Fantasy Football Week 18: Best Waiver-Wire Targets for Final Week of NFL Season
If your fantasy football league goes all the way until the final week of the season—now Week 18—chances are you have experience with navigating the minefield that is setting lineups this week. It is the hardest week of the year in fantasy—even harder than Week 1, when no one knows anything.
Will teams sit your perfectly healthy, best-performing players to rest them for the playoffs? Will teams with nothing left to play for shut their best players down? What will happen with the COVID-19 list this week? Will your starting wideout quit in the middle of a game?
Anything could happen in Week 18, and fantasy managers need to set their lineups carefully.
Even if you've been blessed with a healthy lineup for most of the season, you'll need to work the waiver wire this week to have replacements on hand for players with a high probability of being rested. (We're looking in particular at Green Bay Packers skill players, as the team clinched the No. 1 seed with its 37-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night.)
Even if you don't think you need any waiver-wire additions, and especially if you're not in a keeper league or if you have players you could drop, why not pick up the hot names to prevent your opponents from doing the same?
Let's break down the best waiver-wire pickups for Week 18. These players are rostered in no more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Monday morning.
Point totals and projections are points-per-reception (PPR) scoring.
Cyril Grayson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0 Percent Rostered)
It's rare this late in the season that a player becomes a waiver-wire must-have and is rostered in zero percent of leagues, but that's where we find Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Cyril Grayson.
Prior to Week 17, Grayson had only seen significant action in two games, Weeks 8 and 16, totaling 12.0 and 12.5 points, respectively. His one touchdown of the season came in the Week 8 game against the New Orleans Saints.
On Sunday, however, with Chris Godwin out and Antonio Brown's exit mid-game against the New York Jets, the Bucs were desperate, and Grayson was ready to contribute.
He caught six of eight targets for 81 yards and a touchdown as the Bucs defeated the Jets 28-24, good for 20.1 points. He was the 10th-highest-scoring receiver on the week.
Prior to his breakout performance, Grayson had seen 10.8 percent of the Bucs' offensive snaps. With Godwin's torn ACL and Brown's imminent cut from the team, that number will be a lot higher in Week 18.
The 12-4 Bucs hold the No. 3 seed in the NFC, while the 12-4 Los Angeles Rams sit at No. 2 with the head-to-head tiebreaker. Tampa Bay plays the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and L.A. faces the San Francisco 49ers. The Bucs have locked down their playoff berth, but seeding is on the line.
Braxton Berrios, WR, New York Jets (7 Percent Rostered)
DK DFS Value: $4,900
New York Jets wideout Elijah Moore, who has played 45.8 percent of the offensive snaps this season, could return to the team in Week 18. He hasn't played since Week 13 because of a quad injury and went on the reserve/COVID-19 list two weeks ago.
Even if Moore does return, Braxton Berrios has shown the Jets he has something valuable to contribute.
In Sunday's four-point loss to the Buccaneers, Berrios was the team's leader in targets, receptions and yards, catching eight of 12 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown. He also had two carries for 12 yards and a score. Even though he lost a fumble, he totaled 25.7 points.
He caught fantasy managers' attention in Week 16 with his 102-yard kickoff return touchdown. But that special teams prowess wasn't enough to convince managers to pick him up on waivers, as he was rostered in just 7 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Monday morning.
In Week 17, however, Berrios proved he's a smart flex play and likely will be straight-up, even if you're not looking to fill a spot on your bench because of injury or a player who's likely to sit. Jamison Crowder's availability is unknown (calf injury), so Berrios is mainly competing with Keelan Cole in target share against the Buffalo Bills.
Berrios will provide the most value in PPR leagues.
Boston Scott, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (31 Percent Rostered)
DK DFS Value: $5,300
This season, Miles Sanders has seen the largest share of snaps at running back for the Philadelphia Eagles at 40.7 percent. But he missed the Week 17 win over Washington with a broken right hand, and though he was not placed on injured reserve, his availability for Week 18 is uncertain.
But neither the Eagles nor fantasy managers need worry, as Boston Scott has proved capable of shouldering the load. He recorded 47 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and caught all four of his targets for 39 yards.
It wouldn't be fair to call Scott a breakout, as he's had other weeks this season with double-digit fantasy point totals. But he hasn't scored anything like his 24.6 total in Week 17, which ranked fourth-best among running backs.
The Eagles clinched a playoff berth Sunday thanks to their win, the 49ers' win over the Houston Texans and the Green Bay Packers' victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Philadelphia has nothing major on the line against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 18, and they could rest some starters. (The Eagles would likely save Sanders for the postseason even if he were cleared to return this week.) That makes Scott a smart play.
Zay Jones, WR, Las Vegas Raiders (1 Percent Rostered)
DK DFS Value: Not available (SNF game)
One of the best matchups in Week 18 is between the Los Angeles Chargers, who sit in the No. 7 spot in the AFC, and the Las Vegas Raiders, who are on the outside looking in at No. 8.
It's a win-and-they're-in situation for Las Vegas, which bodes well for Zay Jones.
With Darren Waller on the COVID-19 list in Week 17, Jones caught eight of 10 targets for 120 yards, notching his first 100-yard game and tying his career high for catches.
Even if Waller is activated in Week 18, this is a huge game for the Raiders, who should continue their pattern of giving Jones a lot of looks.
The impending free agent saw nine targets in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns and eight in Week 16 against the Denver Broncos, leading the team or tying for the lead both times.
Jones has amassed 342 yards on 33 catches over his past six games. That's an upward trend fantasy managers will want to jump on.
With Jones rostered in 1 percent of leagues as of Monday morning, it's likely he's available in yours. Look at him as a WR3/flex play in PPR or standard leagues.
Marquez Callaway, WR, New Orleans Saints (26 Percent Rostered)
DK DFS Value: $5,000
Like the Week 18 matchup between the No. 7 Chargers and No. 8 Raiders in the AFC, the game to watch in the NFC is between the No. 8 New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, the latter of whom has been eliminated from postseason contention.
However, Week 18 means everything to the Saints. To wit, the NFL flexed the game, originally scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, to a more prominent 4:25 p.m. ET slot.
In that same time slot, the 49ers will try to keep their season alive against the Rams. If the 49ers lose and the Saints defeat the Falcons, New Orleans is in.
The Saints will look to wideout Marquez Callaway to help get the job done. Callaway has had an up-and-down season, posting six games of double-digit points, including a 15.7-point outing against the Panthers in Week 17. He scored a touchdown against the Falcons in Week 9; can he do it again this week? The Saints sure hope so.
Fantasy managers can feel confident Callaway will factor into New Orleans' game plan in Week 18. In Week 17, he had a 43.5 percent target share with 10 and secured six receptions for 97 receiving yards.
Over his last three games, Callaway has totaled 255 yards on 16 receptions.
Rex Burkhead, RB, Houston Texans (30 Percent Rostered)
DK DFS Value: $5,200
Sometimes you have to embrace the unknowns of fantasy football. Who would have thought journeyman running back Rex Burkhead would hit a career high of 149 yards in Week 16? And how many managers had him in their lineups?
Not many. As of Monday, Burkhead is rostered in just 30 percent of leagues. But he demonstrated in Week 17 that he's the go-to guy in the Texans backfield with 16 attempts for 47 yards and six receptions on six targets for 32 more yards.
That equaled 13.9 fantasy points and made Burkhead the No. 24 running back of the week, enough to warrant a WR3 or flex start. You can take that line of thinking into Week 18, trusting that Houston will continue to go to Burkhead. The 31-year-old has had 15 or more carries in three straight games.
The 4-12 Texans have nothing to play for in Week 18 but pride, though they could play spoiler to the Tennessee Titans, who are looking to lock down the AFC's No. 1 seed. Houston shocked Tennessee with a 22-13 win in Week 11.
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