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Countless hours of research. Long, sleepless nights. Tossing and turning in bed… start or sit? Start or sit? Moments of believing we are actual NFL general managers.

All that over-exaggerated drama brings us here: The fantasy football final four. The margin of error has now decreased from slim to none. One wrong push of a button and it’s all over. 

With all that pressure in mind — picture those 90s action movies where there are 100 different wires, and the hero has to clip one to diffuse the bomb — we better have a full understanding of target distributions at this point. There are no excuses for lacking the knowledge. Let’s jump right in and see where we’re at. 

“Meet the Osborn” – this ain’t reality TV! 

If you’ve seen The Departed — and really, who hasn’t at this point? — then you’ll recognize this ain’t reality TV as one of Jack Nicholson’s classic line readings. Speaking of “classic,” we got an instant classic on Saturday when Jeff Saturday’s Indianapolis Colts somehow blew a 33-0 lead vs. the never-say-die Minnesota Vikings. It was the largest comeback in the history of the NFL, in a weekend when we also saw one of the most painful last-play losses of all time. Since we’re on the topic of movies this week, we wouldn’t be able to find a Hollywood screenwriter gifted enough to write a comeback story like Minnesota’s, nor a shocking twist ending like Chandler Jones’ jaw-dropping, walk-off pick-six. 

Somewhere amid all that drama, K.J. Osborn played the role of hero in disguise, leading all players with 16 targets in Week 15 (tied with Justin Jefferson and A.J. Brown, good company). As Minnesota scratched, clawed, and scrambled to make up its seemingly unsurmountable deficit, Osborn shredded Indy’s secondary to the tune of 10 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. So where does that monster performance leave us? On the one hand, you could argue that Osborn is just as good a player as WR2 Adam Thielen at this point in their respective careers, if not better. On the other? Osborn only cracked 10 targets once all season prior to this (Week 10). I have to lean toward the second half of that sentence and say that I can’t recommend Osborn in the fantasy final four unless we’re talkin’ about a 14 or 16-team league (preferably 16, to be completely honest). We have to remember that the Vikings were in a deep hole this week, forcing Kirk Cousins to throw, throw, throw. It’s a rare, bizarre one-style game script. We don’t wanna be forcing it with Osborn after a likely one-off performance. 

“Gage” the impact – was this for real? 

I’ve never really been a “Russell Gage Guy,” but I’ve made exceptions for him in the company of Tom Brady. We know Brady has a history with effective slot receivers – Wes Welker and Julian Edelman pop to mind immediately – and Gage is particularly comfortable in the slot. This week he picked up 12 targets, which he converted into eight receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns vs. the enigmatic Cincinnati Bengals’ D. Gage actually out-paced the big names in the Bucs’ offense — Mike Evans picked up 10 targets, while Chris Godwin garnered eight looks. Is this something that can continue? 

Well, it’s gonna be an absolute gamble in the fantasy final four. Brady and the Bucs draw the Arizona Cardinals, which is potentially a juicy matchup for Gage. But, here’s what I do like: If the Bucs are smart — and they wanna eke out the NFC South over the Panthers, Saints, and Falcons — they’ll keep Gage involved to establish balance with Evans, Godwin, and the veteran Leonard Fournette out of the backfield. The more viable targets, the less predictable Tampa’s offense becomes, which ultimately bodes well for Gage in theory. But could he easily get five targets for four receptions and 47 yards this week? Sure. 

Ultimately to me, he’s in the same ranking tier as Osborn, but I’d have a bit more faith in Gage in full-point PPR. Neither of these guys are 12 or 10-team options, but I’d be more likely to go with Gage in a 14-team than Osborn because of the impossibility of the same game script for Minnesota. I think Tampa needs Gage, but do they really understand that? 

“EE” and “DJ” are back – are they here to stay? 

Two of the stars of my Week 14 column — Evan Engram and Diontae Johnson — are back for more this week. Engram’s 10 targets were tied for the most amongst tight ends (the other being some guy named Travis Kelce), while Johnson picked up 10 targets of his own.

Engram is emerging as a fringe fantasy TE1 at exactly the right time, as he turned those 10 looks into eight receptions for 62 yards against the supposedly great Dallas Cowboys’ D. It wasn’t quite his monster performance of the prior week. Still, Engram was again at the top of Jacksonville’s heap alongside Zay Jones and Christian Kirk. These are clearly Trevor Lawrence’s guys in the passing attack. 

As for Diontae, that elusive touchdown still hasn’t occurred; he’s scoreless all season. Still, this kid clearly thrives when Mitch Trubisky is under center for Pittsburgh. Kenny Pickett may be the future — thus his preference for rookie George Pickens? — but in the “now,” Trubisky has a better understanding of using a multi-talented receiver like Diontae J.

At his best, I’ve compared Diontae to his predecessors in Pittsburgh lore, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. So from a fantasy perspective, it becomes very simple, we can trust Johnson with Trubisky, but not with Pickett. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Steelers may hold Pickett out for the remainder of the season (concussion), so I’m expecting Johnson to be a full-go as a WR2 in full-point PPR. 

The weekly “Usual Suspects”

I’ve already mentioned Jefferson and Brown (16 targets apiece), and this week they’re joined by Michael Pittman (14 targets), Ja’Marr Chase (13), Tyreek Hill (13), DeAndre Hopkins (11) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (10). 

The fantasy takeaway here? Pittman hasn’t been this busy since Week 6 when he turned 16 targets into a dominant fantasy performance. This week he converted his 14 looks into 10 receptions for 60 yards. This performance certainly had the potential for more, but Matt Ryan is simply one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the game right now. We thought of Pittman as a potential fantasy WR1 heading into the season, but now he’s clearly a WR2 because Ryan looks like Ryan Leaf out there these days. 

I wish you all the best in your fantasy final fours. I hope to see ya right back here next week. 

John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NFL for 19 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy football, basketball and baseball.