Week 16 Preparation
Nine thoughts that could earn you the Championship trophy in your league
9. All aboard the Bortles Express
The Jaguars have a pristine passing match up at New Orleans who have been consistently generous against opponents. At New Orleans, opposing quaterbacks have passed for 255, 359, 312, 505, 387, 282 and 254 yards totaling 20 touchdown passes (2.8 per game). Quarterbacks average a 116.5 QB rating against the Saints this year throwing 39 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions. Blake Bortles has 31 touchdown passes this season, bested only by Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Cam Newton and Tom Brady. To make matters more inviting for Bortles, the Jaguars running game is dealing with injuries. T.J. Yeldon is recovering from a knee injury and Denard Robinson suffered a foot injury in Week 15. The status of both backs is unclear at this time. The next man up is Jonas Gray who was claimed off the Dolphins practice squad last week (remember him?) and Joe Banyard. Neither one has a carry for the Jaguars this year. If this depth chart remains the status quo, expect to see a high number of pass attempts by Bortles. The Saints have struggled particularly against slot receivers and tight ends, which bodes well for Julius Thomas. I have a feeling there will be a lot of Championship teams that win with Bortles in their lineup.
8. There's a lot of uncertainty in replacement running backs this week
It's going to be much harder to fill in your running back roster spots than any other position this week. There's a lot of uncertainty from the running back position. Javorius Allen, Karlos Williams, Shaun Draughn, Brandon Bolden, Ryan Mathews, Theo Riddick, Lamar Miller, Christine Michael just to name a few. Most of these backs have come through for your lineup at least once this year. The bad news is, it's go-time and the decision-making process couldn't be muddier. You may want to buck the "start the players who got you here" trend and go with some unorthodox, yet favorable match ups. Don't be anchored to a back that doesn't deserve an anchor. In other words, if you were lucky to advance with the likes of any the aforementioned players (or others that you are concerned about), don't feel obligated to stick with them.
7. Do research. Let Footballguys do the legwork for you
Fantasy Football is essentially making decisions on unknown expectations. Oh sure, we can get an idea of who to play based on trends, statistics, match-ups and opportunities, but the more you know, the better off you'll be. Research Vegas lines. Our John Lee does a great job of looking at each game's expected point totals to learn about which players to target. Vegas Value Chart Week 16. You can also use DFS to give you an edge when determining your lineup. Each week we take a look at expected ownership percentages based on lineups that locked for Thursday night contests. Projecting Ownership Week 16 A high ownership by the consensus of the daily fantasy world might be enough to pursuade you to pencil in a particular player in your Championship game lineup. You'll be surprised how much this can help you. *Please note, the above links will not work until those articles are posted on the site, which should be sometime Thursday for the Vegas Value Chart and Thursday night or Friday morning for the Ownership report.
6. Consider these running backs this week
Danny Woodhead, especially in PPR. The Chargers change of pace back turned in a career best game in Week 15 that could've been the final Chargers game in San Diego. He had only 8 rushes for 10 yards, but he added six receptions and totaled four touchdowns. The loss of Melvin Gordon to IR (knee) opens up the door for Woodhead to see more touches. Donald Brown may see the majority of the team's carries, but Woodhead showed he can be relied on, especially in the red zone. Before you pencil in Woodhead to your lineup, do know that this week's opponent (at Oakland) has been stout against the run recently, allowing a high of 51 yards to any one back over the last four games (GB, DEN, KC, TEN). Despite that, Woodhead should continue to see a lot of targets due to a depleted receiving corps.
Cameron Artis-Payne - The Panthers need one more victory to clinch homefield advantage in the NFC and they may want to hold out Jonathan Stewart (foot) until they absolutely need him, which might not be until the Divisional round of the playoffs. Artis-Payne was the best performing back for Carolina last week and you can bet they want to see more from him against Atlanta, which is a good match up to begin with. Carolina has scored at least 33 points in six of the last seven games, including a 38-0 rout of Atlanta two weeks ago. Artis-Payne quietly had over 90 total yards in 16 touches last week against the Giants. He proved to be a threat as a rusher and receiver and should see similiar, if not better results this week. Consider putting him in your starting lineup this week.
Washington RBs - One of Alfred Morris or Matt Jones will likely have a big game against the Eagles and their struggling run defense. Washington has used a committee approach at running back lately which makes decision making an even tougher task. The Eagles have been torched by opposing running backs in the last six games giving up nine touchdowns to backs. If you're in a corner and need a potential home run, Alfred Morris or Matt Jones could be your saving grace. I would lean more towards Jones, due to his receiving abilities.
Ameer Abdullah - Don't look now, but Ameer Abdullah is starting to play well and this week's home match up against the 49ers is a juicy one. I've been on the "exploit the 49ers rush defense" for several weeks now and so far, they have not disappointed. Could Abdullah be the next back to find success against the 49ers? The answer is - he might. It could also be Joique Bell, or even Theo Riddick. Abdullah is the Lions future, so I would venture a guess that the Lions will want to see more of what he can do. Consider him as a flex option this week in a great match up.
Karlos Williams - LeSean McCoy is likely out with an MCL injury to his knee. This opens the door for Karlos Williams to have an impact in the game. I don't love that it's against Dallas, but this a home game in Buffalo, and Dallas has been rather poor against running backs lately. The Cowboys have allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing running backs in the last two games which includes four touchdowns. Williams is averaging 6.0 yards per rush this year on 70 carries, not to mention the fact that he has 7 touchdowns. Williams has a nose for the end zone. It would not surprise me to see him reach pay dirt as a starter this week.
5. Receiving Match ups worth exploiting
Pittsburgh plays at Baltimore which is a favorable match up for both teams. Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and even Markus Wheaton are fantasy worthy starts. So is Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken, who has come on strong since the injury to Steve Smith. Aiken is 12th in PPR scoring among wide receivers since Week 10. Another reason to be on the Aiken bandwagon is because the Steelers have allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers in the last two games (CIN, DEN).
I also like the match up between Washington at Philadelphia. The Eagles have a MASH unit at cornerback that will be exposed against Kirk Cousins and the Washington receiving corps. DeSean Jackson has been playing well lately and let's not forget, you can bet he will want to stick it to the Eagles. Jordan Reed also figures to continue his hot play. Washington is the team to beat in the NFC East. I believe we will see this front and center on Saturday.
One more match up to exploit is Indianapolis at Miami. The Dolphins have allowed six wide receivers to reach 125+ yards receiving this year. The majority of those receivers did their damage lined up out wide. Surprisingly, Miami has fared well against the slot, but not the edge receivers. If the Colts can get a decent outing from the beaten up Matt Hasselbeck, one of T.Y. Hilton or Donte Moncrief could thrive. The quarterback's level of play will be a deciding factor on the success of this opportunity.
4. Mike Evans has done well with Vincent Jackson out
It shouldn't be a question whether to start Mike Evans or not. Of course you should, especially with Vincent Jackson out of the lineup. Evans has totaled 8-152, 8-126 and 9-157 in the last three games without Jackson. The lack of touchdowns is something to take note of, but it also means he's due. The Bears allowed Teddy Bridgewater to throw four touchdown passes in a game where he had only 20 pass attempts. Jameis Winston should fare well against the Bears at home and Evans looks like someone who will benefit greatly.
3. Can you count on Doug Baldwin to come through again?
Seattle hosts St. Louis this week and Russell Wilson continues to excel thanks to an offense that is clicking on all cylinders. Doug Baldwin has scored at least two touchdowns in the last four games, totaling 10 in all. He's hot folks, but will it continue for at least one more week when it really counts? The Rams have allowed only three touchdowns to receivers out of the slot this year and Doug Baldwin lines up primarily in the slot (79.3% of the time). I'm not going to tell you not to play him, but be aware that he has to fall back to earth at some point. Perhaps the Rams are the team to do it?
2. Can You rely on Amari Cooper?
The Raiders rookie receiver is coming off his first multi-touchdown game and has a home meeting against the Chargers who may have had their swan song game last week. Why do I have pause? The Chargers have one of the better rising cover corners in Jason Verrett. Cooper was able to score a long touchdown on Verrett in their earlier meeting, however he was held in check in the other two targets in that game. We've seen Cooper have some good games this year, but he also has failed to perform well in six games. He's not the best receiver choice this week. If you have a better option, consider benching Cooper. Be wary when chasing points. In the same breath, consider Michael Crabtree as a WR3 or flex option to target.
1. Ride with the quarterbacks who got you here
I already mentioned Blake Bortles, but you should also feel confident in the ones who lead the league. Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, even Aaron Rodgers should all put up strong numbers this week. Drew Brees is one to watch. His foot injury could cause him to drop in the rankings. Monitor his situation this week. My gut says he'll play, but if the foot injury proves to keep him out, look elsewhere. Might I suggest these home quarterbacks that may be available on your waiver wire. Alex Smith vs. CLE, Tedy Bridgewater vs. NYG and Ryan Tannehill vs IND
Good luck. Go be the Champion.
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org