Kyle Soppe’s Week 18 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Outlooks for Jaylen Warren, Aaron Jones, and Jonathan Taylor

Have questions? Every single player on your radar is covered in this Week 18 preview of the 2023 fantasy football and regular-season finale!

If you’re sticking with me entering Week 18, that means you’ve advanced to play meaningful games, which is an impressive accomplishment. Or, you just like consuming fantasy football content. Either way, thank you for your time.

Not just this week. Every week. For the entire season. This is a game, but it can also be a grind, and the fact that you’ve hung around means you’re no casual. It means you are devoted to this like we are here at PFN, and that’s what makes this industry the absolute best!

I’m not going anywhere. Fantasy football content will be up through the postseason, so I’ll be in your ear. But the Cheat Sheet is a regular-season thing, and this is the conclusion.

I hope you’ll be back for more next season — we just got things rolling in July this year, can you imagine what the 2024 season holds?

Hint hint … big things!

Below are my thoughts on every player that figures to matter in this critical week. If you have Flex questions, don’t hesitate to hit me up on Twitter @KyleSoppePFN. I like helping you win more than you like winning, I promise!

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

  • Spread: Bengals -6
  • Total: 38.5
  • Browns implied points: 16.3
  • Bengals implied points: 22.3

The Browns have locked in the No. 5 seed in the AFC and have nothing to play for. With that in mind, you’re not playing any of their regulars with any confidence, be it in a DFS or season-long setting.

The Bengals are one of two .500 teams that cannot qualify for the postseason and, thus, carry some playing-time risk.

Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco: People questioned if Flacco was simply beating up on lesser competition. People questioned if Flacco was being carried by Amari Cooper’s contested catches.

People got their answers last week against the Jets in a game Flacco played without Cooper and, for an extended period of time, without Elijah Moore. All he did was light up the Jets for 309 yards (fourth straight 300-yard game) and three touchdowns (multiple TD passes in all five starts this season).

MORE: Can Joe Flacco Win Comeback Player of the Year?

Betting against Flacco (third-most passing yards ever for a player in his first five games with a team: 1,616) at this point is dangerous, but he has officially been ruled out for this week. The veteran is live for those of you playing in postseason contests, he’s clearly a nice fit for what this offense wants to do in support of their elite defense.

Elite. Joe Flacco. Get it?

Editor’s note: Flacco will not play for the Browns in Week 18 as Jeff Driskel will get the start.

Jake Browning: I don’t want to say that the clock has struck midnight on Browning, but his last two performances have been largely unimpressive and have him well off of my Week 18 radar, even against a defense with nothing to play for.

In those two games, Browning has just two touchdowns on 75 attempts, along with three interceptions and a completion percentage that is down 13.3 points from his four starts prior.

With his star receivers at less than full strength and nothing to play for, Browning doesn’t fit the mold of a punt DFS play or a streamer for annual managers who are looking to replace a sitting star.

Running Backs

Jerome Ford: The 2022 fifth-round pick filled in admirably for Nick Chubb, with his versatility piquing my interest. With all the reporting surrounding Chubb’s recovery hinting at optimism, Ford profiles as one of 2024’s most valuable handcuffs as opposed to someone set to open the season with standalone value.

Chubb averaged 18.6 touches per game from 2021-22, leaving little meat on the bone for a secondary option to hold value in an offense that will have question marks under center.

Joe Mixon: The Bengals have an out in Mixon’s contract after this season, and I can’t help but wonder if they use this game to see what fifth-round rookie Chase Brown can do.

Mixon has been valuable since the bye (top-15 RB in four of his past five and no worse than a low-end RB2 in eight of 10 games over that stretch). Thus, we have to pencil him in as a fantasy starter unless the Bengals suggest that he won’t be featured this week.

This is example one of a million why your fantasy league should be wrapped up prior to Week 18. If I have Mixon, I’m playing him and pivoting if news surfaces, as opposed to the other way around.

As for Brown, he has caught multiple passes in four straight games, a positive development to balance out the fact that his carry count has dipped in four straight. Mixon was RB27 when these teams first met, and that is the neighborhood I’d rank Brown in should we get word that his role will be expanded in the season finale.

Wide Receivers

Amari Cooper: In his second season with Cleveland, Cooper set a career-high in receiving yards (1,250), averaging a career-high 17.4 yards per catch in the process. It’s that last part that will drive the 2024 analysis.

Two seasons with Cleveland: 16.1 ypc
Last two seasons with Dallas: 12.4

An increase in splash plays rarely increases for a player as he ages, but there is no denying that Cooper’s downfield production and ability to excel in contested situations (13th-highest contested catch rate this season) look sustainable.

I’ll be reacting to the Browns’ QB situation and the fantasy industry. If his franchise record-breaking Week 16 results in inflation around Cooper’s stock next season, I’ll likely be off of him. But if the concerns at the QB position and age decline drag his ADP down? Sign me up.

Ja’Marr Chase: All things considered, this season could have been worse for Chase managers. Assuming he plays at least a decent role on Sunday, he’s a good bet to clear 100 catches and 1,200 yards — numbers that aren’t easy to come by when your starting QB misses significant time.

Unless we are told otherwise, I’d expect Chase to play on Sunday, with any minor dip in playing time being offset by playing against some reserves. Chase’s stock as an elite fantasy receiver is safe, and he will be drafted as such this summer — he’s worth it.

Tee Higgins: With four missed games already on his ledger this season, it’s hard to envision Higgins being heavily involved this weekend after a game in which he sat for an extended period with a hamstring injury.

This hasn’t been a completely lost season for the Bengals star (four top10 finishes), but with five finishes outside of the top 75 at the position — including a zero-point effort in the opener against these Browns on eight targets — he certainly has failed to live up to preseason expectations.

The soon-to-be 25-year-old isn’t a top-30 receiver for me this week with all of the moving pieces, but Higgins is someone that I guarantee you I will have ranked higher than consensus heading into the 2024 season (check out the Tuesday podcast for a way-too-early 2024 Mock Draft!).

Tyler Boyd: Despite Chase and Higgins missing time at various points this season, Boyd hasn’t had a usable game since the middle of November, and I don’t think that changes this week.

MORE: PFN’s FREE NFL Playoff Predictor

For 2024, Boyd remains a low-end depth piece. There is a path for him to carve out a niche role in an offense that rebounds with Joe Burrow back under center and that keeps him rosterable. However, the volume simply isn’t high enough when this offense is at full strength to consider him anything close to a weekly option.

Tight Ends

David Njoku: The backup QBs in Cleveland unlocked the version of Njoku that we’ve been begging for, and it allowed him to blow past his career highs across the board:

81 catches — hadn’t eclipsed 80 targets since 2018
Six TDs — his previous career high was four scores
882 yards — his first season north of 639

The physical tools are certainly in place for a player who was drafted in the first round back in 2017. My concern stems from an underwhelming start to the season with Deshaun Watson under center, as that figures to be how the 2024 season opens as well.

I have Njoku penciled in as a top-12 option at the position, but he’s not one that I’m overextending for and likely one that I don’t land, given how much his stock has risen over the past month and a half.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

  • Spread: Lions -3
  • Total: 45
  • Vikings implied points: 21
  • Lions implied points: 24

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: Without multiple TD passes in three of his past four games, Goff is trending in the wrong direction. But he’s at home and in a goofy week ranking-wise. That’s all it takes to crack the top 10 for Detroit’s signal-caller.

This season, Goff has fired a touchdown pass on 6.9% of his passes at home compared to just 3.4% on the road. While his production in the first meeting (QB23) doesn’t jump off the screen at you, Detroit’s ability to possess the ball for over 38 minutes in that win could tweak Minnesota’s defensive approach and, thus, open up splash plays for this passing game.

Goff has averaged at least 8.0 yards per pass attempt in three of his past four indoor games. If he even approaches that number on Sunday, you’ll be happy to have plugged him in.

Running Backs

Ty Chandler: The Vikings as a team ran 11 times for 17 yards when these two teams played in Week 16. While that sort of inefficiency is difficult to project, the Lions do own the third-best per-carry run defense in the league, so it’s not as if their success was an outlier.

Chandler hasn’t been a top-30 running back in three of four games since the bye. With Minnesota pivoting back to Nick Mullens at halftime of their Week 17 loss, this looks like an offense that wants to count on the pass more than the run.

MORE: Soppe’s Early Fantasy Football Week 18 RB Rankings

Chandler’s path to posting the RB2 numbers that I believe he’s capable of is the pass game. He’s caught exactly three passes in three of his past four games and owns an 86.4% catch rate for the season.

It’s unlikely that Chandler breaks the slate, but a 15-touch, 70-yard performance has value and could be very useful if he can find paydirt against the fifth-worst red-zone defense.

Jahmyr Gibbs: With at least 15 carries in consecutive games for the first time this season, Gibbs is trending in as positive direction as any fantasy manager could realistically ask for.

Two weeks ago against Minnesota, he earned an RB3 ranking. I would worry about the fact that he doesn’t have more than 20 receiving yards in six straight, but in each of those games, he has a run gaining at least 15 yards. This gives access to splash plays by way of the handoff.

Gibbs is likely to be picked in the first three rounds next season, and it’ll be 100% justified. The Lions have worked this thunder and lightning approach in consecutive seasons to perfection, and Gibbs is an ideal fit.

David Montgomery: The veteran ran for his 12th score of the season last week, and he’s not just a bulldozer. He’s averaged north of 4.5 yards per carry in six of his past eight games.

Like Gibbs, he hasn’t been involved in the passing game — he’s yet to clear 22 receiving yards in a game — but with four straight finishes in the RB17-25 range, Montgomery’s status as a productive “Robin” next to “Batman Gibbs” has been solidified.

Wide Receivers

Justin Jefferson: The best receiver in our game is back, and with the Vikings in desperation mode, he figures to see as many looks as he can handle against the defense with the fifth-highest opponent pass rate above expectation.

The early-season injury put Jefferson managers in a bind, but assuming he’s healthy, he’s as good as it gets and will be a certain first-round pick in 2024.

Jordan Addison: The USC product will be a player I have my eye on come draft season, but I’m not overly interested in him this week – even against the sixth-worst defense, in terms of yards per attempt.

Amon-Ra St. Brown: The “Sun God” is likely to be a first-round pick next season, and I’d be willing to pay that premium.

He has scored in three straight games, including a Week 16 matchup with Minnesota, where he finished as the WR8, and he has recovered after a two-game dip in efficiency by catching 25 of 31 looks over his past three. There’s simply nothing St. Brown can’t do, and that versatility is what allows him to be a consistently elite option in all formats.

Jameson Williams: We have word that the ankle injury Williams suffered in the second half last week in Dallas is nothing to worry about. That means we can look to him as an upside Flex option in this spot.

The deep-ball threat hauled in a 63-yard catch last week on the heels of consecutive games with six-plus targets. The hope is for him to one day marry the big plays with the above-average volume — we just aren’t there yet. Still, either one separately holds enough value to warrant consideration in a wacky week like this.

Tight Ends

Sam LaPorta: The rookie just continues to impress, and you should have zero reservations about labeling him as an elite option at the position.

LaPorta posted a season-high 12 targets against the Cowboys last week, and with eight of his nine scores coming at home, we’re looking at a potential week winner.

Williams is progressing a bit, but LaPorta looks the part of a strong fantasy TE for years to come. I have him as my TE5 right now for 2024.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

  • Spread: Packers -3
  • Total: 44
  • Bears implied points: 20.5
  • Packers implied points: 23.5

Quarterbacks

Justin Fields: If only we had an example of the Packers playing a divisional rival that had nothing on the line in Week 18 with their playoff fate on the line.

Oh wait, there was last season when the already-eliminated Lions knocked the Packers out of the playoff mix. In Lambeau. Winning for the fifth time in six games to close the season.

The 2023 Bears are not making the playoffs and are playing in Lambeau having won four of five games. Weird.

Whether Fields is looking to impress his current or future employer down the stretch, he’s succeeding. He’s run for at least 45 yards in seven of eight games and has been a top-five producer at the position in three of his past four.

I see no reason to forecast anything different this week against a Packers defense that can be suspect at times and an offense that has put up 30 points in consecutive games (their first 30-point efforts since the 38-20 beatdown of these Bears in Week 1).

Jordan Love: I’ve been as critical as anyone on Love this season. And while I still think he has plenty of room for further growth, there’s simply no denying that he looks in control right now.

Week 1 meeting: QB3

The Giants of all teams are the only ones to hold Love without multiple TD passes since early October, and the efficiency has followed.

Weeks 2-8: 7+ yards per pass in 0 of 6 games
Week 9-17: 7+ yards per pass in 8 of 9 games

Love’s been operating for much of the season without a fully healthy Christian Watson and a developing Jayden Reed. Could the stars align for a Packers playoff berth by way of a Love explosion against the defense that allows the second-highest percentage of yards to be gained through the air?

I’m proceeding with a little caution, but he’s a viable QB in all formats.

Running Backs

Khalil Herbert: With back-to-back top-10 finishes, Herbert is roughly four months late on my preseason optimism. That said, he’s looked good enough lately for the Bears to healthy scratch D’Onta Foreman last week, leaving Herbert as the unquestioned bell cow in an offense that needs to run the ball to maximize Fields’ impact.

The Packers allow 38.3% of opponent yards to be picked up on the ground, the fifth-highest rate in the league and a driving force behind my RB2 ranking of Herbert this week.

Remember that Lions win over the Packers in Week 18 that I mentioned earlier? They ran Jamaal Williams 16 times for 72 yards and a pair of scores. If the Bears are going to pull off this upset, Herbert will be a big part of it.

Roschon Johnson: The rookie cashed in a carry from two yards out last week on his way to his second-best finish of the season (RB18). His best finish?

Week 1 (RB12) against these Packers.

In that game against Green Bay, Johnson caught six passes and found the end zone. I’m not sure he can replicate that success this time around, but could he do one of those things?

I think it’s possible. He’s my favorite of the secondary backs this week (ahead of the Chase Browns and Tyler Allgeiers of the world) and lands just inside of my top 35 at the position.

Aaron Jones: We thought Jones would have some RB1 appeal entering the season, and he fueled that fire with a 127-yard, two-touchdown season-opening win at Soldier Field.

Of course, the rest of the season hasn’t gone his way, but Jones has finished as a viable fantasy starter in all three games back from injury. Now, he gets this season’s worst red-zone defense. (Full disclosure: Chicago doesn’t allow many red-zone trips, but 70.7% of those drives do end in touchdowns.)

Jones is in the RB1 conversation this week, and if you want DFS leverage off of what I assume will be popular Love stacks, you have my stamp of approval!

AJ Dillon: The drafting of Love to a team that had Aaron Rodgers now looks very defensible — the same cannot be said about Dillon.

The fourth-year man has seen his ypc drop every season and has a total of 14 touches (zero targets) over the past two weeks as Jones has come on strong.

Dillon is not to be near starting lineups this week, and until we have evidence proving otherwise, is he not just a bigger version of Joshua Kelley with more draft capital?

Dillon’s not a handcuff I’m prioritizing next season.

Wide Receivers

DJ Moore: Say what you will about Fields as a passer — his connection with Moore is something special. His WR1 has seen at least 10 targets in three of his past five games and has a 30+ yard catch in four of his past six.

Moore’s first season in Chicago has seen him set career highs in yards (1,300) and touchdowns (eight). There’s nothing about this connection that looks fluky to me, which means you’re not thinking twice about whether or not you should have Moore active.

The 2024 conversation is an interesting one, as it largely hinges on what the Bears elect to do at the draft. With Fields under center, Moore is a part of the WR1 conversation. Without Fields, he falls to the back end of the WR2 tier for me.

Christian Watson: It’s been more than a month since Watson last played due to a lingering hamstring injury, but there is cautious optimism regarding his status for Week 18 (practiced in full on Wednesday).

In theory, he’s a good fit for what the Packers want to do in terms of stretching the field. In reality, the health concerns are real.

I have Watson ranked as a shaky Flex play this week as I hedge his talent with the injury.

I like this matchup for him, but if Reed is active and Jones continues to produce on the ground, I worry about the floor that a low-target count could create.

Jayden Reed: The impressive rookie was “pretty sore” following Sunday night’s dismantling of the Vikings, making his status one to watch with a close eye.

Given the importance of this game, limited practice reps are to be expected for Reed. He’s been banged up for a month now, and the long NFL season can wear down rookies in a hurry.

That said, Reed has reached the “if he plays, you play him” tier for me. He’s earned 26 targets over the past three weeks and continues to blend spectacular catch potential with yac upside. I don’t want to say he’s Rashee Rice but with a lesser quarterback, but I won’t deny it, either.

Romeo Doubs: If either Reed or Watson sits, Doubs immediately jumps onto my DFS radar and would be ranked as a low-end Flex play.

We saw him earn targets in mass earlier this season (25 targets over a two-week stretch). We saw him score twice against these Bears in the season opener. And we’ve seen Doubs post a top-20 contested catch rate this season.

This kid can play, but I’m not digging down to the WR3 in an offense with an efficient run game and a capable pass-catching TE. Doubs is off my radar for now — but that could change in a significant way if my feel on Watson and/or Reed is inaccurate.

Tight Ends

Cole Kmet: Chicago’s promising tight end was limited last week with a knee injury, resulting in just 13 targetless snaps being played against the Falcons.

Despite hardly practicing, the team felt he was healthy enough to play last week, so I’m assuming he is active this week and plays in a more fantasy-friendly fashion — should he avoid any setbacks.

Kmet was seeing 6.8 targets per game in his eight games prior to the underwhelming Week 17. Assuming that health isn’t a major concern, he’s safely inside my top 10 at the position in this weird week — one spot behind …

Tucker Kraft: Four straight games north of 45 receiving yards is noteworthy for the TE position, especially when it comes from an athletic rookie playing in an offense that lacks an alpha receiver.

In those four contests, Kraft owns an 81.8% catch rate and has a 27+ yard catch in three of them. In a week where the ugly gets uglier at the TE position with Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Isaiah Likely, among other weekly lineup locks who don’t have any team motivation this weekend, Kraft elevates to my TE6!

MORE: Soppe’s Early Fantasy Football Week 18 TE Rankings

It’s possible that Luke Musgrave (abdomen) returns (last played in Week 11), but my feel for that situation is that it would be a part of a small ramp-up to have him closer to full speed should this team make the playoffs.

Kraft has been great while filling in, making it less likely that Green Bay moves heaven and Earth to force Musgrave back into a full-time role after an extended absence.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans

  • Spread: Jaguars -5
  • Total: 39.5
  • Jaguars implied points: 22.3
  • Titans implied points: 17.3

Quarterbacks

Trevor Lawrence: Whenever a coach uses words like “definitely improving” for a franchise player ahead of a game that would earn his team a home playoff game, I’m tempted to take the optimistic approach, which is what we have here.

I believe Lawrence sat out last week with Jacksonville planning on having him this week to win the division.

Are the injuries ideal? Of course not, but we’re talking about the fourth-highest pass rate over expectation team over the past month that could also be getting Christian Kirk (groin) back.

Week 11 meeting: QB1

We know the fantasy upside that Lawrence possesses, and he has made it known with 70 rushing yards over his past two starts (six starts prior: 53 rushing yards). He has the potential to be a slate breaker, and I will have significant DFS exposure once we get official word that he is playing.

The only question I have — who to stack him with?

Running Backs

Travis Etienne Jr.: Fresh off of his first 100-yard rushing game in the United States this season and his fourth multi-score effort, Etienne looked like the early-season version of himself that had some of us ranking him as a top-five RB for the remainder of the year.

Week 11 meeting: RB26

Me. I mean me. I have no idea where you ranked him, but I thought he looked the part of a true league winner early on. That hasn’t panned out, though he could still prove to be a swing player if your league is still going on.

With multiple receptions in every single game this season and a reasonable floor that has seen him finish as a top-20 back in four of his past six games, you’re playing Etienne with the utmost confidence.

I’m more likely to lean on this passing game given the matchup in DFS. But much like Jones in Green Bay, if you want to gain leverage on a popular pass game, Etienne is as good an option as any.

Derrick Henry: In Week 18, I value TD equity even more than normal because workloads are less of a certainty. There’s no denying that Henry carries that, which lands him as an RB2 for me this week — but one that comes with significant risk.

Week 11 meeting: RB38

In his past four games without a touchdown, Henry’s average positional finish is RB48, and that’s really not surprising.

The path to failure is far too clear to consider him a lineup lock (no more than two targets in seven of his past eight games), though the upside case is strong enough for me to start Henry in most circumstances.

Tyjae Spears: I don’t want to be overdramatic, but there might not be a player whose value this offseason I’ll be tracking closer than that of Spears.

I love the versatility I’ve seen (6+ targets in four of his past five games), and I want to see what his efficiency looks like when given more work (6.8 ypc during his career at Tulane). Assuming that Henry plays, you’re probably getting a little cute by flexing Spears, but it’s not crazy in a PPR setting.

If Henry were to sit or be reported to be managed — wheels up on Spears!

Wide Receivers

Calvin Ridley: There really is no way to label this season as anything but a disappointment for Ridley. He’s not a top-50 player in contested catch or route win rate this season, underlying metrics that warrant attention for not just this weekend but into 2024 as well.

Assuming that Lawrence is back, I’m comfortable rolling the dice on Ridley in this specific matchup (WR1 in Week 11 meeting), understanding that there is significant risk involved.

There are a few pass funnels in our game, and this will be Jacksonville’s third game against such a defense. His totals in the first two, you ask?

Thirteen receptions for 193 yards and four touchdowns

The fun part about those numbers is that Ridley’s 24% target share in those contests has more room to grow than it does realistically regress. The Titans allow the third-most red-zone trips per game (3.6), giving Ridley the type of scoring equity that makes him a good play to end the season.

Zay Jones and Christian Kirk: Both offer potential as the WR2, so keep tabs via the PFN Fantasy News Tracker. If one starts and the other sits, you can Flex the active player.

If the Jaguars have all three of their primary receivers active, Kirk (officially designated to return on Wednesday) will be ranked ahead of Jones for me and profile as a decent Flex play.

I view Ridley and Evan Engram as the two must-starts in this pass game, with the next best option a roster/matchup-dependent option given the health concerns (assuming Lawrence is active).

DeAndre Hopkins: The Titans opened the week being somewhat cryptic around the status of Will Levis, which plays into the analysis of Hopkins.

Ryan Tannehill was under center for the majority of snaps last week. Hopkins caught all seven of his targets and averaged 10.3 yards per grab.

In Weeks 1-16, Hopkins owned a 50.8% catch rate while averaging 15.4 yards per catch.

MORE: Fantasy Injury Update — Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, and Will Levis Impacting Week 18 Waiver Wire

See where I’m going with this? If you’re an underdog, you want Levis under center. If you’re favored, Tannehill is your best bet at a nice floor. At this point in the week, I’m accounting for both outcomes and have Hopkins ranked as a low-end WR2.

I don’t think he’s a lineup lock if you’ve built a powerhouse team. The TD upside is capped and the value of each individual target is a question mark.

Tight Ends

Evan Engram: Another week, another productive game from Engram. In my opinion, his consistency week-over-week has not been appreciated enough by fans in general (fantasy or otherwise).

Last week, Engram became the eighth tight end with a 100-catch season on his résumé, thanks to catching at least four passes in every game with a trio of double-digit catch performances under his belt.

Week 11 meeting: TE19

With an 80% catch rate this season, Engram should be considered a Tier 2 tight end for the season and a Tier 1 option this week. You’re locking him in if your league plays through Week 18 and feeling great about it.

I’ll have DFS exposure along with betting his overs this week — Engram is the lone consistent option in a passing game that is motivated and facing a pass funnel.

Chigoziem Okonkwo: The TE position is extremely tough to feel good about, putting us in a spot to bet on a profile. Okonkwo has caught 17 of 20 targets over his past four games, a level of efficiency that carries reasonable upside given his athletic profile.

He’s a top-15 play for me at the position despite not having reached 65 yards this season (under 35 yards in 10 games).

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

  • Spread: Colts -1
  • Total: 47.5
  • Texans implied points: 23.3
  • Colts implied points: 24.3

Quarterbacks

C.J. Stroud: I like the fact that Stroud completed 75% of his passes in his return to action last week against the Titans, but only 8.9 yards per completion isn’t ideal. Nor is the fact that just two of his past 82 passes have resulted in a touchdown.

This is obviously a big game for Houston, and Stroud did throw for a season-high 384 yards when these two teams met in September (QB13). That was a long time ago and was aided by two things:

1) Houston ran 26 times for 52 yards
2) Houston trailed for 100% of their offensive snaps

I would bet my left arm on neither of those things repeating. I’m right-handed, so don’t worry. Even if this happens and I lose a limb, your Cheat Sheet needs will be met.

MORE: Free DFS Lineup Optimizer

But with Devin Singletary averaging 4.8 yards per carry in December and Taylor Heinicke/Jake Browning leading their teams to 29+ points against the Colts recently — I think I’ll be just fine come Monday.

I have Stroud ranked as a lineup lock and very much holds my attention in GPPs if his ownership numbers come in low.

Gardner Minshew: The plus-matchup is a start, but Minshew has more zero-TD pass games than multi-pass TD ones since the beginning of November. He’s finished consecutive weeks outside of the top 20, and while I have him ranked better than that this week (QB14), I’m not in any hurry to jam Minshew into lineups.

Running Backs

Devin Singletary: I mentioned Singletary’s recent success in the Stroud write up and failed to mention the fact that he has 3+ catches in three straight games and that he has a 14+ yard run in eight straight.

My optimism for this passing game is really the only thing holding me back from a top-15 rank for Singletary. The Colts own the second-highest opponent rush rate over expectation this season and have seen the second-highest percentage of opponent touchdowns scored on the ground.

I’m not sure we see a ceiling game, but the floor is elevated in a goofy week. That makes Singletary a fine play in all formats.

Jonathan Taylor: The veteran RB has scored in five straight games and is trending toward being a first-round fantasy pick in 2024.

The Texans allow the second-fewest yards per carry this season. That’s a concern, but given the floor that JT has proven (RB24 or better in every game after an underwhelming season debut), there’s nothing actionable to do when it comes to setting your lineup.

Zack Moss totaled 107 yards and a score on 22 touches in the first meeting between these two teams — a stat line that is very much in play for Taylor on Sunday.

Wide Receivers

Nico Collins: Houston’s WR1 has caught at least seven passes or a touchdown in each of his past six healthy games, a trend I expect to continue against the 27th-ranked scoring defense in the league.

Week 2 meeting: WR4

Collins’ value in 2024 will be an interesting discussion with Stroud’s development, but also a healthy Tank Dell and potentially a retooled run game. We will cross that bridge in the coming weeks.

In the scope of Week 18, Collins is locked in.

Noah Brown: Brown is destined to be a matchup play for years to come, and if you’ve ridden the Gabe Davis roller coaster in years past, you know what I’m talking about.

For 2023, Brown has as many games with under 10 receiving yards as he does games north of 18 fantasy points. That wide range of outcomes makes him a headache and a homework assignment.

MORE: Fantasy Injury Update — Noah Brown and Zay Flowers Impacting Week 18 Rankings

If you’re trailing in your two-week matchup, go ahead and chase the points. Absent of that, I’m not overly interested, given that the Colts own a low opponent aDOT due to their low blitz rate.

They prefer to die by 1,000 paper cuts, which isn’t usually the type of defense I play Brown against.

Michael Pittman Jr.: After sitting out Week 16 (concussion), Pittman returned to action against the Raiders and earned a 35% target share.

No lingering effects, nothing to see here. Pittman has had a career year in terms of catches, targets, and yards. Are the four touchdowns annoying? Yes, but the volume makes him a must-play.

The promise of Anthony Richardson next season is going to have me ranking Pittman above his ADP — I want access to that upside along with the proven stability of his skill set.

Josh Downs: The 50-yard grab against the Raiders last week was nice to see, but with no more than three targets in three of his past four, I don’t see how you can justify going this direction in anything but the most desperate of situations.

The third-round pick has shown me enough this season to have me interested next year. Make a note of it, Downs could well prove to be a significant bargain depending where his ADP settles.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz had his moments earlier in the season, but with a 12.9% target share last week against the Titans, there simply isn’t enough meat on the bone anymore. The Texans’ run game has been ironed out to a degree, and Collins is vacuuming in targets at a WR1 level.

There isn’t a tight end in this game in annual leagues or DFS worth your while.

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders

  • Spread: Raiders -2.5
  • Total: 38
  • Broncos implied points: 17.8
  • Raiders implied points: 20.3

The Broncos are one of two .500 teams that cannot qualify for the postseason and, thus, carry some playing-time risk.

Quarterbacks

I have no faith in either of these defenses and even less faith in the quarterbacks when it comes to fantasy.

Aidan O’Connell threw for 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Colts last week but is still off of my streaming radar. Honing in on Davante Adams might be his path to mattering (it certainly was last week), but with Patrick Surtain II on the field, that plan isn’t as foolproof as it was in Week 17.

Running Backs

Javonte Williams: We see flashes on occasion from Williams, but the consistency simply hasn’t been there for an offense that has generally lacked direction.

Through three seasons, Williams is scoring once every 76.3 carries, a rate that is underwhelming and requires elite efficiency for a player to overcome — 3.6 yards per carry isn’t that.

Week 1 meeting: RB33

With multiple receptions in 14 of 15 games this season and a matchup against a bottom-10 red-zone defense, Williams is a fine starter in Week 18, assuming that word doesn’t get out about a pitch count in a meaningless game.

Josh Jacobs: Why would Jacobs and his 1,519 career touches suit up this week? The quadriceps injury gives him the needed excuse to sit as he looks to land a strong contract heading into 2024.

Is he as good as his 2022 numbers suggest (2,053 yards and 12 TDs)? Probably not. Is he as bad as his 3.5 ypc this season hints at? Probably not. His landing spot and projected role will have plenty of impact on where he ranks for 2024, but if his skill set is doubted after a down year, I’ll happily buy the dip.

Zamir White: As a top-15 RB in his first two starts in place of Jacobs, the team showed no desire to pivot off of White’s usage patterns in Week 17 — he carried twice and saw four targets on the first drive against the Colts.

There is no reason to think that Jacobs returns to action just to close out a lost season for the Raiders, positioning White for more elite volume in a matchup against the worst per-carry unit in the league.

MORE: Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 18

White is a 24-year-old back with minimal wear and tear on his legs and a rookie deal. His profile is exactly what a franchise wants, and they get the chance to see what he has to offer down the stretch — embrace this spot and use White as a strong RB2 in all formats.

He’s done nothing to suggest that the past three weeks’ production is fluky (average finish: RB16).

Wide Receivers

Courtland Sutton: Denver’s breakout receiver sat out last week with a concussion, making his status for this otherwise meaningless game one to watch if you’re in a position to count on Sutton in a significant way.

I’m looking for a reason to play someone else. Give me rookies like Michael Wilson or Jaxon Smith-Njigba this week.

Sutton has relied on scoring efficiency, and I worry about that profile with Russell Wilson no longer under center. Wilson is a rookie who the Cardinals are looking to get reps late in the season, while JSN has carved out a role and is playing in a meaningful game.

I’ll bet the under (worse) if we’re looking to compare Sutton’s positional rank in the first meeting (WR26) to what he offers on Sunday.

Jerry Jeudy: Under Jarrett Stidham last week, Jeudy didn’t stand out in the least, even with Sutton sidelined. That, obviously, isn’t all on him, but as fantasy managers, do we really care who is to blame?

Last week against the Chargers, the Broncos had seven players catch 2-4 passes. Seven! Jeudy couldn’t separate himself from three running backs and saw just as many looks as Brandon Johnson.

Jeudy is not a player I’m remotely comfortable in starting this season. It’ll be intriguing to see where the 2024 conversation goes with him. He was a darling of drafts this summer — does that love go away after one season?

I was high on Sutton in a “buy the dip” sort of way, my thought being that the difference between he and Jeudy wasn’t as wide as their ADPs suggested. I could see me taking the same stance this summer, this time backing the cheaper Jeudy!

Davante Adams: Just your run-of-the-mill 21-target game for Adams in a vintage effort from the Raiders’ WR (13 catches for 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns).

I don’t think that continues, but O’Connell has shown enough down the stretch for me to feel fine about playing Adams without much thought.

Week 1 meeting: WR33

Vegas’ WR1 has seen 10+ targets in five straight games when not pitted against L’Jarius Sneed, and, to my knowledge, Sneed has not been traded to the Broncos.

Could we be looking at a Patrick Surtain shadow? It’s possible, but good offense can beat good defense in this era of football — especially if the target share is silly lke it was last week.

Jakobi Meyers: The advantageous case on Meyers (WR3 in these teams’ first meeting) this season was centered around the coaching staff that brought him in and the quarterback they paired him with.

Well, neither of those pieces is in place now, and the results have been ugly. Meyers gave us 155 yards on 25 targets for the month of December, and there are no real signs of a path to production in the season finale.

Meyers isn’t a top-35 receiver for me — I’m not letting the unappealing 10 targets last week suck me back in.

Tight Ends

These passing games don’t inspire a great level of confidence for above-average receivers. Without much proven talent at the TE position, you’re truly overthinking things if you have a tight end in this game in your player pool.

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins

  • Spread: Bills -3
  • Total: 50.5
  • Bills implied points: 26.8
  • Dolphins implied points: 23.8

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen: Allen overcame a handful of drops last week thanks to his fifth straight game with a rushing TD (only one game without a rushing score in his past 10).

He has run for multiple touchdowns in three of the five games during his recent rushing spike and has accounted for multiple scores in some fashion in every matchup since the embarrassing Week 1 loss to the Jets.

Week 4 meeting: QB1

There’s no decision to be made here. Allen isn’t a perfect real life QB, but he’s the prototype when it comes to what fantasy managers want.

Tua Tagovailoa: The Tagovailoa season has been an interesting one. On one hand, he’s had a massive hand in orchestrating Tyreek Hill’s play for 2k. On the other, he really hasn’t done enough as a pocket passer to be a strong fantasy option.

Week 4 meeting: QB18

Tagovailoa has not been a top-15 QB in four straight games, and he completed a season low 57.9% of his passes last week in Baltimore. Yes, the Ravens own arguably the best defense in the league, but still.

The Bills aren’t that good, but they’re certainly getting better with time and allow the sixth-fewest yards per pass attempt.

If you’ve read this article all season long, thank you! You’re also aware that I simply cannot pass up quirky stats when they come to light …

  • Average finish vs. the AFC West this season: QB8
  • Average finish vs. the rest of the NFL: QB17

In a different week where all of the elite fantasy QBs are being used as normal, Tagovailoa would be at risk of falling outside of my top 12 in this matchup. That, however, is not the case, and with this total being what it is, even a Tagovailoa critic can’t drop him outside of the top 10.

Running Backs

James Cook: I’m more tempted to buy into Cook’s three straight finishes inside the top 20 than I am his recent struggles that have landed him outside of the top 40 in consecutive games.

Cook was given 19 opportunities (carries + targets) last week against the Patriots, usage that I’m happy to bet on in this spot. He doesn’t have a touch gaining more than 10 yards in either of these two poor weeks — that’s not something that is likely to continue.

I feel good about Cook repeating his Week 4 numbers from the first meeting (RB13: 13 touches for 77 yards and a touchdown) at the very least and wouldn’t be surprised if he far surpasses that stat line on Sunday night.

Raheem Mostert: A variety of lower body injuries kept Mostert out of the Week 17 loss in Baltimore, but he was able to participate in a limited capacity heading into the weekend. That has me believing that the Dolphins were taking a cautious approach with their single-season TD record holder, knowing that this game could determine everything. That said, you need to stay on top of this situation as both Mostert and De’Von Achane did not practice on Wednesday.

Mostert hasn’t finished worse than RB22 in a game since Week 7, form that I am more than willing to weigh much heavier than his Week 4 struggles in the first meeting with the Bills (nine yards on seven carries — RB46).

Keep an eye on his official status, but I’m comfortable in assuming that Mostert plays. Thus, I’m willing to lock him into lineups until given a reason to pivot.

De’Von Achane: It goes without saying that role impacts value, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway.

Average finish when getting 10+ carries: RB5
Average finish otherwise (in qualified games): RB28

Achane has proven plenty capable of producing splash plays, though there’s no denying that the more bites at the apple he gets, the better his chances of giving you the production you’re looking for.

He’s pretty clearly behind a healthy Mostert for me, and given that I’m assuming that is what we have, Achane’s touch projection is underwhelming. That said, the scoring environment of this game and his explosive skill set are enough to land him inside my top 20 at the position this week.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs: The absence of Xavien Howard this week could have a trickle-down effect when it comes to how Diggs is defended this week, especially after he lit them up in the early-season matchup (WR2 overall in Week 4).

Every season, “league winners” emerge and make for great stories. Hell, I’ll probably end up writing an article on such players at some point over the next month. But what about the league losers?

After four straight games with 6+ catches and 100+ yards early this season, Diggs was in the WR1 overall conversation. Things have changed.

In four games last month, Diggs totaled 17 catches (54.8% catch rate) for 127 yards. No touchdowns. No 20-yard catches. He’s been the worst case of unproduction — the type you feel obligated to play because of draft capital spent and early-season returns.

I say all of that, and yet, I’m still ranking him as a starter. Maybe I’m part of the problem, but with 7+ targets in five of his past six games, the path to production is there in the most important game of the weekend.

Am I confident in Diggs? Nope. Are you likely playing in a game of consequence this week if you have Diggs? Probably not. But the volume is intriguing enough in a difficult week to find stability to have me interested.

No, not interested. Hopeful. I’m more hopeful than interested.

Gabe Davis: The first meeting with the Dolphins came in the middle of the early-season Davis heater, and he was able to make the most of his three targets (WR17).

Safe to say, we’re no longer in the midst of a Davis heater. With no more than 21 receiving yards in six of 10 games since that early-season scoring streak stopped, Davis continues to be the most bust/boom in our sport.

And yes, I said “bust/boom” intentionally — those bust games have been so poor that the terminology deserves to be flipped.

MORE: Early Week 18 Waiver Wire Pickups

In theory, this Dolphins matchup isn’t a favorable one. Miami leads the league in pressure rate despite ranking 28th in blitz rate, a defensive profile that allows them to sit back in coverage while also not allowing opposing QBs to have time to test them down the field.

Davis falls outside of my top 30 in this skeleton week, even while playing in the most important game of the regular-season finale.

Tyreek Hill: A bad drop last week set the stage for Hill to underachieve (12 targets netted “just” 10.6 fantasy points). That was a brutal result, given the near flawless season he has put together this season.

“Near” flawless. That first meeting with the Bills was his worst finish of the season (WR37: 58 yards on five targets), but it came in a 28-point loss where the Dolphins divided the targets evenly (five players had 5-6 targets).

Don’t sweat it. You’re better than that. If you’re considering benching Hill with Miami’s postseason seed on the line, you’re fantasy-ing wrong. Play Hill and enjoy the game!

Jaylen Waddle: A high ankle sprain sidelined Waddle last week. There is hope that he returns this week, but with Miami already locked into the playoffs, it’s not crazy to think that they would sit him again in this spot with the belief that they can win against anyone when at full strength. Coach McDaniel refused to rule him out on Wednesday, so at the very least, there’s hope for those looking to have Waddle at their disposal.

Week 4 meeting: WR50

That said, I’d guess that Miami chases the division title and attempts to get Waddle back on the field. If that’s the case, I’m playing him.

He was targeted at least eight times in five straight games prior to suffering the injury in Week 16, a usage rate for an explosive talent that I’m happy to invest in.

Tight Ends

Dalton Kincaid: A 51-yard grab against the Patriots gave Kincaid his first productive game since mid-November. It was a good thing for that catch as his other six targets resulted in just 36 yards.

Kincaid’s season-long stat line looks strong, as he set the Bills’ franchise record for receptions by a rookie and has shown flashes of being the future of the position in this offense.

That said, his struggles since Dawson Knox’s return (28 yards in total during Knox’s first three games back) are a major red flag for 2024.

I still believe in the pedigree and this offense as a whole. Kincaid is a fringe TE1 this week and currently sits atop my third tier at the position for 2024. Starting him this week is more of a bet on raw talent than anything we’ve seen in terms of role consistency of late.

New York Jets at New England Patriots

  • Spread: Patriots -2.5
  • Total: 30.5
  • Jets implied points: 14
  • Patriots implied points: 16.5

Quarterbacks

It really doesn’t matter to me if this game matters or not; if draft pick positioning is on the line or not; if backup defenders are on the field from the jump or not. Neither of these offenses has the talent under center or the supporting cast to matter. It’s that simple.

Running Backs

Breece Hall: It’s been a grind for Hall managers this season, but things are certainly coming together at the right time.

After racking up 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Week 15 against the porous Commanders, Hall put to bed any concerns that his high-level production was simply the product of a strong matchup with 126 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland.

Even in a game against an elite defense where the Jets’ pass game offered little to be afraid of (5.8 yards per pass), Hall was able to find space to produce. What if this offense had some balance?

Hall is a locked-in starter this week, and the arrow is pointing straight up for those already looking to 2024 (RB7 in my way-too-early 2024 fantasy football rankings).

Ezekiel Elliott: The injury to Rhamondre Stevenson paved the way to volume for Elliott, and the veteran has taken full advantage by finishing as a fantasy starter in four of his past five games.

He was featured against these Jets back in Week 3 and picked up 87 yards on his 17 touches. I’m not sure that efficiency is something we can count on (3.4 ypc this season is easily a career low), but the volume appears to be a near lock, and that’s all we can ask for this time of year.

The matchup has the potential to be prohibitive, there is no denying that.

In a different week, Elliott would be ranked outside of my top 30. That’s not the case this week — he’s a fine Flex play in all formats this weekend.

Wide Receivers

Garrett Wilson: “Led the team in targets and yards yet wasn’t anything but an average fantasy asset.”

I’ve typed a variation of that sentence more than a few times this season under the “Garrett Wilson” header, and it really is a shame. I’ve got him penciled in as a potential first-rounder in redraft leagues next season, but you’re here for the Week 18 outlook.

We are willing to admit that the Patriots’ glory days are a thing of the past, right? That can’t possibly be a hot take at this point, and yet the “Belichick takes away your top option” narrative is still used across the industry.

Why?

  • Week 15, Rashee Rice: WR10 with 100% catch rate
  • Week 14, Diontae Johnson: WR16 with a 25-yard TD
  • Week 10, Michael Pittman Jr.: WR22 on 46.2% target share
  • Week 8, Tyreek Hill: WR6 with a 42-yard TD
  • Week 7, Stefon Diggs: WR13 on 30.8% target share

The reason to be skeptical about Wilson is his own offense, and that’s fine. It’s also nothing new. I’m playing Wilson as a WR2 and feeling fine about it.

DeMario Douglas: I think there is something there for this sixth-round rookie, but I can’t imagine leaving your fate in the hands of a Patriot pass catcher in a game that doesn’t matter to close out the season.

Douglas, for me, profiles like a shorter version of Tyler Boyd but without the target competition. I’m not looking his way this week in DFS or otherwise, though his name is one that I am keeping on my mind for PPR depth next season.

Tight Ends

Tyler Conklin: When all is said and done this season, the list of tight ends with 10 games of 4+ catches isn’t going to be long, but it will include Conklin’s name after he hauled in all five targets against the Browns on Thursday night.

Now, he’s hovering around 10 yards per catch and hasn’t scored since we celebrated Halloween … of 2022.

MORE: Week 18 TE Waiver Wire Targets

You’re not adding him with the thought that he can be a week-winner; you’re adding him with the intent to remain competitive and not lose your Week 18 matchup.

The Patriots own a top-10 blitz rate, and if they are going to continue to bring the heat, Conklin’s role in the short pass game should continue to provide an elevated fantasy floor.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

  • Spread: Saints -3
  • Total: 42
  • Falcons implied points: 19.5
  • Saints implied points: 22.5

Quarterbacks

Derek Carr: No one is going to argue that Carr plays the most exciting brand of football, but with four straight multi-TD pass games, there is no more denying that he’s a fantasy asset.

It’s no secret that this offense has a pair of elite weapons in Chris Olave and Alvin Kamara, but with Rashid Shaheed proving himself as a true threat down the field, along with the versatility of Taysom Hill and the recent play from Juwan Johnson, this is a dangerous offense.

MORE: Week 18 QB Streamers

Carr threw for 304 yards in the first meeting against the Falcons and is playing at a higher level now. In that game, he hit four different players for a 20-yard catch and targeted nine different players multiple times.

Like it or not, Carr is playing the position at a high level, and his plus-floor deserves your attention.

Running Backs

Bijan Robinson: Maybe our expectations were the problem? The narrative surrounding Robinson is that HC Aruther Smith has sapped all value out of the talented rookie. While I’m not going to agree with his usage, let’s not act as if Robinson has been a complete disaster.

Robinson earned an RB3 ranking in his Week 12 meeting with New Orleans. For the season, though, he has three top 10s and five finishes ranking as RB20-26. That’s obviously not what you had in mind when you spent a first-round pick on the pride of Texas, but it’s not production that sunk your roster.

This isn’t a great matchup, but with 37 touches over the past two weeks, the touch count is at a level that you can feel comfortable in playing him in all formats.

Of course, it’s Arthur Smith, so who knows? But I’m playing Robinson, if for no other reason than it might be Smith’s best bet to save his job.

Alvin Kamara: Until recently, Kamara was giving you everything you wanted when you embraced the uncertainty this summer.

He hasn’t been a top-40 fantasy RB in consecutive games, but those are his first two finishes worse than RB22 this season. I think this is as good a spot as any to get back on track.

Week 12’s meeting resulted in an RB14 ranking, but it should be noted that AK41 is working through an ankle injury. Assuming he clears all hurdles ahead of this weekend, I’m locking him in.

The Falcons have the third-highest opponent rush rate over expectation this season, and if there is volume on the ground for Kamara, top-15 numbers are a strong bet (assuming health, he did miss practice on Wednesday with a bulky ankle), given his 5.8 catches per game on an 87.2% catch rate.

Wide Receivers

Drake London: The second-year receiver saw 31.3% of the targets last week, but he was held out of the end zone for an 11th consecutive game.

Back in Week 12 against the Saints, London was WR36. He made his targets count in the first meeting (13.0 yards per target), something that we largely haven’t seen this season (all other games: 8.2).

The juice isn’t worth the squeeze this week – especially not against a defense that ranks top 10 in both yards per pass and pass yards per game.

London currently sits outside of my top 40, behind upside plays like Detroit Lions WR Jameson Williams.

Chris Olave: If you roster Olave, you’re well aware of the up-and-down nature of his yardage totals. In Week 12, he was WR19.

Six of his seven career touchdowns have come indoors, and he gets that benefit this weekend. With six double-digit target games on his ledger this season, there is enough volume for me to feel fine in investing in his raw talent.

I have high expectations for Olave in 2024, and considering that he accounted for 37.5% of New Orleans’ receiving yards in the first meeting with Atlanta, we could catch a glimpse this weekend of what next season could hold.

Rashid Shaheed: I stand by his skill set, but until we get consistent volume, you’re swimming upstream with Shaheed. Week 16 was great, thanks to nine targets, but last week was the fifth time this season he failed to earn more than three targets, which left him open to a floor that is too low to be of interest in most leagues.

Shaheed turned five targets into nine yards in the first game against the Falcons this season. You can find a more appealing floor/ceiling combination on your waiver wire.

Tight Ends

Kyle Pitts: By the time this game kicks off, we will be 90 days separated from Pitts’ lone game of 60+ yards this season. The discussion regarding this 23-year-old TE is going to be fascinating with time, but in the scope of Week 18, you can do better.

The idea of Pitts is the ceiling. His physical profile is supposed to be elite at a position where big-time games are nearly impossible to come by outside of the elite. The floor, however, is where we need to focus.

No more than three receptions in six of seven games? As many yards as targets against a Bears defense that is more vulnerable through the air than on the ground? Pitts isn’t a top-15 option for me — you can find more stability on your waiver wire, no matter the size of your league.

Taysom Hill: The 22-yard touchdown catch was a thing of beauty and was a nice reminder of just how rare of an athlete Hill is, but the role is still minimal at best.

His midseason fantasy stardom was the result of consistent usage on the ground — he has five carries for four yards over the past three weeks. His skill set offers him access to a higher ceiling than that of Pitts, so if you’re hellbent on starting a tight end in this game, I’m going with a Saint — but I’m not going out of my way to start any of them.

Juwan Johnson: He has a TD in three straight games, and the target count is trending up despite the involvement of Hill. Johnson has positioned himself to matter in the final week of the regular season.

I’m generally not in the business of betting on a team with multiple TEs, but with Hill holding a unique role, Johnson is emerging as an exception.

His ability to post up in the end zone isn’t a surprise (6’4”, 231-pound frame, scored seven times last season), but I was more impressed by his fingertip catch on a deep ball against the Bucs.

He certainly has looked the part of late, and with the Saints committing to him as a regular route runner, he is squarely on the streaming radar in all formats.

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

  • Spread: Eagles -5
  • Total: 41
  • Eagles implied points: 23
  • Giants implied points: 18

Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts: He won’t win the MVP award this season after having it in his sights last season, but by finishing as a QB1 in 14 of 16 games this season – not to mention nine top-five finishes – he’s easily been among the most valuable option in our game.

In Philly’s Week 16 meeting with the “G-Men,” Hurts finished as QB5. With a rushing TD or three-plus passing scores in 11 of his past 12 games, Hurts is the closest thing to a bulletproof player in fantasy.

MORE: Week 18 QB Waiver Wire Targets — Top Players To Add Include Tyrod Taylor and Mason Rudolph

He’s my QB1 this week and my QB1 for as long as the “Brotherly Shove” is a legal play that Philadelphia continues to convert at a rate rivaled only by Steph Curry’s free throw percentage.

Running Backs

D’Andre Swift: The role of Swift is trending in the wrong direction, but in a week where Philly is motivated and facing the third-worst per-carry run defense, I’m overlooking the recent struggles and playing him.

In the first meeting with New York, Swift finished as the RB14. He hasn’t been a top-25 RB in five of his past six games, due in large part to his lack of a role in the passing game – he’s tallied 17 receiving yards on 11 targets over that stretch.

I’m not sure we see that role expand this week. Hurts’ rush attempts eat away at the targets to the RB position in the short-pass game.

That said, the value of each carry is enhanced in this matchup and should be enough for him to return RB2 value.

Saquon Barkley: Barkley breaks the mold for the “elite” talents in our game in a similar way RB Barry Sanders did back in the day. That is, it only takes one splash play to make for a productive day, but without the chunk gain, the floor is concerningly low.

His finishes since the bye include RB5 against the Green Bay Packers in Week 14, RB46 against the Saints in New Orleans, RB8 in Philadelphia against the Eagles, and RB36 against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17.

He touched the ball 26 times in that first meeting with the Eagles, and the fact that he has access to that usage with his skill set means you’re starting him. He’s a fade for me in the DFS streets, due to the matchup and propensity for a dud performance, but that doesn’t mean I have him ranked outside of my top 20.

Wide Receivers

A.J. Brown: Philadelphia’s WR1 has picked a bad time to go on a five-game scoring drought. Still, I’m not worried about it.

Brown finished Week 16 as the WR31, and the Giants allow the fourth-most red zone trips per game. With Brown seeing at least 10 targets in four of his past five games, the target/scoring equity lines up exactly how you want it to.

The Eagles need this game, and their most likely path to doing that is by featuring Brown early and often.

DeVonta Smith: After averaging 9.3 targets per game for a four-game stretch, Smith has seen exactly five looks in three straight games. This brings into play a floor that is lower than most WRs ranked around him, especially with him missing practice on Wednesday due to an ankle injury.

Two weeks ago, against New York, Smith finished as WR17. He has scored in four of his past five games against the Giants, and we’ve seen enough volume potential throughout the course of this season (five games with seven-plus catches) to consider him a lineup lock in the final week of the regular season.

Darius Slayton: New York’s primary deep threat has hit a home run in three straight games, and with the Eagles owning the third-highest opponent pass rate over expectation, the path to Slayton mattering in a big way at your Flex spot is certainly there.

That said, we are talking about a player who has never earned 100 targets in a season. He is an all-or-nothing player who is in a better spot with QB Tyrod Taylor under center than other options, but he still carries a floor that is beyond worrisome against a team that needs to have this game.

Tight Ends

Dallas Goedert: With 24 targets over his past three games, it would appear that Goedert is back into a role that is fantasy-viable. Upon returning from a month’s absence, the Eagles’ TE is averaging 8.5 half-PPR ppg, a rate that ranks outside of the elite but is more than enough to keep him in lineups on a consistent basis.

That’s who Goedert is. You’re not chasing elite upside with him, but the ability to sustain a reasonable floor has more power at the TE position than anywhere else. That is what you get.

I have no problem in you counting on him in this spot against a New York Giants defense that owns the fourth-lowest opponent aDOT and could require Hurts to target the middle of the field more often than normal.

Darren Waller: The veteran tight end isn’t an elite option, but he’s been able to earn targets at a reasonable rate since returning (5+ in all three games) from a nearly two-month absence, and this is about as good of a spot you could ask for. The Eagles’ defense is much more stout against the run than the pass, and they’ve been exploited in the middle of the field.

Waller isn’t likely to win you your matchup, but a tight end with an elevated floor is valuable, and with the game script more than likely working in the favor of the passing game in this spot, Waller slides into the starter tier for Week 18.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

  • Spread: Seahawks -2.5
  • Total: 48
  • Seahawks implied points: 25.3
  • Cardinals implied points: 22.8

Quarterbacks

Geno Smith: Did the regression monster take a bite out of Smith in 2023, or was 2022 simply a crazy outlier, thus making this season more representative of what our expectations should have been?

In Week 7 against Arizona, Smith was QB17. He hasn’t been better than QB15 in 11 of 14 games this season, despite the superior talent around him.

The Cardinals’ matchup is a strong one. Bet on him in the props market if you want, but I’m not risking my fantasy season on a player I don’t trust and who hasn’t given me a reason to change my mind on any sort of consistent basis.

Kyler Murray: For the third time in his shortened season, Murray was a top-10 QB last week. I don’t love his odds of repeating that success this week (my QB13) against a Seahawks team that plays an umbrella form of defense – one that should limit Murray splash play count.

The ceiling is always there for a player with the skill set of Murray, but I just think you can find safer options with more to play for in this specific week.

Running Backs

Kenneth Walker III: The promising back has seen 13 targets over his past four games (seven targets in his four games prior to the injury), and that sort of usage in this plus matchup makes him a must play.

In Week 7 against the Cardinals, Walker was the RB18.

MORE: Fantasy Injury Update — Kenneth Walker III, AJ Dillon, and Aaron Jones Impacting Week 18 Waiver Wire

This season, the Cardinals are allowing the fourth-most yards per carry and the fourth-highest opponent rush rate over expectations. Due to the regression of Smith, the Seahawks figure to lean on the ground game, and that means a big volume spot for K9 against a vulnerable front.

Zach Charbonnet: I think there might be something here long-term, but Charbonnet hasn’t finished better than RB40 in four straight games. His struggles come on the heels of four straight top-35 finishes.

The role just doesn’t match the talent – not yet. We might get there with time, but you can safely sit him on your bench for the final week of 2023.

James Conner: The veteran back has finished each of his past four games as an RB1, and he figures to finish the season with another useful performance against a defense that allows 53.5% of touchdowns to come on the ground – easily the highest rate in the league.

The 28-year-old Conner is averaging a career-best 4.9 yards per carry, but his catch total is only half of what it was last season. Him getting to the top 10 isn’t something I’d bet on, but a finish inside the top 24 sounds good to me.

Wide Receivers

DK Metcalf: With 95+ yards or a touchdown in six of his past eight games, Metcalf is to Smith what Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans was to QB Baker Mayfield earlier this season before WR Chris Godwin came alive.

He is the bail-out option that is so physically gifted that he can turn 50/50 targets into massive fantasy days. You can feel better than good in continuing to ride Metcalf as your fantasy season comes to a close.

Tyler Lockett: The veteran receiver hasn’t scored since the first half of November and has failed to clear even 30 receiving yards in half of his games since Thanksgiving.

In Week 7, he finished as WR50. There’s no way you can feel good about playing Lockett at this point. He hasn’t had a 25-yard catch since mid-October and just hasn’t shown us the efficiency that we’ve come to assume from the Kansas State product.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Rookie receivers often take time to adjust to the speed of the professional game, and JSN is trending in the right direction in terms of opportunity count. The talent isn’t in question here, and with the targets coming at a reasonably consistent rate, Smith-Njigba should have your interest.

Add in the fact that the ‘Hawks are playing with motivation while facing a defense that is on a borderline historic pace for the number of red-zone trips allowed — now we are talking.

JSN saw a 29.2% target share in the first meeting against the Cards, and while that game was played without Metcalf, it doesn’t hurt to have proof of concept when it comes to his ability to find space in this specific matchup.

Michael Wilson: The 6’2” rookie saw a pair of end zone targets last week in Philadelphia and scored his third touchdown in the process. He is going to be a valuable asset in the future, and he’s a fine DFS punt play, but outside of that, you don’t need to worry about him in Week 18.

Tight Ends

Trey McBride: Seven straight games with five-plus catches is something some very good tight ends go an entire career without doing, but not McBride.

No Cardinal had 50 receiving yards when these teams first met, and while McBride’s 12 catches over the past two weeks have netted just 79 yards, the production floor is nothing short of elite.

Due to the absence of a target-earner playing opposite of him, McBride carries, in my opinion, the greatest floor and ceiling this week.

He’s my TE1 this week and leads the second tier at the position in my early 2024 rankings.

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers

  • Spread: Chargers -3
  • Total: 36
  • Chiefs implied points: 16.5
  • Chargers implied points: 19.5

The Chiefs are locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC and have nothing to play for. With that in mind, you’re not playing any of their regulars with any confidence (Patrick Mahomes has already been ruled out with more names likely to be announced sooner than later), be it in a DFS or season-long setting.

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes: We live in a world where Mahomes can throw for nearly 4,200 yards and 27 scores — plus run for a career-high 389 yards — in what is being labeled as a very down season.

The receiver situation isn’t going to get worse — because it can’t. With the development of Rashee Rice and the potential for this team to add support this offseason, Mahomes should be labeled as nothing less than a Tier 1 QB in 2024.

Running Backs

Isiah Pacheco: The angriest runner in the NFL deserves to be considered as a top three-round pick in 2024 with relative ease. He averages 4.7 yards per carry for his career and that’s great, but it’s the spike in passing game usage that has me ready to invest in a significant way.

In 14 games this season, Pacheco caught over 30 more passes than he saw targets as a rookie in 2022. His style of play opens him up to some durability concerns, but I’m willing to pay up for exposure to this offense, and his development through two seasons has his stock pointing straight up entering the 2024 fantasy season.

Austin Ekeler: This could go either way, but it is worth noting that Ekeler is a UFA after this season. He turns 29 in May, and there are reasonable concerns when it comes to Father Time.

The one-time fantasy god has finished outside of the top-20 producers at the position in three straight games and outside of the top 30 in five of his past seven.

Week 7 meeting: RB38, but he was the only RB with more than two rushing yards last week as he continues to be featured.

My optimism in ranking him as a low-end RB2 is more a bet on his volume than it is anything we’ve seen on the field. With the lead role against a defense that is likely to rest their regulars, Ekeler should fall his way into a satisfactory finish to conclude 2023.

Wide Receivers

Rashee Rice: And you thought I was optimistic in my write-up for Pacheco? It’s possible that overpaying for Rice in 2024 is simply impossible.

Rice as a rookie: 79 catches for 938 yards and seven TDs
Keenan Allen as a rookie: 71 catches for 1,046 yards and eight TDs

Both of these players were born in late April and have six-letter first names. Both were drafted into the NFL outside of the top 50 overall picks despite having a 90+ catch, 1,300+ yard season on their college résumé.

MORE: Tate’s Fantasy Week 18 WR Start/Sit — How Should You Handle Rashee Rice, Garrett Wilson, and Tee Higgins?

Allen has had strong play under center over the past two seasons, and he has averaged 7.1 catches per game while scoring 11 times in those 23 games. Prorate those numbers for a 17-game regular season, and we’re looking at 121 catches and eight touchdowns.

Why can’t Rice do something like that in 2024?

Alex Erickson: The 31-year-old doubled his season catch total last week in Denver and was the only Chargers target to clear 31 receiving yards (98 yards). Easton Stick completed 87.5% of his Erickson targets and 56.7% for all other players.

Los Angeles receivers have spent more time in the injury tent than on the field this season, paving the way for Erickson to see significant looks in the season finale.

The projectable volume puts him on the fringe of the Flex conversation in deeper PPR formats. A high opportunity count is nice, but those looks are only so valuable in this offense. At the very least, he’s worth a roster spot for teams trying to patch together a viable roster to round out the regular season.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce: I understand that his less-than-exciting end to the fantasy season has been a pain, but I still have him atop my 2024 TE rankings due to his consistency. We have a glorious crop of young tight ends that will be chomping at the bit for the label of “fantasy’s best” at the position, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Kelce’s fantasy production has limped to the finish line in three straight seasons — be aware of that. Understanding that, if you want to build your roster around Kelce in the third round, I have zero issues.

2021: Under 35 yards in four of five games to close the regular season
2022: Six straight without a score to close the regular season
2023: Six straight without a score, under 50 yards in three straight

Gerald Everett: The process was right for those of us who played Everett in DFS, I stand by that. We got a 24.3% target share for a low aDOT player on a team that was trailing for 90.5% of their offensive snaps.

Week 7 meeting: TE9

I’d bet on that profile every single week. His 5.7 fantasy points, however, didn’t get it done. The Chargers don’t have much to play for, but they didn’t last week either and Everett was used as normal. I’m trusting the process and penciling in Everett in season-long leagues while considering him a strong DFS play at his price point.

I’ll say he finishes better than the TE9 rank he produced in the first meeting (one that saw Josh Palmer and Keenan Allen account for 53.3% of Charger targets).

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

  • Spread: 49ers -3
  • Total: 42.5
  • Rams implied points: 19.8
  • 49ers implied points: 22.8

The 49ers have locked in the top seed in the NFC and have nothing to play for. With that in mind, you’re not playing any of their regulars with any confidence, be it in a DFS or season-long setting.

Sean McVay announced on Wednesday that he will be resting Matthew Stafford, Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Higbee this week to prepare for the postseason.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford: The machine that is RB Kyren Williams resulted in Stafford’s multi-TD streak being halted at five straight last week against the Giants. Still, he did clear 250 yards through the air for a fifth-straight game and completed over 70% of his passes for a third straight.

Stafford will be an interesting case next season — he has certainly done enough this season to have our attention in 2024, something that didn’t seem too likely less than five months ago.

Brock Purdy: With 31 TD passes and a completion percentage that fell just short of 70%, Purdy gave fantasy managers the type of high-floor production that is sought after when waiting on the position.

The asking price for Purdy this summer will obviously be greater than it was — he’ll probably be a nice value. The playmakers around him insulate his fantasy value to such a degree that it is pretty easy to build a strong team around him.

Running Backs

Kyren Williams: The season Williams has put together has been nothing short of spectacular. In his 12 games this season, he has finished as a top-10 back eight times and has been twice as likely to finish as a top-three producer at the position as he has been to finish outside of the top 20.

Week 2 meeting: RB4

Williams set a high bar in the first meeting (20 touches for 100 yards and two scores), and it’s games like that why he will be drafted as a RB1 this summer with confidence!

Christian McCaffrey: There are no words left to describe CMC after another massive season. He was in the conversation for the top overall pick this past summer, and he’s the center of that conversation as we look ahead to 2024.

MORE: Jordan Mason Waiver Wire | Elijah Mitchell Waiver Wire

Some will be skeptical about McCaffrey approaching 2,000 career touches — I need to see some sign of decline before blindly assuming that Father Time is going to come for this outlier any time soon.

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua: With Kupp scoring in four of his past five games and Nacua earning at least seven targets in every game this season, both receivers deserve to be locked into your lineups when active.

When it comes to which one will hold more value, I’m not sure it matters. Both are strong target earners, but I give Kupp the slight edge in touchdown equity and will thus be ranked a few slots higher for me entering 2024.

There’s no reason to get caught up as to which Rams WR will be more productive next season, you’re in a good spot with either!

Deebo Samuel: That’s two elite seasons in a three-year stretch for Samuel, a résumé that is as impressive as his versatility. That said, I’m more likely than not to be out on him entering 2024.

The target-earning and catch-rate numbers aren’t overwhelming with Purdy under center, and that means that his rushing production is a must-have, not a nice-to-have.

Samuel is clearly more than capable of making those carries count at an elite level (career: 6.3 ypc with a TD once every 8.4 attempts), but he’s coming up on his 28th birthday, and we have proof that his production can dry up — just ask anyone who paid a premium in the summer of 2022.

Brandon Aiyuk: We knew there was growth potential in his profile, but his 2023 season exceeded even those expectations.

His yards per catch increased by 40.8% from a season ago, a stat you’d expect to be followed by a dip in catch rate.

Nope, in fact, his catch rate this season is higher than it was last season.

With a TD or 100 yards in eight of his past nine games, he’s been able to sustain a reasonable fantasy floor, something that members of this passing game have struggled with.

Aiyuk will be ranked ahead of Samuel for me in 2024 and will be the only 49ers pass catcher that I’m interested in paying the premium for.

Tight Ends

George Kittle: The year-over-year consistency of Kittle is staggering, but his path to those stat lines is nothing short of maddening.

  • 2021: 162.5 half-PPR points
  • 2022: 170.5 half-PPR points
  • 2023: 170.7 half-PPR points

Fantasy points over his past four games:

  • Week 14 vs. Seattle Seahawks: 15.1
  • Week 15 at Arizona Cardinals: 6.4
  • Week 16 vs. Baltimore Ravens: 16.1
  • Week 17 at Washington Commanders: 4.4

There are seven tight ends that I have labeled as clear fantasy starters for 2024, and Kittle is in that mix, but you need to go in with eyes wide open that he is going to decide a handful of weeks for you — for better or worse.

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders

  • Spread: Cowboys -13
  • Total: 45.5
  • Cowboys implied points: 29.3
  • Commanders implied points: 16.3

Quarterbacks

Dak Prescott: With multiple touchdown passes in nine of his past 10 games, Prescott continues to roll. He’s completed at least 20 passes in 11 straight games, including this season’s first matchup with the Commanders.

Speaking off, he earned a QB3 ranking in Week 12 when he faced Washington for the first time. He was one of four quarterbacks to clear 30 fantasy points that week, and he went 22 of 32 for 331 yards, four TDs, and a season-high passer rating of 142.1.

Prescott is my QB2 this week, and that’s not a knock on him, as much as it is a nod to Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts’ value on the ground and his matchup. Would it surprise me if Prescott led the fantasy world in fantasy points this week? Not one bit.

Running Backs

Tony Pollard: The subsection of managers who play through Week 18 and are also playing for a championship with Pollard on their roster has got to be small.

By “small,” I mean non-existent, and that might help us in the DFS streets. With many season-long leagues in the books, the daily scene typically sees an uptick in new players — players who need their fantasy fix with their main leagues now over.

You know what those people aren’t doing? Rostering Pollard, who has been on a downward trend over the last few weeks.

Week 12: RB9
Week 13: RB13
Week 14: RB17
Week 15: RB34
Week 16: RB46
Week 17: RB43

Pollard has a total of 10 receiving yards over his past three games, and he doesn’t have a 20-yard touch since Thanksgiving. He is priced just behind Detroit Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs and a motivated Philadelphia Eagles RB D’Andre Swift and priced just ahead of Green Bay RB Aaron Jones in a pseudo-playoff game for the Packers.

It’s awfully difficult to find leverage in what is traditionally a goofy week, but Pollard allows you to do that. In Dallas’ past four wins, their starting back has averaged 20.5 touches per game. If we are penciling in usage like that against the worst scoring defense in the NFL – one that has allowed 27-plus points in all seven games during their losing streak.

Brian Robinson Jr.: The Cowboys’ defense is scary any week, but a motivated one that should be flying around with a significant lead might not be as bad.

Robinson has been battling through injuries and only has three games with over 10 carries since Week 4. He projects as my favorite Washington RB this week, but that still doesn’t land him on the front end of my Flex range.

His growth as a pass catcher (33 catches this season, 60 receiving yards last season) gives him an out to produce in this spot, but the risk outweighs the potential reward, in my humble opinion.

Antonio Gibson: With Robinson at less than full health, Gibson has only managed an average positional finish of RB38 since the bye. His role in the passing game really hasn’t taken the step forward that we had hoped, and with four scores on 212 carries since the beginning of last season, there isn’t enough TD equity to chase against a defense that will be going all out.

Wide Receivers

CeeDee Lamb: Is Lamb the top receiver off the board in fantasy drafts next season? It’s certainly a conversation, and with double-digit targets in five straight (nine-plus in 11 straight), he could prove to be the ultimate league-winner for those with multi-week Super Bowls.

Against Washington in Week 12, Lamb produced a WR17 ranking.

The 24-year-old has set the single-season Cowboys record for both catches and yards in a single season, as he continues to trend straight up (catches, targets, yards, and touchdowns have all improved each season). There aren’t many players that will be picked ahead of him in 2024, and that list is even shorter when it comes to building a dynasty squad.

Brandin Cooks: The veteran receiver is a WR2 for me this week, with a repeat performance of his first game against Washington (4-72-1) being very possible. In that matchup, he finished as the league-wide WR18.

MORE: Katz’s Fantasy Football Start ’Em, Sit ’Em Picks for Week 18

Prescott is clearly confident in Cooks near the end zone — he has seven TD catches, his most since his days in New Orleans — and with Dallas’ implied point total being as high as any team this week, that gives their WR2 as much scoring equity as any secondary option in the league.

Yes, Lamb is the alpha in this offense, but without any other competition for targets among his fellow receivers, Cooks is a rock-solid play this week with your season on the line.

Terry McLaurin: Washington’s WR1 needs another 54 yards to reach 1,000 yards for a fourth-consecutive season. Maybe he gets there, but I’m not expecting a whole lot more.

Week 12 meeting: WR46

McLaurin was WR46 in the first meeting with Dallas, and he has posted essentially three identical seasons in succession. While consistency year-over-year isn’t a bad thing, the lack of growth is a red flag.

The production floor is concerning — McLaurin has no more than 61 yards in six of his past seven games, but this is a matchup against the fifth-best scoring defense, which allows the second-fewest completions per game.

I’d rather play the top two receivers in both Pittsburgh and Green Bay over McLaurin this weekend.

Tight Ends

Jake Ferguson: The young tight end has been impressive this season, but this has not been the case recently. He’s only caught one TD in his past seven games and tallied no more than 45 yards in six of his past eight.

Even with the tepid production for the better part of two months, Ferguson is a top-10 play for me this week, thanks to the matchup. Washington is 31st in yards per pass and passing yards per game and is 29th in pressure rate.

Ferguson has 23 more targets than any Cowboys pass catcher not named Lamb, and that is a role to embrace in a soft landing spot like this, given the motivation of Dallas to win in convincing fashion.

Logan Thomas: Even given the state of this position, Thomas is not of interest to me. The veteran totaled 63 yards in December, and without recent proof of him being a touchdown-creator (five in 29 games since the beginning of last season), there simply isn’t a path to top-10 projection.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

  • Spread: Buccaneers -5
  • Total: 37.5
  • Buccaneers implied points: 21.3
  • Panthers implied points: 16.3

Quarterbacks

Baker Mayfield: He was nothing short of a mess when these two teams first met. Mayfield went 14 of 29 for 202 yards, a TD, and an INT, so if it hadn’t been for a 75-yard hookup with Mike Evans, that performance would be on the short list of the most underwhelming performances of the season.

This first meetup with Carolina yielded a QB19 ranking. Since then, Mayfield has been a different player. He has thrown multiple TD passes in each of his past four games — earning a top-15 QB spot in each of those games — and has completed at least 22 passes in three straight.

He’s been throwing to Chris Godwin 9.5 times per game since the veteran receiver was shut out against these Panthers, and that has unlocked nice fantasy potential. Mayfield is a top-12 QB for me this week and is very much an option in DFS tournaments.

Running Backs

Rachaad White: Well that stunk. If you rode White to a fantasy title game appearance, he picked the wrong time to underwhelm. Against the Saints, he managed just 42 yards on the ground and 24 through the air – his first game with under 50 rushing and 25 receiving since mid-October.

In his Week 13 meeting against Carolina, White earned an RB10 rank, so I’d tell you to hang in there. With the Bucs plenty motivated, he should get back on track. His RB41 finish last week was his first finish outside of the top 20 since Week 6. His versatility makes him a strong RB1 this week and a real threat to lead the position in scoring on Sunday.

Chuba Hubbard: The Panthers haven’t been playing for anything during Thomas Brown’s tenure as the play-caller, so why would anything change this week? Hubbard has been a top-30 RB in seven straight games, and he saw 16.1% of Carolina’s targets last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

I have no problem in counting on Hubbard as a viable Flex option in this spot as a volume play — even against a reasonably strong run defense.

Wide Receivers

Mike Evans: I have zero concerns that Evans was only able to earn four targets against the Saints last week – a defense that has silenced him since CB Marshon Latimore joined the secondary.

In Week 13 against Carolina, Evans was the WR7.

MORE: Katz’s Dynasty Trade Advice

The rest of the NFL world hasn’t had much of an answer for Evans, however, and we’ve seen enough spike games this season to bank on him in all settings this week. The future Hall of Famer has a touchdown or a 35-yard catch in 10 of his past 11 games — a streak I fully expect to extend through this week.

His cost on the DFS sites isn’t prohibitive either, so you have my blessing to go that route if you don’t have a season-long team to track.

Chris Godwin: The volume is trending in Godwin’s favor significantly, with 38 targets over his past four and a 20-yard catch in each of those games — averaging 91.8 receiving yards per game. The veteran receiver sneaks his way into my WR2 tier against the Panthers.

He still ranks behind Evans for me, and there is some risk here, given the number of looks that Evans/White garner on a consistent basis – not to mention the Panthers owning a top-10 pass defense in yards per pass. That said, with Mayfield gaining confidence in Godwin, I trust his catch count to be more than suitable in PPR formats.

Adam Thielen: Sneaky play of the week? With six catches in consecutive weeks and facing a Buccaneers defense that allows a league-high 73.7% of opponent yards to come through the air, a vintage performance to round out this season is on the table.

In Week 13 against Tampa Bay, Thielen was WR50. The rough first meeting only fuels my contrarian play for Carolina’s WR1. The path is there for Thielen – the only Panther with 480-plus receiving yards this season – to be a difference-maker this week.

But without a touchdown since Week 6, the case for upside is a bit thin.

The Panthers view every week as an opportunity to learn more about rookie QB Bryce Young, and if they unleash him in a significant way, Thielen has access to nice DFS value. He’s $300 cheaper than an in-form Godwin and a peaking Jayden Reed — two players on teams that are desperate.

Tight Ends

Cade Otton: The king of cardio at the position remains just that. Otton was able to earn six targets in the loss to the Saints on Sunday, his most since early November — he turned them into 2.0 fantasy points.

Mayfield has, for the most part, performed above expectations this season, but with three strong target-earners well ahead of him, Otton isn’t a player who needs to be on your TE streaming radar for Week 18.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

  • Spread: Steelers -3.5
  • Total: 36.5
  • Steelers implied points: 20
  • Ravens implied points: 16.5

The Ravens have locked up the top seed in the AFC and have nothing to play for. With that in mind, you’re not playing any of their regulars with any confidence, be it in a DFS or season-long setting.

Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson: The MVP front-runner has had a great real-life season without standout fantasy value (five finishes outside of the top 15 at the position). I’m not worried about that. As long as the athleticism remains, Jackson is, at worst, a Tier 2 signal-caller in our game.

He could enter that top tier this summer as Zay Flowers develops while Keaton Mitchell/Mark Andrews heal.

Running Backs

Najee Harris: For the fifth time in his career, Harris ran for 100 yards last week. He has now produced consecutive top-20 finishes at the position (he had one top-20 finish in his previous five games).

His 46 carries over the past two weeks with the Steelers fighting for their season tells a story of commitment to their third-year back, but the fact that he has gone three straight games without a single target is damning. The lack of versatility keeps him out of the RB1 discussion, but the sheer volume, along with the proven goal-line role, makes him a starter in all formats.

Jaylen Warren: With the Steelers playing for their season, a repeat of their game plan that resulted in 46 rush attempts and 24 pass attempts against the Seahawks last week seems very possible.

If that is in fact the case, there’s no reason to think that Warren can’t join Harris as an RB2 in this spot against an unmotivated Ravens defense.

In fact, I continue to prefer him to Harris.

Both RBs were used on the opening drive last week, and given that Warren has caught 4+ passes in four straight games, his ceiling projects as higher.

It’s something I’m willing to target in a week where usage is particularly difficult to project.

Gus Edwards: Keaton Mitchell’s injury paved the way for Edwards to produce down the stretch this season, and his stock will be interesting to track for 2024.

I don’t think he’s a threat to put up RB2 numbers on a consistent basis if Mitchell is active. The lack of versatility is an issue that is tough to overlook in this era.

Justice Hill: He piled up 112 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins last week, but he’s a long shot to matter in 2024.

MORE: Gus Edwards and Justice Hill Start/Sit Week 18

The Ravens haven’t been willing to commit to Hill as their featured back, and with no shortage of options in their backfield, he’s not someone I’m going to be interested in next season.

Wide Receivers

George Pickens: I’ll talk about not trusting the splash plays for WR Diontae Johnson in a minute, but that is what Pickens does. He has recorded a 35-plus-yard catch in four of his past six games and is averaging 16.9 yards per catch throughout his career. That has me more willing to invest.

In the Week 5 meeting against Baltimore, Pickens earned a WR4 ranking for the week. Pickens saw 32.3% of the targets on his way to 130 yards and a score — he tallied three catches of over 20 yards.

Production like that is tough to project, but with the Ravens coasting into the playoffs, Pickens is in a spot to be a fantasy starter in all leagues and potentially a league winner.

Diontae Johnson: Johnson has seen his target count decline in three straight games (7-6-5-4) and is relying on the big play more. He’s had twice as many games with a 25-yard-catch this year than last. These trends are more than I’m comfortable with if the volume isn’t going to be there.

The edge in motivation puts Johnson on my Flex radar, but I can’t go much higher. The Steelers have 13 more points in QB Mason Rudolph’s starts than they have pass attempts — I have major quantity questions, and I’m not sold on the quality of look being anything better than average.

Zay Flowers: The rookie receiver had an up-and-down campaign, but the “good” was enough to convince me that he is an asset to target in 2024. He looks like the WR1 for years to come in Baltimore, and while Jackson can be sporadic at times as a passer, Flowers will be considered a fantasy starter across the board this summer.

Odell Beckham Jr.: The veteran receiver played this season on a one-year deal, and his 2024 value will hinge on his landing spot. Beckham’s high-end target-earning ways look like a thing of the past, but he is still capable of maximizing the looks he does get, and that could make him fantasy-relevant if he lands in a good spot.

Tight Ends

Pat Freiermuth: Once — once since Christmas 2022 has “Patty Football” had more than three catches in a game. It’s now 2024. Consistency at this position is hard to find. We have that from Freiermuth. He’s consistently someone I’d rather not use.

Isaiah Likely: The one-handed catch that turned into a 35-yard touchdown was a thing of beauty last week. Likely has scored four times in his past four games and has a 25+ yard catch in each of those contests, making a strong case for Baltimore to pivot to more two-TE formations next season.

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