Fantasy football starting position: Mark Andrews, Miles Sanders

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews enters Week 17 third in fantasy points at his position, averaging 12.3 PPR points per contest. He is rostered in nearly every league, as he should be, and his investors probably don’t give it much of a thought when finalizing their lineups, even in the extra pressure of the current fantasy football playoffs. Andrews is always in there, but since this is the weekly column on players on the proverbial fantasy hot seat, you know what’s coming: Does Andrews still warrant the fantasy love?

After all, only the statistics matter, and Andrews hasn’t exactly brought them for the past two-plus months. Yeah, he remained second among tight ends in season scoring until Minnesota Vikings starter TJ Hockenson passed him with a 35.9 PPR outburst in Week 16, but many of those numbers came early in the season, when his connection with quarterback Lamar Jackson was thriving. Andrews topped 22 PPR points in four of the first six games. Since Week 7, however, his best game was 12.3 PPR points, and he has been in single digits six times, including the past four. Andrews has 56.7 PPR points in eight games. He is not a top-10 fantasy tight end in that time span.

Still, Andrews is going to be active in just about every league because he is Mark Andrews, a top-20 pick in ESPN average live drafts this season. But shouldn’t smart fantasy managers at least look to see if there is someone out there in a better situation to succeed, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Evan Engram or Los Angeles Rams’ Tyler Higbee? Of course, they should! Ravens fill-in QB Tyler Huntley completed only nine passes last week — and the Ravens won! Andrews caught a third of them, leading the offense, but for little relevance. Andrews caught only two passes for 17 yards in the Week 14 matchup with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Why would things noticeably change Sunday night against the same Steelers?

Jackson remains unlikely to play through a knee injury, his last fantasy points coming in Week 13. While Jackson’s absence tends to get most of the blame for Andrews statistically underachieving, it seems worthy of pointing out Andrews wasn’t producing so much in the weeks preceding Jackson leaving the lineup, either. Perhaps defenses caught on to Jackson having nobody else to throw to. No team gets less from its wide receivers than the Ravens, that crew now led by journeyman Demarcus Robinson. Also, Andrews missed the Week 9 game at New Orleans with knee/shoulder injuries, and perhaps he is physically compromised but playing anyway, too.

Regardless, Andrews is not producing the numbers most of his investors might think he is, although perhaps most of these investors have little choice. I ranked Andrews No. 10 at tight end this week, seriously diverting myself from the pack, because I don’t see much changing in his production Sunday. Yeah, I would play the Buffalo Bills’ Dawson Knox and Cleveland Browns’ David Njoku over Andrews. This isn’t some popularity contest, and who cares about average draft position from four months ago? Do you want to win? Andrews offers upside, but he hasn’t approached it since October. It is OK to try to maximize fantasy points and potential.

Frankly, we could complete an entire lineup of players whom fantasy managers continue to unilaterally trust, even though their numbers do not warrant such love. Let’s get to those other options here.

Quarterbacks on the hot seat

We all love Los Angeles Chargers star Justin Herbert, but it seems relevant that he has totaled 14.22 PPR points the past two games. In fact, he has one 20-point performance since Week 4. Herbert is a bit like Andrews. Don’t simply close your eyes and play your early-round pick if there are better options. … It’s a shame that fantasy managers might have already forgotten how well Seattle Seahawks starter Geno Smith played most of this season. Smith has been statistically quiet the past two games and now has to face the Jets’ defense. … You bet new Washington Commanders starter Carson Wentz is on the hot seat for future employment these final few weeks. The Commanders might sneak into the playoffs anyway, but I don’t know how a fantasy manager could rely on Wentz.

Running backs

Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders has his first 1,000-yard rushing season, and a year after scoring nary a touchdown, he has 11 of them. Over the past two games, however, he averaged four PPR points, his 107 rushing yards compromised by two critical lost fumbles that might affect his touches, and without Jalen Hurts and the RPO option, it will be tougher to run. … Can we trust the Ravens’ JK Dobbins after he scored 5.9 PPR points last week? Can we trust any Ravens players except their kicker and D/ST? … The Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones gets a safe RB1 ranking, but he has rushed for fewer than 50 yards in four of five games. He is catching passes, though. I trust him, but with a bit of hesitation, especially since he is dealing with a knee issue. … You bet we should worry about the Miami Dolphins running backs sans QB Tua Tagovailoa. … If you roster both Atlanta Falcons RBs, Cordarrelle Patterson should not be the one you start.

Wide receivers

Continuing the theme, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Evans last scored a touchdown in Week 4. It’s also the last time QB Tom Brady scored 20 fantasy points. We talk about Brady all the time, but Evans doesn’t have to be in lineups anymore. TY Hilton, off the street, outscored him last week on one catch! … I certainly would not sit the Bills’ Stefon Diggs, but his seat might become a bit heated if he doesn’t produce Monday against the Bengals. Diggs has 22 PPR points combined in his past three games. … The Las Vegas Raiders’ Davante Adams has 20.4 PPR points in that same span and now has a backup QB throwing to him. … The Jaguars’ Zay Jones has had two awesome games in the past month, and two games with next to nothing. Dangerous for the fantasy playoffs!

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