What to expect in Week 18

Our NFL Nation reporters answer fantasy football questions during the NFL season. Here’s what they had to say following Week 17.

Should we get excited about the big Amari Cooper game (105 yards, 2 TD) or fear the low volume of this passing offense (nine completions and 30 rush attempts)?

You should’ve already been excited about Cooper, who has the most TD catches by a Browns WR since 2013. Cooper has performed like a No. 1 WR for the Browns all year, and a starting WR in fantasy, as well. Cooper is going to be QB Deshaun Watson’s go-to WR, even though the chemistry has been slow to develop. Expect more days like Sunday from Cooper going forward. — Jake Trotter

Dak Prescott has four games with multiple touchdown passes and multiple interceptions since returning to action in Week 7, the only quarterback who can make that claim. Do you think the turnovers this season impact play-calling next season, thus making Prescott less of a fantasy option?

In a word: no. Wouldn’t the Cowboys alter their play-calling approach now if they were worried about the turnovers, especially considering the playoffs are about to start? Looking at Prescott’s career, this is an anomaly. Not all of the interceptions are his fault but there has been questionable decision making at times too. Prescott has never had an interception percentage above 2.7% in his career until this year. Sometimes you just have to live with them and hope the turnovers don’t bite you. Hope might not be much of a strategy but Prescott’s playing at a high level with his completion percentage and mixing the ball around. The Cowboys are not blessed with the best perimeter players, but Prescott is making it work. They’ll hope next season he reverts back to the first six years of his career when it comes to the turnovers. — Todd Archer

With this offense trending up, who can fantasy managers trust this weekend?

Not Aaron Rodgers. His numbers have been abysmal of late — just one touchdown pass in each of the four wins during this streak. And it’s hard to know which running back will get the call from one week to the next. Sunday against Minnesota was more of an Aaron Jones game. Maybe Christian Watson, who caught only one pass against the Vikings, is due for a bounce-back game. Or maybe take the Packers’ defense; which has eight takeaways combined in the last two games. — Rob Demosky

Travis Etienne Jr. impressed (140 yards, TD) last week but was outsnapped 24-23 by JaMycal Hasty. Is this cause for concern or should fantasy managers start him with all the confidence in the world in the win-and-in game this weekend?

Start him with all the confidence. Etienne was sent to the bench to rest him once the game was in hand. Hasty is unquestionably the No. 2 back and will get touches, but Etienne is still the workhorse and will get a big workload against the Titans. — Michael DiRocco

Any hope for Jerick McKinnon’s touch count to expand (either this week or next season), or will he continue to be in that 7-12 touch range?

McKinnon has proven his value to the Chiefs, so he will continue to be a part of things for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean he will take over as their featured back. They will continue to lean on him heavily on passing downs but Isiah Pacheco is still their go-to back in running situations. Don’t look for that arrangement to change. — Adam Teicher

Way too early look… give us a projection for Cam Akers in 2023 (total yards and touchdowns).

“900 yards and eight touchdowns if he’s the Rams’ RB1. There are so many factors that go into this, but right now it sounds like Akers will get more opportunities at the start of next season than he did to begin the 2022 campaign. It’s been a 180 for Akers over the past month or so, and head coach Sean McVay said he’s been most impressed by the way the running back is “creating when there isn’t anything there.” “I think you’re seeing a complete back ,” McVay said. Akers has 682 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games this season, and with a healthy 2023, he could easily top that mark if he’s the Rams’ lead back. Although Los Angeles explored trading Akers this season, McVay said recently that it would be “silly” for the running back not to be a “big part of the offense moving forward.” — Sarah Barshop

Do you think the Patriots fully commit to Rhamondre Stevenson for 2023 (Damien Harris becomes a UFA after this season)? And if so, how many touches per game do you think we get from him in that role?

Absolutely. The one thing to keep in mind, however, is that there’s always the possibility Bill Belichick revisits his thinking on the third-down RB role in 2023. There have been times this season when the absence of a reliable pass-catching RB has shown up , and that could potentially cut into Stevenson’s time in those situations if Belichick alters course. — Mike Reiss

Three straight underwhelming games from Miles Sanders… what should we expect (touches and yards) in Week 18 (both if Jalen Hurts returns and if he doesn’t)?

Sanders is dealing with a left knee injury that required him to wear a brace against the Saints Sunday. I thought he still looked explosive when he got touches, but the passing game was off and the Eagles couldn’t sustain drives. The expectation here is Hurts will play. Sanders had a career day against New York when these teams played on December 11 (144 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns). While a repeat performance might be far fetched, 16 touches, 80 yards and a score seems reasonable. — Tim McManus

Those still playing fantasy in Week 18 need players on motivated teams and the Titans are certainly that. If you had to play one pass-catcher this weekend, who would it be?

Chig Okonkwo. This one is a tough call because both Okonkwo and Treylon Burks have shown flashes. The two rookies each have 29 receptions and their average yards per catch is very similar (Burks 14.7, Okonkwo 14.1). The nod goes to Okonkwo in this case because he has been a more utilized player in the red zone where he has scored two touchdowns this season. The Titans have traditionally targeted the tight ends more in the red zone so Okonkwo is a safe bet to get more opportunities. Okonkwo is also a threat to gain yards after the catch which was on display in each of his three receptions of 40+ yards. — Turron Davenport

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