Week 18 NFL observations to spin toward 2022's fantasy football season
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
Devin Singletary is going to be a third-round pick in 2022 if not second. More like Devin Home Run tary.
Josh Allen finished as fantasy’s QB1 in back-to-back years despite getting just 6.8 YPA and rushing for the fewest touchdowns of his career. His YPA splits in cold weather (5.6) versus warm (7.8) have been dramatic in a similar number of attempts, as the Bills are currently built to play best in a dome.
Sunday brought poor passing conditions, but Zach Wilson’s completion percentage over expectation (-31.2) was in the 1st percentile. As much as I love Elijah Moore and Michael Carter, Wilson could remain a problem for their fantasy values next year.
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp became the first player to win the WR triple crown since Steve Smith in 2005, while Deebo Samuel’s eight rushing touchdowns were the most by a wide receiver in NFL history.
Sean McVay had been 45-0 when leading at halftime during his coaching career, but the 49ers somehow won Sunday despite having the lowest win probability in a game during the Next Gen Stats era (after Kyle Shanahan punted with his placekicker down seven points inside 2:00 minutes left).
Elijah Mitchell looks like a big injury risk but will likely be a second-rounder in 2022 fantasy drafts as Shanahan’s clear workhorse.
Trent Williams was PFF’s highest graded player of all time this season.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Las Vegas Raiders
What an epic season finale, although we were robbed of what appeared to be an inevitable tie that would’ve given Justin Herbert a playoff berth instead of Ben Roethlisberger. Zay Jones drew a slightly questionable PI penalty during Las Vegas’ win.
Hunter Renfrow finished with the second-best catch rate (80%) over the last 30 seasons.
Seriously, how did the Raiders make the playoffs? Does this mean Jim Harbaugh isn’t coming back to the NFL?
New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
Cordarrelle Patterson just finished one of the stranger seasons on a down note, and the soon-to-be 31-year-old isn’t likely to have a high ADP in 2022.
Kyle Pitts was unable to break Mike Ditka’s tight end rookie yardage record while playing through a hamstring injury Sunday, but he’ll be someone to target at drafts next season after failing to live up to lofty expectations as a rookie that mostly had to do with a low TD%.
It’s too bad if Taysom Hill suffered a serious Lisfranc injury as feared, as his fantasy value is obviously tied to his ability to run (Hill averaged 11.3 carries over his four full starts).
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
Rashaad Penny ran for 135+ yards with at least one touchdown in four of the final five games. His 2022 fantasy value will depend on the free agent’s landing spot (expect a return to Seattle), but Penny is clearly one of the league’s better backs right now when healthy.
Russell Wilson ended the season strong, but it remains unclear where he’ll play in 2022.
The Cardinals finished with a point differential of -14 at home and +97 on the road this season.
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
Amon-Ra St. Brown is going to be a third/fourth round pick in PPR leagues next year, while D’Andre Swift and AJ Dillon will both be in the top-20.
Aaron Rodgers has posted a 38:0 TD:INT line versus his division over the last two seasons and is the heavy favorite to win MVP. Jordan Love (-14.5 CPOE) would be a slight downgrade should Rodgers leave/retire this offseason.
Green Bay enters the postseason with the coveted bye and getting David Bakhtiari and (hopefully) Jaire Alexander back, but the defense is below average.
The Lions gave away the No. 1 pick in the draft to Jacksonville with the win, but set the record for fourth-down attempts in an NFL season.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
Mike Zimmer was booed off the field, as he refused to run a play late for Justin Jefferson to break Randy Moss’ franchise record. Jefferson is going to be a first-round fantasy pick next year.
Draft Darnell Mooney next season. Aggressively.
Patrick Peterson’s first interception of the season was a pick-six.
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence badly outplayed Carson Wentz in a do-or-die game for the Colts, who lost by 15 points after entering favorites by more than two touchdowns. Lawrence made some eye-opening throws during the kind of performance that gives optimism for his 2022 outlook with a new coaching staff. Meanwhile, Wentz was trying to become the first QB ever not to throw an interception on the road all season but was picked off Sunday.
Jonathan Taylor had a quiet game (just 18 yards from scrimmage at halftime) but remains locked in as the clear No. 1 pick in all fantasy drafts next season. He hasn’t missed even a practice because of injury even through high school.
Michael Pittman is someone to target in 2022.
Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans
Davis Mills finished his rookie season getting 7.9 YPA with a 12:1 TD:INT ratio at home, as he posted a big game Sunday (he was fantasy’s QB4 this week) despite Brandin Cooks leaving injured, his RBs getting just 3.0 YPC and facing the AFC’s top seed. Detective Mills should absolutely enter 2022 as Houston’s starter.
It took until Week 18, but Julio Jones scored his first touchdown of the season Sunday.
Given his injury and age, I wouldn’t draft Derrick Henry in the top-five next year, but his ADP likely will be.
Washington Football Team @ New York Giants
It’s starting to look like Jake Fromm may not be New York’s long-term answer at quarterback.
Kenny Golladay was the highest-paid wide receiver in free agency but didn’t score a touchdown all season, but at least the Giants have two of the top seven picks in the draft.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
It’s become clearer why Tyler Huntley went undrafted the more he’s played, and Lamar Jackson looks like a strong target in 2022 coming off an injury-riddled year. Over the last three seasons, Jackson has finished first, first and fourth in fantasy points per dropback (and Rashod Bateman will be entering Year 2).
Mark Andrews finally supplanted Travis Kelce as fantasy’s No. 1 tight end this season, but don’t forget his target% shot through the roof when Huntley was playing QB. Just because Andrews scored the most fantasy points among tight ends this season doesn’t mean he should be drafted or ranked first at the position in 2022.
Najee Harris led the NFL in touches (381) as a rookie, although it was the fewest by the league leader since 2016 despite adding a game this year.
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Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Ja’Marr Chase averaged 38.7 yards on his touchdowns during his remarkable rookie season, and while he may be due for some regression, he may be worth a first-round fantasy pick next year anyway. Chase actually left a ton of points on the field thanks to drops, and the Bengals almost certainly won’t be so run-heavy in neutral situations next season with Joe Burrow another year removed from ACL surgery.
Samaje Perine has been sneaky good and looked like a DFS option in Week 18 with Cincinnati resting Joe Mixon, but instead he played zero offensive snaps (but 15 on special teams?) during a curious coaching decision.
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
Mac Jones struggled against pressure this season, and his first pass against Miami’s blitz-happy defense Sunday resulted in a pick-six. New England better hope there’s bad weather again in Buffalo on Saturday night.
Jaylen Waddle broke the rookie record for most receptions, but it remains possible he’ll have a different quarterback throwing to him next season. He'll definitely have a new coach.
Free Duke Johnson.
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady had a huge performance Sunday despite getting nothing from the run game and while missing both Chris Godwin and the team’s best receiver. Brady became the second player to ever throw 40 touchdowns in consecutive seasons; he did so ages 43 and 44.
DJ Moore had fewer receiving yards this season compared to last despite seeing 45 more targets. He could be a fantasy star but badly needs a QB upgrade.