The New England Patriots still have a ways to go before the playoffs – if they can luck out and get there – but the fantasy playoffs are right around the corner.
Standard leagues have one week left in their regular seasons, which means fantasy owners are going to have to sell out to secure their spot in the postseason. The Patriots haven't been a consistent fantasy factory so far this season, but it may be worth looking their way for a few key contributors in an unorthodox fantasy season finale.
All scores are calculated using half-point PPR, ESPN standard scoring
Start 'Em: James White
White was the only Patriots skill position player to break double digits against Arizona, and he could be in line to do so again against Los Angeles.
That isn't just because of a "prisoner of the moment" mentality – White is primed to finally break out these next few weeks.
Rex Burkhead is out for the year, and his role as a dual-threat, pass-catching back has shifted to White. The latter was always the better receiving back, but his snaps, touches and targets had all fallen off due to personal issues and an offensive shift.
White did most of his damage as a ball-carrier last week, however, as he scored two touchdowns deep in the red zone. After not playing a serious part in the game plan against Baltimore, White has scored 11.3 and 14.2 points in the two games since.
The Chargers have allowed more than 20 points to opposing running backs in seven of their last eight games, and they are the 11th-best matchup for fantasy running backs so far this season.
It's always dangerous starting a Patriots running back in fantasy, and that remains true to this day.
Still, White has a high ceiling as a flex option, and he can save your season if he finds the end zone yet again.
Sit 'Em: Cam Newton
Newton put together a string of solid fantasy outings after his implosion against the 49ers, but his most recent performance is cause for additional concern.
A career-low in passing yards and a second single-digit fantasy point outing of the season showed that Newton still has an insanely low floor, and that's why he should be avoided at all costs.
One week, Newton will score 20-plus points, and the next, he'll struggle to get to four. His 3.8 points this week came against a Cardinals defense that is in the bottom seven in terms of slowing down fantasy quarterbacks.
If Newton can't even get his passer rating to 25 against a poor pass defense, don't expect him to get better against a defense that just limited Josh Allen to 15.4 fantasy points.
Keep him on your roster purely because he can be valuable when he gets a rushing touchdown, but don't start him if you have any other option at quarterback this week.
Start 'Em: Nick Folk
For the second time this season, Folk played the role of hero last weekend.
The veteran kicker drilled a 50-yarder for the win on Sunday, and he broke double digit fantasy points for the third time this season. Folk has hit 19 consecutive field goals and has hit multiple extra points in each of the last four weeks.
Folk has scored at least seven fantasy points in six of the Patriots' last seven games, and he has cemented himself as a key part of the team moving forward. The Bills run a very different offense than the Patriots, but their kicker Tyler Bass was able to put up 11 fantasy points against the Chargers last weekend.
Coach Bill Belichick has shown that he trusts Folk when it matters most, and fantasy owners should too.
Sit 'Em: Jakobi Meyers
After four straight weeks of posting eight-plus fantasy points, Meyers has yet to hit that mark in his last two outings.
That isn't entirely his fault – Newton has been atrocious and the game plan is getting more run-heavy by the day – but it is concerning for fantasy owners. Even when Newton passed for 365 yards against the Texans two weeks ago, Meyers only went for 38 yards on three catches.
He caught all three of his targets that day, and he caught five of six against the Cardinals, so he isn't losing a step in terms of his skill. Meyers simply isn't getting the looks he was against the Jets or Ravens, and his fantasy production has suffered as a result.
Meyers is averaging 5.8 receptions per game since New England's Week 6 loss to Denver, but his lack of a presence in the red zone makes him a tough play when he isn't getting double-digit targets.
The second-year breakout wideout isn't an avoid-at-all-costs type player, but it shouldn't be too hard to find better options considering Meyers is going up against a top-10 fantasy defense in LA.