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Truths and Lies - Week 17

By Steve Schwarz | 12/27/23

It’s Championship Week for most leagues. Win and bragging rights are yours for the next nine months. No mistakes. Do your job. Check for injuries. Check the matchups and make the best decisions with the knowledge you have at the time. After that, it’s out of your hands.


“It’s not all about talent. It’s about dependability, consistency, and being able to improve.” – Bill Belichick

1) The good news for fantasy owners in the championship game is that no teams have clinched a seed.

True. No AFC division has been clinched and no bye team has been earned. Twelve of the 16 teams still have playoff aspirations. In the NFC, Detroit has clinched their division, but can still get the only bye if they win out and get help from San Francisco which has also won their division. In other words, you don’t have to worry about your guys sitting during Championship Week due to a coach’s decision. Now, you just have to worry about your player’s health.

2) Patrick Mahomes has finally hit “the wall.”

I don’t know whether he’s spent too much time making commercials, or whether it’s the fact that his receivers have “stone hands,” but this year has been a disaster. The perennial top quarterback ranks eighth - producing 22.6 FPts/G. That’s the worst year of his career (not counting the one game he played in 2017). It’s also been bad for the Chiefs. From 2018-2022 they were held under 20 points just six times, but in 2023 it’s happened seven times. The AFC playoffs no longer run through Arrowhead Stadium.

3) Fading Tua Tagovailoa in Championship Week is the right play.

It probably depends on who you can plug in for the Dolphins’ signal caller, but you certainly must consider it if you have a decent backup. The Ravens’ defense has allowed just three quarterbacks to crack the 19.7-point mark all season (Joshua Dobbs, Matthew Stafford and Trevor Lawrence). Tagovailoa might be without Jaylen Waddle (high-ankle sprain) and Tyreek Hill also isn’t at 100%. The Ravens are one of two teams (49ers are the other) with more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed (16-15).

Joe Flacco

4) Beware of starting Joe Flacco this weekend.

Sure, you might be tempted to “Go with Joe” to win the title, but he’s not playing the Texans here… or the Bears or the Jaguars or the Rams. All four of those teams he just played, rank 20th-or worse, in “QB fantasy points allowed.” Do you really want Flacco throwing at “Sauce” Gardner and D.J. Reed for the championship? Since Week 11, the Jets haven’t allowed a quarterback even 17 fantasy points. That span included games against Tagovailoa and C.J. Stroud. Flacco may have gotten you to the championship game, but I don’t think he can win you the ring.

5) The most over-drafted player in the 2024 fantasy draft will be Raheem Mostert.

The “Magic 8-ball” says true. While he has likely helped carry your team to the title game courtesy of a league-leading 21 touchdowns (18 rushing, three receiving) and a personal-best 1,187 yards from scrimmage, it doesn’t seem like his 2023 season is “repeatable.” Explosive rookie Devon Achane will only get better (and healthier) taking opportunities away from what will then be a 32-year-old running back.


“I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.” - Samuel Butler

1) The following QBs are playing at a QB1 level over the past month or so; Jared Goff, Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Stroud, Tagovailoa and Tommy DeVito.

False. All rank 15th-or lower since Week 11. Yes, I threw in DeVito just for fun. It was just a week ago his agent wanted $20,000 for him to show up at a pizzeria. This weekend, he played so badly, the Giants dumped him for undistinguished veteran Tyrod Taylor. It doesn’t take a lot to go from hero to zero. Ask Brock Purdy about his MVP chances after the Ravens defense took him apart on a national broadcast.

2) Rachaad White has elite dynasty value.

I’m leaning toward false. He’s had a great fantasy season, ranking seventh in FPts/G at 16.5 and third in yards from scrimmage among running backs, but his actual numbers running the ball are pretty pedestrian. He’s averaging just 3.6 ypc. That’s 36th among all running backs. The Bucs released Leonard Fournette in 2022 for averaging 3.5 ypc and he was as good, or better, as a pass receiver than White. I will be surprised if Tampa Bay doesn’t draft or sign a quality running back this off-season.

3) David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs are 1 and 1A on the divisional champion Lions’ running offense.

False. For the season the numbers are close, with Gibbs at 17.7 FPts/G and Montgomery at 15.4, but as the season has progressed the difference between the two has increased. Since Week 11, Gibbs is at 17.1 FPts/G and Montgomery is stuck at 12.4. For the season their touches are 44.9% for Monty and 43.6% for Gibbs (11.5% for other). Over the past five games it’s 54.8% for Monty and 45.2% for Gibbs meaning Gibbs has been the much more productive back.

4) The return of Jameson Williams and the rise of rookie tight end Sam LaPorta will eventually hurt Amon-Ra St. Brown’s elite fantasy status.

False. LaPorta’s arrival, 101 targets through 15 games, hasn’t done a thing to hurt St. Brown’s opportunities. His totals are just replacing T.J. Hockenson’s volume. In fact, St. Brown’s targets have increased every season. He averaged 9.1 targets per game last season and through 14 games he’s averaging 10.5 this season. Williams is a deep threat, but doesn’t really get many targets. The Lions’ offense is nicely balanced between passing (fifth in yards) and rushing (third). As long as they stay strong both running and passing this offense will be hard to stop and you will want as many shares of St. Brown and Gibbs as you can get next season.

5) Michael Pittman Jr. will never be a WR1.

Just because he’s quiet and doesn’t do “diva” things doesn’t mean he can’t be a WR1. He’s improved from 7.6 FPts/G in his rookie season to 13.9, 13.7 and a career-high 16.7 FPts/G in 2023. That number already has him at 15th… with Gardner Minshew at quarterback for most of the season. In rookie Anthony Richardson’s three full games (before a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 4), Pittman saw double-digit targets in every game and averaged 18 FPts/G. He’s got the volume - 10.2 targets per game. The only thing keeping him from elite status in getting into the end zone. He’s averaging just 4.25 TDs per season. He’ll need to double that to get top-10 status, but that seems achievable as Richardson improves.