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Sunday Six Pack: Week 18

We offer up the final Six Pack of the regular season.

Cam Akers

The fantasy football community lost a great person recently when Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros passed away from COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated against the disease. His shocking and sudden passing has left a huge void behind the scenes in the industry and he leaves behind a beautiful family, including Tabbie (Mike’s wife) and their children, Alyssa (18) and Jonathan (4). Many have rallied to support the Tagliere family and there’s a GoFundMe account set up to do just that. If any of you feel the calling to give, there are few people better to support than “Tags.” He will be missed!

This Sunday Six Pack is a traditional article at DLF and a part of our content strategy for over six years. I’ve enjoyed writing it this season, and I’ve especially loved adding the Monday Hangover as a follow-up each week. Even though few fantasy managers are playing this week, I wanted to do one final pair of Six Pack and Hangover articles to conclude the series and transition to the off-season. It’s been a great ride doing this column, and I hope you all continue to follow my work after the season. So, let’s jump into my final Six Pack!

Chris Evans’s Opportunity

Bengals’ starting running back Joe Mixon will miss the season finale with COVID-19, and the team also plans to rest key players like Joe Burrow to prepare for the playoffs. Therefore, even though Samaje Perine is their primary backup, I expect Evans to see some run this week. The Bengals selected Evans in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and I liked him as a preseason sleeper. At the time, it seemed like Mixon was an injury-prone starter, and Perine represented an uninspiring backup option, leaving some opportunity for Evans to see work.

Unfortunately for Evans, Mixon remained healthy all year, limiting Evans to backup work. Additionally, the Bengals trusted Perine as the clear backup, so Evans only has ten carries for 42 yards. At times, though, he’s at least seen work in the passing game, catching 11 of 12 targets for 127 yards and a touchdown.

Of course, Mixon will be the Bengals’ starter for 2022 and likely 2023, but there’s always room for other running backs to get involved. The Bengals can save $1.5 million by releasing Perine before the 2022 season, although I doubt that happens unless Evans has a massive game this week. But either way, a good performance against the Browns would be an excellent place to start.

D’Andre Swift’s Final Impression

Swift suffered a shoulder injury in week 12, ruling him out for the following four games. But until then, he was on an absolute roll.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

He totaled 47 carries, 266 yards, and a touchdown in the previous two games, finally adding rushing upside to his passing-game work.

Unfortunately, Swift picked the worst possible time to burn his fantasy managers in week 17. Head coach Dan Campbell said he was healthy and ready to return, but he saw minimal work. Even though he received a 57% snap share, he only had four carries and three targets compared to Jamaal Williams’s 11 carries and three targets. Williams also scored a rushing touchdown, along with Amon-Ra St. Brown. Oddly enough, Swift turned his four carries into 32 yards while Williams managed only 22 yards on his rushing touches.

This week, the Lions face the Packers in an entirely meaningless game, but it would give Swift a chance to demonstrate he’s healthy. I’m not sure it will truly matter in the big picture, but every little bit helps. Right now, Swift is the RB3 with an ADP of 5.50 overall in December’s DLF ADP.

Tyler Huntley

With the Ravens mostly eliminated from playoff contention, it’s not surprising they decided to rule out Lamar Jackson once again for week 18 with his ankle injury. Huntley filled in for Jackson for an illness in week 11, most of week 14 after the initial ankle injury, and he started in weeks 15 and 17. In those games, he found mixed fantasy success.

Chart courtesy of DLF Player Scoring History App.

Everyone remembers his QB1 overall performance in week 15, but he failed to finish inside QB1 range in the other three games. But for the year, he’s been a serviceable player, completing 67.5% of his passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also added 35 carries for 222 yards and two touchdowns, despite only seeing significant playing time in four games.

Huntley isn’t Jackson, but he can certainly step in when Jackson is out. Therefore, I have zero doubt the Ravens will retain him on an exclusive rights free-agent contract after this year, as he’s great insurance for Jackson. However, if Huntley plays well this week versus the Steelers, he could get other NFL teams’ attention for a future starting job. No matter what, this is a high-stakes game for someone like Huntley and his dynasty value, as undrafted players often get only one shot.

Allen Robinson’s Impending Free Agency

At this point, I would almost find it hilarious if Robinson chose week 18 to have his first fantasy-relevant game of the season. Somehow, he’s seen virtually no action this season, despite having 150 targets on this same team in 2019 and 2020.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

As you can see, Robinson has only had more than seven targets or four receptions once this season, which happened in week one. Additionally, considering he’s only had one touchdown, he only managed above ten PPR points twice in weeks two and nine. Essentially, Robinson has been one of the worst non-injury fantasy busts I can remember, providing fantasy value in zero of 11 games played.

If anything, it would almost be a cruel twist of the knife if Robinson delivered this week against the Vikings. It’s evident that Robinson has zero interest in remaining in Chicago after they used the franchise tag on him this past off-season against his wishes. Perhaps now that it’s week 18, he will show prospective suitors that he still has it. Either way, I’m watching Robinson going into free agency because he can make a difference for whichever team he signs onto for 2022.

Michael Pittman’s Inconsistency

Pittman has been such a bizarre fantasy asset this year. As a whole, he’s had a great second year, totaling 82 receptions on 122 targets for 1,018 yards and five touchdowns. He’s the Colts’ clear top receiving weapon, as he leads in all receiving categories by a wide margin, including more than double the receiving yards of any other player.

However, it’s impossible to ignore his inconsistency.

Chart courtesy of DLF Player Scoring History App.

As the chart shows, Pittman has had quite a few down weeks, often coinciding with Jonathan Taylor’s big games. I also can’t imagine that the Colts proceed into next year with Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton as the primary alternative receiving weapons behind Pittman, as neither has been effective at all.

Therefore, Pittman needs to use this game against the Jaguars to make a good final impression on head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard. The Colts can also secure a playoff spot with a win, which would give Pittman further opportunities to shine. Right now, Pittman is the WR22 with an ADP of 47 overall in DLF’s December ADP, which still seems like a decent value. But of course, that value could still swing wildly over the next few weeks.

Cam Akers’ Return

I don’t even want to discuss Akers’ dynasty value or future outlook too much in this final section. Instead, I wanted to close my Six Pack series for the year by congratulating Akers on a fantastic achievement. He tore his Achilles tendon on July 20, 2021, and now he will play in week 18 less than six months later. Most of the time, fantasy managers consider an Achilles tear for a running back to be a death sentence, so he’s beaten the odds simply by playing this week.

For now, I’m not expecting Akers to put up fantasy-relevant numbers this week against the 49ers or even in the playoffs. Darrell Henderson remains out with an MCL sprain, but it seemed like Sony Michel took his starting job even before this latest injury. Therefore, I believe the Rams will continue with Michel as their lead back while using Akers in a complementary role.

But if Akers shows anything like the talent he displayed at the end of last season, he will be the Rams’ clear lead back going into 2022. Michel is an impending free agent, while Henderson and Akers remain under contract on their rookie deals. I imagine Michel will walk in free agency to a less crowded situation, leaving Akers to compete with Henderson for playing time. This week is Akers’ first step toward reclaiming the starring role he seemed ready to take this year before his Achilles tear.

Sunday Six Pack: Week 18
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Chad Gorick
6 months ago

Great read Justin. Do you have an early take on Antonio Brown’s outlook for next year? It’s apparent he can still bring it, but does anyone sign him. Wondering how high I should go on this buy low candidate. Thanks!

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