Studs, Duds, & Sleepers: Week 18

January 7, 2022

Here we are…the first ever Week 18 of the NFL football season – exciting for football fans, not exciting for fantasy owners playing in a championship game this weekend! With all the players likely to sit out or play reduced minutes, this has been the hardest week for the staff to put together a quality list, and if you find yourself in a championship game this weekend, I recommend you have a stern “talking to” with your league manager to shorten the season.

Regardless, I am here to try and help you lift the trophy, so this week’s ‘Studs, Duds, and Sleepers’ is mainly based on who I think will/will not play a full and meaningful game. So, let’s roll that beautiful Week 18 ‘Studs, Duds, and Sleepers’ footage! 

Studs:

Quarterbacks:

Josh Allen, Buf (vs. Jets):  

Allen was brutal last week, but the Bills want to win the division to guarantee a home playoff game and they get a team in the Jets, that have absolutely nothing to play for.

Patrick Mahomes, KC (at Broncos): 

The Broncos have a very solid defense, but like the Jets, have nothing to play for. On the other hand, with a win Saturday night, the Chiefs will keep their hopes alive for the AFC’s number one seed. Mahomes will start, how long he plays though could be determined by how close the game is.

Others receiving votes:

Justin Herbert, LAC (at Raiders): 

Depending on how things shakeup earlier in the day, this late night matchup could be a game where the winner goes to the playoffs and the loser goes home. As a result, I look for a shootout and like a lot of the players in this one.

 

Running backs:

Jonathan Taylor, Ind (vs. Jaguars): 

Like many of the others on this week’s ‘Duds’ list, Taylor and the Colts have everything to play for and are going up against a team – the Texans – who not only suck in general, but have nothing to play for. If the Colts get up big early, they would be smart to pull Taylor. But, if they are up big early, it is likely because of a big day from Taylor. 

Austin Ekler, LAC (at Raiders): 

The Chargers are likely playing for their playoff lives Sunday night, so fantasy owners shouldn’t have to worry about guys like Ekler, Herbert, Allen, etc. should be going all out. 

Others receiving votes:

Alvin Kamara, NO (at Falcons): 

The Saints still have a shot at the playoffs and the Falcons and their crappy defense do not. If the Saints are smart, they will ride Kamara early and often.

 

Pass Catchers:

Cooper Kupp, LAR (vs. 49ets): 

Not only do the Chargers have seeding to play for, Kupp has some records to go for as well, and I imagine McVay and Stafford will try and get him those records. 

Travis Kelce, KC (at Broncos): 

The Chiefs need a win this weekend, and that should mean getting the ball to their best player not named Mahomes…Kelce. 

Others receiving votes:

Hunter Renfrow, LV (vs. Chargers): 

The Raiders only chance to get into the playoffs is with a win, so look for them to empty the playbook this week. That could mean a big game for Carr, Renfrow, Jacobs, etc.

 

Duds:  

Quarterbacks:

Aaron Rodgers, GB (at Lions): 

Rodgers is expected to play, and if he does, it is hard to sit him, but I think you have to. Even if he plays, how long do you expect him to play? A half? Maybe. I suspect the Packers offense – with or without Rodgers – is going to be run, run, run, and then run some more.

Tom Brady, TB (vs. Panthers):

Like Rodgers, Brady will likely play, but again, for how long? Do you trust the Bucs to keep Brady in a full game? And even if they do, do you really think they are going to let him drop back more than 20 times? I doubt it.

Others receiving votes:
Tua Tagovailoa, Mia (vs. Patriots):  

The Dolphins have nothing to play for and get the hoodie coming to town with everything to play for. Bad combo.

 

Running backs:

Saquon Barkley, NYG (vs. Football Team): 

The Giants offense right now resembles something from the days where players wore leather helmets…no forward passing. Unfortunately, the plays and line is so bad, Barkley can’t even do anything with all his touches. This team is getting worse and has nothing but a meaningless game against a nameless football team standing between them and the offseason.

James Robinson, Jax (vs. Colts): 

Jags = bad team in turmoil with nothing to play for. Colts = good team with lots to play for. Translation, don’t play any Jags players.

Others receiving votes:

D’Andre Swift, Det (vs. Packers): 

If you were the Lions, why would you play Swift? They have nothing to play for and he is the best player on their team and is still recovering from an injury. If they play him at all, it should be limited. Don’t tie your championship chances to Swift. 

 

Pass Catchers:

Jaylen Waddle, Mia (vs. Patriots): 

See my reasons above for not playing Tua. 

Jamar Chase, Cin (at Browns): 

The Bengals have little to play for – the one (and two) seeds are both long shots – and Burrow isn’t playing. I expect Chase to play for a little bit, but not long and this will likely be a run heavy offense this week. I would sit all Bengals players. r 

Others receiving votes:

Davante Adams, GB (at Lions): 

Like Rodgers, they are saying he will play, but for how long? I doubt more than a half. He isn’t worth the risk.

 

 

Sleepers:

The Ravens Starting Quarterback (vs. Steelers): 

The Steelers and Ravens both have a shot at the seven seed, so this game matters beyond the divisional rivalry. The Steelers defense – particularly the run defense – sucks and all of the Ravens quarterbacks can run and throw.  

Ryan Tannehill, Ten (at Texans): 

Unless the Chiefs lose Saturday (doubtful), the Titans just need a win over the lowly Texans to get the number one seed in the AFC. I expect the Texans to be very uninspired in this game. 

Ben Roethlisberger, Pit (vs. Ravens):

This gets a little dicey if his center and top receiver are indeed out, but with this likely being the last game of his career – and the playoffs on the line – I expect the Steelers to let Ben go out slinging it just like they did last week. That could be a good or bad thing if you play him.

 

Running backs:

Donta Foreman, Ten (at Texans): 

Foreman has been playing well and I look for the Titans to run the ball 35+ times on Sunday against this terrible and likely uninspired Texans front. 

Josh Jacobs, LV (vs. Chargers): 

Jacobs isn’t having a great season, but the Raiders season is on the line and their best way to beat the Chargers is to control the clock, keep Herbert off the field and take advantage of the Chargers porous run defense.

AJ Dillon, GB (at Lions): 

By halftime, I expect Rodgers, Adams, and Jones all to be wearing coats and the Packers offense feeding the Lions a heavy dose of Dillon…and kneecap biting won’t work against this guy.

 

Pass Catchers:

A.J. Green, AZ (vs. Seahawks):

The Cardinals have something to play for, the Seahawks pass defense sucks, and without Deandre Hopkins, Green is the Cardinals top receiver.  

Cole Beasley, Buf (vs. Jets): 

The deep passing game Buffalo is not easy in January, which means Allen will more than likely be dumping the ball off a lot this week…and that is where Beasley shines. 

Darnell Mooney, Chi (at Vikings)

The Bears don’t have anything to play for and their coach is likely to be fired by the time Sunday night football starts, but Andy Dalton is likely to start again, and he is auditioning. He wants to light it up and that should mean good things for Mooney. The Vikings have nothing to play for and their coach may be gone by Sunday night as well.

 

  • Categories: NFL

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