Fantasy Football: Week 18 first edition rankings plus how commissioners can handle Week 17

On Monday morning, I laid out my plans for this week’s newsletter, but when Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed due to a cardiac event during that evening’s game with the Bengals, Fantasy football was absolutely the last thing I wanted to think about. And I know I’m not alone in that.

This game we spend so much time thinking about can, at its best, serve as a distraction from reality. And some of my favorite emails I’ve ever received have come from listeners and readers telling us about how what we do has helped them get through tough times. It always lifts me up. I know that Fantasy Football isn’t even close to the most important thing in the world, but it definitely helped me maintain a sense of normalcy during tough times, both in my life and in the larger world.

But this game felt more important than normal. We were all tuned in to Monday’s game with high expectations – two of the best teams in the league and some of the game’s brightest stars on the biggest stage, with big stakes for the NFL playoffs and countless fantasy championships set to be determined. But that was all rendered so meaningless so quickly.

Monday’s game could never have kept going after that – the reactions from Hamlin’s teammates and opponents made that clear to anyone watching. It crystallized what can sometimes be hard to keep in mind as football fans: That, as indestructible as these men seem, they are still men, playing a dangerous game that puts them at risk of serious injury every time they step on the field. It’s something they have to put on the side whenever they take the field, and it’s natural that we do the same as fans. Occasionally, but inevitably, that illusion is shattered.

Hamlin remains hospitalized in critical condition as of Tuesday night, and I know you’re all right there with me in sending positive vibes his way throughout this entire ordeal. It’s been amazing to watch as the sports world has rallied around Hamlin, with nearly $6 million raised for Hamlin’s Chasing M’s foundation – initially created to give back to the McKees Rock and Pittsburgh communities where Hamlin grew up.

In setting up the GoFundMe page, Hamlin wrote, “As I embark on my journey to the NFL, I will never forget where I came from and I am committed to using my platform to positively impact the community that raised me.” It’s been incredible to watch the entire football community and the sports world at large use that platform Hamlin created to lift him up and spread that good message even wider. Consider making a donation with some of those Fantasy league winnings. I can’t wait for Hamlin to see what has been done in his name.

The game will go on, of course. It’s not clear at this point if Monday’s game will be made up, but there will be games in Week 18. Big games. Games that matter for playoff seeding and draft position, and for some of you, for your Fantasy leagues. That sense of normalcy will return, in fits and starts, too — though not without keeping Hamlin in our thoughts and prayers as he continues to fight.

And, so too, this newsletter will return to normal. In fits and starts. I’ve made some changes to my content schedule after taking yesterday off, but I will be looking ahead to the 2023 rankings later in the week. Today’s newsletter has some Week 18 advice for you before then and some thoughts on how to handle the unprecedented situation of a championship week being rendered incomplete. I’ll be honest, it feels weird to be talking about all of that in light of what we saw Monday night, and if you don’t have any interest in reading about it, that’s okay. I understand.

But we’re going to move ahead with Week 18 and beyond. Things aren’t normal right now, but we’ll make the best of it.

How commissioners should handle Week 17

There is no good answer for how to handle the postponed games. I can tell you how I handled it in the leagues. I am the commissioner of — We split the championship. I was in the championship in both leagues and projected to win, but I suggested just calling it a tie – the last thing I wanted to deal with was trying to figure out a tiebreaker or juggling the schedule. It just didn’t seem worth it, and I didn’t feel up for it, honestly.

But that’s just me. Your league may be different. I’ve had other leagues declare the projected winner the outright winner; I’ve got others that are going to manually insert Bills and Bengals players’ Week 18 scores into their Week 17 lineups to determine the championship. I think that’s an imperfect option because the circumstances for those games are completely different than in Week 17. But imperfect options are all we’ve got here.

I’ve even seen some suggestions on Twitter of using projected scoring margins to determine how to distribute winnings: You split the pot and, if one team was a 70% favorite, they get 70% of the winnings, and so on. I’ve seen some suggest you use the players’ average scores for the season instead of their Week 17 scores. You could even put the players’ performance in each game so far this season into a hat and draw one for the score. It’s random, but so is Fantasy football in a lot of ways.

The point is, there is no perfect answer to how to handle this. It’s an unprecedented situation, borne from a horrible incident, and trying to find the “right” or “fair” answer to reward the “true” winner is not only impossible but kind of beside the point, if you ask me. Whatever works best for your league should be how you approach it. As a commissioner, I’m trying to do whatever is best for my league, and that meant coming up with a way to settle the championship in a way that took it out of anyone’s hands. That was what felt right to me.

Week 18 Rankings

If you’re looking for players to add for Week 18, Jamey Eisenberg’s Waiver Wire column is right here for you. But, remember that a lot is going to change between now and Saturday’s first lineup locks of the week, as we learn who will be sitting out and who will be playing.

For what it’s worth, the following teams enter Week 18 with relatively little at stake beyond potential playoff seeding or draft order positioning: Vikings, Buccaneers, Giants, Texans, Broncos, Colts, Raiders, Browns, Jets, Bears, Cardinals, Rams, Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Commanders. That doesn’t many all of them will be resting starters, but surely some of them will. We’ll hopefully have a pretty good sense of that by Saturday and Sunday, but it’s harder to say right now.

This means those waiver targets may be obsolete by then, and these rankings may be too. More than any other week, competing in Week 18 requires you to stay as up-to-date as possible as late as possible into the week on news to know who will be available. It’s why we don’t recommend playing into Week 18!

Here are my rankings as of now:

QB Rankings

  1. Patrick Mahomes @LV
  2. Trevor Lawrence vs. TEN
  3. Josh Allen vs. NO
  4. Joe Burrow vs. BAL
  5. Tom Brady @ATL
  6. Geno Smith vs. LAR
  7. Kirk Cousins ​​@CHI
  8. Justin Fields vs. MIN
  9. Justin Herbert @DEN
  10. Daniel Jones @PHI
  11. Aaron Rodgers vs. DET
  12. Jared Goff @GB
  13. Dak Prescott @WAS
  14. Brock Purdy vs. ARI
  15. Deshaun Watson @PIT
  16. Mike White @MIA
  17. Gardner Minshew vs. NYG
  18. Russell Wilson vs. LAC
  19. Kenny Pickett vs. CLE
  20. Jarrett Stidham vs. KC
  21. David Blough @SF
  22. Josh Dobbs @JAX
  23. Mac Jones @BUF
  24. Skylar Thompson vs. NYJ
  25. Baker Mayfield @SEA
  26. Sam Howell vs. DAL
  27. Tyler Huntley @CIN
  28. Nick Foles vs. HOU
  29. Andy Dalton vs. CAR
  30. Davis Mills @IND
  31. Desmond Ridder vs. TB
  32. Sam Darnold @NO

RB Rankings

  1. Austin Ekeler @DEN
  2. Christian McCaffrey vs. ARI
  3. Derrick Henry @JAX
  4. James Conner @SF
  5. Josh Jacobs vs. KC
  6. Dalvin Cook @CHI
  7. Aaron Jones vs. DET
  8. Travis Etienne vs. TEN
  9. Rhamondre Stevenson @BUF
  10. Joe Mixon vs. BAL
  11. Najee Harris vs. CLE
  12. Nick Chubb @PIT
  13. David Montgomery vs. MIN
  14. Saquon Barkley @PHI
  15. Alvin Kamara vs. CAR
  16. Kenneth Walker vs. LAR
  17. Tyler Allgeier vs. TB
  18. Leonard Fournette @ATL
  19. Jerick McKinnon @LV
  20. Rachel White @ATL
  21. Ezekiel Elliott @WAS
  22. D’Andre Swift @GB
  23. Isiah Pacheco @LV
  24. Latavius ​​Murray vs. LAC
  25. Devin Singletary vs. NO
  26. AJ Dillon vs. DET
  27. Miles Sanders vs. NYG
  28. Cam Akers @SEA
  29. Brian Robinson Jr. vs. DAL
  30. JK Dobbins @CIN
  31. Deon Jackson vs. HOU
  32. Zack Moss vs. HOU
  33. Raheem Mostert vs. NYJ
  34. Cordarrelle Patterson vs. TB
  35. D’Onta Foreman @NO
  36. Michael Carter @MIA
  37. Zonova Knight @MIA
  38. James Cook vs. NO
  39. Chuba Hubbard @NO
  40. Malik Davis @WAS
  41. Chase Edmonds vs. LAC
  42. Gus Edwards @CIN
  43. Jeff Wilson vs. NYJ
  44. Jamaal Williams @GB
  45. Damien Harris @BUF
  46. Jonathan Williams vs. DAL
  47. Royce Freeman @IND
  48. Kareem Hunt @PIT
  49. Dare Ogunbowale vs. ARI
  50. Samaje Perine vs. BAL

WR Rankings

  1. Justin Jefferson @CHI
  2. Ja’Marr Chase vs. BAL
  3. Tyreek Hill vs. NYJ
  4. Stefon Diggs vs. NO
  5. Amon-Ra St. Brown @GB
  6. AJ Brown vs. NYG
  7. Chris Godwin @ATL
  8. Keenan Allen @DEN
  9. Davante Adams vs. KC
  10. Tee Higgins vs. BAL
  11. DK Metcalf vs. LAR
  12. CeeDee Lamb @WAS
  13. DeVonta Smith vs. NYG
  14. Garrett Wilson @MIA
  15. Mike Williams @DEN
  16. JuJu Smith-Schuster @LV
  17. Jaylen Waddle vs. NYJ
  18. Michael Pittman vs. HOU
  19. Jerry Jewdy vs. LAC
  20. Amari Cooper @PIT
  21. Tyler Lockett vs. LAR
  22. Christian Kirk vs. TEN
  23. Mike Evans @ATL
  24. Christian Watson vs. DET
  25. Diontae Johnson vs. CLE
  26. Zay Jones vs. TEN
  27. Drake London vs. TB
  28. Courtland Sutton vs. LAC
  29. DJ Chark @GB
  30. Jakobi Meyers @BUF
  31. Chris Olave vs. CAR
  32. Brandon Aiyuk vs. ARI
  33. Brandin Cooks @IND
  34. Adam Thielen @CHI
  35. Darius Slayton @PHI
  36. Marquise Brown @SF
  37. Donovan Peoples-Jones @PIT
  38. Richie James @PHI
  39. Terry McLaurin vs. DAL
  40. Isaiah Hodgins @PHI
  41. Allen Lazard vs. DET
  42. Gabe Davis vs. NO
  43. DJ Moore @NO
  44. Curtis Samuel vs. DAL
  45. Greg Dortch @SF
  46. Romeo Doubs vs. DET
  47. Josh Palmer @DEN
  48. KJ Osborne @CHI
  49. Elijah Moore @MIA
  50. Corey Davis @MIA

TE Rankings

  1. Travis Kelce @LV
  2. TJ Hockenson @CHI
  3. Mark Andrews @CIN
  4. George Kittle vs. ARI
  5. Dallas Goedert vs. NYG
  6. Evan Engram vs. TEN
  7. David Njoku @PIT
  8. Tyler Higbee @SEA
  9. Dalton Schultz @WAS
  10. Cole Kmet vs. MIN
  11. Pat Freiermuth vs. CLE
  12. Dawson Knox vs. NO
  13. Gerald Everett @DEN
  14. Juwan Johnson vs. CAR
  15. Darren Waller vs. KC
  16. Robert Tonyan vs. DET
  17. Daniel Bellinger @PHI
  18. Hunter Henry @BUF
  19. Jelani Woods vs. HOU
  20. Trey McBride @SF
  21. Hayden Hurst vs. BAL
  22. Albert Okwuegbunam vs. LAC
  23. Tyler Conklin @MIA
  24. Taysom Hill vs. CAR

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