It’s time for fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em, Week 18 edition. Last week, I urged readers to do the unthinkable and start Mac Jones over Kyler Murray (they finished within 1 point of each other) and Jakobi Meyers over Terry McLaurin (a strong win). I’ve sorted through lineups, practice reports, and game scripts to come up with my favorite under-the-radar Week 18 starts and sits.
NFL Start ‘Em for Week 18
Which undervalued players are most likely to outperform fantasy expectations this Sunday? As always, these are not obvious calls. The goal is to come up with commonly overlooked diamonds in the rough.
Start ‘Em | Davis Mills, QB, Houston Texans
Expert Consensus Week 18 Ranking: QB22
Two weeks ago, Joe Burrow was my No. 1-ranked fantasy QB, and I predicted 350+ yards and 3+ TDs. Last week, I anticipated big things from the 20th-ranked Jones. Today, it’s all about Davis Mills, who has been shockingly decent despite throwing to one of the worst receiving corps in the league.
There was a time when Tyrod Taylor was the starter. Seems like forever ago. If Mills gets backfield and receiver upgrades this offseason, he could be on the top-16 QB spectrum.
But before that, there’s Week 18. He’ll face a Tennessee team giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. They’re also the stingiest defense when it comes to opposing RB fantasy points. Rex Burkhead, David Johnson, and Royce Freeman are not the keys to victory. Mills and Brandin Cooks are.
I’m expecting 250+ yards and 2+ touchdowns for Mills in a statement game for a rookie with nothing to lose.
Start ‘Em | Patrick Taylor, RB, Green Bay Packers
Expert Consensus Week 18 Ranking: RB91
If you’re trusting the experts, Reggie Bonnafon and Benny Snell are safer bets than Green Bay’s No. 3 RB, Patrick Taylor. I pushed Taylor earlier this week as a must-add from the waiver wire. I’m pushing him again as a fantastic streamer even though he’s off virtually every other fantasy radar.
Why would the Packers risk injuries to Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon? Why wouldn’t they cut Taylor loose in a meaningless game after wrapping up the top seed in the NFC?
With Taylor, you’re getting a guy who ran for over 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns in his final full season at the University of Memphis. A foot injury limited him to only six games as a senior, but he had a very respectable 55 college receptions.
It’s unclear if Taylor can be a complete back in the NFL. But he’s good enough to generate 10+ points against the Lions assuming he gets the touches I think he will.
NFL Sit ‘Em for Week 18
None of these players are obvious sits in pretty much any league, any other week. But too often, managers feel pressure to start players who are supposed to do well, even if the circumstances are more challenging than they seem. Here are my biggest under-the-radar Week 18 busts.
Sit ‘Em | Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, RB, Green Bay Packers
Expert Consensus Week 18 Ranking: RB26 and RB27, respectively
You knew I’d be headed in this direction. I don’t understand why experts are pushing the Packers’ dynamic backfield duo as high-end RB3s. In the final week of last season, the 26th- and 27th-best-performing fantasy RBs scored 12.3 and 11.4 points on a combined 18 touches. That seems farfetched for players who will be instrumental — I repeat, instrumental — in the Packers’ three-game postseason push to a Super Bowl victory.
At most, I would anticipate 2-3 touches each for Jones and Dillon. At minimum, zero. Don’t believe the hype. Trust in Green Bay’s overriding interest in resting their key players at the end of the longest regular season in NFL history.
Sit ‘Em | CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Expert Consensus Week 18 Ranking: WR12
Tread carefully with CeeDee Lamb. I write this as someone who wouldn’t have won my league’s title without him.
Just ahead of Week 6, I traded for Lamb and was staring at a likely 2-4 record. I needed about 7 more points from Lamb in overtime, which seemed unlikely with Dallas moving into field-goal range for the game-winner. But then, Dak Prescott took a shot at the end zone, and Lamb caught it for the touchdown. Two months later, I eked into the playoffs on a points-based tiebreaker. That last-second catch proved to be the difference.
Fast-forward to Week 18, and we have to wonder why experts are ranking Lamb as a must-start fantasy WR. The Cowboys likely will be the No. 4 seed in the NFC. Sure, they could move up a bit if the right upsets hit. But realistically, given Michael Gallup’s season-ending injury last weekend, I don’t see Dallas risking an even more catastrophic loss in a game that cannot give them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Maybe you’ll get 6-10 points from Lamb, but you’re likely to receive less than that.