Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Gabriel Davis, Jaret Patterson, Marquez Callaway (2021)
If you’re reading this, good luck. You’re about to brave uncharted waters and determine your fantasy football championship in Week 18.
While it goes against the industry norm, some leagues don’t skip the final week, where stars are occasionally rested for the playoffs and some bottom-dwellers
tank audition their reserves for the following year. Those who have bucked convention by playing all 17 weeks are now gearing up for one more, as the NFL added another to the schedule this season.
On the bright side, most playoff clubs teams should remain motivated for the final weekend. However, managers can’t count on anybody from the Packers, who locked down the NFC’s No. 1 spot Sunday night. The Cowboys and Buccaneers have also clinched their divisions with no first-round bye at stake, but Mike McCarthy said Dallas will “play to win the game.” They might not need a full game from their starters to do so, as the Eagles clinched a wild-card spot before multiple players tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
You may have heard analysts tell managers to “dance with the one that brought you” and start your studs. That thinking flies out the window for Week 18, where chaos will reign supreme and waiver-wire finds will decide who prevails.
Note: Rostered percentages provided via Yahoo leagues.
Top 5 Waiver Targets of Week 18
Gabriel Davis (WR – BUF): 25% Rostered
A change in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols made Davis eligible to play Week 17. He caught just his three targets for 40 yards during a 29-15 victory that saw Josh Allen muster a season-low 120 passing yards alongside three interceptions. Buffalo’s passing offense should bounce back in Week 18, and Davis could reap the rewards.
The Bills, who have already clinched a playoff spot, can capture the AFC East with a win over the Jets. Before getting sidelined, Davis emerged as Buffalo’s No. 2 receiver, recording 158 receiving yards and four touchdowns in three games with a significant playing-time boost in Weeks 14 and 15. He’s a major end-zone threat against the NFL’s 29th-ranked passing defense. Davis only needed three targets on a 52% snap rate to post a season-high 102 yards in Week 10’s 45-17 victory over the Jets.
Jaret Patterson (RB – WAS): 25% Rostered
Antonio Gibson‘s missed Sunday’s game after landing on the COVID-19 list earlier in the week. In his place, Patterson ran for 57 yards and a touchdown in 12 carries. Despite entering the game with 18 receiving yards all season, he secured all five targets for 41 more yards. The powerful rookie’s fantasy viability mainly depends on Gibson’s availability, but it makes sense to give Patterson more work. After all, Washington is eliminated from playoff contention, and Gibson battled shin injuries all year.
If getting another start, Patterson is a significant Week 18 difference-maker against a Giants team that didn’t even try to throw the football in a 26-point loss.
Taysom Hill (QB – NO): 46% Rostered
After missing Week 16’s embarrassing Monday Night Football loss on the COVID list, Hill went 17-of-28 for 222 passing yards, a touchdown, and a team-high 45 rushing yards in his return. He’s averaging 19.5 fantasy points in four starts, a rate only 11 regular starting quarterbacks have exceeded this season. It’s also right in line with the 20.0 fantasy points the opposing Falcons have allowed to quarterbacks. The Saints can still sneak into a playoff with a win and 49ers loss, so Hill’s red-zone rushing proficiency makes him a top-10 play in Week 12.
Marquez Callaway (WR – NO): 26% Rostered
Callaway has caught 12 of 19 targets for 209 yards in Hill’s last two starts. He also caught a touchdown from Trevor Siemian in New Orleans’ Week 9 loss to Atlanta. The second-year pro trails only DeSean Jackson for the NFL’s highest average depth of target, and he’s shown the ability to haul in some high-difficulty contested catches.
Marquez Callaway showing off the HANDS 🙌
— NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2022
Callaway is a deep threat and the clear top wide receiver on a team fighting for the playoffs. They’re playing inside a dome against a defense that has surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers. He’s perfectly positioned to end the season strong and cement his status as a popular 2022 breakout pick.
Braxton Berrios (WR – NYJ): 7%
Berrios has become a vital and versatile member of the Jets’ offense, scoring two rushing, one receiving, and one kickoff return touchdown in the last three games. He’s received 29 targets over the last four games, including 12 in Week 17’s near upset over Tampa Bay. The Jets are looking semi-competent offensively, so look for them to open up the playbook in an attempt to play spoiler at Buffalo. That could mean another busy day for Berrios with Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Elijah More all sidelined.
Notable Players 36-50% Rostered
Carson Wentz (QB – IND): 47%
The Colts backed themselves into a Week 18 win-and-in situation to snag a wild-card spot. Luckily for them, they should have little trouble doing just that against the Jaguars. Jonathan Taylor may score 12 touchdowns, but Wentz should also have a decent day against a defense allowing a 102.3 quarterback rating and NFL-high 70.0% completion rate.
Tennessee Titans (D/ST): 42%
Following a 35-3 onslaught over the Dolphins, the Titans have compiled 12 sacks, seven interceptions, and one fumble recovery in their last four games. They can clinch a first-round bye as the AFC’s No. 1 seed by beating the Texans. That’s no given, as the Texans upset Tennessee on the road in Week 11. Houston is playing well, but not well enough to run from a red-hot defense with considerable motivation to win.
Notable Players 10-35% Rostered
Trey Lance (QB – SF): 32%
Lance only ran for 31 yards in relief of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, but he still delivered a respectable fantasy streaming line anyway with 249 passing yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Garoppolo could use time off to repair a torn UCL and fracture of his right thumb, which will likely require offseason surgery. Lance still has matchup-breaking rushing upside despite not displaying it Sunday, so the rookie is once again a high-upside QB2 for managers who need to swap out Aaron Rodgers, but can’t add Hill.
Rex Burkhead (RB – HOU): 30%
Burkhead has 63 touches in the last three games. Although he followed a great Week 16 with an inefficient Week 17, sheer volume yielded 69 total yards with six catches for PPR gamers. He’ll get a difficult matchup against Tennesse’s second-ranked rushing defense, so consider Burkhead a fall-back flex play if you don’t want to mess with a star on a division champion not in contention for a first-round bye.
Dontrell Hilliard (RB – TEN): 28%
The Titans are playing for home-field advantage throughout the AFC against the NFL’s worst rushing defense. Although D’Onta Foreman has planted his flag as the primary runner until Derrick Henry returns (potentially as soon as this week), Hilliard has averaged 7.8 carries and 4.2 targets for 63.2 total yards over the last six games. Assuming Henry doesn’t come off the IR in Week 18, Hilliard could replicate last week’s 78 yards and a touchdown on 11 touches if the Titans take care of business with a statement win.
Washington (D/ST): 25%
Washington’s defense may be the league’s most disappointing unit. It enters the final week ranked 26th in yards allowed and 28th in scoring. Remember when the Football Team surrendered 56 points at Dallas? You should, because it just happened in Week 16. Whatever. None of that matters since Washington is facing the Giants. The Giants have scored 52 points in their last five games (all losses) without Daniel Jones. During this embarrassing stretch, Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm have combined to throw nine interceptions and get sacked 12 times. They just had as many completed passes as turnovers (four) in a 29-3 loss to Chicago.
T.Y. Hilton (WR – IND): 18%
It’s hard to get too excited about a wide receiver yet to exceed five targets or four catches in a game all season, but Hilton has found the end zone in consecutive weeks. (The last one was mainly blind luck.) He’s nevertheless a high-upside play in non-PPR formats against a Jaguars team that seemed to start their offseason early before last weekend’s 50-10 loss at New England.
Kenneth Gainwell (RB – PHI): 11%
Boston Scott and Jordan Howard were among the many Eagles to test positive for COVID-19 on Monday. Given the NFL’s new protocols, they could be cleared in time for Saturday’s game if they are asymptomatic and test negative. Miles Sanders, meanwhile, is not expected to return from a broken hand in Week 18. If all three are out, Gainwell will get an extended audition. Since the Eagles are the No. 6 or 7 seed regardless of Saturday’s outcome, they might as well take advantage of this opportunity to give the rookie some work.
Notable Players <10% Rostered
Zay Jones (WR – LVR): 1%
Jones has suddenly leapfrogged Hunter Renfrow‘s as Derek Carr‘s primary option, catching 25 of 34 targets over the last four games. It didn’t translate to significant fantasy results until producing 120 yards on eight catches last Sunday. With at least 11 PPR points in each of the last three games, Jones is a high-floor option in a win-and-in matchup against the Chargers. He’d be worthy of a high-priority add if not for Darren Waller potentially returning and reclaiming a major target share.
John Bates (TE – WAS): 1%
Honestly, there aren’t any good tight ends available. Ricky Seals-Jones got carted off the field Sunday after colliding with a camera operator. While Washington head coach Ron Rivera said Seals-Jones is fine, that doesn’t mean he will (or should) return to play a game with nothing but draft positioning on the line. Bates has 80 yards and a touchdown in the last two games and played 58 of the Washington offense’s 63 snaps.
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