This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Football series.
With Week 18 being the last week of the regular season, expect the unexpected! Although most teams that have made the playoffs can jockey for seeding, don't be surprised to see some of those teams either pull players early or bench them entirely, to give themselves the rest that would come with an official bye week they won't have. In addition, teams that have nothing to play for have their own set of risks. Do the organizations want to take a look at some of their depth players to help make decisions for 2022? Have players who have fought through injury need to play in this game? When selecting players for this week, there's an emphasis on players who either are desperate for a win or have an advantageous situation due to injuries that may propel them into a more prominent role than usual.
TOURNAMENTS (GPP- GUARANTEED PRIZE POOL)
QB: Matthew Stafford, LAR vs. SF ($29): Let's face it, Stafford simply hasn't been good for a few weeks now. He had a similar matchup to last week, when he was terrible against a Ravens defense that was great against the run but awful against the pass. So why should it be any different here? Well, the Rams are at home, unlike last week when they played in a tough road venue that included a cross-country trip to an earlier time zone. Not only will he be up against a 49ers' pass defense that's 20th in DVOA and which has lost a number of corners throughout the year, but as of Friday, four of their top five remaining corners are on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
RB: Rhamondre Stevenson, NE at MIA ($21): Although the Patriots are in the playoffs, a win against the Dolphins along with some help would give them a home playoff game, while they can also luck into the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Coming into this game, Damien Harris has been unable to finish recent games due to a hamstring injury, and with a playoff game next weekend, there's a chance the Patriots either give Stevenson the primary RB role or at least a significant majority of the work. With New England facing a Miami defense that's far tougher against the pass than the run, it would make sense for the Pats to lean on their rushing attack, and in the three games he's had 20 carries, Stevenson's averaged 100 total yards and 1.33 TDs.
WR: Deebo Samuel, SF at LAR ($32): Simply put, Samuel has owned the Rams. In his last three games against them, he's averaged 111 scrimmage yards with three total TDs. The two games last year were also against a much better version of the Rams defense, and in the Week 10 matchup this year, he posted 133 total yards and two TDs. Coach Kyle Shanahan has utilized Samuel's ability in space to take advantage of the Rams' defensive style, and in a must-win game for the 49ers, look for Samuel to continue being a focal point of the offense.
DST: Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO, $10), Washington Football Team (at NYG, $15)
CASH GAMES (H2H, 50/50s and DOUBLE UPS
Kyler Murray, ARI vs. SEA ($35): As it stands now, the Cardinals would be playing a road playoff game, but if they win, and the 49ers beat a Rams team they've owned recently, Arizona would be playing at home after winning the NFC West title. In this home matchup against Seattle, Murray faces a defense that's No. 30 in DVOA against the pass with the third-lowest pressure rate in the league (per Pro Football Focus). Throw in the fact that Seattle is in the top 10 in rush DVOA as well, and it's likely the Cardinals attack through the air, which could result in a ceiling game for Murray.
Rashaad Penny, SEA at ARI ($25): Despite the great weapons Seattle has in their passing attack, we all know that Pete Carroll is in love with the rushing attack. In three of the last four games, Penny has been given at least 16 carries, and in those three games, he's rushed for at least 135 yards with a total of five scores. And even though Arizona is ranked as a strong run defense, the truth is that since they lost J.J. Watt, they've given up at least 90 rushing yards to a running back in four of their last seven games. Knowing that coach Carroll will often refuse to abandon the run, even if the game script dictates otherwise, Penny should be in line for another strong performance.
Jonathan Taylor, IND at JAX ($40): Incredibly, in a game last week against the Raiders that the Colts needed to win, they gave Taylor his lowest snap count (39) since Week 6 and gave him 20 or fewer carries for just the second time over the last seven games. With what amounts to an elimination game against the Jaguars, don't look for Indy to make the same mistake twice. He'll have a favorable matchup against a Jacksonville defense that's given up 107 rushing yards to Sony Michel, Michael Carter and Rhamondre Stevenson over the last five weeks. There's no need to go into depth about Taylor's upside after he rushed for at least 100 yards in nine of his last 11 games with 16 TDs over that span.
Cooper Kupp, LAR vs SF ($41): The Rams will be playing to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC. To get the win, they'll be facing their nemesis in the 49ers, a team that has been lights out against the run, but below average against the pass. After losing most of their top CBs to injury, the 49ers currently have four of their top five healthy CBs on the reserve/COVID-19 list. In any case, the Rams know their best weapon is Kupp, and he destroyed this defense in Week 10 for 11 catches and 122 yards. He'll need 12 catches and 136 yards to set the all-time records for receptions and receiving yards in a single season, and if the team tries to get him those records, his enormous floor is even higher than usual.
Brandin Cooks, HOU vs TEN ($24): Many people often ignore the Texans offense, which is understandable. However, Davis Mills has made it a point to make Cooks the focal point of the passing attack, and it's paid dividends. Over the last three weeks, Cooks has been targeted seven or eight times, and has produced a pair of 100-yard games and three TDs. Throw in the fact that the Titans are below average in DVOA against WR1s in a game the Texans are significant underdogs, and this is looking like another solid performance for Cooks.
Darnell Mooney, CHI at MIN, ($21): Although he hasn't had a big game in over a month, Mooney has recorded at least five receptions and 57 yards in each of the last three games while scoring one TD. He'll be facing a Vikings defense that's allowed the most fantasy points to WRs this season. In addition, with Andy Dalton having been named the starter, Mooney should continue to see targets in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Even though the Bears have little to play for, they're coming off a pair of wins, and it's unlikely they mentally check out in this divisional contest.
Zach Ertz, ARI vs SEA ($20): It's terrible that the Cardinals have had to play without DeAndre Hopkins over the last four weeks. But since he's been out, it can be argued that Ertz has been the biggest beneficiary, as he's averaged 10 targets, 6.5 receptions and 53 yards. He'll be facing a Seattle defense that's in the bottom seven in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing TEs, and with the Cardinals in desperate need of a win, if they want a chance to win the division and host a playoff game, Kyler Murray is likely to continue targeting Ertz often.
Buffalo Bills, BUF vs NYJ ($19): Not only will the Bills be fighting to keep their playoff position, in which they'd host at least one home game, but they'll be at home against a weak opponent with injury issues. The biggest issues for the Jets offense are at WR, where Elijah Moore (reserve/COVID-19) and Braxton Berrios (quadriceps) seem unlikely to play, but Jamison Crowder has also missed the last two games with a calf injury. In addition, over the last two weeks, the Jets have placed LT George Fant and C Connor McGovern on injured reserve. Top top it off, this game is expected (as of press time) to have snow and 17 MPH winds. When putting this all together, this is a great spot for the Bills defense.
DST: New England Patriots (at MIA, $20), New Orleans Saints (at ATL, $19)