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Ask the Experts

Who will be a surprise star of Week 18?

Niners RB, backup QBs earn votes

ASK THE EXPERTS appears weekly from training camp through the Super Bowl with answers to a new question being posted Thursday morning. How the guest experts responded when we asked them: Who will be a surprise star of Week 18?

DAVID DOREY

Have to like Nick Mullens in his second game against the Lions. He already threw for 411 yards and two scores in their home meeting and now the Lions aren't caring about the outcome. If not him, Carson Wentz playing the 49ers who will be sitting their best players. Wentz has plenty of great receiving options and a reason to want to do well.

Dorey co-founded The Huddle.com in 1997. He's ranked every player and projected every game for the last 23 years and is the author of Fantasy Football: The Next Level. David has appeared on numerous radio, television, newspaper and magazines over the last two decades.

SAM HENDRICKS

This is kind of a tough one. First, figure out who might sit then who their replacement will be and finally how they will do this week. Harsh but fair. I nominate Elijah Mitchell. Although I would argue he is not "some nobody" fill-in player this being his third season in the NFL. McCaffrey is out which opens the door for the backup RB who scored a TD and rushed for 80 yards in mop up duty last week. Did I forget to mention he faces the Rams, the 31st-worse running back defense. (If Mitchell is also out, Jordan Mason would benefit.)

Hendricks is the author of Fantasy Football Guidebook, Fantasy Football Tips and Fantasy Football Basics, all available at ExtraPointPress.com, at all major bookstores, and at Amazon and BN.com. He is a 30-year fantasy football veteran who participated in the National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC) and finished 7th and 16th overall in the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC). He won the Fantasy Index Open in 2013 and 2018.

SCOTT SACHS

Jeff Driskel will be QB No. 5 for the Cleveland Browns this season as he's been named the starter for this coming week. The Bengals have packed it in and the Browns have some pretty decent depth at the skill positions in Cedric Tillman, David Bell, Harrison Bryant, Pierre Strong. This week is Driskel's audition to displace turnover-prone P.J. Walker (not a high bar) as Cleveland's backup QB throughout the playoffs, as well as putting some good tape out there for next season.

With 2 perfect seasons and multiple league championships to his credit, Scott Sachs runs Perfect Season Fantasy Football, featuring LIVE Talk & Text Advice. He is a 3-time Winner of the Fantasy Index Experts Auction League, as well as a previous Winner of the Fantasy Index Experts Poll.

IAN ALLAN

I sure like Tyrod Taylor. I think he’s got some ability. He had that game with 279 yards and 2 TDs against Washington. And he’s playing at home against the Eagles. Philadelphia is really struggling on defense right now, allowing the 2nd-most touchdown passes in the league. Arizona was driving it up and down the field on them last week, controlling the ball for almost 40 minutes. Would not surprise me if Taylor finishes with top-5 quarterbacking numbers in Week 18.

Allan is the senior writer for Fantasy Football Index magazine. He is a member of the FSGA’s Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He is an avid runner, swimmer and cyclist.

JASON WOOD

Elijah Mitchell and Julio Jones are the plays. Christian McCaffrey almost certainly won't play with the 49ers locking up the top seed. Mitchell is a proven commodity capable of delivering RB1 numbers with enough snaps. At receiver, Jones is the play with DeVonta Smith hurting his foot, but the Eagles still have much to play for in Week 18 so Jalen Hurts will be in the lineup.

Wood is Senior Editor at Footballguys.com and has been with the company since its start in 2000. For more than 20 years, Footballguys has provided rankings, projections, and analysis to help fantasy managers dominate their leagues.

COLT WILLIAMS

Elijah Mitchell got a ton of playing time last week in the 49ers matchup against the Commanders. With the 49ers locking up the first-round bye week in the playoffs and Christian McCaffrey nursing a calf injury, Mitchell should see the majority of the snaps. When healthy, Mitchell is electric with the ball in his hands. (NOTE: If Mitchell too winds up inactive, Jordan Mason would be the beneficiary in this offense.)

Williams is working towards a degree in economics and statistics at Sonoma State. A United States Air Force veteran, he’s been playing fantasy football since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @_ColtWilliams.

ANDY RICHARDSON

There are a lot of lesser quarterbacks starting games this week. While there will probably be some lesser play, I feel like we're going to get one silly shootout where one of these guys puts up big numbers. Who can forget Matt Flynn throwing 6 touchdowns for Green Bay in a Week 17 game a decade ago, prompting Seattle to sign him as their starter in the offseason? (Only to have him beaten out by third-round rookie Russell Wilson.) I don't think I'm willing to prop up Jeff Driskel as that guy this year, though he is facing a soft Bengals defense. (I would consider likely starting running back Pierre Strong.) It seems more likely to be someone in the Rams-49ers game, since weather shouldn't be a factor, and it's a couple of former top-3 picks going at it, Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold. The other outside possibility is Blaine Gabbert, starting for Kansas City against a mailing it in Chargers defense. But I'll cast my lot with Darnold operating Kyle Shanahan's offense, even though he'll have a bunch of backup receivers out there.

Richardson has been a contributing writer and editor to the Fantasy Football Index magazine and www.fantasyindex.com since 2002. His responsibilities include team defense and IDP projections and various site features, and he has run the magazine's annual experts draft and auction leagues since their inception. He previews all the NFL games on Saturdays and writes a wrap-up column on Mondays during the NFL season.

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