The Fantasy Cover 4 – Week 16- Saturday Edition
In most leagues (at least leagues that make sense), Week 16 is the Super Bowl of Fantasy Football. It’s also the first weekend the NFL plays on Saturday.
Keeping you in mind, Here’s an early edition of Start ‘Em Up & Shut ‘Em Down – Just for Saturday’s games – because you can never have too big an edge on the competition.
With 2 games to be played today, here’s the lowdown on every meaningful player playing Saturday.
Mark Sanchez: All it took was 4 games to have Mark Sanchez being hailed as ‘rejuvenated’, and then something happened…he had to play games that mattered against better opponents. Sanchez has struggled the past 2 weeks especially – both Eagles losses – that have the team on the outside looking in for playoff positioning. Sanchez followed his pitiful 96 yard performance vs Seattle with a 0 TD 2 INT day vs the Cowboys in a game that could have iced the division for Philadelphia – and both games were in front of the home fans at the Linc.
Now for the positive: The Redskins stink. They are mired in internal turmoil. They team may not trust its head coach. They have lost 6 straight. Their pass D is ranked 18th in NFL, giving up 238 YPG, which doesn’t seem that bad for a 3-11 team, but if you peel the onion back a little you see the greater picture. Opposing QB’s have a 109.9 passer rating against the Redskins defense, it’s the highest in the league. Washington gives up 8.2 YPA, which ranks 30th, and their pathetically low 5 INTs this year is the 2nd fewest in the league. Washington allows opposing QBs to complete 65.7% of their pass attempts, 26th in the NFL and good news for sometimes scattershot Sanchez.
He’s not a top 10 option this week, but he’s top 15 in this very favorable matchup. START.
Philip Rivers: He would normally be the best QB of the day, far and away, but he has the worst matchup he could have facing the 49er defense. He’s playing behind a makeshift offensive line with a rookie center and a pair of 2nd year players on the right side, his top 2 RBs are out, his top WR is also out.
The 49ers defense is tied for 19th in sacks with 32, but played most of the year without Aldon Smith. In the last 3 weeks, they have played the Seahawks 2x, and sacked Russell Wilson a total of 9 times. Rivers has been sacked 27x this season, including 11 in the last 5 games. Rivers entered the Week 10 bye with 20 TDs and 8 INTs. In the past 5 weeks, he has 7 TDs and 5 INTS. The team around him has deteriorated, and so has his play, understandably.
Now the really bad news. SF is 3rd in pass D, allowing only 206 YPG, 4th in opposing QB rating at 80.1, 4th in completion percentage allowed 58.6%, 8th in YPA allowed at 6.7, and tied for 5th with 17 INTs. While SF may have trouble on offense, their defense is still beastly. Its an awful matchup for Rivers, making him a fringe top-16 option this week. START – but only if you have no other choice, and set your expectation level accordingly.
Robert Griffin III: Maybe he would have been better off being put on IR after his week 2 ankle dislocation rather than come back to the controversies, musical chairs, and drama with Jay Gruden. With the talk around RG3, you’d think his numbers were awful, but they aren’t as bad as you would think. While the 3:3 TD/INT ratio is terrible, he is completing over 69% of his passes, which is excellent.
When the Redskins won the NFC East 2 years ago, they were a dynamic rushing team. This year, they are tied for 21st in the NFL with only 106 YPG on the ground. They averaged a league best 169 YPG on ground when they won the division. Clearly, far more of the burden has fallen on RG3 to carry the load, and considering how awful Washington’s defense is, it was a Kobayashi Maru test (no win scenario for you non-Trekkies) no matter who the QB was.
Griffin was sacked 7x last week by the Giants, who are 5th in the NFL in sacks with 41. This week he faces an Eagles team that is 2nd in sacks with 47.
The Eagles are an all or nothing pass D. Either they get you with the rush or you can take them apart in the secondary. Philly has only 10 INTs this year (T-23rd NFL), they are 28th in passing YPG (257), and they have allowed a whopping 29 passing TDs (T-29th) this season. If the Redskins OLine can hold up to the pressure, RG3 should be able to have success….that’s a heck of an ‘if’ though. Washington has allowed 53 sacks this season, 2nd most in the league.
Unless you are in very dire need – SIT
Colin Kaepernick: how the mighty have fallen. Kap’s career has nosedived this season, almost inconceivable considering the same coaching staff was able to make Alex Smith a viable QB.
He’s failed to top 200 yards passing in 4 of his last 5 games – which includes games vs NYG & Oakland – and has a 3:5 TD:INT ratio in that span. He’s barely completing 60% of his passes on the season, and he has 0 rushing TDs this year on 90 carries. The 49ers offense is a dysfunctional mess, and no SF players can be recommended on an offense that hasn’t scored more than 17 points in 7 of its last 8 games.
Add in a good SD pass D that is 9th in YPG (228) and 10th in Completion percentage allowed (61.1%) and tis is a pretty easy decision – SIT.
LeSean McCoy: I won’t blame you if you feel like Shady has done his best to torpedo your fantasy season, as he’s been a total non-factor in the red zone (only 4TDs all year) and in the passing game (24/112/0). Its really just unfathomable how much his stats have dropped off this season, as he has barely passed half of his fantasy point production from last season.
Thursday, McCoy told CSN Philly that RB Chris Polk has taken over GL carries as well.
The Redskins defense, abysmal against the pass, is strong against the run, as they are 7th in the league allowing only 101 YPG. They are also T-9th in NFL with only 8 rushing TDs allowed, and 8th in NFL allowing only 3.9 YPA.
It’s hard to sit Shady because of his name, but this is a bad matchup, and he hasn’t been himself this year. Don’t expect miracles. He’s barely a top 16 RB this week. START – but keep your expectations in check.
Alfred Morris: It’s been a hard fall from grace for Morris, who ran for 1606 yards as a rookie with 13TDs just 2 years ago, 1204 & 7 TDs last year (in 15 games) , to only 948 yds this year with 2 games to go. There’s a multitude of reasons that have conspired to slow Morris down this year, but the bottom line for fantasy players is – what will you get from him this week.
The Eagles are a decent run D, middle of the pack in YPG (113.9/18th) but are 6th in the league allowing only 3.8 YPC, and have allowed only 10 rushing TDs this season.
Since it’s highly feasible the Eagles will throw the ball all over the field today and get out to a lead, its also highly feasible Morris gets 15 or fewer carries. He has 39 total carries the past 3 games, not exactly a harbinger of production. While he does have 7 TDs this year, he has only 1 in his past 5 games.
As a guy who is extremely limited in the passing game (15/136/0), he’s barely a top 20 RB this week.
Unless you have no other alternatives – SIT.
Branden Oliver: If I have to tell you to bench a team’s 4th string RB vs the 49ers defense, when that team is 31st in the NFL in rushing offense, I’m pretty sure you didn’t make the playoffs. Oliver averages 3.4 YPC, thanks to his unexpectedly strong game October 5th when the Chargers shut out the Jets, otherwise it would be even worse (3.0). He’s not a quality RB, and he’s playing behind a makeshift line. SIT.
Frank Gore: Gore is listed as questionable due to a concussion. You will need to watch right up until game time to see if he will play. Even if he does, he’s a risky play due to ineffectiveness due to lack of usage (4 straight games of 13 or fewer carries) and fact he’s coming off a concussion at a high collision position. SIT.
(FYI – Carlos Hyde is already ruled out, so if Gore doesn’t play, Niners would likely turn to Alfonso Smith if you are desperate beyond all means.)
Jeremy Maclin: He isn’t the targeting machine with Mark Sanchez at the helm that he was with Nick Foles under center, but he still gets a good number of targets and he has the ability to break one at any time. He is the best option of any WR today, and considering how many WRs are injured, he’s essentially a must START.
DeSean Jackson: He’s taken over as the Redskins top WR pretty much since the day he signed. He’s gone over 100 yards 5x, but he’s been under 50 yards 6x. Went off for 5/117/1 last time vs eagles, but that was Week 3. Still, because he’s a deep threat and Eagles are weak covering the deep ball, he has upside. It’s a dice roll, but the odds should be in your favor. START.
Jordan Matthews: the bloom is off the rose with Matthews, who was shut out last week against the Cowboys. Matthews did, however, make his way onto fantasy radars Week 3 when he had 8/59/2 vs the Redskins. Expect the Eagles to sling the ball around the yard, so Matthews should be a system beneficiary today. He’s a START, albeit a low tier one.
Anquan Boldin: if only his QB was playing better… Boldin can still catch anything he can touch, but Kaepernick has been terrible. He has a total of only 9 receptions and 95 yards the past 3 weeks. Cannot recommend any SF offensive players right now. SIT.
Malcom Floyd: He is essentially the #1 WR is SD now with Keenan Allen out for the rest of the season, but Floyd just never lived up to expectations. Now in his 10th year, he’s a deep threat who doesn’t get much separation. Don’t expect much. SIT.
Pierre Garcon, Eddie Royal, Michael Crabtree, Riley Cooper – all of these are outside the top 40 WRs this week and should SIT.
Antonio Gates: If anyone on the Chargers offense can be counted on to perform, its Gates. He’s always had a great rapport with Rivers, and with Allen out, he is the top targeted pass catcher on the team. The big time yards aren’t there anymore, but he’s a major red zone threat (10 TDs) at a very shallow position. Even against the 49ers, he’s a top 10 TE this week. START
Zach Ertz: He was a 2 games star to start the season and a disappointment ever since. He has the tools but it hasn’t come together yet for the 2nd year Stanford man. It’s a good matchup against the Redskins, but he hasn’t earned any faith. SIT
Brent Celek: has had one good game all season, Week 10 vs Carolina. Outside of that 5/116 performance, last week was the 1st time he had eclipsed 50 yards receiving. It’s a time share with Ertz,and Philly may see the younger TE as the better option. Despite the matchup, you have to keep in mind Celek has not scored this season. SIT.
Jordan Reed: Injuries have certainly helped to derail his season, but he’s had 2 strong games – Week 6 vs Arizona, and Week 13 vs Indy. Otherwise, he hasn’t topped 55 yards in a game. Has 6 receptions for 38 yards last 2 weeks combined. SIT. Same obviously goes for his backup, Niles Paul.
Vernon Davis: it’s like he touched a football from the Mon-Stars and lost all his talent. Hasn’t scored since Week 1, which is amazing considering he scored 13 TDs a season ago. He’s become a forgotten man in SF. He was shut out last week by the Seahawks, who have had their issues covering TEs in the past. Hasn’t topped 45 yards in a game this season. SIT.
QB: Brees, P. Manning, Rodgers, Luck, Brady
RB: Charles, McCoy, Forte, Lynch, Murray, Bell, Foster
WR: A. Brown, Bryant, AJ Green, C. Johnson, Marshall, Nelson, D. Thomas, Julio Jones
TE: Graham, Gronkowski, J. Thomas,
Patrick Creighton is the host of “Nate & Creight” on Sportsradio 610 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @PCreighton1