The last week of the regular season is upon us.
Everything is on the line now for a lot of teams. Many teams have playoff clinching games this weekend and even though a lot of leagues are over, for those still kicking, here is one last column for the year.
Here are some things I did not see coming this year:
The decline of David Johnson/Rise of Kenyan Drake: Kyler Murray ended up being a legit playmaker for the Cardinals, which in most timelines would have been great for David Johnson, but his season was hampered by injuries. Once his backup Chase Edmonds went down, the Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake and he has already produced almost as many yards (111 car, 583 yds) rushing as Edmonds and Johnson all year long (141 car, 606 yds) on 30 less carries. This is going to create a weird situation at the start of next season when all three are healthy.
The Fall of the Steelers: It feels like years ago when I last talked about the Steelers and their weird year. This team seemed like it was destined for greatness, but then it all fell apart when Ben Rothelisberger went on IR. The steelers have not had solid play from either MAson Rudolph or Devlin Hodges, which has helped Juju Smith-Schuester and the entire offense as a whole has become one of the bigger fantasy duds this year. Also, this team is somehow 8-7, so it turns out good coaching can win you games. I wish Jerry Jones knew that.
The Rise of Austin Ekeler: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ekeler is the best “backup” running back in the NFL. He was without a doubt the MVP of my fantasy team this year with his receiving ability, despite limited carries. He is a versatile back who will get paid once the season is over. I am going to make the prediction now, Ekeler will be a top-five running back next year.
■ Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks: Beast Mode is back and the NFL is better for it. With Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise and Raashad Penny out, there is a chance that Lynch will see serious touches in week 17. Be mindful though, Lynchy has not played a down this year, but come on, when are you going to get another chance to say that you picked up beast mode as a member of the Seahawks?
■ Saquon Barkley, Giants: With injuries plaguing this offense, the Giants will have to lean on their superstar to be the knockout punch they need to finish the season strong against Philadelphia.
■ George Kittle, 49ers: I do not care how injured he is. I do not care how great the defense he is playing against is, what makes Kittle a superstar is his ability to make plays at the end of games. Just look at what he did top the Rams last week in the 4th quarter.
■ Robert Griffin III, Ravens: RG3, though spectacular a few years ago, is making his first start in three years and will be playing in an offense designed for Lamar Jackson.
■ Anthony Miller, Bears: Though Miller has been hot as of late, the honeymoon phase is over and Mitchell Trubisky has been terrible when playing playoff team this year, meaning all of Chicago’s offensive tools will be hurting this week.
■ Kadem Smith, Giants: Smith has two receiving touchdowns in an offensive explosion, but there is a reason why Evan Engram is the starter when he is healthy. Smith’s presence has been sparse, even when Engram has been injured and out. One good week does not a good fantasy player make.