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AP Photo/Stephen Brashear

Week 18 Fantasy: “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down”


Many redraft leagues don’t play in Week 18, so this week’s article is a little different to also help with DFS lineups (which we have a full article for on Friday). To view our complete Week 18 rankings, subscribe to Fantasy Consigliere, and be sure to listen to the Fantasy Consigliere Podcast this week to get an early look at our 2022 redraft rankings in addition to some dynasty investments I’d think about making.

 

Quarterback

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Taysom Hill (@ ATL)

Atlanta is a team that Hill faced twice as a starter last season, and his production as a runner (132 yards and two touchdowns) made him an easy QB1 for both matchups. With at least 11 carries in all four starts this year, Hill will bring plenty of upside and should be a safe option in lineups with some teams potentially resting and/or pulling starters early.

 

Thumbs Up: Ryan Tannehill (@ HOU)

The first game against Houston did not go well at all for Tannehill and the Titans (he threw four interceptions in a 22-13 loss), but with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones healthy, I expect much different results on Sunday. In the five previous meetings versus the Texans, Tannehill had thrown for 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions; he’s a top-ten option for me.

 

Thumbs Up: Ben Roethlisberger (@ BAL)

It resulted in a career-low 2.67 yards per attempt, but Roethlisberger certainly didn’t go out with his gun in his holster at Heinz Field—throwing 34 times in the first half—and I’d expect him to come out firing again this weekend for what is likely his final game. The secondary of Baltimore is in worse shape than it was a month ago when Big Ben had 236 yards and two scores against them, so he’s an underrated streaming option for Week 18.

 

Thumbs Up: Jared Goff (v GB)

Goff (knee) could end up sitting again, but if he returns for the season finale, Detroit’s quarterback will be in a good spot to end the season on a high note with Green Bay set to rest many of their key defenders. Notably, the Lions moved the ball well way back in Week 2 against the Packers, and the offense has rounded into form down the stretch. Goff is at least a cheap option worth considering in DFS lineups.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Tyler Huntley (v PIT)

The Steelers have given Lamar Jackson (ankle) as much trouble as anyone throughout his young career, and their defensive game plan should be similar this weekend if Huntley starts for the Ravens. For what it’s worth, Huntley hasn’t found the end zone (as a passer or as a runner) if two of his three starts this season.

 

Thumbs Down: Kirk Cousins (v CHI)

If he’s cleared before Sunday, Cousins will be returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list with limited practice time, and it’s not a great matchup for him against a Chicago defense that limited the Minnesota passing attack to 87 yards in Week 15. Not having Adam Thielen (ankle) lowers the floor and ceiling for Cousins, and I don’t trust the Vikings to come out ready to play with playoffs no longer in reach.

 

Thumbs Down: Mac Jones (@ MIA)

As expected, the Patriots got Jones back on track last week (227 yards and three touchdowns) in a 50-10 victory over Jacksonville, but now I’d anticipate a conservative game plan to avoid draining some of his confidence ahead of the postseason. Over the past eight games, Miami is allowing a miniscule 9.99 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks.

 

Thumbs Down: Tua Tagovailoa (v NE)

Tagovailoa is actually 2-0 versus the Patriots to begin his career, but he’s thrown for 173.5 yards per game with a 1:2 touchdown-interception ratio—and I don’t think we can count on the rushing production (three scores in those matchups) to keep him afloat again. Look for New England to take some of what Mike Vrabel and the Titans did to frustrate Tua last week.

 

Running Back

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Rashaad Penny (@ ARI)

Penny has rushed for 135+ yards in three of the past four games, and the Seahawks should continue feeding him as they decide whether they can rely on bringing him back for 2022. The former first-round pick got injured in the first matchup against Arizona, but he ripped off an 18-yard run to open the game, so hopefully he again picks up chunk yardage as stays healthy. I have him as an RB1 option.

 

Thumbs Up: Darrel Williams (@ DEN)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (collarbone) returning would push Williams back to FLEX territory, but we’ll fortunately know early in the week with the Chiefs playing on Saturday evening—and it’s a plus matchup for all the running backs based on how Denver defends Patrick Mahomes. Playing behind Edwards-Helaire in the first meeting, Williams still turned eight touches into 80 yards.

 

Thumbs Up: Samaje Perine (@ CLE)

Perine is in line to start for Joe Mixon (COVID-19), and he brings a stable floor with three-down usage and expected goal-line carries whether or not Cincinnati rests many of their key players. In two games with double-digit touches this season, Perine has combined for 22 carries, 111 rushing yards, five receptions, 47 receiving yards, and two total touchdowns.

 

Thumbs Up: Ronald Jones II (v CAR)

The opportunity for Jones to start over the past two weeks hasn’t gone as planned, but his home-run style can still lead to an explosion, and Tampa Bay will likely want to get the running game going—at home—ahead of the playoffs. The 24-year-old has scored a touchdown in four-straight games versus Carolina, and Tampa Bay’s backfield combined for 28.0 fantasy points against them a couple of weeks ago.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Cordarrelle Patterson (v NO)

A decreased role for Patterson just as the fantasy playoffs began has to sting fantasy owners that have stuck with him, and the decreased role as a pass-catcher has been an issue since catching six passes for 126 yards in the first matchup versus the Saints—with a combined 88 yards over the past seven games. While New Orleans has shown vulnerability in recent weeks, I expect they’ll do a good job stopping the run with playoffs in reach.

 

Thumbs Down: Cam Akers (v SF)

Akers’ return from an Achilles injury is remarkable, but I highly doubt he does much more than get his feet wet on Sunday, and the Rams will continue leaning on Sony Michel as they try to clinch the NFC West. Also, Los Angeles might not have a positive game flow if the first matchup (31-10 loss) and their five-game losing streak versus the Niners is any indication.

 

Thumbs Down: Chuba Hubbard (@ TB)

Although the Panthers were able to keep the game close last week (resulting in 17 carries for Hubbard), they are just two weeks removed from the rookie rushing six times for nine yards against Tampa Bay—who they’ll now have to face on the road to close out the season. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Ameer Abdullah end up leading the backfield in touches if things go south early.

 

Thumbs Down: Patrick Taylor Jr. (@ DET)

Taylor is in position for a heavy workload this week, and the projected volume makes him a strong option in DFS play (particularly due to his price). However, the Lions could come out fired up with a chance to get a win, and I’d have a difficult time relying on Taylor over more proven options for redraft owners still playing for a championship.

 

Wide Receiver 

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: A.J. Brown (@ HOU)

As stated in the open, the options are a bit different with daily fantasy options coming into play more this week, and I’ll have Brown locked into my lineup. Excluding the first matchup against Houston in which he was injured, Brown has gone for lines of 8/114/1, 4/124/1, 5/58/2, and 10/151/1 versus the divisional foe throughout his career—with two of those coming in the season finale. I have Brown as the No. 2 wideout this week with more fireworks expected.

 

Thumbs Up: Tyler Lockett (@ ARI)

Lockett is another player that’s dominated this week’s opponent as of late—catching 28-of-34 targets for 382 yards and four touchdowns over the past three games versus Arizona. With Russell Wilson coming off one of his best games of the season and D.K. Metcalf exploding for three scores in Week 17, I like how things are setting up for Lockett on Sunday.

 

Thumbs Up: Gabriel Davis (v NYJ)

Davis disappointed last week with just 40 scoreless yards in a start without Emmanuel Sanders (knee) in the lineup, but he could get another great opportunity to close out the regular season versus the Jets. In the first matchup, Davis needed just three targets to go for 105 yards, and he had four touchdowns in the three previous three games before last week. Consider him an upside FLEX play.

 

Thumbs Up: DeSean Jackson (v LAC)

Speaking of upside, Jackson wasn’t with Las Vegas in the first game versus the Chargers, but I have a feeling he’ll have at least one deep ball uncorked in his direction on Sunday night—and he should see single coverage with Brandon Staley needing to stop Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow, and potentially Darren Waller (ankle). If you need a big game, you could do worse.

 

Others: Terry McLaurin (@ NYG), Cedrick Wilson Jr. (@ PHI)

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Marquise Brown (v PIT)

Brown’s cold streak continued last week, and I don’t think he’ll snap it against a Pittsburgh defense that’s held the speedster to fewer than 56 yards in all but one career matchup. In general, Brown hasn’t scored since Week 7, and he’s gone for yardage totals of 41, 43, and 28 in Tyler Huntley’s starts over the past month.

 

Thumbs Down: K.J. Osborn (v CHI)

Osborn has stepped up in place of Adam Thielen with a score in four of the past five weeks, but the lone disappointment came against the Bears, and Sunday could be another slugfest between two teams that don’t like each other very much. I’d view Osborn as more of a shaky FLEX than strong WR3 option for the finale.

 

Thumbs Down: Courtland Sutton (v KC)

Sutton appeared here last month ahead of a matchup versus the Chiefs, and he was limited to two receptions for 15 scoreless yards in the loss. Simply put, this isn’t a matchup to target for him as a bigger wideout facing a bigger group of cornerbacks for Kansas City, and the best hope for a big game is Drew Lock letting it fly since Denver is eliminated from postseason contention.

 

Thumbs Down: Allen Robinson (@ MIN)

It was good to see Robinson back on the field after COVID-19 had a real impact on him in terms of weight loss and missed time, but it was again a modest stat line for him (4/35) compared to his usual standards, and now he’ll take on a Minnesota defense he’s never scored against in six career matchups. Hopefully the former Pro Bowl wideout lands somewhere this offseason to vault back in the weekly rankings, as it’s odd seeing him outside the top 50.

 

Others: Patriots WRs (@ MIA) 

 

Tight End

 

Thumbs Up of the Week: Pat Freiermuth (@ BAL)

The Ravens limited Freiermuth to three receptions for 26 yards earlier this season, but they remain susceptible to opposing tight ends, including 11.1 fantasy points per game allowed to the position over the past six weeks. Knowing how much Ben Roethlisberger trusts Freiermuth in scoring territory, I’d play him as a top-ten option to close out his rookie campaign.

 

Thumbs Up: Jared Cook (@ LV)

Cook went for a season-best 7/70/1 line against the Raiders in the first matchup, and being preoccupied with stopping Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams should result in more single coverage for the athletic tight end. A return from the reserve/COVID-19 list either today or tomorrow would make me feel better about Cook as an option.

 

Thumbs Up: Anthony Firkser (@ HOU)

Firkser found the end zone last week, and I think Tennessee will want to keep him involved ahead of the playoffs. Last year, Firkser had a game with eight receptions, 113 yards, and one touchdown against Houston, so perhaps he’ll have another big one on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown, and Firkser is a cheap stack for DFS lineups.

 

Thumbs Down of the Week: Tyler Conklin (v CHI)

All the options listed for Vikings-Bears will probably mean it turns into a shootout, but Conklin was limited to one reception for seven yards in the first meeting, and the Bears continued to play with an edge defensively despite falling out of contention weeks ago. I’d rather look elsewhere at tight end.

 

Thumbs Down: Cole Kmet (@ MIN)

Kmet was one of the bright spots on offense in the Week 15 game versus Minnesota (six receptions for 71 yards), and if not for a zero in the touchdown department, he might be getting more buzz right now with 56 receptions for 564 yards in Year 2. But the Vikings are usually stout versus the position, and I’d prefer the upside of someone like Jared Cook for Week 18.

 

Thumbs Down: Austin Hooper (v CIN)

Held to 30 or fewer yards in every game since the final week of November, Hooper has tumbled down the rankings a bit, and David Njoku is the clear preferred play in my opinion. Against the Bengals in particular, Hooper has been limited to five receptions for 55 scoreless yards in three career matchups.

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