Week 17 saw the return of a fantasy legend when his team needed him most. Tom Brady has had one of his most disappointing seasons. His 3.4% touchdown rate is a career-low, and the Buccaneers were mired in an NFC South battle many assumed would be over before the season started. When his team needed him the most, he played his best, erasing a 14-0 lead with 432 passing yards and three touchdowns. The yardage total tied for the fifth most in his career, a number he has hit two other times. The win clinched the division for the Buccaneers and gave them a de facto bye in Week 18, with the team locked into the four seed.
The Giants were the other big winner of Week 17. The team snapped a five-year playoff drought, tied with Detroit and Miami for the third-longest streak. A blowout win over the Colts clinched the sixth seed. The team is similarly positioned to the Buccaneers with no stakes in their Week 18 matchup against Philadelphia.
Elsewhere teams were less fortunate.
Week 18 will be full of drama. In the NFC, Green Bay, Detroit, and Seattle all winning in Week 17 set the stage for a three-way showdown for the seventh wildcard spot. The Packers and Lions face off, with the Packers in control of their destiny. A win and they are in. The Lions would need help, a victim of their head-to-head loss to the Seahawks in Week 4. Meanwhile, the Seahawks face the Rams, who have little to play for short of attempting to spoil their division rivals.
The top of the conference is open as well. Losses by Philadelphia and Minnesota combined with wins by Dallas and San Francisco make the top three seeds, the NFC East, and the top wild card all in flux. None of the four teams play a team with anything at stake in Week 18, likely resulting in the maintenance of the status quo. But upsets happen. Another Eagles loss combined with a Cowboys win would be the most shocking end to the season, as the Eagles would fall from the first seed to the fifth. The Eagles locking up the top seed seemed a foregone conclusion before Christmas eve.
The AFC has a similar scenario.
The Jets' loss to Seattle eliminates them from playoff contention, ensuring the team will continue the longest playoff drought in the league, now at 12 years. The last time the Jets played a playoff game, Siri and Alexa were names in a baby book. The final wildcard spot lands between New England, Miami, and Pittsburgh. If the Patriots beat the Bills, they are in the spot. A loss and a Miami win will hand it to the Dolphins. The Steelers need to beat Cleveland and need both of the other teams to lose. If all three lose, the final spot defaults to the Patriots.
At the top of the conference, everything hinges on Monday Night in one of the most anticipated games in Monday Night history. Buffalo needs to beat Cincinnati and New England to end their season and grab the final bye. The Chiefs are waiting, hopeful a Bills loss gives them a clinching opportunity against Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon. A Bengals win locks up the AFC North and put them into the number one seed with a Chiefs loss, assuming they beat Baltimore in Week 18.
With that stage set, let's dive into Week 17 to Roundup all the statistical action.
Tight ends take time. A smattering of top performances from top dynasty tight ends from their first season. Can you place this production?
Revenge! A Dish Best Served On The Field
- QB Geno Smith, Seattle vs NY Jets, Win 23-6, 183 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, no turnovers.
- WR Damiere Byrd, Atlanta vs Arizona, Win 20-19, 1 catch, 12 yards
- WR Phillip Dorsett, Houston vs Jacksonville, Loss 31-3, 3 catches, 14 yards
- RB Dare Ogunbowale, Houston vs Jacksonville, Loss 31-3, 9 touches, 25 yards
- TE Gerald Everett, LA Chargers vs LA Rams, Win 31-10, 3 catches, 15 yards, 1 touchdown.
- RB Jamaal Williams, Detroit vs Green Bay
- WR Russell Gage, Tampa Bay vs Atlanta
- WR Julio Jones, Tampa Bay vs Atlanta
- TE Robert Tonyan Jr, Green Bay vs Detroit
Deep Dynasty Watch List
RB Julius Chestnut, Tennessee - The Titans offered a glimpse of life without Derrick Henry, and Hassan Haskins was the feature back. Haskins was a fourth-round pick while Chestnut was an undrafted free agent; naturally, Haskins will get the first opportunities. But given his capital, Haskins was stashed in almost every league already. Chestnut was quiet on his four rushes but impacted with a 33-yard reception. The Titans could stand to add a back this offseason, but if they do not, Chestnut and Haskins could face a camp battle as Henry’s primary backup. If Chestnut is available in a league that restricts off-season movement, he is an interesting stash candidate to watch off-season movement.
TE Rob Gronkowski - If you have a spare roster spot, stash Gronkowski. His return would likely be well before the roster cutdown for rookie drafts, giving a reveal on a potential top-12 tight end.
RB Keaontay Ingram, RB Corey Clement, Arizona - James Conner has been the bellcow for the Cardinals but left Week 17 due to a shin injury. Clement was the back who saw work with him out, but the team knows what they have with him. Ingram is more interesting for dynasty purposes. Given the stakes, the team should be conservative with Conner, and they should see what Ingram can do in a lead role.
RB Matt Breida, RB Gary Brightwell, NY Giants - The Giants have little to play for in Week 18 and should rest Saquon Barkley, who has dealt with knicks towards the end of the year. If Barkley does sit, expect a split that could favor Brightwell, the player lower on the depth chart, simply due to the lack of stakes involved.
RB Chase Edmonds, Denver - This has not been the season expected for Edmonds, as he had an opportunity in Miami he failed to capture. Edmonds may have slipped to waivers in deep leagues but was given ten touches against Kansas City. Marlon Mack was knocked out in Week 17, and this is another team that should be conservative, given the lack of stakes.
RB Jordan Mason, San Francisco - Mason has complemented McCaffrey when available. He vultured a touchdown in Week 17. He would be the primary beneficiary if the team eases McCaffrey’s workload.
Stats Of The Week
WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas - 102 receptions - Lamb is nine behind Michael Irvin's franchise record of 111 receptions. Lamb's 11 receptions were the second time he has hit that number this season, joining Amari Cooper, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant as the only Cowboys since 1995 to hit that number twice a season. Lamb's 1,307 are the ninth most in a Cowboys season, but he is only 89 yards from Michael Irvin's 1,396 for the third-highest total. Lamb arrived as a true number-one receiver in 2022.
QB Justin Fields, Chicago - 1,143 rushing yards - Fields rushed for 132 yards against Detroit and now stands just 63 yards from Lamar Jackson's record of 1,206 quarterback rushing yards. Since Week 5, Fields has tied Josh Allen's 24.8 fantasy points per game, good for QB3 over that span.
RB Austin Ekeler, LA Chargers - 102 receptions - Ekeler stands 14 behind Christian McCaffrey's running back record of 116 catches in a season. Ekeler has recorded one of his best seasons, setting a career-high with 13 rushing touchdowns.
WR Davante Adams, Las Vegas - 1,443 yards - Adams set the Raiders' single-season record in yardage with a 153-yard day. Adams has ten career games with over 124 yards and at least two touchdowns. Five of those games came in 2022.
QB Patrick Mahomes II, Kansas City - 5,048 passing yards, 5,377 total yards - Mahomes has Peyton Manning's 5,477 passing yards in sight, but the more realistic record is Drew Brees' 5,562 total yards. Mahomes will get an island game on Saturday afternoon to chase the marks.
WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay, ten receptions, 207 yards, three touchdowns - Evans became the first player to hit ten receptions, 200 yards, and score three times in 2022. The yardage was the second most of Evans' career; this was his third three-touchdown game. The last player to accomplish this was Ja'Marr Chase in 2021. Eleven players have hit these numbers since 1995, but six games have come since 2018.
The Target Report
|Tyquan Thornton||New England||7||22%||3||60||1|
|Richie James||NY Giants||7||30%||7||76||1|
|Rashid Shaheed||New Orleans||6||26%||6||79||0|
|Brandon Aiyuk||San Francisco||12||35%||9||101||1|
Hilton was fourth in snaps but served as the third option in targets. The team intentionally worked him into their offense to develop the additional target with the playoffs on tap. While his snap count was still low enough (28%) to leave him off the radar in any season-long lineup, he is a player to watch in Week 18.
There it is! McBride was the buzziest rookie tight end but had disappointed with Zach Ertz out of the lineup, topping out at four receptions for 55 yards and failing to score. He broke through all those marks in Week 17. This type of performance renews hope in his development and potential long-term role with the Cardinals.
Okwuegbunam was another hot preseason name but fell off the radar with the emergence of Greg Dulcich. Dulcich was inactive in Week 17, and with nothing to play for, it is unlikely we will see him again. Expect a regime change in Denver, keeping Okweugbunam on the periphery of utility. It is more encouraging to see his involvement, given his previous standing as a healthy scratch, than anything else.
After a quiet rookie season, Thornton flashed late with 60 yards, a season-high. Thornton has become a fixture in the Patriots' offense with a snap share north of 90% over the past month, and this was the first time it translated to meaningful targets. In a must-win Week 18 matchup vs. Buffalo and with Jakobi Meyers exiting Week 17 with injury, plus pending free agency, Thornton is an excellent sneaky production target.
The Giants' wide receiver room is wide open moving forward, and while James' age knocks some luster off his dynasty stock, he is a player to watch. James has averaged eight targets per game over his last four games and emerged as a critical target. He fits very well in Brian Daboll's scheme that relies on quick passing targets and run-after-catch opportunities.
Shaheed had emerged as a significant play threat, but Week 17 was the first time he drew substantial targets. Over his last five games, he has averaged 3.8 receptions and 68.6 yards, trending to season-long totals of 65 catches and 1,166 yards. The Saints are another team with questions about their future at receiver. Shaheed looks to be part of that solution.
Thomas has seen 15 targets over the last two games, recording back-to-back six-catch games. The salary table on the Commander's tight end room is set for the next two seasons, and Thomas is edging his way back into consideration for 2023.
Aiyuk recorded his first 100-yard game of 2022 and has set career highs across the board. He has emerged as the 49ers' primary receiving target while improving his catch percentage to a career-high 67%.
Prospect Of The WeeK
QB Stetson Bennett, Georgia - Bennett delivered 398 yards and three touchdowns in a thrilling semifinal 42-41 win over Ohio State. Bennett’s 3,823 yards in 2023 are 70 yards away from Aaron Murray’s single-season school record of 3,893. He can top that number against TCU in the National Championship game. Bennett will go down in Georgia lore, as his winding road from freshman walkon, to JUCO transfer, to defending national champion Heisman finalist is the stuff of true college legend. But his story is unlikely to end there; despite his physical limitations, he has taken steps forward as a passer in his final season. His leadership will translate well to an NFL backup quarterback role. Expect to hear his name in the draft, the next step in an unbelievable story.
Blind Resume Answer
When given the opportunity, there was some concern about Trey McBride’s lack of rookie production. However, comparing his best fantasy performance from the first season to the tight ends at the top of the current dynasty ranks can reset expectations. The Cardinals could face a rebuild this offseason, and Zach Ertz could be a trade target. McBride alleviated a lot of concerns this week.
Deep Player To Watch On Monday Night Football
RB James Cook, Buffalo - With the Bills and Bengals featuring two of the best offenses in football, under-the-radar contributors are non-existent. That said, Cook deserves more attention. Devin Singletary is headed for free agency, and Cook is the only running back under contract for 2023. Cook has seen double-digit touches in half of his last six games and is pacing for 830 rushing yards during that span as the Bills have focused more on the run game with Josh Allen playing through an elbow injury. Watch Cook’s involvement in a pivotal game as a key for where the Bills lean in their backfield in 2023.
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