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WEEK 16 PREPARATION
eight THOUGHTS THAT COULD EARN YOU THE CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY IN YOUR LEAGUE
8. KENNETH FARROW TAKE 2?
Last week wasn't a super week for the young Chargers replacement back, but this week could be different. If it weren't for San Francisco's ineptitude on defense, Cleveland would be the league's cellar dweller in rush defense. The Browns have allowed 17 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs this season and three 100-yard rushers in the last four games. Farrow struggled last week in his opportunity to prove himself, including a fumble lost. Should you trust him this week in the lineup that matters the most? Against Cleveland? Why not? I doubt Melvin Gordon will be back. MCL sprains aren't a quick heal. We may not see Gordon again until 2017. If you're looking to maximize a bad running back situation, Farrow isn't a bad option, keep in mind he has eight catches in the last two games as well - and we know San Diego likes the dump off pass.
7. LET FOOTBALLGUYS DO THE LEGWORK FOR YOU
Fantasy Football is essentially making decisions on unknown expectations. Oh sure, we can get an idea of who to play based on trends, statistics, matchups and opportunities, but the more you know, the better off you'll be. Research Vegas lines. Our John Lee does a great job of looking at each game's expected point totals to learn about which players to target in his weekly Vegas Value Chart You can also use DFS to give you an edge when determining your lineup. Each week we take a look at expected ownership percentages based on lineups that locked for Thursday night contests. Projecting Ownership A high ownership by the consensus of the daily fantasy world might be enough to pursuade you to pencil in a particular player in your Championship game lineup. You'll be surprised how much this can help you. One last page that can help you is Aaron Rudnicki's weekly piece Exposed WR/TE matchups. This article examines the good and bad matchups that receivers have against opposing cover corners. It's a great weekly read that can ultimately be the deciding factor on pulling the trigger on your WR4 or your flex option. *please note these links are tagged with Week 16 articles that may not be published until Wednesday or Thursday.
6. Brady for the win
Tom Brady is one of the favorites for the MVP award this season, despite missing a quarter of the season due to his deflategate suspension. It's only fitting that he has one of the better matchups this week at home vs. the NY Jets. The Jets have allowed 9 touchdown passes in the last three games, as if Brady needed a crutch to propel him to fantasy glory. If Matt Moore can throw four touchdown passes against the Jets, what will Tom Brady do? For the Championship game, you go with what got you there and play matchups. Every now and then, you get a combination of both - that's how I see Brady's game shaping up.
5. Play your studs but this isn't a great week for stud running backs
Last year's Week 16 was a time to dip your toe in the water with some newfound talent like Javorius Allen, Shaun Draughn, Karlos Williams, etc. This year, it's not quite the same. The backs who brought you to this point, LeVeon Bell, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy and Devonta Freeman are absolute must starts this week, I think we can all agree on that, but their matchups aren't super.
David Johnson plays at Seattle, who have not given up a rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 10 or a 100 yard rusher since Week 8. Seattle has earned their home playoff game by winning the weak NFC West, but they will still play tough in this game as they prepare for the playoffs. David Johnson may get his, but the outlook is not a sure thing.
LeVeon Bell will host the Ravens. First of all, the Ravens and Steelers are fighting for the division, which makes any matchup with them a big deal. Baltimore is fifth overall in total defense and second in rushing defense, allowing just 82 yards a game. In the first game against Baltimore, Bell rushed a for a season low 32 yards on 14 carries. He did add six catches for 38 yards, but he'll likely need more than that to give your team the edge on Championship Week. Bell can make any week a good week with an easy touchdown or an 8 catch game (he has four of them), but don't necessarily expect him to go off.
LeSean McCoy may have the best matchup of the stud backs, with Miami forced to come to town in cold, blustery Decemeber. The NFL scheduling committee didn't do the Dolphins any favors with this game's date. I tend to favor running backs in the cold weather, especially home backs, which McCoy is. He has six touchdowns in the last five games with three 100-yard rushing efforts in his last four games. McCoy played in the earlier game at Miami, despite being a game time decision for a hamstring injury. He played limited snaps and eventually came out of the game and did not play the following week. Miami has won of eight of their last nine games and have kept opposing running backs in check,allowing only one rushing touchdown in the last four games and no 100 yard rusher since Week 5. Like David Johnson, it's entirely possible that McCoy will come out on fire this week in the prefered elements of cold Orchard Park, NY. He could put up solid points for us, but in the same breath, this is not a favorable matchup.
Ezekiel Elliott at home vs. Detroit, it sounds like a dream doesn't it? Afterall, we associate Detroit defense with such phrases as "high yards allowed" and "favorable matchup". I'm here to tell you that this won't be a cakewalk for Dallas, and Elliott for that matter. The Lions have allowed onlythree rushing touchdowns to running backs this year and have not allowed even a 90 yard rusher since Week 4. Elliott is a no-brainer start, but like the other stud backs, this is not a good matchup.
Devonta Freeman benefited from the 49ers doormat of a defense last week and he lit up the end zone with three scores. This week's game at Carolina may not be as productive. After Carolina's unraveling at Seattle that saw Thomas Rawls go off for 100 yards in the first half, Carolina has been stingy against opposing backs, allowing 60 toal yards to the Chargers backs in Week 14 and only 18 yards to Wahsington backs in Week 15. As good as Freeman was to advance you to the title game, his best effort is likely behind him. Don't expect more of the same in Week 16.
4. CONSIDER THESE RUNNING BACKS THIS WEEK
Dion Lewis - Lewis is coming off an 18 carry game against Denver that saw him reach 95 rushing yards.The game plan was to run the ball against Denver, because their pass defense is so stingy making it more of a challenge. We should most definitely see fewer carries from Lewis going forward. His 18 carries last week was a career high and only the third time he ever had double digit carries in a game. The good news is that Lewis looked spry again. He is starting to look like his pre-injury self, which is a great sign for things to come. It's as if the Denver game was a test to see what he could do - and he passed with flying colors. I can see him being a factor back for New England going foward this season. I'd like to see him play well for another week, but it's looking like he's back.
Jonathan Stewart - The Panthers will be looking to play the spoiler role once again this week, this time against division rival Atlanta. You can bet Carolina will want to avenege the loss from earlier in the season. Jonathan Stewart has been a big reason why Carolina is 5-3 since their bye week with two of those losses being by 3 points. He has four touchdowns in his last four home games with eight touchdowns since Week 6, averaging 18.5 carries per game in that stretch. Atlanta tends to play good run defense, but it's mostly because teams need to pass more to keep pace, thus reducing the run in the process. If Carolina can play their style of offense and control the Falcons, Stewart will be the one who benefits.
3. Consider these wide receivers this week
Michael Crabtree - The Raiders will host the Colts this week and the thought process is that the Colts best cover corner, Vontae Davis will be on Amari Cooper, leaving Crabtree against the less talented Darryl Morris. The Colts may have looked good against Minnesota's toothless offense last week, but the Raiders are a whole different team, especially on offense. Injuries have shifted players around in the secondary for the Colts and Crabtree's matchup is one that Derek Carr should take advantage of.
Malcolm Mitchell - Mitchell was not a big part of the game plan last week against Denver, but this was expected. Teams struggle to perform well against the Broncos pass defense and it was no different for New England, who did not take many shots over the top of the Broncos, where Mitchell can thrive. Julian Edelman was strong, but his targets were all short to intermediate routes. I expect Tom Brady will take full advantage of the Jets fallen secondary. In their last meeting Mitchell collected two touchdowns which was the start of his recent streak of five touchdowns in four games.
Sterling Shepard - We know Odell Beckham Jr is a strong player, but don't forget about his teammate Sterling Shepard this week. The Giants will play at Philadelphia on Thursday night where they have won only once in their last two visits. The Eagles have had their struggles against opposing wide receivers, giving up 7 touchdowns to wide receivers in their last four games. Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll have been targets for quarterbacks, which should continue this week. Eli Manning has 8 touchdown passes since Week 12 to his wideouts. Beckham and Shepard have six of those eight touchdowns.
2. can todd gurley come through when we need him the most?
The last time Los Angeles played San Francisco was Week 1 when they were embarrased by the 49ers 28-0. Todd Gurley had 47 yards rushing on 17 carries with 0 touchdowns. San Francisco has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in only two games this year. One of those games was the Week 1 battle against Gurley. Keep in mind, back then San Francisco still had Novorro Bowman and their rush defense wasn't a known area of exploitation. It is now though and you can bet the 49ers are waiting for the season to end. They may not admit it, but they are playing like it. If you have Gurley, play him. Who says that early first round pick was wasted? If you win the championship because of it, every other bad week is forgotten.
1. Lean on me - Jordan Howard
I'm convinced that Jordan Howard is this year's David Johnson and yes I will target him in the first round in next year's redraft leagues. How good has Howard been? He has seven consecutive games of 100 total yards or more, with five touchdowns. What makes this feat even more impressive is that he's doing it amidst the Bears losing eight of their last ten games. Every now and then we see a stud fantasy back who produces regardless of how the team fares. Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster have turned the trick on less than stellar teams. Adrian Peterson is another. Looking at this week's matchup for Howard, the Bears will host Washington, who just laid an egg on defense against Jonathan Stewart and the Panthers. This is a favorable matchup for Howard and the Bears. If you're in the big game with Howard, I like your chances of putting up strong numbers.
Good luck. Go be the Champion.
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