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QB Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Although there's been speculation that Baker Mayfield was no more than a one-season Band-Aid for the Bucs, he may have done enough this year to solidify his role as their starter. An exciting start to his career quickly cooled off, and his stats dipped across the board every year after. But this year, in Tampa Bay, Mayfield has recaptured the magic. His 236.8 passing yards per game are the most since 2019, his second year in the league. His touchdown rate is the highest since his rookie season. He's completing pass attempts at a 63.5% clip, the best rate since his rookie season. And he's getting hot at the right time to help the Bucs make an offseason decision. He's won three straight games, two against division opponents. And in Week 15, he beat the Green Bay Packers while posting a perfect passer rating and a season-high four touchdowns. As for fantasy, Mayfield has moved up to the season's QB12. He's eclipsed 20 points in three of his last four games. Next week, he gets Jacksonville, allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. You can count on him for another QB1 start in that matchup.
WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
A six-game lull for Cooper Kupp is sandwiched between two separate back-to-back outings with 100-plus yards. It's tough to get a read on his season, but Kupp appears to be back to his old self despite a mid-season scare. He's scored touchdowns in three straight games. In Week 15, he caught all eight of his targets for 111 yards. The emergence of Puka Nacua was cause for concern. A strong run game anchored by Kyren Williams made some think the Rams would run more. But even the recent and surprising usage of Demarcus Robinson can't slow Kupp down. He'll have two tough matchups against the Saints and Giants to close the season, but Kupp has found himself back in must-start territory.
TE Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals
This is the second time Trey McBride has graced the "Three Up" section of this year's column. Early in the season, the peripheral metrics told us he was a very player and would explode with a more significant workload. And he has turned those exciting usage metrics into elite production in the wake of Zach Ertz's injury. Over his last seven games, Trey McBride has averaged a ludicrous 9.1 targets per game. The 77.4 yards per game he's averaging is Kelce-esque. Since that Week 8 usage bump, he's been first among all tight ends in target share, yards per route run, and targets per route run. Not only is he a must-start in fantasy for the remainder of the season, but it's hard to argue against the 24-year-old Mackey Award Winner as a top-three dynasty tight end.
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