The fantasy championship is upon you. This is what you've worked towards all season. All those millions of in-season waiver-wire pickups. The accepted trades and blatantly poor propositions that you quickly denied. You've read all the articles and you know every starting player on every team, including the second and third string guys behind them. Now is the time to use all of your acquired knowledge and put it into week 16. Now is the time to win your fantasy championship.
Before we get started, let's do a quick accountability check and see how TheSportster did last week in helping you get to the championship. We were right on our season average of 50 percent. Not our best week, but in the world of fantasy, things could always be much worse.
We had some surprise hits and misses in week 15. For example, despite being a featured part of the offense with a 22-carry effort, Panthers' Jonathan Stewart only managed 75 rushing yards. That was good enough for a shallow seven fantasy points and a lot of disappointed fantasy owners. Ryan Tannehill was a surprise hit posting a great fantasy line against New England's elite secondary. It could have gone either way with Tannehill. New England's defense also had a superb fantasy day, sacking him four times and recording two interceptions, but the Dolphins' quarterback posted a ton of passing yards and threw a beautiful touchdown to Mike Wallace. In a game where the Dolphins had to abandoned their run game in the second half, it makes sense Tannehill was able to come back strong. Last but not least, did anybody watch the Bills upset the Packers? It's those types of upsets that should motivate you this week.
Remember, anything is possible in real-life football just as much as it's possible in fantasy football. Whether you're projected to lose by 10 or win by 10, remember to do your homework (i.e., read our column) and put your best team out there. It all comes down to this week, so best of luck!
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20 Arizona Cardinals' Defense – SIT
The problem with starting the Cardinals' defense has nothing to do with their actual defense. It's the glue that has held that team together. The problem with starting the unit actually rests on their iffy offense. If Lindley is under center, the defense might be playing a lot, and that's never a good thing. It's best to stay clear of Arizona this week. They're also playing Seattle and Russell Wilson, who doesn't turnover the ball very often.
19 New England Patriots' Defense – START
After beating down the Dolphins 41-13, the Patriots' defense and special teams has clearly shown they are clicking on all cylinders. They recorded their third blocked field goal of the season and returned their second blocked field goal of the season for a touchdown against the Dolphins. Along with an explosive kick-off return unit, the Patriots' defense will want to finish the year strong. No better way to start than against a Jets' team that surrenders the fifth most fantasy points to opposing defenses.
18 Jordan Reed – TE, Washington Redskins – SIT
Reed is a boom or bust candidate for week 16, but based on his recent history, we predict he'll be more of the latter. It's no coincidence Reed has failed to do a whole lot when Robert Griffin III has played. From week nine to 11, RGIII only looked Reed's way four times. In recent weeks, the talented tight end has also been losing some looks to fellow tight ends Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen. It's an understatement to say Reed's year has been a disappointment to him and fantasy owners.
17 Dwayne Allen – TE, Indianapolis Colts – START
Allen has been touchdown dependant all season, which makes him a risky play. But you know what? Almost every tight end has been hit or miss this season, and if you are going to choose to start a tight end, why not start a player who has racked up eight touchdowns and plays with Andrew Luck? He'll be facing a Dallas defense that surrenders the fourth most fantasy points to the position.
16 Sammy Watkins – WR, Buffalo Bills – SIT
Watkins may be a top-tier talent next season, but he's been hard to trust since week eight. Since then, he's only averaged eight fantasy points a game. If you choose to start him, that's a poor enough stat line to put you in second place behind the future fantasy-football champion, and second place might as well be last place. The Raiders are surrendering the third fewest fantasy points to wide outs, which is another reason you should stay clear of Watkins this week.
15 Odell Beckham Jr. – WR, New York Giants – START
Do you think Beckham will go undrafted in your fantasy league next year? Probably not, unless you're playing in a league with a bunch of rookies. He was a monster against the Redskins last week, pasting 30 points onto fantasy owner's scoreboards. The Rams' secondary is beatable and Beckham is the type of talent that will beat them. Start him with confidence.
14 Emmanuel Sanders – WR, Denver Broncos – SIT
Sanders became gold for many fantasy owners who were able to draft him in the later rounds. And he's been virtually a WR 1 lock for the entire year. However, the problem with starting Sanders in recent weeks has been volume. The Broncos are trying to transform their offense into a more run-oriented unit, which has hurt Sanders ability to put up solid fantasy stats. Denver will likely run this week against a Bengals' defense that has surrendered the fifth most rushing yards at home this year.
13 Vincent Jackson – WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – START
It's likely that you feel a little burnt by Vincent Jackson this year. He hasn't scored a touchdown in his last ten games and has been over-shadowed by rookie Mike Evans. Well, despite that, if you're considering ditching him this week, give him one last chance. He's received 27 targets over the last two weeks and the Bucs will likely be down big in this game. On top of that, the Packers give up the 7th most points to receivers. In the name of garbage time, start V-Jax.
12 Percy Harvin – WR, New York Jets – SIT
The Jets' offense. It's as simple as that. If I knew 100 percent of my audience understood how bad the Jets' offense has been this season, I'd leave it at that one comment. But in case you don't know, let me remind you that they rank 30th in points per game, 32nd in passing yards and 25th in total passing yards per game. Harvin will likely be shadowed by Darrelle Revis or, at the very least, Brandon Browner. If you're in the finals, don't risk your title on Harvin.
11 DeSean Jackson – WR, Washington Redskins – START
In week three, Jackson destroyed the Eagles' secondary by posting 117 yards on five catches and scoring a touchdown. His 17.7 points that game was his best fantasy stat line of the season. Since then, the Eagles' defense hasn't improved to the point where they can confidently slow down the dynamic receiver. But that's good news for you. The only thing that will hold Jackson back is the Redskins' drama behind center.
10 LeSean McCoy – RB, Philadelphia Eagles – SIT
Would you really sit your first-round pick in the championship game? If you want to win, you would. McCoy is facing a Washington Redskins' defense that surrenders the second fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. McCoy also hasn't scored a touchdown since his November 27th game against Dallas and he also lost three goal-line carries this past Sunday night to Chris Polk and Darren Sproles. When McCoy faced the Redskins in week three, he put up a mere 22 yards rushing stat line and that's clearly not championship material.
9 Mark Ingram – RB, New Orleans Saints – START
Ingram's fantasy line has been erratic since week 12, but he has saved his best matchup for the fantasy championship, and fantasy owners couldn't ask for more. He'll be facing the Falcons' defense, which has surrendered the most fantasy points to running backs this year. Also, if history tells us anything, it's that Ingram will have a great game. When he last played Atlanta, he put up 18 fantasy points (60 yards on 13 attempts and two touchdowns.) If you put your faith back into the Saints' running back, he may just reward you for your loyalty.
8 Andre Williams/Rashad Jennings – RB, New York Giants – SIT
Jennings came back nicely during the second-half of the season, but fell swiftly back into the doctor's office. This time it's his ankle and reports have Jennings possibly being shut down for the remainder of the season. Even if he does play, he's too much of a risk to start in the fantasy championship. In Jennings' absence, Williams will likely receive most of the carries, but he's been widely inconsistent and also to hard to trust. Just stay away from the Giants' running backs in week 16.
7 C.J. Anderson – RB, Denver Broncos – START
For those who foresaw Denver transforming more into a run-oriented unit, congratulations. You should probably stop playing fantasy football and instead try to be a professional football coach. Since early November, Anderson has been turning out monster fantasy numbers. He had his worst game last week, scoring only 9.6 points, but he'll rebound nicely this Monday night against a Bengals' defense that has given up the fifth most fantasy points to running backs.
6 Jeremy Hill – RB, Cincinnati Bengals – SIT
When Giovani Bernard went down with an injury mid way through the year, Hill took over as the starting back and never looked back. He's the Bengals' clear lead back, but has an especially difficult matchup this week against the Broncos who have only surrendered, on average, 57 yards per game over their last three games. That's second best behind Detroit. Denver also surrenders the second fewest rushing attempts per game behind, once again, behind Detroit. While it's hard to believe the Bengals will trust Dalton to air out because of Denver's strong run defense, it's even harder to believe that Hill will carry you to a championship.
5 Steven Jackson – RB, Atlanta Falcons – START
Your opponents will be kicking themselves if they let old man Jackson beat them in the finals, but it may not be all that surprising if he pulls you across the victory line. Quietly, Jackson has put up solid fantasy lines in five of the past seven weeks. In those five weeks, he's totaled four touchdowns and five 10-point fantasy outings. New Orleans surrenders the fourth most fantasy points to running backs, so Jackson is worth a start.
4 Eli Manning – QB, New York Giants – SIT
Eli Manning went off last week, as expected, against the imploding (or imploded) Washington Redskins. He put up a solid 22-point outing. However, that was Manning's best since week 12, and he's been sporadic throughout the season. We believe this will be one of those weeks his fantasy stats drop against a St. Louis defense that has pretty much stifled quarterbacks this season. They are tough and a little too tough to go up against in the fantasy championship.
3 Alex Smith – QB, Kansas City Chiefs– START
This week, Smith faces the Steelers whose defense leaves much to be desired. They rank 21st in points allowed and 25th in passing yards allowed. The Steelers have also surrendered three straight weeks of 20-plus point fantasy days to quarterbacks, and Smith's actually posted four straight weeks of doubled digit fantasy points, which further solidifies Smith as a solid start.
2 Ryan Tannehill – QB, Miami Dolphins – SIT
Sometimes 1 p.m. games on the east coast between two AFC East division rivals go widely unnoticed by the rest of the country. That's fair. Tannehill actually put up great fantasy stats against the Patriots, throwing for 346 yards and a touchdown. However, he also threw two interceptions.
He'll be facing the Vikings this week, which surrender the ninth fewest points in fantasy to quarterbacks and who actually played the Lions' receivers really well last week. Best to place Tannehill on the bench.
1 Ben Roethlisberger – QB, Pittsburgh Steelers – START
If the guy is in MVP talks, you should probably start him. That's why we're going with Ben Roethlisberger, once again this week, as our number one quarterback. Kansas City is a tough matchup. They've only surrendered 200 passing yards overall over the past three games, but Roethlisberger is also on a tear and he'll be at home this week. Over the past three games, he's thrown for 1,145 yards. While Kansas City has been a tough defense to go up against in fantasy, something has to give and we believe it'll be the Chiefs.
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