Kickoff: Sunday, January 8th, at 1:00 PM EST
Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Betting Odds: CAR+3.5, 41.5 total via Oddsshark
Writer: Matthew Cava (@cavaM_ Twitter & Reddit)
Sam Darnold (Start, QB2)
If you’re in a Week 18 Championship, I say let’s get weird. If you have a QB on your roster that may miss the game entirely (due to pre-playoff rest), or perhaps pulled mid-game, Sam Darnold is an intriguing option this week. Yes, the Panthers are playing for pride only after being eliminated from playoff contention last week in the loss to Tampa Bay, but Darnold is continuing to audition for a starting role in 2023. Whether that’s with Carolina or elsewhere, Darnold has been cookin’ in recent weeks. He’s only played in five games this season, but in that span, per StatMuse, he owns a passer rating of 105.4 with a 7:1 passing touchdown to 1 interception ratio in that span.
D’Onta Foreman (Start if you must, RB2), Chuba Hubbard (Sit)
If you’ve stuck with D’Onta Foreman, he put in work in the Week 16 semis, but was a dud in Week 17 Finals. If you’re still around for a Week 18 Championship, consider Foreman a start-if-you-must RB2 for this game against a Saints defense that has allowed the 13th fewest fantasy points to running backs this season; though they are fairly inconsistent week after week.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
DJ Moore (Start, WR3 with WR2 upside), Terrace Marshall Jr. (Sit), Ian Thomas (Sit), Tommy Tremble (Sit)
Talk about a late-season resurgence. It’s been a rotation of QB’s for the Panthers this year, and DJ Moore was an unfortunate victim most of the season because of it. Well, since Week 15, he’s turned it up major, averaging 20.7 fantasy points in full-PPR leagues. The targets are aplenty, and he’s scored in three straight games. At this stage, consider Moore a strong WR3 with WR2 upside. The likes of Terrace Marshall Jr. and tight ends Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble are easy sits this week, as they don’t produce enough for fantasy relevancy.
New Orleans Saints
Andy Dalton (Sit)
Don’t let a win against the Eagles fool ya. Last week, Andy Dalton completed 18 of 22 attempts verse the Eagles, but only had 204 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. Dalton hasn’t thrown a TD pass since Week 15, and remains on your leagues wire.
Alvin Kamara (Start, RB2)
It’s been a very disappointing season for Alvin Kamara, especially for fantasy managers who may have taken him as early as Round 2 in redrafts. He put together a decent Week’s 15 and 16, but last week only managed 9.1 full-PPR points; rushing for 74 yards on 16 carries. Confusingly, the Saints continue to ignore him on passing downs and in the red-zone. If you find yourself in a Week 18 ‘ship, start Kamara, but you could be in for another puzzling output. Earlier in the season (Week 3), Kamara turned 15 carries into 61 yards against the Panthers, which was only good for 7.3 full-PPR points.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Chris Olave (Sit), Rashid Shaheed (Sit), Juwan Johnson (Sit), Taysom Hill (Start, FLEX)
Once on pace for a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year-type season, Chris Olave has faced some injuries and down production; most notably after the Week 14 BYE. He hasn’t scored since Week 11, which is the same week he last topped over 100 receiving yards – and that week he had 102. If you’ve made it this far, it’s likely without Olave in your starting lineup. Rashid Shaheed has turned it up a bit since Week 15, but isn’t a player you’d rely on in your Week 18 final. Juwan Johnson was a waiver wire darling after his Week 15 blowup – 4-for-67 and two touchdowns – but then he was a Week 16 dud. Last week against Philly, he posted 62 yards on five receptions and seven targets, but enters Week 18 with a quad injury. At the time of writing, he didn’t practice on Wednesday, and it would be hard to trust him in this season finale.
How could I forget Taysom Hill. In the upset over Philadelphia, Hill rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, adding one reception for nine yards, and had two pass attempts completed for 24 yards. He’s dealing with a back injury that had him practice in limited fashion on Wednesday, but should Hill suit up for the Saints last game of the season, he’s a viable FLEX option as New Orleans continues to feature him in under center, eating into any touches Kamara should be seeing.