Here on the streets of the internet, we love to overreact to each week’s performances in the National Football League. Each week, we at DraftKings select three players that stood out from the weekend — good or bad — and tell you if they’re going to replicate their numbers the following week, or if change is on the horizon.
I’m stepping in for Steve Buchanan this week, going through Week 16’s notable performances and projecting the week ahead as we end the regular season.
Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys
Week 16 Fantasy Total: 30.58 DKFP
Week 17 is tough, because some of the top performers from the week prior are on teams that have already clinched spots in the playoffs, so they’ll be resting or on limited snap counts. In breaking down Dalton I’ll project the Cowboys’ passing attack as a whole, considering Michael Gallup (33.1 DKFP) was one of Week 16’s top wideouts.
The Cowboys can actually make the playoffs with a win here and a loss by the Washington Football Team, so they’ll have their foot on the gas in this one. The Giants’ secondary has been wildly average all season long, ranking 16th in opponent passing yards per game. Though they’ve gotten healthier in the secondary, the Giants still rank exactly 16th over the last three weeks, so not a whole lot has changed.
Let’s start with what we know from the season — Dalton actually finished off a 37-34 win for the Cowboys over the Giants in Week 5, completing nine of 11 passes for 111 yards in relief of an injured Dak Prescott, so we do have a small sample to draw from. While that is promising, the 30.58 DKFP from last week is a season-high for him, and it’s a number he hasn’t hit since Week 16 of last season with the Bengals.
I think Dalton’s outlook for Week 17 is a good one, but it’s unlikely he hits 30 DKFP again. As for his weapons, Amari Cooper is tasked with facing James Bradberry, the fifth-best corner in football according to PFF, so he’s in the worst spot of the three receivers. Gallup has a much better matchup against Isaac Yiadom (81st) and has always been a favorite of Andy Dalton, averaging seven targets per game since Dalton returned from injury in Week 11. I like both to excel again, though we should temper our expectations.
Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers
Week 16 Fantasy Total: 30.4 DKFP
Hardly anyone had heard of Jeff Wilson Jr. at the beginning of the season, yet here we are in Week 17 and he’s emerged as the starting running back for the 49ers, who seemingly had three players ahead of Wilson on the depth chart at one point. With all three injured, Wilson was thrust into a lead-back role and earned himself plenty of carries with some fantastic running.
So, 183 yards on 22 carries is pretty insane; it’s no wonder the Niners ran the league’s fourth-highest amount of rushing plays (54.6%) in Week 16. For the season, they rank 15th with 42.1% of their plays being runs, so it’s not unreasonable to think Wilson can push towards 20 carries, though prior to last week his season-high was 17 carries.
An average of 4.9 yards per carry is nothing to scoff at, and it’s impressive Wilson was able to hit 30 DKFP despite scoring just one touchdown — on his only catch of the game. The problem with Wilson in Week 17 is that Seattle’s front seven lurks, a wall that has allowed the fifth-least rushing yards per game (96.2) on average. Teams have respected that, too, rushing just 35.1% of the time against Seattle, the second-lowest mark in the league, and it doesn’t help that they have one of the worst secondaries in football.
This game is weird, because San Francisco is out of the playoff race, so they could just decide to run Jerick McKinnon out there a bunch since he hasn’t had an abundance of opportunities this year. Even if Wilson starts, though, this is going to be a big-time letdown from Week 16’s incredible performance. The volume should drop significantly, as should his wonderful yards-per-carry average.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
Week 16 Fantasy Total: 9.0 DKFP
There were plenty of disappointments in Week 16 which I wanted to touch on here like DK Metcalf and Derrick Henry, but I’m not sure if they’ll play on Sunday, or how much. The Colts, meanwhile, are still in a fight for a playoff spot and will need to take care of business against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s right, the Jaguars! And Hilton is...the 27th most-expensive receiver at $5,800? It may be the highest he’s been priced since Week 1, when he ironically also played Jacksonville, but it is still far too cheap.
Folks, do not forget about T.Y. when filling out your lineups. So what, he caught three passes against one of the best defenses in football? He was still targeted seven times, giving him an average of eight targets over the past four games. There is no getting around the fact that Philip Rivers has fallen in love with Hilton like it’s 2016. This is likely due to the fact that Michael Pittman, Trey Burton and Zach Pascal have commanded so much attention from opposing secondaries with their stellar play.
Hilton has gotten over three yards of separation on average in his last two games, which ranks well above league average and above his season mark. He’s also hauling in over 61% of his targets, a good sign that things will turn around from his 3/7 performance against Pittsburgh.
All that’s to say that this is a fantastic matchup. Jacksonville has no one that can run with any of these receivers, and with top corner Sidney Jones now on IR, this matchup gets even better. The only worry in playing a Colts receiver here would be that they don’t get enough target share with such a fantastic matchup, but judging by the past four weeks, Hilton should be the first guy Rivers looks to.
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