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Favorites & Fades

Week 18

By: Mike Krueger | Ken Ilchuk | Nick Caron | HC Green
Updated: 1/8/22



Sunday Early:


CAR @ NO | NE @ BUF | TB @ ATL | CLE @ PIT

Sunday Late:



- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
- Lines and totals updated Sunday morning

Chiefs @ Raiders - (Krueger)
Line: KC -8.5
Total: 51.5

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

No Brainers: QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce

Favorite: RB Jerick McKinnon

The hot streak continues for McKinnon as he’s now scored in five straight games and has 8 total touchdowns in that span. All but one those TDs has come through the air as Andy Reid is scheming plays for McKinnon inside the redzone… and oh yeah… guess who’s allowed the most receiving yards to running backs this season? The Raiders. McKinnon is still splitting snaps with Pacheco and has only cracked double-digit carries once so the extreme efficiency will break at some point, but I wouldn’t get in front of the train. Get on board until it stops.

On the Fence: RB Isiah Pacheco, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

With McKinnon becoming a permanent fixture in the endzone the last few weeks it’s been a little difficult for Pacheco to make any fantasy noise. He managed to score last week but only saw 11 touches as the Chiefs remained pass-happy despite a neutral game script and leading much of the fourth quarter. The Raiders aren’t scaring anyone with their rush defense and this sets up as another positive game-script for the Chiefs, but can we really trust Andy Reid to give Pacheco 15-20 carries?

JuJu is the most likely of the Chiefs receivers to pop for a big game but he has just 7 targets over his last two, and has just three TDs on the season. His last meeting against the Raiders ended in a 3-33-0 line on 8 targets. If having to a Chiefs receiver this week I’d lean towards JuJu but hopefully you’ve got better options.

Fade: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Mecole Hardman (abdomen)

Outside of Mahomes, Kelce and McKinnon it’s hard to trust any other Chiefs skill player in fantasy lineups which is odd to say given the Chiefs are at the top or near the top of most offensive categories. Their use of multiple receivers on offense simple don’t provide enough volume for each individual to have a secure floor. We’re expecting to see Hardman on the field this week after not playing since Week 9. Toney hasn’t seen more than 5 targets in any game this season and MVS hasn’t cracked 30 receiving yards the last four weeks. Add Justin Watson into the mix and you’ve got a plethora of options with no clear-cut favorite.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

No Brainers: WR Davante Adams, RB Josh Jacobs

Favorite: TE Darren Waller

Since his return in Week 15, Waller has yet to see an elite snap rate, playing 57%, 40% and 49% of the snaps the last three seeks. Fellow tight end Foster Moreau is actually on the field more, but it’s Waller who’s seen more targets and has two trips to endzone during that span. The game script should be in Waller’s favor and he has a couple big games against KC in his career including 7-88-1 and 7-100-0. This game has the highest over/under of the week at 52.5.

On the Fence: QB Jarrett Stidham

Stidham’s surprise QB3 performance last week against a stingy 49ers defense was noteworthy. That was just the second 300-yard performance San Francisco has given up to a quarterback this season. He also rushed for 34 yards, showing some mobility to help boost his fantasy floor. And now the Raiders signal caller faces a Chiefs-D that’s given up the most passing TDs in the league (32) and has a full complement of weapons including Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. There’s still some unknown here and a fantasy flop is certainly within Stidham’s range of outcomes, but I wouldn’t be averse to taking DFS shots with Stidham and his pass-catchers in Week 18.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Raiders 23 ^ Top

Titans @ Jaguars - (Ilchuk)
Line: JAX -5.5
Total: 39.5

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

No Brainers: RB Derrick Henry

Favorite: QB Joshua Dobbs

Dobbs showed nicely in his first career start against the Cowboys last week. But that’s the only film there is of Dobbs in an NFL uniform. I expect him to be much better in his second start, and the Jags don’t really know what to prepare for in the passing game. They do know they have to stop RB Derrick Henry, though. That means opportunities for Dobbs to make some plays against favorable coverages. I think he’s a sneaky low-end QB1 in a win and you’re in scenario.

On the Fence: TE Chigoziem Okonkwo

Okonkwo has had at least three catches in five of his last six games, and at least five targets in four of the last six. Even better, Tennessee’s coaches are drawing up plays specifically for the big tight end. The Titans are going to ride Derrick Henry to the AFC South title, so you have to wonder how much he’ll see the ball. But it’s not hard to see him as one of Josh Dobbs’ primary targets when he does have to throw, even with Treylon Burks in the lineup.

Fade: RB Hassan Haskins

Haskins did a nice job filling in for Derrick Henry last week with 40 rushing yards on limited work. But this Saturday night is Derrick’s night. Don’t expect to see much of Haskins unless Henry goes down.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

No Brainers: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, TE Evan Engram

Favorite: WR Christian Kirk

Kirk had one of his worst outings of the season last week against Houston. But the Texans actually do a nice job against the pass. The Titans do not and have struggled against fantasy WR’s all season (league-worst 26.3 points per game). QB Trevor Lawrence is playing really well, and Kirk is his top target. In a game that matters, expect Kirk to shine.

On the Fence: WR Marvin Jones

Literally half of Jones’ production this year has come in two games against the Texans. So, while the game plan should be to throw the ball extensively against Tennessee this week, Jones is sitting firmly behind Christian Kirk and Zay Jones on the target chart. There’s certainly a chance for him to pop in this game, he just hasn’t shown a tendency for that.

Fade: RB JaMycal Hasty

Hasty got a bulk of work in a blowout win last week, but the Jags are remarkably trying to win the AFC South this week and Travis Etienne’s number will be at the top of the call sheet all night.

Prediction: Jaguars 28, Titans 24 ^ Top

Texans @ Colts - (Ilchuk)
Line: IND -3.0
Total: 37.5

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

No Brainers: None

Favorite: RB Royce Freeman

In this week’s version of the Who Cares Bowl, Freeman could actually provide some flex value for fantasy owners. He’s led or tied for the team lead in total touches each of the last three weeks, and though he only has 133 yards in that stretch, the Colts have been gashed by the run this season. A couple of big runs could give him viable numbers at the end of the day.

On the Fence: WR Phillip Dorsett

Dorsett has nine targets over the last two games and three catches in each of those contests. That’s a positive, but he has just 63 yards in that span. Brandin Cooks looms as the supposed WR1 if he ever shows up, but it’s hard to have much confidence in any of the Texans’ WR’s given the QB play in Houston. Davis Mills has cracked 200-yards just once in his last five games.

Fade: WR Brandin Cooks

Cooks was supposed to give the offense a little boost when he came back from injury a couple weeks ago. That hasn’t happened, and while plenty of that can be laid at the feet of the play at QB, he has been less than impressive when given the chance. The last time he topped five catches in a game was Week 4 and he has yet to post a 100-yard game this season. Stay away.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

No Brainers: None

Favorite: RB Zack Moss

Moss has been the Colts’ most productive player over the last three weeks, averaging over 4.5 yards per carry. Interim HC Jeff Saturday wants to run the ball and doesn’t want Sam Ehlinger to do a whole lot with it, so look for Moss to provide some real flex value against a team that has given up the most rushing yards, rushing TDs and fantasy points to running backs.

On the Fence: TE Jelani Woods

Woods has six catches on nine targets for 62 yards over the last two games, which unfortunately is as productive as any WR has been on this team. But now Sam Ehlinger is back at QB, which could mean that he’ll be looking for outlets like Woods or could mean the passing game will be completely inept. Hard to say… fellow tight end Kylen Granson is expected to miss again.

Fade: Michael Pittman Jr.

The passing game with Ehlinger at the helm simply can’t be trusted. Pittman did find the endzone last week on his way to a 6-41-1 line but this week, against a surprisingly stingy pass defense, I’d look for other options.

Prediction: Texans 21, Colts 20 ^ Top

Vikings @ Bears - (Green)
Line: MIN -7.0
Total: 42.5

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

No Brainers: RB Dalvin Cook, WR Justin Jefferson, TE T.J. Hockenson

Favorite: QB Kirk Cousins

Coming off his best three-game stretch of the season, Cousins authored the kind of dud that ensures continued skepticism about his ability to deliver in big moments. His final numbers -- 205 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs -- don’t even tell the full story as much of that came against backups with the Vikings down 41-3. He has a good chance to rebound against the lowly Bears in Week 18, however, as Chicago was eviscerated by the Lions this past Sunday and look every bit a team counting the days until the offseason. Cousins threw for 296 yards in his first game against the Bears this year and is a solid QB1.

On the Fence: WR K.J. Osborn

In a game where Jefferson never got going, Osborn delivered a 7-59-1 effort, albeit with the touchdown coming courtesy of C.J. Beathard in garbage time. Even with that, the former fifth-round pick has played better late in the season, finding the end zone in three of his last four games and seeing 32 targets in that stretch -- for comparison, Adam Thielen was thrown to 21 times. Osborn can’t be relied on as more than a flex, but beyond just his increased usage, bear in mind he’d likely stay in even if Minnesota gets a big lead and rests guys ahead of a likely Wild Card weekend matchup with the Giants. There’s some upside here.

Fade: WR Adam Thielen

As noted above, Thielen has been targeted 11 fewer times than Osborn, and he’s not playing that many more snaps with 257 over the last four games to 217. Already firmly behind Jefferson and Hockenson, Thielen has just two grabs for 22 yards during the past two weeks combined. He has scored in three of his last six outings, so it’s not as though there’s no hope, but just realize Thielen carries meaningful risk as a low-end WR3 or even as a flex play.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

No Brainers: RB David Montgomery

Favorite: RB Khalil Herbert

Nothing went well for the Bears in Detroit with Justin Fields accounting for the majority of their 200 yards rushing (and 105 of it coming in the first quarter). While Minnesota sits 31st in pass defense, their run defense can by no means be considered a strength; in Week 17, the Packers ran for 163 yards and 2 TDs on 4.9 YPC. Herbert hasn’t done a lot since returning from injury, but the ground game is Chicago’s strength, and you can bet that’s where they’ll look to attack the Vikings (especially with Nathan Peterman starting). That gives Herbert some playable upside from your flex spot.

On the Fence: TE Cole Kmet

Even against a pass defense as underwhelming as Minnesota’s, you can’t trust the Bears passing attack, especially after they had as many sacks allowed as completions (7) in their blowout loss to the Lions last Sunday. Kmet led the way with a whopping two catches for 27 yards, though he did at least score their lone touchdown. The Vikings had issues staying with Robert Tonyan (3-52-1) last weekend, which gives a little more hope that Kmet can deliver TE1 numbers in the finale.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Vikings 31, Bears 20 ^ Top

Ravens @ Bengals - (Green)
Line: CIN -9.5
Total: 39.5

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

No Brainers: QB Lamar Jackson (knee), TE Mark Andrews

Update: J.K. Dobbins will not play.

Favorite: RB J.K. Dobbins

Given what happened Monday night and the uncertainty surrounding the Bengals-Bills game it’s hard to project the Week 18 tilt between Cincinnati and Baltimore. In large that’s because, had the Bengals lost, this game would’ve been for the AFC North. Now, Cincy holds a game-and-a-half lead on the Ravens, which would likely leave them in the sixth seed unless LA loses to Denver, opening a chance for Baltimore to move up.

It's unprecedented and confusing. For the purposes of this preview, I’ll be assuming that both teams will play to win. In that scenario, Dobbins could shine. Since returning from Injured Reserve, the Ohio State alum has carried the ball 57 times for 397 yards (6.9 YPC) and a touchdown. He’s not playing a ton of snaps, and he’s a non-factor in the passing game, but he’s seeing a lot more touches than Gus Edwards. While Cincy does have a good run defense (106.4 YPG allowed/5th), you shouldn’t hesitate to deploy Dobbins as a low-end RB2.

On the Fence: RB Gus Edwards

Edwards has played in eight games this season. In five of those, he finished between 50 and 70 yards, so that would be a good jumping-off point for owners looking to gauge his fantasy value in Week 18. He does have two efforts of less than 15 yards, though, which includes Sunday night against the Steelers. That creates downside for Edwards, who is currently filling a complementary role behind Dobbins as opposed to a 1a/1b type of arrangement. Pencil Edwards in as a worthwhile flex.

Fade: QB Tyler Huntley/WR Demarcus Robinson

Let’s go to the flowchart: are you a part of the Ravens passing game? If yes, proceed to Question #2: are you Mark Andrews? If yes, you have fantasy value. If no, you have no fantasy value and should be benched. Huntley completed just 14 passes on SNF, and of that number a dozen went to his tight ends with one a piece for Robinson and DeSean Jackson. Huntley, Robinson, et all, are unplayable this Sunday.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

No Brainers: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Tee Higgins

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: WR Tyler Boyd

Before the game was suspended, Boyd was the recipient of the lone TD pass, hauling in a 14-yarder from Burrow. The 29-year-old has been mostly an afterthought over the last eight games, logging two total TDs, and topping 50 yards in a contest just once. He does boast a little circumstantial upside, however, as the team could choose to limit snaps for Chase and/or Higgins leading into the playoffs even if they decide to go after the win. That offers some hope that Boyd can deliver, though using him as more than a flex would be overly optimistic.

Fade: TE Hayden Hurst

Hurst actually led the Bengals in receiving the first time these two teams met, hauling in six passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. It was his best game of the season. Hurst has not scored since Oct. 9, and he’s only gone over 50 yards once since that encounter with Baltimore. With Burrow under center there’s always a glimmer of hope, but you’d have to be pretty desperate to roll the dice on Hurst in Week 18.

Prediction: Bengals 26, Ravens 16 ^ Top

Jets @ Dolphins - (Caron)
Line: MIA -3.5
Total: 36.5

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: WR Garrett Wilson

Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson has turned in poor performances in back-to-back weeks, but the periphery numbers have remained good enough that we’re going back to the well with him again here in the final week of the regular season. The rookie has been targeted 20 times over his past two contests and an average of nearly 10 times per game over his past six, four of which have been primarily quarterbacked by Mike White. Wilson has seen at least seven targets come his way in eight of his past nine contests, which is borderline elite status, so don’t be too scared to start him after a pair of bad games.

Update: Joe Flacco will start at QB for the Jets.

On the Fence: QB Mike White (ribs)

Mike White threw a couple of interceptions and failed to throw a touchdown pass in what was an ugly Jets road loss against the Seahawks this past week, but we now have a four-game sample size to go off of and there’s plenty to like heading into this Week 18 matchup. White has thrown the ball an average of nearly 44 times per game in his four starts—a number that certainly can’t be projected to continue, but it does give us insight into the team having no fears about letting him sling the ball. The real concern here is that the Jets are likely to be without both Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater while they turn to Skylar Thompson to start for them. That could really decrease the Dolphins’ offensive upside in this one while simultaneously lowering the chances of a shootout between these teams. White isn’t a QB1, but he’s a decent QB2 in this one who does have some upside if Thompson surprises us.

Fade: RB Zonovan Knight

There were a few weeks this season where Zonovan Knight looked like he might be becoming someone that fantasy owners could really rely on to carry them down the stretch. Unfortunately, things have come crashing back to reality in recent weeks as the running back has now been held to three ugly, single-digit fantasy points performances in a row. Knight’s bell cow usage actually fell back so far this past week that he finished third on his own team, behind both Ty Johnson and Michael Carter, in snaps. If he’s not dominating the touches, Knight and really any back on the Jets’ active roster is simply not worth starting for fantasy.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: WR Tyreek Hill

Injuries to Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater have it looking like Skylar Thompson will be in line to start this important Week 18 game for the Dolphins. Thompson looked pretty rough this past week when he replaced Bridgewater against the Patriots. We did actually get to see him play against the Jets earlier this season when he replaced Bridgewater almost immediately back in Week 5, resulting in him throwing for 166 yards and an interception in a blowout loss to the Jets. Both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle turned in less-than-stellar performances in that one and while there’s reason to believe that they’ll have a better rapport with Thompson now that they’ve had a week to practice with him, the upside is still fairly questionable with the Miami offense as a whole. Hill has been too good to bench with just about any quarterback behind center, though, so continue to roll with him as usual.

On the Fence: WR Jaylen Waddle

While Hill is still someone who is practically a must-start even with Thompson behind center, the same cannot be said about Jaylen Waddle. Waddle has been good throughout most of the season, but he himself is dealing with a shoulder injury that’s kept him limited in practice throughout the week. We should expect him to play, but the combination of him being banged up and Skylar Thompson likely being the quarterback is enough that fantasy managers could consider benching Waddle in Week 18 if they have other viable options.

Fade: RB Raheem Mostert, RB Jeff Wilson

An inexperienced quarterback behind center oftentimes leads to an increased percentage of running plays for an offense and that will likely be the story that fantasy managers starting Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson will tell themselves heading into this one. They’ve been splitting touches for the Dolphins over the past few weeks, but there’s not a lot to be excited about if they’re going to be playing in a low-powered offense. One of these two players will probably break off a long run or get into the end zone at some point, but there’s no guarantee that either player sees more than 10 touches, making both of them a very risky option in championship finals.

Prediction: Jets 20, Dolphins 17 ^ Top

Panthers @ Saints - (Ilchuk)
Line: NO -3.5
Total: 41.5

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

No Brainers: None

Favorite: WR D.J. Moore

Moore has been the locked-in WR1 in Carolina since Sam Darnold got back under center with 32 targets over the last five games. He responded, too. In that span, he has two 100-yard games and at least 70 yards in four of the five. He also has at least five catches in three of the five games.

On the Fence: RB D’Onta Foreman

Foreman has been up and down in recent weeks and was significantly down last week with less than 40 yards for the second time in three games. The problem is that he is capable of popping off for 150 rushing yards at any time. You’d feel more comfortable with him in a game the Panthers are projected to win but that’s not the case here, and his lack of work as a receiver will continue to cap his ceiling. Foreman has just five catches on the season.

Fade: QB Sam Darnold

Though I’m in the minority, I believe Darnold has done enough to earn another starting shot in the NFL and showed last week that he still has a live arm with a career-high 341 yards and three touchdowns. But his penchant for turnovers could be his downfall, both on the field and in fantasy play where owners just can’t afford those types of mistakes this time of year. The Saints have given up just 17 passing TDs on the season, tied for third fewest.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

No Brainers: TE Taysom Hill

Favorite: TE Juwan Johnson

Johnson has become a major player in the Andy Dalton check down game with nearly 350 yards in the second half of the season alone. He has at least three catches in four of the last six games. He also has five touchdowns since Week 9 and has two games of sixty-plus yards in the last three weeks.

On the Fence: RB Alvin Kamara

Kamara is clearly the RB1 in what has become a run-first offense, posting at least 74 rushing yards in three straight games. But he has been limited in the passing attack and in the red zone, which is a bit of a surprise. He has just 4 touchdowns in what will likely be the worst fantasy season of his career.

Fade: WR Chris Olave

Olave is the clear WR1 and should surpass the 1,000-yard mark this week, which would be some accomplishment in this offense. But while he has a solid floor and will lock in as a low-end WR2, his ceiling is limited compared to what it used to be. The last time he had more than 5 receptions was Week 6.

Prediction: Panthers 20, Saints 16 ^ Top

Patriots @ Bills - (Caron)
Line: BUF -8.0
Total: 43.5

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: RB Rhamondre Stevenson

Mid-season Rhamondre Stevenson was really something to remember, but it’s been a tough road over the past few weeks. Now facing a Buffalo team that has little to play for in Week 18, however, Stevenson could be in line for a fairly heavy workload, especially if they get ahead on the scoreboard. The Patriots would lock up a playoff spot with a win and their grind-the-ball strategy should play into Stevenson’s opportunities, even though he’ll be dealing with Damien Harris in the backfield who actually out-carried him by one carry this past week. Stevenson most recently carried the ball 10 times for 54 yards, adding six receptions against when he played the Bills back in Week 13.

On the Fence: WR Jakobi Meyers

We had all but completely forgotten about him throughout the middle part of the season, but Meyers has really bounced back into relevance over the past two weeks. The Patriots wide receiver saw six seven targets against the Bengals in Week 16, then followed it up with nine targets in Week 17, catching six passes, including one touchdown in each contest. Meyers has seemingly reestablished himself as the top passing game producer in New England and while that might not mean a lot considering the overall outlook for that passing game, Meyers has to be considered a decent fill-in option against a Buffalo defense that ranks in the top 10 in fantasy points given up to opposing wide receivers this season and may end up resting some starters at some point during the game.

Fade: RB Damien Harris

Running back Damien Harris missed four games before returning in Week 17. His return saw him immediately out-carry Stevenson, albeit only by one, in a somewhat surprising outcome. Still, Harris has been held to fewer than four yards per carry in six of his 10 starts this season, including his return this past week against Miami which saw him carry the ball nine times for just 31 yards. He’s not particularly useful in the passing game and he doesn’t seem to have the locked-in goaline role anymore, so there’s not a lot to like about the Patriots’ backup running back.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

No Brainers: QB Josh Allen

Favorite: WR Stefon Diggs

It’s hard to believe that Stefon Diggs has fallen off the “no-brainers” list, but there’s really no question that he’s taken a significant step back in not only production but also overall opportunities late this season. We can obviously look beyond the completely unpredictable outcome of the Bills/Bengals game this past week, but Diggs had previously gone three straight games with subpar fantasy production as well. In fact, you have to go back to his Week 13 matchup with the Patriots to find the last time that Diggs really produced like the elite player we’ve come to know. Diggs caught seven passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in that matchup and he’ll face the Patriots again here in Week 18.

On the Fence: TE Dawson Knox

Dawson Knox went from full practice participant on Wednesday to limited practice participant on Thursday so there’s some concern that he may not be fully healthy, although there’ve been no indications that he plans to sit out this weekend’s game. Knox is part of a long line of tight ends who are essentially touchdown-or-bust, but he’s scored a touchdown in three straight games while being targeted 20 times over that stretch, so fantasy managers should be considering him as a low-end TE1 in this one.

Fade: RB James Cook, RB Devin Singletary

The Bills backfield continues to be an ugly situation for fantasy as both Devin Singletary and James Cook see Neither player is seeing enough touches to be trustworthy for fantasy. Singletary has been playing slightly more snaps and seeing a few more touches per game, so the suggestion would be to go with him if you have to choose one of these two backs, but neither player is a strong option against a New England defense that has given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Prediction: Bills 24, Patriots 17 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Falcons - (Ilchuk)
Line: ATL -4.5
Total: 40.5

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

No Brainers: QB Tom Brady, WR Chris Godwin

Favorite: RB Rachaad White

Bucs HC Todd Bowles says the starters will play this week. My question is how long? With their playoff seed locked up, I expect Tampa to run the ball, run the clock, and get out of dodge unscathed against a Falcons team still trying to figure things out in Week 18. While Leonard Fournette is likely to get the start, expect White to get extended mop up duty, enough to post solid RB2 numbers.

On the Fence: WR Russell Gage

Gage took a back seat to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans during the Buccaneers’ offensive explosion last week. But this time around, Gage should take center stage as Tampa pulls their starters at some point. Gage caught all three of his targets against the Panthers, so given more opportunity, he could be a viable low-end WR2. It just depends on when the starters head to the sideline.

Fade: WR Mike Evans

Prior to last week’s outburst, Evans hadn’t posted a 100-yard game in seven straight contests. I expect he won’t get a full game’s worth of action so look for Evans’ numbers to come back to earth.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

No Brainers: None

Favorite: RB Tyler Allgeier

I’ve been on this guy since the preseason. It took longer than I expected, but he has evolved into the RB1 in a run-first offense with a rookie QB at the helm. A power runner with quickness and the ability to make plays as a receiver out of the backfield (when they let him); he is a quiet RB2 play this week.

On the Fence: WR Drake London

London seems to have developed a rapport with new QB Desmond Ridder. In Ridder’s first three contests, London has 19 catches on 28 targets for over 200 yards, by far his most productive stretch. HC Arthur Smith seems to have loosened the reins on the passing game with Ridder now behind center. If that continues in Week 18, London could reach Flex status for this game.

Fade: QB Desmond Ridder

I’m not sure he’s a true “fade” as he was never really in play for fantasy owners. But for those who might consider him in a one-off situation based on some decent numbers in recent weeks, that would prove unwise. Ridder has looked awkward and uncomfortable in the pocket, and he’s a way off from fantasy starter material at this point.

Prediction: Falcons 17, Buccaneers 16 ^ Top

Browns @ Steelers - (Green)
Line: PIT -2.5
Total: 40.5

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

No Brainers: RB Nick Chubb, WR Amari Cooper

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: QB Deshaun Watson

Watson has been unimpressive since returning to say the least, completing just 56.7 percent of his passes with the team leaning more and more on the running game. In fact, last Sunday, the Browns ran the ball 30 teams to 18 passes. Watson made the most of his limited opportunities, however, passing for 169 yards and 3 TDs. With Pittsburgh boasting a better run defense than pass, maybe this is the week they let Watson let it rip to get a jumpstart on next season. Then again, the team is reportedly hoping to get Chubb a rushing title -- he currently trails Josh Jacobs by 160 yards, but he’ll know the number he needs since the Raiders play on Saturday. Still, if your normal starter is resting, Watson wouldn’t be the worst guy to take a chance on.

Fade: TE David Njoku

When Watson first returned it made sense that he might lean on the tight end and maybe Kareem Hunt as checkdown targets. That hasn’t happened. Njoku has just six catches for 63 yards in the last three games combined, with most of Watson’s throws going to the wideouts Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Mark Andrews’ big game in Week 17 offers some hope, but Njoku would still constitute a desperation play.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

No Brainers: RB Najee Harris, TE Pat Freiermuth

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: RB Jaylen Warren

Over the past four games, Harris has played an average of 42.5 snaps to 23.5 for Warren, so we’re seeing very close to a 2-to-1 split. Warren has also seen a noticeable uptick in usage in Weeks 15-17, posting 177 total yards and a TD in the past three contests. The undrafted rookie has been a nice find for the Steelers, and his three-down ability makes him a threat as a runner or receiver. Facing a Browns team that has bled yardage on the ground all year long, Warren is an intriguing flex candidate.

Fade: WRs Diontae Johnson/George Pickens

It’s a simple equation: the Steelers like to run the ball, and the Browns have had trouble defending the run. That should tell you that a ground-heavy gameplan is in the works from offensive coordinator Matt Canada. On Sunday night against a much tougher Ravens run defense, Pittsburgh dialed up 41 runs and 27 passes with each wideout finishing with just two receptions. Johnson is getting more targets, so maybe you could deploy him as a shaky WR3 in what’ll be his last chance to avoid setting a new NFL record for most receptions in a season without a touchdown. As for Pickens, he profiles as a flex, at best, with downside.

Prediction: Steelers 20, Browns 16 ^ Top

Rams @ Seahawks - (Krueger)
Line: SEA -6.0
Total: 41.5

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: RB Cam Akers

Akers’ late-season revival continued last week as he touched the ball 20 times and notched his second-straight 100-yard rushing game. He’s getting the bulk of the snaps with only a small percentage going to Malcolm Brown (16%) and Kyren Williams (6%) last week. He’s been the most consistent threat in this offense over the last five weeks and that should continue in the season finale. Seattle has allowed the second-most fantasy points to the position and Akers posted a 17-60-2 line against them back in Week 13. He’s an easy RB2 based on expected volume.

On the Fence: TE Tyler Higbee

Higbee is the only receiving option I’d consider in the Rams offense this week. The Seahawks have given up the most fantasy points to the position, including a league leading 1144 receiving yards. Tyler Conklin of the Jets just hit them up for 6-80-0 last week and Higbee isn’t sharing playing time like Conklin is with C.J. Uzomah. The Rams tight end is worthy of low-end TE1 upside this week.

Fade: QB Baker Mayfield, Van Jefferson

We’ve seen Baker in a Rams uniform four times and he’s topped out at 230 yards and 2 TDs (DEN). His other two appearances have resulted in 234 yards and 1 TD total including a 132-0-0 line against the Chargers last week. Traveling to Seattle with the Seahawks fighting for the playoff lives doesn’t sound like a good spot for a marginal NFL quarterback playing with a sub-standard group of wideouts. Hard pass on Baker this week.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: WR DK Metcalf, RB Kenneth Walker

With a playoff berth on the line the Seahawks are likely be riding their two best players against the Rams. That means Metcalf and Walker should be the focus of the offense. Metcalf posted an 8-127-1 line against the Rams back in Week 13 and seems to enjoy the matchup with Jalen Ramsey. The Rams have given up seven 100-yard receiving game this season.

Walker is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against Kansas City and the Jets and now faces a Rams team that’s only allowed one 100-yard rushing game all season, which came last week by Austin Ekeler. Perhaps the Rams are looking ahead to the off-season? In any case, I’d expect a healthy dose of Walker in this game with Locket less than 100%. The Seattle running back has seen 49 carries in his last two games and was dominating snap share last week against the Jets until garbage time, when DeeJay Dallas got some run. Walker missed Thursday with an illness so monitor status reports this weekend.

On the Fence: QB Geno Smith

Geno blasted the Rams back in Week 13 to the tune of 367 yards and 3 TDs finishing as the QB3 for the week. That was by far the most passing yardage he’s had in any game this season but those numbers are skewed by the fact that Walker and DeeJay Dallas were injured early, forcing Seattle to rely on the passing game in the second half. Still, he posted the numbers meaning he’s capable of posting another spiked week but with Pete Carroll opting for more balance in his offense, I’d expect more of low-end QB1 ceiling for Geno this week and likely a QB2 finish, especially with Tyler Locket banged up.

Fade: WR Tyler Lockett (finger, leg)

Speaking of Lockett, he picked up a leg injury last week to go along with his recent finger surgery. Despite the obstacles, I expected Lockett to be out there given the significance of the game, despite missing practice much of the week. Last week, Lockett only played 32% of the snaps while Laquon Treadwell (54%), Cade Johnson (36%) and Dareke Young (38%) picked up the slack. We could see more of this committee from Seattle in Week 18. This scenario make’s Locket a very risky Flex option at best.

Prediction: Seahawks 26, Rams 19 ^ Top

Chargers @ Broncos - (Krueger)
Line: DEN -3.0
Total: 39.5

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

No Brainers: RB Austin Ekeler

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: WR Keenan Allen, WR Mike Williams

If the Ravens lose to the Bengals earlier in the day, then the Chargers will be locked into the No.5 seed and won’t have anything to play for in this game. Given that scenario and the stifling pass defense that the Broncos have displayed this season, it’s easy to downgrade both Allen and Williams this week. We know both are capable of WR1 performances but Williams posted a 2-17-0 line on six targets the last time these two teams met (Wk6) while Keenan was out with a hamstring injury. Denver has allowed just 7 TDs by wide receivers this season. Only the Texans have given up fewer (5).

Fade: QB Justin Herbert

With a difficult matchup and a playoff berth already locked up, it’s fair to question how much Herbert we’ll see in this game. HC Brandon Staley said “Once we find out about that game (CIN/BAL), then we’ll make the appropriate decisions moving forward,” Staley said. Sounds like if the Bengals beat the Ravens earlier in the day then some of the Chargers starters, including Justin Herbert, may be limited or not play at all. Unless you have a swap option for Herbert in the late-afternoon window, it’s probably best to sit Herbert this week.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: RB Latavius Murray, Chase Edmonds

The Chargers defensive weak spot is definitely stopping the run which gives some intrigue to Murray and Edmonds this week. The two Denver RBs are splitting time with both logging around a 60% snap share last week against the Chiefs. Murray out-touched Edmonds 16 to 10 and both ended up with similar yardage (70s). Neither saw any opportunities in the redzone. The Chargers have given up the second-most rushing yards (2,017) to RBs this season, behind only the Texans (2,263).

On the Fence: WR Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy has posted at least 8 targets in his last four games and has WR28, WR14, WR22 and WR2 fantasy finishes to show for it. Not bad if you’re looking for a WR2. The Chargers may be lacking motivation in this game depending on what happens with CIN/BAL earlier in the day and we’ll be monitoring the status of S Derwin James who missed last week with a concussion. If both of those chips fall in favor of Denver, then Jeudy seems like a safe option in the season finale even with Courtland Sutton back in the mix.

Fade: TE Albert Okwuegbunam

It seems the new head coach doesn’t have a problem with Albert-O, unlike Nathaniel Hackett who apparently didn’t approve of Albert’s blocking. With Greg Dulcich on the sidelines, the former Missouri tight end saw his first game action since Week 5 last week and delivered a TE9 performance with 45 yards and a TD. Don’t be fooled though, this is still a tight end by committee. Eric Saubert (34%), Eric Tomlinson (33%) and Andrew Beck (19%) also were in the mix and the Chargers have only allowed two tight ends to score TDs this season.

Prediction: Chargers 26, Broncos 23 ^ Top

Giants @ Eagles - (Caron)
Line: PHI -15.5
Total: 41.5

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: WR Richie James

The Giants’ situation is one of the most fluid heading into Week 18. We just don’t know what they’re going to do and we may not get a clear indication until it’s way too late. As such, any player in this offense is of abnormally high risk for fantasy as there’s a decent possibility that they get very little playing time or none at all.

With that being said, one player who’s really stepped up as of late is wide receiver, Richie James. James has scored at least 13 fantasy points in five of his past seven games, including a seven-catch, 76-yard, one-touchdown performance this past week against the Colts. He’s seen an impressive 32 targets over his past four games and has really begun to establish himself as the top pass catcher in this rag-tag group. Certainly, a game against a great Eagles defense is nothing to be confident about, but James did catch seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown, on nine targets, against Philadelphia back in Week 14.

On the Fence: RB Saquon Barkley, WR Isaiah Hodgins

While most of the national attention will be on whether Daniel Jones starts or not, fantasy managers will need to be most closely watching the Saquon Barkley situation. Barkley has been excellent throughout most of the season and will finish the year as a firm top-half fantasy RB1 whether or not he plays, but there’s plenty of reason for the Giants to not risk playing him—or at least not risk giving him his usual workload—in what is essentially a pointless game for them in Week 18. If we hear strong indications that the Giants will not rest their starters then feel free to roll Barkley out as usual, but otherwise, he’s a very risky option as even an RB2.

Alongside James, Isaiah Hodgins has really stepped up as the Giants’ second option in their passing game in recent weeks. He’s now scored a touchdown in four of his past five games while accumulating 33 targets over that timeframe. He’s definitely not a must-start and he could end up sitting with the rest of the Giants starters, but he’s still a relatively inexperienced player who the team may decide could benefit from additional playing time against a good defense. In that scenario, he might end up being the defacto WR1 for Tyrod Taylor which would give him a bit more of a floor than some of the other players in the New York offense have this week.

Fade: QB Daniel Jones

As of Thursday evening, the Giants have still not made their decision as to whether or not Daniel Jones will even play in this weekend’s game against the Eagles. New York is completely locked into their playoff slot and while head coach Brian Daboll has implied that he doesn’t intend to sit his starters, there are enough scenarios that could play out where it makes sense to just bench Jones for fantasy in Week 18. He’s been fine throughout most of the year, but there’s very little reason to risk playing him when he could end up going out there for a single drive and then handing things over to Tyrod Taylor.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

No Brainers: WR A.J. Brown, WR DeVonta Smith

Favorite: QB Jalen Hurts (shoulder)

It’s not true that the Eagles’ Week 18 game against the Giants is a “must-win,” but a win would lock up the top seed for them in the NFC and a bye through the first round, so it’s about as must-win as there can be for a team that’s already in the playoffs. With that in mind, expect to see quarterback Jalen Hurts back on the field after missing each of the past two games (both Eagles losses) with a shoulder injury. Hurts is still not back to full health, but his legs are still intact and that’s what we should be most excited about for fantasy purposes. Hurts might actually end up running the ball more than he already does if his arm is giving him problems, which might not be ideal for the Eagles’ offense, but it could still be fine for fantasy purposes. We’re not benching Hurts if he’s starting, so throw him in your lineup and hope for the best.

On the Fence: TE Dallas Goedert

With just nine targets in his first two games since coming back, we haven’t yet seen Dallas Goedert be truly unlocked since the shoulder injury that caused him to miss five games. Of course, his two games back have both been without starter Jalen Hurts, so don’t be too hard on Goedert who had been emerging as a must-start tight end earlier this season prior to the injury. He’s been mediocre since returning and Hurts isn’t at full health, but few tight ends possess more upside than Goedert, so you’re probably starting him unless you have another high-level option.

Fade: RB Miles Sanders

We had been able to rely on Miles Sanders’ pure carry totals to deliver fantasy points throughout much of the season, but the Philadelphia running back has now been held to 13 or fewer carries in five of his past eight contests. Without much passing game usage to go along with it, Sanders has been extremely difficult to trust for fantasy purposes as he’s either been producing huge games due to multiple touchdowns or complete duds as he fails to get into the end zone and doesn’t see enough volume to make up for it. We don’t yet know what the Giants’ starting roster will look like for this one and it could end up being a game in which neither team really wants to push their starters, so there’s some risk in this one, especially with Sanders dealing with a knee injury. Sanders did crush the Giants when these teams played back in Week 14, so don’t bench him for other questionable options, but understand that there’s more risk to starting him this week than most.

Prediction: Eagles 26, Giants 13 ^ Top

Cardinals @ 49ers - (Krueger)
Line: SF -14.0
Total: 39.5

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

No Brainers: N/A

Update: James Conner is out. Corey Clement and Keaontay Ingram are expected fill the void.

Favorite: RB James Conner (shin)

The only steady hand in this offense is Conner, especially with David Blough at quarterback and DeAndre Hopkins sitting out with knee injury. He’s averaged 21 touches over his last seven games. His insane snap share over the last four weeks came to an end in Week 17 when he picked up a knee/shin injury allowing Corey Clement to play 43% of the snaps. Conner missed practice Thursday so monitor reports on Friday to see if he’ll be out there this week against the best fantasy run defense in the league. Certainly not a great spot… and if we get any hint that he will play but his workload will be reduced, then he drops down into the “On the Fence” category.

On the Fence: WR Marquise Brown, TE Trey McBride

Brown (6-61-0) saw a respectable nine targets last week, one shy of rookie TE Trey McBride and fellow wideout Greg Dortch who both saw ten. Blough through the ball 40 times last week but was predictably inefficient completing just 24 (60%). This is something both Brown and McBride will have to endure as the matchup on paper gets tougher this week against the 49ers, although we did see Jarrett Stidham have some success (365-3-2) last week. With Hopkins out, Brown led the wide receiver group in snap percentage (91%) and is locked into the starting lineup alongside Greg Dortch (81%).

McBride had a breakout game last weekend against the Falcons and could be in line for another high-volume game if game script plays out like we think. Neither are safe, but both Brown and McBride are be volume plays that could lead to some second half garbage time points.

Fade: N/A

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

No Brainers: RB Christian McCaffrey (ankle, knee)

Favorite: TE George Kittle

Kittle has become a fixture in this section and once again has a great matchup against a defense that’s given the up the second-most fantasy points to the position. His last game against the Cardinals (Wk 11) resulted in a 4-84-2 line and TE2 finish. He’s seen 8 targets in each of his last two games and has five touchdowns in his last three. The outlook doesn’t get much better and only a potential rest scenario in the second half keeps him out of the “No-brainer” category.

On the Fence: WR Brandon Aiyuk

The 49ers would need to beat the Cardinals and have the Eagles to lose to the Giants in order to grab the No.2 seed. Not impossible, but certainly not probably considering the Giants are likely to rest their starters. Both games are in the late-window which means San Francisco should at least start the game at full force. Aiyuk saw a season-high 12 targets last week and had his best fantasy game of the season (9-101-1). That of course, came with Deebo on the sidelines but we get to see Deebo on the field this week potentially cutting into targets for Aiyuk. I’d lean towards a low-end WR2 value for Aiyuk this week, given the multiple variables surrounding this game.

Fade: WR Deebo Samuel (knee)

Deebo got in a full practice Thursday and looks like he will be available this week. I’m sure the 49ers would like to get their No.1 receiver in the action leading up to the playoffs but it won’t be a shock if he’s limited in some fashion. There’s no sense in risking him for a full game against Arizona fresh off a knee injury when you’re favored by 14 points.

Prediction: 49ers 26, Cardinals 17 ^ Top

Cowboys @ Commanders
Line: DAL -7.0
Total: 39.5

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

No Brainers: WR CeeDee Lamb

Favorite: RB Tony Pollard, TE Dalton Schultz

While he’s still playing second-fiddle in his own backfield in terms of touches, Cowboys running back Tony Pollard has now scored at least 14 points in seven of his past eight games and there’s little reason to believe that he won’t be in line for another productive game here in Week 18. The only real concern here is that Pollard struggled mightily back in Week 4 when he played against the Commanders and had his worst fantasy performance of the season. Additionally, the Commanders have been excellent against opposing running backs for most of the season, although they did just allow a 100-yard day to Nick Chubb this past week. It’s not a perfect matchup by any means, but Pollard’s been extremely reliable for fantasy and should be trusted again as an RB2 this week.

Tight end Dalton Schultz has found himself all over this article throughout the season, but a final appearance on the “Favorites” seems appropriate following his seven-reception performance that included two touchdowns against the Titans in Week 17. Schultz has now seen 28 targets over his past four games and should see at least a handful of opportunities against the Commanders.

On the Fence: QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott

With the Cowboys needing to win this game in order to give themselves a chance at a division championship and a home playoff game, Prescott should again see at least enough volume to be a low-end QB1 for fantasy purposes. He’s thrown for multiple touchdown passes in eight of the 10 games he’s played in since returning from injury and he’s now attempted at least 30 passes in six straight contests. He doesn’t have a high ceiling against a good Washington defense so look elsewhere if you need the boom potential, but Prescott is a solid option.

This past week saw running back Ezekiel Elliott got into the end zone again, extending his touchdown streak to at least one score in nine straight games. He’s been a subpar performer from an efficiency standpoint, he hasn’t reached 100 rushing yards in any game this year, and he’s practically become a complete non-factor in the passing game, but Elliott remains the Cowboys’ primary goaline back. That role in an offense as good as Dallas’ is about as good as it gets for a touchdown-or-bust-type player like Elliott has become. Like with Prescott, don’t expect a huge performance, but Elliott should be good for at least 15 touches and a decent opportunity for a touchdown or two.

Fade: WR Michael Gallup, WR Noah Brown, T.Y. Hilton

Michael Gallup’s 2022 has been a forgettable one and it seems like he’s probably more likely to go out with a whimper than with a bang. The Cowboys added veteran T.Y. Hilton a few weeks back and while Gallup’s playing time hasn’t really changed, we have certainly seen Hilton affect the target opportunities for both Gallup and fellow receiver Noah Brown. With CeeDee Lamb dominating the opportunities and Dalton Schultz being so heavily utilized near the end zone, it’s tough to really rely on any of these other complementary players in the Dallas passing game right now. If they were playing the Titans again, then sure, maybe we take a chance on Gallup, but against the Commanders, there’s just not enough upside to really warrant playing Gallup, Brown, or Hilton.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

No Brainers: N/A

Update: Brian Robinson is out. Jonathan Williams and Jaret Patterson are expected to handle RB duties for Washington.

Favorite: RB Brian Robinson Jr., RB Jonathan Williams

With the Commanders really only capable of playing spoiler at this point, the team has opted to turn to rookie quarterback Sam Howell to get the start here in Week 18. Howell, a fifth-round pick, will get his first NFL playing time and it’s likely that he’s not going to be fully unleashed right away. Instead, look for the team to rely heavily on their running game this week, which is expected to be led by another rookie, Brian Robinson Jr., who has now carried the ball an average of 17 times per game since he first stepped on the field. Robinson is, however, dealing with a knee injury and was not on the practice field on Thursday, so his status is in question heading into the weekend. Should he play, there’s little reason to think that the Commanders won’t utilize him heavily, as there’s no reason to risk further injuring him this season. If he doesn’t play, however, the Commanders' backfield could look pretty ugly as they will likely be going with a committee of Jonathan Williams, Jarrett Patterson, and possibly Reggie Bonnafon. Williams saw the most playing time this past week when he got nine carries so look for him to be the primary beneficiary if Robinson does miss the game. No matter who is starting, though, their opportunities should be strong as the Commanders will be without fellow running back Antonio Gibson who was placed on IR during the week.

On the Fence: WR Terry McLaurin, WR Jahan Dotson

The QB carousel in Washington continues and the team will now be looking to rookie Sam Howell to close out the season. It’s hard for things to get much worse than the quarterback play we’ve seen in Washington, but going to a fifth-round rookie will almost certainly mean a lower-than-usual pace for the Commanders’ offense and fewer downfield opportunities for the receivers. Still, Terry McLaurin has been through some pretty ugly quarterback situations not only this season, but throughout his career, and he’s been a pretty solid producer more weeks than not. It’s understandable if you want to bench him if you have similar options who don’t have the quarterback risks, but McLaurin should still be looked at as a low-end WR2 this week against a Dallas defense that has really struggled to contain opposing wide receivers this season.

While McLaurin is still considered by most to be the top receiver in Washington, it’s worth noting that he has actually been out-targeted by rookie Jahan Dotson in back-to-back weeks. Dotson has seen 31 targets over his past four games, which has led to three pretty nice fantasy performances and one dud this past week against Cleveland, even though he saw seven targets on the day. Dotson could easily regress back to fantasy irrelevance, but you could certainly do worse than him if you’re looking for a replacement for one of your usual starters who’s sitting out this week.

Fade: QB Sam Howell

Rookie quarterback Sam Howell will be making his first NFL start, but he should not be someone you’re relying on. Like most rookies making their debuts, Howell is unlikely to be given a ton of opportunities even if the team falls behind and we typically need lots of volume for a player like Howell, who doesn’t possess much mobility, to produce for fantasy.

Prediction: Cowboys 23, Commanders 13 ^ Top

Lions @ Packers - (Green)
Line: GB -5.0
Total: 49.5

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

No Brainers: RB D’Andre Swift, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: RB Jamaal Williams

Stuck in a slump throughout December, Williams got a taste of Chicago’s Swiss Cheese defense last Sunday and responded with 144 yards and a TD on 22 carries. To put that performance in perspective, the BYU product ran for 116 yards on 47 carries during the month of December. While Green Bay has similar numbers against the run to the Bears, don’t be misled, as the Packers have been trending up, allowing just 27 yards to Dalvin Cook last Sunday. The former Packer knows what January football in Lambeau is like, and he’ll certainly be motivated, but don’t count on him as more than an RB3.

Fade: QB Jared Goff

In seven road games this season, Goff has passed for 1,742 yards (248.9 per game), 6 TDs, and 4 INTs -- and without his 355-yard, 3 TD showing in a blowout loss to the Panthers, it drops to 231 yards, 3 TDs, and 4 INTs in his other six outings away from Ford Field. Indoor teams often don’t fare well in Green Bay in January, particularly at night; just ask the Vikings, which came into Week 17 having scored 89 points in their three most recent games prior to falling behind 41-3 in the fourth quarter. There’s some upside with Goff to be sure, but consider your options before plugging him into your lineup against a defense that has six INTs in their last six quarters.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

No Brainers: RB Aaron Jones, WR Christian Watson

Favorite: RB AJ Dillon

It took three months, but the Packers seem to have finally embraced the notion that the backfield combination of Jones and Dillon is the strength of their offense. Even with Jones feeling better after dealing with an ankle injury, Dillon still logged 12 touches and scored a touchdown for a fifth consecutive game. Despite being the No. 2 back, Dillon has led the team in snaps each of the past two weeks, and doubtless he’ll have a major role against a Lions defense that has given up 520 yards rushing combined over their last two games. Dillon is a borderline RB2/RB3 in a must-win game.

On the Fence: QB Aaron Rodgers/WR Allen Lazard

With the Packers in the midst of a four-game winning streak and a playoff spot on the line you’d think Rodgers was the lynchpin of it all. You’d be wrong. Rodgers has thrown for fewer than 240 yards in all four of those wins, and he hasn’t thrown for multiple TDs since Nov. 27. He threw for a season-high 291 yards against the Lions in the earlier meeting this season, but he made some brutal mistakes (three INTs), particularly in the red zone, that were huge in a six-point loss.

With teams keying on Watson, Lazard has led the Packers in receiving in back-to-back weeks, which is something he did in Week 9 against the Lions. He finished with 87 yards and scored a touchdown -- of note, he hasn’t found the end zone since. While both guys have pathways to starting appeal with Lazard as a WR3, both could be marginalized depending on how the game unfolds.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Packers 31, Lions 20 ^ Top