Austin’s Fantasy Train: Week 18


Austin West, Staff

Obviously, there’s no way to start this other than by sending out prayers to Damar Hamlin, the Bills safety who was hospitalized after a hit on Monday Night Football. I obviously wish him the best as the NFL is a place of scary injuries for many players that can change the course of their lives. Hopefully, he is able to recover and be back on his feet in no time. With the game being canceled after his injury, many fantasy owners are wondering how to settle championships. The best I can say is if it’s a close enough matchup, you could split the prize pool if there is one, or call the matchup if it is heavily skewed one way or another. Otherwise, you’re left to see if the game is rescheduled. Currently, it is not on the slate for Week 18 so keep an eye on announcements from the NFL. As for those of you who may have had your matchups already decided prior to Monday, congrats on the title or tough luck with coming up with a second-place finish. However, many of you may still have a matchup heading into the final week of the regular season. So for you folks, let’s get to the final Fantasy Train of the year. Thank you to everyone who read and even used my advice regardless of how crazy it may have seemed.

Now, to recap last week’s picks from championship week. George Kittle and AJ Dillon both come up just short of their projections regardless of being able to score touchdowns this week. Brock Purdy and Mike Evans both beat their projections. Mike Evans might be my favorite pick that I have ever made. Granted, not many people in championship matches were probably starting Mike Evans but if they were, they probably won as Mike Evans scores for the first time since Week 4 and follows it up with two more touchdowns. The gut pick pays off strong. As for the underperformers, I should’ve chosen my dynasty team who at the time of Monday Night Football being postponed, hadn’t scored over 90 points. Instead, I chose two players off that team with Geno Smith and Dallas Goedert who are unable to make their projections but Geno missed his mark by .2 fantasy points. As for the other two picks, JuJu Smith-Schuster was held to two receptions for 21 yards and Derrick Henry was eventually held out of the Thursday Night matchup against the Cowboys. Time to wrap up the season on a high note.

Tickets to Ride

Quarterback, Trevor Lawrence: Win and they’re in. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Trevor Lawerence take on the Tennesse Titans for the AFC South division title and a spot in the playoffs. A loss would eliminate the Jaguars and Lawerence likely isn’t about to let that happen as the Titans are ranked fourth in most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks this season. The last time these two teams faced off Trevor Lawrence racked up four total touchdowns and over 370 total yards. The Titans were able to hold off Travis Etienne last time these two teams met so this game may fall into the hands of the second-year quarterback.

Running Back, Cam Akers: Remember when everyone was writing off Cam Akers earlier in the season? Well, now he’s back to save fantasy playoff teams. Three straight top-20 running back weeks for Akers with at least 100 total yards brings him to the season finale against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks allow the third most fantasy points to running backs but they also have only allowed two total touchdowns to the position over the last three games. With the Rams, currently eliminated from playoff contention they look to play spoiler to the Seahawks’ Wild Card weekend dreams. 

Wide Receiver, CeeDee Lamb: Facing off against the Washington Commanders, CeeDee Lamb and the Dallas Cowboys still have a chance to claim the NFC East title. No chance the Cowboys bench their starters in a game like this and CeeDee Lamb has been a big part of the last two wins. Over 100 receiving yards in both those games and three touchdowns over the past three games sets Lamb up for another great game. The last time these division rivals faced off, Lamb was able to find the endzone and was just three yards short of his first 100-yard game of the season. The Commanders’ secondary has also given up three receiving touchdowns over the last three games, giving plenty of opportunity for the Cowboys’ number one receiver. 

Tight End, Evan Engram: Well in the big matchup for the Jaguars, Trevor Lawerence needs somebody to throw to doesn’t he? Who better than his favorite target since Week 13 in Evan Engram? Engram before last week’s game was drawing eight targets per game for three straight games. While he hasn’t had himself a touchdown since Week 14, since then he’s averaged 63 yards per game. They face the Tennessee Titans who are tied for 4th in the league in most fantasy points given up to tight ends this season. Expect Trevor Lawerence to target Engram often especially in important situations in a must-win game. 

Missed the Train

Quarterback, Jared Goff: Three touchdowns in three of his last four games and Jared Goff is this week’s quarterback underperformer? Well, he faces the Green Bay Packers this week in one of the biggest playoff games of the week. If Seattle loses earlier in the day, it’s a faceoff in Lambeau for the final NFC playoff spot. Over the last three games, the Packers have given up at least one passing touchdown per game. However, they’ve also had four interceptions over the same span. While Goff hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 9, something about this Packers’ defense lately spells disaster for any opposing offense. If I have Jared Goff in my starting lineup, I’d be a little nervous about this matchup.

Running Back, Rhamondre Stevenson: One of the biggest disappointments of the fantasy playoffs, Rhamondre Stevenson has not been the PPR fantasy scorer he was in the regular season. Three of his last four games saw him score under 10 fantasy points with two of his finishes placing him outside the top 50 running backs. Now he faces the Buffalo Bills that held him under 80 total yards just five weeks ago. The Bills have only allowed two total touchdowns over the past five weeks and Stevenson has only scored one over the same span. If Stevenson is unable to be efficient with his carries and receptions, chalk this final week up for another poor fantasy performance.

Wide Receiver, Jaylen Waddle: Another huge playoff-implicating game with the Dolphins taking on the Jets. Tua Tagovailoa is out for this matchup leaving Teddy Bridgewater to get the win the Dolphins need to stay in contention. However, this could be unfortunate for Jaylen Waddle as last week with Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson, Waddle saw his production drop with just three receptions for 52 yards on five targets. It won’t be much help when the Jets’ secondary have only allowed one touchdown to receivers over the past five weeks. It will be all about finding the endzone or racking up the receiving yards this week for Waddle. 

Tight End, Mark Andrews: Although Mark Andrews had a great 100-yard performance last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it seems to be more of a fluke than anything. This was his first game posting over 10 fantasy points since Week 12, which also happened to be the last time he found the endzone. Ever since Tyler Huntley has taken over the offense, Mark Andrews has just not been utilized in the same way. Not to mention that the Cinncinatti Bengals are bottom ten in the league in fantasy points allowed to the position with tight ends averaging 8.3 fantasy points against them. Lamar Jackson still has not returned to practice for the Ravens which likely means that Huntley will hold Andrews back from reaching another double-digit fantasy production.