We've been building up to this for a few weeks but it's starting to become real. The Titans offense is a completely different beast with Ryan Tannehill at the helm ... and he's bringing A.J. Brown with him. That last part shouldn't be a total surprise. Brown was a playmaker in college at Ole Miss but was eclipsed by his former teammate D.K. Metcalf after the latter's big showing at the Combine. Nonetheless, Brown is showing why he was arguably the top receiver prospect in the draft. Next week's matchup with the Saints isn't the most appealing but it's also not a given that you're automatically sitting Brown. The bigger question is where the wideout will be selected in next season's drafts. Right now, it wouldn't be crazy to see him off the board by the sixth or seventh round -- especially if Tannehill is back in the fold next year.
Part of the joy of watching Josh Jacobs this season has been that his coach believed in him from Week 1. You couldn't say the same for David Montgomery or Miles Sanders for long stretches of the season. At some point, Matt Nagy realized that Montgomery was a better option than Tarik Cohen and started giving him more work. Doug Pederson might have realized the same thing with Miles Sanders but still hasn't pulled the trigger on making him the team's workhorse. That made some sense when Jordan Howard was healthy but since Howard has gone down, it's been frustrating to see Boston Scott and Jay Ajayi working into the offense. I'd like to believe that maybe things will change next year but Pederson's history suggests that it's not likely.
I've said this before ... if Jameis Winston could limit his turnovers (big if, I know) then he might far and away be the QB1. This week, Winston only threw one interception and didn't lose a fumble while throwing for more than 450 yards for the second straight week. The big winner when it came to Winston's targets was Breshad Perriman, thanks to Mike Evans being missing and Chris Godwin leaving with an apparent hamstring injury. Yes, it was against a bad Lions defense but lest we forget, Perriman was a first-round pick but never found success with the Baltimore Ravens. In Tampa, he's had the benefit of being the Bucs' third receiver and has excelled in the past few weeks as Winston has begun spreading the ball around. With the team's top two receivers likely done for the year, it should mean more opportunity for Perriman. Whether he can find the same type of production when he's the main focus of an opposing defense remains to be seen. At least the upside is that it comes against a suspect Texans defense.
I heard all of your concerns about Tyler Lockett during the week and while I admit that they were valid, I kept coming back to not being able to quit Lockett in my lineups. His ability to hit his ceiling at any time was a big part of the reason. Eventually it felt like things were going to regress to the mean for Lockett's production after a number of bad weeks. A big part of it was that the Seahawks know that they can't truly be successful without getting their top receiver involved. While we've been harping on how bad Carolina's run defense has been this season, we shouldn't ignore the Panthers' struggles against wide receivers. If you were able to survive to this point with Lockett in your lineup, you should feel very good about him starting in Championship Week against the Cardinals.
I've written plenty in the past few weeks about DeVante Parker's emergence into fantasy relevance but I don't feel like I've written or talked enough about Kenyan Drake's resurrection since being shipped out of Miami earlier this year. Admittedly, there haven't been a ton of big performances from Drake but he was much more fantasy relevant in the desert than he ever was at the beach. The hope is that the Cardinals keep Drake and allow him to settle into an evolving offense for next season. He might not rekindle David Johnson's magic from 2016 but he could end up as a nice RB2 value at a draft discount.
For the past couple of weeks, we were told that the Rams were going to lean heavily on Todd Gurley. It made sense. The Rams were fighting for a playoff spot so it stood to reason that Sean McVay would load him up with touches. That doesn't quite work so well when you get down big, which is what happened to Los Angeles on Sunday. Granted, he didn't do much in the first half before things got out of hand but it didn't get a whole lot better yardage-wise in the second half. He did salvage the day, though, with a pair of touchdowns. If you somehow survived this, the 49ers are next up. Good luck with that.
- Odell Beckham, Jr. had season-highs in targets (13) and receptions (8) but a season-low in yards per catch (8.3).