It’s finals weekend in most fantasy football leagues, so no lengthy preamble this week. Here are my recommendations for Week 16:
San Diego at Tennesse - Mention NFL games on Christmas Day to anyone over a certain age, and they’ll almost definitely think back to the “longest game ever played” on Christmas Day 1971. Fortunately for both the Chargers and the Titans, current rules don’t allow for a repeat tonight (pay attention, Donovan McNabb), but this game should still be quite entertaining. Chargers to start include QB Philip Rivers, TE Antonio Gates, WR Vincent Jackson, and K Nate Kaeding. RBs LaDainian Tomlinson & Darren Sproles and WR Malcom Floyd can also be started in deeper leagues. Titans to start include RB Chris Johnson, TE Bo Scaife, and K Rob Bironas. QB Vince Young and WRs Kenny Britt & Justin Gage can also be started in deeper leagues. Stay away from WR Nate Washington (Questionable-ankle).
Denver at Philadelphia - Sunday’s game marks Broncos’ S Brian Dawkins’ return to Philadelphia - hopefully, former Eagles’ employee Dan Leone will refrain from updating his Facebook status this weekend. The only Bronco I’d consider a must-start this weekend is WR Brandon Marshall, although QB Kyle Orton, RB Knowshon Moreno, and the Defense can also be started in deeper leagues. Keep RB Correll Buckhalter (Questionable-ankle) and WR Eddie Royal (Questionable-neck) on your bench. Eagles to start include TE Brent Celek, WR DeSean Jackson, and the Defense. Add QB Donovan McNabb and RB LeSean McCoy to the list in deeper leagues. Keep RBs Leonard Weaver & Brian Westbrook (Probable-concussion) and WRs Jeremy Maclin (Probable-foot), Jason Avant, & Kevin Curtis (Probable-knee) on the bench.
Carolina at New York Giants - For weeks prior to last Monday night’s victory over the Redskins, Giants’ fans had been clamoring for their team to show more fight. Unfortunately, RB Brandon Jacobs took that a bit too literally during the fourth quarter and ended up with a $7,500 fine. The Mike Tyson wannabe will have to keep his head in the game as the Giants fight to keep their playoff hopes alive against the resurgent Panthers. Panthers to start include RBs DeAngelo Williams (Questionable-ankle) & Jonathan Stewart (Questionable-Achilles’) and WR Steve Smith. Add QB Matt Moore and TE Dante Rosario to the list in deeper leagues. Leave WR Muhsin Muhammad on the bench. QB Jake Delhomme (Out-finger) is done for the season. Giants to start include RBs Jacobs & Ahmad Bradshaw (Questionable-ankle, foot), TE Kevin Boss, and WR Steve Smith. Add QB Eli Manning (Probable-foot), WRs Mario Manningham & Hakeem Nicks (Questionable-hamstring), and the Defense to the list in deeper leagues.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans - The Saints may have lost their first game of the season last Saturday night to the Cowboys, but don’t expect their fans to go back to wearing paper bags over their heads. Good news for fantasy owners in their league’s championship game this week - the Saints still have something to play for, namely home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, which they’ll clinch with a win in this game. Thus, QB Drew Brees figures to play most, if not all, of this contest. Bucaneers to start include RBs Cadillac Williams & Derrick Ward, TE Kellen Winslow (Questionable-knee), and WR Antonio Bryant (Questionable-groin). Add QB Josh Freeman to the list in deeper leagues. WRs Maurice Stovall, newly acquired Mark Bradley, & Michael Clayton (Questionable-knee) should remain on your bench, and WR Sammie Stroughter (Out-foot) is done for the year. Saints to start include Brees, RB Pierre Thomas, WR Marques Colston, and K Garrett Hartley. Add RB Mike Bell and WRs Devery Henderson & Robert Meachem to the list in deeper leagues. Add TE Jeremy Shockey (Questionable-toe) to the list if he’s healthy enough to play; add TE David Thomas to the list if Shockey remains sidelined.
Jacksonville at New England - Current Patriots’ RB (and former Jaguar RB) Fred Taylor apparently has no interest in working for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce when his playing days are over. This week he stated in an interview that it would be “good for the NFL” if the Jaguars moved from Jacksonville to Los Angeles. Luckily for Taylor this game will be played in Foxboro rather than Jacksonville. Jaguars to start include RB Maurice Jones-Drew, TE Marcedes Lewis, and WR Mike Sims-Walker. Add QB David Garrard and WRs Mike Thomas & Torry Holt to the list in deeper leagues. Patriots to start include QB Tom Brady (Questionable-shoulder, finger, ribs) and WRs Wes Welker & Randy Moss. Add RB Laurence Maroney and TE Ben Watson (Probable-knee) to the list in deeper leagues. Leave RBs Taylor (Probable-ankle) & Sammy Morris on the bench.
Houston at Miami - Last week Texans’ RB Arian Foster was a popular pick-up from the waiver wire as fantasy owners anticipated that he’d have a field day rushing against the St. Louis Rams’ run defense. Unfortunately for his owners, Foster’s performance last Sunday was one of the biggest disappointments since the comet Kohoutek. Some may be willing to play with fire for a second straight week, but I’d strongly advise against starting him. Texans who should be started include QB Matt Schaub and WRs Andre Johnson & Kevin Walter. Add WR David Anderson to the list in deeper leagues. Leave RBs Foster, Ryan Moats, & Chris Brown on the bench against a strong Dolphins’ run defense. The only Dolphin who’s a must-start is RB Ricky Williams, but add QB Chad Henne, TE Anthony Fasano, and WRs Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, & Brian Hartline to the list in deeper leagues. Leave WR Ted Ginn on the bench.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh - The Ravens may not fear the Steelers, but this week Baltimore LB Jarret Johnson compared the Steelers’ defense to a horror movie “star”. The loser of this game faces the scary prospect of not making the AFC playoffs in a crowded field. Ravens worth starting include RB Ray Rice and WR Derrick Mason. Add QB Joe Flacco, TE Todd Heap, WR Demetrius Williams, and the Defense to the list in deeper leagues. Leave RB Willis McGahee and WRs Kelley Washington (Questionable-ankle) & Mark Clayton (Questionable-knee) on the bench. Steelers to start include TE Heath Miller & WR Hines Ward (Probable-hamstring). Add QB Ben Roethlisberger, WRs Santonio Holmes & Mike Wallace (Questionable-knee) and the Defense to the list in deeper leagues. Leave RB Rashard Mendenhall (Probable-hip) and the newly-signed WR Joey Galloway on the bench.
Seattle at Green Bay - Hopefully, Seattle DE Darryl Tapp will get enough to eat this holiday season so that he doesn’t feel the need to take a bite out of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, as Rodgers alleges Tapp did when these two teams met last year. The only Seahawk worth starting in this game is TE John Carlson. Add WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh to the list in deeper leagues. Leave QB Matt Hasselbeck, RBs Julius Jones (Questionable-rib) & Justin Forsett, and WRs Deion Branch, Nate Burleson (Questionable-ankle), & Deon Butler on the sideline. Packers to start include Rodgers, RB Ryan Grant, TE Jermichael Finley, WRs Greg Jennings & Donald Driver, and the Defense. Add WRs James Jones & Jordy Nelson to the list in deeper leagues.
Oakland at Cleveland - Many teams have figuratively caught the Raiders with their pants down this season, but last weekend Oakland DT Tommy Kelly took this saying a little too literally. Fortunately, in spite of Kelly’s wardrobe malfunction (or maybe because of it) the Raiders were able to rally for a last-minute victory against the Broncos. This contest features two teams “playing for pride”, but there are a number of players on both sides who can help your fantasy team this week. Raiders to start include RBs Michael Bush & Darren McFadden and TE Zach Miller (Questionable-concussion). Add QB Charlie Frye (Probable-concussion), WRs Chaz Schilens & Louis Murphy, and the Defense to the list in deeper leagues. Leave QB JaMarcus Russell, RB Justin Fargas (Questionable-knee), and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Questionable-foot) on the bench. Browns to start include RB Jerome Harrison and WRs Josh Cribbs & Mohamed Massaquoi. Add WR Brian Robiskie and the Defense to the list in deeper leagues. Keep QB Derek Anderson & RB Chris Jennings (Probable-shoulder) on the bench. QB Brady Quinn (Out-foot) is done for the season.
Kansas City at Cincinnati - Recently signed Bengals’ RB Larry Johnson has been looking forward to this game ever since the Chiefs let him go in November. Unfortunately for Johnson, he stands a better chance of creating a stir with his Twitter account than he does with his play on the field. WR Dwayne Bowe is the only must-start Chief for this contest, but QB Matt Cassel and RB Jamaal Charles can be started in deeper leagues. Leave WRs Chris Chambers & Bobby Wade on the bench. Bengals to start include QB Carson Palmer, RB Cedric Benson, WR Chad Ochocinco, K Shayne Graham, and the Defense. WRs Andre Caldwell & Laveranues Coles can also be started in deeper leagues. Leave Johnson & TE J.R. Foschi on the bench in deeper leagues.
Buffalo at Atlanta - Ideally, an NFL quarterback has the opportunity to observe and learn from the sidelines for awhile before he’s thrown into the fray for the first time. Third-string Bills’ QB Brian Brohm, signed in mid-Noveber, will not have that luxury. Injuries to starting QB Trent Edwards and backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick make Brohm the Bills’ likely starter this week against an injury-plagued Falcons’ team. Bills to start include RB Fred Jackson and WRs Lee Evans & Terrell Owens. Add Brohm and TE Shawn Nelson to the list in deeper leagues. Keep RB Marshawn Lynch on the bench. Falcons to start include RBs Jerrious Norwood & Jason Snelling, TE Anthony Gonzalez, and WR Roddy White. Add the Defense to the list in deeper leagues. Leave QB Matt Ryan (Questionable-toe), RB Michael Turner (Questionable-ankle), and WR Michael Jenkins on the bench.
Detroit at San Francisco - Talk about not being able to leg go - 49ers’ CB Dre Bly still blames former Lions’ teammate QB Joey Harrington for the team’s woes earlier in this decade. Bly won’t see Harrington when he looks across the field Sunday, but his former team is still struggling to figure out this thing called winning. The only Lion who’s a must-start is WR Calvin Johnson (Probable-knee), but TE Will Heller can also be started in deeper leagues. Leave QB Drew Stanton, RB Maurice Morris, and WR Bryant Johnson on the bench. QB Matt Stafford (Out-shoulder) is done for the season. 49ers’ to start include QB Alex Smith, RB Frank Gore, TE Vernon Davis, WRs Michael Crabtree & Josh Morgan, K Ricky Schmitt, and the Defense. Leave WR Isaac Bruce (Questionable-ankle) on the bench. K Joe Nedney (Out-hamstring) will miss the game.
St. Louis at Arizona - Rams’ QB Keith Null has several things in common with Cardinals’ QB Kurt Warner, but multiple Super Bowl appearances isn’t one of them, and that doesn’t figure to change
in the next millenium any time soon. RB Steven Jackson (Questionable-back) is the only Ram who’s a must-start this week, but Null, TE Randy McMichael, and WR Donnie Avery can also be started in deeper leagues. Cardinals to start include Warner, RB Chris Wells, WRs Larry Fitzgerald (Probable-knee) & Anquan Boldin, K Mike Nugent, and the Defense. Add RB Tim Hightower and WR Steve Breaston to the list in deeper leagues.
New York Jets at Indianapolis - This has not been a good week for Jets’ quarterbacks. Current QB Mark Sanchez tossed three more interceptions in last week’s last-minute loss to the Falcons, and Super Bowl III MVP QB Joe Namath was hit with a lawsuit by a former UPS driver who alleges he was bitten by Broadway Joe’s dogs. Jets worth starting this week include RB Thomas Jones and TE Dustin Keller. Add RB Shonn Greene to the list in deeper leagues. Keep Sanchez and WRs Braylon Edwards (Questionable-knee) & Jerricho Cotchery on your bench. It’s tough to know how long the Colts’ starters will play this week - if you have other options with more to play for than the Colts, I’d advise using them instead of your Colts’ players. It may be tough to leave QB Peyton Manning (Probable-glute), RB Joseph Addai (Probable-knee), TE Dallas Clark, and WR Reggie Wayne (Probable-foot) on the bench, but it’s the smart play this weekend. I’d also leave RB Donald Brown (Probable-chest) and WRs Pierre Garcon & Austin Collie on the bench. WR Anthony Gonzalez (Out-knee) has finally been put on IR.
Dallas at Washington - Watergate, Iran-Contragate, Monicagate, Spygate, and now Swinging Gate - seems like our nation’s capital can never go too long without a “scandal” of some sort. Whether outgoing (in the sense of on his way out, not gregarious) Redskins’ Head Coach Jim Zorn actually thought the play would work or just wanted to say a very public “f— you” to the ‘Skins’ management can be debated for another decade, but the end result will be the same. Cowboys to start in this “rivalry game” include QB Tony Romo, RB Marion Barber, TE Jason Witten, WRs Miles Austin & Roy Williams, and newly-signed (and former Redskin) K Shaun Suisham. Add RB Felix Jones and the Defense to the list in deeper leagues. Redskins to start include QB Jason Campbell, TE Fred Davis, and WR Santana Moss. Leave RB Quinton Ganther, and WRs Devin Thomas (Questionable-ankle) & Malcom Kelly out of your lineup.
Minnesota at Chicago - It’s official: the inmates are now running the asylum in Minnesota. While this may not bode well for their playoff hopes, the Vikings should be able to regroup and take out their frustrations this week on a disappointing Bears’ team. Vikings to start include QB Brett Favre, RB Adrian Peterson, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, WRs Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, & Percy Harvin, and K Ryan Longwell. Add RB Chester Taylor and the Defense to the list in deeper leagues. Bears to start include QB Jay Cutler, TE Greg Olsen, and (assuming he’s healthy enough to play) WR Devin Hester (Questionable-calf). Add WRs Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, & Devin Aromashodu to the list in deeper leagues.
Good luck to your teams this weekend!
Until next time,
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