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Football Daily Dose

Fantasy Finals: The Champions

by Lauren Carpenter
Updated On: December 28, 2020, 9:44 am ET

The Bills-Patriots game is set to wrap up Week 16 tonight and for many of us, that means the end of our fantasy season. To say this year has been beleaguered is an understatement, but it is still a joy to have football, no matter your fantasy outcome. Let’s review the fantasy superstars from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and who helped you secure that much-coveted fantasy champion title.

Christmas Champs

The Vikings visiting the Saints to kick off Week 16 on Christmas Day. If you missed the game to spend time with your family (socially distanced, of course), I will sum up the game in two words: Alvin Kamara.

The Saints trounced the Vikings 52-33 and Kamara carried the ball 22 times for 155 yards and six touchdowns. Yes, six touchdowns for a whopping 56.2 points and a huge leg-up for the championship weekend. It made complete sense considering QB Drew Brees has been struggling with broken ribs and missing key receivers Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith. TE Jared Cook gave you a bit of cushion with 11.2 points, but Kamara's explosion set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

The Vikings took the “L” but QB Kirk Cousins had a nice outing with 23.64 points on 291 passing yards and three touchdowns. One of those scores went to WR Adam Thielen who had eight receptions, 97 yards, and a touchdown with 23.7 points. TE Irv Smith stepped up once again with Kyle Rudolph sidelined and caught Cousins’ other two touchdown passes on six receptions and 53 yards to finish with a healthy 23.3 points.

Saturday Studs

The Tampa Bay at Detroit game to start the Saturday slate of games played out as expected with Detroit missing their defensive coaching staff, interim head coach, and elite WR Kenny Golladay. Scratch that. It played out worse. Lions QB Matthew Stafford, who is arguably the toughest quarterback in the league, was taken out early after an ankle injury prevented him from putting any weight on his foot. He was also playing through injured ribs and an injured thumb. 

Logically, this was less than ideal for the Lions’ surrounding weapons who were all held to less than 10 points.

Buccaneers QB Tom Brady (that still is weird to write) feasted against the broken Lions Defense and Tampa was ahead 34-0 at half-time. The game was over before it was halfway done. Brady finished with 29.92 points that all accumulated in the first half. Backup Blaine Gabbert substituted in for Brady in the second half to finish the game. Can you imagine what Brady could have finished with? If you started Brady and played against Kamara, I bet you don’t want to think about it. 

All of the Buccaneers pass catchers had an excellent fantasy day with both Brady and Gabbert in at quarterback. Mike Evans led Tampa’s receivers with 10 receptions for 181 yards, two touchdowns, and 40.1 points. Chris Godwin caught eight receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown for 19.4 and even Antonio Brown got into the end zone for a second time on four receptions and 35 yards and 13.5 points. Not to be left out, TE Rob Gronkowski also found the end zone twice and finished under 20 points with 19.8.

If the Lions had it bad on Saturday, at least they haven’t had to deal with as many injuries and for as long as the San Francisco 49ers. They played their “away” game at their temporary “home” against the Arizona Cardinals after getting kicked out of their home county. 

Despite playing against all odds, the 49ers’ defense came to play against the Cardinals and held Arizona to only two field goals in the first half. San Francisco’s RB Jeff Wilson scored the only touchdown in the first 30 minutes. Playing for their playoffs hopes, the Cardinals looked lethargic while the 49ers looked like they brought the fire. Of course, this is in terms of real football. For fantasy, the game was underwhelming on offense for both sides in the first half. 

The play picked up in the back half. Jeff Wilson rewarded fantasy managers with a receiving touchdown and 183 rushing yards for 27.4 points. TE George Kittle was finally back, which is always a delight, even if he was on a limited snap count. He finished the game with four receptions, 92 yards, and 13.2 points. The other surrounding pieces were all right, but you likely needed a bigger performance from studs like DeAndre Hopkins (12.8), Christian Kirk (14.6), and even QB Kyler Murray(15.38). Kenyan Drake scored a touchdown but was unimpressive the rest of the game logging 13 points even after fellow RB Chase Edmonds left early with a hip injury. Brandon Aiyuk was shut down with only 4.1 points.

If you needed anyone from the Dolphins-Raiders game other than Myles Gaskin, you were probably sweating. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick to give Miami a spark while down 13-16. That did fantasy managers no favors with Tagovailoa stuck at only 8.86 points. 

The intensity sky-rocketed after that with back-and-forth scoring in rapid succession. Raiders WR Nelson Agholor caught an 85-yard touchdown pass, but their kicker missed the extra point. Myles Gaskin answered with a 59-yard touchdown run. Then Derek Carr came back to drive down the field to get a field goal with 19 seconds left on the clock. Unfazed, Fitzpatrick tossed a 34-yard pass to Mack Hollins while getting his head nearly twisted off his neck, which got the Dolphins in position for a field goal to win by one because of the missed extra point by the Raiders. It was a pretty epic finish.

Carr (23.24), Agholor (26.5), and Darren Waller (16.2) were the fantasy winners for the Raiders while Gaskin (33.9) crushed for the Dolphins. If you had to start Gesicki, you weren’t too disappointed with 9.4 points. Josh Jacobs (6.9) and Tagovailoa likely gave you heart palpitations heading into Sunday’s games.

Sunday Snapshot

Sunday had its share of surprises for fantasy managers including the entire starting WR squad for the Browns going on COVID-19 reserve. Another surprise was the close game between the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals where QB Brandon Allen looked like a gun-slinger and RB Samaje Perine looked like a steamroller.

That game produced some of our biggest fantasy producers from the Sunday slate of games. Deshawn Watson threw for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns for 26.76 points and Allen finished with 23.14 points as the QB9 at the end of the day. Perine rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns and he also added four receptions for 41 yards and 29.6 points. Texans RB David Johnson, who has been on a roll, logged 128 yards on the ground for a touchdown as well as three receptions for 11 yards and a receiving touchdown for 28.9 points. Brandin Cooks finished with 27.1 points on seven receptions, 141 yards, and a touchdown. It’s a little bit crazy that the best fantasy game was between the Texans and the Bengals, but there you have it.

Andy Dalton (26.58) lit up the Eagles with help from WRs Michael Gallup (30.1), CeeDee Lamb (23.4), and Amari Cooper (16.1) to finish in our top-five just ahead of Ben Roethlisberger with 25.48. I want to give an honorable mention to Mitchell Trubisky who threw for 265 yards and a touchdown and also rushed one in for 23.6 points. 

Even though Perine was the leading fantasy back for the Bengals, veteran Giovani Bernard’s performance was nothing to dismiss. He finished outside of our top-five but still scored 20.1 points on 65 rushing yards as well as seven receptions for 66 yards, showing off some pass-catching chops. 

Packers RB AJ Dillon emerged as the productive back over Aaron Jones on Sunday night with 124 yards on the ground and two touchdowns for 25.9 points. His production may have been due to Jamaal Williams’ absence, but nothing can take away from what he was able to do with his opportunity.

Washington’s J.D. McKissic (23.2) outscored rookie Antonio Gibson (9.9), but his workload came through the air on eight receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. Keeping in theme with a Bears’ honorable mention, RB David Montgomery continued his double-digit streak with 20.1 points against Jacksonville. I also want to give a shout-out to Colts RB Jonathan Taylor who didn’t break 20 points but he did find the end zone twice for 19.4. 

If you did a double-take with that score from Gallup, I don’t blame you. He exploded against the Eagles on six receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns. This was what a lot of analysts, myself included, were hoping for this year before Dak Prescott’s injury rearranged things in Dallas. He will be an interesting name to remember for 2021. Perhaps the Jets just resigned themselves to their fate of losing the number one draft pick because they came to play against Cleveland which, again, was missing most of their receivers this week. Jamison Crowder, who has been as reliable as one can get in fantasy, really brought the fire with seven receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 14 yards and threw a touchdown pass to WR Braxton Berrios to finish with 29.32 points. When it comes to utility players, he takes the cake. Move over, Taysom Hill. Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had one of his best games of the year in their narrow victory over the Colts with 24.6 points on nine receptions, 96 yards, and a touchdown.

We can’t talk about Sunday’s best receivers without giving love to Davante Adams who had a bounce-back game that sent him into the stratosphere. I didn’t think it was possible to eclipse Evans’ performance from Saturday, but Adams’ 11 receptions, 142 yards, and three touchdowns overtook the Buccs receiver by more than three points with 43.2. Since Adams had himself a stellar day, that means that the man throwing him the ball was equally good. Aaron Rodgers finished as the QB5 with 25.14 points on 231 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Jimmy Graham (22.9) and Travis Kelce (22.8) join Smith, Gronkowski, and Waller in the TE top-five, but they weren’t the only tight ends with some admirable Week 16 performances. Eric Ebron caught five of his seven targets for 47 yards and a touchdown for 15.7 points which tied Falcons TE Hayden Hurst who had the same stat line on five targets. 

I know that it’s no fun, so I’ll keep the stinkers section as brief as possible. Jared Goff struggled once again with 9.66 points in their loss to the Seahawks. He did dislocate and possibly break his thumb late in the game, though. He toughed it out and kept playing but that doesn’t do too much to assuage the hearts of fantasy managers. 

Chiefs’ RB Le’Veon Bell had a chance for a big game with Clyde Edwards-Helaire sidelined, but he was held to only 30 yards and one reception for nine yards and only 4.9 points. It didn’t help that the Chiefs’ offense struggled (shockingly) against the Falcons so it was a lot of Patrick Mahomes slinging the rock instead of relying on the run game. 

T.Y. Hilton did just ok with 9.00 points, but you likely needed some big points for the championship. D.J. Moore couldn’t get into the end zone on his five receptions and 37 yards so he was held to just 8.7. A.J. Brown was also hobbled due to the blizzard in Green Bay and only scored 8.3 points on four receptions and 43 yards. 

Wide receivers with first name initials were subject to disappointing fantasy performances on Sunday. 

If your 2020 fantasy journey ends this week, thank you for allowing me into your inbox every week this season. I hope you were able to bring home the title and secure your bragging rights for the rest of the year!

Injury Updates and Quick Hits

Packers RB Aaron Jones limped off the field with a hip injury during Sunday night’s game. … QB Jared Goff dislocated his thumb and will need to be monitored for Week 17. … Washington QB Taylor Heinicke replaced Dwayne Haskins at QB while Alex Smith is still nursing a calf injury. … Texans QB Deshaun Watson was slow to get up near the end of the game and is listed as questionable. 

Lauren Carpenter

Lauren Carpenter (@stepmomlauren) is a St. Louis native, graduate of the University of Missouri's Journalism school, and all-around fan of sports. She is a fantasy football analyst and writer who enjoys communicating about sports and fantasy football, but will not inflate your vanity or listen to condescension. Let's all be kind to one another.