The likelihood is high someone reading this is in the fantasy championship round. Congrats to you! If not, I’ll spare the conciliatory pat on the back.
Week 16 is the final spin for this space in 2017, which isolates the focus on the upcoming 16 games of the holiday weekend. Enjoy the festivities with family and friends. Hopefully, we can also rejoice over winning our fantasy leagues!
14.9 fantasy points: This is the figure allowed in PPR to RBs by the San Francisco 49ers over the past six weeks. No team has been stronger at stopping the position in fantasy.
Takeaway: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has been awfully darn good when he is on the field. He is coming off of missing Week 15 with a strained quadriceps muscle, and now he has to travel across the country, about as far as a possible, to face the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense at slowing his position. Assuming the star rookie even dresses, fantasy gamers should keep their expectations low or, boldly, utilize a different player in Fournette’s typical starting spot.
33 percent: The third-best matchup of Week 16 is Cleveland’s secondary against wide receivers. The Chicago Bears host the desperate Browns and provide fantasy gamers a worthy lineup gamble.
Takeaway: Since Week 10, the Browns have permitted a team’s worth of receivers 38.2 PPR points per game. In the past two outings, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and receiver Kendall Wright have built a noticeably cozy relationship. In those contests, the veteran wideout has 24 targets, 17 receptions and 188 yards. He has not scored since Week 4, a drought poised to end in the championship weekend. In the past six games, every opponent but one has sported a receiving leader in double figures for fantasy points, and this matchup is 33 percent better than average in the past three contests.
Also see: Week 15 fantasy recap
56.6 percent: The toothless Cincinnati Bengals host the Detroit Lions in Week 16. Over the past five games, Detroit has been the NFL’s litter box against the tight end position, surrendering 17 PPR points per game (worst in NFL). More recently, this number jumps to 18.1 over the last three games, which is 56.6 percent higher than the league average.
Takeaway: Feeling brave? The Bengals face a wonderful matchup and have an offense struggling to move the ball. Furthermore, tight end Tyler Kroft has battled injury and is barely a factor in the passing game. Look for that to change in Week 16. Detroit is strong against wide receivers, and this defense is more than willing to yield underneath work. He has proven capable, scoring five times in an eight-game stretch earlier this season. There is hope for gamers struggling to fill a flex spot spot or facing a tough situation at tight end.
4-61-2: Jacksonville Jaguars first-year receiver Jaydon Mickens stepped up with Marqise Lee dealing with an ankle injury. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder may have caught some eyes in fantasy circles, though he shouldn’t be a factor in Week 16 lineup decisions.
Takeaway: The main reason why, aside from it would be borderline insane to chuck such an unproven option into a lineup with everything on the line, is the 49ers have played solid defense against his position of late. While this group is just slightly stronger than average, most of the damage against it came from DeAndre Hopkins and Sterling Shepard over the last five weeks. Hopkins accounted for 50 percent of the scores against San Fran. This game feels like a trap for the playoff-bound Jags, traveling across the States and having to face a re-energized Niners team.
24.8 fantasy points: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum is coming off a fine NFL performance that didn’t translate into fantasy success, throwing for 236 yards, two TDs and no interceptions on 87 percent passing. Prior to including Monday Night Football’s statistical results, Green Bay offers the best fantasy matchup of the week at 24.8 points allowed.
Takeaway: The fluke here is what external effects could have on an otherwise great matchup. Divisional opponents tend to play tight due to familiarity, and funky things can happen. Keenum finished with a pedestrian 239 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the Week 6 meeting. Keenum will be a tempting play, but the Packers also have been awful vs. fantasy running backs over the same window (last six weeks). The Vikes prefer to keep it on the ground, and this one will be played Saturday, Dec. 23, in a night game at Lambeau Field. The forecast calls for a single-digit temperature around game time. Unless there is some bizarre reason you’re in a title game and have no choice but to start the surprising Keenum, look elsewhere.
Going big: There often is a second-place prize in fantasy, and if you’re the type of gamer who is just happy to be there or get some money back, taking chances may not be for you. Other gamers, often those who have experienced the joy of winning a fantasy title, crave the feeling of winning it all, and money is secondary. The point is to make calculated plays and not worry about the results. Should you lose, don’t beat yourself up over a wrong play. Fantasy is a fickle game, and we may have 200 data points leading to the “smart” lineup play that wind up amounting to nothing. Personally, I’d rather finish second going for broke than limping into a title because my opponent was unlucky. It is far more satisfying to WIN a title than to back into one.
Also see: Week 15 Tunnel Vision
Week 16 wonders: The deepest dives of the week include TE Garrett Celek, QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Tion Green, RB D.J. Foster, WR Chris Godwin and WR Terrance Williams.
Thank you for spending a few minutes with me each week in this space. Best of luck, and enjoy the holidays!