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WEEK 16 PREPARATION
I often base my decision-making on following stats, trends, and matchups, as well as a few hunches. These thoughts are based on those observations.
10 THOUGHTS WORTH THINKING FOR WEEK 16
Nick Mullens might just work out in Week 16 - The fourth Vikings starter at quarterback this season, Nick Mullens, had a productive Week 15 at Cincinnati. He threw for 303 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions involving the trio of Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and Jordan Addison. Ty Chandler was also productive on the ground, with over 150 total yards and a touchdown. The big question is, can he do it again this week vs division-rival Detroit? Since Week 10, Detroit has allowed the 4th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, allowing an average of 246 yards per game and 1.8 touchdown passes per contest. The numbers are similar against wide receivers, allowing 177 yards per game and 1.5 touchdowns. The Lions' run defense has been fairly stout. Since Week 10, they have allowed 3 rushing touchdowns to running backs, and no one back has exceeded more than 51 yards rushing in a game. While the ground game (and Ty Chandler) may struggle, the passing game should be front and center for Minnesota in a must-win matchup to stay in the playoff race.
Consider these two quarterbacks for your starting lineup - Baker Mayfield has 12 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions in his last six games. He stood on his head last week against Green Bay. Can he do the same against Jacksonville? The Jags have allowed an average of 2.0 touchdown passes per game since Week 10. I like Mayfield's chances of another strong outing. Justin Fields will face a Cardinals team that allowed four touchdown passes each to Brock Purdy and Matthew Stafford in their last three games. If Fields can take advantage of that weakness and also get his rushing yards, this could be a monumental week for the Bears.
Hold the phone on Jordan Love - Yes, he has 13 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions in his last six games but his Week 16 opponent is Carolina. Wait, Carolina? Shouldn't that be a favorable matchup? Not so fast. Carolina is third in total defensive yards allowed and passing yards allowed. They have had eight games where the opposing quarterback failed to reach 200 yards passing. Defense, especially pass defense, has not been a big problem for Carolina this season. If you have been relying on Love this far in the playoff stretch, you may want to consider a different option as your starter this week.
James Cook Round 2? - The Bills will face the struggling Chargers in Week 16. This game is in Los Angeles, but will it matter? The Chargers forgot to show up in their Week 15 game against Las Vegas, and as a result, Brandon Staley was relieved of his duties as head coach. Will the players have any will to fight another game? Injuries have hurt their drive to compete, and it looks like they are counting down the days until the end of the season while the Bills are fighting for a playoff berth. Will interim head coach Giff Smith bring out the fight, or will he go through the motions in a lost season? More importantly, will his players buy in? One team is in the doldrums while the other is flying high. Buffalo unleashed James Cook last week against Dallas, and he finished with a career-high 179 yards rushing and 42 yards receiving with 2 total touchdowns. The Bills are starting to click on offense, and if they can secure a ground game to go with a potent passing game, they will be a formidable team against any opponent. Cook has a chance to finish in the top 10 this week and should be a popular start.
Injured players you should avoid - Ja'Marr Chase (shoulder) is a big one. His injury is likely a type II or III AC sprain and should keep him shelved at least for this week. The Chargers are tight-lipped on any news associated with Keenan Allen (heel), and the only source we have is his practice status. Keep an eye on this, but with the team giving up against Las Vegas and a new interim coach in place, it would be shocking if Allen rushes back. Michael Pittman (concussion) would need to pass the concussion protocol to suit up and play this week. If he isn't through a limited practice by Thursday, there is a good chance he will miss Week 16. Sticking with the Colts, Jonathan Taylor (thumb) may be back this week, but Zack Moss is also expected to play. Both active and playing could negate the other, not to mention both are dealing with injuries.
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