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!
Bengals vs. Ravens
I chose this game because I wanted to discuss a few things about the Bengals, even though they’re already eliminated from playoff contention. We know that the Bengals’ top two offensive weapons in Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon won’t play in this game, although Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and A.J. Green are all fully healthy. Higgins and Boyd have defined roles on the 2021 Bengals, and Green is likely already out the door.
However, tight end Drew Sample and quarterback Brandon Allen are playing for playing time in 2021. The Bengals spent a second-round pick on Sample in 2019, but they didn’t seem to want to involve him in the offense until C.J. Uzomah got hurt. Since then, Sample has played an every-down role, although he hasn’t produced much. I’d love to see an excellent game from Sample in Week 17, giving him momentum going into Year 3, a typical breakout year for tight ends.
Allen has been decent replacing Joe Burrow, or at least far better than Ryan Finley. Allen has completed 69.4% of his passes for 877 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions in four games played. Burrow may not return for Week 1, so Allen could carve out a small amount of superflex value if he gets a couple of spot starts to open the 2021 season.
The Ravens are also an exciting team. Lamar Jackson has received a lot of criticism for his poor fantasy performance, but he wasn’t that bad in 2020. Through 14 games, Jackson has 2,644 passing yards and 23 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. As usual, Jackson has been a rushing force, running for 908 yards and seven touchdowns, placing him as the QB7 in fantasy PPG.
Jackson has led the Ravens to a 10-5 record, and they will make the playoffs if they win this game. I want to see Jackson have a massive game, giving Jackson’s dynasty owners a good taste in their mouths heading into 2021. The Ravens should upgrade Jackson’s weapons in 2021, so if he can succeed with this meager cast, he should be a star again next season.
Giants vs. Cowboys
The Giants are a team in some flux going into 2021. Yes, they can still make the playoffs if they win this game, and Washington loses to the Eagles. However, the Giants haven’t had a successful season, and they need to decide what they want to do moving forward as an organization. They will get Saquon Barkley back in 2021, while they likely move on from Golden Tate. I also expect them to retain Daniel Jones as their starting quarterback with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton as receivers.
However, Evan Engram is the Giants’ huge question mark. The Giants picked up his fifth-year option for 2021, but it’s guaranteed for injury only. Therefore, the Giants can release Engram before the 2021 season, saving $6 million in cap space. Engram has had a spotty season, although he’s managed to stay mostly healthy for the first time since his rookie year, playing all 15 games thus far. If he has a statement game in Week 17, I bet the Giants decide to give him one more shot in 2021.
The Cowboys also haven’t had the greatest year, although they’ve managed a 6-9 record. Dak Prescott will almost certainly return as their starting quarterback for next season, either with an extension or another franchise tag. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb have played well even with Andy Dalton, and both should be in the WR1 or WR2 conversation with Prescott in 2021.
However, the Cowboys have a third talented wide receiver in Michael Gallup. Gallup caught six of eight targets for 121 yards and two touchdowns in Week 16, bursting back onto the fantasy scene. I know the Cowboys like Gallup, but they have a lot of money committed to Cooper and draft equity to Lamb. With Gallup’s contract expiring after 2021, they may trade Gallup to another team if they can get good value. Therefore, a strong performance from Gallup may help get him onto a less crowded offense, potentially saving his dynasty value.
Rams vs. Cardinals
The Rams will have a total mess of a roster in this must-win game. Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp, Darrell Henderson, and likely Cam Akers will all miss this contest. Therefore, the Rams will have to rely on some of their depth weapons. I’m therefore watching tight end Gerald Everett extremely closely in this game.
Everett is a free agent after 2020, and the Rams won’t re-sign him. I believe that Everett has shown flashes for the Rams, so he will likely gather some interest on the free-agent market. This game is a showcase of sorts for Everett, and it could have a massive impact on his dynasty value.
As for the Cardinals, I’m also interested in the status of a pending free agent. Kenyan Drake played 2020 on the transition tag, but he’s a free agent after the 2020 season. Chase Edmonds will probably miss Week 17 with a hip injury, giving Drake one final showcase opportunity to show off either for the Cardinals or other teams.
Unlike Everett, I believe Drake has a chance to be re-signed by the Cardinals. If Drake plays well, the Cardinals could bring him back on a relatively team-friendly deal. Drake and Edmonds form a solid backfield duo, although I think the Cardinals could benefit from having a real featured back. Either way, Drake has a contract on the line, so his Week 17 performance will undoubtedly affect his offseason value.
Bears vs. Packers
Well, the Bears are somehow in a position to make the playoffs if they can pull off the upset against the Packers. Mitchell Trubisky has led them on a three-game winning streak, bringing them to 8-7. Even though it’s a bit silly, the “QB Wins” statistic seems to matter for the NFL crowd.
Therefore, I believe that Trubisky’s performance in this game matters little to his chances of retaining the job. If he wins, leading the Bears to the playoffs, the Bears will likely keep him on some short-term deal for 2021. But, if the Bears lose and miss the playoff, they will probably go in a different direction. With that said, I want to watch Trubisky closely, as I need to decide if I think he’s really improved or if it’s just a mirage.
The Packers also have a lot to play for in this game, as they can lock up the top overall seed and the only first-round bye with a win. However, for dynasty players, all eyes are on the Packers’ backfield. Last week, Jamaal Williams missed the game with a quad injury, and Aaron Jones struggled through a toe issue. In their absence, AJ Dillon exploded for 21 carries, 124 yards, and two touchdowns.
However, this week, Jones has practiced in full, while Williams does not carry an injury designation for Week 17, meaning that both players are fully healthy. Therefore, I want to see what the Packers do with their running back touches. I assume Jones will remain the starter, but I’m curious if Williams or Dillon spells him.
Both Williams and Jones are free agents after 2020, and the Packers certainly can’t retain both. This week’s actions will tell dynasty owners a lot about their plans with Jones, Williams, and Dillon. If Dillon looks great again, his dynasty value will spike. But, if he only gets two or three carries, last week will look like a blip, dropping his value significantly.
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, Week 16