Championship Week is finally here, bringing with it the bittersweet, melancholy knowledge that fantasy football is coming to a close. Kinda sucks, not going to lie. However, if you made your championship matchup, allow me to firstly give you a hearty “congratulations.” This year has been absolutely absurd, and you weathered the storm beautifully. Before diving into reëvaluating the team that got you to the precipice of greatness, let’s look into the crystal ball and analyze some of this week’s key matchups.
Quarterbacks: The Good
Jalen Hurts @ Dallas Cowboys
The stock for the new quarterback in Philly is soaring. Even though it was in a losing effort, the battle between Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray lived up to the hype. After rushing for 100 yards in his first career start, Hurts showed what he can do through the air, posting 338 yards with 3 TDs, 63 rushing yards, and a score on the ground for good measure. This is the type of dual-threat weapon fantasy managers salivate over, and in a prime matchup against a weak Cowboys defense on all levels, I expect his success to continue. He has the ceiling to be a top-5 QB option this week, with a safe floor thanks to his rushing ability.
Mitchell Trubisky @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Never did I think that I would be recommending Mitchell Trubisky, but you can’t ignore what he has done lately. Since reclaiming the starting role, he’s been... serviceable. In a one-quarterback league, this might be more of a desperation play, but in superflex leagues, he’s a fine QB2. Last week, his output was a bit disappointing, largely because David Montgomery took the game over on the ground. While Trubisky’s point total was underwhelming, he did still throw for 202 yards and added 34 yards rushing, and his completion percentage has been over 70 percent for three straight games. If he tacks on a couple more passing touchdowns to that statline, it would have been a very solid day. I think Trubisky has a safe floor in this game, and could easily post a top-10 day.
Quarterbacks: The Bad
Kirk Cousins @ New Orleans Saints
Cousins has been very good this year, posting over 20 fantasy points eight times. That’ll do. However, the Saints have allowed the 7th fewest fantasy points per game to the quarterback position this year. Yes, Mahomes still did Mahomes things against them, and yes, Jalen Hurts ran all over them, but Cousins is neither of those two guys. He’s a pocket passer with a mediocre line in an offense that relies on the ground game — something the Saints defense is excellent at stopping. Two weeks ago, Tampa Bay held Dalvin Cook mostly in check (22 carries, 102 yards, 2 receptions. Definitely “in check” by his standards) and Cousins posted 17.1 fantasy points. I think you should expect a similar outcome from a defense that is hungry for a get-right game.
Russell Wilson vs Los Angeles Rams
I’m a lifelong Seahawks fan, and what we’ve seen out of Russ lately has been… not great. The early-season MVP talks were clearly premature, as the offense has cooled dramatically over the last month. Against a very stout and yet still somehow underrated Washington defense, Wilson was the QB28. That’s a big-time yikes. This week, it gets no easier, going against a Rams defense with the fewest fantasy points per game to the quarterback position this season. The NFC West is on the line here, and I’m expecting a low-scoring clash-of-titans type of matchup, where both teams will attempt to rely on the defense and running game. I don’t know if I would have the stones to bench Wilson, but if I had better options, I might. I think I’d play Jalen Hurts over Wilson this week, which is terrifying to say out loud.
Running Backs: The Good
Tony Pollard vs Philadelphia Eagles
I don’t care if Ezekiel Elliott plays this week or not, I’m still slotting Pollard into my flex spot. If Zeke doesn’t play, Pollard has low-end RB1 upside. If Zeke does play, Pollard could still give you RB2 numbers. The season is all but done for the Cowboys, and it makes no sense for them to risk serious injury to their payroll-clogging, disinterested running back. Pollard, coming off a monster performance against the Cowboys (69 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 6 receptions, 63 receiving yards), will at minimum be in a timeshare this weekend, with a good possibility that Elliott won’t be cleared to play. Pollard passes the eye test as well, looking more explosive than Elliott at this point in the season. If I have him, I will find a way to get him in my lineup.
J.D. McKissic vs Carolina Panthers
The matchup against Carolina is a juicy one, whether Antonio Gibson plays or not. Gibson missed last week’s game with a toe injury, and should be “questionable” for this week’s performance. Much like Pollard, McKissic has standalone value, especially because of his work in the receiving game. With nine receptions on 10 targets last week, McKissic is incredibly valuable in PPR. If you think he only saw that work because Gibson was out, don’t. He has seen double-digit targets four of the last seven weeks. If Gibson sits, McKissic is an RB2. If he plays, he’s worth at least a flex spot.
Running Backs: The Bad
Wayne Gallman @ Baltimore Ravens
Gallman has cooled as of late, posting 10.3 points two weeks ago, and only 2.9 points last week, without a target in the receiving game. After holding James Robinson to 35 yards on 16 carries last week, the Ravens defense is getting healthy at the right time. Not only that, but the best help for a run defense is a strong offense, and the Ravens have been on a heater as of late — they’ve scored 121 points in the last three weeks. Game script will not be kind to Gallman this week, and his performance will likely reflect it. If you have better options, leave him on the bench.
Mike Davis @ Washington Football Team
Christian McCaffrey is doubtful for the game against Washington this week, which is good for Davis’ workload, but the matchup still sucks. Washington is allowing the 6th fewest points per game to the running back position on the season, in large part because of that ridiculous defensive front. Outside of his 26.3 fantasy point performance against Denver two weeks ago, he has somewhat impressively finished with eight-and-change fantasy points in five of his last eight games. I understand if you don’t have a better option, but temper your expectations for his potential output against a defense that has not allowed a running back to go over 65 yards in its last five outings.
Tomorrow we’ll dive into the wide receiver and tight end positions to help you set those league-winning rosters.