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Fantasy Football Week 18 waiver wire pickups for those still hunting for a trophy

Elijah Mitchell #25 of the San Francisco 49ers

We appreciate the fact that a small slice of the fantasy audience is committed to wringing every possible stat from the regular season, even if it means deciding league championships in the most random and unpredictable week on the NFL calendar. For the hardcore Week 18 zealots among you, we're offering one last collection of recommended fantasy pickups, each of them available in at least 50% of Yahoo leagues and approved for use.

Let's go win this trophy, people. It's almost time for confetti and commemorative T-shirts.

Running Backs

Jamaal Williams, New Orleans Saints (18% rostered)

Williams handled an unexpectedly beefy workload against the Bucs, because Alvin Kamara checked out with an ankle issue and was unable to return. Kamara's injury had a high-ankle look to it, so he's hardly a lock to face the Falcons in Week 18. Williams delivered a respectable 71 total yards on 23 touches on Sunday, with four receptions included. He clearly belongs in your pickup plans, given the likelihood he'll see significant volume in the matchup ahead with Atlanta.

Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers (13%)

San Francisco clinched the top playoff seed in the NFC on Sunday, a well-timed development for a variety of reasons, one of which is the fact that Christian McCaffrey is dealing with a calf injury. So that's a fantasy nightmare.

It's impossible to imagine the Niners putting CMC at risk in Week 18, which should mean plenty of touches for Mitchell and Jordan Mason. Mitchell was effective in McCaffrey's absence on Sunday, per his usual, rushing 17 times for 80 yards and a goal-line score. He and Mason both deserve waiver attention this week. When healthy, Mitchell has been a productive back for the Niners, averaging 4.7 YPC for his career and catching 26 of 30 targets.

Pierre Strong Jr., Cleveland Browns (1%)

We're likely to see a heavy dose of Cleveland's junior varsity roster against the Bengals on Sunday, with the Browns having no clear incentive to risk the health of key starters ahead of the opening round of the postseason. Strong is a good bet to see significant volume against a defense that's allowing 4.7 YPC to opposing rushers. There's a hint of upside in Strong's profile, too, as he's averaged 5.8 yards per touch for his career and 3.3 yards after contact per attempt this season.

Quarterbacks

Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints (48%)

Carr was a priority streaming option against a beatable Tampa Bay pass defense in Week 17, and he delivered as expected. The vet produced his fourth straight multi-touchdown game, passing for 197 yards and two scores. Over the past month, he's thrown 10 TD passes and only two picks, which is basically as hot as he's ever gonna get. For the truly desperate, Carr remains playable in the season finale at home against Atlanta.

Tyrod Taylor, New York Giants (4%)

Taylor just produced his first 300-yard passing performance since 2016, roasting the Rams defense for 319 yards and one score while adding another 40 yards on the ground. We won't try to convince you it was a flawless performance by Taylor — he was sacked six times, threw a pick and had various misfires — but he was relentless and effective. He's about to face a dreadful Eagles defense in the finale. Philly just allowed a monster performance to Kyler Murray, giving up at least three passing scores for the sixth time this season.

Wide receivers and tight ends

Demarcus Robinson, Los Angeles Rams (28%)

Another week, another double-digit fantasy total from Robinson. His touchdown streak is finally over, but he still managed to catch six balls for 92 yards on a team-high 10 targets against the Giants. Robinson is now well ahead of Tutu Atwell in the Rams' receiving hierarchy and he's drawing end-zone chances. LA is about to face the Niners, a team that's already clinched everything worth clinching.

Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints (15%)

Johnson produced single-game season highs across the board in Sunday's win, snatching eight balls for 90 yards and one spike on a dozen targets. He also gave us one of the week's best catches:

Just in case you hadn't noticed, Johnson is now riding a three-game touchdown streak. At 8-8, New Orleans still has a postseason path, so this team won't be sitting anyone who can possibly go in Week 18.

Bo Melton, Green Bay Packers (0%)

Pressed into service due to injuries up and down Green Bay's receiving corps, Melton had a busy and productive night in the win over Minnesota. He caught six passes for 105 yards on nine chances, hauling in his first NFL touchdown reception along the way. The former Rutgers seventh-rounder is pretty clearly going to be needed in Week 18 against Chicago, with Christian Watson (hamstring), Jayden Reed (chest) and various others hurting.

Defense

Las Vegas Raiders (32%)

Antonio Pierce has enjoyed a pretty impressive run as the interim head coach in Vegas, all things considered. This team was a punchline under Josh McDaniels, but it's now a daunting matchup, just one week removed from a road win at Kansas City. The Raiders defense has delivered 13 sacks, eight takeaways and four touchdowns over their last three games. They now head home to finish the season against the Jarrett Stidham-led Broncos.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (37%)

It's been a struggle at times for Tampa Bay's defense throughout the year, but this group now gets a date with the withered husk of the 2023 Carolina Panthers to conclude the season. It's tough to believe that won't go well. Bryce Young has been sacked an alarming 59 times through 15 games while throwing only 11 TD passes. He's also tossed 10 picks and fumbled 10 times in a messy rookie season. We can trust the Bucs D against Young and his team's under-talented offense.