Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start as a streamer. The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 18
Tracking my predictions: 5-11-1
Win: Player produces ≥ 75% of projected fantasy points
Loss: Player produces >75% of projected fantasy points
Tie: Player is ejected, leaves with an injury, or lands on COVID-19 list after publishing
2021 record: 8-9-1
2020 record: 5-10-1
In Week 17, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed was the choice here, and his six catches for 79 yards generated enough PPR points to qualify for a “win.” While I would have liked to see the projected score come true, the recommendation caused no harm, and some weeks that feels like a win in and of itself.
For the finale, we return to promote a familiar face playing in an unwelcoming confine … for his opponent, anyway.
I have avoided including the same player twice in this space during a given season, but Week 18 has me feeling the return of Rodgers is apropos due to the situation ahead. He was the Week 1 selection and failed to deliver.
The 2022 season has not gone Rodgers’ way, but in the last four weeks his Packers have mounted a comeback that has them on the brink of a playoff berth.
Can he propel his team into the postseason? How will Green Bay choose to attack in this one? Will this be the last time we see him in a Packers uniform at Lambeau Field?
From a fantasy perspective, only one of those answers is relevant, and we’ll circle back in a bit.
In the Week 6 meeting with Detroit, Rodgers threw 43 passes — a season high — and connected on 53.5 — a season low. He finished with 291 yards passing, 40 more rushing, one touchdown throw, and an uncharacteristic three interceptions.
For context, that was just the fifth time in Rodgers’ career in which he threw three picks, and the last time came in 2017. Don’t get too wrapped up in that blemish.
Seven times a quarterback posted at least 290 yards through the air vs. Detroit this season, and eight outings resulted in multiple touchdown strikes. Seven rushing TDs have come from the legs of quarterbacks, and while Rodgers doesn’t run like six years ago, he still has at least one rushing TD in each of the last five seasons and seven in the past three seasons. Seven seems like the magic number in this matchup.
Detroit has given up 10 performances of 22-plus fantasy points in 2022, and that includes Rodgers’ first meeting with the Lions. No team has granted more success in fantasy, and the boys in Honolulu blue have surrendered 30.1 percent more success than average on the year. Although the Lions have stiffened a degree in recent weeks, the likes of Zach Wilson and Sam Darnold have posted 24-pointers in the last three weeks. Kirk Cousins went for 29.2 in Week 14. If you remove Trevor Lawrence‘s 16.2-point Week 13 showing, you have to go back to Week 7 to find the last time a signal caller didn’t manage at least 21 points against Detroit.
The weather forecast is not going to be an issue for putting the ball in the air. The biggest risk here simply comes down to how the Packers will attack. There’s a low likelihood the Lions will explode offensively as Green Bay’s defense has played improved ball during the winning streak.
Detroit sits near the middle of the pack at stopping the run, ranking 12th in rushing yards allowed to RBs on the year. Containing Aaron Jones (knee, ankle) and AJ Dillon will be imperative for Rodgers to have a strong fantasy day. Those two combined for 41 yards on 12 carries in Week 9, so it’s absolutely within reason.
Aside the aberration vs. Carolina, Detroit hasn’t given up a 100-yard back since Week 5. That said, it’s not unfair to be concerned given how badly Detroit played in that anomalous outing, but its strong run defense vs. Chicago last week shows the Lions righted the ship.
With everything on the line, at home, in January, vs. a team still trying to learn how to be winners, putting faith in Rodgers is a wise gamble to make in fantasy lineups. He may not have the strongest day of Week 18 passers, but No. 12 is as safe a bet for QB1 returns as at any time this season.
My projection: 27-for-38, 287 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 12 rushing yards (27.55 PPR fantasy points)