James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Miami Dolphins fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and get all your NFL news before it hits the national media.
Here we are, Week 16 of the NFL season and the fantasy football championship for most leagues. This will be the final predictions article as next week I’ll be doing a season wrap-up article with the best and worst 2013 fantasy football players. Many of my faithful readers have told me that they have made it to the finals, which means we both have done our jobs. I’ve given you the right advice and you’ve listened to it and made the correct moves accordingly.
The best advice I can give this week is the same thing I tell people every single year: don’t get cute! Now isn’t the time to go trolling the waiver wire looking for that diamond in the rough; now is the time to play the proven players who got you to this point, and only make a switch if there are clear reasons to do so. Before we get to the start/sit picks, we need to go over some injury news that may answer some questions that I don’t cover.
The Redskins placed TE Jordan Reed on Injured Reserve on Thursday; this is something I predicted would happen when Robert Griffin III was shut down for the season. With Jordan Cameron being covered in the Sit ‘em section, owners looking for plug-n-play options at TE can give Delanie Walker, Dennis Pitta or Zach Miller a look.
The Texans placed RB Ben Tate on IR, meaning Dennis Johnson will be the go-to RB to finish out the season. I doubt you’ve made it this far streaming running backs, so please don’t start now unless you are in a 14-team or deeper league.
Victor Cruz underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday, and is done for the season. Rueben Randle now gets the call for the Giants opposite Hakeem Nicks. More on Randle below.
Colin Kaepernick – QB, 49ers: I told people in the preseason not to put their eggs in Kaepernick’s basket, but many of you did and have held on to him the whole season because you drafted him so high. All that waiting should pay off this weekend since the Falcons are sixth for most fantasy points allowed to QBs this season with 22.5 PPG. I have him as a low-end QB1, and would play him ahead of guys like Tom Brady and Andrew Luck.
Ryan Mathews – RB, Chargers: The Raiders are a mess on offense and defense, but it is their defense that worries me as they give up the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs this season at 21.2 PPG. This is a divisional rivalry with two teams looking to save face for their fanbases. Mathews has put up back-to-back 100-yard games with a TD in each of them, and I would put him as a low-end RB1 in almost all formats.
Jordan Todman – RB, Jaguars: Todman may have just secured himself a starting job in 2014 (Maurice Jones-Drew is all but a lock to depart Jacksonville via free agency this offseason) with his 153 yards of total offense in Week 15. This week he gets a Titans defense that is polar opposites with run and pass defense, giving up 23.6 PPG to RBs (second most in NFL) and 14.6 PPG to WRs (No. 1 in NFL). The Jaguars are sure to employ a run-heavy scheme this week as they look to next season.
Mike Wallace – WR, Dolphins: The last time the Dolphins played the Bills (Week 7), Wallace hauled in five passes for 76 yards; last week he reeled in six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown; the Bills give up the fifth-most fantasy points to WRs this season at 26.0 PPG. See where I’m going with this? Wallace and the Dolphins are on a three-game winning streak that has them heading into this game 8-6 on the season. You can be sure Ryan Tannehill will be slinging the ball all over the field, and I would put both Wallace and Brian Hartline in the WR2 talk this week.
Michael Crabtree – WR, 49ers: The one game I would play Crabtree in this season is this one against the Falcons. So far this season the Falcons give up 24.9 PPG to WRs, the sixth most in the NFL. It is possible that Kaepernick finds Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin for touchdowns this weekend, but I have to think the 49ers want to cut Crabtree loose and let him be their playmaking WR, and there are few better teams to do it against than the Falcons.
Delanie Walker – TE, Titans: The Titans passing attack has basically been Kendall Wright and then the rest. But, that may be changing as Walker was targeted 11 times last week and hauled in eight of the passes for 53 yards and a touchdown against Arizona's league-worst defense against TEs. This week Walker gets the second-worst TE defense in the Jaguars, and I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t at least duplicate the numbers from Week 15 (if not better). Walker is a top 5-7 TE play on my cheat-sheet this week.
Detroit Lions Defense: Looking at the numbers, there hasn’t been a worse starting QB in the NFL over the past month than Eli Manning. Anyone who has listened to me on the radio or has talked to me about him knows I am far from a fan of his, and this is just one of the reasons. The Lions defense has actually been playing well the past month, racking up 12 sacks (tied for fourth), 2 INTs tied for seventh), two recovered fumbles (tied for fifth), a safety (tied for first) and two return touchdowns (second). I could easily see the Lions being a top 5 fantasy defense this week as they try to stay in the hunt in the NFC North.
Matt Flynn – QB, Packers: I only put Flynn on here because I had a discussion with one fantasy Web site owner via Facebook where he commented on a post of mine saying Flynn was a good value pick for those in cap leagues. If by good you mean horrible, then yes, he is going to be good. The Steelers allow the 11th-fewest fantasy points to QBs this season at 18.9 PPG, and Flynn is one of the worst starting QBs in the NFL in my opinion. He shredded the Cowboys defense for four touchdowns last week, which is like saying you are the world champion at Lawn Darts (who cares). Flynn may be dirt cheap in cap leagues, but that is because he is a bottom of the barrel QB who has almost no chance to win fantasy football players a title.
Matt Ryan – QB, Falcons: The 49ers give up 15.7 PPG this season to QBs, third lowest in the NFL; Matty-Ice averages 15.22 fantasy points a week on NFL.com’s standard scoring format. Ryan averages what the 49ers give up, meaning this one is not going to work out well for fantasy owners who roll the dice with Ryan this weekend. Instead, I’d look at Kirk Cousins or Tannehill as a replacement.
*Bonus: Cam Newton – QB, Panthers: When the Panthers faced the Saints just two weeks ago, Newton managed just 208 total yards of offense (160 passing, 48 rushing) and a touchdown. Last week he was able to throw for 273 yards, but managed just one touchdown against a Jets defense that is tied for the sixth-most passing TDs allowed this season with 25. I personally don’t see Newton being worth playing in standard 12-team leagues this week with the Saints looking to take the division against his Panthers.
Dennis Johnson – RB, Texans: The Broncos may give up 20.4 PPG to RBs this season (10th most in NFL), but when this game gets out of hand the Texans will abandon the run and Johnson will watch helplessly as Matt Schaub tries to win back his QB job. The only real way Johnson would have value is if he was a pass-catching RB, which he isn’t (six receptions in seven games this year). Don’t be fooled into picking Johnson up and thinking you got a flex option off the waiver wire this week.
C.J. Spiller – RB, Bills: With Fred Jackson and Spiller splitting time fairly evenly, it is hard to play him as anything more than a flex option for the fantasy finals. The Dolphins are better against the pass than the run (18.2 PPG to WRs vs. 20.2 PPG to RBs), but the defense should be able to focus on stopping the run with Thad Lewis starting at QB and Stevie Johnson away from the team after the death of his mother (sorry for your loss).
Rueben Randle – WR, Giants: Randle will finish the season opposite Nicks at WR, but as I mentioned earlier, no QB has been worse than Eli Manning the past month. I am not sure I want to risk my title hopes on a QB that hasn’t had a 300-yard game since Week 5, and currently sports a TD-to-INT ratio of 16:25. Let someone else deal with this headache.
Larry Fitzgerald – WR, Cardinals: With Carson Palmer at the helm, Fitzgerald has just a single 100-yard game this season and that was back in Week 6 against the 49ers. The last time he faced the Seahawks they held him to two catches for 17 yards, which could very well end up happening again as the Seahawks defense is playing lights out and Fitzgerald is coming off a concussion. I’ll be honest and say I wouldn’t even put Fitzgerald in my flex if I could help it. I know some of you have emailed me about this and your waiver wires are a barren wasteland, so you have no choice. This is where you tweet to Tim Tebow and ask him to help you get right with Jesus in an effort to squeeze a fluke TD out of Fitzgerald in Week 16.
Jordan Cameron – TE, Browns: I have it on good authority that Cameron’s season is likely over after suffering a concussion last week. The Browns have nothing left to play for and Cameron actually missed the final two games of last season with a concussion. I would go ahead and cut him if you can get Walker, Pitta or some other halfway decent TE off the waiver wire. P.S. Garrett Graham isn’t going to play this week, so don’t bother picking him up.
Chicago Bears Defense: According to NFL.com, the Bears have been the 26th-worst fantasy defense over the past month. The Bears defense is a shell of its former self, losing Charles “Peanut” Tillman, Henry Melton, D.J. Williams, and Kelvin Hayden to IR. Then you have an Eagles offense that features LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Nick Foles and Riley Cooper. With both the Eagles and Beats sitting at 8-6, holding a slim division lead, and both defenses among the worst in the NFL, I foresee an offensive shootout and want no part of the Bears defense that is still owned in 80.7 percent of NFL.com leagues.
Q: I'm still a faithful reader or your column and I'm happy to say you have helped me reach the finals in my league. My question pertains to which QB to start. I have been starting Philip Rivers for most of the season over Kaepernick and I'm attempting to pick up Jay Cutler off the waiver wire this week. I'm picking him up so my opponent doesn't get him (Big Ben is his only QB) AND because my two starting WRs are Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Do I put all my eggs in one basket and go with Cutler vs. the Eagles or stay with Rivers vs. Oakland?
--Dan from U.S. Bank Arena
A: Glad to hear it ... on both counts!
Rivers is a top 7 QB this week against Oakland with Cutler right in front of him at No. 6. There is some risk in putting all your eggs in one basket, BUT ... if you are starting both Marshall and Jeffery at WR, and they flop for some reason, do you really think you can still win with Rivers as your QB?
Go big or go home I always say, and the Eagles-Bears game should be a high-scoring shootout against high-powered offenses and low-powered defenses.
Good luck to you all and remember that second place is just the first loser!