It’s almost time to breathe – just one more week to get through. But, it’s the most exciting week we’ve waited all season for.
If you’re in the fantasy football championship, you most likely benefitted from a snazzy waiver wire or free agent pull. Maybe you landed Puka Nacua, Sam LaPorta, Nico Collins, Raheem Mostert, or Joe Flacco? Somewhere along the line you had the intuition to take a chance on someone that gave you an edge in one of the funnest competitions on Earth. With injuries continuing to pile up, you may have to do it just one more time.
Last week RSJ didn’t do great with their selections in a pivotal week. Game scripts often dictate sleeper play, and we fell victim to that. We saw Lions’ wide receiver Jameson Williams, Jaguars’ wideout Parker Washington, Bears’ running back Roschon Johnson make the list– not great.
I used to write a weekly Start Em, Sit Em with Sleepers and Busts at another publication, but I have brought my talents to RSJ and am revamping the launch of that series.
Again, we’re looking for diamonds in the rough, and this week is no different.
CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE, RB CHIEFS
Jerick McKinnon (groin) has already been ruled out, and Isiah Pacheco (concussion) got a limited practice in Friday, making him questionable to play this week. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who Kansas City believed was the answer to its backfield a few years ago, should be in line to be the team’s bell cow on Sunday if he can overcome the illness that currently marks him as questionable to play.
He’s also being used in the receiving game, which is pivotal for a team with multiple receivers on injured reserve and others who can’t catch a football. In recent weeks, Cincinnati has struggled mightily against the run, even to backups. We saw Vikings’ backup Ty Chandler post 22 points against the Bengals when he started Week 15. This should be a high-scoring game, which always helps fantasy players.
CHUBA HUBBARD, RB, PANTHERS
After Chuba Hubbard saw most of the work in Week 12 at Tennessee, I said he’d be a must-start for the remainder of the fantasy season. He then had three straight games with more than 20 carries, including being the NFL’s best rusher in Week 13 against the Bucs.
Now, Miles Sanders (toe) should see limited work even if he plays due to injury, giving Hubbard even more work than his increase a few weeks ago. Jacksonville is oddly 11th against the run but No. 1 in most receptions allowed to running backs this season. I’m just a writer, and I don’t do nor understand that math. This, however, gives Hubbard the likelihood to be closer to his season-high targets (5-6) instead of his average (2).
Carolina played spoiler in an upset win against Atlanta in Week 15, and Jacksonville is reeling, trying to hang on to a division title and playoff berth. Playing a team with nothing to lose and players in a position to solidify jobs produces major sleeper potential.
RASHID SHAHEED, WR, SAINTS
Tampa Bay is 29th against the pass, and in a divisional game with playoff implications, this could be a shootout. Chris Olave will see either Jamel Dean or Carlton Davis III, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Rashid Shaheed will see the other. If he rolls out of the slot, he will find a safety on him, and I like the big-play potential, but also the short-field “move the sticks” game that could be coming.
I think New Orleans realizes a big game is critical for them to win, and I like the looks he gets in the end zone, too. Shaheed also scored last week, in what could be a transition of things to come for the second-year wideout.
D.J. CHARK, WR, PANTHERS
I’m trying to have a little fun in the last article of the season, and throwing a dart with D.J. Chark seemed like the right place to go – especially after going down my rabbit hole and landing on a crazy statistic.
CBSSports did an entire segment on Chark and revenge games. What I took away from Jamey Eisenberg were stats for Chark playing against his former teams. In six years, Chark has played for three teams: Jacksonville, Detroit, and Carolina.
Last season, as a Lion, Chark faced Jacksonville and was two yards away from the century mark off a handful of catches. Chark also scored a touchdown in Week 5 against Detroit in his second-best game of the year to that point.
Jacksonville is in the top 10 in the league in points allowed to receivers. I may be a little more comfortable putting a bet on him as an anytime touchdown scorer than throwing him in a championship game, but why not?
TREY MCBRIDE, TE, CARDINALS
I had to end the series with an old friend. With Marquise Brown (heel) headed to injured reserve, Trey McBride arguably becomes the best pass-catcher on the team, maybe only behind running back James Conner. That should tell you all you need to know about the state the receiving corps is in in the desert.
Philadelphia also isn’t stellar against the pass, and it’ll have its hands full with trying to guard the play of the aforementioned Conner. McBride also has a 38-425-1 stat line since quarterback Kyler Murray returned in Week 10.
RSJ hopes you have enjoyed this new series and wishes you luck in your championship! Comment and tell us what you need this weekend; we’ll see you next season!