Austin’s Fantasy Train: Week 16


Austin West, Staff

This weekend’s slate may have had some of the biggest impacts on the fantasy playoffs than anyone in recent memory. Star running backs hurt or underperform, offenses not showing up until the second half, and offenses stalling in the second half all destroying possible playoff hopes. Not to mention plenty of bad calls from referees and coordinators. There’s so much that happened this weekend with major impacts on the NFL and fantasy football. So much so that I am so unbelievably upset that I wasn’t able to watch a SINGLE snap over the course of two days. Thankfully, I was able to watch Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football so I got most of my primetime fix for Week 15. Nonetheless, it was a scary sight for those of us watching the games through our fantasy teams. Isn’t the Christmas season great?

Now, let’s see if I helped anyone advance in the fantasy playoffs with last week’s picks. First, up our overperforming predictions, Justin Herbert didn’t have as big a game as hoped even if the Chargers were able to put up a nice win against the Titans. No touchdowns and two interceptions is a performance we haven’t seen since Week 6, where he threw no touchdowns and one interception. Meanwhile, the other three overperformers knocked it out of the park as Saquon Barkley and AJ Brown both beat their projections by around ten points and Dawson Knox beat him by a whopping 14 points. Now for the time to toot my own horn. All of the underperformers this week underperformed. Geno Smith, Marquise Brown, and Cole Kmet all miss the mark even though Geno comes close with the last-second touchdown against the 49ers. Now, the true horn-tooting comes into play. Zonovan Knight in a game against the Lions misses his projection by double digits. That’s not what I want to brag about. The great and legendary Matthew Berry, the godfather of fantasy football, was in on Knight as a top 20 play this week and he barely cracked the top 50 while yours truly was ready for the underperformance against the strong Lions run defense. So practically I consider this one as a win over the fantasy football GOAT Matthew Berry, just maybe don’t tell him that. I shouldn’t even be considered in the same sphere of intelligence as that man. That’s not what you’re here for though is it? Let’s make some Christmas wishes come true and win another week of the fantasy playoffs.

Tickets to Ride

Quarterback, Daniel Jones: It’s been a while since we’ve talked about ol’ Danny Dimes. This week it takes on the Minnesota Vikings and looks to keep the Giants in the playoff picture. The Vikings have been a great matchup to for quarterbacks this season allowing just under 20 fantasy points per game. Daniel Jones has also had a touchdown in five of his last six games and multiple touchdowns in three of those six games. The Vikings have allowed five total touchdowns to quarterbacks in the last three weeks and five of the six last quarterbacks have scored at least 23 fantasy points. 

Running Back, Jerick McKinnon: While this spot could easily go to Isiah Pacheco, the Chiefs have given Jerick McKinnon the touchdown equity in the last two games. In the span, McKinnon has four total touchdowns and 256 total yards but only 16 rushing attempts and 15 receptions. So not the type of volume Pacheco has been getting but now the Chiefs face the Seattle Seahawks who have given up the fourth most points to running backs this season and have given up five rushing touchdowns to running backs in the last three weeks. If McKinnon continues his touchdown efficiency, he could win people their matchups. Just don’t forget that Pacheco continues to have the majority of touches. 

Wide Receiver, DK Metcalf: With Tyler Lockett out for one to two weeks with a thumb injury, the Seattle Seahawks will look to funnel all passes through him against the Kansas City Chiefs. Metcalf should see a slight uptick in targets from his 10.5 average in the four games since the BYE week. In the same stretch, Metcalf has a touchdown in two of the four games. The Chiefs have been in more shootouts than normal lately as well, with their last three games being decided by seven or fewer points. The KC defense has also given the fifth most fantasy points to wide receivers with four touchdowns and almost 400 yards in the last three weeks. 

Tight End, Pat Freiermuth: If you’re looking for consistency at the tight end position, Pat Freirmuth might be one of the most consistent options we’ve had this year. He had three receptions Barring last week’s big fat Donutland donut. (Shoutout my favorite donuts) Not a single target for him from Mitch Trubisky against Carolina. This should hope to change against the Las Vegas Raiders defense who have allowed top-five fantasy points per game to tight ends. They have been stingier in the last few weeks but that is due to the ability running backs have had to pick apart the defense. As long as Trubisky looks back to his solid tight end in Freiermuth to take the pressure off Najee Harris and the other pass catchers, Friermuth should be able to take advantage of the Raiders.

Missed the Train

Quarterback, Dak Prescott: After a strong game minus his receivers costing him a game-sealing pick-six, Dak Prescott now is forced to face the Philadelphia Eagles defense which has not been forgiving to fantasy quarterbacks this season. However, in the last couple of weeks, quarterbacks have been performing better against them. The Eagles’ defense will be required to step up against Prescott and the Cowboys they will likely be without Jalen Hurts and won’t be able to continuously score points so to win the divisional matchup they will need to be able to create turnovers and keep receivers out of the endzone. Prescott has thrown two interceptions in four out of the last six games so turnover opportunities will be available. 

Running Back, Nick Chubb: The epitome of playoff push disappointment at the running back position has been Nick Chubb. He has finished outside the top 25 fantasy running backs for three weeks straight and has finished as running back 36 in two of those weeks. Just to remind people there are 32 starting running backs in the NFL. To make matters worse he faces a top-ten defense against fantasy running backs in the New Orleans Saints. While he is getting the rushing volume, he hasn’t had a 100-yard rushing game or a touchdown since his last finish inside the top 10 in Week 12. The Saints have only allowed two rushing touchdowns to running backs since Week 9, leaving Chubb extremely dependent on earning his rushing yards or hauling in his few targets. 

Wide Receiver, Terry McLaurin: Is it just the time to downgrade any offensive player that plays the San Francisco 49ers defense? This week it’s Terry Mclaurin, who was just out-targeted against the Giants by rookie Jahan Dotson. The Commanders’ offensive line has allowed the second most pressure on dropbacks this season and the 49ers are 11th in the league in earning pressure on dropbacks. This will mean Taylor Heinicke will be forced to get the ball out quickly and the defense won’t give him the chance to not hit McLaurin straight on. 

Tight End, David Njoku: One of the top targets for the Cleveland Browns through three games, David Njoku now has a tough matchup against the New Orleans Saints. The second toughest defense against tight ends may prove too much for the Njoku. Playing the third-highest percentage of snaps among all pass catchers in the Browns’ offense and drawing a top five offensive target percentage in the NFL. The Saints have only given up two touchdowns to tight ends this season. Add the fact that it’ll be single-digit weather in the outdoor stadium of Cleveland, we may see more running game than passing game this weekend.