I love writing these storyline pieces. I will go through some of the games and discuss one dynasty-relevant storyline per team that I’m excited to see. I won’t cover every game, as I don’t feel like there’s necessarily an exciting storyline to discuss for every team. However, I’ll bring you my best insights from the games I select each week.
This piece will give you something specific to look for in each contest, which I hope helps you enjoy the games even more. We all play fantasy football to enhance our enjoyment of football, and I’m trying to add to that sense of happiness here. Fun is the most essential part of this hobby for all of us, including me.
I’ve listed the home team first for each game to keep things organized. I won’t waste any more time, so let’s jump straight in!
Steelers vs. Colts
The Steelers have lost three straight games, dropping them from 11-0 to 11-3. Their skid culminated with a horrible loss on Monday night to the Bengals. I’ve talked so much about the Steelers’ receivers and their future, and it seems like a consensus that James Conner will not return as the starting running back.
However, I’m most interested in watching Ben Roethlisberger. All of a sudden, he’s looked entirely washed-up recently. Earlier this season, I believed that Roethlisberger would have the Steelers’ starting job as long as he wanted it.
The Steelers have Roethlisberger under contract for 2021, but it’s the last year of his deal. I don’t expect the Steelers to extend him, and I’m curious if they bring in a young quarterback as Roethlisberger’s successor. Also, if Roethlisberger’s performance continues to decline, I’ll start to consider the idea that the Steelers cut him loose this offseason, saving $19 million.
For the Colts, my eyes are on rookie receiver Michael Pittman Jr. I didn’t particularly like Pittman Jr. coming out of USC, as he was a non-early declared prospect who didn’t truly break out until his senior year. Pittman Jr. has had a nice rookie season, catching 35 of 53 targets for 437 yards and a touchdown in 11 games.
I would like to see another massive breakout game. Pittman Jr. had one in Week 10 with seven catches for 101 yards, but that game has boosted his value for a while. The Steelers are no longer the tough matchup of earlier in the season, and I hope Pittman Jr. can have a strong performance.
Chargers vs. Broncos
Some might wonder why I picked this game. Both teams are 5-9 and well outside of the playoff race. However, when teams become eliminated from the playoffs, we sometimes get to see deeper players. We know that Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry are the Chargers’ primary offensive weapons for rookie sensation Justin Herbert.
However, Allen and Williams have been banged up for weeks, while Henry will miss this game with COVID-19. Therefore, some more under-the-radar players will see time on the field. Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton will receive extra snaps at receiver with XFL star Donald Parham starting at tight end. I love Herbert, so I want to watch these deeper players to see if any of them have sleeper value in dynasty leagues.
As for the Broncos, I think the main storyline is always Drew Lock. I believe that Lock is not a good quarterback, and he shouldn’t be the Broncos’ starter in 2021. However, he has played 2020 without top receiver Courtland Sutton and with injuries to Noah Fant and Phillip Lindsay for parts of the season.
Therefore, John Elway and the Broncos’ front office may decide to give Lock another chance in 2021. But Lock needs to show improvement and also chemistry with Fant and Jerry Jeudy, as they’re part of the Broncos’ core offense moving forward. I think Lock’s performance over the final two games is going to make or break his chances. The Broncos sit at 5-9. If they finish 7-9, they likely won’t have the draft pick to replace Lock, but they might if they end 5-11.
Seahawks vs. Rams
The Seahawks have a decent number of stories surrounding their team. After a hot start, their offense has stalled, especially Russell Wilson. At this point, the Seahawks are 10-4, just one game ahead of the Rams, setting up this critical divisional contest.
However, I’m actually most interested in Rashaad Penny. As most of you know, the Seahawks drafted Penny in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but they decided to stick with Chris Carson as their starter throughout most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Near the end of the 2019 season, though, Carson struggled with a fumbling problem, causing the Seahawks to turn to a near-even committee between Carson and Penny.
Unfortunately, Penny tore his ACL right as the Seahawks made that shift, and he remained out until Week 15 of this season. Penny only saw six offensive snaps in the game, taking two carries for six yards. I want to see if the Seahawks turn more to Penny in his second game back. He’s my main focus for the Seahawks.
The Rams lost in Week 15 to the Jets in a putrid performance, dropping them to 9-5. They need to play better this week if they want to have any chance of beating the Seahawks, especially on the road. Cam Akers will miss this game with a high ankle sprain, forcing the Rams to return to Darrell Henderson as their lead back.
I want to see if Henderson takes advantage of this opportunity, and he proves that he requires playing time moving forward. Malcolm Brown is a free-agent after 2020, so the Rams likely should move to a two-man committee in 2021. Akers will lead that split, but Henderson could fight for a 60-40 distribution versus an 80-20 divide. How Henderson plays in Weeks 16 and 17 will be pivotal for both his and Akers’s values going into the dynasty offseason.
Packers vs. Titans
The Packers are an interesting NFL team, as they currently lead the NFC at 11-3. They’ve already clinched the NFC North, but they’re in a battle with the Saints and Seahawks for the NFC’s first-round bye. Throughout the offseason, the main dynasty focus for the Packers will be Aaron Jones. He’s a free agent after this season, and he’s clearly the Packers’ best running back.
However, in this game, I’m actually looking at one of Jones’ backups, AJ Dillon. Jamaal Williams will likely miss this contest with a quad injury that limited him last week. In Week 15, Jones received a 90% snap share and 20 of the 22 running back carries. But, Williams went out with a quad injury during the game, leaving the Packers scrambling to change their game plan.
Now, the Packers likely knew all week that they would have a Jones-Dillon backfield for Week 16. The Packers spent a second-round pick on Dillon in the 2020 NFL Draft, so they must plan to use him eventually. Dillon missed multiple weeks with COVID-19; therefore, his low usage is not entirely his fault. I want to see if the Packers give Dillon significant touches this week and how he looks on those touches. Dillon’s performance could help the Packers decide whether they want to shell out a massive free-agent contract to Jones or go in a different direction.
I feel like I’ve talked about the Titans a lot this season. As we know, Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown are studs, and Ryan Tannehill has proven himself to be a solid quarterback. But, the Titans still have to decide on both Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith’s futures. Both players are free-agents after 2020, and I still can’t tease out what the Titans want to do.
However, I want to focus on a different player, third-round rookie Darrynton Evans. Evans has missed most of 2020 with various injuries, but he finally was completely healthy in Week 15. He only had eight carries for 30 yards, but he also caught two passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. The Titans could use a passing-downs complement to Henry, and I want to see what Evans can do in that role.
Thanks for reading this article. You can find me on Twitter at @DFF_Karp. I love to interact with anyone in the community, so reach out at any time! I take fantasy questions and help with all formats, so keep sending those questions my way.
Previous Storyline Articles: Week 6 Early Games, Week 6 Late Games, Week 7 Thursday Night, Week 7 Early Games, Week 7 Late Games, Week 8 Thursday Night, Week 8 Early Games, Week 8 Late Games, Week 9 Thursday Night, Week 9 Early Games, Week 9 Late Games, Week 10 Thursday Night, Week 10 Early Games, Week 10 Late Games, Week 11 Thursday Night, Week 11 Early Games, Week 11 Late Games, Thanksgiving Day, Week 13, Week 14, Week 15