Fantasy Football Report: Week 18

Gourav Pany, Staff Writer

It’s finals week for fantasy football for some leagues this week, which brings upon the final installment of the Fantasy Football Report. While no one needs to be told to start Jonathan Taylor on their fantasy team, it might be imperative to have knowledge of possible replacements for players that may be injured or resting for Week 18, as well as valuable pickups this week, which will probably be a factor in deciding who will win the fantasy finals.


QB: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Burrow has been spectacular for the last two games, as he has thrown for an average of 485.5 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers. Burrow’s stellar play projects to continue against the Cleveland Browns, who had kept Burrow subdued in their game earlier this year. Even with the talent that the Browns have, they have almost no chance of keeping up with WR Ja’marr Chase and WR Tee Higgins, who have torn apart defenses for the past two weeks in a display of offensive dominance. The Browns have a great front seven that has the capability of getting to the quarterback before big plays develop, but Burrow has shown that he is unperturbed under pressure and can get the ball out with ease to his closer targets. However, one situation to monitor will be Burrow’s knee, which was injured during the final plays against the Chiefs last week. This injury may reduce the level of play that Burrow can show against the Browns, but it doesn’t seem to be a factor in terms of Burrow sitting out next week, though it should be a situation to monitor.

Projection: 23.68 points (non-PPR)

RB: D’Onta Foreman, Tennessee Titans

Although fantasy managers might be skeptical of Foreman with the return of RB Derrick Henry in the lineup, he should still be an integral part of their crucial matchup against the Houston Texans. Henry will definitely not be at full strength, which will lead to more snaps and touches by Foreman, who has distinguished himself as the lead running back despite the presence of RB Dontrell Hilliard, who has seen a decrease in snaps over the past couple of games. Foreman will receive a favorable matchup against the Houston Texans, who don’t pose much of a problem to the Titans despite their win against them earlier this year. The Texans have a decent defense that doesn’t have a lot of depth, which often leaves them out of rotation against hurry-up offenses, which is something that the Titans are very proficient at because of HC Mike Vrabel’s preparation and OC Todd Downing’s gutsy play calling. Foreman has shown plenty of burst and physicality when running through gaps to solidify him as a low-end RB1 who should be prioritized as a high end replacement for an injured/resting player like RB Aaron Jones.

Projection: 12.30 points (non-PPR)

WR: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers 

Samuel has been a revelation this season for the 49ers, and it is almost impossible to stop waxing poetically about his effect on the team and his impact against any defense. He is a matchup nightmare as he is both fast and physical while being in his prime years, which makes him one of the best receivers in the game. Samuel’s rushing production has also been a prominent facet of his game, as he has been a better runner and receiver than WR Curtis Samuel, who was heralded as the top dual threat in the NFL before his groin injury. Samuel has been a factotum in this offense, with blazing speed and glaring confidence that even Rams’ CB Jalen Ramsey could not dream of matching in the 49ers’ game against the Rams. Even though the Rams are a tough matchup, Samuel is a matchup-proof weapon who is dangerous with the football in his hands. Whether the quarterback is QB Jimmy Garoppolo or QB Trey Lance, Samuel is the one constant in this offense that might just bring a fantasy trophy to a lucky fantasy team.

Projection: 11.30 points (non-PPR)

TE: Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals

Although he has not had the yardage that most fantasy managers would expect from a top tier tight end, Ertz has had tremendous volume in an Arizona Cardinals offense that is missing WR Rondale Moore and RB James Conner. Ertz has been the main safety net for QB Kyler Murray this season, and will only continue to add up the yardage with the amount of opportunities that he receives each week. He will draw a matchup against a Seattle Seahawks defense that is missing LB Bobby Wagner, which will make it hard to cover Ertz, which will make him an above-average TE1, even though his fantasy output over the last few weeks hasn’t exactly been stellar.

Projection: 7.90 points (non-PPR)

K: Brett Maher, New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints will face the Atlanta Falcons in a must-win game for the Saints that could lead to the Saints reaching the playoffs for the fourth time in a row. The Saints have not been playing their best football on offense lately, as they have stalled out on drives inside their opponents’ territory and have not been able to make the most of their red zone opportunities due to their lack of quality players that are healthy on the offensive side of the football. However, this is not a problem for Maher, as he will benefit from an increased amount of field goal opportunities because of his offense’s struggles. Maher had a season-high four field goal attempts last week against the Carolina Panthers, and has only missed one field goal all season, which makes him a promising option in an unpredictable position in terms of fantasy football.

Projection: 9.00 points (non-PPR)

DEF: Indianapolis Colts

Coming off a disappointing loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Colts look to get into the playoffs by winning against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars played atrociously on both sides of the football last week against the Patriots, and nothing expects to change against a Colts team that is top 10 in both offense and defense. The Colts have a fast and physical defense that has overwhelmed many playoff caliber teams, including the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills. Featuring LB Darius Leonard, S Kenny Moore and DT DeForest Buckner, this Colts defense is more than ready to put down the Jacksonville Jaguars, who threw three interceptions and scored a measly ten points last week, which also included two sacks given up. QB Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars hasn’t been playing well behind a porous offensive line and a lack of weapons, which makes the Indianapolis Colts a prime play this week, despite their loss against the Raiders last week.

Projection: 9.00 points (non-PPR)


QB: Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Matthew Stafford has been a revelation this season, but that is projected to change against the San Francisco 49ers, who have been traditionally dominant against the Los Angeles Rams and HC Sean McVay. Stafford has been known traditionally as a superstar quarterback with a big arm who doesn’t commit many plays that might lead to his team losing the game, but he has thrown six interceptions in the last three games, fifteen interceptions in the whole season and four interceptions returned for a touchdown this season. Stafford has seen his level of play wane in recent games, even with WR Cooper Kupp shining in the scheme that has meshed his route running with Stafford’s powerful arm to create the most dangerous duo of the season. The 49ers, on the other hand, have been all over the Rams’ schemes for the past three years, and have dominated the Rams’ offense because of their fast and smart linebackers, who have paired well with a beastly pass rush that can snuffle RB Sony Michel and any semblance of pass protection that the Rams have.

Projection: 12.72 points (non-PPR)

RB: Duke Johnson Jr., Miami Dolphins

Johnson had a breakout game against the New York Jets, in which he totaled 127 yards and two touchdowns, which placed him as a top priority in the waiver wire, However, these past two games have shown a lot more about Johnson’s game, which is a small running back who can be explosive in the passing game but is not as fresh as he once used to be. RB Myles Gaskin has been infused more in this offense, which has taken carries away from Johnson, and he faces a Patriots defense that has been stingy against everything on defense this season, which doesn’t bode well for the former University of Miami running back. When it is all said and done, Johnson should be avoided in the fantasy finals unless it is truly a desperate situation, for which Johnson would not even be close to a solid option.

Projection: 4.40 points (non-PPR)

WR: Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

While he is an immensely talented receiver, Sutton has been plagued by poor quarterback play, which has affected his stats and reduced his fantasy value. The receiver has popped out more with QB Drew Lock starting, but doesn’t seem to have much of a fantasy ceiling to persuade fantasy managers into starting him for the playoffs. The Broncos will not be playing for much in Week 18 against a Chiefs team that will be aiming for the top seed in the conference, which doesn’t bode well for Sutton as he will be neutralized to the fullest extent against a Chiefs secondary that doesn’t give up big plays despite their poor performance against the Bengals. Sutton should be avoided in all fantasy formats unless it is a truly desperate situation.

Projection: 5.90 points (non-PPR)

TE: C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals

While he is a key component in the Bengals’ offense that has seen an explosion over the last two weeks, Uzomah hasn’t been a consistent enough tight end to warrant starting him in the fantasy playoffs. In a crowded offense that is also committed to running the football, Uzomah just doesn’t receive enough targets to showcase all of his talents on the fantasy scoring board. In his matchup against the Cleveland Browns, he will be matched up against standout LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, who has shown the versatility, speed and instincts to guard even the best tight ends, which is unique for such a young linebacker. The Bengals will look to get a lead early with the help of their wideouts, and Uzomah just hasn’t shown enough to make fantasy managers confident in starting him in the playoffs.

Projection: 3.50 points (non-PPR)

K: Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos

Much like WR Courtland Sutton, McManus plays on the Broncos, who have shown little affinity to scoring points and getting behind relatively quickly in the game. McManus will have a hard time getting any opportunities in his matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, who have had a stout defense throughout the season and will give QB Drew Lock fits, which doesn’t bode well for the Broncos offense to even get into scoring distance. McManus has still been a relatively accurate kicker this season, but the Broncos have done no favors for themselves by starting two quarterbacks with almost no pedigree or splash plays without the risk of turnovers, which will leave the offense for dead when they go up against a Chiefs team that will bring their full force in their hopes to capture the top seed of the playoffs, which will present a bad matchup for McManus.

Projection: 4.00 points (non-PPR)

DEF: Los Angeles Rams

The Rams have been a top fantasy defense for the majority of the season, but they face their kryptonite in the San Francisco 49ers, who have defeated the Rams in five straight games dating from 2019. The 49ers have a potent offense spearheaded by WR Deebo Samuel, TE George Kittle and WR Brandon Aiyuk, who have uplifted this offense along with HC Kyle Shanahan’s revolutionary running game that has gashed almost anyone that the 49ers have faced. The Rams do have talent on their defense, but they don’t have enough depth on their defense to keep up with the physical nature of the 49ers offense, which makes them a defense to be avoided.

Projection: 1.00 points (non-PPR)