The Fantasy Cover 4 – Week 16
While everyone drafts to pick the best available players at a position for the entire year, week-to-week there are always matchups to exploit and matchups to avoid. I’ve got you covered. Welcome to Start ‘Em Up and Shut ‘Em Down.
This is where you find out what matchups to jump on and which ones you may want to pass on.
(General Rule: ALWAYS start your stud players*. For everyone outside of that, follow the matchups)
Start ‘Em Up
Matthew Stafford: Looking at this matchup, I find myself wondering, “Who on the Bears 31st ranked pass D is going to cover Megatron? No one? Who is going to cover Golden Tate? Also no one?” This is a primo matchup for fantasy Super Bowl week. Bears give up 272 YPG (31st), 8.3 YPA (dead last), allow opposing QBs to complete 67.6% of their passes (31st)…I could go on but, just start him and smile.
Matt Ryan: It doesn’t matter if they win or lose, as long as you win. Matty Ice may not be able to get his feeble team in the win column, but if you have been starting him, you have probably been winning. He’s gone over 300 yards in 3 straight, thrown multiple TDs in 4 straight, and the Saints 27th ranked pass D gives up 257 YPG. When he isn’t on his back getting sacked behind a poor OLine, he will be shredding the Saints DBs, especially if Julio Jones plays, which reports indicate he will.
Tony Romo: What back injury? Romo looks to be perfectly fine since that beating he took Week 13. All hes done in the 2 games since: 75% comp, 470 yards, 6 TDs 0 INT. Romo is streaking at the right time. (Don’t tell him its December). Indy’s pass D is respectable at 18th (241 YPG) but they are actually 3rd in opposing QB completion percentage, allowing only 58.7%. Not gonna make a difference. Ride the hot Cowboys offense, which expects to have DeMarco Murray.
Mark Ingram: a late TD saved his day last week vs Chicago (and helped me win a game, sweet! – Sorry Matt Murphy), but the important thing was he got 17 carries and GL work. In a game with playoff implications in the NFC Suck, err, South, Ingram should have room to run vs Atlanta’s 18th ranked run D (117.4 YPG) and considering this should be a high scoring game, opportunities at the goal line should exist.
CJ Anderson: He’s the unquestioned lead back in Denver right now, with at least 21 carries in 4 straight games. The Bengals give up 124.8 YPG on the ground (23rd). They have to be wary of the Broncos passing game so committing extra men up front would be akin to waiving a white flag in this game, so Anderson should find room to work.
Justin Forsett: The Ravens are fighting for a playoff spot and you know OC Gary Kubiak wants to stick it to his old team in Houston. Forsett has been a scrap heap revelation for Baltimore this year. The Texans have the 12th ranked run defense, but that number is skewed by the fact they have played many teams that can’t run the football (Tennessee 2x, Cleveland, Jacksonville & Indy in 5 of last 7 games). The Texans are beat up in the front 7 as well, and Forsett should get plenty of opportunity.
Odell Beckham Jr: So what insane catch will he make this week? The guy is a walking highlight reel. He’s been virtually unstoppable since week 9. He’s gotten 15 targets in each of the last 2 weeks and converted 23 of them for 273 yards and 4 TDs. A playmaker on a serious roll who is his QBs favorite target. (Ok maybe his only target considering who else the Giants have). He’s a must start.
Golden Tate: He may not have the TDs to show for it, but Tate has played like a #1 WR this year. He carried the load with Calvin Johnson sidelined, and has stayed an important piece of the offense after his return. Between the fact the Bears are the 2nd worst pass D in football, and they are going to start Jimmy Claussen at QB, this could be a laugher, and Tate should get his before it’s all said and done.
Roddy White: even with the expected return of Julio Jones, there’s a good chance Jones is still banged up and used more as a decoy. White has had to deal with his own injury issues this year, but he’s scored in 4 of his last 5 games, and has double digit targets in 3 of his last 4. He’s a strong bet in what looks like a very high scoring affair against the Saints.
Greg Olsen: 10 catches in back to back weeks, and at least 9 targets in 4 straight. He’s the Panthers most reliable pass catcher, and is set to go over 1000 yards today (he needs 40). The Browns cover WRs well, so Olsen so get plenty of looks today.
Travis Kelce: well, its not like Alex Smith likes to throw to his WRs. Kelce has been up and down this year, but he’s been up the last 2 weeks and this year’s version of the Steelers D isn’t exactly scaring anyone. Pittsburgh is 25th vs the pass this year, allowing 253 YPG. If you don’t have one of the big 4 TEs, (or Olsen), then Kelce is a guy you want to start today.
Owen Daniels: look who found his way back to relevance last week! Welcome back OD! It’s a great sign for his owners, as he will definitely want to make an impression vs the Texans, the only team he ever played for prior to this season.
Shut ‘Em Down
Cam Newton: what is a back injury worth in today’s NFL? 1 game apparently. Newton is not likely to run much considering the fractures in his back after the car accident he was in 2 weeks ago, which seriously mitigates his value. The Browns are 8th in pass D, allowing 222 YPG, and have 20 INTs this year, which leads the NFL. It’s a bad matchup all around for Cam.
Eli Manning: When he has time, he has shredded defenses, when he’s under duress, he’s been ‘bad Eli’. With the weak OLine the Giants have, and the resurgent Rams pass rush, this isn’t shaping up for a week of ‘Good Eli’. The Giants have allowed 29 sacks this year, and the Rams have 36 sacks on the season, but 17 in the last 4 weeks. If the Giants had any other weapon in the passing game besides OBJ, I would feel better about his chances, but they don’t, and Rashad Jennings is out again, so the running game likely won’t be there to lighten the load for Eli.
Trent Richardson: hasn’t even had double digit carries in 5 of the last 6 games, in which time he hasn’t broken 50 yards rushing and has 1 TD in that span. He should be permanently sewn to your bench, if you even have him rostered.
Chris Ivory: Ivory scored his first TD since Week 8 last week, but amassed only 25 yards on 12 carries against the Titans, also known as the worst rushing D in football (142.1 YPG). The Patriots, by comparison, are the 10th ranked rushing D (103.5 YPG). The Jets offense is immensely challenged, and a bad matchup doesn’t help.
Lamar Miller: He’s scored 1 TD in the last 6 games, and has been held under 60 in the last 4. He’s getting the majority of the RB touches, but that’s still only 12-16 per game, not enough to be counted on for solid production. The Vikings are the 22nd ranked run D (123.9 YPG) but they’ve only allowed 9 rushing TDs (11th).
Reggie Wayne: In the past, this would be a week you expect Wayne to shine, with TY Hilton expected to miss the game, but its clear the triceps injury he’s dealing with is really hurting him. He may be going through the worst 4 game stretch of his career. During the past 4 games, Wayne has a TOTAL line of 12/70/0. Unfathomable numbers for a player of his caliber, so he’s clearly compromised by injury. Don’t risk it.
Rueben Randle: “Wrong Route Rueben” has been finding himself getting phased out of the game the past 4 weeks. Between his inability to stay on the same page with Eli Manning, his regression this year, and his trouble being on time for meetings, he’s falling out of favor with the coaches and his QB. In his last 4 games, he has a total of 9 receptions for 127 yards (or roughly one game from OBJ). When you don’t run the right route, and don’t fight for balls, resulting in your QB throwing INTs, eventually he stops throwing you the ball. He may be the #2 WR in name, but in name only.
Larry Fitzgerald: Do you think he called Kurt Warner when Carson Palmer went down for the year? Between his QB being Ryan Lindley and facing the resurgent Seattle secondary – this is an awful matchup for him.
Larry Donnell: one of the hottest pickups in fantasy after his 3 TD performance Week 4, hes scored 2 TDs since, and none since Week 11. He was a complete non-factor last week vs Washington, and has topped 50 yards only once in the last 4 weeks. Rookie wall? Maybe, but not worth the start vs a strong front 7 in St Louis.
Eric Ebron: maybe Matt Stafford doesn’t realize he’s on the team? Maybe Stafford doesn’t realize he was drafted to give him another weapon? Maybe Stafford hates rookies? Bottom line, Stafford doesn’t throw him the ball. Even against the Bears lame pass D, he belongs on your bench.
Jordan Cameron: lost year + injuries + rookie QB who looked in over his head + tough pass D = don’t even think about it.
Week 16 Top 5’s
Aaron Rodgers – GB (@ TB)
Drew Brees – NO (vs Atl)
Tom Brady – NE (@ NYJ)
Andrew Luck – Ind (@ Dal)
Tony Romo – Dal (vs Ind)
Le’Veon Bell – Pit (vs KC)
Eddie Lacy – GB (@ TB)
Jamaal Charles – KC (@ Pit)
CJ Anderson – Den (@ Cin)
Mark Ingram – NO (vs Atl)
Jordy Nelson – GB (@ TB)
Calvin Johnson – Det (@ Chi)
Dez Bryant – Dal (vs Ind)
Odell Beckham Jr – NYG (@ StL)
Antonio Brown – Pit (vs KC)
Jimmy Graham – NO (vs Atl)
Rob Gronkowski – NE (@ NYJ)
Greg Olsen – Car (vs Cle)
Antonio Gates – SD (@ SF)
Travis Kelce – KC (@ Pit)
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, Gates
Patrick Creighton is the host of “Nate & Creight” on Sportsradio 610 Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @PCreighton1