December 28, 2022, 12:29 pm
We’ve reached the end of the 2022 fantasy football season, and I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has read my content on SportsEthos this season. If you’re still playing for some hardware this week, congratulations! I know fantasy football can seem like a really compact season, but it really is a challenging season with a lot of twists, turns and a lot of cruel fates. The fact that this is still a meaningful week for you is a big deal, so good luck bringing home the gold. The theme for this week’s Buy/Sell unintentionally focuses on the breadwinner position in fantasy, and that’s running back.
Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots
It’s been a brutal stretch for Stevenson managers here late in the season, with disastrous games of less than three points in two of Stevenson’s last three contests. Most managers likely were not able to survive those two faceplants. If you are one of those managers with Stevenson and made it to the finals regardless, consider it a victory of epic proportions and hang on to that hope that he can still get you to the trophy. Damien Harris (thigh) is still iffy to return, and Stevenson now gets a Dolphins defense that has been stout on the season in limiting opponent rushing yards per game, but is a beatable 14th-worst (130.5 yards) in that category when playing on the road. They’re playing in Foxboro this week, and the last time they played in a frigid road environment two weeks ago, they gave up 150 rushing yards in Buffalo at a 5.2 YPC clip. With Tua Tagovailoa ominously in the concussion protocol yet again, the Pats may not have to chase points in what could be a low-scoring affair controlled on the ground. It’s time to truly cash in on the draft day profit of grabbing Stevenson late.
Cam Akers, Rams
I am one of those fantasy managers who saw Akers fall a bit too far in one of my leagues (nearly to the sixth round) and couldn’t help but grab him at that price. It was a decision that many like me instantly regretted when the entire Rams offense shockingly imploded. Akers himself was obviously the subject of much controversy by ending up in head coach Sean McVay’s doghouse and at one point seemingly one of the most obvious trade candidates in all of football. So how did we end up here, where Akers has been the overall RB3 in fantasy over the past month? He has outscored the likes of Derrick Henry, Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler and Saquon Barkley, something that would have been unthinkable even a month ago. First, the insertion of Baker Mayfield has certainly steadied LA’s offensive ship that had been sinking fast even just a month ago. Despite scoring the 7th-least points on the season, the Rams had the 9th-best scoring offense since Mayfield’s arrival. Akers himself has also just play much better of late, stringing together his first consecutive above-average PFF rushing grades all year over his last two games. The Battle of Los Angeles awaits in the title week tilt, and the Chargers have surrendered the 7th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this year. It’s time for Akers to testify to that pre-season ADP and bring his patient managers to the promised land.
Leonard Fournette, Bucs
In a now-deleted tweet on Monday, Fournette’s frustration over criticism of his playing shape boiled over when he lashed out saying, “I hate when people be on here just talking saying I’m out of shape etc do y’all understand I’m playing with a Lisfranc in my foot every week can barely push off my foot.” A true Lisfranc fracture is obviously not a minor injury, as basketball fans know that it cost 2nd overall pick Chet Holmgren his rookie pro season. It could be a matter of simply exaggerating the foot injury that he had listed on the injury report leading up to the Week 16 contest against the Cardinals, but championship week is also not the time to ignore the possibility of fire when you smell smoke. The bottom line is that you should not expect another 20-plus point performance in the fantasy finals, especially against an inspired Panthers team under Steve Wilks that has allowed the 2nd-lowest YPC (3.3) and the 4th-fewest rushing yards per game (82.3) over the last three games. The Bucs are still squarely in the wild card race so there are real stakes here for head coach Todd Bowles and his staff, but I’d expect Rachaad White to play on much more than just 35% of snaps like he did in Week 16.
Josh Jacobs, Raiders
Things have gotten to a boiling point in Vegas, and after some disgruntled comments from Jacobs in a postgame interview seemingly calling out head coach Josh McDaniels’ play calling, one has to wonder if the running back’s time in silver and black is drawing to a close. It’s worth noting that Jacobs was drafted under a very different regime in 2019 with Mike Mayock as GM and Jon Gruden as head coach, so there isn’t necessarily any loyalty to sticking with Jacobs as the long-term franchise back under new GM Dave Ziegler and McDaniels. The shocking news on Wednesday of Derek Carr’s benching in favor of Jarrett Stidham might mean more volume for Jacobs in theory, but the overall drop in quality of the offense will likely hit rock bottom and affect Jacobs too. Jacobs’ 50 total yards from scrimmage against the Steelers were his lowest of the season while his passing game usage has thinned out significantly. The Niners are a nightmare matchup in Week 17, and there’s a very real possibility that Raiders brass decide to get a closer look at rookie Zamir White before they head into the offseason. This will be a similar sit/start dilemma as the one we had a few weeks ago with Ken Walker III against these same Niners. You’re most likely starting Jacobs still, but I’d say you need to sell the idea that there could be any kind of ceiling for him and to plan accordingly elsewhere in your championship lineup spots.