Here we go! It’s time for the fantasy playoffs. We definitely had some big names let us down for those making the final playoff push, but that’s fantasy football for you. Time to check out what’s happened this past week, with the exception of our lovely Tuesday night football, of course.
Game of the week
Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans (41-35)
It’s remarkable that this ended up a one-possession game. The Browns looked like a Super Bowl contender, a sentence I never thought I’d write. Baker Mayfield was lights out, throwing four touchdowns in the first half alone. Everyone got in on the act, including Donovan Peoples-Jones who caught a 70-yard touchdown. The Browns passing game has been impressive when the weather has not been terrible, and things shouldn’t change going forward.
On the ground Nick Chubb was his usual self. He took his 18 carries for 80 yards and a score, looking just as dominant as he always does. Kareem Hunt, however, had another down game. The volume was still there, seeing 17 touches but he couldn’t do much with it. Plenty of those carries came when the Browns were up big with the Titans gearing against the run, but Hunt needs to be super-efficient to be fantasy relevant with Chubb healthy. That efficiency will not always come, and when it doesn’t you are left with a lower floor. He’s a low-end RB2 the rest of the way.
For the Titans, let’s keep it short and sweet. Derrick Henry had a rough game but it’s an outlier, people. Don’t panic. A.J. Brown had a disappointing day, but he was inches from a score and still showed his big-play ability to make his day on a single play. Corey Davis is a legitimately good receiver, something I’ve been saying for years. You can play him rest of the way — he’s seeing the volume needed. Maybe it’s because it’s his contract year, but he should be a player to watch come March.
And finally, Ryan Tannehill is a good quarterback who is here to stay. Let’s stop doubting him and accept that. His 45 passes of volume won’t come next week against Jacksonville but he’s an efficient quarterback when the run game works. He’s a strong streaming option.
Player of the week
Darren Waller (17 targets, 13 receptions, 200 yards and two touchdowns)
I try not to put “auto-start” players here but when you put up the sixth-best fantasy tight end performance of all time, you earn the honor. The Jets had no answer for Waller who saw 17 targets, a career high. Waller has rewarded those who took the controversial mid-round tight end in their drafts. He will continue to be a top option rest of the way regardless of matchup.
Bust of the week
Miles Sanders (10 carries, 31 yards)
The wheels have fallen off for Sanders. Maybe having a mobile quarterback like Jalen Hurts will open up some rushing lanes but until that can be proven, Sanders should not be trusted in your fantasy playoffs. He had one of the best matchups you could ask for against Green Bay and fell short. We know it’s not a matter of talent. Perhaps the offensive line is too injured, or the running back rotation Doug Pederson imposes is too ridiculous. Either way it’s a lost season for Sanders and the Eagles, especially in fantasy football.
Storyline to watch
Who wins Offensive Rookie of the Year?
This isn’t centered around fantasy football, but Justin Jefferson and Justin Herbert are the two frontrunners for the prestigious award. Only three receivers have won the award since 1999, which puts Jefferson at a disadvantage. But the Vikings star should not be counted out as he crosses the 1,000-yard mark with seven touchdowns at his side. Herbert has been outstanding as well. The Chargers quarterback has thrown for over 3,200 yards and is just four passing touchdowns away from breaking the all-time rookie passing touchdown record, despite playing just 11 games. It will likely come down to the wire — but let’s rejoice that we can watch these two play for years to come.
For the record, my vote is Justin Jefferson.
Antonio Gibson (toe)
This was tough to watch man. Gibson was in pain on the sideline and managed to limp to the locker room, only to be declared doubtful to return. As we all know he didn’t. It looked like turf toe, which is extremely painful and is likely a multi-week absence. It’s too early to tell but if that’s the case, plan to be without the Washington rookie for the next couple weeks. J.D. McKissic is a must-start going forward with Gibson sidelined, particularly in PPR formats.
Frank Gore (concussion)
Gore suffered a concussion on the first drive of the game and would not return, leading Ty Johnson and Josh Adams to dominate the rest of the game. This may have been the last meaningful snap we saw from Gore, as Johnson in particular played extremely well (22 carries for 104 yards and a score). Johnson should be an interesting waiver wire target ahead of their matchup with Seattle. Gore should be expected to miss this week at least.
Joshua Kelley (knee)
The severity of Kelley’s injury is unknown, but his fantasy irrelevance is. His absence would lead to a more reliable handcuff in Kalen Ballage.
Darrell Henderson (knee)
He was able to return the game but only saw three touches in the second half. This was largely due to the Rams finally committing to Cam Akers, who saw 21 carries. Henderson is nothing more than a boom bust RB4 rest of the way.
Tee Higgins (hamstring)
It appeared to be a small tweak that did not hold the rookie back. He should be good to go next week.
Laviska Shenault (thumb)
It did not look serious, and sure enough it wasn’t. A precautionary MRI will likely not show any other damage, but initial x-rays came back negative. He should be good to go for Week 14.
D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel (COVID-19)
Moore tested positive while Samuel was simply a close contact. This puts Moore against the clock to play this week, and he should be considered unlikely to. Samuel will get off the reserve/COVID-19 list with a few more days of negative tests, but this is a situation that must be monitored heading into your fantasy playoffs. They contracted this during their bye, so the timeline is still unclear.
A final trio of quick hitters
- Diontae Johnson seems to drop two balls a game, at the bare minimum. By my count the Steelers had seven drops yesterday. It cost them the game. It will cost them even more in the playoffs if they don’t clean it up.
- Anyone know Chad Hansen? All week we tried to figure out who would step up in place of the recently suspended Will Fuller. Keke Coutee was the ways guess to fill in for Randall Cobb (toe) but who would be outside? Isaiah Coulter? Steven Mitchell? Nope, it was Hansen. Keep an eye out for the former Jet — it wouldn’t be the first time New York failed to properly evaluate talent.
- If you have any FAAB left, get ahead of the curve and look at the matchups, especially if you have a bye. The Rams DST and the Browns DST both have stellar playoff matchups on the horizon and could be lingering on the wire, especially the latter. Pick them up now.