Saturday, April 15, 2017

Offseason moves of fantasy significance

Greetings, Fools. Hope you've been well. I've taken a couple of months off to lick my wounds (and launch an investigation) over my crushing loss in the Fantasy Writer of the Year Awards. Pretty sure Putin is involved, and maybe Roger Goodell, too. Jury's still out.

Meanwhile, we've already had plenty of offseason moves worth tracking, so that's what we'll do. What follows is an on-going list of offensive players of note who have swapped uniforms via free agency, trade, retirement or 3 a.m. arrest.

As of June 21, here they are:

Tony Romo -- Retires to the top CBS booth.
Jay Cutler -- Also retires for a TV gig, at FOX. But will he be Good or Bad Jay Broadcaster?
Mike Glennon, Bears -- Chicago really plans to start this former Buc?
Brian Hoyer, 49ers -- Ex-Bear gets another chance to start.
Josh McCown, Jets -- Will he start? Say it ain't so.
Jay Cutler -- Released by the Bears.
Brock Osweiler, Browns -- I'm sure everything will be great now that he's in Cleveland ...
Nick Foles, Eagles -- Unlikely to prosper in second stint in Philly.
Blaine Gabbert, Cardinals -- Will backup Palmer.


Marshawn Lynch, Raiders -- Comes out of retirement to make Oakland's offense one of the league's most dangerous.
Adrian Peterson, Saints -- This move is Big, but will the transition be Easy? (See what I did there?)
Latavius Murray, Vikings -- Interested ...
Jamaal Charles, Broncos -- Signs one-year deal with divisional rivals, probably ruining his and CJ Anderson's fantasy value.
Eddie Lacy, Seahawks -- If he can keep his hands out of the cookie jar, could resuscitate his career in Seattle.
LeGarrette Blount, Eagles -- Leaves the champs for uncertain role in Philly.
Rex Burkhead, Patriots -- Bengal backup joins New England's crowded stable.
Tim Hightower, 49ers -- Former Saint will compete for touches in new home.
Danny Woodhead, Ravens -- Can he bounce back from season-ending injury?
Mike Gillislee, Patriots -- Bills also-ran now picks up some fantasy cred in New England.
C.J. Spiller, Chiefs -- How long has it been since his glory days in Buffalo?
Justin Forsett, N/A -- Hung up his cleats and called it a career.
Knile Davis, Steelers -- Will he be a handcuff or a wall flower?
Shaun Draughn, Giants -- Had a brief shining moment in San Fran. Now what?
Matt Asiata, Lions -- Leaves Minnesota for a very-crowded backfield at division rival.
Lance Dunbar, Rams -- Ex-Cowboy will fill a 3rd-down role in L.A.
Christine Michael, Colts -- Well-traveled backup gets another shot in Indy.

Brandin Cooks, Patriots -- Finally, Tom Brady gets a weapon to help him escape mediocrity.
Alshon Jeffery, Eagles -- Waves goodbye to the Windy City.
Brandon Marshall, Giants -- Determined to make it in New York one way or the other.
DeSean Jackson, Bucs -- Will be #2 to Mike Evans' #1.
Pierre Garcon, 49ers -- Not sure he has much left.
Jeremy Maclin, Ravens -- Set free by the Chiefs and winds up in Baltimore.
Eric Decker, Titans -- Released by the Jets after injury-shortened season and will now shag passes from Mariota.
Victor Cruz, Bears -- Limps away from the G-Men to try to fill Jeffery's cleats.
Markus Wheaton, Bears -- Doesn't Chicago know this guy's history?
Ted Ginn, Jr., Saints -- Joins a crowded WR corp in the Big Easy.
Terrelle Pryor, Redskins -- Can he build on his promising start as a Brown?
Kamar Aiken, Colts -- Left the Ravens to compete with other young wideouts.
Michael Floyd, Vikings -- Released by Pats, signs with hometown team.
Kenny Britt, Browns -- Welp, I guess that's the last we'll hear from this former Ram.
Brian Quick, Redskins -- The Rams sure cleaned house. But got what in return?
Marquise Goodwin, 49ers -- Yawn.
Robert Woods, Rams -- Double yawn.
Marquess Wilson, Jets -- Hard to imagine he'll be any better in New York than he was in Chicago.
Torrey Smith, Eagles -- Ex-49er will steal money from Philly now.
Andre Holmes, Bills -- Remember that week when we were excited about his potential in Oakland?

Martellus Bennett, Packers -- Well-traveled TE will try to give A-Rod an elite target.
Lance Kendricks, Packers -- Former Ram will likely eat into Bennett's upside.
Dwayne Allen, Patriots -- Traded by the Colts to take Marty B's spot.
Julius Thomas, Dolphins -- Heads down the interstate to help another struggling passing attack.
Jared Cook, Raiders -- Ex-Packer likely to continue a career of underachievement in Oakland.
Mychal Rivera, Jaguars -- Gets another chance in Jacksonville.
Gary Barnidge, F/A -- Released by the Browns.
Ladarius Green, F/A -- Released after 1 year by the Steelers. Never understood the hype on this one.

Steven Hauschka, Bills -- Once steady kicker loses his fantasy cred in Buffalo.
Chandler Catanzaro, Jets -- Former Card will try to make it in the Big Apple.
Phil Dawson, Cardinals -- Ex-49er may actually get a few opportunities to shine this season.
Nick Folk, Bucs -- Will compete for the job in Tampa Bay.
Robbie Gould, 49ers -- Nothing to see here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

11th Annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards

Actors have the Oscars. Broadway performers have the Tonys. Fantasy football players are stuck with Biro’s Heroes & Zeros.

Hey, nobody said life is fair.

Once again, before we close the books on another exhilarating / frustrating / victorious / humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, we must take a quick stroll back through 2016 to examine the players we rooted for and against and – with as much objectivity as we can muster – give credit where credit is due.

As always, our annual accolades (and condemnations) have but a few important criteria:
  1. Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
  2. Production during the fantasy playoffs – NFL Weeks 14 through 16 – is given extra weight. Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn. (We’re looking at you, Big Ben.)
  3. Week 17 is dead to us. (Lucky for you, Zeke.)
Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 11th Annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:

Most Valuable Player: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals. See Criteria No. 1. Johnson was the model of consistency, scoring and/or amassing more than 100 combined yards in every game (until his Week 17 injury). He played up to his first-round billing in spades. Runner-up: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys.

“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. Last year’s undisputed Rookie of the Year wilted under the spotlight in La La Land. Gurley was inexplicably awful in most contests, but his owners didn’t dare bench him early on since he was bound to catch fire at any moment, right? Runner-up: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans.   

Rookie of the Year:  Ezekiel Elliott. This one wasn’t even close. Like Johnson, Elliott scored and/or totaled more than 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first 16 games. Let’s just hope he doesn’t “pull a Gurley” next season. Runner-up: Michael Thomas, WR, Saints. 

Comeback Player of the Year: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. All he did was return from a torn ACL that cost him the 2015 season to lead the league in receiving TDs and fantasy points among wideouts. Runner-up: DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans.

Surprise of the Year: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys. Though he wasn’t always a fantasy stud, Prescott personifies this category. More than 3,600 passing yards, 29 total TDs and only 4 INTs is pretty ridiculous for a young quarterback, much less a rookie. Runner-up: Davante Adams, WR, Packers.

Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears. When Jeremy Langford went down to injury in Week 3, Howard stepped in and became Chicago’s undisputed workhorse, finishing the season in the Top 10 fantasy RB ranks. Runner-up: Adams.

Mr. Big Play: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Maybe it just seemed like he scored every time he touched the ball; but whether it was as a receiver, runner or returner, Hill was a game-changer. Runner-up: Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints.

Most Devastating Injury Loss: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. You could argue that losing Adrian Peterson was worse, but he failed to produce even before his injury. Gronk was his usual beast self when healthy, but that wasn’t nearly long enough. Runner-up: A.J. Green, WR, Bengals.

Steal of the Draft: Matt Ryan, RB, Falcons. Available as late as the 13th round in many leagues, Ryan turned in the best season of his career and was even stellar while Julio Jones was sidelined. Runner-up: Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers.

Mr. Reliable: Jordy Nelson. Antonio Brown has set the standard for consistency over the last four seasons, but even he played second fiddle to Jordy this year. Aside from a 9-yard disaster in Week 7, Nelson delivered week in and week out. Runner-up: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons.

“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots. All he did was score touchdowns. He even racked up big yards as an occasional bonus. Runner-up: Frank Gore, RB, Colts.

Most Overrated: Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars. Universally projected to build on his spectacular 2015 campaign, A-Rob was virtually non-existent most weekends. Blake Bortles didn’t do him any favors. Runner-up: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers.

Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills. Despite the dearth of talent around him, and some pretty pathetic quarterback play most of the season, Shady turned in another elite season. Runner-up: Jordan Howard.

Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Drew Brees, QB, Saints. If you survived Brees’ Week 13 meltdown, he likely knocked you out of the playoffs with his 257-yard, zero-TD, three-INT outing in Week 14. Runner-up: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers.

“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award: Kenneth Farrow, RB, Chargers. Countless fantasy owners jumped on Farrow’s bandwagon after Melvin Gordon’s injury. The rookie then proceeded to stink up the joint in Weeks 15 and 16 when Gordon’s owners needed him the most. Runner-up: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers.

Team Bust of the Year (a.k.a. They Are Who We Thought They Were): 49ers. There isn’t a player on this team that you regret not drafting. Runner-up: Browns.

Most Likely to Succeed in 2017: Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins. Last year’s pick, David Johnson, held up his end of the bargain. We’ll see if Crowder can build on his impressive sophomore campaign, especially with both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon likely moving on in free agency. Runner-up: Tyreek Hill.

As always, I’m open to your feedback on these awards.  Feel free to comment below, and be sure to begin your message with “You’re an idiot because…”

That does it for this season. Thanks, once again, for following my column. Check in on the Fantasy Fools blog for offseason developments and we’ll be back in August to prep for another title run!

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Perfect Draft: The Grand Do-Over

What if your league-mates offered you a second chance at your draft?

Would you roll the dice on rookie Ezekiel Elliott instead of making a “safe” pick like Todd Gurley or, heaven forbid, Adrian Peterson?

Would you let Cam Newton slide on by and grab Matt Ryan instead?

Maybe pass up Rob Gronkowski for, let’s see, any other tight end?

Sadly, there are no do-overs in fantasy football. At least not in the season-long version that God intended for us to play. But there sure is plenty of second-guessing. Yes, friends, it’s time to adjust our rear-view mirrors as we explore what could have been with my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft: The Final Judgment.

As always, we start with a few key parameters. We will draft from the middle (fifth) position in a 10-team non-keeper league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, and one tight end, flex, kicker and team defense. We disregard Week 17, since no league should be vying for a championship then. And, as always, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2016 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…

Round 1: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals. The 2016 Fantasy MVP lived up to the hype he generated late in his rookie season. Through 16 games, Johnson racked up 2,074 combined yards and a whopping 20 TDs. That’s what you dream of from your first-round pick. Sunday’s injury was a rotten way to close out his glorious season.

Round 2: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. The unchallenged Comeback Player of the Year immediately resumed his uncanny rapport with Aaron Rodgers, scoring in 11 of his first 15 games and racking up 91 receptions for 1,191 yards. Mike Evans was slightly better for much of the season, but he petered out down the stretch.

Round 3: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. Andrew Luck’s favorite receiver finally ascended to elite status. Aaron Rodgers and LeSean McCoy offer more third-round value, but passing up Hilton would leave us unnecessarily weak in our WR corps.

Round 4: DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans. We could afford to pass up McCoy because we’re grabbing Murray here. After a disastrous detour through Philly, Murray nearly replicated his 2014 MVP status during his rebound season in Tennessee.

Round 5: Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. He overtook Greg Olsen for supremacy at his position with a sensational performance in Week 16. We could wait an extra round to take him, but we’ve got other plans for that pick.

Round 6: Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers. Until he went down in Week 14, Gordon was in the Fantasy MVP conversation. His injury was devastating to many of his owners, but they sure loved him when he was healthy.

Round 7: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Draft him and stash him till Week 5, then hold on for another stellar ride.

Round 8: Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders. Marvin Jones teased us in the first half of the season, but Crabtree, while mixing in a few stinkers along the way, contributed more consistently throughout the season.

Round 9: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots. His worst game of the season was a 54-rushing-yard effort in Week 4 and he failed to reach the end zone in only three games. That’s as consistent as it gets.

Round 10: Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins. He’ll be a nice flex play, especially those three weeks when he eclipsed 200 rushing yards. If nothing else, we’ll keep him off our opponents’ rosters.

Round 11: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. Available as late as the 13th round, Matty Ice had the best season of his career and even came up big when Julio Jones was injured.

Round 12: Chiefs defense/special teams. We could wait another round to take the top D/ST in the land, but why tempt fate?

Round 13: Michael Thomas, WR, Saints. Zeke Elliott ran away with Fantasy Rookie of the Year honors, but Thomas set the standard among first-year wideouts. He nearly equaled the production of his more-heralded counterpart, Brandin Cooks, while becoming a trusted target of the prolific Drew Brees.

Round 14: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears. Here’s another rookie who can come to our rescue once Melvin Gordon goes down.

Round 15: Davante Adams, WR, Packers. Adams may drive us crazy with his inconsistency, but Rodgers’ second-most-reliable wideout is welcome on this team. He went undrafted in most leagues, but rose above Randall Cobb in Green Bay’s pecking order.

Round 16: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Want to watch question marks appear above your competitors’ heads? Take Hill here and enjoy. The challenge will be knowing when to start the multi-faceted playmaker.

Round 17: Matt Bryant, K, Falcons. There are several quality choices here, but Bryant handled mop-up duty for the highest-scoring offense in the league. That’s the way to pick your kicker.

The good news is you didn’t need to draft this well to win a title. But it sure would have been fun.

Next week, we close out the 2016-17 season with our annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Week 17 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to play…

Matt Ryan, Falcons – Torched the Saints for 331 yards and 4 TDs without a turnover.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Was masterful again, with 300 yards and 4 TDs, plus 42 rushing yards, with zero mistakes.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Passed for 276 yards and 3 TDs, without a blemish.

Rex Burkhead, Bengals – Rumbled for 119 yards and 2 TDs, plus 2 receptions for 25 yards.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings – Ran for 89 yards and a TD and caught 3 passes for 21 yards and another TD.
Charcandrick West, Chiefs – Rushed for 58 yards and caught 5 passes for 58 yards and 2 TDs.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Caught 5 passes for 81 yards and ran 96 yards with a TD.
Devontae Booker, Broncos – Rushed for 57 yards and a TD and caught 2 passes for 52 yards and a second TD.
Shaun Draughn, 49ers – Scored twice while rushing for 41 yards and caught 4 passes for 68 yards.
DeAngelo Williams, Steelers – The league’s best backup ran for 67 yards, caught 3 passes for 27 yards and scored both ways.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Rushed for 103 yards and 1 TD plus 6 receptions for 29 yards.

Michael Thomas, Saints – Took 10 passes and created 156 yards and a TD out of them.
Julian Edelman, Patriots – Reeled in 8 passes for 151 yards and a TD.
Rishard Matthews, Titans – Caught 9 passes for 114 yards and a score.
Davante Adams, Packers – Scored twice on 6 catches for 31 yards.

Zach Ertz, Eagles – Reeled in 13 passes for 139 yards and 2 TDs.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – Pulled down 11 passes for 117 yards and a score.

Vikings – Amassed 2 sacks, 2 INTs, 3 fumbles and a TD on one of those fumbles, while holding the Bears to 10 points.
Buccaneers – Collected 3 sacks, 3 INTs and a TD on an INT return and kept the Panthers to 16 points.
Giants – Had 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 fumble and a TD on a fumble return and held Washington to 10 points.  `
Cardinals – Generated 7 sacks, 2 INTs and a fumble and scored on one of the interceptions while holding the Rams to 6 points.

This was a great week to play against…

Dak Prescott, Cowboys – No surprise, had just 37 passing and 9 rushing yards before taking an early shower.
Eli Manning, Giants – Passed for 180 yards without a score or turnover.
Joe Flacco, Ravens – Passed for 267 yards without a TD, but included an INT.
Matt Barkley, Bears – Just 125 passing yards with a fumble and 2 INTs, though he caught a 2-yard TD pass.
Cam Newton, Panthers – Passed for 237 yards and a TD, but ruined it with 3 INTs.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys – Was active, but finished with a goose egg on the day.
LeSean McCoy, Bills – Ran for just 10 yards and caught a 6-yarder before leaving with an injury.
DeMarco Murray, Titans – Finished with 21 rushing and lost 2 yards on his only reception.
Latavius Murray, Raiders – Ran for 11 yards and caught a 14-yarder.
Terrance West, Ravens – Totaled just 35 combined yards.
Darren Sproles, Eagles – Limited to 32 rushing yards.
Alfred Blue, Texans – Just 28 rushing and 12 receiving yards.
Rob Kelley, Redskins – Ran for 33 yards.
David Johnson, Cardinals – Exited with a nasty leg injury after running for 6 yards and catching 3 passes for 38 yards.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Also active, but not in the box score.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Hurt his foot before he caught a pass.
Adam Thielen, Vikings – Last week’s hero caught a 7-yard pass.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears – Caught a 10-yarder.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins – His 2 receptions produced 16 yards.
Tavon Austin, Rams – Got 18 yards on 2 catches and lost a fumble.
Brandin Cooks, Saints – Went 19 yards with 3 receptions.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Just 31 yards on 4 balls.
Steve Smith, Ravens – Went out with a whimper after all, with just 3 catches for 34 yards.
Mike Wallace, Ravens – He had 33 yards on 4 catches.
DeSean Jackson, Redskins – Caught 2 passes for 34 yards.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs – Caught an 8-yarder.
Jason Witten, Cowboys – Finished with a 10-yarder.
Greg Olsen, Panthers – Just 22 yards on 3 catches.

Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders – Shut out by the Broncos.

Sunday morning observations -- Week 17

Happy New Year, Fools! I hope each of you made it through 2016, and NYE, safely and that you're about to settle in for a very busy afternoon of NFL football with little, if anything, riding on the outcomes.

For me, I'll be battling for 5% of the pot in both of my leagues, as we hold our "Free for All Bowl," where the top overall scorer for the day wins a little financial consolation prize. It's basically a way for us to stretch the fantasy season out one more week without extending our championship game to Week 17, which is nuts.

Why is it nuts, you ask? Well, here are just some of the players who won't be competing at all today either due to injury or because their teams are playing meaningless games (versus the ones who will make token appearances and/or will just try to make it through their games unscathed): Ben Roethlisberger, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Tyrod Taylor, Le'Veon Bell, Carlos Hyde, Melvin Gordon, Theo Riddick (just placed on IR), Lamar Miller, Jeremy Hill, Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Mathews, Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green (IR), Stefon Diggs, Taylor Gabriel, Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell, Donte Moncrief, Allen Hurns, Danny Amendola, Kendall Wright, Tyler Eifert, Ladrius Green, Cameron Brate.

Others who will likely play only a token amount of time or who are game-time decisions: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Spencer Ware, Dez Bryant and Kenny Britt. The Giants have nothing to play for either, so don't be surprised if Eli, Odell and others hit the showers early.

It will be interesting to see just how much playing time Tony Romo gets once Dak jogs off the field this afternoon. Early betting is not much, and that Mark Sanchez will receive the bulk of the snaps. Don't count on a lot from any Cowboy player, though I wouldn't be surprised if the starters log a TD or two before hitting the showers. 50 yards and a TD sounds about right for Zeke Elliott in a quarter or more of play...

Trevor Siemian may only get a half's work of play, with Paxton Lynch taking over for the rest of the way.

There's good news if you're relying on any Patriots players, especially Tom Brady. They still have the first seed on the line, so expect big things from them against the Dolphins today. I think Jarvis Landry could have a nice outing as well, at home, with playoff seeding also on the line and Jay Ajayi dealing with a sore shoulder.

Some reports are suggesting DeAngelo Williams is the Steelers back to start today, while others point to Fitzgerald Touissant. They obviously have a tasty matchup with the Browns, but it appears the two backs will split the workload in some fashion. Either could come up big, or small. Sorry...that's why you shouldn't have a lot at stake in Week 17!

Now that we know about Doug Martin's suspension, and with Charles Sims placed on IR, Jacquizz Rodgers projects to have a busy day against the Saints. He's a solid Week 17 prospect, if you need a fill-in.

And you have to love tonight's game between the Packers and Lions, with a division crown on the line for both. If you've got 'em, start 'em!

That's it for now. Will turn next to Twitter for the final inactives report of the 2016 regular season. Enjoy the games, Fools! Tomorrow's column will feature the Perfect Draft: Final Edition. Always a crowd-pleaser...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Week 17 Starters & Benchwarmers

Week 17 is usually a crapshoot, with several teams resting starters or coasting into the off-season. Typical “no-brainer” starters aren’t so obvious this week, while seldom-used backups get their moments in the sun. In short, it’s a terrible week to contest your fantasy Super Bowl.

In my leagues, we play a “Free for All Bowl,” in which everyone except the champ sets one final lineup. The overall points winner gets a token share of the pot.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 17 of the 2016 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Packers. When last these two teams met, Stafford had a huge game and Marvin Jones (205 receiving yards, 2 TDs) became an instant fantasy hero. Since then, Stafford has held up his end of the bargain, while Jones has lost his fantasy relevance. The Lions have everything to play for, so count on Stafford to keep all of his receivers busy (except, inevitably, Jones).

Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys at Eagles. Ezekiel Elliott is expected to receive only token carries, after which he will yield the backfield to McFadden. Run DMC looked sharp in his first extended playing time of the season during mop-up duty last week, so look for him to use this opportunity to audition for a nice free-agent contract in the offseason.

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders at Broncos. Oakland is starting Matt McGloin at QB. So do you think they’ll emphasize the run or pass in this pivotal game? Exactly. Though he was out-played by DeAndre Washington last week, Murray remains the starter and the most reliable option in the Raiders backfield. Washington is worthy a flier, too, given the delicious matchup.

Davante Adams, WR, Packers at Lions. This game should be an aerial showcase, as neither team runs the ball consistently. Speaking of inconsistent, meet Adams. Now that he’s put his disastrous Week 15 performance behind him, trust him to hold onto the balls Aaron Rodgers flings his way.

J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals at Rams. Neither team has anything to play for, but Nelson will be looking to cement his position as Arizona’s No. 2 wideout heading into 2017. He has established a nice rapport with Carson Palmer, and the Rams are coughing up nearly two passing TDs per game, on average.

More thumbs up: QBs Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson; RBs LeSean McCoy, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Spencer Ware, Jordan Howard, LeGarrette Blount, Bilal Powell, Thomas Rawls, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jonathan Stewart, Derrick Henry, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Ty Montgomery, Rex Burkhead; WRs Jordy Nelson, Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, T.Y. Hilton, Julian Edelman, Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, DeSean Jackson, Kelvin Benjamin, Alshon Jeffery, Allen Robinson, Tyrell Williams, Jarvis Landry, Adam Thielen, Cameron Meredith.

Roll ‘em back

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers vs. Chiefs. Over the last three weeks, no secondary has been tougher on opposing QBs than Kansas City. The Chiefs need a win for a chance at the division title while the Chargers are already setting their tee times. Don’t expect a rousing performance against this stingy and focused defense.

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams vs. Cardinals. This season’s leading candidate for Fantasy Bust of the Year “honors” has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game and, even worse, has just one 100-combined-yard game in 2017. He managed a better-than-usual 82 total yards (without a TD) the last time he faced Arizona. If you’d be happy with that, go ahead and start him. Otherwise, look to someone with real upside.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans at Titans. Lamar Miller (ankle) is unlikely to suit up for this pointless affair, leaving the starting role in Blue’s hands again. Though he came through with a solid performance last week, Sunday’s opponent is tougher against the run. Though he may eek in a short TD plunge, don’t expect big yardage from this backup.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans vs. Texans. With their playoff seeding set in stone, Houston could sit many of their starters. That’s the good news for Matthews. The bad news is he’ll be attempting to snare passes from Matt Cassel in a game that’s also meaningless for the Titans. This one could get ugly.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles vs. Cowboys. Carson Wentz continues to regress and Matthews is paying the price. Though he had a nice outing the last time he faced Dallas (11 receptions for 65 yards, 1 TD), he’s hard to trust against a secondary that has been playing well and lacks the depth to bench all its starters.

More thumbs down: QBs Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, Trevor Siemian, Carson Wentz, E.J. Manuel, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colin Kaepernick, Matt McGloin; RBs Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, Melvin Gordon, Jeremy Hill, Lamar Miller, Rob Kelley, Matt Forte, Shaun Draughn, Devontae Booker, Zach Zenner, Terrance West, Chris Ivory; WRs Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Randall Cobb, Cole Beasley, Donte Moncrief, Robby Anderson, Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin, Terrelle Pryor, Mike Wallace, Kenny Britt.


Steve Smith, WR, Ravens at Bengals. Though Baltimore has been eliminated from the postseason, this game has special meaning as Smith’s swan song. There’s no way this fiery competitor will go out with a whimper. Joe Flacco will do everything in his power to give Smith the victory lap he deserves.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO … assumes your stalwarts will suit up as usual in Week 17. The Steelers have already signaled that they will sit their stars, while the Cowboys’ young guns will likely see only minimal action. The Giants and Texans likewise have nothing to play for. Plan accordingly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Week 16 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to play…

Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Torched the Vikings for 347 yards and 4 TDs, plus 13 rushing yards and a 5th TD.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Passed for 350 yards and 4 TDs and ran for 36 yards, too; but lost a fumble.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills – Passed for 329 yards and 3 TDs, and added 60 rushing yards, without a turnover.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Just 1 TD and 270 yards through the air, but he added 30 yards and 2 more TDs on the ground.
Sam Bradford, Vikings – Actually showed up, with 382 passing yards and 3 TDs, plus a fumble. Not that anyone started him.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Hit the showers early after passing for 214 yards and 3 TDs.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys -- Had almost an identical passing stat line on Monday night, though he added 35 yards as a rusher.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars – Passed for 325 yards and a TD, and caught a 20-yard TD pass, without a blemish.
Andrew Luck, Colts – Had a couple of INTs, but also passed for 288 yards and 2 TDs and ran in an 11-yard TD.

Jay Ajayi, Dolphins – Rumbled through the Bills for 206 yards and a TD.
David Johnson, Cardinals – Ran for 95 yards and a TD hat trick, plus 4 catches for 41 yards. We’ll forgive the fumble.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers – Rushed for 122 yards and a score, and grabbed 3 passes for 15 more yards and a second TD.
Tevin Coleman, Falcons – Ran for 90 yards and a TD, and caught 3 passes for 45 yards. On my bench.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Scored twice while rushing for 90 yards and caught 2 passes for 3 yards.
LeSean McCoy, Bills – Rushed for 128 yards and a score, plus 5 receptions for 17 yards.
DeAndre Washington, Raiders – Ran for 99 yards and 2 TDs and caught an 18-yarder.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys – Despite being pulled early, ran for 80 yards and 2 TDs, and caught a 12-yard pass.
Zack Zenner, Lions – Punched in two TDs and collected 67 rushing and 25 receiving yards on Monday night.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Ran for 54 yards and a pair of TDs.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots – His 50 yards and 2 TDs were just as sweet as Crowell’s.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Came up huge in the MNF spotlight, collecting 4 passes for 70 yards and 2 TDs and throwing a 10-yard TD pass as well.
Adam Thielen, Vikings – Snagged a dozen passes for 202 yards and 2 TDs. Wow.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Grabbed 9 passes for 154 yards and 2 TDs.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Caught 7 passes for 154 yards and a TD. On my bench.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – Busted loose for 171 yards and a TD on 13 receptions.
Cameron Meredith, Bears – Reeled in 9 passes for 135 yards and a score.
J.J. Nelson, Cardinals – Caught only 3 passes but took them for 132 yards and 1 TD.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – Once he got warmed up, he caught 10 passes for 96 yards and the winning TD. For my opponent.
Brandon LaFell, Bengals – Turned 6 passes into 130 yards and a TD.
Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants – In PPR leagues, his 11 receptions for 150 yards were gold.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – He actually had 9 catches for 147 yards. Where has that been all year?
Marquis Lee, Jaguars – Had 3 catches for 37 yards and a TD, and threw a 20-yard TD pass to Blake Bortles.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs – Reeled in 11 passes for 160 yards and a TD, sinking my title hopes.
Charles Clay, Bills – Scored twice while catching 8 passes for 85 yards.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – Pulled down 8 passes for 94 yards and a TD.

Patriots – Amassed 2 sacks, 3 INTs and a fumble recovery while holding the hapless Jets to 3 points.

This was a great week to play against…

Trevor Siemian, Broncos – Passed for just 183 yards without a score, and coughed up an INT.

Thomas Rawls, Seahawks – Ran for a measly 8 yards.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals – So did he. In my starting lineup…
Kenneth Farrow, Chargers – Ran for 28 yards and caught 4 passes for 29 more.
Ty Montgomery, Packers – Let down his bedazzled owners with just 23 rushing and 17 receiving yards.

Robby Anderson, Jets – Finished with a goose egg, not coincidentally after Bryce Petty went down.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins – Caught a 3-yarder.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs – Held to 9 yards on 3 catches.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles – Only 12 yards on 2 receptions.
John Brown, Cardinals – He got 12 yards on his only catch.
Taylor Gabriel, Falcons – Settled for 3 catches for 15 yards.
Kenny Britt, Rams – Caught a lousy 15-yard pass.
Marvin Jones, Lions – Came up short again, with just a 16-yarder to his credit.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Only managed 20 yards on 3 catches, in my starting lineup.
Willie Snead, Saints – Just 21 yards on 2 balls.
Mike Wallace, Ravens – He got his 21 yards on 4 catches.
Chris Hogan, Patriots – Notched a 22-yard reception.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals – Only 25 yards on 2 catches.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Limited to a 26-yarder.
Ted Ginn, Panthers – Had just 29 yards on 3 catches.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins – So did he.
Quincy Enunwa, Jets – Led his team with a 30-yard catch.
Brandon Marshall, Jets – He continued to implode with 2 catches for 28 yards.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Stuck with 4 passes for 31 yards.
Terrelle Pryor, Browns – Had another disappointing day, with 3 receptions for 36 yards.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – Caught just 2 passes for 38 yards before exiting with a broken leg.