Week 17 Streamers: QB and TE
There's been plenty of pushback about leagues still playing this week as coaches and front offices reveal plans to rest regulars to prepare for the playoffs. Fantasy teams are without their star players for their championships and the lineups this week may not resemble the ones that carried owners this far.
To me, that's fantasy football in a nutshell. It's a weekly game constantly turned on its head by injuries, coaching decisions and other factors outside of our control. Adjusting and adapting is the biggest reason for success, similar to the NFL itself. It's tough to have to potentially sit Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott and others after they've brought you to this point, but shrewd lineups decisions and playing the waiver wire are likely the real reasons you're still alive in Week 17.
Tangentially, this is why I'll always favor head-to-head over other formats that limit owner involvement. Embrace luck and variance instead of complaining about it.
Everything came together for last week's picks. Two top-10 performances and an awful game by my Week 16 fade. Baker Mayfield torched Cincinnati once again with three touchdowns and 284 passing yards, good for QB8 on the week. I tentatively suggested Sam Darnold, turns out I should've been more confidant. Darnold went for over 300 yards for the second time in his career, along with three scores, finishing as QB7. Lamar Jackson had his worst rushing game in six starts, but his best passing game, putting up a reasonable 16.1 fantasy points.
My fade last week was Tom Brady, and he was shut down by Buffalo. He threw two picks and managed just 126 passing yards and a touchdown. New England predictably focused on the rushing attack and Brady had only 24 attempts, a season-low.
This week's fade is Kirk Cousins facing a Chicago defense that has't given up 20 or more points to an opposing quarterback since Week 7. The Bears have allowed the second-fewest points to the position and have a chance at a first-round bye with a win. Cousins has had an up-and-down season and is tough to count on in this spot.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Foles had a monster game against Houston last week and now gets a Washington defense missing a key member of its secondary (D.J. Swearinger) with a playoff berth on the line. The Redskins have been middling against opposing quarterbacks, but gave up 300 yards and a couple scores to Carson Wentz in Week 13. The offense runs just fine under Foles and another heroic performance should be on tap.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Carr's had a weird season. He threw eight interceptions in Oakland's first five games, and hasn't thrown one since. He's scored 24 or more fantasy points three times and in single-digits six times. Like a lesser version of Cousins, he's tough to trust. Unlike Cousins, he has the best-possible matchup this week facing a Kansas City team allowing the most points to opposing quarterbacks. Carr put up 285 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs in Week 13 and a similar performance could be coming this week.
Sam Darnold, New York Jets
Something clicked for Darnold the past two weeks, with five touchdowns and nearly 600 passing yards in Weeks 15 and 16. New England has been mediocre defending quarterbacks and Darnold was injured for their Week 12 meeting, but the rookie is red hot right now. This game has low-key shootout potential given New York's offense success lately, reflected by a top-five projected point total. Darnold should finish the season on a high note.
Matt LaCosse was unable to suit up Monday night which hurt my Week 16 picks, but the other two options had decent showings. Chris Herndon paired nicely with Darnold, catching six passes for a career-high 82 yards and a touchdown. Vance McDonald only had one reception, but it went for 49 yards.
Chris Herndon, New York Jets
Herndon returns with Darnold this week, as this should be a high-scoring game and he's the second option in the passing game behind Robby Anderson. New England has struggled against tight ends on the season and Herndon grabbed a career-best seven receptions in the Week 12 meeting. Herndon has averaged five targets a game since Week 9 and that volume is hard to come by on the waiver wire.
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams
Speaking of targets, Everett has earned 27 in the five games following Cooper Kupp's injury. With fellow tight end Tyler Higbee getting four targets in the last three weeks, Everett appears to have taken over the job. San Francisco has stifled the position for much of the season, but Everett's role in a high-powered offense is enough to overcome the matchup.
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
Andrews is in the opposite situation, battling for tight end looks with several other guys in Baltimore. He's a deeper league option given his home run potential though. Andrews is averaging 16.6 yards per catch and has receptions of 74 and 68 yards in the past five weeks. He's probably not going to exceed 2-3 catches, but one of those could easily make his week.