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#313 5 Players You Can Trust In Week 18

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In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter, we look at Week 18 incentives, five players you can trust, and a couple kicker streamers.

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A big part of decoding Week 18 is understanding all of the team motivations and player incentives at play.

Yesterday we touched a bit on team motivations, but today I wanted to highlight a few player-specific incentives.

Some of these are a bit lofty (Jonathan Taylor needs 266 yards for 2,000), but others are very attainable:

These incentives aren’t the end all be all for how a team is going to run their offense, but it certainly helps point us in the right direction. Especially with prop betting. 

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📈 KEVIN'S DATA BARRAGE

Kevin Tompkins, a fantasy football writer and podcaster, shares the most interesting nuggets from his Data Barrage series. Take it away, Kevin…

 

We know of two teams packing it in for their playoff runs (Green Bay and Cincinnati) in Week 18. It’s a tough week to strategize for, so with that in mind, I’ll be focusing on players who should have a full workload this week.

Devin Singletary, BUF: Singletary has been a top 10 RB the last three weeks, averaging just shy of 20 fantasy points per game in PPR. The great news is that it is likely to continue with a home date against a Jets team that’s closing up shop for the season. Singletary has averaged 21.6 opportunities (carries & targets) per game in that stretch and a 71% routes share. On top of that, he’s dusted Zack Moss in terms of the pecking order and Buffalo is the biggest favorite of Week 18 (-17).

Darnell Mooney, CHI: Mooney is the lone player with no skin in the postseason game. He’s in an excellent position to ball out for the Bears against a sad Vikings secondary who have given up the most fantasy points to the WRs this season. In the last five weeks, ten WRs have scored at least ten fantasy points in PPR against them. Mooney and his 26% target share (13th-best in the NFL this season) should be a solid option to close out this season. Even Andy Dalton can’t screw this one up, right? RIGHT? 

Darrel Williams, KC: “The Mentor” is likely set up for a full Week 18 workload with Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) already ruled out for Saturday’s contest. This game is a must-win for the Chiefs as they are still in play for the AFC’s top seed. Williams was huge in Week 17 for with 107 total yards and 2 TDs. Derrick Gore is merely a change of pace back, garnering just 11% of pass routes to Williams’ 73%. Williams is a factor in most game situations, including goal-line work.

Van Jefferson, LAR: Jefferson only running 50% of routes in Week 17 was by far a season-low, but Sean McVay explained that it was “kind of the flow of the game” for the increased utilization of Ben Skowronek in the offense. Still, Jefferson put up a 4-63-0 line on 5 targets, which explains his inflated TPRR of 28% due to the lower than usual routes run. If Skowronek is going to be more involved in this Rams offense at the expense of Jefferson, then Jefferson moves down the pecking order for me in terms of WR3 plays and into middling flex consideration.

Rob Gronkowski, TB: Gronkowski paced the Buccaneers last week in most metrics like routes run (86%) and target share (20.4%). With the team losing Chris Godwin to injury and Antonio Brown due to drama, Gronk should provide some familiar relief to Tom Brady in Week 18. There are also two contract incentives that Gronk can hit this week with seven receptions and 85 yards. If any team leans into making sure these incentives are reached, it’s Tampa Bay. 

Ke’Shawn Vaughn, TB: To cap off the regular season in truly spectacular fashion, we’re making Vaughn a “thing” for Week 18. By “we”, I mean Ronald Jones’ ankle, which forced him out of Week 17’s game and puts his Week 18 status into question. Famous rap compact disc maven and Buccaneer of two games Le’Veon Bell may get involved in the passing game (39% of routes in Week 17), but coach Bruce Arians has stated on record that he thinks Vaughn could be a lead back. Vaughn was frequently targeted when he was in the game in passing situations (25% TPRR), so if Jones is sidelined for Week 18, look for him to be a significant factor.

Kevin Tompkins has been playing fantasy football for almost two decades. Amazingly in all that time, he has never drafted a bad running back. One would describe his fantasy takes as "reasonable."

 

👟 LINDA'S KICKER TIERS

 

Linda aka Lindellions shares her kicker tiers for Week 17 to help you win those ‘ships. Take it away, Linda…

Week 18 presents an interesting situation with playoff teams resting their star players. I’m targeting two kickers in Week 18 on teams that are Vegas favorites but haven’t clinched their playoff spot yet: 

Michael Badgley (8% rostered): Indianapolis is still eyeballing a playoff run and they are 15.5 point favorites. In the last three weeks, Badgley has averaged 2.7 field goal attempts per game. The Colts are facing off against a Jaguars team that’s allowed 9+ points to opposing kickers in seven of the last eight weeks. 

Dustin Hopkins (6% rostered): Hopkins has double-digit games in four of his last five outings. The lone single-digit game was the contest against Kansas City when the Chargers didn’t attempt a single field goal. Los Angeles is a 3 point favorite over Las Vegas and Justin Herbert has balled out in his primetime appearances. I expect Dustin Hopkins to be a direct benefactor of that. 

Both of these kickers appear to be largely available but if they aren’t in your league - feel free to reach out to me. We’ll take a look at the waiver wire and see what magic we can make.

-PETE OVERZET

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