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NFL Week 18

The Hard Bargain: Elation & Evaluation

by Dave Stewart

“The Hard Bargain” is a year-round column by Dave Stewart offering parenting advice and weekly fantasy football advice for deeper (16+ team) leagues. Dave brings over a year of experience writing this column to NFL Week 18 and will be here to help provide lineup recommendations throughout the fantasy football season.

NFL Week 17 Recap

What a weekend! We rang in the New Year and went straight into fantasy championship week. Sunday was filled with the highs and lows of seeing your fantasy team through one more matchup. Big players boomed and big players busted. Players who had not been very relevant for long stretches of the season came alive. It just goes to show that predicting fantasy outcomes is difficult. Even with the best-laid plans, it can go awry.

The Stars of “The Sneaky Flex”

This year I was able to get my twin daughters, “the Sneaky Girls,” involved in the fantasy football industry. They were fortunate to be asked to help create a show as a part of the Women of Fantasy Football (WOFF) movement. WOFF is powered by Club Fantasy FFL. Alongside host Kelly Singh, Rowan and Maisy served as fantasy analysts on their own weekly show, “The Sneaky Flex.” 

I was over the moon to have an opportunity to teach them more about this game that I love. The girls have recently celebrated their eighth birthday, so they were seven when their content creation journey began. 

Tools of the Trade

I introduced them to tools that I like to use when I am making my predictions.

First, I showed them the FantasyProsExpert Consensus Rankings (ECR). Using the site, they learned to identify each player’s position and how to pick out advantageous matchups. We used NFL.com’s fantasy resources to explore fantasy points allowed, and, finally, we reviewed players’ previous performances, usually on Sleeper.

Every week, each girl would choose three flex plays to recommend. We chose players ranked 49th or lower in the flex position on FantasyPros. If the players they chose ranked as a top-24 Points Per Reception (PPR) running back or receiver or a PPR top-12 tight end, that counted as a hit. The girls did surprisingly well. They also took sit/start questions from the viewers of their show.

Starts, Sits & Having Fun

The most important factor for the girls was having fun. They both chose the same answer when asked about their favorite part of the show.

“I liked answering the sit/start questions,” Rowan said. “[I liked answering the questions because] I helped people with their fantasy teams.”

Maisy agreed. “I think answering the questions [was my favorite],” she said.

Outstanding Success

As up-and-coming fantasy analysts, we discussed the importance of accountability. How often was their advice accurate? In short, better than I ever imagined. They did 16 shows, skipping Week 12 because of Thanksgiving. That amounts to 48 flex picks each.

Of the 48 flex picks she made, Rowan picked seven top-five finishes, five top-12 and nine more top-24. The other 27 of her picks failed to reach those levels. Maisy made 48 picks with three top-five, eight top-12 and 10 top-24. 25 of her picks did not reach the top-24 thresholds. I am absolutely floored by their success.

I understand I may be biased as their father. Still, that’s a tremendous hit rate for eight-year-old first-time analysts. I get all the proud papa feels when I see them work so hard and prepare so thoroughly. Also, I am beyond thrilled that they were given this opportunity to prove that they can do what they want in life. I am eternally grateful to Kelly and Joshua Hudson for giving my daughters a platform and supporting them so strongly. For fans of “The Sneaky Flex,” both Rowan and Maisy have said they are eager to do it again next season. 

NFL Week 17 Recommendations Recap

I also have a little pride in myself for my Week 17 deep-league plays. George Pickens did not match his previous performance against the Ravens. However, Brock Purdy had another two-touchdown performance. A.J. Dillon found the end zone for the fifth consecutive week and Tyler Conklin put up another strong outing. 

With a wrap on most fantasy seasons, I will pivot to some Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) value plays as my bargain for the week. I know some of you may play in Week 18 championships. Hopefully, this analysis will benefit you as well.

Prices listed courtesy of DraftKings.

NFL Week 18 DFS Value Plays

Brock Purdy (QB, San Francisco 49ers) | $5,700 vs. Arizona

I just cannot quit him. What Brock Purdy has been doing is a bit hard to believe. He was abruptly asked to take the reins of the 49ers’ offense when Jimmy Garoppolo left a Week 13 matchup against Miami with a fractured foot. In that game and each game since, Purdy has thrown two touchdowns. He has only thrown three interceptions in that five-game span. Plus, his yardage totals keep increasing.

Purdy faces an Arizona defense missing a few key players in the secondary in NFL Week 18. When these two teams met in Week 11, Garoppolo threw for 223 yards and four touchdowns. Purdy likely will not match that performance, but it is a good matchup against a divisional opponent. He has been unflappable. Most significantly, Purdy will afford you leeway to spend up at other positions.

Najee Harris (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers) | $6,100 vs. Cleveland

Pittsburgh has had a revitalized running game since returning from their Week 9 bye. Najee Harris has been a significant part of it. Over the last eight games, Harris has run for 86 or more yards five times, including a 111-yard outburst last week. He also has six total touchdowns over that span.

The Steelers have won six of their last eight games with their improved ground attack. Now they take on a Cleveland defense that has been victimized by running backs. In a must-win scenario, Pittsburgh will look to lean on the ground game. Harris will return value, particularly at his cost, and you will still have room in your budget for high-end targets.

Jahan Dotson (WR, Washington Commanders) | $4,500 vs. Dallas

Jahan Dotson has been hot lately. He has 18 catches for 272 yards and three touchdowns in his last four outings. He has seen at least six targets in each game. His target share has not been less than 22 percent in the last four games, and he has increased his targets per route run to over 0.2 in that span.

This week, Dotson squares off against a Dallas secondary that allows the fifth-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers. No team has allowed more touchdowns to wide receivers.

Tyler Conklin (TE New York Jets) | $3,600 @Miami

Tyler Conklin is another player I am choosing again this week. Conklin must have been relieved to see quarterback Mike White back in the lineup. Playing alongside White, Conklin has seen at least six targets in three of their four games. Last week, in White’s return from injury, Conklin caught all six of his targets for 80 yards. 

NFL Week 18 brings a matchup against Miami. The Dolphins allowed Hunter Henry to catch five passes for 52 yards last week. They have given up 10 touchdowns to tight ends this year. With the fifth-most average points allowed to tight ends, the Dolphins will give Conklin a nice opportunity to score fantasy points.

Life is hard, but it gets a little easier when we learn to lean on each other. Find me on Twitter @DaveFantasy for more life and fantasy sports content for NFL Week 18 and beyond.

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