Fantasy Fallout, Week 16: Where we have heroes…and we have goats…yet again

Welcome to the third edition of “Heroes & Goats” where we identify a few borderline players who stepped up big in the fantasy playoff along with a few who were major disappointments. If you’re like me and are sweating out a championship game — I’m up 36 in one league against Drew Brees and Garrett Hartley tomorrow night, which puts me in a precarious position — you’ll no doubt see a few familiar names below. Let’s start with our heroes.

HEROES

Danny Woodhead
Rob Gronkowski

I started both of these players in the aforementioned title game, and they stepped up big. Woody scored on a 29-yard run early in the game and finished with 125 total yards, while Gronkowski went for 4-54-2 with Aaron Hernandez sidelined. Gronk became a very solid TE1 start once Hernandez was ruled out, but Woody was a fringe guy that fantasy owners were running out there and hoping for the best. He delivered.

Matt Forte
Johnny Knox

It took a certain amount of courage to start Forte this week given his matchup with a good Jets rush defense and his spotty production at times. But he gained 169 total yards and scored on a 22-yard run. I was going against Knox in the aforementioned title game, which is why I’m still sweating that win out. Knox caught two TDs and racked up 92 yards through the air while facing Darrelle Revis and a pretty good Jets’ pass defense.

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Shaky stud RBs, sleepers and duds

The fine folks over at FantasyPros asked me to answer a few pertinent questions heading into Week 16. My answer to the first question is below, and you can see the remaining Q&A by clicking through to the full article.

1. Give us your quick take on a few running backs that are making their owners nervous:

a) Adrian Peterson. If he plays this week against Philadelphia, how will he perform assuming Joe Webb gets the start at QB?
b) Knowshon Moreno. If he recovers and plays this week against Houston, how will he perform assuming Tim Tebow gets the start at QB?
c) Dallas Running Backs. Now that Marion Barber is possibly back in the mix, do you downgrade Tashard Choice, Felix Jones, both, or neither?

a) His matchup with the Eagles is decent, so if AP looks good at practice, it would be really tough to bench him. I have him ranked at #14 behind Blount and the Law Firm and ahead of Torain and F. Jackson. I think I’ll leave him there if he’s a go for Sunday but still seems to be favoring the injury. I think 70-90 total yards and a TD is a reasonable expectation given the circumstances, assuming he’s a full-go. There is lots of downside here, however.

b) Moreno is not a guy who has played well through injuries in the past, so I’m very leery. The matchup might seem great, but the Texans have been decent against opposing RBs this season. He has a chance to find the endzone, but I don’t think it will be a big yardage day, unless Denver really utilizes him in the passing game.

c) If Barber is a go for Sunday, it s a small downgrade to both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, but I think Choice has passed Barber on the depth chart. He’s been too productive to turn back to Barber, in my opinion. That said, the Cowboys have really struggled in the redzone, so they may give Barber a chance at the goal line, which would cut into the value of both Choice and Jones since they have been sharing those duties.

Click here to see the full article at FantasyPros, where I identify a couple of sleepers as well as a dud for Week 16.

Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em: Week 16

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 21: Josh Freeman  of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to pass the ball against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It’s week 16 and if your team is still alive, it’s not time to get cute. I’m a firm believer in starting your studs, so I won’t suggest you bench Aaron Rodgers or Chris Johnson because they have tough matchups – just go ahead and keep them in your lineup. Instead, I’ll focus on the borderline guys – players you’ll only start under the right circumstances.

As usual, I’ll discuss these players within the context of my weekly positional rankings, so remember — everything is relative.

The Seahawks have been brutal against the pass, so I’d expect another good fantasy line from Josh Freeman, who has been very steady this season…Believe it or not, I have Tim Tebow ranked in the top 10 this week. He played pretty well against the Raiders last week and this week he faces a Texans’ pass defense that has given up an average of 275 yards and 2.2 pass TDs per game. I wouldn’t expect that yardage from Tebow, but 200 passing yards plus 2-3 total TDs is well within reach against Houston’s secondary…Need another sleeper? Rex Grossman has a nice matchup with Jacksonville’s 27th-ranked pass defense.

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Defensive Team By Waiver Wire (DTBWW): Week 16

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Michael Bush #29 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by Kevin Burnett #99 the San Diego Chargers along with other CHarger defenders on September 14, 2009 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The strategy behind DTBWW is that each week you pick up a defense that is playing against a bad offense (preferably at home). And each week you get pretty good numbers out of your DT position.

Last season, my top pick averaged 9.8 fantasy points per game. My second pick averaged 9.1 and my third pick averaged 7.3. On the whole, DTBWW averaged 9.3 fantasy points per game, which equate to DT5 numbers — all for the price of a few waiver wire pickups. In 2008, my top two picks averaged DT6-type numbers. (Note: To calculate fantasy points, I use this scoring system.)

Unlike Defensive Team By Committee (DTBC), which is for those owners who prefer low maintenance teams, DTBWW strategy allows fantasy owners to virtually ignore DTs on draft day and focus on picking up an extra RB/WR flier instead.

To be eligible, defenses have to be available on the waiver wire in at least 40% of ESPN fantasy leagues.

Let’s see how my Week 15 picks fared:

#1 Patriots: 5 SK + 1 INT + INT RET TD + FR = 18 fantasy points
#2 Cardinals: 19 PA (2) + 2 SK + 1 FR = 5 fp
#3 Raiders: 2 SK + 1 FR + 1 Safety = 5 fp
#4 Chargers: 7 PA (6) + 6 SK + 1 INT = 13 fp
#5 Cowboys: 5 SK + 2 INT + 1 FR = 8 fp

Well, it wasn’t a disaster, but I was expecting more out of my #2 and #3 picks. The Cards didn’t do much against Jimmy Clausen, which was a surprise and the Raiders had a tough time wrangling Tim Tebow. The Chargers and Cowboys played pretty well however.

On the season, my picks are averaging 8.7 | 8.7 | 7.5 (1st, 2nd, 3rd) for an overall average of 8.3 fantasy points per game. Those are DT6 numbers when you account for each team’s bye week.

Let’s take a look at my Week 15 picks keeping in mind that to be eligible, defenses must be available in at least 40% of ESPN fantasy leagues. There are four teams that I like this week so hopefully fantasy owners can find at least one on their waiver wires. (If you still have the Pats from last week, just hold onto them. I like their matchup with the Bills.)

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Fantasy Football Q&A: Week 16

It’s playoff time!

After checking out our Waiver Wire Watch, you can post your questions here, and unless you say differently, I’m assuming your league has a standard (non-PPR) scoring system.

If you are wondering who to start in a standard scoring league, please wait until later this week (Wednesday) when I’ll release my official Week 16 rankings.

And if you’re a regular visitor, please take a moment to rate my advice at Fantasy Pros (under Member Rating). I’d appreciate it.

Also, follow me on Twitter @fantasytips.

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