If you are still playing into Week 18, my first question is, “Why?”
Teams with byes and teams locked into position will greatly affect
playing time for many of the players who got you into position to
play for a title. We will try to help you this week with who has
reason to play and who has more reasons to sit and prepare for the
think about it, I’ve never held a job in my life. I went
from being an NFL player to a coach to a broadcaster. I haven’t
worked a day in my life.” – John Madden
1) Your number one job assignment heading into Week 18 is to
determine whether your guys will even be on the field this weekend.
And for how long?
Certainly, none of the “big three” Green Bay Packers,
who helped you get to where you are, should see the field (Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Aaron Jones). And it’s extremely
unlikely that any Eagles, those who haven’t already contracted
Covid this week, will play either. Then, you have to determine
by listening to coaches and translating “coach talk”
as to whether slightly injured players on playoff-locked teams
will play or sit in preparation for the postseason. Additionally,
game situations may also change player availability. If, for instance,
the Titans get a big early lead on Houston and appear to lock
up the single AFC bye, it would take incentives away from the
Bengals to play hard deep into the fourth quarter in their game
at Cleveland. Similarly, if the Bills are crushing the Jets, how
long will Bill Belichick play his starters? Yes, this can be a
confusing time … which is why many leagues finish in Week
2) The Titans’ Derrick Henry (foot surgery) could return to
the field for Week 18, but I wouldn’t start him in fantasy.
True. Henry might be out there to shake off the rust from not
playing since Week 8, but Tennessee, can and will, beat Houston
without him playing a full workload. At most I think he could
get 8-10 carries. That won’t make him fantasy-worthy in
3) It was nice to see Ben Roethlisberger get his props from
the hometown fans in what was likely his last game at Heinz Field
after 18 seasons, but his passing was truly ugly.
Fact. He threw 46 times, 34 in the first half, and managed just
123 passing yards on 24 completions. Remember when a “young”
Ben would hang in the pocket forever, with defenders draped all
over him, to set up long passes to the likes of; Antonio Brown,
Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller? Monday
night his average time to release was about 2.0 seconds and his
average yards per completion was 5.1 yards. For the 2021 season
Roethlisberger averaged just 6.54 air yards per attempt. By comparison,
everyone’s “Capt. Checkdown,” Tua Tagovailoa,
averaged 6.75 air yards per attempt.
4) Baker Mayfield is not only not “fantasy-worthy,” he’s not
an NFL starting quarterback.
Mayfield’s yards per game have dropped in each of his last
three seasons, from 266 as a rookie to 215 this year. He’s
not accurate with a career 61.6 completion percentage. His average
yards per game was barely better than rookie Trevor Lawrence (213.6
ypg) on a Jaguars team which is devoid of talent. I would not
be surprised it the Browns look elsewhere in the off-season, though
it’s a horrible year for NFL free agents quarterbacks and
doesn’t appear to be a great collegiate draft class.
Baker Mayfield: Career Stats
5) Off his performances the past four weeks, Rashaad Penny appears
to have earned a shot at an RB1 role either in Seattle of somewhere
His 32.5 fantasy points during championship week may have been
the difference between a ring and an also-ran for some fantasy
owners. But is wasn’t just one week. He’s surpassed
130 yards in three of the last four games to produce 481 rushing
yards, five touchdowns and 21.3 FPts/G. Chris Carson’s frequent
injury status probably means the Seahawks try to lock up Penny
to be a starter next season, but he’s a free agent and could
also look elsewhere for a starting role given what may be uncertain
times for this franchise.
“My mother always used to say, “The older you get,
the better you get … unless you’re a banana.”-
1) It was a fluke season for Leonard Fournette and he’s not
a top-10 fantasy running back.
False. Fournette grabbed a workhorse role in Tampa Bay (180-812-8
rushing and 69-454-2 receiving) despite the presence of Ronald Jones and receiving specialist Giovani Bernard proving to be a
great pairing with Tom Brady. His 4.5 ypc was the best of his
career and his 18.3 FPts/G was also No. 1 of his five-year career.
He’s had to sit out the past two games and Week 18 as well,
but he should be ready for the playoffs. As long as Brady and
the passing threats return for 2022 (Brady, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski are all free agents), Fournette should be a top-10
2) Before the season, who had Nick Chubb outside the top-10
Put your hand down … no one had Chubb rated 12th at just
16.2 FPts/G or 11th in total RB fantasy points (210.3). Until
this season, Chubb had increased his production from 12.2 as an
under-used rookie to 16.3 and 17.5 last season. Despite “1B”
running back Kareem Hunt missing much of the season (eight games),
Chubb’s production dropped in 2021. I blame the lack of
a passing threat (see Baker Mayfield) or elite weapons on the
outside (no, Odell Beckham Jr. is not elite anymore and Jarvis Landry is just a possession receiver).
3) Christian McCaffrey is still an elite fantasy running back.
Sorry, no. I’ll go to everyone’s favorite cliché,
“the No. 1 ability is availability.” CMC has played
in just 10 games over the past two seasons after making 48 straight
starts to being his career. I can’t throw my entire 2022
draft dependent on a first-round gamble on a back with multi-year
major injuries. I also have concerns for Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook, but I’ll still believe in Derrick Henry as it was
his first major injury in six seasons. My early top-five for next
year includes: Henry, Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Joe Mixon
and Najee Harris.
4) Aaron Jones is still an elite fantasy running back.
No, absolutely not. I have been very impressed with AJ Dillon
and obviously so have the Green Bay management as he’s taken
a huge amount of the workload from Jones. I was particularly impressed
with his pass-catching ability this season (33-309-2) considering
he never did that at Boston College (845 rushing attempts, but
just 21 receptions in three years). For 2022, Jones should be
your second-best back, not a No. 1.
5) Covid-19 did not hurt the 2021 fantasy year.
I still always have fun playing, but this virus destroyed lineups
on a weekly basis and forced many fantasy owners to choose depth
over a best possible starting lineup. It brought way more luck
into the game than in pre-virus days (Will your guy test positive
on Saturday? Will he come back from a Monday positive test?).
Lineup predictability has simply not been possible the past two