RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 18

Fri Jan 7 10:04am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

Related photo caption below

Taylor should get big workload


We’ve reached the final week of the NFL regular season. With many playoff spots already locked up, we could see some teams with championship aspirations rest some key players. With that in mind, let’s highlight some players to consider for your DFS lineups, as well as a few to possibly avoid.

Quarterbacks

Justin Herbert, LAC at LV ($6,800): This game is simple for the Chargers. If they win, they are in the playoffs. There is also an unlikely scenario in which both teams would make the playoffs if this game finished in a tie and the Jaguars upset the Colts. However, don’t expect the Colts to lose, or the Chargers and Raiders to play for a tie, even if they do. Herbert has thrown at least two touchdown passes six of his last seven games and threw for three scores when these two teams met in Week 4.

Taysom Hill, NO at ATL ($6,200): Hill was busy on the ground again last week, rushing 12 times for 45 yards against the Panthers. He also threw for 222 yards and a score, marking just his second game with at least 200-passing yards and a touchdown. The Falcons have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which has included four rushing touchdowns to the position. That makes Hill someone to strongly consider for your entries.

Player to Avoid

Carson Wentz, IND at JAX ($5,800): Wentz is coming off of a rough performance against the Raiders in which he threw for 148 yards and one touchdown. With the Colts deploying a run-heavy offense, Wentz has attempted fewer than 30 passes in four straight games. During that stretch, he threw for fewer than 160 points three times. Expect the Colts to continue to lean heavily on Jonathan Taylor, leaving Wentz with limited upside.

Running Backs

Jonathan Taylor, IND at JAX ($9,200): The last time he faced the Jaguars, Taylor turned 21 carries into 116 yards and a touchdown. He has recorded at least 100 rushing yards seven of the last eight games, racking up a total of 12-rushing touchdowns during that stretch. With their playoff hopes on the line, there’s no reason to believe that the Colts won’t turn to Taylor early and often.

Samaje Perine, CIN at CLE ($5,300): The Bengals have already clinched a playoff spot, taking some of the pressure off of this game. It’s a good thing that they did, too, considering Joe Mixon tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. That should leave Perine to lead the Bengals’ backfield. While he hasn’t been involved much this season, he has registered at least 10 carries in a game twice. He finished with at least 52-rushing yards in both of the games, while also logging one touchdown.

Player to Avoid

Cordarrelle Patterson, ATL vs. NO ($6,400): Patterson has been a pleasant surprise for the Falcons this season, overtaking Mike Davis in the pecking order in the team’s backfield. However, he slowed down as the season has approached a close, rushing for a total of 60 yards over the last three games. The Saints have allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game in the league, so don’t look for Patterson to turn things around in this difficult matchup.

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp, LAR vs. SF ($9,600): The Rams have clinched a playoff spot and can wrap up the number two seed in the NFC with a win over the 49ers. They could fall down multiple spots with a loss, so don’t expect them to rest their starters. That could set up another juicy stat line for Kupp, who caught 11 of 13 targets for 122 yards against the 49ers in Week 10.

K.J. Osborn, MIN vs. CHI ($5,500): Even with Kirk Cousins on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week, Osborn caught three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown against the Packers. That marked the fourth time the last five games that he found his way into the end zone. With Cousins set to return, Osborn could shine against a Bears team that has allowed the second-most receiving touchdowns in the league to opposing wide receivers.

Player to Avoid

Davante Adams, GB at DET ($9,400): This game means nothing for the Packers, who have locked up the top seed in the NFC. They could rest several key veterans, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If Rodgers and Adams do play, they might not be on the field too much, making Adams way too risky at his lofty salary.

Tight Ends

Darren Waller, LV vs. LAC ($6,000): Waller (knee) may have been able to return last week had he not come down with COVID-19. He’s been activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list and has been practicing so far this week. With the Raiders’ season on the line, expect him to make every effort to get onto the field. If he does play, it’s a great matchup for him given that the Chargers have allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

Zach Ertz, ARI vs. SEA ($5,300): Although Ertz only finished with 41-receiving yards Week 17 against the Cowboys, he did catch nine passes. Across the last three games with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (knee) out, Ertz has a total of 21 receptions on 33 targets. That kind of target share could leave him with a big afternoon against a Seahawks team that has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.

Player to Avoid

Rob Gronkowski, TB vs. CAR ($6,300): Facing a familiar foe in the Jets last week, Gronkowski exploded for seven catches and 115 receiving yards. Prior to that, he had caught a total of three passes for 52 yards over the last two games. That included a matchup against these same Panthers in which he caught only one pass. With the Buccaneers possibly looking to keep him fresh for the playoffs, he could be in for a disappointing stat line against a Panthers defense that has already allowed the eighth-fewest receiving yards to opposing tight ends.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

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Lamar Jackson May 18 11:20pm ET
Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson remains in limbo regarding a new deal. The former MVP, who's slated to make over $23 million this year, may delay signing a new contract to receive a heftier salary down the line. If that's the case, Baltimore is then expected to utilize the franchise tag over the following season or two to keep him on the roster. Jackson's productivity declined during 2021, and he finished by racking up 2,882 passing yards, 767 rushing yards, 18 total touchdowns, and a career-high 13 interceptions. He did miss some time due to injury, so as long as he can remain healthy, he has the potential to run his way back into fantasy prominence, even without Marquise Brown on the roster. Nevertheless, more is likely to come surrounding this situation, although it shouldn't keep him from suiting up during the 2022-23 campaign.

From RotoBaller

Minkah Fitzpatrick May 18 11:00pm ET
Minkah Fitzpatrick

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has proven to be one of the most potent defensive backs in the league. Unsurprisingly, the 25-year-old is coming off another productive season, finishing 2021 with a career-high 124 total tackles (84 solo) along with two interceptions. Yet, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the organization "won't be rushed into a deal." Granted, that doesn't mean he won't receive one, although the Steelers may continue to play it cool over the next few months before making an offer. Nonetheless, this situation could spill into the Summer, and with Pittsburgh notorious for not negotiating during the season, a holdout may be possible. Fitzpatrick has been one of the best IDP options, so as long the contract situation doesn't keep him off the field, he should remain an elite fantasy asset.

From RotoBaller

Garrett Wilson May 18 1:50pm ET
Garrett Wilson

The New York Jets reached an agreement with first-round wide receiver Garrett Wilson on a four-year, fully guaranteed $20.55 million deal on Wednesday, according to a source. The Jets now have all three of their first-round picks under contract. Wilson went 10th overall to the Jets in this year's draft after recording 143 catches for 2,213 yards and 23 touchdowns in his time in Ohio State on 207 targets. The 21-year-old could struggle against more physical cornerbacks at the next level, but his athleticism and elite speed cannot be ignored. The Jets are hoping that Wilson can be a big-play threat immediately for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. The rookie wideout has plenty of upside, but he could be inconsistent in his first NFL season while fighting for targets alongside Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios.

From RotoBaller

Eli Apple May 18 10:40am ET
Eli Apple

The Cincinnati Bengals agreed to terms with first-round Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill on a four-year, fully guaranteed rookie deal on Wednesday, according to a source. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Hill was the 31st overall pick of the first round and mostly played safety in college, but he has the athleticism to play cornerback in the NFL. The 21-year-old could be an immediate upgrade over Eli Apple in the Bengals secondary in 2022 and beyond.

From RotoBaller

James Bradberry May 18 10:40am ET
James Bradberry

Former New York Giants Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal for $10 million on Wednesday, according to sources. It's a big-time post-draft addition for the Eagles secondary, and Bradberry will stay in the NFC East in 2022. The New York Giants released the 28-year-old just over a week ago, and it predictably didn't take the Pro Bowler long to find a new home. The Eagles didn't address cornerback in the draft, so Bradberry is a much-needed addition to the position. In his two seasons with New York, Bradberry had 81 solo tackles, seven interceptions, 35 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 32 games (31 starts).

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook May 18 10:30am ET
Dalvin Cook

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook could be more involved in the passing game this year, as he lined up in bunch wide receiver sets during organized team activities. "I don't want to just sit up here and tell y'all everything," Cook said. "We've got Green Bay Week 1, so we're gonna wait and see." It could just be something the new coaching staff is tinkering with, or it could be something the Vikings plan on unveiling in a bigger fashion come the regular season. The 26-year-old could be facing a suspension this year, but when he's available, he should be a no-doubt RB1 with even more appeal for fantasy managers in an offense that should be trending more towards the pass under new head coach Kevin O'Connell.

From RotoBaller

Troy Fumagalli May 18 10:30am ET
Troy Fumagalli

The San Francisco 49ers signed free-agent tight end Troy Fumagalli to an undisclosed one-year deal on Tuesday and released rookie tight end Garrett Walston in a corresponding move. Fumagalli was the longest-tenured NFL veteran at the team's rookie minicamp last weekend on a tryout basis. The 27-year-old was a fifth-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2018 out of Wisconsin, and he last played for Denver in 2020, when he had eight receptions on 15 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown in eight games (no starts). He missed all of last season with an undisclosed injury and has just 14 catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns in two NFL seasons. Fumagalli will provide depth behind tight ends George Kittle, Charlie Woerner and Ross Dwelley.

From RotoBaller

Tarik Cohen May 18 10:10am ET
Tarik Cohen

An MRI confirmed that free-agent running back Tarik Cohen (Achilles), who hasn't played in the NFL since he tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2020 season, ruptured his Achilles while live streaming a training session, according to a source. It's a tough break for the 26-year-old, who will most likely miss most, if not all, of the 2022 season. Cohen was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 2018 with the Chicago Bears in his second NFL season, and he caught a career-high 79 passes for 456 yards and three touchdowns on 104 targets in 2019, but his career has been derailed by injuries since 2020.

From RotoBaller

Tarik Cohen May 17 8:53pm ET
Tarik Cohen

Updating a previous report, free-agent RB Tarik Cohen (Achilles) suffered a torn Achilles' tendon during his workout Tuesday, May 17.

From TheHuddle

Jalen Tolbert May 17 8:10pm ET
Jalen Tolbert

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert has agreed to a four-year contract. The third-round rookie could be a legitimate threat early in the season. Michael Gallup (knee) is still recovering from an ACL injury, so Tolbert should see a decent amount of snaps. He finished with 82 receptions, 1,474 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns in 12 games during his final year at South Alabama. Tolbert sounds like someone who is worth snagging as a second or third round dynasty stash.

From RotoBaller

Trey McBride May 17 8:10pm ET
Trey McBride

Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride has agreed to a four-year contract. It sounds like the second-round is making roughly $6.3 million. McBride finished with 90 receptions, 1,1,21 receiving yards, and one touchdown during his final year at Colorado State. He was expected to have a minor role to start the season, but that has likely change. Superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is suspended to start the upcoming season, so McBride could have a bigger role in the offense. There's a chance that McBride ends up as a decent streaming option.

From RotoBaller

Raheem Mostert May 17 8:10pm ET
Raheem Mostert

Miami Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert (knee) is expected to be able to suit up to begin the season. Although, head coach Mike McDaniel mentioned that the organization isn't going to rush it. Mostert suffered a knee injury in September and is still recovering from it. Chase Edmonds figures to be the primary back, but that might not last too long. Myles Gaskin, Sony Michel, and Mostert should be in the mix as well. This sounds like a headache for fantasy managers heading into the season.

From RotoBaller

Velus Jones Jr. May 17 7:50pm ET
Velus Jones Jr.

Chicago Bears wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. has agreed to a four-year contract. The third round rookie figures to get plenty of attention this upcoming season. The Bears lack legitimate talent at wide receiver, so Jones could have a decent role. In 2021, Jones finished with 62 receptions, 807 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns during his senior year at Tennessee. The speedy wideout could be used in multiple roles, but we'll see how his game translates to the professional level.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee May 17 3:53pm ET
Tyler Higbee

Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (knee) started on-field work a couple of weeks ago after undergoing offseason surgery on the knee injury he suffered in the NFC Championship Game, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic.

From TheHuddle

Chris Godwin May 17 3:23pm ET
Chris Godwin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (knee) is 'better than where he was (in March) but not where he needs to be ... we don't put a timetable on it,' according to head coach Todd Bowles.

Fantasy Spin: Godwin tore his ACL in Week 15 of last season and is a candidate to be placed on the PUP list in training camp, but the odds are very good he'll be ready to play at some point in September - if not Week 1. The Penn State product may need a few weeks to find his old form, but he should return WR2 value if rediscovers it at some point during the second half of the season. Russell Gage could flirt with WR2 value until that happens.

From TheHuddle

Tarik Cohen May 17 2:33pm ET
Tarik Cohen

Free-agent RB Tarik Cohen (Bears) appeared to suffer a significant lower leg injury while training Tuesday, May 17. There has been some speculation from training video posted on social media that he may have torn his right Achilles.

From TheHuddle

Chris Godwin May 17 2:30pm ET
Chris Godwin

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said that there remains no timetable for wide receiver Chris Godwin's (knee) return. "Better than where he was but not where he needs to be we don't put a timetable on it," Bowles said. As expected, Godwin isn't available for offseason team activities on Tuesday after tearing his ACL in Week 15 last year. As long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks in his rehab or at training camp this summer, Godwin is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. When healthy, Godwin is one of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite targets and should return to being a WR2, but he could get off to a slow start. If he's not ready for the start of the season, Russell Gage will be a popular fantasy play in Tampa's pass-first offense.

From RotoBaller

Troy Fumagalli May 17 2:23pm ET
Troy Fumagalli

Free-agent TE Troy Fumagalli (Patriots) signed a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday, May 17, after participating in the team's rookie minicamp last weekend. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed. The 49ers also released TE Garrett Walston.

From TheHuddle

Phillip Lindsay May 17 2:20pm ET
Phillip Lindsay

Free-agent running back Phillip Lindsay agreed to an undisclosed one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday, according to his agent, Mike McCartney. Lindsay spent last season with the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins, finishing with 88 carries for 249 yards (career-low 2.8 yards per carry) and one touchdown, also adding four receptions for 45 yards and another score. The 27-year-old opened with two 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his first two years in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, but he's fallen off considerably since then and will be competing for touches in Indianapolis behind bell-cow Jonathan Taylor and pass-catching back Nyheim Hines. Taylor or Hines would likely have to miss time due to injury for Lindsay to even be worth a fantasy pickup.

From RotoBaller

Tarik Cohen May 17 2:20pm ET
Tarik Cohen

Former Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen (leg) appeared to suffer a significant lower leg injury while training on Tuesday. It's a tough blow for Cohen, who was finally recovered from a torn ACL in 2020. His latest injury is speculated to be a torn Achilles. The 26-year-old running back was released by the Bears with an injury designation back in March. If it's indeed a torn Achilles, he's unlikely to sign with a team or play at all in 2022. In his last full season in 2019, Cohen carried the ball 64 times for 213 yards while also catching a career-high 79 passes for 456 yards and three touchdowns on 104 targets in 16 games (11 starts) for the Bears.

From RotoBaller