I’ve long maintained that the NFL is the best reality show on television and, with one week to play in the regular season, they’ve proved it once again.
The Philadelphia Eagles have had the best record in the league all year, but could fall to the No. 5 seed with a loss. Tom Brady made the playoffs for the 20th time with a win Sunday. With wins next week, Aaron Rodgers and Bill Belichick make it back to the party after being left for dead. Even the Pittsburgh Steelers are still alive as they look to avoid their first losing season in 20 years after a 2-6 start.
No professional sport is able to build drama like the NFL as it remains the most captivating reality show on TV.
Here is the Week 18 Fantasy Football Market Report.
Fantasy Football Risers
Atlanta Falcons RB Tyler Allgeier – A fifth-round rookie with an undefined role when he came to the Falcons, he received his opportunity in October, when Cordarrelle Patterson went down with an injury, and hasn’t looked back. In his last three games, Allgeier flipped the script on Patterson, rushing 55 times for 296 yards and two touchdowns, while Patterson had 31 carries for just 111 yards and two TDs. If Patterson is back in Atlanta next year, it may well be as Allgeier’s backup.
Las Vegas Raiders QB Jarrett Stidham – The Raiders ripped the organizational Band-Aid off its relationship with Derek Carr by not only benching him, but telling him not to show up at the facility. Stidham faced a daunting test with the San Francisco 49ers but threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns in his debut. Carr never came with 50 yards of that this season and threw three TDs just twice in 15 games. This may be a changing of the guard that lasts.
Green Bay Packers RB AJ Dillon – Aaron Jones gets the headlines in Green Bay, but Dillon has become a scoring machine during the Packers’ late push for the playoffs. In his last five games, he has scored six touchdowns – at least one in every game – and helped out fantasy teams in search of production when they needed it most.
Carolina Panthers WR DJ Moore – One of the few offensive survivors of the Panthers’ purge of offensive talent, Moore seemed destined to end up on fantasy benches, not in lineups. With all the turmoil, he has remained consistent. In his last five games, Moore has scored four touchdowns. The includes a TD in each of the last three as he has caught 16 passes for 273 yards. The Panthers gutted their offense but kept Moore … for good reason.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Travis Etienne – Etienne was drafted to be a fringe weekly fantasy starter but didn’t blow up until the Jags traded James Robinson. He’s been a different player since. In his last three games, he has rushed 50 times for 294 yards and a touchdown, blowing past 1,000 rushing yards. With the path cleared for him next year, he has top-10 RB potential.
Fantasy Football Fallers
Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson – He could have appeared on this list almost every week. He threw one touchdown or fewer in 12 of 14 games, has almost as many interceptions (10) as touchdown passes (13), and threw fewer than 250 yards in 10 of 14 games. The worst part of this scenario is that Denver is pot-committed to him for a minimum of two more seasons because of crippling salary-cap implications. Right now, Denver has the No. 3 pick in the 2023 draft and it goes to Seattle as part of this brutal trade.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen – Thielen was expected to be an 80-catch, 1,000-yard, eight-TD guy as in past years, but it hasn’t happened. His season high for yards in 72, and his returns are diminishing with time. In the last two games while teammates have blown up – T.J. Hockenson (20-168-2) and K.J. Osborn (10-76-1) – Thielen has caught just two passes for 22 yards. Barring a huge pay cut, this may be his last year in Minnesota.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt – He was a rarity – a No. 2 back who put up numbers big enough to be a regular fantasy starter in his time in Cleveland. That ended abruptly this year, so much so that he demanded a trade at midseason and was denied. He has caught 32 passes for just 195 yards and one touchdown and rushed 119 times for 455 yards and three TDs (the last touchdown coming in Week 8. The Cleveland portion of his career is clearly over.
Washington Commanders QB Carson Wentz – Wentz had a chance to reclaim his career in Washington after being run out of both Philadelphia and Indianapolis. He played perhaps the biggest game for the rest of his career Sunday. He replaced the popular Taylor Heinicke as starter and promptly laid an egg, throwing for 143 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. In the process, the Commanders went from controlling their own destiny to out of the playoffs. His next stop in the NFL is going to be as a backup.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson – The Steelers thought enough of Johnson and the 2021 season he had (107-1,161-8) that they let JuJu Smith-Schuster leave in free agency and traded Chase Claypool. Johnson was deemed a fantasy starter all season. The facts are stark – he has only three games with more than 65 receiving yards, no 100-yard games, and no touchdowns. For what was expected, his returns have been largely minimal on a weekly basis. His fantasy stock in 2023 will hit bottom.