We’ve reached the point in the fantasy football season where the biggest decisions need to be made to get closer to a league championship. An epic season can fold like a card table with one decision.
I’ve never been a “ride or die” type fantasy player – you basically play the same lineup every week because you made the biggest investment in them. I’m more on letting matchups pick my lineup with the exception of unbenchable studs. Beyond that, I’m willing to sit a player I invested heavily in on draft day to play a hunch if the matchup is too juicy to pass.
When you roll the dice in the playoffs and hit, you remember it for a couple years. When you bench a guy you’ve been starting all season on a gut feeling and the guy goes off for three touchdowns? That stain lasts forever.
The ride-or-die people have fewer regrets.
Here is the Week 16 Fantasy Football Market Report.
Fantasy Football Risers
Minnesota Vikings WR K.J. Osborn – Every superstar receiver needs to have a No. 2 guy to prevent him from being constantly double-teamed. Justin Jefferson previously had that in veteran Adam Thielen. Now, it would appear that player is Osborn. In the last two games, we have seen a changing of the guard, highlighted by Osborn’s role in the largest comeback win in NFL history. In those two games, Osborn has been targeted 21 times, catching 15 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. If you have the option of Thielen or Osborn moving forward, take Osborn – short-term and long-term.
San Francisco 49ers QB Brock Purdy – It would be difficult to bench an established starter during the fantasy playoffs, but Purdy hasn’t played like Mr. Irrelevant. In three games since Jimmy Garoppolo went down, Purdy has thrown for 612 yards with six TD passes and one TD run – throwing two touchdowns in each game. Sometimes it isn’t the name on the back of the jersey that makes a star, it’s the system that leads to their success.
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris – A player who hasn’t been a significant receiving threat in 2022, Harris needs to earn his fantasy points as a runner. In his first eight games, he hit 75 rushing yards once and had less than 50 yards in five of those – averaging just 3.6 yards a carry. In his last six games, he has topped 85 rushing yards four times and scored five touchdowns, returning him to must-play status on fantasy rosters.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Zay Jones – Despite being physically gifted, Jones never reached his potential with the Bills or Raiders in three seasons with each team. He is having a career year, especially over the last month. He has topped 100 yards twice in his last three games and, over the last two, has caught 14 passes for 186 yards and four touchdowns. The Jaguars have an emerging young team that isn’t far away from being a legitimate contender in the AFC, and Jones may finally have found a place where he can thrive as a receiver.
Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott – Typically, we don’t put players who are weekly starters, but Elliott has been forced into a time share with Tony Pollard, where Pollard has been the superior back. However, despite not having a 100-yard rushing game all season, Elliott has remained relevant for fantasy owners. He has scored nine touchdowns in the last seven games, including at least once in each game. Elliott is no longer the RB1 in Dallas, but he remains a fantasy RB1 because he just keeps scoring touchdowns.
Fantasy Football Fallers
Cleveland Browns WR Amari Cooper – Cooper has always been an up-and-down fantasy player, but those with Cooper on their rosters were expecting the long-awaited arrival of Deshaun Watson to bring along with it a big spike in Cooper’s numbers. Just the opposite has happened. In the three games Watson has started for the Browns, Cooper has caught just 10 passes for 140 yards and no touchdowns. What makes it worse is that this minimal production has come when fantasy owners needed production most.
New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara – Kamara was a unanimous RB1 on draft day because of his ability as a dual threat, but that hasn’t materialized much of the year and has dropped off significantly in the last six games. In that span, he has rushed for just 198 yards, caught 20 passes for 159 yards and scored no touchdowns. For a player capable of scoring at any time, having just three touchdowns in 14 games and stinking down the stretch has been a lineup killer.
Indianapolis Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. – Pittman was taken in most drafts to be a solid WR2 with big-time upside. While he will come close to catching 100 passes this year, he has averaged just 9.5 yards per reception and has scored just two touchdowns. After posting six games with more than 75 receiving yards last season, he has done that just once this year, along with just one touchdown since Week 2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette – Whether by force or design, Fournette has been having a brutal statistical season as the Bucs either refuse to run or fall behind and are left with no choice but to abandon it. In his last 11 games, Fournette has 35 or fewer rushing yards in six of them and 35 or fewer receiving yards in nine of 13 games he has played this season. For those who found themselves forced to play Fournette, it has been a weekly punch to the face many more times than not.
Arizona Cardinals WR Marquise Brown – It seemed as though the timing was never right for Brown with injuries to Kyler Murray and the suspension of DeAndre Hopkins. With Hopkins out, Brown posted solid numbers (43-485-3) in his first six games. The same week Hopkins came back, Brown went down – missing the next five games. In the three games in which both of them have been on the field, Brown caught 14 passes for just 99 yards and no touchdowns. With Murray out for the season, this looks like a bad situation getting worse and nobody is saying “Hooray for Hollywood.”