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Fantasy football: Six players on the rise for 2018

Since the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles before Week 9, Kenyan Drake is fifth in PPR scoring among running backs. | Rich Barnes/AP

If you’re still alive in your league’s postseason, you don’t need my help anymore – if you ever did. So this column is directed at the vast majority of you with nothing to play for.

We might as well start preparing for next year. Here are players who raised their stock for 2018 because of their play this season and their prospects for next season:

Ravens RB Alex Collins: Bet the Seahawks wish they didn’t cut Collins before the season. While they’ve had a revolving door at running back, Collins has settled into the featured role for the Ravens, ranking 10th in the league with 844 rushing yards and sixth with 4.9 yards per carry. But keep in mind, Javorius Allen, Danny Woodhead and Kenneth Dixon are all under contract, so Collins might have to prove himself again.

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Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake: Since the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles before Week 9, Drake is fifth in PPR scoring among running backs and fourth in receptions. With Damien Williams out the last three weeks, Drake has been the workhorse, turning 78 touches into 447 yards (5.7 yards per touch). He wasn’t viewed as a full-time back coming out of Alabama last year, but he’s making the most of the opportunity.

Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook: Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson are free agents after the season, so Westbrook, the team’s fourth-round pick this year, should play a bigger role next season. Since coming off injured reserve in Week 11, he has been the Jags’ most targeted player. Keelan Cole, an undrafted free agent, has been hotter of late, but Westbrook has the brighter future. He was ultraproductive at Oklahoma.

Rams WR Robert Woods: Had Woods not missed three games with a shoulder injury and maintained his scoring pace, he’d be fifth in PPR scoring among wideouts. He has established himself as the Rams’ top wideout. In five fewer games, Woods has more yards (748) and as many touchdowns (five) as he did in his best season with the Bills. Slot man Cooper Kupp is under contract, but Sammy Watkins will be a free agent.

Chargers TE Hunter Henry: Antonio Gates already has been diminished to the point he might set career lows for catches and yards, but he could be out of the picture altogether next season as a free agent. That means Henry, who’s 11th in TE scoring after finishing 18th last year, should move up a few spots on draft boards.

Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard: He and fellow tight end Cameron Brate have combined for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. One player with those numbers would rank first in scoring at the position. Why does that matter? Because Brate will be a restricted free agent. It’s unlikely the Bucs will let him go, but it’s a situation worth monitoring.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffreyA22.

Email: jagrest@suntimes.com

 

WEEK 16 OUTLOOK

STUDS

Lions QB Matthew Stafford: In the last four weeks, the Bengals have allowed the sixth-most points to quarterbacks, giving up at least 21 to the position in each game.

Patriots RB Dion Lewis: With Rex Burkhead (knee) out, Lewis should lead the backfield against the Bills, who have allowed the most points to running backs.

Browns WR Josh Gordon: Since Week 10, the Bears have allowed the fourth-most points per game to wideouts.

DUDS

Redskins QB Kirk Cousins: After ranking fourth in QB scoring through Week 11, he’s 18th in the four weeks since. Plus, the Broncos’ pass defense has tightened up.

Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch: He’s 13th in RB scoring in the last four weeks, but the Eagles have allowed the second-fewest points to running backs.

49ers WR Marquise Goodwin: He’s seventh in WR scoring since Jimmy Garoppolo took over in Week 13, but the Jaguars have allowed the second-fewest points to wideouts.

 

WEEK 15 PICKS

STUDS

Philip Rivers: 227 passing, TD, 3 INTs

Mike Davis: 6-19 rushing, 2-20 receiving

Michael Crabtree: 7-39 receiving, 2 TDs

DUDS

Marcus Mariota: 241 passing, 2 TDs

Jamaal Williams: 10-30 rushing

Tyreek Hill: 5-88 receiving, TD