Welcome to Week 18, friends. As always, we're here to provide you with some fantasy football Quick Grades (or Start/Sit Grades, if you prefer) for the week.
We tapped into our consensus projections and rankings and Derek Brown’s weekly Primer to generate this week’s Quick Grades. See below for the results and accompanying notes.
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Week 18 QB Start/Sit Grades
|1||A+||Patrick Mahomes II||KC||LV|
|38||F||Gardner Minshew II||PHI||NYG|
Patrick Mahomes: Mahomes will be the highest-rostered quarterback on this two-game slate in DFS for a good reason. Mahomes is likely near the top in every statistical category, regardless of what leaderboard you peek at. Mahomes is second in PFF passing grade, fifth in fantasy points per dropback, fourth in yards per attempt, and sixth in adjusted completion rate (minimum 100 dropbacks). Mahomes should rip the Raiders apart through the air. Since Week 12, they have been 24th in passing yards per game, 19th in EPA per drop back, and 28th in explosive pass rate allowed.
Trevor Lawrence: Jacksonville should look to deploy a pass-heavy approach this week against Tennessee. Since Week 9, Lawrence has played at an inspired level ranking second in PFF passing grade, 11th in yards per attempt, and fourth in big-time throw rate (minimum 100 dropbacks). Since Week 12, Tennessee has been 32nd in success rate per dropback, 32nd in EPA per dropback, and 27th in fantasy points per game. Lawrence and Mahomes are my favorite quarterback plays for this slate.
Kirk Cousins: Before imploding last week against the Packers, Cousins had reeled off three straight games of at least 24 fantasy points, 299 passing yards, and two passing touchdowns. Look for Cousins to rebound with a stellar game this week. Cousins ranks fourth in passing yards, sixth in passing touchdowns, and top-ten in deep ball and red zone completion rates. Chicago has dissolved into a trainwreck pass defense. Since Week 12, they are 29th in success rate per dropback, 30th in EPA per drop back, and 23rd in explosive pass rate allowed.
Joe Flacco: In his brief three-game run as the Jet’s starter earlier this season, he tossed for at least 285 in every game while also posting a four-touchdown game. These numbers were fueled by Flacco averaging an insane 51.7 passing attempts per game. While I don’t expect him to come close to that number, it illustrates that the Jets have no qualms with letting him chuck it. Yes, the team was trailing for much of the day in two of those three games, but the point here is that Flacco should see a healthy passing volume. The weakness of the Dolphins’ defense resides through the air. Since Week 13, Miami has been 24th in passing yards per game, 28th in EPA per drop back, and 26th in explosive pass rate allowed.
Jalen Hurts: The QB1 in fantasy returns for a motivated battle with the Giants. Hurts finished this season top-ten in yards per attempt, fantasy points per dropback, and accuracy rating. His rushing upside could be curtailed this week as he protects his healing shoulder, but that doesn’t mean Hurts can’t still produce sexy passing numbers through the air. Hurts has tossed for 300-plus yards four times this season, including in two of his last three starts. Hurts also has three games this season with three or more passing touchdowns. Since Week 12, the Giants have been 18th in EPA per dropback, 16th in passing yards per game, and 19th in explosive pass rate allowed. Hurts was limited in practice all week (shoulder) and has been listed as questionable.
Brock Purdy: Purdy hasn’t flashed a massive ceiling, with only one 20-plus fantasy point game this season as the starter. Still, with multiple passing touchdowns and a season-high 284 passing yards in Week 17, it’s also arguable that we haven’t seen his absolute ceiling yet. Purdy ranks 18th in PFF passing grade, fifth in yards per attempt, and tenth in adjusted completion rate (minimum 100 dropbacks). The Cardinals could elicit a huge performance from Purdy. Since Week 12, they have been 21st in success rate per dropback and 15th in passing yards per game. The 49ers’ passing attack is built upon creating after the catch, and there’s no defense in the NFL that’s allowed receivers to do this more. Arizona ranks 32nd in YAC and 28th in missed tackles allowed.
Geno Smith: The last time Chef Geno faced the Rams, he broiled them with 367 passing yards, 9.4 yards per attempt, and three passing scores. Smith is ranked tenth in yards per attempt, 12th in fantasy points per dropback, and fourth in true completion rate. Smith should have another fantastic day against a secondary that, since Week 12, has been 31st in success rate per dropback, 27th in EPA per drop back, and 26th in explosive pass rate allowed.
Dak Prescott: Since Week 9, Prescott has ranked 14th in PFF passing grade, eighth in adjusted completion rate, eighth in yards per attempt, and 15th in big-time throw rate (minimum 100 dropbacks). Dallas could opt to lean on their rushing attack here. Since Week 12, Washington has ranked seventh in success rate per dropback, fifth in passing yards per game, and seventh in explosive pass rate allowed. Prescott is a large-field GPP play only.
Sam Howell: Howell makes his first NFL start this week. He’s an interesting GPP play. In the preseason, he ranked ninth in yards per attempt and seventh in aDOT, so Howell has no issues pushing the ball downfield. Add in his three preseason carries for 94 rushing yards, and we have a cheap Konami quarterback to cling to on this slate. Since Week 14, Dallas has struggled to defend the pass, with injuries crippling their secondary. They have been 30th in success rate per dropback, 29th in EPA per drop back, and 25th in explosive pass rate allowed. Howell will make it onto one of my three max teams this week.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant - which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections - to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much - we've got you covered this fantasy football season.
Week 18 WR Start/Sit Grades
|8||A||Amon-Ra St. Brown||DET||GB|
|27||B||Michael Pittman Jr.||IND||HOU|
|40||C+||DJ Chark Jr.||DET||GB|
|64||D||Richie James Jr.||NYG||PHI|
|67||D-||Terrace Marshall Jr.||CAR||NO|
|68||D-||Marvin Jones Jr.||JAC||TEN|
|78||F||Equanimeous St. Brown||CHI||MIN|
|95||F||Laviska Shenault Jr.||CAR||NO|
|98||F||Phillip Dorsett II||HOU||IND|
|102||F||Ray-Ray McCloud III||SF||ARI|
|107||F||Steven Sims Jr.||PIT||CLE|
|111||F||Velus Jones Jr.||CHI||MIN|
|116||F||Keelan Cole Sr.||LV||KC|
|129||F||James Proche II||BAL||CIN|
|130||F||Cedrick Wilson Jr.||MIA||NYJ|
|136||F||Michael Woods II||CLE||PIT|
|140||F||Stanley Berryhill III||DET||GB|
|161||F||Stanley Morgan Jr.||CIN||BAL|
CeeDee Lamb: Lamb is a true alpha wide receiver. He ranks seventh in target share, sixth in target per route run rate, and 11th in air-yard share among wide receivers. He is also seventh in deep targets and 17th in red zone targets. Lamb has logged 100 yards receiving in five of his last eight games. Lamb will run about 61% of his routes against Bobby McCain (83.3% catch rate, 96.7 passer rating).
Terry McLaurin: It’s possible, but unlikely, Trevon Diggs follows McLaurin in this game. Diggs has shadowed five times this season, but he didn’t shadow him in their first meeting. McLaurin has a 22.2% target share while ranking fourth in deep targets and 22nd in yards per route run. If McLaurin isn’t facing a shadow situation, he’ll run about 78% of his routes against Diggs (68.3% catch rate, 99.4 passer rating) and Nahshon Wright (61.9% catch rate, 64.6 passer rating). McLaurin is risky, with Ron Rivera stating that they want to get a look at some of the younger players this week, but he could be a risk worth taking.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown has vacuumed up targets all season. He ranks 11th in target share, second in target rate per route run and sixth in raw target volume among wide receivers. St. Brown is also fifth in red zone targets, fifth in YAC, and seventh in yards per route run. St. Brown will run about 60% of his routes against Darnell Savage (66.7% catch rate, 109.0 passer rating) in the slot.
Christian Watson: Battling through a hip issue, Watson still commanded a 19.2% target share and 48.5% air yard share while managing a 60.7% route run rate. Assuming Watson is healthier this week (limited in practice on Wednesday), he should return to his full-time role this week. In the full games he has played since his breakout in Week 10, Watson has a 23.4% target share, 50% end zone target share, 42.6% air yard share, and 2.92 yards per route run. Watson will run about 67% of his routes against Mike Hughes (74% catch rate, 132.3 passer rating) and Jerry Jacobs (55.8% catch rate, 71.0 passer rating).
JuJu Smith-Schuster: If you’re double stacking or loading up Mahomes with three pass catchers, Smith-Schuster and Toney should both be in your player pool. Smith-Schuster has a 17.8% target share (6.6 targets per game), 17.3% air yard share, and 15 red zone targets (14th among wide receivers). He ranks 11th in route run rate this season. Smith-Schuster will run about half of his routes in the slot. When inside he’ll match up with Tyler Hall (47.1% catch rate, 53.8 passer rating). When he’s on the perimeter, he’ll run routes against Amik Robertson (58.5% catch rate, 94.1 passer rating) and Nate Hobbs (72.6% catch rate, 109.7 passer rating).
Kadarius Toney: Toney has only played 30-32% of the snaps the last two games. In Week 17, he managed a 33.3% route run rate and 27% target per route run rate with 4.73 yards per route run (four targets, four receptions, 71 receiving yards). Since joining the Chiefs, Toney has a 27% target per route run rate and 3.23 yards per route run. He has three red zone looks over his last two games. While Toney might remain regulated to a part-time role, he has the efficiency to counteract the limited snap count. If he sees his playing time increase at least marginally, he could be one of the best plays of this small slate.
Davante Adams – Last week Adams hauled in seven of his 11 targets with 153 receiving yard and two scores. Adams doesn’t have a shot to secure the league wide receiving yardage title, but he is 13 receptions away from setting the Raiders’ single season mark for receptions. He also needs two more receiving touchdowns to tie Art Powell for the franchise record for a season. While these aren’t contract incentives, Adams could still be motivated for the ink in the record books or McDaniels could lean into it if Adams is close in game. Adams does carry the risk that he won’t play a full complement of snaps as well. Adams led wide receivers this year with a 32.9% target share while ranking second in deep targets and fifth in red zone targets. Adams was also eighth in yards per route run. Adams will run about 67% of his routes against Trent McDuffie (52.6% catch rate, 83.4 passer rating) and Jaylen Watson (66.7% catch rate, 100.0 passer rating).
Treylon Burks: Last week with Doubs under center, Burks had a 21.1% target share with an end zone target, a 76.2% route run rate, and 2.06 yards per route run (66 receiving yards). Burks is the Titans’ best instrument to move the ball in the passing game. He is 21st in yards per route run and 12th in route win rate. Burks will run about 84% of his routes against Tyson Campbell (since Week 11: 58.6% catch rate, 94.6 passer rating) and Darious Williams (Since Week 11: 42.3% catch rate, 69.2 passer rating). Since Week 11, the Jaguars have permitted the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to boundary wide receivers. While this is horrible for Burks, he has the overcome the bad matchup if Tennessee fuels him with volume.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: Here’s your seemingly thin, rando play of the slate. Westbrook-Ikhine only garnered two targets last week, but he’s a strong matchup play this week. Westbrook-Ikhine managed a 71.4% route run rate last week despite the limited targets. With two games of 72 or more yards receiving and eight or more targets this season, Westbrook-Ikhine has shown the ability to pop off for good games when the situation calls for it. He’ll run about 60% of his routes against the ever-burnable Tre Herndon (77.3% catch rate, 115.2 passer rating). Since Week 11, the Jaguars have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers.
Tee Higgins: Higgins has an 18.6% target share, a 27.5% air yard share, and 12 red zone targets (29th). He ranks 26th in open rate. Higgins is 24th in PFF receiving grade and 16th in yards per route run (59.8% of his target volume has come against zone) against zone coverage (minimum 15 zone targets). A premium Burrow double stack for this slate. Sign me up. Higgins will run about 80% of his routes against Humphrey and Stephens.
Drake London: Since Week 13, London has been seventh in targets per game (ten targets per game) with a 38.1% target share, a 50% end zone target share, a 45.6% air yard share, and 2.93 yards per route run. London ranks 21st among 82 qualifying wide receivers in open rate. Last week London ran 48% of his routes from the slot, which was a season-high, so we’ll see if that takes place again this week. If so, he’ll match up with Antoine Winfield (69.2% catch rate, 105.3 passer rating) for half of the game. London has run 80% of his routes on the perimeter this season, so he could easily see Jamel Dean (50.7% catch rate, 82.4 passer rating) and Sean Murphy-Bunting (61.1% catch rate, 86.7 passer rating) all day.
Jakobi Meyers: With Damien Harris returning last week, the Patriots’ backfield has reverted to a split workload situation, so Meyers is the only Patriot I’m investing in. In the ten games Meyers has played at least 80% of the snaps, he has had a 25.4% target share, a 28.9% air yard share, an 85.7% route run rate, and 2.18 yards per route run. Meyers has two red zone targets and two touchdowns over his last two games. Meyers ranks 21st out of 82 qualifying wide receivers in open rate. Meyers will run about 69% of his routes against Taron Johnson (72.7% catch rate, 108.7 passer rating). Since Week 12, the Bills have allowed the tenth-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers. Meyers was limited in practice all week (shoulder). He's been listed as questionable. I expect him to be a full-go.
Chris Moore: While Moore hasn’t come close to matching his amazing Week 14 stat line, that’s not why he makes the Primer this week. Moore has played 52-68% of the snaps from the slot over the last two weeks. The Colts have been bleeding fantasy points to opposing slot receivers. Since Week 13, without Kenny Moore, the Colts have allowed the most fantasy points per game to slot receivers. Since Week 15, Moore has had a 17.2% target share, a 20% end zone target share, a 22.3% air yard share, and two red zone targets. Moore will match up against Jullian Blackmon (84.6% catch rate, 141.2 passer rating).
Week 18 RB Start/Sit Grades
|5||A||Kenneth Walker III||SEA||LAR|
|9||A||Travis Etienne Jr.||JAC||TEN|
|29||C||Jeff Wilson Jr.||MIA||NYJ|
|81||F||Pierre Strong Jr.||NE||BUF|
|84||F||Larry Rountree III||LAC||DEN|
|86||F||Ronald Jones II||KC||LV|
|90||F||Benny Snell Jr.||PIT||CLE|
|93||F||Patrick Taylor Jr.||GB||DET|
|108||F||Anthony McFarland Jr.||PIT||CLE|
|112||F||Duke Johnson Jr.||BUF||NE|
|117||F||John Kelly Jr.||CLE||PIT|
Zack Moss: Since Week 15, Moss has been in the driver’s seat for the Colts’ backfield playing 59-69% of the snaps while averaging 17.3 touches and 75 total yards. Moss has only two targets over the last two weeks, so if you’re playing Moss, it’s for his rushing equity. Moss has run well over the last two weeks. Since Week 16, among 54 rushers with at least ten carries, he has been 19th in yards after contact, sixth in missed tackles forced, and 11th in PFF’s elusive rating. The Texans remain a wretched run defense that even Moss might be able to take advantage of. Since Week 12, they have been 26th in rushing yards per game, 29th in explosive run rate, and 20th in explosive run rate allowed. Moss should flirt with 20 opportunities this week.
Jeff Wilson: Wilson has resumed his lead-back role over the last two weeks playing 60-65% of the snaps averaging 14 touches and 58 total yards. Mostert has out-touched him in the red zone (five vs. three) over the last two weeks, so that’s a concern for Wilson. Wilson held the advantage in rushing attempts and routes last week, though. The pass-game usage was nice to see for Wilson last week. Wilson ranks fifth in yards per reception, 13th in yards per touch, and tenth in breakaway run rate. Since Week 12, New York ranks 23rd in rushing yards per game and 24th in explosive run rate allowed.
D’Onta Foreman: Last week was a down week in the Foreman rollercoaster saga. That means the train is due for one more exhilarating ride before returning to the station, right? As I’ve outlined in previous Primers, Foreman has been an all-or-nothing play. Since Week 8 (nine games), he has had four games with at least 21 carries and 113 rushing yards, but in four other games in this sample, he didn’t reach 14 carries or 40 rushing yards. Foreman is 14th in yards after contact per attempt, 15th in breakaway rate, and 29th in PFF elusive rating (minimum 75 carries). Since Week 12, New Orleans has been 22nd in rushing success rate, 23rd in EPA per rush, and 19th in yards per carry allowed.
Najee Harris: Harris has looked like a different back down the stretch. Since Week 10, he’s averaged 19.6 touches and 87.5 total yards. Over his last eight games, he ranks 20th in yards after contact per attempt, third in missed tackles forced, and eighth in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 50 rushing attempts). Since Week 12, the Browns have been 17th in rushing success rate, 21st in rushing yards per game, and 25th in explosive run rate allowed.
Miles Sanders: Since Week 12, Sanders has averaged 16.6 touches and 85.6 total yards per game. Last week he played his lowest snap mark (40%) of the season, so there’s some risk here that the Eagles limit him. If they don’t, then Sanders can smash. He torched this run defense with 144 rushing yards and two scores in Week 14. Sanders ranks third in red zone touches, 12th in evaded tackles, and 12th in breakaway runs. Since Week 12, the Giants have ranked 27th in rushing success rate, 29th in rushing yards per game, and 32nd in explosive run rate allowed.
Kenneth Walker: The Seahawks have been limiting Walker’s overall snaps over the last two weeks (53-57%) by pulling him off the field in passing situations (27.8% route run rate) as he plays through injury. That doesn’t mean the team has limited his volume. Since Week 16, Walker has averaged 24.5 carries and 120 rushing yards. He’s been effective with at least 3.25 yards after contact per attempt in two of his last three games. The Rams have also declined as a run defense recently without Aaron Donald. Since Week 12, they have been 26th in rushing success rate, 22nd in rushing yards per game, and 26th in EPA per rush.
Cam Akers: AKERS IS BACK! If you’ve read the Primer, you know this isn’t a new development. I’ve been tooting the Akers horn for weeks. Over the last two games, he averaged 22.5 touches and 140 yards. Since Week 10, Akers has been ranked 18th in yards after contact per attempt, sixth in missed tackles forced, and fourth in PFF’s elusive rating (minimum 40 carries). Since Week 12, Seattle has been 28th in rushing success rate, 31st in rushing yards per game, and 23rd in explosive run rate allowed.
Ezekiel Elliott: In the last three games played with Pollard active, Elliott has averaged 17.7 touches and 71 total yards. Elliott’s touchdown streak remains intact, as he’s scored in each of the last nine games (11 total touchdowns). Elliott ranks 32nd in evaded tackles, 40th in breakaway run rate, and 55th in yards created per touch. Since Week 12, Washington has been 18th in rushing success rate, 25th in rushing yards per game, and 28th in explosive run rate allowed. Elliott won’t make it on my single entry or three-max teams from the jump, but he’s a solid MME play or late swap candidate.
Tony Pollard: Since Week 14, Pollard has played at least 53% of the snaps weekly, averaging 17.4 touches and 82.6 total yards. Pollard remains one of the most efficient running backs in the league. He’s ranked seventh in fantasy points per opportunity, third in yards per route run, sixth in yards per touch, and third in breakaway runs. Pollard is a smash play.
Week 18 TE Start/Sit Grades
|41||F||Donald Parham Jr.||LAC||DEN|
Robert Tonyan: Tonyan has been a ghost for most of the season, with a 12.5% target share and only three TE1 weeks. Tonyan gets mentioned here because the matchup is mouthwatering. Detroit ranks 26th in fantasy points per game and 29th in catch rate allowed to tight ends. Detroit has surrendered the most touchdowns (11) to tight ends this season.
Travis Kelce: Just pull out a spoon and eat the Kelce chalk on this small slate. Kelce will carry one of the highest rostership percentages in this two-game slate. While I don’t disagree with it at all, there’s also leverage to be had by building lineups with two Mahomes’ pass catchers not named Kelce. This is also a slate that presents double tight end as an option for lineup building. Kelce has a 24.7% target share (third-best) while ranking eighth in deep targets and first in red zone targets among tight ends. Las Vegas ranks 22nd in fantasy points per game and catch rate allowed to tight ends. They have surrendered the ninth-most receiving touchdowns to the position.
Darren Waller: Waller has not played a full-time role since his return. Since Week 15, he has had a 13.8% target share with a 58.8% route run rate. Waller has played 40-57% of the snaps over the last three games. He’s been immensely efficient with a 2.66 yards per route run, but he’s only drawn one red zone look. Waller is in play, but he’s TE3 or TE4 on this slate. The Chiefs are 21st in DVOA against tight ends, allowing the fifth-most receiving touchdowns to the position.
Austin Hooper: I know. You were expecting Chigziem Okonkwo’s name here, right. Sadly Okonkwo only ran eight routes last week, while Hooper saw a beautiful 66.7% route run rate and 15.8% target share (six targets). Hooper is a fantastic contrarian play. Jacksonville is 31st in DVOA, allowing the tenth-highest catch rate, third-highest yards per reception, and fifth-most receiving yards to tight ends.
Evan Engram: Toss the last game out for the same reasons that we’re disregarding Etienne’s Week 17 performance. Engram destroyed this defense the last time he faced them with 15 targets, 11 receptions, and 162 receiving yards (two touchdowns). This is why he could rival Kelce as the most popular tight end on the slate (or at least get close). In Weeks 13-16, Engram played at an elite level with a 27% target share, 18.2% end zone target share, 77% route run rate, and 2.89 yards per route run. If Kirk and Jones don’t crush Tennessee, Engram certainly can. Tennessee ranks 32nd in receiving yards, 29th in receptions, and 28th in yards per reception allowed to tight ends.
Mark Andrews: With Huntley under center, Andrews has had a 33.3% target share (6.8 targets per game), a 30% air yard share, and 2.05 yards per route run. Andrews and Huntley finally got on the same page last week as Andrews secured all nine of his targets for 100 receiving yards. Since Week 11, the Bengals have been 21st in fantasy points per game and 25th in receiving yards per game allowed to tight ends.
David Njoku: With Watson under center, Njoku has had a 21.3% target share (5.8 targets per game), 80.3% route run rate, and 1.11 yards per route run. Njoku has nine red zone targets over his last four games. His touchdown equity in this offense has been massive even though, to this point, it’s only amounted to one score. Since Week 11, Pittsburgh has been 27th in catch rate, 23rd in fantasy points per game, and 24th in receiving yards per game allowed to tight ends.
Dallas Goedert: Since returning to the starting lineup, Goedert has filed in behind Brown and Smith for targets with a 13.5% target share (4.5 targets per game). The positive is that he has been playing every down with an 87.3% route run rate. It also has to be mentioned that the last two teams the Eagles have played have been strong against tight ends all season (DAL, NO). That’s definitely not the case with the Giants, who are 30th in catch rate, 24th in fantasy points per game, and 20th in yards per reception allowed to tight ends. Double stacking Hurts with Sanders, and Goedert is an easy way to be different with this slate and separate yourself from other Hurts stacks.
Week 18 D/ST Start/Sit Grades
|1||A+||San Francisco 49ers||SF||ARI|
|4||B+||New York Jets||NYJ||MIA|
|5||B+||Los Angeles Chargers||LAC||DEN|
|6||B||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||LV|
|11||C+||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||TB||ATL|
|13||C+||New England Patriots||NE||BUF|
|19||C||Green Bay Packers||GB||DET|
|20||D+||New Orleans Saints||NO||CAR|
|26||F||Los Angeles Rams||LAR||SEA|
|30||F||New York Giants||NYG||PHI|
|31||F||Las Vegas Raiders||LV||KC|
Week 18 K Start/Sit Grades
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant - which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections - to our Waiver Wire Assistant - that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much - we've got you covered this fantasy football season.
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