For those of you battling for a league championship, or even just to make sure you don’t have to do the league’s loser punishment, there are some key plays this week. Winning is everything in fantasy football. Having bragging rights over your friends until next season starts is crucial.
So, without further ado, here are some key players to start and others not to start.
Fantasy Running Back and Quarterback Starters
This list begins and ends with Alvin Kamara. Even though the New Orleans Saints running back played on Friday (Dec. 25), he is the most obvious start in fantasy football. Kamara had six touchdowns for 56.2 points – in PPR formats. That is good enough for the fourth-most points in fantasy football by a running back in 20 years.
So, if you were lucky enough to draft that guy, congratulations on your fantasy football championship. Essentially you could play three other guys and walk to the title wearing a blindfold.
However, for those that don’t have Kamara on their roster, a sneaky running back to pick up is Darnell Henderson. With Cam Akers out with an injury, Henderson is projected for around 13 points.
Another running back to start is Miles Sanders. The Philadelphia Eagles play the lowly Dallas Cowboys. With playoff hopes on the line for the Eagles, expect a big game out of Sanders.
Now, at quarterback. The clearest and obvious choice is Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City Chiefs play the Atlanta Flacons who give up tons of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Lamar Jackson is also a great option. Expect a big game from the Ravens’ quarterback as well. There is a lot for Jackson to play for against the Giants. His fantasy points should be through the roof.
Another solid option is, believe it or not, Baker Mayfield. The Browns’ quarterback is hoping to get his team a division title. Additionally, the Jets’ porous defense is a dream come true for Baker. Expect a lot of deep shots and a high scoring fantasy game out of Mayfield. Just 38 percent of leagues have Baker taken.
Best Starters at Wide Receiver and Tight End
Here is where winning your fantasy football championship gets a little more complicated. So, focus on cornerback matchups and teams that will be throwing the ball more than running it. There are some obvious outliers with pass catchers who can make an impact regardless of their team’s offensive format.
So, the first pass catcher to start this week en route to the championship is Keenan Allen. Justin Herbert’s favorite target is a constant deep threat, but will also catch slants. You simply cannot go wrong with Allen this week. Look for him to have about 16 points this week, with a 20-plus point upside.
Next, a great choice to start is Calvin Ridley. Matt Ryan loves to throw the ball deep to his new favorite target. So, look for Ridley to have a big game as the Falcons try to keep pace with the high flying Chiefs offense.
At tight end, Logan Thomas should have a big game against the Carolina Panthers. His fantasy points should get him somewhere around 15 points this week. Look forward to a red zone touchdown and added catches with Terry Mclaurin listed as doubtful.
Additionally, George Kittle is back this week. The workhouse is ready to play and will certainly catch a lot of passes for the 49ers this week. His fantasy value is always high, but this week he will try to outdo himself on his return. If he is still available in your fantasy league, pick him up and start him without hesitation.
Finally, a great pass catching option is Brandin Cooks. The wide receiver is facing a terrible secondary in the Bengals. Deshaun Watson will likely look his way all game and will have lots of time in the pocket to unleash deep throws to his speedy wide out. Look for roughly 15 fantasy points out of Cooks.
Defenses to Start
The Buffalo Bills will feast on the New England Patriots this week. As weird as that is to write, have confidence starting the Bills’ fantasy D this week. There is nothing scary about the Patriots.
Additionally, the Washington Football Team will do well against the lowly Panthers this week. They should reward those who start them with a lot of fantasy points. Expect a lot of sacks and at least one turnover.
On the back burner for those who need a fantasy defense is the Eagles. They play the Cowboys and will most likely score over 7 points for your team.
On the Do Not Start List
With Stefon Diggs being guarded by Gilmore and Jackson this week, stay away from him. Surely he will catch passes, but likely will be double-teamed almost all game. An option instead is Cole Beasley.
Another player to stay away from is Robby Anderson. The Panthers face a tough Washington secondary that is surprisingly stingy under Ron Rivera. Replace him with DJ Moore.
Stay away from Evan Engram. Do not start him. The Giants’ passing game is atrocious, and Engram is overrated and will not produce enough fantasy points to win your league.
At running back, Leonard Fournette has a higher than average fantasy projection. But, the Buccaneers’ running back will not live up to that number. Do not start him. If you have to, play him at flex, but do not expect more than ten points out of him.
Even though the Rams defense produced against the Seahawks earlier this year, do not expect that this week. The Seahawks will fire on all cylinders this week, and the Rams’ D will be ripped apart.
Most of all, good luck and may the fantasy football Gods look favorably on your team.