Every Sunday, the combined SI.com and 4for4 Football team will answer a question about the day that is to unfold before our eyes. The question will change every week. Some weeks, it will be quite specific, and others it will be broader in nature. No matter what the question is, though, we’ll strive to give you a last few pieces of wisdom before you officially set your lineups for the week, kick up your feet, and enjoy the football. Let’s get to it.
It's the last week of the regular season in most fantasy leagues. Take a quick audit of how your teams, and your preseason predictions, did this season. Who made you look best this year? Who's the driving force behind your best teams?
Michael Beller (@MBeller): I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s the singular driving force behind my best teams, but in terms of making me look good while also being one of the best players on many of my teams, Brandin Cooks is unparalleled.
FantasyPros, the fantasy sports rankings clearinghouse, does this handy thing with its rankings. It shows you the high and low ranking for every player, both for every week during the season, and in draft season. Back in draft season, I had Brandin Cooks ranked as fantasy’s No. 10 receiver, making me the only person to peg him as a top-10 receiver this season. He’s my most-owned player this year, on more than half of my teams, including my two most important, as well as my best, and he has made me look quite good for believing in him. Here’s part of what I said about him in our wide receiver primer.
In the last two years, Cooks has ranked sixth and 12th in yards per target, and 14th and 23rd in fantasy points per touch while ranking as a top-12 receiver both seasons. He doesn’t need a 30% target share to put up WR1 numbers…For a team that has a lot of extensions it would like to get done—the Rams signed Gurley to his big deal after signing Cooks, and they still need to work something out with Aaron Donald—the fact that Cooks was made a priority tells us a lot about what the coaching staff and front office thinks of him. And now, we can easily see the environment as a positive. Cooks has an innovative, offense-first head coach in Sean McVay who already went to bat for him, a young, improving quarterback who was the first overall pick in the draft two years ago, an elite running back to take away a ton of the defense’s attention, and a couple of reliable receiver teammates who will make doubling or bracketing Cooks on every play an impossibility…Cooks doesn’t need a top-10 target share to reach WR1 status, but he might get one this season. If he does, he’ll be a league-winner.
Indeed, Cooks has delivered, no matter how you play your fantasy football. He’s 10th among receivers in points per game in standard and half-PPR leagues, and 12th in full PPR formats. Allow me to be the first to say, thank you, Brandin.
Chris Allen (@ChrisAllenFFWX): I can’t think of a draft I had this season where I didn’t target or wind up drafting Emmanuel Sanders. We had so many offseason storylines that the Broncos passing game mostly went under the radar. Sanders only played 12 games in 2017 and finished the season with his lowest yardage total since he went to the Broncos (555), but we could see a path to a bounce back season. Case Keenum’s arrival in Denver was the strongest signal. Keenum left Minnesota where Adam Thielen had 142 targets (ninth in the league) with more than 60% of his routes coming from the slot. Sanders ran more than 40% of his routes from the slot, and the Broncos drafted primarily outside receivers in the 2018 draft. Sanders operating as the Broncos’ primary slot receiver was the logical conclusion, and his WR31 price tag was too cheap to pass up. His WR12 rank in PPR leagues has made him one of my best draft values on the season.
I’ll cheat, yet again, and give two because our teams were not made solely from the draft. There have been a number of hot waiver wire pickups throughout the season, and one who I landed in plenty of leagues was Aaron Jones. Jones was hyper-efficient last year, but stuck in a time share with Jamaal Williams. I claimed Jones shortly after he came off suspension hoping his talent would win out. It took some time, but the backfield takeover appears to be complete. Even as Green Bay founders in the NFC North, Jones has proven to be the back to own and one of my best pickups in 2018.
Jennifer Eakins (@themondaymommy): Being the tight end specialist at 4for4, the majority of my preseason focus was on the position that turned out to be the most volatile in 2018. I pounded the table all summer for Eric Ebron and was met with skepticism from both readers and fellow analysts. Sure, having Jack Doyle sidelined for most of the season wasn't part of the plan, but I knew that if Andrew Luck was under center we'd see plenty of multiple tight end sets, and that Ebron’s big-play ability would always be an asset. Here in the final stretch of the fantasy season, the Colts' tight end is third in both standard and PPR scoring at his position. Not too shabby.
As far as my personal accomplishments go, I'm proud to say I am playoff bound in all three home leagues. My best team is driven by Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Adam Thielen. That trio alone is tough to beat, and I have high hopes for the finish line. This season is my 22nd playing fantasy football, and has been just as enjoyable as the first time I walked up the draft board and wrote the name, Ricky Watters.