The fantasy football season has come down to this: it’s week 16 and 99.999999 percent of you are in your final week of the year. That’s right — the fantasy football finals are here.
Congratulations are in order to those of you that have made it this far. You obviously navigated your draft quite well, made meaningful season acquisitions and also had some luck along the way. You need all of these just to make it to this point.
So what players have led to the top of the fantasy mountain this season? Well according to Yahoo! Sports research, a whopping 81 percent of teams that are in its public league top 500 have Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey. The Stanford product and son of former Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey (he won a couple Super Bowls with John Elway in the late 90s if you don’t remember) was on average the second or third pick off the board in fantasy drafts this year. ESPN leagues had him going at #2 behind Saquon Barkley and Yahoo! had him averaged at #3 behind Barkley and Alvin Kamara — both of which were essentially busts at those spots this season.
Quarterbacks primarily score the most points in fantasy, yet McCaffrey was the #2 scorer overall and 15 fantasy points shy of tying this years #1 fantasy performer Lamar Jackson with 371 points. So who is the nearest positional player to McCaffrey? That’d be Saints wideout Michael Thomas at 263.5 points. In doing the math here, that means McCaffrey outscored his nearest competitor by 92.5 points. That’s almost unheard of to have that much of a gap.
Obviously you’re probably in your title game if you had Jackson as well, who is 70.5 points ahead of his nearest competitor in Deshaun Watson. If you have both Jackson and McCaffrey? Well, you might as well have your name etched on your trophy already.
Here’s my piece of advice for most of you playing for a title: don’t get cute with who you start and sit. Time and time again, too many people try and get cute with lineups come playoff time.
If you’ve got a guy like Drew Brees, you’re starting him regardless of the matchup. You’re not benching him for someone like Ryan Tannehill or Jimmy Garoppolo just because the matchup is inviting.
Likewise, you’re not benching Derrick Henry for Raheem Mostert either. But if you are and you end up losing, you’ve got no one to blame other than the person looking at you in the mirror.
I had one of my best weeks in a long time and went 8-2 last week, hitting on all but duds of Mark Ingram and Darren Waller.
That gets me back over .500 on the year with a 72-68 record. Onto championship week picks ...
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins. You’ve gotta love FitzMagic but odds are you’re not starting him in your fantasy championship. But if you’re one of those teams playing in runner-up contests and need a fill-in, Fitzpatrick might be one of your best options to consider.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins. The Ohio State rookie started the year out hot and cooled off quite a bit since. However the last two weeks have been double digit efforts, including last week’s five receptions for 125 yards and a score. I wouldn’t be shocked if he makes it three games in a row with a TD against the Giants.
AJ Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans. I had him here last week and he went off for eight receptions, 114 yards and a score. He’s racked up 78 fantasy points in the last four games alone. Those are elite numbers — let him lead you to a fantasy title.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles. Here’s my third rookie pick in a row as the Penn State runner racked up 19 carries for 122 yards and a score last week. The Eagles will be matching up with Dallas in an elimination game to get to the playoffs. If Jordan Howard is out once again, expect big things from Sanders once again.
Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams. I had him here last week but over the past three games, he’s racked up 26 receptions for 334 yards and three TDs. Yep, that’s good. It’s a bad matchup against the 49ers but I think he can reach double digit points again.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills. While I’ll personally cheering for the Bills to take down the Patriots on Saturday. I don’t think there’s going to be many points put up on the board as the Pats have started to show signs of its lockdown defense of late that went missing during the middle part of this season. Really hope you don’t have to rely on Allen to win your crown.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions. David Blough got his 15 minutes of fame on Thanksgiving Day and almost beat the Bears as the signal caller. Since then, Blough has been nothing short of abysmal and against a solid Denver defense this week, you’re not going to win your fantasy title with Golladay.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, San Francisco 49ers. Aside from two performances as a Niner this year — his first and last games among seven times he’s suited up — the veteran wideout hasn’t done a whole lot. They’ll be playing a Rams team that I think will be out to show that their embarrassing loss to Dallas was a fluke.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets. The Jets will take on Bell’s former team in Pittsburgh this week. The Steelers will make it a point to shut down him down to prove why they stood firm in contract negotiations last year. But again, you’re probably not in your title game if you had him to begin with.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons. Since coming back two weeks ago, Hooper has garnered seven measly fantasy points — a far cry from his TE1 production prior to missing a few games. It’s not a terrible matchup against Jacksonville this week but it’s clear that he still has nagging injuries making him less than 100 percent.