Two bad teams produced big performances and decided many fantasy titles Sunday afternoon, as the Seahawks/Lions game nearly doubled its over/under of 41 points. Rain wasn’t a factor as some feared, and Russell Wilson had his biggest fantasy game of the season while finishing as the No. 2 QB this week. Possibly playing his final home game for Seattle, Wilson tossed more than two touchdowns for the first time since Week 1, as his season has gone anything but expected. His six rushing attempts Sunday were also a season-high.
Rashaad Penny ran for a league-high 170 yards this week, finishing as fantasy’s RB1 by a wide margin. Penny could’ve had at least two more scores Sunday and is clearly talented; it’s too bad he’s also one of the league’s biggest injury risks … Even while having fantasy’s top-scoring back as a teammate, DK Metcalf was this week’s WR3, scoring three touchdowns. Metcalf has somehow produced the most disappointing 12-touchdown season in recent memory.
Dan Campbell’s version of D’Andre Swift being “cut loose” was apparently two carries at halftime (and ending with six touches). It was a frustrating outcome for those who gambled on Swift during fantasy championship week while facing a Seattle defense that entered as the friendliest in the league to receiving backs.
Amon-Ra St. Brown became the first rookie in NFL history with at least eight catches in five straight games, and the Sun God also ran in a score. Tim Boyle and the return of Swift couldn’t slow down St. Brown, who was fantasy's second-highest scorer in Week 17 and is going to cost an incredibly high draft pick in PPR leagues next year.
The Rams weren’t in an easy spot with the game moving to 10 A.M. (for TV reasons), and Matthew Stafford tossed his NFL-high fourth pick-six of the season, but LA won anyway. Stafford was barely a top-15 fantasy QB this week facing an injury-riddled Baltimore secondary that just allowed the fourth-most passing yards in a game in NFL history. He’s now recorded the most starts ever without a playoff win … Tyler Huntley also had an ugly pick and a disappointing fantasy game, and anyone who thinks he’s on par with Lamar Jackson as a passer simply isn’t paying attention ... Sony Michel gets another tough run defense (SF) in Week 18 but remains a must fantasy start as LA’s workhorse, while Cooper Kupp kept his NFL-record going with his 12th straight game with 90+ yards receiving.
The Raiders’ offense didn’t explode one game following playing the Broncos, but that had plenty to do with an extremely conservative game plan during the team’s upset win. Foster Moreau suffered as a result, although Zay Jones continued to emerge as fantasy-relevant … T.Y. Hilton lucked into his long touchdown, but it all evened out when Carson Wentz later missed him wide-open for a would-be 80-yard TD.
More like fourth-and-Renfrow.
Is Mike Glennon awful or terrible? The Giants finished with -10 passing yards — the fewest since Ryan Leaf's Chargers in 1998 (40 rush attempts compared to 11 passes is pretty wild). He had more interceptions than completions beyond the line of scrimmage. Glennon’s total EPA (-31.4) was in the 0th percentile, and his CPOE was -30.7. And apparently, Jake Fromm is even worse! … David Montgomery nearly had a third touchdown late but instead lost fantasy points while throwing an interception. He’s a locked-in top-10 fantasy back (although he saw just two targets Sunday after entering leading all RBs in target percentage over the last month), but Montgomery has 43 carries for 109 yards (2.5 YPC) over the last two weeks ... Darnell Mooney is someone to target in fantasy drafts next year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Jets
Antonio Brown went shirtless and exited the field (the league?) in a wild scene, as Tom Brady threw for 400+ yards and three scores despite missing AB and Chris Godwin, having a hobbled Mike Evans and getting zero from the team’s running game (that found them relying on Le’Veon Bell after Ronald Jones left injured). After the Jets passed on kicking a short FG to go up seven points, Brady tossed a game-winning score to the emerging Cyril Grayson that tied him with Aaron Rodgers for the most seasons (three) with 40-TD passes in NFL history.
You didn't just play Braxton Berrios for his PPR floor, as the alpha receiver also ran in a score Sunday. Berrios had two touchdowns over the first 20 minutes and forced AB into retirement … Michael Carter looked to be in store for a monster game before leaving in the first quarter with a concussion. Elijah Moore and Carter look like two of the most exciting young players at their position in the league.
Atlanta Falcons @ Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen tossed three interceptions over four passes during one rough stretch, finishing with an ugly CPOE (-13) and just 120 yards with no scores through the air (in fairness Stefon Diggs had a drop in the end zone). He was the No. 7 fantasy QB this week anyway thanks to a big game on the ground, as both Allen and Devin Singletary rushed for two touchdowns … Cole Beasley turned six targets into 22 scoreless yards; it’s time to give Isaiah McKenzie the full-time slot role … Cordarrelle Patterson’s first half of the season was a lot better than his second.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow has finished as fantasy’s QB1 in back-to-back weeks, throwing for 971 yards (11.4 YPA) with an 8:0 TD:INT ratio over that span. But it was the Ja’Marr Chase show Sunday, as he set the rookie record for receiving yards (266) in a game in which the impressive wideout somehow made scoring three touchdowns look easy. Burrow was removed late after twisting his (non-ACL repaired) leg but appeared good to go afterward … Darrel Williams dominated KC’s backfield with Clyde Edwards-Helaire out, but Tyreek Hill picked the fantasy championship weeks to have two of his quietest games of the season (Sunday’s was especially confusing in a game that totaled 65 points) … With 50 seconds left at the one-yard line, the Bengals aggressively went for it on fourth-and-goal with the score tied (ultimately resulting in a field goal as time expired thanks to a penalty, as KC somehow scored just three points in the second half).
It was as if Matt LaFleur were coaching. Only the opposite.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots
Mac Jones played extremely well, while Trevor Lawrence continued to struggle mightily (although he was able to toss his second touchdown over the last nine games while trailing 50-3). There’s no chance Bill Belichick would swap QBs in this game, which is wild in hindsight … Kristian Wilkerson came out of nowhere to record two touchdowns, while Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson also both added two scores. Harris has five touchdowns over the last two weeks while totaling fewer than 30 touches. Stevenson will be one of the most attractive mid-round 2022 fantasy picks.
Miami Dolphins @ Tennessee Titans
Miami entered as the stingiest defense against fantasy backs over the last eight weeks when schedule/opponent adjusted, yet D’Onta Foreman ran for the second-most yards (132) in the league this week. The Titans beat a team on a seven-game winning streak by 31 points despite a quiet game from A.J. Brown, as Ryan Tannehill attempted just 18 passes.
Jaylen Waddle also had a surprisingly quiet fantasy championship week despite facing a Tennessee defense that entered allowing the second-most fantasy points to receivers this season. The big issue was Tua Tagovailoa, who was wildly inaccurate (4th percentile CPOE) and continued to have a big fumbling problem.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team
Taylor Heinicke is among the league leaders in turnover-worthy plays, and none may have been worse than his game-ending interception Sunday that came during a first down ... In a turn of events, Jalen Hurts wasn’t a top-15 fantasy QB this week, but Boston Scott finished as a top-three RB. Hurts was elusive both on the field and also off it.
Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert played well as usual, including a nice deep connection with Mike Williams ... Drew Lock got 9.8 YPA without any turnovers while playing through a shoulder injury, also posting a better CPOE and higher aDOT than Herbert while missing Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick (and Courtland Sutton less than 100%). Denver’s running backs also managed just 73 yards on 24 carries against the league’s last-ranked run defense in DVOA. Apparently, I’ve become a Lock apologist … Noah Fant took advantage of his teammates being sidelined and was fantasy’s top-scoring tight end in Week 17.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
Taysom Hill led New Orleans in rushing yards and finished as a top-12 fantasy QB this week. Quarterbacks who run simply have an unfair advantage in our current scoring system … Marquez Callaway has emerged as the Saints’ clear No. 1 wide receiver over the last three weeks, while it was surprising to see DJ Moore and Robby Anderson fail to combine for more than 10 targets against NO’s pass-funnel defense … Sam Darnold took seven sacks, and the Panthers missed a short field goal, helping keep playoff hopes alive for the Saints. New Orleans hadn’t scored a touchdown in 11+ quarters before Alvin Kamara’s late TD catch.
Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers
After an extremely slow start that saw SF nearly shut out at halftime, Trey Lance settled down and finished as a top-10 fantasy QB during the second start of his career. He would have been the QB4 had a late rushing touchdown not been overturned by a penalty. Lance remains raw, but he was quite impressive for someone who didn’t know for sure he was starting until Saturday and with such little experience. Facing a solid Houston pass defense that’s ranked top-10 in DVOA for most of the season, Lance posted a strong CPOE (8.5) while recording the highest aDOT (11.6) in the league this week. Kyle Shanahan may disagree, but the 49ers offense clearly looks far more dangerous with Lance at QB compared to Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance averaged more air yards Sunday than any 49ers QB has in a game over the last three seasons. He’ll be ranked as a top-five fantasy QB in 2022 at minimum.
George Kittle saw just two targets but made his lone catch count ... Elijah Mitchell recorded every SF carry by a running back during his return, as Jeff Wilson was given zero touches ... Davis Mills entered playing well (albeit with big home/road splits) but struggled against an injury-riddled San Francisco secondary. Brandin Cooks’ day could’ve been even bigger, as he had a 50-yard catch nullified by a holding penalty and then later drew two lengthy pass interference flags on the same drive. He essentially accounted for 100 yards on one drive but gave fantasy managers nothing to show for it. The 49ers have committed by far the most pass interference penalties in the NFL this season.
Arizona Cardinals @ Dallas Cowboys
In a classic buy-low, sell-high matchup, the Cardinals pulled off the upset after entering with a three-game losing streak and facing a Cowboys team that scored 42 points before halftime last week. In fact, Dallas entered averaging 38.4 points at home this season yet scored just seven points entering the fourth quarter Sunday, and the Cardinals were the first playoff team the Cowboys have faced in Dallas all season … Dak Prescott’s fantasy stats were a lot better than he played Sunday, and he finishes the season with 24 touchdowns and just two interceptions over eight games at home … Ezekiel Elliott was a bust in the fantasy finals, while Chase Edmonds didn’t smash as hoped with James Conner out … Maybe the catch of the year happened during a fake punt, while Michael Gallup suffered a torn ACL during his nice TD grab … Antoine Wesley (whom Kliff Kingsbury coached at Texas Tech) pulled down two scores, one on fourth down and the other even more impressive … Trevon Diggs failed to become the first player since 1980 to record 12 interceptions in a season, and he’s allowed the most yards in coverage in the league this year.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
Sean Mannion was a significant downgrade from Kirk Cousins, resulting in the season-worst performance from Dalvin Cook (26 scoreless yards). The Vikings’ center had the team’s longest play of the night — that tells you all you need to know … Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams continued to play catch, while AJ Dillon saw more touches than Aaron Jones and ran in both of the team’s rushing scores. While sharing a backfield, the 6-0, 250-pound Dillon finished with more PPR points this week than Alvin Kamara, Austin Ekeler and Jonathan Taylor. Drafters will be fighting over Dillon next year … With Sunday night’s win, the Packers locked up the NFC’s No. 1 seed.