Below are the guys I like or dislike in week 16 compared to the other experts on FantasyPros.com. I’m focusing on guys that are actually on that start/sit bubble. There’s no need to tell you I’m higher on Chris Johnson when I have him ranked #8 and the expert consensus rank (ECR) has him ranked #15. Both rankings tell you to start him.
The names discussed below are Cam Newton, Shane Vereen, Kendall Wright, Zach Miller and several others.
Cam Newton / vs. New Orleans / ECR: 5 / My rank: 14
Cam is the third highest scoring fantasy quarterback this year thanks to several big games, but he’s really tough to rely on week-to-week. He has five weeks with at least 26 fantasy points, but he’s only finished as a top 12 quarterbacks in six of his 14 games. He fairly boom-or-bust.
I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that risk in a championship matchup. It’s one thing if you have to take a risk at your flex spot or something because there might not be a safe option available on your bench or on the wire. But there are a couple of QBs that you might be able to play instead of Cam. Jay Cutler is a borderline top-five option this week against the lowly Philadelphia pass defense, and he’s available in almost half of ESPN.com leagues. And Kirk Cousins, who is available in about 95% of ESPN.com leagues, has one of the best possible matchups against Dallas.
So is Cam is more likely to boom or bust this week? His opponent, the Saints, have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, have an above average pass coverage and pass rush ratings from ProFootballFocus and have the 7th best pass defense in the league according to Football Outsiders. So bust seems more likely. I understand that it’s tough to sit someone with Cam’s upside no matter the matchup. But if Cutler or Cousins are available, I’d bench Super Cam.
Andre Brown / at Detroit / ECR: 29 / My rank: 19
The Lions have held opposing running backs to single digit fantasy points in seven of their last ten games. If you exclude the bizarre snow game against Philadelphia where McCoy went for 200+ yards, the Lions are allowing an average of just 12 fantasy points per game to backs. This is just a really tough matchup. In my opinion, it’s every bit as tough as his matchup with Seattle last week where he had 26 yards on 15 touches.
Shane Vereen / at Baltimore / ECR: 20 / My rank: 23
I like Vereen quite a bit, but he’s just too dependent on receptions to have value. Trying to take the back out of the passing game is something a defense can actively do, and Baltimore has been eighth best at defending backs as receivers according to Football Outsiders. I simply prefer other backs in his tier who I know will see volume in the form of carries like Bobby Rainey and whoever starts for Jacksonville.
Michael Crabtree / vs. Atlanta / ECR: 20 / My rank: 31
As I mentioned when discussing Cam, I’m not big on risk when the championship is on the line. And there is some risk in starting any of the San Francisco passing options because there aren’t many targets going around. The Niners are last in the league in pass attempts and third in rush attempts, so it’s obvious that volume is limited for any of their pass catchers. The other problem is that Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin are just as good as Crabtree. It’s really hard to predict which one(s) are going to have good games each week.
Whoever starts at RB for Jacksonville / vs. Tennessee / ECR: outside the top 20 RB / My rank: inside the top 20 RB
This is a pretty good matchup for the Jacksonville backs. They’ve allowed the third most fantasy points to running backs and haven’t allowed fewer than 20 points to a team’s running backs since week five unless the team had Trent Richardson on it. I don’t expect Maurice Jones-Drew to be active this week unless he’s healthy enough to carry a full load. So if he’s active I expect him to take advantage of the matchup. And if MJD sits, Jordan Todman showed more than enough last week to feel comfortable starting him in a good matchup like this.
Kendall Wright / at Jacksonville / ECR: 21 / My rank: 16
I was inclined to be a bit gun shy with my ranking of Wright this week because I’m still stinging from his stinker in week 14 in a good matchup with the Broncos, but there’s really no reason to be scared. Prior to that week 14 stinker, Wright averaged six catches and 75 yards between weeks 2 and 13. And he came back with a vengeance last week with 12 catches for 150 yards on a crazy 20 targets. I don’t expect him to produce like that again, but I’m also not worried about him disappearing again. His normal six catches and 75 yards seems like his floor in a good matchup with Jacksonville.
James Jones / vs. Pittsburgh / ECR: 30 / My rank: 21
I assume other rankers will move Jones up once we get confirmation that Rodgers is playing (which I expect), and I’ll obviously move Jones down quite a bit if Rodgers can’t go. Jones and Rodgers have only played four full games together this year, and Jones averaged 10.5 fantasy points in those games. I’d say double digit fantasy points should be easily attainable if they can play together in this one.
Zach Miller / vs. Arizona / ECR: 15 / My rank: 12
Miller only has one catch in each of his last two games, but it’s impossible to ignore any tight end against the Cardinals. They’re allowing four fantasy points per game more than any other team. They’ve allowed 15 touchdowns to tight ends, which is more than 16 teams have allowed to wide receivers. Because Miller has been a non-factor recently, he’s not a must start. But if you’re desperate for a guy, he’s your man.