After three consecutive days of gluttonous eating and drinking – yes, my family even does Christmas Eve-Eve – I’m sitting down at 11:41 p.m. EST to bring you my weekly target report. Some might call that dedication. I don’t care if it’s 11:40 at night, 1 in the morning or even freakin’ 4 in the morning – we have to win in the fantasy football finals. “No excuses, play like a champion,” said the famous fellas in Wedding Crashers. So let’s put the egg nog down, push the Christmas cookies aside and go win ourselves an f’n fantasy title.
“I’m Richie James, B**ch!”
Ah, the skit that propelled Dave Chappelle from star to megastar. Rick James may have pushed Chappelle over the top, but did the Giants’ Richie James experience the same acceleration this holiday weekend?
Well, not quite, but he did turn 12 targets into eight receptions for 90 yards in a critical conference battle against the relentless Minnesota Vikings. He was a semifinal winner for some and a lost opportunity for others. You couldn’t have a more mixed bag than James’ day – he led the Giants in receiving yards while looking like their WR1 a good portion of the time, but two critical drops made him the bane of Giants’ fans existence on Twitter.
In the end, let’s consider the context here: This was James’ first game of double-digit targets the entire season. He’s been a useful player for both Brian Daboll and Daniel Jones, but any fantasy usage is more of a hunch than a fundamentally-sound decision.
Of note, James’ little-known teammate Isaiah Hodgins shined against the Vikings’ secondary to the tune of 11 targets, eight receptions, 89 yards and a timely touchdown. Are you really gonna play Isaiah Hodgins in a fantasy football final, though? I’d have to be backed into a corner with no other options.
Allen “wrenches” his way to fantasy relevance
The Green Bay Packers are back in a major way, huh? After a meltdown for the ages from Tua Tagovailoa, the Packers are – in many ways – sort of back to controlling their own destiny when it comes to postseason hopes. On their unexpected march to glory, Allen Lazard did what he does – he popped up for a solid game when other weeks he’s been known to disappear into oblivion. Lazard was Aaron Rodgers’ leading receiver this week, turning 11 targets into five receptions for 61 yards.
I think you know the deal with Lazard by this point though, right? He’s a dart throw. He’s big, long and athletic – seems to have the makings of a potential star – but his production simply comes and goes. Ultimately, if you’re considering him in a deep league for the fantasy football finals, keep an eye on Christian Watson’s injury status more than anything else.
I can’t recommend Lazard in good conscience unless somebody is simply feelin’ lucky like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry.
“Jerry” – it’s a show about nothing!
They say Seinfeld’s a “show about nothing,” yet it’s very likely the most successful television show of all time. I can’t say the same for Jerry Jeudy’s overall level of success in fantasy football. I started out a real “Jeudy Guy” in his rookie season – good pedigree, great route technician, had the makings of a multi-talented receiver – but it’s been nothing but injuries and inconsistency since. Now, of course, we can’t fault him for Russell Wilson’s putrid play on the whole, but we can consider the full picture of his fantasy situation and say blah.
This week, though? He sorta made us go hmmmmm. If the Broncos are gonna suck and get blown out on a weekly basis, can this garbage time glory continue for Jeudy? This week the third-year receiver turned 10 targets into six receptions for 117 yards. A big day, indeed. He outplayed his oft-talked-about teammate this week – more targets, receptions and yards than Courtland Sutton – and I can’t say a repeat next week is an impossibility. But I’ll just tell ya how I really feel in my gut – if I play Jeudy in my final flex spot, he’ll just get hurt in the second quarter, leave the game, and I’ll lose in the fantasy finals.
The weekly “Usual Suspects”
Kirk Cousins’ favorite duo led the way this week – 16 targets for both Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson – while Amon-Ra St. Brown (13 targets), DeVonta Smith (12), Ja’Marr Chase (11) and CeeDee Lamb (11) just continued doing what they do.
The fantasy takeaway here? Well, I’d like to say a few words about young DeVonta Smith. This kid is naturally gifted, and he’s very technically sound for a player of his age (just 24 years old). And while I like the measurables and physical aspects of Smith’s game, here’s what I actually like the most: This kid does whatever is best for the Philadelphia Eagles. Could he be a WR1 in this league?
Of course, there are 32 teams, and he’s absolutely one of the top 32 receivers in the game right now. But DeVonta doesn’t care about that. A.J. Brown needs to shine? He’ll get out of the way. Big day for Miles Sanders or Dallas Goedert? Whatever is best for the team, Smith thinks. These are the subtle things that make the Philadelphia Eagles as good as they are right now – they’ve drafted high-caliber people, and they’re buying into what head coach Nick Sirianni is selling.
This week Smith turned his 12 targets into eight receptions, 113 yards and two touchdowns. Not only did he look like a top-32 wide receiver – he actually looked like one of the best all-around players in the NFL.
Best of luck in your fantasy football finals, my friends!
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.