15 Transactions for Week 16
You were up by 11 points, and your opponent only had Justin Tucker to go. While certainly possible, three short field goals and two extra points seemed unlikely.
You lost by 12.
Today you’re in disbelief, losing your fantasy football semifinals by double-digit points because an idiot kicker decided to knock six field goals through the uprights on Monday night, including a game-winning 61-yarder.
Or, Mr. I Lost Because Justin Tucker Scored More Than 11 Points, put yourself in the shoes of another owner I found on Twitter. He thought he had the game won after Justin Tucker’s field goal, but Matthew Stafford’s final drive interception forced a loss.
Or this could’ve happened to you – probably the worst beat imaginable. You thought you won your matchup after the Tucker field goal, but Ray Rice’s 19-yard gain after Matthew Stafford’s interception gave your opponent the big W.
No matter how ugly your game ended, always know that it could’ve been worse.
Hopefully you ended up making the finals in your league. And if so, I hope this weekly article is a key reason as to why. Let’s keep it going into finals week.
Buy Giovani Bernard
I’m still using “buy” and “sell” in this column to describe players who you should and shouldn’t give up on. In this case, don’t give up on Cincinnati's Giovani Bernard.
He carried the ball 13 times for just 33 yards against the mediocre Steelers on Sunday night, scoring a touchdown. He nearly had two scores, but the Bengals decided to not challenge a play that was questionable at the goal line.
But the Steelers have been good at times this year defensively, and, even better, Bernard out-carried teammate BenJarvus Green-Ellis 13 to 4, seeing goal line touches, too.
Next week the Bengals get the Vikings, a squad that ranks in the bottom 10 against the run, and one that’s allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to backs this season. They held LeSean McCoy last week, but the Eagles only ran their running back eight times, so don’t let that fool you.
Sell Arizona Cardinals Players
In a championship game, playing a guy against the Seahawks defense is a death sentence. Carson Palmer should be benched in fantasy, and really, I wouldn’t want to give the concussed Larry Fitzgerald a shot, either. The Seahawks are our best defense numbers-wise, and at home, they’re nearly impossible to beat.
Add and/or Start Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger was efficient against the Bengals on Sunday night, but didn’t put up huge fantasy numbers due to volume. He completed 20 of his 25 passes, but wasn’t asked to do a whole lot after the Steelers jumped to a big lead early.
This week, Ben will take his underrated season to Green Bay, where he may face off against a healed Aaron Rodgers. If that’s the case, the game could become higher-scoring, making it a shootout.
But a bigger reason to trust Ben this week is because the Packers are pedestrian against the pass, ranking sixth-worst in the league according to our Net Expected Points metrics. Big Ben is a top-10 passing option this week.
Add and/or Start Rashad Jennings
Rashad Jennings is still out there in some ESPN.com leagues, and if he is in yours, it’s time to snag him. (Actually, that time was like five weeks ago, but let’s not live in the past.)
Jennings scored twice on 23 carries against Kansas City in Week 15, and hasn’t had fewer than 15 carries since becoming Oakland’s full-time starter in Week 9. He’s got four touchdowns in his last two starts, and will face a San Diego rush defense that is immensely overrated in fantasy due to the lack of volume against, lack of touchdowns against and strength of opponent. According to our metrics, the Chargers defense ranks 31st in the league against the run.
Add Jordan Todman
Congratulations to those who took a chance on Jordan Todman last week, as his 17.3 half-point PPR points ranked 15th among running backs in Week 15. He toted the rock 25 times, too, which shows that the Jags aren’t messing around – if MJD is out, Todman is going to see volume.
And that’s a possibility in Week 16 when the Jaguars face Tennessee. If Todman hasn’t been snagged up, get him as a top waiver wire option this week. Tennessee’s a decent matchup, too.
Sell the Browns Rushing Attack
I don’t know what to say. Edwin Baker? Seriously? I’m sorry if some of you started Chris Ogbonnaya this week hoping he’d see more than five carries. But I’m not sure anyone predicted a player who was signed off the Texans practice squad on Tuesday would see more carries than Silent G.
In the end, owning a Browns running back is worse than playing against Justin Tucker in the semifinals of the fantasy football playoffs. If you’re starting one in the finals, cross your fingers and hope the rest of your lineup includes Josh Gordon, Jamaal Charles and Peyton Manning.
Add Michael Crabtree
On Sunday, Crabtree caught five balls for 45 yards and a score. Next week, he’ll face the worst secondary in the NFL. Owned in just a quarter of ESPN.com leagues (probably a little more given dead leagues), he’s one you’ve got to target if you need wide receiver help in the finals.
Bench Matt Ryan
Facing a brilliant matchup, Matt Ryan fell flat on his face in Week 15. Sure, the Falcons won thanks to a turnover-friendly opposing offense, but Ryan turned the ball over twice against a bad Washington secondary, scoring fewer than 10 fantasy points.
This week, Matty Ice will face San Francisco, a team that’s allowed just five touchdown passes since their Week 9 bye. If you’ve counted on Matt Ryan and are somehow in the championship, it’s time to bench him for good.
Add the Dolphins’ Defense
Not that it matters a whole lot with defenses, but the Dolphins are the 12th-best one in fantasy land, sandwiched in between the Ravens and Saints. But the real reason you want to start them this week is not just because they're decent on their own, but because they’re facing E.J. Manuel’s Bills.
Buffalo’s offense has given up the eight-most fantasy points to defenses this season, and over the last two weeks, they’ve surrendered 30 points to the Bucs and Jags defenses. Manuel is a turnover machine (five picks over his last two), which bodes well for a nice game from Miami.
Add Randall Cobb
Cobb’s been out with an injury since Week 6, but could return this week against the Steelers. Though he’s not one that I’d promote starting, he could be an interesting add in deeper leagues, especially if all goes right with his evaluation by the Packers this week. Consider him a sneaky add off the waiver wire, and mostly a desperation play unless reports tell us otherwise.
Sell Matt Asiata
Yes, Matt Asiata scored three touchdowns against the Eagles on Sunday, but his 30 carries for 51 yards was nothing to get excited about. Despite getting into the end zone three times, his Rushing NEP on the game (and the season) was still a measly -3.06, about as bad as Jonathan Stewart’s season total.
Even if he gets the starting nod in Week 16, which doesn’t seem likely, he’s going to have a tough time running against the Bengals’ 11th-best rush defense.
Add the Lions’ Defense
Detroit only scored one fantasy point against the Ravens in standard leagues last night, but have the juiciest matchup imaginable against the Giants this week. Eli Manning’s thrown almost as many interceptions as days in February, so you know there’s going to be plenty of opportunity for two-point turnovers. Detroit should be a great streaming option.
Add or Buy Greg Jennings
With Matt Cassel under center over the last three weeks, Greg Jennings has scored 17.3, 7.8 and 27.8 half-point PPR points. And don’t forget his big game against Pittsburgh in Week 4 with Cassel either, where he caught three balls for 92 yards and two scores.
It’s clear that he’s Cassel’s go-to guy, and is certainly worth an add this week if one of your league mates dropped him during his single-digit production skid. He's no longer a fringe WR3 - he's become a full-blown WR2 with Cassel under center.
Add Ryan Tannehill
Tannehill was a popular quarterback streamer last week, and he came through with three touchdowns and 312 yards against the struggling Patriots secondary.
This week, the Dolphins’ passer will take his 21.85 fantasy point average over the last four weeks to Buffalo. The Bills rank well against opposing quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points allowed, but like many of the instances, this is game flow and strength of schedule related. Miami’s running game is lacking, and Tannehill will still need to throw.
Add Zach Miller
If you need a tight end streamer this week, Zach Miller’s not a bad option. He’s going up against Arizona, a team that’s given up by far the most fantasy points to tight ends this year. And, to make matters even more attractive, Miller had five catches for 40 yards and a score against the Cards the last time Seattle faced them. He’s available in over 88% of ESPN.com leagues, so chances are he’s out there to snag.