Seattle clinched a playoff spot on Sunday, while Carolina continued its unlikely march toward perfection. Along the way, their quarterbacks are carrying countless fantasy teams to the Promised Land by playing at a consistently – even ridiculously – high level.
In my leagues, three-fourths of the teams that advanced to this weekend’s championship games are led by either Newton or Wilson. I suspect those two are common denominators in the vast majority of fantasy leagues, along with Antonio Brown and two receivers that are rapidly shedding the “underachiever” label that has followed them throughout their careers: Doug Baldwin and Ted Ginn.
With Odell Beckham, Jr., likely facing a one-game suspension for his immature actions in Sunday’s showdown with Josh Norman, is there a wideout you’d rather take into the finale than Brown, Baldwin or Ginn?
With history at stake, those relying on the Panthers may not even need to worry that the team will bench their stars in games with little or no meaning. Meanwhile, the 9-5 Seahawks won’t be slowing down, either.
Over the next few days, we’ll start getting hints about which teams may be looking beyond Week 16 to the postseason or, in many cases, to the 2016 draft. If you’re still in the title hunt, your starting decisions may be tougher than usual this weekend.
It beats not playing at all!
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. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup during the postseason.
Catch ‘em while you can
Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins. Don’t look now, but Washington appears to have found its quarterback of the future. Cousins has topped the 300-yard passing threshold in three of his last four games, and has scored multiple TDs – with a little help from his legs – in five of his last eight. With two sketchy defenses on tap, even going on the road doesn’t set off the alarms anymore on Cousins.
Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks. Seattle’s offense revolves around Wilson and Baldwin now; but even with their top two backs sidelined, they still know how to run the ball. Michael has come full circle back to the team that drafted him, and looked strong rushing for 84 yards against the Browns.
Karlos Williams, RB, Bills. Mike Gillislie provided the highlight-reel play after LeSean McCoy went down with a painful knee injury, but Williams is still the primary backup when healthy. Williams rushed for 41 yards on just four carries Sunday against the Redskins, and is presumably the back to grab if McCoy can’t return.
Don’t be fooled
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings. Where has that been all season? The second-year quarterback was nearly flawless while accounting for five touchdowns – and he wasn’t even facing the Saints. Unfortunately, it was only Bridgewater’s third multi-touchdown game all season. Despite the favorable matchup in Week 15, he can’t be trusted.
Steven Jackson, RB, Patriots. It’s been a long time since the 32-year-old rumbler has been fantasy-relevant; but other than possibly Seattle, it’s hard to imagine a better place for Jackson to land so late in the season. Still, there’s no way you’d risk him in your starting lineup in his first game action since 2014. Right?