been alive. He regaled me with tales of his first fantasy team featuring a rookie quarterback named Brett Favre. Favre is now a quinquagenarian welfare scammer, in case you’re not familiar.
Coop, like me, played fantasy before the internet age. We actually used the sports section of the newspaper and calculated fantasy points by hand. It feels like a million years ago.
Twitter’s “Mister Rogers”
In a conversation that spanned from rookies to Wookies, Coop referred to “The Jeffersons,” a television show that debuted in 1975. He also disclosed his joy at winning against his wife in their home league.
Coop explained why he decided to take on the role of Twitter’s “Mr. Rogers” He sincerely likes to make people happy.
“Everyone deserves to smile,” he said in a Nov. 29 interview. He is not trying to be nice. He is trying to be kind, and he described the difference.
“I like to think that I’m kind, not nice,” Coop said. “For me, being nice is when you just say something because it’s nice or you hold the door for someone because it’s nice. Kindness is when you mean it.”
If you spend a few minutes talking to Coop, it becomes quite apparent that he means it.
Enjoying Fatherhood & Fantasy Football
Coop is the father of two daughters, aged 11 and seven years. He admits that he always wanted to have daughters, and he likes having a good time with them. Asked about his favorite part of being a dad, Coop said, “I like goofing around with them and embarrassing them.”
For those preparing to become a parent for the first time, Coop had some honest advice.
“No matter what you think, you’re not going to be ready, and that’s OK,” he said. “You work through it together.”
He related that he and his wife trust each other and work together to handle the responsibilities of parenting. Coop also reminded me why many of us decided to have children in the first place and encouraged others to prioritize their children’s needs.
“You gotta keep love in your heart and not get frustrated,” Coop said.
He also had simple advice for anyone interested in playing fantasy for the first time.
“Have fun with it,” he said. “Be creative if you start a league. If you want three kickers, have three kickers.”
It is sound advice. Ultimately, this is a game we play for enjoyment. Coop thinks it is important to remember to enjoy yourself.
“It has to be about fun. If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t do it,” he said.
NFL Week 13 Recommendations Recap
Fantasy is fun, but it is a lot more fun when you win. I want to help you there.
I swung big and missed hard at most positions in Week 13. My quarterback, Mike White, was a hit despite throwing no touchdowns. He did run for one and he totaled 369 yards. Kyren Williams was virtually non-existent with three carries on the day. Zay Jones caught two passes and Juwan Johnson did not even play. I can essentially guarantee this week’s NFL Week 14 picks will be better.
NFL Week 14 Deep-League Fantasy Starts
Brock Purdy (QB, San Francisco 49ers)
Oh man, this feels weird. The San Francisco 49ers lost another quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo will miss the remainder of the regular season after suffering a broken foot in Week 13. Enter Brock Purdy. He was drafted with the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and thus earned the moniker of Mr. Irrelevant.
However, he is going to be quite relevant when it comes to the 49ers’ chances of making the playoffs. Currently leading their division, San Francisco remains a favorite to appear in the postseason.
Purdy made just his second appearance on Sunday, but he looked capable. The offense is loaded with weapons, making the transition to their third quarterback of the year a little more palatable. With a week’s practice under his belt, Purdy should be able to improve on his 200-plus-yard and two-touchdown performance. Facing Tampa Bay is not the most enviable opponent for Purdy to begin his starting role against. Yet, the Buccaneers have allowed 17 passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks this season.
James Cook (RB, Buffalo Bills)
James Cook may be taking over the larger share of the workload in Buffalo. He saw 20 total touches in their most recent outing. While he did not reach the end zone, he did collect 100+ total yards. He carried for 4.5 Yards Per Carry (YPC) and looked effective with the increased role. Cook was the most targeted running back in the passing game.
Buffalo hosts the New York Jets in a divisional matchup in NFL Week 14. The Jets got the better of the Bills in their previous meeting. Expect Cook to be involved in the run game. Buffalo subsequently figures to rely on their rushing attack against a formidable Jets’ secondary that limits passing opportunities.
D.J. Chark (WR, Detroit Lions)
Don’t look now, but the Lions might actually be pretty good. They have won four of their last five, and they probably should have beaten Buffalo on Thanksgiving in a game they lost by three. The return of D.J. Chark from Injured Reserve (IR) has been a boost to a team fighting for a playoff spot. After seven weeks on the shelf, Chark has seen at least five targets in each of his last two appearances. As a result in Week 13, he made five catches and nearly hit 100 receiving yards.
Quarterback Jared Goff is coming off two excellent performances, including a 340-yard gem against the Jaguars last Sunday. With the Minnesota Vikings coming to town, Chark appears to be in line for another successful performance. Goff has been at his best in the friendly confines of Ford Field, and Minnesota has struggled to stop even the most pedestrian of passers this year. Opposite Amon-Ra St. Brown, Chark should have another multi-catch performance, finding space against a leaky Vikings’ secondary.
Chig Okonkwo (TE, Tennessee Titans)
This player has one of the most fun names to say, but he has been a lot more than just a great name lately. Chig Okonkwo led the Titans in receiving in Week 13. He is emerging as a useful player in the lineup, with at least 30 yards receiving in five straight games.
Next up is Jacksonville, and they certainly provide a favorable matchup for tight ends. Titans’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown for at least 250 yards in three of his last four starts. Okonkwo has been targeted five times in each of his last two games. If you are needy at tight end heading into NFL Week 14, he may fill in nicely this week.
Life is hard, but it gets a little easier when we learn to lean on each other. Find me on Twitter @DaveFantasy for more life and fantasy sports content for NFL Week 14 and beyond.