If you're still alive in your fantasy football playoffs, give yourself a pat on the back.
Weeks 14 and 15 this season were perhaps the craziest in fantasy football history, and while we feel like we say that every year, it was quantifiably true in 2018.
Of the 20 highest-scoring players through 13 weeks of the season, 17 of them scored beneath their seasonal averages through that time span in Weeks 14 and 15 combined, with 16 of those 20 scoring more than four points per game less in Weeks 14 and 15 than through Week 13. (Note: Of those 16, two, James Conner and Melvin Gordon, didn't play in either week.) The top 10 scorers through Week 13 averaged 9.1 PPR fantasy points per game less in Weeks 14-15 than they did entering those weeks.
Meanwhile, of the 11 highest-scoring players in Weeks 14-15 combined, three weren't even found on greater than 15 percent of ESPN playoff rosters. That included the surprise star of those two weeks, Derrick Henry, whose combined 78.0 points were the fifth most by any player in Weeks 14-15 of a season since the NFL moved to a 17-week schedule in 1990. Henry was on 14.2 percent of ESPN playoff teams, and presumably most of those teams advanced to their leagues' championship matchups.
With thanks to Sean Comerford, who oversees our League Manager product, here are all 29 players who reside on rosters of finalists in at least 25 percent of ESPN 10-team standard PPR leagues. Their preseason ADPs and season fantasy points are included.
You read that right: The player most commonly found on ESPN finalists' rosters, James Conner, didn't even play in either Week 14 or 15. Neither did the No. 15 player, Melvin Gordon, and No. 4 player Spencer Ware played only in the former week. It's as compelling evidence as any that a piece-it-together strategy was as valid as any during the playoffs, something to tuck away for 2019.
To that point, Jaylen Samuels, Conner's replacement in Weeks 14-15, finds himself on rosters of finalists in 37.9 percent of ESPN leagues. That's thanks to his scoring at least 16 points in each week, his 35.4 points combined 11th most among running backs. Those who have Conner and Samuels rostered in their leagues should now be in good shape entering the finals, because despite a challenging matchup against the New Orleans Saints in Week 16, they then get an extremely favorable one in the Week 17 finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, when the NFL playoffs might still be on the line for their Pittsburgh Steelers.
Christian McCaffrey's inclusion high on the above list should come as no shock. He has been one of the hottest players in fantasy football, riding a tops-in-the-league 218.4 PPR fantasy points in the past seven weeks and second-best 58.0 points in the past two weeks to the league's third-best overall point total among all players for the season (350.7). He is the only player to rank among the top 10 in fantasy points through 13 weeks as well as in Weeks 14-15 combined.
Matt Ryan is the only other player close to McCaffrey in that regard. He's the only quarterback to score 20-plus points in each of the past two weeks. Ryan's rate of appearing on 21.6 percent of ESPN finalists' rosters ranked only seventh best among quarterbacks, strangely, though that shouldn't come as a complete surprise considering the matchup-oriented nature of the position. Only three quarterbacks -- Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff and Drew Brees -- appeared on at least 25 percent of ESPN finalists' rosters.
Here are the complete position breakdowns of players most commonly found on the rosters of ESPN finalists:
Once our league champions are crowned, at the conclusion of Week 17, we'll again update the lists of players who reside on the most championship rosters in ESPN 10-team standard leagues. Can Henry continue his scorching-hot pace, writing his name into the history books as one of fantasy football's greatest playoff-weeks MVPs? Can McCaffrey carry his teams both into and through the fantasy playoffs? Will Conner be able to return and make a difference in Weeks 16 and/or 17?
We'll find out the answers in two weeks.