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The fantasy season is over for most folks — save the lunatic leagues that continue into the absurdly volatile environment that is Week 17. The scores are in, the recounts done, the routinely non-impactful scoring changes a mere formality in almost all cases.
For some, it ended with glory and prize winnings. For most, it ended in disappointment. And though some were just outgunned in championship week by monster performances from Alvin Kamara, Mike Evans or Tom Brady, among others, the majority of fantasy teams met their demise much earlier. And the source of that defeat often can be traced back to the draft.
Here are some busts who delivered poor production or injury-riddled campaigns:
RB Triage Terror
Christian McCaffrey (Panthers): The consensus top-overall pick went down in Week 2, briefly returned in Week 9, then was immediately sidelined again with a new injury, and another return was teased the rest of the way. Because he played so little yet was not a cut option because of a potential return, he takes this title ahead of others. Honorable mentions: Saquan Barkley (RB, Giants). He missed more games but had clarity, since it was known he wasn’t returning shortly after his Week 2 injury. Joe Mixon (Bengals), Raheem Mostert (49ers)
WR Triage Terror WR
Kenny Golladay (Lions): Missed the first two weeks, returned and was rounding into top form by Week 7 only to go down again. Like McCaffrey, his return was teased for weeks but never happened. Honorable mentions: Odell Beckham Jr. (Browns), Courtland Sutton (Broncos), Julian Edelman (Patriots), Deebo Samuel (49ers).
RB Raising a Stink
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs): Vaulted up draft boards late, all the way into the first round. Confidence was bolstered by a big Week 1, but had just two or three good games thereafter. Because he was an entrenched starter on most teams, and maintained high upside throughout (though unrealized), he was hard to bench — unlike others. Honorable mentions: James Conner (Steelers), Le’Veon Bell (Jets/Chiefs), Devin Singletary (Bills), Leonard Fournette (Buccaneers).
WR Raising a Stink
Michael Thomas (Saints): Was deemed by many, including the Madman, to be one of the safest first-round picks. Ultimately played in just seven games in a tumultuous season that was marred by injuries and discord. Honorable mentions: Julio Jones (Falcons), Chris Godwin (Buccaneers), D.J. Chark Jr. (Jaguars).
Magical Disappearing Act
Tyler Lockett (WR, Seahawks): Over the first six games, he averaged 23.6 PPR points per week (capped by a 53-point Week 7 outing). In the past nine games, that has dropped to 10.1 per week, with just one of those being 13 or higher. Honorable mention: Russell Wilson (QB, Seahawks — imagine one decline had something to do with the other, yes?), Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Cowboys).
Will Fuller V (WR, Texans): Was having his normal inconsistent from week-to-week kind of season, but with a high ceiling. Then came a PED suspension that ended his season after Week 12.
If you were able to survive some of these landmines, congrats. You definitely deserve your title.
Hit the gas
Taylor Heinicke QB, Washington
The surprise release of Dwayne Haskins Jr. means Heinicke could start, if Alex Smith (calf) can’t go. An option in deep QB leagues that have the misfortune of playing Week 17 — when some stars might sit or be on snap counts.
Philip Rivers QB, Colts
Another option for the desperate this week. Faces weak Jags pass D with a playoff spot on the line, and he is widely available.
Jeff Wilson Jr. RB, 49ers
Not the best matchup against a rising Seattle defense, but he had 22 of 26 team carries last week. That kind of volume is valuable regardless of the matchup.
Malcolm Brown RB, Rams
With no Cam Akers or Darrell Henderson Jr., take what’s left in this backfield.
Tap the brake
A.J. Dillon RB, Packers
Looked great while splitting carries with Aaron Jones on Sunday night. Even if Jamaal Williams (quadriceps) is out again, don’t expect a repeat vs. the Bears.
Samaje Perine RB, Bengals
Gio Bernard actually had more carries, and don’t expect Perine to take over in the final week — against a stiff Ravens defense.
Michael Gallup WR, Cowboys
He is coming off his second-best fantasy game in his three-year career. The Giants can still play a little defense, and Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are still more reliable receiving options for the Cowboys.
Sterling Shepard WR, Giants
Had his best game of the season this past week against one of the best defenses in Baltimore, and now gets a much easier matchup vs. Dallas. But we don’t trust the Giants offense in general. Leaning on him in Week 17 feels like chasing points.
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