Feast or Famine: Ronald Jones, Justin Jackson, Duke Johnson (2021 Fantasy Football)
Frustrating is an apropos word to summarize the first week of fantasy football playoffs. It’s been hard to field a customary lineup with injuries and COVID-19 outbreaks knocking out numerous big names. As a result, several ancillary players produced Top 12 fantasy finishes at each position. My picks rose above the carnage last week – Gabe Davis and DeVante Parker finished as WR3 and WR13, respectively. My “famine” selections also befell with Michael Pittman and Donovan Peoples-Jones registering subpar performances. Pittman only recorded a single catch before being ejected in the third quarter of the game. Michael Carter, who didn’t get the expected volume, was my only miss. As the fluidity and chaos surrounding player availability ensue, let’s see if I can help some people snag a championship berth.
In this column, I analyze players with some of the most considerable variances (standard deviations) in the individual PPR rankings by my FantasyPros colleagues. Hopefully, these comparative assessments against the rankings will aid with fantasy lineup decisions, and I will try to include less obvious and trending players when possible. If you like my work, please follow me on Twitter.
Ronald Jones (TB)
ECR: RB15 – STDEV 3.8
Buccaneers starting RB Leonard Fournette is going on IR with a hamstring injury. After he exited the Week 15 game, Ronald Jones took over the backfield and looked explosive, averaging 7.9 yards per tote. In relief of Fournette in four games in 2020, Jones had weekly fantasy finishes of RB14, RB16, RB4, and RB15 in PPR scoring. Jones could see a ton of volume with Chris Godwin out for the season and Mike Evans questionable with a hamstring injury, particularly if Tampa Bay is leading against the Carolina Panthers.
Justin Jackson (LAC)
ECR: RB44 – STDEV 10.4
Justin Jackson is down the board at the time of this writing because most of the Fantasy Pros analysts submitted their rankings before the news broke about starter Austin Ekeler landing on the COVID-19 list. Jackson looked fantastic working alongside Ekeler last week, accumulating 99 scrimmage yards against a much-improved Kansas City Chiefs defense. Joshua Kelly should see some touches as well. Still, Jackson has RB1 upside if Ekeler is inactive against the Houston Texans on Sunday, as their defense is one of the league’s worst against runners. Ekeler himself didn’t sound optimistic about playing and recommended using his backup as well on his Ekeler’s Edge podcast with Liz Loza of Yahoo Sports on Thursday.
— Liz Loza (@LizLoza_FF) December 23, 2021
C.J. Uzomah (CIN)
ECR: TE17 – STDEV 2.5
Starting C.J. Uzomah may not be for the faint of heart as he has been pretty quiet, scoring double-digit fantasy points only three times this season. However, one of those times was against this week’s opponent, when he scored over 24 points against Baltimore in Week 7. The Ravens give up an average of nine fantasy points per game to the position, the seventh most in the league. Since coaches like to exploit favorable matchups, the tight end could have his number called once again. If you’re in a pinch, Uzomah has a good chance of finishing in the top 12 at the position this week.
Duke Johnson (MIA)
ECR: RB30 – STDEV 3.8
Duke Johnson rose from the depths of the practice squad for the performance of the ages as the team’s lead rusher last week. Johnson rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns in Miami’s win over the Jets. Johnson handled most of the work while Miles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed were both active, likely due to their lack of conditioning coming off the COVID list. However, it’s hard to tell how this backfield will play out moving forward. Johnson’s production has been very fluky in the past, and he should fall back down to earth when the Dolphins take on a Saints defense that is the league’s finest against fantasy backs.
Matt Ryan (ATL)
ECR: QB22 – STDEV 2.6
It might be tempting to start Matt Ryan in what should be a cake matchup against the Detroit Lions, but he has been pedestrian for fantasy, even against weaker defenses. He only has six multiple touchdown games this season and two 200-yard efforts over the last six contests. It is also concerning that RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson‘s role in the passing game has diminished lately. Ryan is not a recommended start in single QB leagues.
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