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These stories stay with us. For me, it’s Ka’imi Fairbairn kicking five field goals against the Jets in Week 15 of 2018 on a Saturday afternoon as my wife was getting ready for a Christmas party. And Alvin Kamara scoring six touchdowns in Week 16 of 2020 as we prepared to host my extended family for Christmas. And now the list adds Tyler Higbee catching nine passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns as I drove my family home from my mother-in-law.
I wish these were positive memories.
These pivot points are life as a fantasy football manager. The import of games played spliced within family events at this calendar time. The simple reality of this game is disappointment will outweigh the positive memories.
But those positive memories are there too.
Latavius Murray, with 117 total yards and a touchdown on a flex decision on Christmas Eve of my daughter’s first Christmas, is one. My team entered Monday Night Football in 2021 with just a six-point lead against Nick Chubb when he rushed for only 58 yards. Play fantasy football for any length, and you will have your own stories.
These games will stay with the players as well. CeeDee Lamb scored twice and led all receivers on the week in a shootout victory over the Eagles and kept slim hopes of an NFC East championship alive. The Cowboys trail the Eagles by two games with two games left, and Philadelphia showed they were capable with Gardner Minshew pitching in 355 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Jalen Hurts. But there’s a chance.
The Cowboys keeping a race alive that long looked decided was the theme of the weekend. The Packers (once 4-8) and the Steelers (once 2-6) got the help they needed from the Dolphins and Commanders losing to keep slim playoff hopes alive as both teams won to push to 7-8. The Commanders’ tie with the Giants in Week 14 simplifies the NFC playoff picture, eliminating head-to-head tiebreaking opportunities. The Packers, Lions, and Seahawks hope the team continues their two-game losing streak, with the Buccaneers monitoring the situation.
The Panthers are forcing the Buccaneers to keep an eye on the wildcard as they continue their surprising play, imposing their will on Detroit through the run game. Week 17 will see the Panthers and Buccaneers head to head; a Panthers win puts them in a win and situation against the Saints in Week 18 and pushes the Buccaneers into wildcard consideration. Sam Darnold fighting to end Tom Brady’s hold on a division is where we thought we would end up on draft night 2018.
The AFC has its intrigue. The Dolphins sit one game up in the seventh spot for the AFC’s final wildcard at 8-7, with four teams just behind at 7-8. The Dolphins play two of those teams, the Patriots and the Jets and each team has a significant hand in their chances to take the spot. Tennessee is in a position eerily similar to the Buccaneers after a shocking upset against Houston. It must be something with the South; the division will come down to the Titans-Jaguars in Week 18, regardless of what happens in Week 17, as the Jaguars continue their hot play. A team with a losing record could win the division in both conferences.
The late window in Week 17 will be filled with playoff intrigue, but the showcase game of the regular season will be the Bills traveling to the Bengals on Monday Night Football. The game will go a long way towards deciding the number one seed in the AFC, the AFC North, and fantasy football championships, with both teams full of premium options. The memories of these games will last a lifetime for fantasy managers and players alike.
Time to put a bow on Week 16 with a rundown of stats and trends to monitor.
A group of quarterbacks carrying high draft capital in their prime production window in the heart of the playoff hunt. But one is viewed as a player who needs to be replaced. Can you place this production?
Revenge! A Dish Best Served On The Field
- RB James Robinson, NY Jets vs Jacksonville - Lost 19-3 - Inactive
- WR Jarvis Landry, New Orleans vs Cleveland - Won 17-10 - Inactive
- WR Chris Conley, Tennessee vs Houston - Lost 19-14 - No targets
- QB Geno Smith, Seattle vs NY Jets
- WR DeVante Parker, New England vs Miami
- WR Damiere Byrd, Atlanta vs Arizona
- WR Phillip Dorsett, Houston vs Jacksonville
- RB Dare Ogunbowale, Houston vs Jacksonville
- TE Gerald Everett, LA Chargers vs LA Rams
Deep Dynasty Watch List
WR Isaiah Hodgins, NY Giants - Hodgins set career highs with eight receptions and 89 yards and scored for the third time in four games. Hodgins turned 24 in October and has become a key receiver for the Giants over the second half of the season. He is a great stash to head into the offseason. The team will get Wan’Dale Robinson back in 2023, but Sterling Shepard’s contract is voidable, and the Kenny Golladay experience is the only other receiver on the roster. Brian Daboll has favored three and four-receiver sets, and Hodgins should be a prominent part of that rotation in 2023.
WR Trenton Irwin, Cincinnati - Irwin is starting to move from anomaly to trend. The Bengals love three wide receiver sets, and Tyler Boyd is still working through an injury. Irwin scored twice in this game and now has four touchdowns on the season, good for fourth on the team. In the deepest of leagues, he is a player to put on the radar.
WR Laviska Shenault, Carolina - Shenault had one of his best games of the season after Shi Smith left the lineup with an injury. This blurb is less of a recommendation on Shenault and simply a comment on his status with the team. The Panthers have been one of the most run-heavy teams, and Shenault is the fourth wide receiver. The team has to look at adding talent in the offseason. Most everyone should have moved on from Shenault, but he is still rostered in almost 60% of Sleeper leagues. If he shows anything these last two weeks, use it as an opportunity to upgrade later rookie draft positions and move on. Shenault likely needs a Cordarrelle Patterson role transition to hit fantasy relevance.
RB DeeJay Dallas, Seattle - The Seahawks have continued to be reluctant to use Dallas in any significant role. Still, with Travis Homer leaving due to injury, Dallas had his largest snap count of the season. Dallas is unlikely to be startable in Week 17 unless the ankle injury he has played through signs of progress negatively. Still, some play in Week 18 championships, which have been notorious for surprise performers. Dallas should be on the radar.
WR Velus Jones, Chicago - No rookie took as much criticism in the dynasty community as Jones, primarily due to his age (turning 25 shortly after the draft). This season looked utterly lost for him, topping ten yards in a game in Week 16 when he broke free for a 44-yard gain. The Bears play for draft positioning, and injuries have mounted with the wide receiver core. Under the theme of surprise end-of-season performances, the Bears should give Jones ample opportunity to see if they have anything in this rookie.
Stats Of The Week
WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota - 123 receptions, 1,756 receiving yards. He is the Vikings' single-season leader in each category. Jefferson is just 208 yards away from Calvin Johnson's single-season 1,964 yards, a hunt this space has been tracking for several weeks. Jefferson also has an outside shot at the single-season receptions record, Michael Thomas's 149 from 2019.
QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati - 34 touchdown passes, 4,260 yards - Burrow already owns the Bengals' single-season records for both categories, set in 2021. He tied his franchise record for 34 touchdown passes in a season in Week 16. His 4,260 passing yards are 351 yards short of his 4,611 from 2021.
RB DOnta Foreman, RB Chuba Hubbard, Carolina - 290 rushing yards - The Panthers' website has a rundown of all the offensive accomplishments from Week 16. The highlights include franchise records for offensive production, with 570 total yards and 320 rushing yards. Foreman and Hubbard have averaged 86 and 50 yards rushing, respectively, since the departure of Christian McCaffrey, putting them on a full-season pace of 1,462 and 850 yards. That level of production flashes back to DeAngelo Williams (1,515, franchise single-season record) and Jonathan Stewart (836) from 2008. Foreman has topped 100 yards in five of nine games since the McCaffrey trade. McCaffrey had 12 100-yard games as a Panther in 64 career games. With 811 yards, Foreman has a chance to top 1,000 on the season.
WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas - 10 receptions, 120 yards, two touchdowns - The list of Cowboys to post games hitting these thresholds since 1995: Amari Cooper (twice), Miles Austin (once), and Lamb. The only Cowboys to top 90 receptions, 1,200 yards, and eight touchdowns are Dez Bryant, Michael Irvin, and Lamb. This game was the second time in 2022 Lamb hit these totals, with Week 10 as the other. Lamb has now set career highs across the board (91-1,207-8).
WR Tyreek Hill, Miami - 113 receptions, 1,632 yards - Hill became the Dolphins' single-season receptions leader, topping Jarvis Landry's team record 112. His 1,632 are the team's single-season record, topping Mark Clayton's 1,389 yards. Both numbers are career highs.
WR A.J. Brown, Philadelphia - 1,304 receiving yards - Brown is 105 yards away from Mike Quick's Eagles team record 1,409. Brown has set career highs with receptions (80) and yardage, and his ten touchdowns are one short of his career best.
WR Davante Adams, Las Vegas - 1,290 receiving yards - Adams rounds out the trio of receivers on new teams threatening team records. He is 118 yards from Tim Brown's team record 1,408. If he breaks the record, he will join Hill and Brandon Marshall (Jets and Bears) as players to hold team single-season records for multiple franchises.
The Target Report
|Travis Kelce||Kansas City||8||30%||6||113||0|
|Kendrick Bourne||New England||9||29%||6||100||0|
|George Kittle||San Francisco||8||38%||6||120||2|
|Tyler Higbee||LA Rams||11||39%||9||94||2|
Kelce recorded his sixth 100-receiving-yard day and pushed his season total to 1,257. He is now 159 yards short of his career high, 1,416 set in 2020. His reception total moved to 97, eight shy of his high 105, also set in 2020. Kelce has already established a career-high with 12 receiving touchdowns. Kelce has an outside shot at the Chiefs' single-season records in each category: 111 receptions (Tyreek Hill, 2021), 1,479 yards (Hill, 2018), and 15 touchdowns (Dwayne Bowe, 2010 / Hill, 2020).
Metcalf set his career high in receptions with 86. The franchise leader for single-season receptions is Tyler Lockett's 100 in 2020. Metcalf also pushed over 1,000 yards in this game, the second time he has crossed that line in his career.
Hockenson has set career statistical highs in every category in 2022. Hockenson topped 100 yards while scoring twice for the second time in 2022. The only active tight ends to hit those numbers twice in their career are a who's who of elite fantasy producers: Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Zach Ertz. Hockenson and K.J. Osborn show the Vikings' support targets for Justin Jefferson are more than capable as the team transitions from Adam Thielen, who at 32 is headed for his least productive season since 20015 (except an injury affected 2019).
Bourne joined Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and DeVante Parker with 100-yard games in 2022. The last time the Patriots had four players top 100 yards in one season was in 2016 with Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Chris Hogan, and Julian Edelman. Bourne's game was out of nowhere; his previous season high was 58 yards in Week 3. A sleeper pick coming off 800 yards and five touchdowns in 2021, Bourne stepped up in an offense hunting for answers as the Patriots mounted a furious comeback down 22 points. Bourne, Parker, and Tyquan Thornton are the only receivers under contract for 2023.
Higgins picked optimal timing for his second-best game of the season. His surprise scratch in Week 14 has a terrible taste in managers' mouths, but for the second straight year, he came up big in the fantasy playoffs. Higgins' touchdown was his seventh, setting a new career high. His 73 receptions and 1,022 yards are just behind his 74 and 1,091 from 2021.
Moore has defined boom/bust in 2022. In the six games, he has scored touchdowns; he has averaged five catches for 87 yards, good for 19.7 PPR points per game, numbers that would make him WR7. In the nine games he has not scored, his average is 2.88 catches for 26 yards. Moore's six touchdowns are a career-high in an otherwise disappointing season.
Chark has now scored or topped 94 receiving yards in four of his last five games, except for a matchup with Sauce Gardner and the 6th-ranked Jets passing defense. Chark's production during that period would extrapolate to a 61-1,1135-7 season. This strong finish will position Chark well in a disappointing wide receiver free-agent class. Chark could emerge as the highest-paid player in a group that includes JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jakobi Meyers as the other top options.
London was featured last year, but another strong game gives him 32 targets over the past three weeks. He scored touchdowns or topped 70 yards in five of his previous six games. His production over the past three games has been excellent, with 6.67 catches and 87 yards per game, pacing to the total number of 113 - 1,479.
Kittle was TE8 in PPR points per game through Week 14. After back-to-back two-touchdown games, in which he doubled his season total to a career-high eight, he now sits as TE3. He was the 49ers' primary receiving option with a 38% target share. In a week of massive tight-end games, Kittle showed he is still a top option at his best.
Smith was an afterthought in the preseason, the "other" receiver in what was expected to be a run-heavy offense. He fell to an ADP of WR38. But he has delivered, standing as a season-long top-10 receiver with 1,014 yards. With Jalen Hurts establishing himself as a passer, Smith is among the best second receivers and talented enough to lead a receiving core.
Waddle is PPR WR8 on the season and is just 129 yards away from Mark Clayton's previous team record of 1,389. Speaking of "other" receivers, Waddle has re-emerged for the fantasy playoffs after averaging 3-47 with no touchdowns from Weeks 10-14. He happens to be playing with one of the best receivers in the NFL.
The Broncos' season is light on offensive highlights, but Jeudy is one. Removing a Week 10 game against the Titans that saw him leave with an ankle injury, he has averaged 5.33 receptions and 72 yards per game since Week 4, a 90-1,224 yard season-long pace. Jeudy faced questions entering this season, but he has improved across the board and leaves 2022 with improvement across the board.
No player has welcomed Baker Mayfield's insertion in the offense more than Higbee. Higbee was the third tight end in 2022 to hit nine receptions, 90 yards, and two touchdowns. Two of those games happened in Week 16. From Week 6 to 14, Higbee averaged 2.4 receptions and 20.6 yards. In Week 15, he scored his first touchdown and then exploded in Week 16.
Prospect Of The Week
QB Drake Maye, North Carolina - The Holiday Bowl between Oregon and North Carolina has the potential for an entertaining shootout, with an over/under at 73.5. But the Tar Heels will face steep odds as 14.5-point underdogs. That underdog status will not be due to their quarterback. Maye already has the school record for single-season passing yardage with 4,115, and his 35 touchdowns are three short of Sam Howell’s single-season record. Not bad for a debut year. Maye will enter 2023 as the favorite to be the second quarterback selected behind Heisman trophy winner Caleb Williams. He is the prototype for the new NFL at 6-foot-5 and 220 lbs with plus athleticism. Oregon gives a stiff test as a potential Top 5 team in 2023, and this matchup will serve as the gateway for the significant Power 5 teams to get involved in bowl season with the College Football Playoff just days away.
Blind Resume Answer
Goff has played excellent football this season, showing a progression from a player once thought to be an extension of Sean McVay. The Lions have the luxury of multiple first-round picks and could look to add a young quarterback to develop. But Goff is a starting NFL quarterback and needs to be valued as such in dynasty superflex formats.
Deep Player To Watch On Monday Night Football
RB Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers - Kelley has emerged as the top backup to Austin Ekeler, but he may be trending towards more. Since Week 13, he is the only other back besides Ekeler to see a rush attempt for the Chargers, and the team has split carries 37 to 21. In Week 15, he looked to take a step forward, splitting carries 12 to 10 in Ekeler’s favor. The team had not given a red zone look to any back but Ekeler since Week 6 until Kelley’s one opportunity in Week 15. In Week 16, the team had an even split, with four attempts for each. Kelley was a trendy dynasty player in the 2020 preseason, but the luster had worn off. Now it should be back with Kelley entering the 2023 offseason as the next man up. The usage split between Ekeler and him will be worth watching through the end of the Chargers’ season, as there is a chance he becomes a reliable flex-worthy complementary back.
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