This is it! The end! The title is now up for grabs! You’ve now made it to the big stage and now it is time to take it home. If you have done this by streaming quarterbacks and tight ends all year then kudos to you. If you have lost someone and are in the tragic position of having to grab a guy to put in your lineup to put you over the top, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
It was a tough week for quarterbacks in general. Patrick Mahomes owners were stunned by his tepid fantasy performance but were reassured knowing he was the one of the best in Week 15. The same cannot be said for those who started Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, or Jameis Winston. None of them reached 10 fantasy points. In fact, my streamer of the week, Josh Allen, beat them all. He even had more fantasy points than “Showtime Mahomes.”
Marcus Mariota, on the other hand, was a dud in fantasy despite the Titans winning their game handily. Keenum was Keenum. He had a Keenumesque performance in a Broncos’ defeat. I would be amazed if he’s wearing blue and orange next year.
Heading into the Monday night game, six tight ends ended up with 10 fantasy points or more in PPR leagues. Garrett Celek and Jeremy Sprinkle were two of those tight ends. Streaming a tight end this week might not have helped you win your semifinal, but if you relied on one of the sure things, you were likely disappointed. Rob Gronkowski, George Kittle, Jimmy Graham, and Zach Ertz were all duds. Welcome to the fickle world of fantasy football.
Enough about the past. We must look ahead to the future – even if that future is now only a week long. For quarterbacks, I am going with three first-round rookies that haven’t been as good as Baker Mayfield but have been significantly more effective than poor Josh Rosen.
Quarterback Streamer of the Week: Lamar Jackson (BAL) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Jackson and Allen have basically been the same player. Allen is more like the wayward rebel whereas Jackson is the slick conservative. Allen can be reckless and Jackson can be as boring as they come. What’s the big difference?
Jackson is on a competent offense full of average to above average veterans and Allen is on a team full of undrafted rookies to go along with Zay Jones. This has allowed Jackson to be the safer play with less upside. Both are great running quarterbacks, but Jackson comes with a safer floor and Allen with a maverick upside.
The Chargers could be “hangover mode” after beating the best offense in the league. They are safe to make the playoffs as the best wild card at least. They might have higher aspirations like winning the AFC West, but would essentially have to win out and hope for a Kansas City loss.
Baltimore is in a must-win frame of mind. This game is much more important to them and it should be a great game. A team like Baltimore gives offensively-minded teams trouble — they nearly eked out a win against the aforementioned Chiefs. The Chargers could be in for a long day.
The best thing is Jackson has been a dependable quarterback in fantasy, largely due to his legs. Since their bye week, he has averaged 16 points, but more importantly, has ranged between 14-19 points for five straight weeks since becoming the starter in Baltimore and he has done this without usurping 178 passing yards. No doubt the Chargers will be his toughest defense to date, but we need to be real here. The Chargers are not the same D/ST most people were expecting when they drafted them as a top-five defense back in September, even with a healthy Joey Bosa.
Josh Allen (BUF) vs. New England Patriots
Remember all of the backlash the Buffalo Bills got for trading up only to select the inaccurate Allen? I think the fantasy football community has somewhat warmed up to him. He’s not been good, but he’s like a box of chocolates in the movie Forrest Gump. Most importantly, the dude knows how to score fantasy points. Sometimes it is rushing for over 100 yards and finding the end zone with his feet.
Sometimes it is throwing bombs to Robert Foster or hitting up the once-troubled Zay Jones. Unlike “real” football, “fantasy” football isn’t always about being the best. As much as I am all for analytics and about following “the process,” Allen is one of the few where I just have to ignore what “Sharpe” minds have told us. He ain’t pretty; he ain’t traditional; he ain’t smooth, but he sure is a whole lot of fun to watch and see what he will do next for better or worse.
Last week, I had him on the bench in favor of Andrew Luck. That turned out to be the wrong move. Like I said, sometimes the process doesn’t work. One might argue that he has a potentially bad matchup. The Patriots have lost two games in a row and are pretty angry at this point and could take it out on the Bills.
However, this is your championship on the line. I say Allen is so unpredictable that he is actually matchup proof. He can go off against great teams and put up head-shaking completion percentages against a bottom team. One thing is for sure. He’s as hot as he can be and seems to be a fantasy player’s dream. It’s amazing that he is only owned in 23% of Yahoo leagues.
Dark Horse: Sam Darnold (NYJ) vs. Green Bay Packers
If for some reason Jackson and Allen are not available then it might be worth looking at Darnold. Despite getting a lot of deserved criticism for most of the year, in the past two games since returning from injury, Darnold has been the rookie the Jets were hoping for when they drafted him in the early first round. He played better than his fantasy numbers suggest against Buffalo, one of the best defenses in the league.
Last week against Houston (another staunch defense), Darnold was unleashed more. He threw for over 250 yards, which included two touchdown passes and no picks. Now he faces a bottom-half defense in Green Bay. It should be a fun game to watch especially if the Packers decide to start their 90-million dollar man in a game that means nothing.
As inconsistent as Darnold has been, if he plays with more confidence and poise during his final two games, there a good chance that it will carry over to the upcoming season. He doesn’t have the rushing ability like Jackson or Allen, but he has proven to be a better thrower of the ball despite having the propensity of making bad rookie decisions here and there. It’s probably too late for him to excel on behalf of saving his coach, Todd Bowles, from losing his job, but finishing strong will benefit him and guys like Robby Anderson, Elijah McGuire, and Chris Herndon as they help establish the immediate future of the franchise.
Tight End Streamer of the Week: Ian Thomas (CAR) vs. Atlanta Falcons
I am being presumptuous here, but I am hoping that Thomas has himself a decent game against the Saints. The week before he was heavily targeted. I love the matchup against Atlanta. They have been better of late with Deion Jones back in the lineup, but they are still a below-average defense that allows teams to thrive.
There aren’t many options out there nearly as tempting as Thomas, who most likely will be Carolina’s future tight end star. Carolina is still alive and even if they are knocked out this week, you would think that they must still want to get their young, dynamic tight end involved. Oh, how I wish I had him on my dynasty team!
Chris Herndon (NYJ) vs. Green Bay Packers
If you want a consistent player who doesn’t have incredible upside but is a safe play, then Herndon is your man. He started the season as just one of the tight ends on the Jets’ roster, but week by week he started creating great separation from the rest of the pack. He’s been actively involved in the offense — often the most popular choice by Jets’ quarterbacks. Robby Anderson, who has emerged in the past two games, seems to be the de facto number one target machine, but Herndon is just behind him and he’s due for a touchdown as well. The Packers’ defense doesn’t scare anyone so maybe he can find the end zone this week and pump your team up!
Dark Horse: Blake Jarwin (DAL) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Dallas Cowboys utilize several tight ends so it can be quite tricky. However, if we stick to recency bias, Jarwin is the guy to target this week. He led the team in yards last week, including Amari Cooper. True, the Dallas Cowboys were awful, but this week they get to play the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay’s defense hasn’t been terrible lately, but they are still a team to exploit. Don’t expect heavenly numbers from Jarwin. Just hope he gives you eight-to-10 fantasy points and keeps you competitive in your quest to be the champion in your league.
Best of luck. Thank you for your support and patience throughout this NFL season. I’ve enjoyed writing every word, every great take, and even every bad take. I might not know you, but believe me, I want you to win!