Ten Things We Learned in Week 17 (Fantasy Football)
Here we are in championship week and the final entry of this series. If you were lucky enough to make it to the championship and get that Footclan Title through all of the obstacles, then congratulations to you! If not, don’t worry; there is always next season to learn from mistakes and run it back. The pain from this season won’t last forever, at least; that’s what I am telling myself. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the major storylines from Week 17!
1. The 2021 Season Was the Most Unpredictable and Brutal Season Ever
We all know fantasy football can be unpredictable, but the 2021 season was the most unpredictable season I can remember in my 15 or so years playing fantasy football. We had to deal with injuries, just like we do every season, but that wasn’t the only obstacle fantasy managers had to deal with this year. There were multiple weeks with nearly minimal fantasy points across the league, and Covid took over the fantasy playoffs at the worst possible time. We also had the “byepocalypse” or “byemageddon”. With all of those challenges, fantasy managers were left scrambling to start any random player who had breath in their body at certain points, especially in deep leagues. However, even though this year was so brutal, there is just nothing like fantasy football.
2. Cooper Kupp is the Fantasy MVP
We got to witness a historic season from an unexpected breakout player in Cooper Kupp. What we saw was truly special, and Cooper Kupp is undoubtedly the fantasy MVP for 2021, in my opinion. The value from a mid-round draft pick and the consistency throughout the season and playoffs does it for me. Kupp only had one game all season under 12 fantasy points in half-point PPR scoring. Through Week 17, Kupp has 138 receptions for 1,829 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. Kupp currently has the third-most receptions and the fifth-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history. Kupp will surely be a top pick next season.
3. Antonio Brown May Have Been Pressured to Play
Antonio Brown was a hot topic in Week 17 due to a sideline incident where he took off his jersey and his shirt and then threw it into the stands. Immediately afterward, questions were being raised about what might have happened to cause AB to quit near the end of the third quarter. Most assumed this was just the latest incident from AB and that it wasn’t a shocking occurrence, considering his past. After the game, Bruce Arians stated that Brown was “no longer a Buc,” which was no surprise. Tom Brady also was asked about Brown, and he mentioned that he hopes he is well, leading many to confirm their belief that this was just another incident and that AB could be unstable. Jay Glazer reported yesterday that Arians had asked Brown to enter the game and that AB refused. New information was released on Monday by Ian Rappaport of NFL Network that stated that Brown did not feel healthy enough to enter the game and the sideline eruption resulted from Bruce Arians pushing AB to play. This does line up with the fact that AB was questionable almost all week and at one point was considered unlikely to play in the championship week for fantasy managers. This story is worth keeping an eye on to see the full development of what actually happened. Maybe we all jumped the gun on AB after all.
4. Ja’Marr Chase Had a Special Season
Rookie of the Year candidate Ja’Marr Chase had an explosive championship week game against the Chiefs, scoring 50.1 points in half-point PPR scoring. If you were lucky enough to have Chase on your Week 17 roster, then it’s likely you will be bringing home that title. Chase caught 11-of-12 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the rookie receiving yards record for a single game in NFL history. Chase also broke the record for most receiving yards by a rookie in a season, previously held by his ex-college teammate, Justin Jefferson. This season, there were some lofty expectations for Chase after he was drafted as the fifth overall pick by the Bengals, but it’s safe to say that he lived up to the hype. It’s funny to remember the hysteria surrounding Chase during the pre-season after some drops and reports coming out about Chase struggling to get separation in camp. Chase is a future superstar and is as advertised.
5. Dan Campbell Tricked Fantasy Managers
Dalvin Cook and A.J. Brown recently had blow-up games after returning from injury, and many were hoping for something similar for D’Andre Swift with his return in Week 17. Unfortunately, those who started Swift did not get the reward and instead got to see why it’s risky to play players coming off a lengthy absence. Swift barely saw any action, and his workload wasn’t “full steam ahead” as head coach Dan Campbell made it seem it would be with his multiple quotes on Swift getting touches. Swift had four rushing attempts for 32 yards and caught 2-of-3 passes for 7 yards. Those who trusted Campbell’s quotes are now left with disappointment after being misled in the most critical week of the season, and the risk did not pay off.
6. Trey Lance Started Slow but Finished Strong
The 49ers gave Trey Lance the start in Week 17 due to an injury to starter Jimmy Garoppolo, and fantasy managers everywhere were excited to see how Lance would do against the Texans’ defense. Lance has Konami code potential with his rushing ability, which is why fantasy managers thought Lance could be a championship-winning spot start. At half-time, Lance only had a few fantasy points but finished the game with 23 points in half-point PPR scoring. He may not have had a week-winning type of performance, but he did have a good outing. Lance completed 16-of-23 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 31 yards on eight rushing attempts. Lance was nearly on everyone’s sleepers list this off-season, but he never got an opportunity to shine until the last week of the season. Now we have to wait until next season to see how the potential cheat code quarterback can impact fantasy teams.
7. Rashaad Penny May Be Relevant in 2022
Rashaad Penny continued his breakout year in Week 17 against the Detroit Lions, rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 25 rushing attempts. Penny now has 481 yards rushing in the last four games and has rushed for at least 135 yards in three of the last four games. This season is the first time in Penny’s four-year career that he has really had a healthy stretch of games. This off-season, Penny will be an unrestricted free agent and may have just gotten himself a nice contract with the way he has played over the past few games, should he remain healthy the remainder of the year, that is. It doesn’t seem that talent is the issue, so he may be fantasy-relevant next season if he can stay healthy.
8. D.K. Metcalf Erupts in the Finals After Rough Second Half of Season
If you were able to make the championship game with D.K. Metcalf on your roster, then he rewarded you with a week-winning type of performance in Week 17. Metcalf hadn’t been a great fantasy option since the team’s bye week in Week 9, only scoring 10+ fantasy points in half-point PPR scoring in 2-of-8 games (Weeks 16 and 17). His first eight games had much higher fantasy production, scoring 125.5 points compared to 73 points in his last eight games. Last season, Metcalf had a similar performance, scoring 146.3 points in his first eight games and 83.5 points in his final eight games.
9. Zeke’s Workload Is Reducing
Ezekiel Elliott is usually among the top running backs every year. He has shown he is durable and able to handle the team’s bell-cow role and help fantasy managers win games. The volume has dropped for Elliott this season, as he has only 219 rushing attempts on the year (16 games). Zeke had 244 rushing attempts last season in one fewer game. Prior to this season, Zeke only had one game of single-digit rushing attempts but has four single-digit carry games this year, including this Week 17 matchup against the Cardinals. With Tony Pollard carving out a role and the Cowboys also having the passing attack that they do, Zeke’s role has reduced. Zeke has had 12 games in the past two seasons with fewer than ten fantasy points in half-point PPR scoring. Between 2016-2019, he only had three games with less than ten fantasy points.
10. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams Should Be Together in 2022
The Aaron Rodgers storyline will undoubtedly become one of the most talked about in the upcoming off-season. Nobody knows how this will unfold in the coming months, but I hope that Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers can stay together on the same team. They are one of the most special and fun to watch duos in NFL history, and the chemistry between the two is just astounding. Adams had another great game, catching 11-of-14 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown, again wreaking havoc in the first half of the game like he did last week. Adams has been a stud in the fantasy playoffs and has surely won some Footclan Titles for you all! This duo needs to stay together and continue that fantasy dominance next season.