San Diego and Carolina – Kelvin Benjamin
We think it’s time that we set the record straight. Benjamin is actually having a decent season with all things considered. Not only is this his first year back from an ACL injury, but he’s stuck playing with a rapidly regressing Cam Newton under center. His stats to this point are fair, though, they may not meet many others’ expectations. People in fantasy land love to see a hot streak to end the season. They love to reference the final push with remarks like “If he could keep up the final four game pace over 16 games, he’d be on pace for 1,700 yards” or something crazy like that. We too would like to see an uptick down the stretch but something far more realistic and achievable. Let’s say that Benjamin gains 300 yards with 3 touchdowns over the final four games. That would have him over the 1,000 yard mark on the season with 8 touchdowns. That would mean more yardage and just one less touchdown than his outstanding rookie season. Benjamin has to kick it up a notch down the last quarter in order to save face for the 2017 fantasy draft.
Cincinnati and Cleveland – Terrelle Pryor
Anyone who tells you that they knew that Pryor could make the transition from quarterback to wide receiver in this fashion, would be lying. Pryor has turned into one of the biggest mismatching big-play receivers in the entire league. And what’s even more impressive is that he’s been doing it with garbage at quarterback. 855 yards and 5 total touchdowns in this situation would translate to WR1 numbers almost anywhere else. With his contract up and the franchise tag price being HUGE money, there is a very strong chance that Pryor sports a new jersey next season. If Pryor can break the 1,000 yard barrier and add a few more touchdowns, he very well could be the most highly sought after free agent next season. That’s when things will get even more interesting as his stock could completely soar. Imagine Pryor catching passes from Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, or Jameis Winston. Heck, even Carson Wentz would be a major upgrade over the Cleveland quarterback carousel. Pryor has to use these final four games to showcase himself for all the wide receiver-needy teams in the league. In doing so, his fantasy ceiling in 2017 could be top-ten worthy.
Washington and Philadelphia – Kirk Cousins
A few quarterbacks turned down sizable contracts last year as they bet on themselves to up the ante. With 3,800 yards and 23 total touchdowns on the year with four games remaining, it looks like Cousins’ bet has come up aces. He’s turned himself into a top-five fantasy quarterback as his stats have him in the same category as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. With some favorable matchups left on the schedule, there remains an outside chance that Cousins could in fact finish the season as the top fantasy quarterback overall. Such a feat would have Cousins flying off the shelf 7 or 8 rounds earlier than he went this year. He would be coming in somewhere near the end of the second, beginning of the third round. That’s roughly the same area as Russell Wilson and Tom Brady will be going. He needs to avoid a dip in production though as people seem to be simply looking for reasons to not like this guy. Five-thousand yards passing is not out of the question either as he could drop another massive game like his 450-yard day against the Cowboys in Week 12. The next four games will define how Cousins is valued for the next several years.
Denver and Tennessee – Paxton Lynch
Nobody was asking Lynch to come out and make Dak Prescott look like an afterthought. But even still, how is it possible that he could only manage 100 yards passing against Jacksonville of all teams? It was amazing to see someone look so bad that they had Broncos’ fans actually excited to get Trevor Siemian back. One of two things are going to happen this week for Lynch. The first is that Siemian comes back and does well enough to hold onto the starter’s job for the rest of the season, making Lynch useless. The second is that Siemian requires more time off and Lynch gets one last shot this year to impress. Either way, Lynch’s short term value is set to change. In regards to long term value, we still stand by the early season prediction that Tony Romo will be in Denver in 2017 as the Broncos make another Super Bowl run. Lynch’s short term value could fall of a cliff here and trigger a ripple effect that changes the next several years of quarterback and wide receiver value in Denver. Tell us, would you rather have Demaryius Thomas catching passes from Romo or Lynch? Decisions, decisions.
Seattle and Green Bay – Seahawks Defense
The Seattle defense has been out of sorts for a while now. Yes, they allow the fewest points per game in the league but the turnovers and sacks haven’t been what we’ve grown so used to seeing. Just as they were getting back one safety in Kam Chancellor, they lose the other for the year with Earl Thomas‘ leg injury. With yet another blow to their defense, can the Seahawks still manage to put up top-five fantasy defensive numbers? Seattle draws a 50-50 split with remaining offenses as two are elite and two should be slam dunks. The two against the Packers and Cardinals leave a lot to be desired but the games against the Rams and 49ers should be immediate advantages for all owners. Can Seattle do enough to regain their old “Legion of Boom” antics and give their owners a leg up? Or, at the very least, can the defense beat up on the weaker competition in a big way? Owners could be left scrambling for the free agent pool if they get lit up in a big way here given Green Bays’ offensive struggles.