No matter how badly a player struggles in the regular season, a strong showing in the playoffs can make everything better. The same is true in fantasy football circles.
With the fantasy playoffs heading toward championship week, all performances are magnified in importance. In addition to some resurgent stars, we also had some surprises.
In the spirit of Billy Volek, Pierre Thomas, C.J. Anderson and (last year) Rashaad Penny, it may be time to add Cam Akers to the list of unlikely fantasy playoff heroes.
WEEK 16 WINNERS, LOSERS: Brady leads Bucs to OT win, Packers still alive
These players saw their fantasy values increase or decrease most based on their performances in Week 16:
RB Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams: What a whirlwind of a season it’s been for Akers. He struggled badly in the early going, demanded a trade and didn’t play for three weeks, then returned to the lineup with little success. But on Sunday, he rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns. Go figure.
WR DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles: The knock on Smith in fantasy was that it was hard to predict when he’d have good games. All of that has changed however, as he hasn’t seen fewer than eight targets in a game since Week 9.
QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: Prescott has steadily improved over the last three weeks, culminating in a 388 total yard performance against a tough Philadelphia defense. But with Tennessee up next, it’s possible Prescott’s ascent up the statistical mountain isn’t yet complete.
TE T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings: Apparently, the Giants can’t defend tight ends as Hockenson saw a dizzying 16 targets, catching 13 of them for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
TE George Kittle, San Franisco 49ers: It’s good to have Kittle back to pad what has been a fantasy wasteland of a position all season. It may be only a coincidence, but Kittle has erupted for 213 receiving yards and four touchdowns in two games with Brock Purdy at quarterback.
RB D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions: When quarterback Jared Goff leads the team in rushing yards against Carolina with 15, that’s a problem. Swift’s value could climb if Jamaal Williams’ leg injury turns out to be serious, but it’s hard to rely on the Detroit run game after this.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals: Hopkins has a better chance with Colt McCoy at quarterback than Trace McSorley but either way, this isn’t the offense or the result that coach Kliff Kingsbury envisioned. Hopkins caught just one of his 10 targets Sunday night for 4 yards.
RB Cordarelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta is looking to the future and Patterson doesn’t seem to be part of it. Rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Tyler Allgeier will be front and center as the Falcons focus on 2023.
WR Isaiah McKenzie, Buffalo Bills: The signing of old friend Cole Beasley puts a damper on McKenzie’s fantasy prospects from the slot. Against Chicago, he was held without a catch on two targets.
TE Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans: Okonkwo was all the rage in fantasy circles — until he wasn’t. The loss of QB Ryan Tannehill clearly impacted Okonkwo’s production with one reception for 10 yards.