Week 18 Fantasy Football is a challenge. We have some games that should feature a playoff-type atmosphere and level of motivation. FanDuel extended the Week 18 main slate to include the Buffalo-Miami game on Sunday night, which falls into this category. On the other end of the spectrum, we have glorified scrimmages like this week’s matchup between the Rams and 49ers. Both teams have either nothing (49ers) or very little (Rams) to play for, are resting key starters, and may even use extra vanilla game plans due to the potential that they could see each other in the playoffs in two weeks.
The starting point for researching the slate has to be this angle and Footballguys’ Jeff Bell wrote a great article earlier this week analyzing each team’s level of motivation that is highly recommended. Personally, I would break the main slate fall into these categories:
Games With Both Teams Highly Motivated
- Buffalo at Miami
- Atlanta at New Orleans
- Minnesota at Detroit
These are our three matchups this week that should have an almost playoff-like atmosphere. Feel safe targeting players from these games in your FanDuel tournament lineups.
Games With One Team Motivated and the Other Frisky
- Jacksonville at Tennessee
- Tampa Bay at Carolina
- Seattle at Arizona
- Chicago at Green Bay
We also have some games on this slate in which one team will be very highly motivated due to self-interest, matched up against teams with only pride to play for. However, the opponents in these matchups who are eliminated from playoff contention also seem to be relatively motivated to play spoiler.
The Bears' draft positioning would benefit from a loss, but the team’s focus is on beating a division rival. I am expecting we get highly motivated efforts from Justin Fields, DJ Moore, and the rest of the Bears, who would love to end on a high note and knock the Packers out of the playoffs. I am expecting similarly strong efforts from the Titans, Panthers, and Cardinals. As such, key offensive players from each of these four games should be safe to target.
Games With One Team Motivated and the Other Not
- Dallas at Washington
- Philadelphia at NY Giants
These two games share many characteristics with the ones in the prior category, but also feel less solid in terms of motivation. Dallas needs to win to lock up the NFC North. They will be motivated. However, Washington looks like a team that is not particularly interested in trying to play spoiler. Draft positioning is critical, and there are rumors that key veterans may not play. This is a game with the potential to get out of hand early and see key starters on the sideline in the fourth quarter. The motivation for Philadelphia is also contingent on scoreboard-watching of the Dallas game. If the Cowboys (very heavy favorites) win, the game against the Giants is meaningless for the Eagles. We could see the Philadelphia starters pulled at halftime if Dallas handles business early. I am approaching both of these games (especially Eagles-Giants) with a bit of caution this week.
Games With Neither Team Motivated
- NY Jets at New England
- Cleveland at Cincinnati
- Kansas City at LA Chargers
- LA Rams at San Francisco
- Denver at Las Vegas
Last, we have games featuring teams with nothing to play for. The Browns, Chiefs, Rams, and 49ers will be playing backups and resting up for the playoffs. Some of these matchups could look like glorified preseason games. There is an increased risk when targeting players for these games. We cannot ignore these spots, however. Much of the value on the Week 18 slate can be found here. Players who are priced for their roles as backups will actually be on the field much more, due to starters being rested. We have to spend extra time looking at some of these spots.
With that background in mind, let’s dive into some top plays for this week’s GPPs.
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