It has been quite the wild season in 2021 — a season that is concluding with a championship week unlike any in recent memory.
Fantasy mangers are dealing with all the regular issues that they do every year. Key players like Jacksonville running back James Robinson and Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen suffered injuries in recent weeks. Week 16 saw players like Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts, New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara and Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenen Allen all post dud stat lines.
But there’s another issue. A massive, potentially season-wrecking issue.
The number of players who have landed on the COVID-19 list in recent weeks is equal parts staggering and depressing. Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler missed last week’s loss to Houston, and Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce were also sidelined.
Generally speaking, this is a week where the smart play is to jettison backup quarterbacks and tight ends, whether it’s for upside waiver plays or simply to prevent your opponent from adding a guy.
Hey. Fantasy football can be a cutthroat business.
However, this season it’s wise to have at least some depth at every position — a Plan B in case one of your starters lands on the COVID-19 list.
In 2021, having the healthier roster is more important than having the “better” one.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (at Cincinnati)
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay (at New York Jets)
Josh Allen, Buffalo (vs. Atlanta)
Kyler Murray, Arizona (at Dallas)
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (vs. Los Angeles Rams) [INJURED]
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Denver)
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (at Washington)
ROLL THEM OUT
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati (vs. Kansas City): All Burrow did last week was set a new franchise record with 525 passing yards against Baltimore. Kansas City has surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (vs. Minnesota): Yes, Minnesota put the clamps on Matthew Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams last week. But this remains a bad defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021.
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (at Baltimore): Stafford posted a major clunker last week, tossing three interceptions against Minnesota. But this week’s matchup with Baltimore’s injury-ravaged defense is favorable enough to make a second chance a feasible proposition.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (at Tennessee): Among potential streaming/matchup options, Tagovailoa is the best bet in Week 17 against a Tennessee defense giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to the quarterback position this season.
SIT THEM DOWN
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Denver): Herbert is a hard quarterback to sit. But fantasy managers starting him this week need to do so with the knowledge that his matchup is bad and Denver held the second-year pro to a so-so stat line in Week 12.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (vs. Arizona): Prescott went ballistic last week against Washington’s poo pass defense. But prior to that he had been mired in a slump that saw him fail to hit 15 fantasy points in four of the preceding five games.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta (at Buffalo): Ryan probably isn’t even under consideration except in superflex and two-quarterback formats, and even there the veteran signal-caller draws a brutal championship week matchup with the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee (vs. Miami): Tennessee may be on the verge of another AFC South title, but Tannehill’s fantasy numbers have been mostly pedestrian and this week he draws a Bottom 10 fantasy matchup for quarterbacks in surging Miami.