The intro to this column is typically about some big storyline from that Sunday's games – injuries to big-name players or some outlier performance from an unknown player who will be the talk of the Fantasy town in the coming week.
However, we're down to the last week of the NFL regular season, with most Fantasy leagues already having had their championship game, and most NFL teams don't really have anything concrete to play for. In the NFC, for example, there are only four teams left alive for two playoff spots, and one of them could see their season end Sunday night if the Vikings don't win. In the AFC, five teams are still alive for the postseason, however, that number would drop to four if the Steelers lose Monday night. There's still seeding to be sorted out, but only two division titles remain in doubt at this point, though the No. 1 seed in both conferences is still up for grabs, for what it's worth.
Which is all to serve as a friendly reminder that, whatever the Fantasy landscape looks like Sunday night/Monday morning, it'll look a lot different next Sunday when teams are resting players, something we see every year, from good and bad teams with nothing left to play for. Which always makes it one of the toughest weeks of the season for Fantasy, and that'll be especially true with COVID outbreaks still spreading throughout the league.
So, just fair warning, this is why we tell people not to play Week 18 with the championship on the line. That being said, here are some of the early waiver-wire targets I'll be looking at coming out of Sunday's games:
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Trey Lance QB
SF San Francisco • #5
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
It wasn't a performance that makes Lance fated to be a future superstar, but it was a good sign of what he's capable of for Fantasy. Lance was efficient throwing the ball to his bevy of elite playmakers, and finished with 20-plus Fantasy points despite not doing a ton on the ground. One thing that helped – his 11.5 air yards per attempt were the highest by a 49ers QB in the past three seasons. We know he's more than capable of that, so if he starts in Week 18, I'll feel pretty confident in him, even against the Rams.
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Berrios might be playing himself into the Jets 2022 plans of late. He led the team in receptions, yards, and targets Sunday and scored his second and third touchdowns in three weeks. He's not a superstar, but he could be the short/medium-term replacement for Jamison Crowder, and while Elijah Moore could return in Week 18, I would expect Berrios to continue to play a significant role. He looks like a top-36 WR in PPR.
Zay Jones WR
JAC Jacksonville • #7
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Jones has stepped up with Darren Waller sidelined, but Sunday was his best game yet. In fact, it was arguably the best game of his career – he matched a career-high in catches and had his first 100-yard game ever. He has 342 yards on 33 catches over his past six games and belongs in the WR3 discussion for Week 18 against the Chargers in a win-or-go-home matchup against the Chargers. That's two teams that definitely have something to play for.
SEA Seattle • #18
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The Jaguars don't have anything to play for beyond pride, generally, but Treadwell might be playing for his NFL career at this point, and he might just be playing his way onto a roster after stepping up in light of the Jaguars injuries. He had 50 yards in five straight games entering Sunday and has pretty consistently been their best wide receiver since midseason. Week 18 against the Colts isn't an ideal matchup, but then, neither was Week 17 against the Patriots. He'll be in the same range as Jones.
Le'Veon Bell RB
TB Tampa Bay • #6
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
We'll see if Ronald Jones' ankle injury is serious, but Bell and Ke'Shawn Vaughn could both be in play next week. I think I would lean Bell's way just because he played a similar amount of snaps as Vaughn in Week 17 despite being new to the team, and he got a key two-point conversion rush late in the game, but both could be in the RB3 discussion, especially in PPR.
DEN Denver • #11
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Callaway was one of the biggest risers in the preseason, but he quickly faded to Fantasy irrelevance once the games started to count. However, he's another player who could be playing himself into a 2022 role with his play of late. Callaway earned 10 targets on 28 pass attempts (36% target share), and had 255 yards on 16 catches over his past three games. With a great matchup on the way against Atlanta – who he scored a touchdown against in Week 9 – Callaway is an intriguing flier for the season finale.
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