It all comes down to this. Welcome to the wild, wacky, first-ever Week 18. It’s our final main slate of the regular season, and what a season it’s been. I can thank you all enough for supporting this column and the Fantasy Football Today DFS podcast. Alright, I’m done being emotional. Before I truly move on to Week 18, can I just praise my New York Jets for a second. For those that don’t know, I am a long-suffering Jets fan. While they do next to nothing right, they helped us win money last week in the form of Braxton Berrios. I’m still surprised he wound up as popular as he did, but Berrios crushed it with 26.7 Fantasy points over on DraftKings.
If you’ve ever played DFS the final week of the regular season, you know we’re in for a treat. It’s like no other week in the regular season. In fact, I would argue it’s more like the preseason where news and reading the tea leaves matters more than anything else. Of course, we’re still looking at our usual stats, but now we need to pay attention to motivation. Playoff scenarios, records, milestones and player bonuses are all things we need to be aware of. We’ll start there, but as always let me give you a preview of the slate. We have exactly zero games with a 50-point total on the slate. The closest is Seahawks-Cardinals at 48 points. We do, however, have three double-digit spreads with the Bills -16 hosting the Jets, Colts -15 at the Jaguars and Titans -10 at the Texans. Again, what matters more in Week 18 is motivation.
Which games have the most at stake
In order to figure out which game or team you want to stack this week, you need to know who’s playing for what. On the main slate there are currently two games where both teams have something at stake:
First up, we have Steelers at Ravens. Technically both teams still have a chance to make the playoffs. Each of them needs to win but also needs a flurry of other things to happen. The latter point matters not. If they don’t win, they can’t make it. Simple as that. On top of everything, Diontae Johnson landed on the COVID list Thursday, which sounds like he will be out this week. As a result, Najee Harris, Chase Claypool and Ray-Ray McCloud all become very solid plays (though I am more skeptical on Claypool). Out on the West Coast, the Rams can secure the NFC West crown with a win while the 49ers make the playoffs with a win or a Saints loss. Conveniently, the Saints play at the same time. Hence, the 49ers are giving it their all. These next four games have at least one team playing for something.
- Titans at Texans, TEN -10, 42.5 total
- Colts at Jaguars, IND -15, 44 total
- Saints at Falcons, NO -3.5, 40 total
- Seahawks at Cardinals, ARI -6.5, 48 total
The Titans secure the top seed in the AFC and a first-round bye with a win or Chiefs loss. The Chiefs play Saturday and are big favorites against the Broncos. The Colts need to win and they’re in the playoffs. Simple as that. The Saints need to win plus they need the 49ers to lose, which is very possible against the Rams. Lastly, the Cardinals can still win the NFC West with a win and a Rams loss. Those games are going on at the same time. Now that that’s out of the way, we can figure out our favorite stacks.
Stacks to target
Naturally my favorite team stack comes from the game with the highest total. Kyler Murray has played better of late but most importantly for DFS, he’s running again. He’s averaging 59 rushing yards per game over his past two, which not only adds to the floor but also the ceiling. His pass catchers aren’t expensive either with Christian Kirk and Zach Ertz at $6,000 and $5,300 on DraftKings, respectively. I actually prefer Ertz who leads the team with a 23% target share since Week 14. I like targeting Murray with just one of his pass catchers and no Seahawks on the other side. It’s mainly just a price issue with the Seahawks.
Are you playing in tournaments this week and need a sneaky stack? Well, Mike McClure has one that nearly made me fall out of my seat while recording Fantasy Football Today DFS.
“The only scenario I’m playing A.J. Brown is within a Davis Mills lineup. It’s going to be Mills to Cooks and then A.J. Brown is the bring-back. I think that’s the best way to get exposure to it… Outside of an isolated 75-yard touchdown, you’re going to need the other side to be really good for Brown to pay off.”
You heard it here first, folks. Mills to Cooks with Brown on the other side! Here are my favorite stacks in Week 18:
- Murray to Ertz or Kirk with no Seahawks on the other side
- Tyler Huntley to Mark Andrews with Najee Harris or Ray-Ray McCloud on the other side
- Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp with Elijah Mitchell on the other side
- Tom Brady to Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski with no Panthers on the other side
- Kirk Cousins to Justin Jefferson with no Bears on the other side
Running backs to target
I know Jonathan Taylor is expensive but he’s facing the Jaguars in a must-win game. There is zero chance the Colts put this game in Carson Wentz‘s hands. There’s enough value on the slate, too, where you can actually fit both Taylor and Kupp in your lineup if you wanted to. Drop down a tier to Najee Harris, whom I mentioned earlier. Likely without Johnson, the Steelers need to replace 30% of their targets. Not only should Harris see an uptick, but he’s coming off a game with 31 touches. I wouldn’t expect that, but he might not be far off.
Drop down to that mid-tier and we have plenty of options. Chase Edmonds has not practiced heading into Friday. James Conner is definitely in play if he has the backfield to himself this week, despite his recent injuries. Devin Singletary, Elijah Mitchell and Sony Michel are all priced at $6,000 over on DraftKings. Singletary has been on fire and has a great matchup against the Jets but there’s a chance the Bills rest their players in the second half. Mitchell and Michel face-off against each other with each handling at least 22 touches last week. Even if Cam Akers is active, I expect Michel to be more owned of the two, making Mitchell a solid leverage play. The last name I’ll mention is D’Onta Foreman who is coming off a game with 26 carries and now he faces the Texans in a must-win game. Derrick Henry was designated to return but that doesn’t mean he will return this week. In fact, I’d bet against it.
That’ll do it. It’s been a fun season and once again I want to thank all of you for supporting my work. We’ll continue to do podcasts for each slate throughout the playoffs but unfortunately this will be my last article… for now. As always, I leave you with a single-entry GPP lineup I’ve already built out.