So, how did semi-final Sunday go for you? I'm moving on to the championships in two leagues, my keeper home league and an IDP Dynasty league, and if Alvin Kamara can manage 5.1 points in half-PPR scoring, I'll make it three – I got blown out by CBS Sports' own Will Brinson and Heath Cummings in my other two leagues. Three championship trips out of 13 leagues isn't bad, I'd say.
I hope things went well for all of you as well, or at the very least, I hope you have some reason to watch tonight's games. If not, just remember that if the past few weeks have shown us anything, there's no shame in losing in the Fantasy playoffs, because absolutely anything can happen in any given week. Those of us who are moving on have simply managed to avoid pitfalls slightly more often than everyone else.
If your season is over, I hope you'll keep hanging out, because we're going to start turning our attention to the offseason and the 2022 season over the next few weeks as well, and I think today's as good a day as any to start. If you click this link, you'll be taken to a form with five questions about the 2021 Fantasy MVP, rookie of the year, biggest bust, and more. I'll take nominations for each category through the end of Week 17, and then will compile the players who got the most nominations and we'll vote on the winners during Week 18. The FFT team will have our own answers when the season closes – along with our first looks at the 2022 rankings beginning next week. So, get your nominations in right here!
Of course, we're still going to treat Week 17 as important as any other week, because, well, for those of you still alive, it's the most important week of the season. Unless you're one of those weird people who keep playing into the final week of the season, which you shouldn't be. No judgment, but it's a terrible way of playing.
In today's newsletter, I've got my early look at the Week 17 waiver wire, and the biggest winners and losers from around the NFL. But first, here are the injuries from Sunday you need to know about:
- James Robinson (Achilles) – Robinson reportedly tore his Achilles, an injury that ends his 2021 season and puts him on the shelf for 6-9 months, in all likelihood. Dare Ogunbowale figures to be the Jaguars lead back for Week 17 against the Patriots, and while that's not an ideal matchup, Ogunbowale will likely be in the RB2 discussion. This is just rotten luck for Robinson, whose second season was marred by whatever Urban Meyer was trying to prove, and now he'll be coming off one of the toughest injuries to come back from while competing with 2021 first-rounder Travis Etienne for touches. His time as the Jaguars starting RB may be done.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (collarbone) – X-rays came back negative, which is good news, but Edwards-Helaire is set for an MRI on the injury Monday to determine the severity. We'll likely see Darrell Williams step up as the starter in CEH's absence, but Derrick Gore has likely done enough to deserve a role, making Williams more of an RB3 for Week 17 against the Bengals even if he does start.
- Mikes Sanders (hand) – Sanders' rotten luck continued Sunday, as he left with a hand injury in the second quarter, an injury that is believed to be a fracture. He'll undergo testing Monday, but it seems likely Sanders will miss some time – possibly the rest of the regular season. Boston Scott found the end zone and led the Eagles in carries and snaps in Week 16, so he's probably ahead Jordan Howard in the pecking order, but I think both will likely be RB3 candidates against Washington.
- Adam Thielen (ankle) – Thielen came back after a two-game absence but barely made it to halftime before suffering multiple aggravations of the injury. Thielen first aggravated the injury on a tackle shortly before halftime and then played just three snaps in the third quarter before being forced from the game for good. We'll see what further testing uncovers Monday, but I'd say at this point he's likely a long shot to play in Week 17 against the Packers.
- Darrell Henderson (knee) – Henderson played just two snaps Sunday and somehow the oft-injured back managed to suffer a sprain. The team hopes the injury is not serious, per reports, but he'll likely have an MRI Monday to confirm the extent of the injury.
We'll surely learn about more injuries Monday, and we'll have all of the updates you need for Tuesday's newsletter. As always, if you have any questions about your lineup, waiver-wire moves, or are just looking back on the season or ahead to the offseason, make sure you send them my way with the subject line #AskFFT to Chris.Towers@ViacomCBS.com.
- Isaiah McKenzie, WR, BUF 0%
- Dare Ogunbowale, RB, JAX 0%
- K.J. Osborn, WR, MIN 54%
- Boston Scott, RB, PHI 37%
- Rex Burkhead, RB, HOU 31%
Week 16 Winners and Losers
Honorable mention to Justin Jackson, who stepped up in what will possibly end up being his only opportunity to be the lead back for the Chargers and helped carry countless players to the championship week. Jackson scored a couple of touchdowns on the ground and did his best Austin Ekeler impersonation with 98 yards on eight catches with a 36% target share. Ekeler will likely be back in Week 17 and if he's half as productive as Jackson was Sunday we'll be pretty pleased. What a performance in the biggest possible spot.
- The whole Bengals offense – Redemption, thy name is "CIN." If you managed to survive the stink bomb the Bengals laid last week, they did what they could to make up for it Sunday against a badly outmanned Baltimore defense. Burrow had the fourth-most passing yards in a single game ever, and basically, everyone in the offense contributed. Burrow had 525 yards and four touchdowns (46.1 Fantasy points) and Joe Mixon had 135 total yards, two touchdowns, and six catches (31.5 PPR points). In the passing game, Tee Higgins had a monster game with 12 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns (43.4), while Ja'Marr Chase had seven for 125 (19.5 points) and Tyler Boyd had three for 85 and a score (17.5). It was one of the best games we've seen from any offense this season, we'll hope for something close to a repeat in what should be a shootout against the Chiefs next week.
- Amon-Ra St. Brown – I don't know what "the real deal" would mean in the context of St. Brown's future value, but you have to be impressed by nine catches for 91 yards and yet another touchdown (his third in four games) while catching passes from Tim Boyle. St. Brown is going to be a fascinating player to try to figure out for the 2022 season and Dynasty formats, because I'm not sure how much upside he'll have when D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson are healthy – not to mention whoever else the Lions add to their receiving corps – but for Week 17 against the Seahawks, he's gotta be ranked as a top-15 WR or close to it.
- Sony Michel – Even before Henderson's injury, Michel was basically playing every down for the Rams. 46 out of 49 in the first three quarters Sunday, to be exact. The Rams have tended to lean on one back more often than not this season, and while they tried to use both Henderson and Michel last week, that experiment ended around halftime and didn't pick back up Sunday. Michel had 27 carries and four targets Sunday, 135 total yards and a touchdown for 20.5 PPR points in the game. Michel now has 89 carries and 11 targets over the past four weeks, with 458 total yards and two touchdowns, and he should be a borderline No. 1 RB for Week 17 against the Ravens.
- Devin Singletary – Even with Zack Moss active Sunday, Singletary remained the clear lead back for the Bills, so that hurdle is out of the way. Singletary played 53 of 75 snaps against the Patriots, including 18 of 26 pass plays and eight of 12 snaps from inside the 10-yard line. The schedule gets a lot easier with the Falcons and Jets on the way over the final two games of the season, and Singletary belongs in that RB2 discussion given his workload at this point. The one thing to keep an eye on is that ankle injury, which hopefully won't be much of a bother.
- David Montgomery – When David Montgomery had his incredible run to finish out last season, many wrote it off because of a soft schedule, and those people were right that he hasn't been nearly as good this season. But the thing about Montgomery is, when the Bears are using him like they were last season and like they have been of late, it really doesn't matter very much at all if he's "good," because his role is so valuable. Montgomery is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry over his past four games, but is nonetheless averaging 19.3 PPR points per game in that same stretch. When you're getting nearly 20 carries and eight targets per game, you just don't need to be "good" to be a must-start Fantasy option – but you've got immense upside in the event you do have an efficient game. Now, the problem with a player's value being role-dependent as opposed to skill-dependent (or however you want to call it), is that roles can change on a whim. Maybe that'll happen – remember, Montgomery had just 15 targets in his first seven games. However, I have no reason to think that is going to change anytime soon, so I'm expecting more of the same against the Giants in Week 17, and he's a must-start Fantasy RB as a result.
- Michael Carter – Yes, it's the Jaguars, so of course you have to take the results with a grain of salt, but even with that caveat, 16 for 118 is nothing to sneeze at. Sure, Carter only had 18 touches to Tevin Coleman's 15, but the edge was a lot more apparent in terms of playing time, where Carter plagued 43 snaps to Coleman's 19 – including nine of 14 from inside the 10-yard line. Carter is the clear passing down back for the Jets, I just wish Zach Wilson threw to his running backs more often. It'll be hard to trust Carter in Week 17 against a tough Buccaneers defense, but if anyone is going to get targets in this backfield, it'll be Carter, and the Bucs allow quite a few catches to running backs. It could be a sneaky-good spot for Carter as an RB3 or Flex.
If you lost your bid for a championship appearance because you started Tyreek Hill, you've gotta be frustrated, but you can't blame yourself. Or anyone else, really. Hill played just 28 of 67 plays Sunday, and whether it was because of the blowout nature of the game (the Chiefs were up by 23 at halftime and he didn't play in the second half) or because Hill's conditioning wasn't where it needed to be after his positive COVID test earlier in the week, it's a tough way to go out. If nothing else, this can serve as a cautionary tale that, even though the NFL has loosened return-to-play protocols for vaccinated players over the past few weeks, players still might not be 100% when they are cleared to play. There's risk with these situations, clearly.
I'm not concerned about Hill in Week 17 or beyond, but here are five you might be:
- Saquon Barkley – When it comes to the Giants, I just keep thinking, "It can't get worse," and they just keep finding new ways to prove me wrong. Jake Fromm made his first NFL start Sunday and was an absolute disaster, completing 17 of 27 passes for just 93 yards, and Mike Glennon somehow was even worse in relief. Barkley had 15 carries and just one target, turning them into 28 total yards, which somehow isn't even his worst healthy performance of the season – though it is his worst since his snap-limited season debut in Week 1. Barkley has been ceding playing time to Devontae Booker over the past three weeks, and he played a (healthy) season-low 36% of the snaps Sunday. Barkley is stuck in what might actually be the worst offense in the NFL right now, he's not playing well individually, and he's no longer an every-down back. He's not worth using as even an RB2 for Week 17 against the Bears.
- Hunter Renfrow – Renfrow was able to salvage his game with a touchdown, but he ended up with just three catches for 40 yards on three targets, his second game in a row with just three catches. He now has just eight targets combined over the past two games and was limited to just 38 of 67 snaps Sunday (57% snap share). That's a far cry from the three-game stretch immediately preceding last week, where he played at least 74% of the snaps in each game (two over 90%) and had at least nine targets and eight catches in each game. It seemed like Renfrow was just a locked-in high-volume WR2 with Darren Waller sidelined, but it doesn't look like that anymore. I'll probably still have him as a WR2/3 for Week 17 against the Colts, but all of a sudden, he's back to looking like a pretty risky start again.
- Terry McLaurin – I don't know how much of McLaurin's struggles this season you can pin on him. My guess is not very much at all. But, when we're talking about his future value, all of a sudden McLaurin is going to be 27 early next season and his production has stalled out in his third season. Obviously, Washington could go get a good starting quarterback (or even just an average one) and McLaurin could take a big step forward. But if they don't, McLaurin is going to look like a boom-or-bust, low-end WR2 or WR3 yet again. Which is an awfully disappointing outcome.
- Cordarrelle Patterson – If the Falcons deserve a bunch of credit for figuring out how to make Patterson such a dynamic offensive weapon earlier in the season, they probably deserve at least some blame for how they've chosen to deploy him of late. Patterson had just two targets Sunday, and is now averaging 3.2 per game over the past six. He ran a route on just 13 of 27 pass plays Sunday, as the Falcons continue to use him more like a traditional running back than the swiss army knife approach they used early on in the season. That's a waste of his talents, and it makes him a low-end starter for Week 17 against the Bills.
- Van Jefferson – Jefferson became a favorite of many Fantasy analysts and players, even working his way into the WR2 discussion following a three-game scoring streak from Weeks 12 through 14. To a certain extent, that made sense – Jefferson had at least six targets in each game from Week 7 through 13 and was playing nearly every pass play for the Rams. However, he had just a 51.1% catch rate in that stretch; it just seemed like every ball he caught went for a big play. I don't want to say that was only a fluke, but it's no surprise that, as Odell Beckham has grown more integrated into the offense, Jefferson has now been targeted just 11 times over the past three games. That makes his all-or-nothing approach harder to live with. He's a talented young player with serious big-play potential, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he hit a long one in Week 17 against the overmatched Ravens secondary. However, given his recent role and the regression we've seen, I don't expect Jefferson to be in that WR2 discussion anymore – he's a boom-or-bust WR4, someone you throw out there if you need some upside.