This is it, ladies and gentlemen. Week 16 marks the last week of legitimate fantasy football. Hopefully, you’re reading this trying to find a hot start for your championship match. For others, perhaps you got a bad hand this season and you’re trying to scratch your way to the highest finish possible (maybe to avoid a last-place punishment). Either way, this is the last hoorah for most of us, so let’s make it a good one!
Dion Lewis – New England Patriots – 59.8% Owned (NFL.com Leagues)
In Sunday’s game against the Steelers, Lewis carried the ball 13 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. In that same game, fellow running back Rex Burkhead left with a knee injury. The injury is believed to be a knee sprain. While it isn’t too serious, Burkhead will more than likely miss the Patriots’ Week 16 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. That leaves the starting role to Dion Lewis, who has proven that he can be productive.
Kerwynn Williams – Arizona Cardinals – 16.7% Owned
In his last three games, all of which Adrian Peterson has spent on IR, Williams has averaged 18 carries and 77 yards per game. Williams suffered a quad injury in Sunday’s game against the Redskins and, at the time of writing this, is questionable for Week 16 against the New York Giants. If Williams is a go against the weak Giants run defense, his upside could be through the roof.
Keelan Cole – Jacksonville Jaguars – 0.4% Owned
Keelan Cole has exploded onto the scene in Jacksonville. Originally seen as a high risk-high reward play, Cole has found consistency in his last three games. In those games, Cole averages 111 yards and one touchdown per game. Marqise Lee, the Jaguars’ No. 1 wide receiver, is unlikely to play on Sunday, leaving the door wide open for Keelan Cole. Not to mention, the Jaguars get to play San Francisco’s weak secondary on Sunday.
Martavis Bryant – Pittsburgh Steelers – 62.5% Owned
The loss of Antonio Brown for the remainder of the regular season is devastating to the game of football. Forgetting fantasy for a second, 2017 has been cruel to the game’s elite, and it’s sad to see the league’s best forced to take time off. Anyway, Martavis Bryant is a good replacement for Brown (for one game, at least). He saw his production spike in Sunday’s game against New England. Bryant had the most fantasy points since Week 2, and will likely have a more effective role for Pittsburgh in Brown’s absence.
Tyrell Williams – Los Angeles Chargers – 37.1% Owned
Tyrell Williams is the perfect example of a boom-bust player. You’re relying on that big play where he slips a few defenders and takes a deep ball to the house. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend picking up players like this, but sometimes the playoffs demand that you fill your roster with high-upside players. Williams gets a nice matchup against the New York Jets and could help owners who have injuries in their receiving corps or want that glory play.
Mike Wallace – Baltimore Ravens – 43.1% Owned
The opposite of that boom-bust player is one with a reliable floor. That player who is going to get you 50 yards and has a good chance for a touchdown. That player is Mike Wallace. In his last five games, Wallace has averaged just under eight targets and just over 76 yards per game. Only once in those five games did he receive less than 50 yards, where he got 48 yards. Wallace goes up against a poor Indianapolis secondary in Week 16, and is a safe play with decent upside.
Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – 66.2% Owned
Greg Olsen finally had his breakout game on Sunday against the Packers, catching nine passes off 12 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. The concern early on in Olsen’s return was if he was going to catch one pass and re-injure his foot, but he looked as good as new on Sunday. The Panthers play a weak Tampa Bay defense in Week 16, and Olsen seems to be Cam’s favorite target once again.
Nick Foles – Philadelphia Eagles – 6.4% Owned
I want to start this analysis by pumping the brakes on Nick Foles. Don’t get me wrong, he’s absolutely worth picking up and starting in your championship. However, Nick Foles likely won’t repeat his four-touchdown performance from Sunday. The Eagles play a bad Raiders defense this coming week, and Foles could be a great stream.
Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens – 5.6% Owned
Joe Flacco is a great example of a “glory play” that I mentioned earlier. A glory play is basically when you start a player that makes your opponent think you picked someone up while drunk, and forgot to take them out of your lineup. Of course, it’s only considered glorious if it works out and you win. I think Joe Flacco is a great “glory play” candidate. He’s owned in very few leagues, and just got 21.82 points last week. Granted, he had a three-yard rushing touchdown, but he hasn’t scored less than 16 points since Week 12 against Houston. He gets a dream matchup in a beaten-and-battered Colts secondary, and I think winning a championship with Joe Flacco would be the ultimate glory play.
“Never give up, never surrender”
As silly as Galaxy Quest was, this quote holds a serious connotation. It can be applied to all struggles in life, but, more importantly, it applies to fantasy football.
Right about now is when you’ll start hearing stories like “I started 0-5 and just won the championship”, or “I drafted three players who all got hurt and missed the season, but I just won the championship”. And they’re all true and relevant because these people didn’t give up and didn’t surrender.
Fantasy football is cruel because we can make all the right decisions and still lose. Choose the safe player over the risky one, and the safe player has an unusually bad game. Start a top-three player, but the other team’s all-star cornerback keeps him to one catch for 12 yards.
It’s fantasy football, and this is all but uncommon. At the end of the day, your success depends on the performance of others. It sounds bad, but it only becomes an issue when you give up. When you surrender.
To conclude, congratulations to those who have made it this far, and even more to those who had losing records, full injured reserves, or bad trades. The 2017 season has been unusual, but it’s been fun as hell and is a testament to why we play the game.