Austin’s Fantasy Train: Week 17


Austin West, Staff

It’s official: I hate fantasy football. This game we play is always so fun up until the time when luck starts to take over. That’s where fantasy football loves to make people angry. You’re probably wondering what could possibly make me this upset with fantasy football. That would be getting beaten as the #1 seeded team with only three losses by a team that wasn’t even above .500 because they have two players that go for 30+ fantasy points while my team decides they don’t want to outscore my kicker. Rhamondre Stevenson and Stefon Diggs are just unable to get it done after I lose Tyler Lockett and Jalen Hurts to injury while I’m on a first-round bye. Not to mention my second #1 seeded team got beat by another team with two 30+ fantasy point scorers AND had Dameon Pierce WHO IS OUT FOR THE SEASON in their lineup. But at least Christmas was nice right? Happy holidays to all and I hope many of your matchups turned out better than mine did. 

Now, the question is did I end up costing you a chance at the fantasy championship? If so, I truly apologize. It cost me a chance at the championship as well. Last week’s overperformers that did beat their projections included Daniel Jones and Pat Friermuth who didn’t beat it but much only two or three points. The overperformers that didn’t end up that way were Jerick McKinnon and DK Metcalf who barely miss their projections also by two points. Of course, these two also happened to have been playing each other this weekend. The underperformers also go 50% for me last week as Dak Prescott and Terry McLaurin crush their projections against tough defenses but my Cleveland Browns underperforming stack of Nick Chubb and David Njoku ends up correct on the weekend. I guess I just need to bet on the downfall of the Browns’ offense. Now for those of you in the championship or those of you fighting through the consolation bracket, let’s try to help you out shall we?

Tickets to Ride

Quarterback, Brock Purdy: In search of a streaming option for your final fantasy matchup of the year? Look no further than rookie Brock Purdy against the Las Vegas Raiders. Top 10 in fantasy points allowed to the position, if you throw for a touchdown against the Raiders, you’re practically guaranteed at least 15 fantasy points. The question is will Brock Purdy be able to do it? Well in his four games, Purdy has thrown for two touchdowns in each of them and at least two hundred yards in three of the four. Quarterbacks that have thrown for at least two touchdowns and 200 yards have scored an average of 26.2 fantasy points. So if you’re looking for someone to replace opposing quarterback Derek Carr or a different quarterback, Purdy might be the solution.

Running Back, AJ Dillon: Everyone thought at the beginning of the year that Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon would both be fantasy viable but we haven’t seen much out of Dillon until these past four weeks. Currently averaging 18 points per game with a touchdown to match. Dillon has actually started eating into Aaron Jones’ workload. This week as a possible FLEX play, Dillon faces the Minnesota Vikings who he scored a touchdown and 20 fantasy points against in Week 1. The Vikings are bottom 12 against fantasy running backs allowing an average of 21 fantasy points per game to the position. They’ve also allowed a rushing or receiving touchdown to a running back in the last three games. Dillon did all he could to try and help me make the championship maybe he’ll help you win yours. 

Wide Receiver, Mike Evans: Take this with a grain of salt. Mike Evans has been bad this season relative to the past in fantasy terms. Only three finishes inside the top 15 of wide receivers, the last time coming in Week 8. His best finish since then is WR 30. Not all of that has been his fault as he is getting targeted at least eight times in four of his last five games, he just hasn’t had more than five receptions in any of those games and zero touchdowns. His last touchdown came in Week 4. However, my gut says in a division matchup against the Carolina Panthers, where the winner is most likely to win the division and goes to the playoffs, Tom Brady is going to be forced to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers and not just screen pass all game. The Panthers also rank top 10 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers per game. This will come down to do you have a more solid and consistent option or if are you being forced to shoot for as much upside as possible.

Tight End, George Kittle: One of the guys that ended my championship dreams was George Kittle and his two touchdowns last week against the Commanders last week, even if he did steal one. This makes it back-to-back weeks of two touchdown performances for Kittle who has had at least four receptions for three straight weeks with his yardage only getting better. Now he faces off against a top 12 team for most fantasy points allowed to tight ends of the Las Vegas Raiders. The challenge is that the Raiders haven’t allowed a touchdown to a tight end since Week 5. Given how much Brock Purdy like to throw a deep ball over the middle to Kittle the last two weeks, he could be a league winner this week.

Missed the Train

Quarterback, Geno Smith: In a matchup that could decide a playoff spot for either team, Geno Smith and the Seahawks face off against the New York Jets. Geno’s fantasy production has gotten worse since Week 13 and he has missed his projections for two straight weeks. The loss of Tyler Lockett seems to have affected the Seahawks’ offense more than anticipated. Now with Sauce Gardner likely to try matching up with DK Metcalf as much as possible, Smith will be forced to look more to his tight ends and Marquise Goodwin. The Jets’ defense has done a good job of shutting down quarterbacks this year as they are ranked top 10 in the least fantasy points allowed to the position. That’s thanks in part to the Jets not allowing over 150 passing yards or a touchdown in the last two games. No touchdowns and no yards means no fantasy production.

Running Back, Derrick Henry: Before anyone says anything, you are still starting Derrick Henry. I mean do you really have a choice at this point? Either way, he faces the Dallas defense coming off three straight weeks of scoring a rushing touchdown. Seems like a good streak right? However, this streak came against three bottom-half teams against fantasy running backs this season, and Dallas is the fourth-strongest defense against fantasy running backs. The Cowboys have only allowed two touchdowns over the last five weeks and they lead the NFL in fumbles lost with 16. Henry currently is on a three-week streak of fumbling at least once per game and he’s lost three of his four fumbles over the same span. Tough defense and trouble holding onto the ball could make for a measly fantasy day for Henry managers. 

Wide Receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster: Another boom or bust play with JuJu Smith-Schuster as he faces off against the Denver Broncos, one of the toughest secondaries in the league. They’ve only allowed two touchdowns to receivers in the last five weeks, including the Christmas Day blowout loss on Nickelodeon. There’s only one problem though, one of those touchdowns was caught by JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, in his last five games, that’s Smith-Schuster’s only touchdown and only one of two games where he scored double-digit fantasy points. If you don’t have a better option to play, you better hope for a touchdown. 

Tight End, Dallas Goedert: Returning from injury last week against the Cowboys, Dallas Goedert was fifth on the Eagles in targets. Not much is expected to change this week as the Eagles face the New Orleans Saints and Gardner Minshew is still the starter at quarterback. The Saints have been the stingiest against fantasy tight ends this season with only two touchdowns allowed to the position all season long. If the target share continues as it did last week, you may want to shoot for the moon with a tight end flyer if you’re feeling lucky. Otherwise, be prepared for a less-than-ideal day.