Week 16 was most notable for its upsets, from the screeching halt of Carolina’s drive for perfection to the Patriots’ bungled handling of the overtime coin toss. Somehow, the Ravens mustered their divisional-rival powers to ground Pittsburgh’s passing attack while the Rams knocked the surging Seahawks offense off-stride for the first time since Week 10.
And while the Cardinals’ ninth consecutive victory wasn’t a surprise, the way they humiliated the Packers’ offense sure was.
Each of these unexpected outcomes yielded disappointing fantasy results for many of the players that had propelled their owners to the championship round.
Fantasy MVP candidate Cam Newton salvaged an otherwise poor outing with a rushing touchdown, but left Ted Ginn holding a big bag of nothing.
Ben Roethlisberger and Martavis Bryant were title-week duds, while Antonio Brown merely mortal.
Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin got off to slow starts, but eventually rewarded their nervous owners with some scoring. But neither was the dominant force we had seen in recent weeks.
Aaron Rodgers never had a chance to hit his receivers while laying on his back the entire game, and Tom Brady looked out of sync without two of his three most reliable receivers.
The upshot of all this high-profile mediocrity is that some of the most confident (perhaps cocky) owners heading into the weekend spent their Sunday cursing the same players that had carried them to brink of glory.
And because every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, their opponents are celebrating today. But many are tipping their hats to the fantasy gods, knowing full well they dodged a bullet with “Cam” or “Big Ben” etched into its side.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. At this point, your season should be over. But if your postseason extends to Week 17, here’s a player worth considering, and another who would look better in someone else's lineup.
Catch ‘em while you can
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets. Still available in nearly half of all leagues, Fitzpatrick just keeps feeding the ball to his talented wideouts and racking up consistently solid performances. With a playoff berth on the line next weekend at Buffalo, he should be at the top of his game.
Don’t be fooled
Vance McDonald, TE, 49ers. He has scored in three of his last five games, thanks to a steady rapport with Blaine Gabbert and the absence of Vernon Davis. Yet in the two games prior to Sunday, McDonald totaled just three receptions for 28 yards. Surely you have a better option in Week 17.