Week 16: Pickups of the Week
(Posted Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. ET and updated as needed)
Now that we're truly in the fantasy playoffs portion of the season, matchups become a larger part of the weekly waiver wire calls, long-term upside a little less. With only one or two weeks remaining in the fantasy football season, the future is now. Brilliant statement, I know.
Anyway, slightly different format this week, but the goal remains the same: find those gems. For those still debating what to do, shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or hit me up on Twitter (@benstandig). Also, please note that I'm focusing on those players likely available in most leagues. If say Jay Cutler or Cordarrelle Patterson or Dennis Pitta or Chris Ivory is in your league's free agent pool, dive inn for them as they likely trump names shown below.
1) Jordan Todman
2) Montee Ball
3) LeGarrette Blount
4) Mike Tolbert
5) Edwin Baker
Others: Marcel Reece, Chris Ogbonnaya James Starks, Daniel Thomas, Shonn Greene, Jonathan Dwyer
Notes: There were quite a few viable RB options in Week 15, though the exact order proved tricky while we waited for injury situations to clear up in several spots. That's not the case in Week 16, so hopefully everyone in the Super Bowl (or those that moved one step closer to that goal) stocked up for the winter. ...Hopefully all those Maurice Jones-Drew owners jumped on the Jaguars backup last week. With a depleted lineup, Jacksonville leaned heavily on the 5-foot-9 Jordan Todman for 29 carries - including four receptions - which he turned into 153 total yards. There is a chance MJD returns this week from his injury, but don't count on it. Todman is a RB2 this week. ...Throw out what happened with the Broncos last week. Denver typically runs oodles of plays, but simply didn't have the ball that much versus the Chargers. That shouldn't be the case against a Texans team just waiting for the offseason. While there is always a risk with Montee Ball regarding number of touches - and where on the field they come - the rookie remains an upside play. Consider Ball a low-end RB2 or potential Flex option. Houston has allowed over 110 rushing yards in five of its last six games. ...Once again, the Patriots' RB situation left owners frustrated. LeGarrette Blount had 12 touches for 53 yards, trumping Stevan Ridley in both areas, though that's what you call damning with faint praise. Adding to the confusion, New England plays at Baltimore in Week 16. The Ravens rank No. 2 against fantasy RBs but have given up a TD on the ground in three straight weeks....Mike Tolbert rushed 12 times last week, only the second time all season he's received double-digit carries. That offers hope against the Saints, but ultimately the burly back is TD-dependant. ...The Browns threw us a curve ball last week by leaning on little-known Edwin Baker over Chris Ogbonnaya as their lead back against the Bears. The former Michigan State and practice squad player product produced 84 yards and a TD on 12 carries. Those are decent numbers and it sounds like he'll remain the main option, but against the Jets in Week 16, that's not good enough to trust.
1) Greg Jennings
2) Rod Streater
3) Cordarrelle Patterson
4) Doug Baldwin
5) Robert Woods
6) Andre Holmes
Others: Mike Brown, Ace Sanders, Santana Moss, Andre Caldwell, Marlon Brown, Aldrick Robinson
Notes: Irrelevant most of the fantasy year, Greg Jennings rocked in Week 15, finishing with 11 catches for 163 yards and TD. Credit the change at QB from Christian Ponder to Matt Cassel. However, don't force Jennings into your starting lineup against the Bengals in Week 16, though he's solid fit as a WR3. His teammate Cordarrelle Patterson also sits in WR3 territory, but is much more of a risk-reward play considering the lack of targets. ...The Raiders face a San Diego pass defense that ranks 30th against fantasy WRs this season. Rod Streater is the safer play (especially in PPR), but Andre Holmes has been impressive over the last three weeks. With Holmes and Denarius Moore battling each other for snaps, Streater is the Raiders WR to use, but all could find the end zone against San Diego. ...Lets jump down to two Redskins --Santana Moss and Aldrick Robinson -- facing a Dallas defense ranked 29th against the position. Clearly the deep ball is back in play for Washington with Kirk Cousins in the lineup. Robinson caught a 62-yard bomb against the Falcons and finished 4-99. Moss, who has a history of big plays versus Dallas, went 8-64-1. Moss is the safer play and the better PPR option, but both are on the fantasy radar for the first time this season.
1) Delanie Walker
2) Zach Miller
3) Zach Ertz
4) Tyler Eifert
5) Tim Wright
Others: Garrett Graham, Kellen Winslow, Jacob Tamme, Brent Celek
Notes: We said to use Delanie Walker last week against the Cardinals' last-ranked defense versus the TE. Yes, that worked as he caught eight of his 11 targets for 53 yards and a score. Next up: the Jaguars and their 31st ranked unit versus TEs. Enjoy. ...Zach Miller is the next TE with a shot at scoring on Arizona, which has allowed a TD in five of its last six games and seven overall in that span. Miller is trickier than Walker because he's not as prominent in the weekly passing game plan. His last two games, 2 for 21. The two games prior, including one against the Vikings (30th vs. TE), Miller finished 9-155-1. Considering the inconsistency at the TE position this season, going against a defense that shows it can't stop production from occurring is a wise call. ...Zach Ertz has produced TE1 level numbers in two of his last three games and next faces the Bears' 21st defense. For the first time all season, Ertz played more snaps than Brent Celek last week and finished 6-57-1. Tight ends against Minnesota the past two weeks have finished 15-138-3. ... Like most weeks, Tyler Eifert's value largely depends on whether Jermaine Gresham plays. Well, Gresham might not for the Bengals in Week 16 due to a hip injury. With Gresham sidelined, Eifert caught his first TD since Week 7. Consider him no less than a top 15 option if Gresham sits.
1) Browns (at Jets) - Geno Smith, enough said.
2) Lions (NYG) - Eli Manning, enough said.
3) Titans (at Jags)
4) Jaguars (vs. Titans)
Notes: Check out the FFToolbox weekly rankings as a primary guide for this position.
Full disclosure: While I typically set the tone for the weekly rankings, my personal call does not include putting Kirk Cousins as a high-end QB1. Oh, on paper the Redskins QB could easily reach such numbers against Dallas. The Cowboys can't stop the pass, as evidenced by their dead last ranking. Allowing four TDPs in each of the last two weeks is another sign.
They also really can't stop the run. Yes, Dallas ranks last against fantasy RBs. My take is the Redskins run Alfred Morris all day, especially if they grab a lead.
Now, I'm all for taking targeted risks, but typically at RB, WR or TE where snaps, targets and matchups offer significant advantages. For example, last week FFToolbox had Jordan Todman inside the RB top 20 once it became clear he was the lead back. In Week 15, 23 QBs had at least 30 pass attempts.
All that said, Cousins is a worthy Week 16 start for some without question. As the week progresses and more data is processed and more thoughts crystallize, he might even be a QB1 on my list. Right now he's QB14, which isn't shabby. It's just not top 5. Therefore, grab Cousins (or Nick Foles or Alex Smith or Ryan Tannehill if available) -- especially those owners wavering on their current QB situation; after touting Carson Palmer for the last month, I won't be using him against Seattle. Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan are also weaker than usual this week.
For those feeling daring and are feeling Cousins, go for it. Week 16 is not the week for me to sit a typically stud QB for a player making his second start of the season.For me, win or lose, I'm not waking up on Monday morning or every day in the offseason thinking I lost the Super Bowl by sitting Drew Brees or Foles or Tony Romo or Philip Rivers.