For normal standard leagues, we are officially one week away from the fantasy football playoffs!
What a season it has been thus far. We have witnessed record-breaking statistics, a winless Browns team from a year ago completely turn their season around and get into the playoff hunt, and so much more. I am certain this is not the finish to a wild 2018 NFL season. While the first 12 weeks have been entirely unorthodox, I’m sure the next five weeks are going to be very similar.
With that being said, there are no more bye weeks, so all the studs should be put back into the starting lineups, but here are a few sleepers with excellent matchups this weekend to help your chances of getting into the playoffs; if you haven’t clinched already or haven’t been knocked out of contention.
Carson Wentz, Eagles vs. Redskins
The once star-studded Eagles quarterback, Carson Wentz, has been playing abysmally as of late. Luckily for the Eagles, Wentz, and Wentz’ fantasy owners, he has the opportunity to perform like the Carson Wentz we are accustomed to witnessing, as the Eagles are facing a Redskins defense that has allowed two outings of 30+ fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in the last four games. In this Monday Night Football showdown, with huge playoff implications on the line for both teams, I expect Wentz (at home) to return to his MVP form of 2017 against a depleted Redskins team and get the Eagles back on track for a division run with the Cowboys. Expect a QB1 outing from Wentz.
Projection: 356 passing yards / 3 passing touchdowns / 32 rushing yards → 29.4 Fpts
Matthew Stafford, Lions vs. Rams
It has not been one of those years for Stafford, where all the 4th quarter comebacks we are accustomed to seeing from him are turning into 4th quarter duds. Stafford has a tough matchup on paper against the Rams defense this weekend. Consequently, it should be a tough game for him during the first half. However, for Stafford owners, the Lions should get walloped in this game, so we should see plenty of garbage time points (that’s if Sean McVay decides to hold out his D-Line during a blowout, if not the Rams could swallow up Stafford all day). Over the past three games, quarterbacks have averaged 36 passing attempts against the Rams, and this number should only increase with Stafford most likely playing from behind in this game and the lack of rushing efficiency the Lions possess.
Projection: 323 passing yards / 2 passing touchdowns / 9 rushing yards / 1 rushing touchdown → 27.8 Fpts
Austin Ekeler/Justin Jackson, Chargers @ Steelers
I decided to put these two together due to the fact I believe they will both highly benefit with the injury to Melvin Gordon. Ekeler will continue to see a heavy workload in the passing game without question, but when it comes to the ground game, does Ekeler have enough to prove that he should see the bulk of carries? That is where I insert Justin Jackson.
The rookie out of Northwestern has shown flashes of big-play ability and elusiveness with his quick speed. Last Sunday, with Gordon going down, he displayed how elusive and quick he truly is as he finished with 57 rushing yards on 7 carries. I expect both these men to be highly involved in this pivotal game against one of the best teams in the AFC, as this is a true contest for the Chargers to see if they have what it takes to match up with the great teams in the AFC. The Steelers have been pretty sound all season long against the run and against receiving backs. On average, they have only allowed 80 yards per game to opposing running backs, but this game has the potential to be a high-scoring bout with plenty of points to offer. Consider both players playable, however, lean towards Ekeler getting a good amount of touches over his teammate Jackson. Ekeler is an RB1 this weekend and Jackson fits the role of a high ceiling FLEX play. With that, I will be giving projections for both players.
Projection (Austin Ekeler): 14 carries for 72 yards / 7 catches for 65 yards / 1 touchdown → 26.7 Fpts
Projection (Justin Jackson): 9 carries for 61 yards / 2 catches for 33 yards / 1 touchdown → 17.4 Fpts
Rex Burkhead, Patriots vs. Vikings
This will be the riskiest option to play, and he should only be in lineups if you are desperate for a RB/FLEX. Now, that is only the case if he is even active for this matchup, which he should be, given the Patriots only have 2 active running backs in James White and Sony Michel, excluding Cordarrelle Patterson. The Patriots could desperately use Burkhead immediately, given prior injury issues with Sony Michel and James White being more effective in the passing game or as the complementary back to Michel.
If indeed Burkhead is active for this 4:25pm matchup, expect him to be involved. To what degree he is involved is unsure, given Belichick and his way handling playing time. The Patriots are fond of confusing defenses based on matchups and have shown a history of using one guy when coaches least expect them too, and vice versa. This has the potential of being a ‘welcome back’ kind of game for Burkhead against a stellar defense in Minnesota. Again, however, he is a risky play given Bill Belichick’s antics of sometimes not utilizing players when he should. To add, given Sony Michel’s dominance as the lead back, it will be tough to determine exactly how many touches we expect Burkhead to receive in this contest. Consider Burkhead an RB3/FLEX play if you’re desperate, but stash him on your bench for the playoffs just in case of an injury.
Projection: 5 carries for 19 yards / 1 rushing touchdown / 3 receptions for 29 yards → 13.8 Fpts
Trey Quinn, Resdkins @ Eagles
With the injury to Jameson Crowder and an already depleted wide receiving corps, the Redkins inserted SMU Standout Trey Quinn into their future endeavors. Since officially getting the call to become a starter in Week 11, Quinn has caught 9 balls on 10 targets; while only racking up 75 yards in those two games, he should see a tick in playing time and targets. With Colt McCoy the starter in Washington, he is going to need to rely on one guy he can quickly get the ball too. Quinn should see early work lining up in the slot and that benefits both him and McCoy. Jordan Reed can only see so many targets before they send safety help his way; insert Trey Quinn to have an eye-opening performance. The 7th round draft pick and former D1 High School leader in receiving yards will have to make a name for himself on Monday Night Football against a hungry Eagles team itching for a division lead. This game could get out of hand early, and in that case, Quinn should see a heavy dose of targets and a possible score. If you are desperate for a WR, Quinn should be a nice value play with upside. Consider him a WR3/FLEX play.
Projection: 7 Targets / 6 receptions / 72 yards → 13.2 Fpts
DJ Moore, Panthers @ Buccaneers
The 24th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is still not getting the recognition he deserves compared to his fellow rookie classmates, and I am not understanding why people are still sleeping on the standout rookie. Over the last two weeks, Moore has combined for 15 catches on 17 targets, possessing an 88% reception rate over that span for 248 yards and a TD. Only four other wide receivers have more yards than Moore during the last couple weeks. It seems as if Cam Newton is starting to gain more trust week-after-week with his rookie wideout. Moore has an incredible matchup this weekend against one of the worst defense in the game so I would not be surprised to see another monster showing from him unless McCaffrey decides to steal the show, once again. Start Moore with confidence this weekend, and expect WR2 numbers.
Projection: 7 targets / 5 receptions / 98 yards / 1 touchdown / 1 rush for 12 yards → 22.0 Fpts
Good luck to everyone who is fighting for a playoff spot!
Remember, if you need any fantasy advice (who to start, waiver questions, etc.) do not be afraid to contact me on twitter: @vinny_mattero29
*All Ranks based off Standard ESPN PPR Scoring
*Photo Credits: BetLabsSports