Fantasy Football championships will be handed out this weekend; so for championship caliber advice, we turn to James Morris, our fantasy guru, for his weekly projections.
Week 16 “Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em” Lineup Advice by James Morris
Week 16 of the NFL season marks the Fantasy Football championship game for most leagues. Although some leagues do run through week 17, this week marks the culmination of a season’s long effort to have 9 months of bragging rights. I’ve got as many messages on my social media pages and email as I did the very first week of the season when we were all hoping to make it this far. So make sure you have your listening ears and reading glasses on and email me or reach out on a social media site to get your team specific questions answered. You’ve made it this far, so there’s no sense in risking a loss now.
This is the most important game of the fantasy season, so let’s go put the women and children to bed and go looking for dinner!
Tony Romo – QB Cowboys: Playing at home with a chance to take the division lead should the Redskins, and Romo is riding a hot streak at just the right time. Over the last month he has thrown for 1,353 yards, 9 TDs and 3 INTs, good enough for #4 in NFL.com scoring with 96.82 fantasy points (FP). And, New Orleans is the 2nd worst team for FP allowed to QBs with 23.9 PPG.
Robert Griffin III – QB Redskins: RGIII is going to be back this week for sure, and that is good news because the Eagles give up the 7th most FPs to QBs at 21.8 PPG. There is too much competitiveness in the rookie for him to be anything less than amazing to finish the season out and win the ROY award.
Stevan Ridley – RB Patriots: I am not worried in the slightest about Ridley’s fumbling problem and benching in last week’s game because the Patriots should put up plenty of points on the scoreboard against a struggling Jaguars team. When and if that happens, the running game will be in full effect and Ridley will get his numbers. They may be garbage time stats or even blowout stats, but I don’t care as long as they are fantasy stats!
Vick Ballard – RB Colts: In NFL.com PPR scoring, Ballard has put up 37.10 FP over the last 3 weeks, which puts him in the RB2 discussion for this week’s game against the Chiefs. The Chiefs give up 23.9 PPG to RBs in PPR formats and Ballard is playing well and flying under the radar because he is overshadowed by Andrew Luck’s run for ROY honors.
Danny Amendola – WR Rams: I am actually a fan of Sam Bradford this week as a sleeper, which also means I am a fan of his go-to WR, Danny Amendola. The Buccaneers are dead last in FP allowed to WRs at 43.6 PPG. That is a full 3 points higher than the #2 team (Redskins) and 3 points-per-game is by far the biggest difference between two teams in the NFL.
Cecil Shorts – WR Jaguars: The 49ers put up 4 passing TDs last week against the Patriots and the Jaguars have no choice but to pass with Montell Owens looking like the starter at RB. Justin Blackmon may have all the hype surrounding him being the 1st round pick, but Shorts has been the more productive fantasy player by far. I like him as a WR2 with possible upside into the WR1 rankings.
Greg Olsen – TE Panthers: Olsen is up and down, as most TEs are. But, I think he finds his way to an up week against the Raiders since they allow the 4th most FP to TEs in PPR leagues with 14.5 PPG. People around the league are down on Cam Newton, but I think the Panthers passing game has a huge game this weekend and Olsen should be able to find the endzone to go along with his 4-5 catches and 50-55 yards.
Indianapolis Colts defense: The Colts defense has been added by 17,420 people in NFL.com leagues since the waiver wire opened on Wednesday (13.1 percent change). The reason people are flocking to the wire to grab them is because they play a Chiefs offense with nothing left to play for but spoiler rights. And, to make matters worse, news broke on Thursday that both the coach (Romeo Crennel) and GM (Scott Pioli) have both been informed they will be fired at season’s end. That means there is more going on inside the players’ and coaches’ heads than the game being played on the field. I LOVE the Colts defense as a sleeper defense in the finals!
Colin Kaepernick – QB 49ers: I’ve ridden the Kaepernick bandwagon for the last few weeks and he has gotten me to the finals in more than one league. But, wheels on this bus have stopped going round and round as the 49ers are facing a Seahawks roadblock. The Seahawks are #1 in FP allowed to QBs (14.4 PPG) and the 49ers offense can’t go anywhere but down after the amazing game they had last week against a generous Patriots defense.
Josh Freeman – QB Buccaneers: Freeman has had a better run in fantasy leagues than I thought he would, but this is one week where I am not a fan of his. The Rams are ranked 12th in the NFL with 18.6 PPG allowed to QBs, and their offense struggles enough to keep games close even though the defense plays above average. I think the Buccs do more damage on the ground than in the air in this one.
Adrian Peterson – RB Vikings: Yes, I said it, AP! All he needs is 147 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record of 2,105 yards, but the Texans are #1 in run defense and have allowed an average of 74.6 YPG on the ground this season. If the game becomes a blowout (on either side), I expect the Vikings to grind the ball out on the ground to get him as close to the record as possible. But, I also expect the Texans to stack as many men in the box as possible to stop him from getting the record in their stadium.
LeSean McCoy – RB Eagles: So many people kept Shady in the hopes of a fantasy playoff run, and he is finally making his comeback in the fantasy finals. The problem is the Eagles have nothing to play for and have already said they are not going to give him a normal workload. He is going to split time with Bryce Brown, which means both can’t be counted on because you just don’t know how the carries will shake out and who will do what with their limited action.
Torrey Smith – WR Ravens: Over the last 3 weeks Smith has managed to haul in just 5 passes for 68 yards, and he hasn’t caught a TD since week 10 against the Raiders. Compare that to Anquan Boldin who has 8 catches for 159 yards and 3 TDs over the last 2 games, and you can see why I am not a fan of Smith this week. And, he also has to deal with a concussion. He has passed one test that allowed him to practice, but he still has to pass another test in order to play.
Larry Fitzgerald – WR Cardinals: I wouldn’t even own Fitzgerald at this point, let alone start him. I was honestly shocked to see that he was still being started in 67.5 percent of NFL.com leagues. The reality is that the Cardinals are running a QB out there (Ryan Lindley) that would be on most team’s practice squad, so the chances of Fitzgerald producing numbers worth playing as slim-to-none, with none winning out.
Antonio Gates – TE Chargers: The Chargers lost Ryan Mathews for the season after he broke his other collarbone last week. Ronnie Brown is barely practicing with a hamstring injury, which means Jackie Battle is the team’s only healthy RB. What that means is the Jets can focus more on stopping the pass than worrying about the run, and Gates has already been relegated to a TD or bust play at TE this season. And, the Jets are ranked 37 in TE points allowed at just 11.2 PPG. Gates is being started in 65.2 percent of NFL.com leagues, and if you are one of those managers, I’d look at guys like Dennis Pitta and Kyle Rudolph as replacements this week.
Baltimore Ravens defense: As much as I love the Colts defense, I hate the Ravens defense this week. Despite being owned in 85.9 percent of NFL.com leagues, and started in 67.0 percent of them, the Ravens meet up with a Giants team that is in a 3-way tie for the NFC East division lead. Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Eli Manning; but, I think he has something to prove this week after being held to just 161 yards passing, no TDs and 2 INTs last week against the Falcons. This could be a high scoring game that ends up costing fantasy teams points, instead of earning them points.
Be sure to check back here to TheFinsiders.com on Sunday for last-minute fantasy injury updates.
Also, for more lineup advice, follow James on Twitter here.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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