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2017 Fantasy Football: Week 16 Fire or Flop; What Fantasy Championships are Made Of

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Which fantasy football players are likely to catch fire, and which ones might flop during Week 16?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This is the Week 16 “Fire or Flop” series, highlighting my favorite and not-so favorite fantasy football plays of the week. I will not mention players who are already in the overall top five of their position in scoring (excluding D/ST’s). I will list options from each position group (excluding K’s). As always, my thoughts are with PPR in mind.

Be sure to hit me up on my Facebook or Twitter if you have any lineup questions.


QUARTERBACK

FIRE

Drew Brees vs. Atlanta Falcons (22nd | 17.9 FPPG) — This is a decent matchup for Brees, and when New Orleans played Atlanta two weeks ago, Brees had 271 yards and 2 TD’s. He’ll also have RB Alvin Kamara at his disposal the whole game this time (knock on wood), as Kamara left the game early with a concussion in the first matchup.

Philip Rivers @ New York Jets (29th | 19.4 FPPG) — Rivers was disappointing last week against the Chiefs, tossing 3 INT’s, but this is a better matchup against a worse team. Rivers had been averaging 365.7 passing YPG and had a total of 6 TD’s and no INT’s in the three weeks prior to last week.

Case Keenum @ Green Bay Packers (26th | 18.8 FPPG) — Keenum has been rock-solid this year, ranking as fantasy’s QB14. He doesn’t throw for a ton of yardage, but he has multiple TD’s in six of the last seven games. Green Bay has allowed 17 passing TD’s in the last seven games.

Nick Foles vs. Oakland Raiders (18th | 17.3 FPPG) — Foles looks more than capable of leading the Eagles in QB Carson Wentz’ absence. In Foles’ first start of the year last week, he tossed 4 TD’s against the Giants. This week’s matchup isn’t much different at all.

Blake Bortles @ San Francisco 49ers (30th | 19.5 FPPG) — Bortles has quietly had a nice season, and he’s been great the last three weeks. In that time, he’s averaging 301.0 passing YPG, has 7 TD’s and no INT’s. This is a really good matchup against the 49ers, who give up the third-most FPPG to QB’s.

Joe Flacco vs. Indianapolis Colts (25th | 18.7 FPPG) — The Colts have been subpar against QB’s in recent weeks because of their decimated defense. Bortles and QB Brock Osweiler both had 25 fantasy points against them. Flacco has had three decent games in a row, all against good defenses. In that times, he’s averaging 275.3 passing YPG, has thrown 5 TD’s and 1 INT.

FLOP

Derek Carr @ Philadelphia Eagles (14th | 16.7 FPPG) — After promising to “let it rip” last week, Carr followed that up with just 171 passing yards against the Cowboys. His fantasy production has been incredibly disappointing this year, as he hasn’t passed for 300 yards in the last five games.

Marcus Mariota vs. Los Angeles Rams (9th | 14.8 FPPG) — Mariota has been just as disappointing as Carr this year, but Mariota has dealt with nagging injuries all season. He’s averaging just 217.2 passing YPG, and that includes four games with less than 200 yards. This is a bad matchup, so don’t expect greatness from him.


RUNNING BACK

FIRE

Ezekiel Elliott vs. Seattle Seahawks (7th | 21.8 FPPG) — He’s back, and that means he needs to be back in your lineups.

Leonard Fournette @ San Francisco 49ers (25th | 25.5 FPPG) — This is arguably Fournette’s best matchup all year, and he’s shown to be matchup-proof at times this season. I don’t see a scenario where he doesn’t have a productive day, whether that be by yards, TD’s or both.

Christian McCaffrey vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26th | 25.5 FPPG) — The Buccaneers have struggled against RB’s in general this year, but especially ones that can catch. McCaffrey has already faced the Bucs this year, and totaled 9 touches for 52 yards. Including McCaffrey’s first matchup against them, Tarik Cohen, Dalvin Cook, James White, LeSean McCoy, Kamara, Elijah McGuire, Theo Riddick and Devonta Freeman combined to average 5.7 catches (7.6 targets) for 57.2 yards against Tampa Bay.

Alex Collins vs. Indianapolis Colts (22nd | 24.6 FPPG) — Collins has been a load to handle in the second half of the year, averaging 18.6 touches for 90.4 YPG and totaling 5 TD’s in his last seven games. The Colts defense is on its last legs right now and has been battered by RB’s in recent weeks. Since Week 12, their opponent’s top RB has averaged 24.8 touches for 120.5 YPG and has scored 2 TD’s.

Dion Lewis vs. Buffalo Bills (32nd | 27.5 FPPG) — Lewis has been very productive this year, especially since the Patriots got him involved in the passing game again. Since Week 6, he has averaged 13.9 touches for 75.9 YPG and has scored 4 times. The Bills give up the most FPPG to RB’s, and RB Rex Burkhead won’t be around to take reps from Lewis.

FLOP

Lamar Miller vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (18th | 24.1 FPPG) — With Houston down to their third QB, opponents know that they can key in on Miller. In QB T.J. Yates’ first start last week, Miller was corraled to just 33 yards on 11 touches. If Pittsburgh gets on Houston big like Jacksonville did last week, the Texans will have to abandon the run game.


WIDE RECEIVER

FIRE

JuJu Smith-Schuster @ Houston Texans (28th | 35.4 FPPG) — With WR Antonio Brown out of the lineup this week, it essentially makes Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh’s WR1. This is a great matchup for this to be the situation for him.

Devin Funchess vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (32nd | 40.7 FPPG) — Going up against the worst D/ST in the league against WR’s, Funchess is practically a must-start. He had his first unproductive game as Carolina’s WR1 last week, but aside from then has averaged 4.8 catches (7.8 targets) for 81.0 YPG and has scored 4 times.

Alshon Jeffery vs. Oakland Raiders (12th | 30.0 FPPG) — Wentz’s injury hasn’t hampered Jeffery’s fantasy value. In his lone game without Wentz, Jeffery caught 4-of-10 targets last week for 49 yards and 1 TD. Jeffery has scored 7 TD’s in his last seven games.

FLOP

Sterling Shepard @ Arizona Cardinals (16th | 31.6 FPPG) — You can’t trust Shepard’s fantasy prowess in your playoffs. Good matchups don’t matter for him either. There’s a good chance that Shepard will spend most of this week’s game with CB Patrick Peterson all over him, so steer clear.

Marquise Goodwin vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2nd | 24.5 FPPG) — Goodwin has been on fire with Jimmy Garoppolo as his QB — averaging 8.0 catches (11.0 targets) for 106.3 YPG — but, you always want to avoid playing WR’s against Jacksonville, even the elite ones. Goodwin isn’t elite, so there you go.


TIGHT END

FIRE

Greg Olsen vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4th | 10.1 FPPG) — All we needed was to see him have a vintage Greg Olsen game, and he did last week against the Packers (9 catches for 116 yards and 1 TD in a bad matchup). Olsen is a must-start when he’s on, and he does now appear to be on.

Jack Doyle @ Baltimore Ravens (24th | 12.5 FPPG) — The Colts’ offense probably won’t be able to get much going on downfield, so I expect much of their passing game to run through Doyle, closer to the line of scrimmage. He is the Colts’ most-targeted player (92) in the passing game, and subsequently leads the team in receptions (71). While the Ravens D/ST is fifth against WR’s (27.5 FPPG), it is 24th against TE’s. That’s where the Colts should attack them.

Benjamin Watson vs. Indianapolis Colts (20th | 12.2 FPPG) — There’s a pretty good chance that the Ravens offense gets all over the Colts, and one area they could do it is with Watson. The Colts are in the bottom half of the league against TE’s, and all but one of the TD’s that they’ve allowed to TE’s have come close to the goal line, where Watson’s bread is buttered. Watson has 4 TD’s on the year. His latest was a 33-yarder, but the other three were from 6 yards out, 2 yards out and 1 yard out.

Eric Ebron @ Cincinnati Bengals (15th | 11.4 FPPG) — We’re not just seeing the point where Ebron becomes useful, but he’s actually becoming a valuable fantasy player now. This is just a so-so matchup, but he’s averaging 4.3 catches (5.8 targets) for 47.5 YPG and has scored twice in the last eight games.

FLOP

Jared Cook @ Philadelphia Eagles (19th | 11.9 FPPG) — I’m hatin’ on the Raiders’ passing game right now, at least when it comes to trusting them in the fantasy playoffs. Cook has only has one good game within the last five games. Until the Raiders can become more consistent, I won’t trust them, and there’s not enough time left in the season for that.


DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

FIRE

Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts (31st | 11.6 FPPG) — The Colts haven’t reached 20 points in the last five games. They’ve also only averaged 253.2 total YPG in that time. To be frank, that sucks. The Ravens and their 10th-ranked defense are a bad matchup for the Colts offense, so this is a gimme.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Francisco 49ers (18th | 7.4 FPPG) — Jacksonville’s D/ST should be started every week. They’re second in the league in takeaways (31) and are first in sacks (51).

Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Jets (21st | 7.8 FPPG) — Don’t count on the Jets offense being productive with QB Bryce Petty under center. The Chargers have the sixth-most sacks (38) and seventh-most takeaways (22).

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans (25th | 8.9 FPPG) — This is yet another top defense taking on a backup QB. Yates is actually Houston’s third QB.

FLOP

Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys (13th | 5.7 FPPG) — With QB Dak Prescott righting the ship lately and Elliott’s return, I don’t expect the Seahawks and their banged-up defense to be able to completely stop Dallas’ offense. WR Dez Bryant should also have an advantage over Seattle’s defensive backs.