The holidays are upon us and with them comes... football? YES! We actually have an NFL game on Christmas day this year which means Christmas fantasy football! As if fighting amongst your families wasn't enough for the holidays, the NFL decided to kick off most fantasy leagues' championship week(s) by adding fantasy fuel to the family party. This week gives us an interesting slate as some games look like traps and others are a sprint just to make it to the postseason finish line.
Vikings at Saints - This rare Christmas fantasy football treat is a sight to behold! The Saints are looking to bounce back from their loss to Kansas City. The Vikings are trying to just get into the playoffs and need a ton of help after losing to the Bears last week. What do these teams have to lose? If you have any players from these offenses then plug them in and forget about it. Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, and Irv Smith should all have fine fantasy production in this game.
Their numbers won't be astronomical because the Saints' defense does tout some serious skill, but the Minnesota players are definitely worth starting. As for the Saints, start everyone on offense. If the Bears can score over 30 points against this Minnesota defense, the New Orleans Saints should have no issues.
Saturday, December 26th
Buccaneers at Lions
We get three games on the Saturday after Christmas and the first one is a total snooze fest. The Detroit Lions host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what should be an obliteration of all Detroit hopes and dreams. I don't trust a single player on the offensive side of the ball for Detroit here. Bench them and look elsewhere for help.
The Bucs should have an easy time rustling the Lions' cages and leaving them with empty bellies. I like Tom Brady and all of the Bucs' receivers in this game. Their running backs are much harder to predict, so save yourself the trouble and just avoid them -- that is unless you're a Ronald Jones owner.
49ers at Cardinals - I am most definitely not going to tell you to bench Kyler Murray. I'm in the championship in our On Tap Sports Net fantasy league and I'm starting him myself. However, I'm nervous as all hell. This game, in my opinion, is a trap game for the Cardinals. On paper, they should beat this Niners team and move on to Week 17 against the Rams, but this will be no easy task. If the Cardinals lose one more game and the Bears win out, Arizona misses the playoffs and Chicago is in. San Francisco would love nothing more than to help eliminate a divisional opponent from the postseason.
This will be a difficult game specifically for Murray, even though I'm still expecting a decent fantasy output. I do not have the luxury of picking up someone with a better matchup, but I do get the benefit of having a two-week fantasy playoffs matchup. If you have the opportunity to grab someone off the waiver wire like Baker Mayfield against the New York Jets, it might be worth looking into.
Dolphins at Raiders - I cannot wait to watch this game! The Dolphins have been a fun team to watch this season and Tua Tagovailoa seems to be the real deal. I would definitely start him and receiver Davante Parker this week against the Raiders.
Furthermore, how much do you trust this Raiders offense? Outside of Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs, there isn't much to love. Marcus Mariota came into the game last week in relief of Derek Carr after Carr left with a groin injury. The Oregon product put together a fine game with an average of 25 fantasy points. However, I can't expect he'll do the same against this Miami defense that has been killing opposing offenses with takeaways this year. Waller is a good subject at tight end and Jacobs is a high-floor fantasy running back, but Mariota doesn't merit a start in this game.
Sunday, December 27th
The Sunday slate of games was discussed at length in the latest episode of the Fantasy Hour On Tap podcast where we looked specifically at these games:
- Colts at Steelers
- Rams at Seahawks
- Titans at Packers
One game we briefly touched on was the Panthers at Washington and within this game lies another trap. The Washington defense is better than most people give it credit for and they should not be taken lightly. I have a hard time trusting Teddy Bridgewater in this game as well as his receiving corps. Robby Anderson and Mike Davis are in for a hard fight against this better-than-average defensive front as well. Check out the episode below for further analysis.
Good luck this week and enjoy the rare present that is Christmas fantasy football! For most people, this is the final week of fantasy football as they do not use the 17th week of the NFL season, but fear not. For those of you who enjoy the challenge of starting players in Week 17, we will be back for one final regular-season starts and sits next week. Happy Holidays!