Let’s f’n go!!!
It’s playoff time in the land of fantasy football, and I couldn’t be more pumped. Some quick pointers straight off the top: This is a major research week in terms of streaming tight ends and defenses. It’s been a ridiculously bad season for tight ends – unless you have Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, George Kittle or maybe Pat Freiermuth? – so many of us will be fighting for waiver wire scraps at the most important time of the season. Research the matchups. Take note of recent trends. Read this article right here for research, haha.
The same advice plays on the defensive side. And don’t forget one more wrinkle – many teams are out of contention, so the waiver wire becomes an endless ocean of opportunities. Upgrade your backups at every position, where applicable. Measure your FAAB bids appropriately. Shake your head in disgust at my use of this cliche: Leave no stone unturned. This is truly the time to cover every possible angle. Now let’s take a look at some target monsters who could help you straight off the top.
“EE” stands for “Electric and Explosive”
Let’s be real, “electric” and “explosive” are words we’ve heard in connection with Evan Engram in the past. The Giants’ brass really tried to sell us on him being one of the best and most talented young tight ends in the NFL. Well, it didn’t work out in New York due to injuries and inconsistency, but Engram is finally making his mark in Jacksonville at exactly the right time in fantasy football.
In a convincing Week 14 victory over the division-rival Tennessee Titans, Engram popped off for 15 targets, 11 receptions, 162 yards and two touchdowns. His 15 targets were tied for most in the league alongside two guys you’ve probably heard of: Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. So I guess Engram is a fantasy first-rounder, now? Nah, but he could be a tight end who swings the tide of the fantasy football postseason. The hardest part comes here: What do we ultimately make of this monster performance? Jacksonville’s main two guys were in the mix – 12 targets for underrated Zay Jones and seven for former WR1 Christian Kirk – so it’s not as if Trevor Lawrence only had eyes for Engram on Sunday. We simply have to consider the possibility that Jacksonville’s offense has turned the collective corner. With that in mind, outside of the five front-end tight ends I mentioned earlier, Engram has to be considered in tight end tier 2 at this point.
There’s only one problem: He’s bound to regress against the Dallas Cowboys this week, right?
Truly a man of the “People”
Deshaun Watson comes in and immediately switches things up for the Cleveland Browns. Not necessarily in a good way – the Browns have looked pretty terrible in his two starts – but changes have occurred nonetheless. In the midst of a wildly inconsistent season, young Donovan Peoples-Jones was the apple of Watson’s eye this week, out-targeting WR1 Amari Cooper by five. Cooper has been a consistent fixture in my target column in recent weeks, but this time “DPJ” outpaced him 12 to seven. Peoples-Jones was subsequently able to convert those targets into eight receptions for 114 impressive yards.
Now the outlook: I still can’t trust him. He’s certainly in the mix for 14 and 16-team fantasy playoffs, but not really for 10 or 12 for me. You know it’s a dart throw, no matter how we slice it. All I can say is proceed at your own risk.
More Moore than ever before
The Houston Texans are an absolute mess. I was basically forced to tweet this about them this past week. First, it’s Davis Mills. Then it’s Kyle Allen. Then it’s Allen to the practice squad, leaving Mills… and Jeff Driskel? Wait, then it’s Mills and Driskel switching on and off in the same game? Seriously, what the hell is going on here?
Anyway, that mess led to the best game of WR Chris Moore’s young career. Moore’s 11 targets from the two-headed “monster” of Mills and Driskel (this is the type of monster that gives you nightmares, not the one who is a beast in fantasy football) were more than DK Metcalf, Tyreek Hill, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Austin Ekeler and Kelce this week. The speedy wideout turned those 11 looks into 10 receptions for 124 yards against one of the best defenses in football.
We have to at least consider him going forward, right? Brandin Cooks is basically off the map at this point, and the Texans don’t want to seem to risk anything in regard to Nico Collins. So Moore is gonna get his shots and looks. But, ultimately, in terms of risk, I put him in the same boom-or-bust category as Peoples-Jones in the grand landscape of the league.
The weekly “Usual Suspects”
I’ve already mentioned Chase and Jefferson, and they were joined by Keenan Allen (14 targets) this week near the top. Many notables were busy around the nine-target area, including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tyler Lockett, Hockenson, Diontae Johnson and DeVonta Smith.
The takeaway here is Johnson: This guy still doesn’t have a freakin’ touchdown this season! After five, seven and eight touchdowns in his first three seasons, Johnson maintains a bagel through 14 weeks in 2022. And it doesn’t make any logical sense, right? He’s been among our target leaders throughout the season, but then Pittsburgh went ahead and traded talented Chase Claypool. So the door is wide open for Johnson and rising rookie George Pickens. Still… nothing.
On the bright side, Johnson converted his eight targets into six receptions for 82 yards against the division-rival Ravens. Maybe next week against the Panthers is finally his time for pay dirt. It would certainly be fitting as the fantasy playoffs begin!
Best of luck in your pressure-packed matchups, and I’ll see ya right back here next week.
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NFL for 18 years. Ask your fantasy football playoff questions @LegendSports7 on Twitter. All questions are welcome; no inquiries are dumb!