Friday, December 23, 2016

Week 16 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Shady McCoy, or to bench Robert Griffin, Jr. and Jerick McKinnon? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 16 of the 2016 season – Super Bowl weekend in Fantasyland!

Watch ‘em roll

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers at Browns. Rivers hasn’t thrown for fewer than two TDs in a game since Week 7. His bugaboo has been interceptions (and middling yardage). Fortunately, this week’s opponents have picked off just eight passes while giving up an NFL-worst 31 scoring passes. With Melvin Gordon likely out again, and a full complement of healthy receivers, Rivers should have a field day in Cleveland.

Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs vs. Broncos. Aside from a salty, two-TD effort in Week 13 against Atlanta, Ware has cooled off dramatically from his early-season exploits. He should get back on track against the sorry Broncos run defense, especially since Denver’s strong secondary and the nasty elements will conspire against Kansas City’s passing game.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins at Bills. The last time Miami and Buffalo clashed, Ajayi steamrolled over the Bills’ defense for 214 rushing yards and a TD. While those heady days seem long gone, Ajayi should again be leaned on heavily in the poor conditions. Despite Matt Moore’s solid outing last week, he and his fair-weather receivers are likely to struggle with the slick ball, making Ajayi’s contributions paramount.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears vs. Redskins. Matt Barkley has been spreading the ball around fairly evenly between his receivers, but he got really comfortable with Jeffery late in the Green Bay game. Expect the duo to start off stronger on Saturday and for Chicago’s most skilled wideout to separate himself from the pack.

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots vs. Jets. The weather outside may be frightful, but that rarely bothers the Patriots. Matt Moore racked up four TD passes against the Jets last weekend, so how much trouble do you think Tom Brady will have with that secondary? Edelman will carry a heavy load and both Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell offer decent upside as flex options, too.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Matt Stafford, Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Matt Barkley; RBs Jordan Howard, Ty Montgomery, Mark Ingram, Thomas Rawls, Doug Martin, Frank Gore, Todd Gurley, LeGarrette Blount; WRs Julio Jones, Ted Ginn, Davante Adams, T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, Tyrell Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Dontrelle Inman, Doug Baldwin, Dez Bryant, Golden Tate, Demaryius Thomas, Rishard Matthews, Michael Crabtree, Robby Anderson.

Roll ‘em back

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins at Bears. Cousins is coming off one of his worst outings of the season, and frigid Soldier Field doesn’t figure to be a natural place to rebound. The Bears have been tough on opposing passers of late (albeit with a big assist from Davante Adams last week), so Cousins’ ceiling is low in this matchup.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons at Panthers. Carolina’s run defense has held up its end of the bargain for the most part, surrendering just 10 rushing scores to date. Devonta Freeman reasserted his role as Atlanta’s primary rusher last week, leaving Coleman to pick up the leftovers. In a game where rushing yards and scores will be contested fiercely, there may not be enough opportunities for the No. 2 tailback to excel.

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets at Patriots. If you were Bill Belichick, which Jets player would you focus on shutting down? Exactly. Powell has soared since Matt Forte injured his knee, but he will face a lot of unwanted attention from his division rivals. Forte likely won’t steal many of his touches, but Powell’s prospects for another stellar outing remain dim.

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals at Texans. There’s a good chance Green will return to the field on Saturday night, but he comes with great risk (including the possibility of tweaking his tender hamstring). Cincinnati is out of the playoff hunt and the Houston secondary can be stingy. Decoys have no place in fantasy lineups.

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars vs. Titans. Chances are, if you drafted A-Rob, you aren’t playing in the fantasy Super Bowl. But if you are, it’s probably because you gave up on him long ago. A leading candidate for Fantasy Bust of the Year (dis)honors, Robinson can’t be trusted in most matchups, and particularly against tough foes like the Titans.

More thumbs down: QBs Jameis Winston, Carson Palmer, Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco; RBs Adrian Peterson, Carlos Hyde, T.J. Yeldon, Dwayne Washington, Chris Ivory, James White; WRs Kelvin Benjamin, Donte Moncrief, Jeremy Maclin, Terrelle Pryor, Tyler Boyd, DeSean Jackson, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Sammy Watkins, Mike Wallace, John Brown, Brandon Marshall, Pierre Garcon, Quincy Enunwa.


DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans vs. Bengals. I don’t care what your name is. When you’re as unreliable as Hopkins has been all season, he deserves the “flier” tag when he’s being recommended. My optimism is boosted by the 17 targets he saw from Tom Savage last weekend, and the ideal conditions inside his home stadium.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…forgets that Saturday is the new Sunday. This year, your fantasy title will most likely be won or lost on Christmas Eve, as the NFL has scheduled a dozen games for Dec. 24. So get your shopping done on Friday; you’ve got serious business to take care of on Saturday!

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