Josh Brickner helps the Standard League owners with his look at their Consistency and who can save you this week. Follow him on Twitter @joshbrickner.
When in a head-to-head fantasy football league, you want players on your team who are consistent fantasy performers from week to week. Here at Big Guy Fantasy Sports, consistency is our business. If you’re unfamiliar with the Consistency Rankings and Clutch Reports at BGFS, I recommend you take a look. Basically, a player is consistent (earns a Clutch Game) when he meets or exceeds your league’s average for points scored in a given week. A player’s Clutch Rating (CR) is based on the percentage of games he earned a Clutch Game (CG) against the number of games played.
It was African American activist Bertha Calloway who said, “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” I’m not sure there’s a more apropos comparison for the state some fantasy owners find themselves in during this stretch run. While we all dream of a starting lineup consisting of Mahomes, Barkley, Gurley, Davante Adams, Thielen, and Kelce; that’s not quite realistic (if your lineup is close to this please send a screenshot to me on Twitter). It’s much more likely you’re going into this playoff push without a significant contributor to your squad.
If James Conner (check), Kareem Hunt (check again), or Emmanuel Sanders helped you reached the playoffs in your standard leagues, then have no fear as I’m here to help.
There’s plenty of fake footballers who are in need of some reinforcements for this crucial week. Enter the below list of players. Now let me be perfectly clear about one thing, I am NOT advocating starting anyone mentioned in this article over any reliable, consistent fantasy contributor or a stud player who has had a few down weeks. This is a great way to self-sabotage your chance at a title and be faced with nine months of stinging regret. These players are only to be used in case of emergency as most have more than questionable consistency.
You’re finally here… The ‘Ship! You’ve worked all year to have a 50/50 shot (or better/worse depending on projections) to bring home the trophy. Winning means a year of bragging rights over your friends, a possible financial windfall, and to simply be called The Champ. A loss… is unacceptable.
Championship Week Life Raft Plays
Jamaal Williams, RB GB
After weeks of hand-wringing from fantasy analysts and Packer fans alike over the team’s running back situation, we are at exactly the same point as week one; Williams as the starting running back with Aaron Jones unable to play. The BYU product flopped in the first two weeks with Jones suspended tallying only 118 combined scoreless yards (106 rushing, 12 receiving) on a healthy 34 touches (31 rushing attempts, three receptions) failing to hit the Clutch Factor in either game.
Williams took full advantage of his opportunity in week 15 producing 55 rushing yards, finding paydirt on the ground, caught four of five targets for 42 yards, and producing a Clutch Game against the Bears stout (second fewest rushing yards per game allowed) run defense. The fantasy afterthought of the Green Bay backfield appears to be attacking defenses with much more confidence knowing Jones is not looking over his shoulder. The former Cougar is a strong RB2 play with touchdown upside despite a below average matchup against a surprisingly effective (21st in fantasy points allowed to enemy backs) Jet front-seven.
Kalen Ballage, RB MIA
When Frank Gore was carted off the field in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings, his replacement literally picked up the ball and ran with it 12 times for 123 yards, scored on an impressive 75-yard run, and hit the consistency benchmark. Much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners, the next man up for Miami was NOT Kenyan Drake, but the enigma of the 2018 draft, Kalen Ballage. The Arizona State product was still out snapped by Drake 28-26, but dominated the touches (13-4) against a tough Vikings defense.
While this was obviously a career day for Ballage, the optimism for him needs to be of the cautious variety. In nine games being active this season, the Dolphin first-year back had only 13 touches (eight runs, five receptions) for 29 total yards and not even a whiff of the end zone. Plus, Ballage has a history dating back to his collegiate days of having a monster game (eight total touchdowns) followed up by several mediocre weeks (only 131 rushing yards and one TD in the next five games).
It would be the smart move for the Dolphins to give their fourth-round pick an extended look these last two games, but Adam Gase doesn’t operate in common sense. It would be no surprise for the incompetent Gase to feature fourth-string running back Senorise Perry who has played on literally zero offensive snaps in week 16. Due to the unpredictability of his workload and past inconsistencies, Ballage is a high ceiling/basement floor Flex play in a below-average home matchup (19th in rushing yards surrendered per game) against the Jaguars.
Elijah McGuire, RB NYJ
Despite an early fumble and struggling to gain much traction in the running game (18/42), McGuire rescued his fantasy day with a late scoring plunge from the two-yard line. The second-year back from LA Lafayette caught three of four targets for 29 yards leading the Jet backfield in touches (21-10) and offensive snaps (56-23) against a Texans D that hasn’t been kind to opposing runners (second-fewest fantasy points allowed) the last four games.
Since Isaiah Crowell left in week 14 with an injury, McGuire has added 102 rushing yards on 35 attempts, converted eight targets into six receptions for 52 yards, played on 74.4% of the available offensive snaps, and has two straight CGs. More importantly, he’s seeing consistent goal-line touches turning five rushing opportunities inside the ten-yard line into two touchdowns. Fire up the Jets’ starting running back as a volume-based RB2 against a Packers’ defense that just allowed a combined 24.7 fantasy points (11.2, 13.5) to Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard respectively.
Robby Anderson, WR NYJ
The Jets might have lost three of their last four, but, like the above-mentioned McGuire, have gotten solid production from receiver Anderson. In these last four games, he has led the New York squad in targets (30), receptions (17), and receiving yards (242). The third-year pro has not only played 78% of the offensive snaps (with a season-high 94.7% in week fifteen) over the same span, but has been given four goal-line targets (inside the ten-yard line) which he’s spawned into two touchdowns and consecutive consistent performances.
The matchup couldn’t be better as the Jets host a deflated Green Bay squad simply playing out the string on this season. The Packers defensive secondary has been in the Christmas spirit of giving since the beginning of September; gift-wrapping the fifth most fantasy points to the receiver position making Anderson a Flex play with both a reasonably high ceiling and floor.
Dede Westbrook, WR JAC
Lost in the shuffle of the Jacksonville Jaguars absolutely miserable season is the recent play of Westbrook. The Oklahoma alum has caught 16 of 24 targets for 178 yards and two scores while adding 62 yards on the ground the last four weeks. Westbrook underwhelmed in the passing game in week 15 (3/21), but took a punt return to the house to save his fantasy day and has earned a CG in three out of his last four.
Westbrook has become the WR1 for the Jaguars in this back-nine of the season leading the team in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns over this strong four-week run. The former Sooner is a strong flex play against a Dolphins defensive secondary which is in the bottom ten of the league (24th) in passing yardage allowed per game.
Do you disagree with any of my assessments? Have a tough lineup decision not involving any of the above players? Reach out on Twitter.