As the end of the fantasy football regular season rapidly approaches, each lineup decision matters more than the last. This involves accurately analyzing trends, assessing matchups and hopefully not letting point projections sway you too much. Succeeding on these fronts is essential towards making the right decisions and giving yourself the best chance to win down the stretch. Unfortunately, I find myself struggling with the latter more than I care to admit. Staring down at a generous 14.5 point projection for DK Metcalf is tough to turn down. It is especially tough when your second option is De’Von Achane and the folks over at ESPN have him slated to finish with a measly 12.7. Granted, Achane is coming off of an injury. But, 12.7?! Not only is it an insult to the historic start that Achane has had to his career, but it is also impacting my decision making this week far more than it ought to. Thus is the enchanting nature of player point projections. As the importance of a single win begins to rapidly grow, it becomes increasingly important to detach yourself from non-factors like projections (and big names while we’re at it – I’d still give up a haul for Davante Adams). Bearing this in mind, here are three players that are in line to finish either significantly worse or better than their projection. Projections are in a PPR format and are from ESPN.
Jahmyr Gibbs vs. Chicago Bears (15.7 proj.) – Gibbs is averaging 27.9 points over his last three games. He now takes on an extremely vulnerable Bears defense that is top-10 in points allowed to running backs this season. There is some concern as to whether David Montgomery will resume his stronghold of the backfield, but logic points to Gibbs keeping a sizable share. Not only was he dominant in Montgomery’s absence, but upon his return last week, Gibbs received more carries and more targets. It is unlikely that Gibbs continues to get more carries than Montgomery as the latter continues to get healthier. However, it isn’t crazy to think that the Lions will look to give Montgomery less of a workload than he received to start the year in order to keep him healthy. For all these reasons, I see Gibbs continuing to command a significant role and add another huge performance to his resume in a home game against a divisional opponent.
George Kittle vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11.8 proj.) – It would be a statistical anomaly if Kittle scored within two points in either direction of his projection this week, but it is impossible to say whether he will miss above or below. He has finished between 10 and 13 points only once this year, as every other game has either been a boom or a bust. This is the inevitable reality for Kittle owners, as his last several seasons have played out the same way. This fact makes it dangerous to get attached to the projection of a volatile performer like Kittle. If there is a consistent backup option available who might have a higher floor than Kittle, it is within reason to go with them. This is especially true if your team is heavily favored going into the game and you won’t be counting on a big performance out of the tight end slot.
Tyler Boyd @ Baltimore Ravens (12.2 proj.) – Due to the fact that the Bengals have a shortened week and are playing on Thursday night, Tee Higgins is not yet ready to return from injury. This is good news for Boyd, who, over the last three seasons, scores six more points than his average in games that Higgins misses. This trend was on display last week against Houston, as Boyd put up monster numbers that could have been even better had he not dropped a touchdown. Boyd’s dominant performance was also assisted by Ja’Marr Chase playing at less than 100% due to a back injury, thrusting Boyd into an even more prominent role. It is reasonable to expect that Chase will still not be fully recovered with limited rest going into the game against Baltimore. Boyd is averaging just over 10 points per game this year and is in line to smash his projection on Thursday.