While most fantasy football leagues championships were decided in week 16, in addition to legions of DFS grinders, there are a few tortured souls playing for league titles this week. With Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell resting, teams with quality depth have a clear advantage. Popular upside stash Derrick Henry is set to carry to load for a Titans team that’s hanging on for dear life. Meanwhile, Mohamed Sanu is will play a big part in helping Atlanta get back to the playoffs based on advanced stats, metrics, and analytics player profiles.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington
Kirk Cousins has been a man on a mission over the past two seasons in an effort to earn a long term contract, be it from Washington or someone else. What better way to set up negotiations than with a strong showing in New York to finish the season. Cousins is hot off one of his best games of the season, throwing for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns to finish as the No. 2 quarterback on the week against what is still a good Denver Broncos pass defense. Cousins will have a much easier time this week against a much more maligned Giants defense.
Through the end of week 16, the Giants are allowing +7.21 (No. 1) fantasy points above the mean to quarterbacks. As bad as that is, that number could get even worse. The Giants secondary just lost two significant players in Landon Collins, who landed on IR with a broken forearm, and Eli Apple who was suspended for conduct reasons. Cousins has every reason to try and pad his stats in his hunt for a new contract, and this broken Giants team is the perfect defense to do that against. Start Kirk if you’re going for a championship victory this week.
Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins
There’s perhaps no player in the league who improved more from the first half of this season to the second half than Kenyan Drake. In the first eight weeks, Drake scored a whopping 6.2 points. That’s not a typo, 6.2 points in seven games. Since the Dolphins week nine match up against the Raiders, Drake has completely flipped a switch, his peak game in weeks 13-15 where he had three straight games of over 100 total yards and three straight finishes among the top 9 running backs on the week.
This week, Drake faces a Bills defense that’s allowing +9.76 (No. 1) fantasy points above the mean to running backs. In week 15, Drake turned in a great game against Buffalo finishing with 113 total yards and a touchdown on 22 touches. With Buffalo getting gashed once again by a running back in Dion Lewis last week, there’s no reason tangible reason to expect them to improve beyond “the playoffs are on the line”. Drake has a great chance this week to spoil a Buffalo team looking to break its playoff drought.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry has a chance to play savior for both fantasy owners and the Tennessee Titans this week. With Demarco Murray out with a MCL sprain this week, Henry will get to play workhorse this week in the Titans backfield. Henry will go against a Jaguars defense that is beyond tough against the pass. The Jags are currently allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to both quarterbacks and wide receivers, this will likely cause the Titans to employ a run heavy game plan that takes pressure off Marcus Mariota and the passing game.
While it may have been all the way back in week two, Henry has proven that he can be effective against this elite Jacksonville defense. Back in the Titans early season blowout, Henry finished with 92 yards and a touchdown on only 14 carries. Given a true workhorse load this time around, Henry could have great day in his quest to save the Titans from a late season collapse.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Last seasons NFC champions are in a must win situation if they want to return to the playoffs this year. They will need a big game out of wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in order to get that done. Sanu has been one of the most consistent No. 2 wide receivers in the NFL this year. He’s very efficient in a somewhat limited role, as noted by his +7.6 (No. 30) Production Premium and his +5.7-percent (No. 37) Target Premium.
This week, Sanu will be facing a Panthers defense that’s allowing +6.68 (No. 4) fantasy points above the mean to receivers. Sanu turned in a solid game when these teams first met in week nine, producing 3 receptions for 23 yards and a score on only three targets. If Sanu can get the ball thrown his way more this time, he could turn in a great game for Atlanta.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
What a difference a quarterback makes. Since Jimmy Garoppolo took over under center for the 49ers, Marquise Goodwin has looked like a new man. In his first three games with Garoppolo, Goodwin averaged 8 receptions for 106 yards a game. Last week he ran into the wide receiver graveyard that is the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he’s in a good position to bounce back against the Rams.
Goodwin will be matched up against Trumaine Johnson, who has been solid if not spectacular this year. Johnsons biggest weakness is that he doesn’t have the speed to cover Goodwin, as noted by his 4.61 (15th percentile) 40 yard dash and his 94.2 (48th percentile) Speed Score. This is very inadequate against one of the fastest players in the league, as Goodwin has a 4.27 (100th percentile) 40 yard dash and a 104.1 (80th percentile) Speed Score. Look for Goodwin to burn Johnson all game long.