Fantasy Football Week 18: Final Rankings, Projections, Early Waiver-Wire Tips

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 2, 2023

Fantasy Football Week 18: Final Rankings, Projections, Early Waiver-Wire Tips

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    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 25: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on December 25, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. The Buccaneers defeated the Cardinals 19-16 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Week 18 of the 2022 NFL season could be a doozy for fantasy football managers.

    With playoff spots and seeds getting locked into place, teams can opt to sit veterans to either keep them fresh for the postseason or protect them from injuries in a meaningless game.

    Then again, it's not like Week 17 has gone according to plan. The top three scorers at quarterback so far have been Tom Brady, Daniel Jones and Jarret Stidham, per FantasyPros.

    If your league schedule stretches through Week 18, get ready to navigate a minefield. However, you can use this as your guide, as we're providing top-10 rankings at the three marquee positions and projections for the player with the best matchup at each spot, before spotlighting a trio of early waiver-wire targets.

Quarterback Rankings

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    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 01: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass during a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on January 01, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Vikings 41-17.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    1. Josh Allen, BUF (vs. NE)

    2. Patrick Mahomes, KC (at LV)

    3. Jalen Hurts, PHI (vs. NYG)

    4. Joe Burrow, CIN (vs. BAL)

    5. Justin Herbert, LAC (at DEN)

    6. Justin Fields, CHI (vs. MIN)

    7. Trevor Lawrence, JAX (vs. TEN)

    8. Dak Prescott, DAL (at WAS)

    9. Aaron Rodgers, GB (vs. DET)

    10. Jared Goff, DET (at GB)

    Best Matchup: Aaron Rodgers vs. Detroit Lions

    Rodgers is far from being the fantasy juggernaut he was in the past, but he does have his Packers playing their best football of the season as they make a furious push for the playoffs.

    Now, his numbers haven't gone berserk during this stretch. He has thrown a single touchdown pass in each of his last four outings and last topped 250 passing yards in the first week of November.

    However, his stats could spike this week, as the Lions have yielded more fantasy points to quarterbacks than anyone, per Yahoo. That aforementioned 250-plus outing came against Detroit, in fact, a game in which Rodgers set season highs in passing attempts (43), passing yards (291) and rushing yards (40).

    Projected stats: 287 passing yards, two touchdowns

Running Back Rankings

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 24: Dalvin Cook #4 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on against the New York Giants in the second quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 27-24. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
    David Berding/Getty Images

    1. Christian McCaffrey, SF (vs. ARI)

    2. Austin Ekeler, LAC (at DEN)

    3. Saquon Barkley, NYG (at PHI)

    4. Josh Jacobs, LV (vs. KC)

    5. Dalvin Cook, MIN (at CHI)

    6. Nick Chubb, CLE (at PIT)

    7. Travis Etienne Jr., JAX (vs. TEN)

    8. Rhamondre Stevenson, NE (at BUF)

    9. Aaron Jones, GB (vs. DET)

    10. Alvin Kamara, NO (vs. CAR)

    Best Matchup: Dalvin Cook at Chicago Bears

    Like most of Minnesota's offense, Cook was missing in action Sunday. The Vikings fell into too big of a hole to get the ground game going, and the running back didn't play a prominent role in the passing game, either. When the clock hit zeroes, his stat line featured just 11 touches for 44 scrimmage yards.

    It was brutal, but don't hold it against him going forward.

    Two weeks back—the last time he had a great matchup (Indianapolis)—he turned 21 touches into 190 scrimmage yards and a score. Earlier this season, he had a similarly monstrous outing against these same Bears (20 touches for 121 yards and two touchdowns), who have given up the fourth-most points to the position.

    Projected stats: 83 rushing yards, 34 receiving yards, two touchdowns

Wide Receiver Rankings

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 01: Davante Adams #17 of the Las Vegas Raiders reacts against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Allegiant Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    1. Justin Jefferson, MIN (at CHI)

    2. Stefon Diggs, BUF (vs. NE)

    3. A.J. Brown, PHI (vs. NYG)

    4. Tyreek Hill, MIA (vs. NYJ)

    5. CeeDee Lamb, DAL (at WAS)

    6. Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET (at GB)

    7. Davante Adams, LV (vs. KC)

    8. Ja'Marr Chase, CIN (vs. BAL)

    9. Keenan Allen, LAC (at DEN)

    10. Chris Godwin, TB (at ATL)

    Best Matchup: Davante Adams vs. Kansas City Chiefs

    Tracking the news wire will be a must this week, as the Raiders' elimination from playoff contention could put Adams on ice.

    If he gives it a go, though, he could build off a tremendous showing Sunday, when he torched San Francisco for seven catches on 11 targets for 153 yards and two scores.

    The Chiefs have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to receivers—one spot behind the Niners, actually—and Adams has contributed to that ranking. While he only managed three receptions on seven targets in the teams' first matchup, those catches still yielded 124 yards and two touchdowns.

    Projected stats: Six receptions, 111 yards, two touchdowns

Waiver-Wire Targets

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 01: Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers passes against the Las Vegas Raiders during the third quarter at Allegiant Stadium on January 01, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
    Chris Unger/Getty Images

    Brock Purdy, QB, San Francisco 49ers

    Purdy's ceiling is relatively held in check by San Francisco's run-first approach, but Mr. Irrelevant's fantasy floor seemingly rises every week.

    On Sunday, he threw for a season-high 284 yards. It was his third consecutive contest with better than 200 passing yards and his fifth game in a row with two touchdown passes.

    Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons

    Eliminated from playoff contention, the Falcons are focused on their future—and clearly think Allgeier can play a big role in it.

    The rookie running back set a career-high in carries for the third straight game. During this stretch, he has tallied 55 rushes for 296 yards and two scores.

    D.J. Chark, WR, Detroit Lions

    Chark might not be the model of consistency, but you won't usually find that type of player on the waiver wire.

    Chark is, however, good more often than not—at least, he has been lately. In his last five games, he's had one dud, one mediocre effort (two catches for 56 yards Sunday) and three monsters, during which he had a combined 15 receptions for 300 yards and a touchdown.