The Market Report is your one-stop Monday shop for all the movement from a big weekend of NFL football.
These are the players who stood out for fantasy-relevant reasons — the good reasons, the bad reasons, and the in-between.
This column will be posted every Monday afternoon.
Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on recent play or news.
Joe Burrow (Cin) — Burrow’s performance in crunch time was one for the ages. With the division on the line, the Bengals unleashed Burrow and attacked the Ravens beat up secondary all day long. Burrow lit them up for a gaudy 525 yards, 4 TDs, and he only had nine incompletions on 47 attempts. Burrow got everyone involved as Tee Higgins (12/194/2), Ja’Marr Chase (7/125), Joe Mixon (18/65/1 rushing; 6/70/1 receiving) and even Tyler Boyd (3/85/1) all delivered semi-final winning weeks. In fact, Burrow’s 525 yard performance was the fourth-most all-time while Tee Higgins’ 43.4 FP bomb is the 10th-most PPR points scored by a WR in Week 16 all-time. Next up? A likely high-scoring affair at home with the Chiefs. Perfect. With a win, the Bengals take home the AFC North crown. (Graham Barfield)
Dak Prescott (Dal) — Well, Dak sure busted his slump – didn’t he? After some up-and-down performances in the back half of this season, Dak Prescott and this Dallas offense finally got right. After clinching the NFC East earlier in the day thanks to a strength-of-schedule tiebreaker as a result of the Raiders beating the Broncos, the Cowboys played free and loose on Sunday Night Football. Dak absolutely torched Washington for 330 yards and 4 TDs and went into halftime with 30 FP as their offense scored five total TDs in the first two quarters. We haven’t seen many true beatdowns like this one all year long. With this win, Dallas is still in the hunt for a first-round bye, though they’ll need to win out and the Packers to lose out. Dallas catches an Arizona team headed in the complete opposite direction in Week 17. (GB)
David Montgomery (Chi) — Montgomery hasn’t been terribly effective in Chicago’s sputtering offense, but he’s seen 16+ touches in seven straight games since he returned to the lineup off of his knee injury in Week 9. He compiled another 28 touches against the Seahawks last week, turning 21 carries into 45/1 rushing while adding 7/61 receiving on nine targets on a 78% snap share in Chicago’s comeback victory. Montgomery’s involvement as a receiver has taken off in recent weeks with 5+ catches in four straight games after he fell below four catches in seven consecutive contests to open the season. Montgomery is surging in the final weeks of the season for the second straight season, and he has a great chance to keep it going this week against a Giants’ defense that’s allowing the ninth-most FPG (25.9) to RBs this season. (Tom Brolley)
Sony Michel (LAR) — Michel has been a godsend for the Rams. While QB Matthew Stafford has alternated unbelievable performances with downright stinkers, Michel has provided the Rams with a stabilizing force in the backfield the last number of weeks. In Week 16 against the Vikings, Michel posted 27/131/1 rushing and 4 yards receiving while playing 90% of the offensive snaps. Meanwhile, Darrell Henderson had just one carry before leaving with a knee injury. Henderson’s injury isn’t believed to be serious, but it’s almost certain to knock him out of Week 17, which should provide Michel with an opportunity to carry the load here. Over the last four weeks, only David Montgomery and Javonte Williams have scored more fantasy points at the RB position than Michel. He’ll be an RB1 in Week 17 against the Ravens. (Joe Dolan)
#Rams RB Darrell Henderson Jr., who was ruled out today, is believed to have suffered a knee sprain, source said. The hope is it’s minor, but he’ll have an MRI on Monday that will tell the full story.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 26, 2021
Rashaad Penny (Sea) — The Seahawks have faded out of relevance in December, but 2018 first-round pick Penny has at least gotten his career back on track in recent weeks after an injury-riddled start to his career. He’s posted 135+ rushing yards and 1+ TDs in two of his last three games after finishing with 17/135/1 rushing on a 54% snap share against the Bears in Week 16. Penny is still difficult to completely trust given his injury history, and DeeJay Dallas is still very involved as the team’s change-of-pace option next to him, but his current play warrants lineup consideration as a low-end RB2. He has double-digit carries in four straight games and he’s averaging 6.4 YPC in that span thanks to a league-leading five carries of 15+ yards since Week 13. He’ll have the chance to break off more big runs this week against a Lions’ run defense that’s giving up 4.4 YPC and the fifth-most rushing yards per game (112.4) to RBs this season. (TB)
Damien Harris (NE) — With Rhamondre Stevenson (COVID) sidelined, Damien Harris was the workhorse for the Patriots on Sunday and ended up absolutely shredding the Bills for 18/103/3 on the ground. Harris’ 28.3 FP made him the RB4 on the week and assuredly helped catapult fantasy teams into the finals. While Harris has barely been involved in the passing game – he’s yet to have more than 2 receptions in a game – he’s now scored at least one TD in eight of his last 9 starts and will be back on the RB1 radar in Week 17 against the Jaguars if Stevenson can’t suit up. (GB)
A.J. Brown (Ten) — Brown didn’t skip a beat in his return to action after a month-long absence for a chest injury, and he took this struggling Titans’ offense on his broad shoulders. He demonstrated why he was a second-round fantasy pick this summer with 11/145/1 receiving on a ridiculous 55% target share (16) to carry the Titans to a victory over the 49ers in Week 16, which all but wrapped up the AFC South title. It’s been a turbulent fantasy season for Brown’s owners and most of them didn’t make it to the fantasy finals, but he has the chance to bring home some titles if you’ve survived without him. (TB)
Antonio Brown (TB) — The AB circus is back in town after he sat out nine weeks for a foot injury and for a three-game suspension for a fake vaccination card. He stepped into a WR1 type of role in Week 16 with Chris Godwin (ACL, IR) and Mike Evans (hamstring) out of the lineup, and he delivered with 10/101 receiving on a whopping 15 targets. Tom Brady targeted AB on a ridiculous 50% of his 30 passes in their lopsided victory over the Panthers. Brown has posted 5+ catches and 90+ yards in five of his six games and he’s reached 20+ FP four times this season. He’s got a great chance to finish as a WR1 once again this week against a lowly Jets’ defense, especially if the Buccaneers give Evans another week to get healthy for the postseason. The odds are stacked against Tampa Bay getting the top seed in the NFC, and they should get the job done without Evans as two-touchdown favorites against New York, so AB should feast once again in the fantasy finals. (TB)
Amari Cooper (Dal) — While Dak busted his slump, Amari finally got going too. After averaging just 3 catches for 37.6 yards and missing two games due to COVID since Week 9, Amari Cooper dusted Washington for 7/85/1 on a team-high 11 targets. Dak made a point to get Cooper rolling early and hit him early and often, including their gorgeous TD connection near the pylon. Cooper’s performance here gives us enough confidence to upgrade him back into the WR2 conversation ahead of Dallas’ huge game against Arizona (GB)
None of note.
Players about whom we’re feeling less optimistic based on recent play or news.
None of note.
Cordarrelle Patterson (Atl) — Patterson carried plenty of teams to the fantasy playoffs as a waiver-wire darling, but he’s losing major steam in the final weeks of the season. He’s fallen below nine FP in consecutive games and he’s fallen below 14 FP in four straight contests after mustering just 7/14/1 rushing and 1/-1 receiving on two targets and a 54% snap share in a pristine matchup against the Lions in Week 16. Patterson is suddenly a risky RB2 option in the fantasy finals against a Bills’ defense that’s giving up the ninth-fewest FPG (21.1) to RBs. At least the Bills have given up 100+ rushing yards and 1+ TD three times in the last four weeks after Damien Harris posted 103/3 rushing against them last week. (TB)
James Robinson (Jax) — What a heartbreaker. Robinson — one of the few bright spots of the last two seasons for the Jaguars — ruptured his Achilles in Week 16 against the Jets, which is a horrifying injury for anybody, but especially a running back. That’s especially true for a player who — based on his production the last two seasons — has been seriously underpaid. The Jaguars found an undrafted gem in JRob and then spent a first-round pick on Travis Etienne to ostensibly make their RB room one of the strongest in the entire NFL. Now, JRob and Etienne (Lisfranc) are dealing with what our Dr. Edwin Porras calls two of the most difficult injuries for running backs to return from. (JD)
Achilles tendon ruptures:— Edwin Porras, DPT (@FBInjuryDoc) July 20, 2021
Average "power rating" drop after repair:
*32% of NFL players did not return to NFL pic.twitter.com/lO7NrFYDfP
Long term outlook on ETN:
There’s a 21% production dip year 1 after Lisfranc surgery. That makes him volatile in year 2.
This is close to worst case scenario for a rookie RB. pic.twitter.com/3dwhHu2kPc
— Edwin Porras, DPT (@FBInjuryDoc) August 24, 2021
Antonio Gibson (Was) — Gibson came into SNF questionable with a toe injury that is similar to the one he had at the end of last season and ended up barely playing in their blowout loss to Dallas. Gibson saved you with his touchdown, but he only had eight touches for 58 yards before Washington basically gave him the night off. Gibson’s 37% snap rate easily marked a six-week low. With Washington now effectively eliminated from the playoffs – they have just a 5% chance of making it as a Wild Card according to FiveThirtyEight – it wouldn’t be a surprise if The Team just shut Gibson down for the remainder of the year and let him rest up his shin and toe injuries. Then again, this is Washington we’re talking about and they don’t exactly have a sterling record of taking care of their players. (GB)
Mike Williams (LAC) — Williams made a personal decision to not get vaccinated for COVID-19, a decision he is well within his rights to make. But because he tested positive for the virus shortly before the Chargers’ Week 16 tilt with the Texans, his personal choice will mean his fantasy season is over — he must miss a minimum of 10 days, which will also knock him out for the Chargers’ Week 17 game against the Broncos. The Chargers lost to a terrible Texans team without Williams and the similarly unvaccinated Joey Bosa (Austin Ekeler is vaccinated), and are now going to be without their big WR as they’re on the outside looking in of an incredibly tight AFC playoff race. Williams started this year looking like a league-winner. He ended it the same way his first four seasons in the league went — flashing exceptional potential that was muted by availability issues. (JD)
Ekeler is out this game, Mike Williams will miss this one and the Broncos game because he's unvaccinated— David Droegemeier (@DrotalkSD) December 26, 2021
Adam Thielen (Min) — Thielen valiantly tried to play through his high ankle sprain in Week 16 against the Rams, but left the game on two separate occasions after catching 3 passes for 40 yards. He played just 23 of the 63 offensive snaps, and it seems unlikely he’ll be ready to go in Week 17. Even if he is ready to go, he will be impossible to trust, and KJ Osborn is likely the safer play for your fantasy championship. (JD)
Gabriel Davis (Buf) — Davis missed Week 16 after he tested positive for COVID and, as an unvaccinated player, he will miss a mandatory 10 days according to the league’s protocols. Because he tested positive on Friday last week, Davis’ will be out for Week 17 as well – ending his fantasy season. Davis inexplicably played behind Emmanuel Sanders for most of this year, but came on as of late as he tallied 12/158/4 across his three previous games. The Bills will also look to get Cole Beasley back off of the COVID list ahead of Week 17, too. Beasley is unvaccinated, but his 10 day window for return ends on December 31st. (GB)
Terry McLaurin (Was) — McLaurin is the new Allen Robinson – cursed by erratic quarterbacks. Taylor Heinicke was downright awful on SNF as he completed just 7-of-22 passes for 121 yards, threw 2 INTs, and took 4 sacks. Kyle Allen came in relief of Heincke in the second half. HC Ron Riveria left the possibility of Allen starting Week 18 open as Washington was effectively eliminated from the playoffs with their loss to Dallas. After catching just 3 balls for 40 yards, Terry McLaurin’s fantasy season is ending with a whimper. (GB)
Ron Rivera said Taylor Heinicke will start vs. Philly on Sunday, but "we'll see" beyond that.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) December 27, 2021
"Will we play Kyle [Allen]? Probably. But we're going to stick with Taylor for now."
Said it's not "an indictment" on Heinicke, but more about wanting to see Allen play.
Players whom we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but their situations demand monitoring based on recent play, injuries, or news.
Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley (Bal) — Lamar missed his second-straight game with his ankle injury and, once again, he wasn’t particularly close to playing after he didn’t practice all week. However, the Ravens got a death blow for Week 16 after Tyler Huntley tested positive for COVID on Saturday before their game. Journeyman Josh Johnson performed as best he could on short notice (28-of-40 for 302 yards, 2 TD, and 1 INT), but the Ravens stood no chance with Joe Burrow dealing. The Ravens are facing a must-win next week at home against the Ravens to keep their playoff chances alive. (GB)
Dalvin Cook (Min) — Just two weeks after his similarly unvaccinated teammate Alexander Mattison landed on the COVID-19 list, Cook was placed on it on Thursday, which puts him in Jeopardy of missing the Vikings’ Week 17 tilt against the Packers. As an unvaccinated player, Cook must miss a minimum of 10 days. That would put him precariously up against it — the Vikings’ next game is on January 2, or the 11th day after Cook was placed on the list. It appears we’ll be going down to the wire to see if Cook or Mattison will be an RB1 against the Packers on Sunday night. (JD)
Elijah Mitchell (SF) — Mitchell will look to return this week after sitting out the last three games with a knee injury and a concussion, and he’ll get a prime spot against the Texans to erupt one last time in the fantasy finals. Mitchel never practiced before their TNF contest but GM John Lynch hinted last week that Mitchell was close to playing again. Jeff Wilson hasn’t been bad as the team’s lead back over the last three weeks, but he hasn’t provided the same pop with 48/211/2 rushing while averaging 4.4 YPC. Mitchell posted 45.2 FP in his last two full games in Weeks 12-13 and he has five different performances with 16+ FP in nine appearances this season. The Texans have revived the likes of Rashaad Penny (16/137/2 rushing), James Robinson (18/75/1), and Justin Jackson (19/166/2 scrimmage) in recent weeks. (TB)
Chase Edmonds and James Conner (Ari) — Conner is dealing with a heel injury and he couldn’t make enough progress to play in Week 16, which elevated Edmonds into a bellcow role. Unsurprisingly, Edmonds had his best fantasy game of the season in his first crack as the team’s only back, posting 16/56/1 rushing and 8/71 receiving for 26.7 FP on a 92% snap share in their loss to the Colts. Conner led the backfield in touches (10 to 6), scrimmage yards (70 to 53), and snap share (44% to 39%) the last time these two played together in their 18-point loss to the Lions in Week 15. These backs will be RB2 options in a difficult matchup against the Cowboys if Conner is able to return this week, otherwise Edmonds is locked in as an RB1 as the team’s bellcow back if Conner can’t play again. (TB)
Kareem Hunt (Cle) — Hunt has been dealing with an ankle injury and he’s been on the COVID list since Dec. 17 so his status for this week’s matchup against the Steelers on Monday Night Football is cloudy at best. Hunt wasn’t particularly close to playing in Week 16 even if he wasn’t on the COVID list. Nick Chubb has done the heavy lifting for Cleveland’s offense since Hunt left early in Week 14, averaging 19.9/92.0 rushing and 2.3/22.0 receiving per game with two touchdowns over the last three weeks. Pittsburgh’s run defense has been gashed by opposing offenses in recent weeks, and they’re giving up the third-most rushing yards per game (120.1) to RBs. (TB)
Austin Ekeler (LAC) — Ekeler gave his own fantasy advice last week, when he told Bills TE Dawson Knox to go pick up Justin Jackson when he didn’t feel like he would clear COVID protocols in time for the Chargers’ tilt with the Texans. Well, Ekeler didn’t clear and Jackson went HAM, posting the top overall RB performance of the week. However, it does seem like Ekeler was close to playing, and he should be ready to go in Week 17 against the Broncos, which is now a must-win game for the Chargers, who are on the outside looking in of the playoff race following an embarrassing loss to Houston. If Ekeler does play, he’s a slam-dunk RB1. If not… Jackson will slide right in. (JD)
Although he doesn’t sound too confident about playing in Week 16, have to admire the transparency from Austin Ekeler here— Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler) December 23, 2021
He advised Dawson Knox to immediately pick up his backup, Justin Jackson
Chargers have an implied point total of 28 points @ HOU ⚡️pic.twitter.com/KJfmVvlDz5
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) — Clyde Edwards-Helaire left Week 16 in the third quarter with a collarbone injury, but luckily the X-rays on his collarbone came back negative. It’s yet to be seen if CEH will miss more action after he posted 10/31/1 scrimmage before leaving with the injury in the third quarter against the Steelers. Darrel Williams finished the game with 11/55 rushing and he caught all three of his targets for 30 yards on a 42% snap share, while Derrick Gore added 12/43 rushing and 3/61 receiving on a 28% snap share in the victory. Darrel averaged 19.2/94.0 scrimmage per game with three TDs in five games without CEH earlier this season in Weeks 6-10, and he’s a must-add this week if CEH could be unavailable the next two weeks (@Cin, @Den). Gore would also be a factor if CEH misses, and he’s worth a look in deeper formats since he’s been the better runner between the two. (TB)
Miles Sanders (Phi) — Poor Miles. Despite not practicing all week with a quad injury, Sanders played and started against the Giants in Week 16. He was off to a good start before leaving slightly before halftime… with a hand injury. Sanders was ruled out, and it appears he has a broken bone in the hand. The question is how extensive the injury is — ball security will be a major issue if he’s able to play through it, but if surgery is needed he’s likely to miss some time. With Jordan Howard (stinger) also leaving in Week 16, the Eagles could once again be calling Boston Scott’s number. (JD)
My understanding is if he's determined to need pins/screws inserted in his hand, he'd be unlikely to play. https://t.co/30u0TxwAWW— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) December 27, 2021
Brandin Cooks (Hou) — Cooks missed Week 16’s surprise win over the Chargers in COVID-19 protocols. But it seems like Cooks is vaccinated, which would increase his chances of playing in Week 17 significantly. The Texans have rallied around themselves and coach David Culley to play decent football, which is a testament to Culley, and rookie QB Davis Mills has certainly played better than anyone could reasonably expect. The 49ers have had pretty significant issues at the cornerback spot all year, so Cooks could have a chance to put up numbers in your fantasy championships if he clears protocol. (JD)
Travis Kelce (KC) — Kelce landed on the COVID list last week and he failed to get a negative test before Kansas City’s showdown with the Steelers. If you were lucky enough to survive in Week 16 without Kelce, he’ll likely return to the lineup this week in a pivotal matchup with the Bengals. Kelce erupted for 10/191/2 receiving on 13 targets the last time he played against the Chargers in Week 15, and Mark Andrews just posted 8/125/1 receiving against the Bengals last week. In fact, Cincinnati has given up 19+ FP to TEs in three straight games so this is a great spot if Kelce is able to return this week. (TB)