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CeeDee Lamb most prevalent player for fantasy football victors

During his Dallas Cowboys’ victory in eight of their 11 post-bye week matches to clinch the NFC East championship, wideout CeeDee Lamb had an even greater impact in fantasy football leagues during that productive period.

Lamb, who received 139 targets, snatched 101 receptions and amassed 1,274 yards and 11 touchdowns during that duration, all of them league-leading totals by significant margins over the next-closest players, emerged as fantasy football’s top-scoring player in the process. His 403.2 PPR fantasy points marked only the 18th occasion in NFL history, and third by a wideout (Jerry Rice, 1995; Cooper Kupp, 2021), that any player has surpassed 400 points in a season.

Lamb’s fantasy playoffs performance was extraordinary, and the reason he nabbed the points-scoring lead. He amassed a league-leading 119.5 points in Weeks 15-18 combined, 17 more than the next-closest player (Jets RB Breece Hall), including 35-plus points in each of the final two weeks, defined as our championship matchup weeks. This is how he became the player most frequently encountered on championship teams, present on 30.6% of those rosters in ESPN leagues.

In order to contextualize Lamb’s performance during the championship weeks, it’s worth noting that he is only the fourth player since the merger to score at least 35 PPR fantasy points in each of the season’s final two weeks — be it Weeks 13-14 during the 14-game seasons of the 1970s; Weeks 15-16 during the 16-game, pre-bye week era from 1978-89; the 16-game, bye-week era from 1990-2020; the 18-game, multiple-bye week 1993; or the current 17-game, bye-week schedule structure that began in 2021. Lamb joined Jerry Rice (1995), Marshall Faulk (2000) and Steven Jackson (2006) as the only players to record such high points in each of the given year’s final two regular-season weeks.

Lamb definitely played his part in aiding you to attaining that title, too. The No. 5 overall scorer, and No. 2 wideout, during fantasy’s regular season (first 14 weeks), he was the fourth-most common player found on ESPN playoff teams (65.0% of leagues had him on a playoff roster). Lamb’s 43.8 PPR fantasy points during the semifinal weeks (Weeks 15-16), 11th-most overall and fourth-most among wideouts, then earned him a spot on a finalist’s roster in a fourth-best 39.4% of ESPN leagues.

It was an exceptional season for the 24-year-old wide receiver, and built him a strong case for fantasy football’s overall MVP award — although Christian McCaffrey, despite his Week 18 absence, still presented the most convincing argument in this writer’s opinion.

Listed below are the 50 players who were most frequently encountered on championship rosters in ESPN leagues. Included are their preseason ADPs (average draft position) as well as their final 18-week results in PPR scoring.

30.6% — CeeDee Lamb, WR, Cowboys — ADP: 16.6, 403.20 PPR FPTS
24.8% — Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Lions — ADP: 21.0, 330.90 PPR FPTS
23.2% — Kyren Williams, RB, Rams — ADP: Undrafted, 255.00 PPR FPTS
23.1% — Sam LaPorta, TE, Lions — ADP: 165.5, 239.30 PPR FPTS

Other players of note

In relation to McCaffrey’s MVP argument, his appearance rate on ESPN championship rosters of 21.6% stood out as excellent, particularly for a player who was completely absent in Week 18. McCaffrey’s total score of 391.3 PPR fantasy points was the third-highest for the season, and his average of 24.5 points per game was clearly the best in the league, surpassing Lamb’s 23.7 by almost three-quarters of a point. The only setback to his historic season was a calf strain that limited his Week 17 performance to 13.1 PPR fantasy points and caused him to miss the regular-season finale.

More details about McCaffrey’s 2023 accomplishments are available here, where he led the list of players on finalists’ rosters, but due to the subdued conclusion, he is more of a secondary story in this space. Another point in his favor is that he, along with Lamb, was one of the only two players with top-five ratings across ESPN playoff-teams, finalists’ and championship rosters.

On the other hand, the under-the-radar fantasy playoffs MVP was Amon-Ra St. Brown, a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, whose appearance rate on an ESPN champion’s roster was a solid 24.8%, ranking second. He was the sole player to achieve 20-plus PPR fantasy points in each of the last four weeks, encompassing our postseason, and scored over 22 in all of those games. St. Brown has demonstrated his playoff prowess in two out of the last three fantasy postseasons, having scored 23-plus points in each of Weeks 15-18 of 2021 as well. His 330.9 points at the conclusion of 2023 ranked eighth overall and third in his position.

His teammate Sam LaPorta, who set the rookie record for PPR fantasy points by a tight end (239.3) before his injury-related departure in Week 18, appeared on championship rosters in 23.1% of leagues, making him the most-rostered rookie.

Although Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams missed the final week as the team decided to rest him, he still played a significant role in fantasy teams’ championships. Williams was present on a title-winning roster in 23.2% of leagues, the highest among running backs, courtesy of his consistent performance, scoring at least 20 PPR fantasy points in four of his six games, and at least 14 in each, since his return in Week 12 from a knee injury.

Shifting the focus to standout rookies, Puka Nacua, a rookie wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, broke NFL rookie records with 105 receptions and 1,486 receiving yards. He featured on championship rosters in 21.1% of ESPN leagues, ranking sixth overall and third in his position. His record-setting feats ensured his presence in the lineup for the regular-season finale, during which he accumulated 14.1 PPR fantasy points, achieving 10-plus points in each of his final six games.

Continuing with the theme of rookies, Brandon Aubrey of the Dallas Cowboys became a rare place-kicker to feature on a title-winning team in over 20% of ESPN leagues (20.4%, to be precise). His 180 fantasy points surpassed the total of any other kicker this season by 25 points, and this was 15 points more than the highest score of any other rookie kicker in history, tying for the second-most at the position in history behind only David Akers’ 182.56 in 2011.

The concrete evidence that a keen observation of the waiver wire is crucial to the championship hopes of fantasy teams is that five of the top 13 names present on championship rosters were players drafted beyond the 200th overall pick and in fewer than 12% of ESPN leagues during the preseason, effectively making them entirely undrafted players. In addition to Williams (11.1% drafted), Nacua (1.6%), and Aubrey (1.5%), Zamir White (2.2%) and Trey McBride (0.7%) emerged as waiver-wire wonders, making significant contributions to their teams during the fantasy playoffs.

White specifically was a product of fantasy playoffs pickups, taking over for the injured Josh Jacobs from Week 15 onwards, amassing at least 20 touches and scoring at least 13 PPR fantasy points in each of his final four games. At the commencement of fantasy’s Week 15, White was only present in 0.5% of ESPN leagues. Today, he will be receiving a championship ring for featuring on a title-winning team in 16.6% of them.

We hope that you had some of the aforementioned players on your roster, aiding in your journey to championship glory. Congratulations to our 2023 champions!

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