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JL’s Observation Deck – Week 16

Eventually in this article, I want to touch on some specific match-ups on tap for this week in the NFL. But first, it is more important to give yourself the best possible chance to win by constructing your roster perfectly heading into Week 16. Here a few tips I have learned throughout the years that could beneficial for you:

Analyze the back end up of your opponent’s roster

Assuming you are still able to make roster moves, which in most local leagues you are, then make sure you take a look at who you project your opponent to use versus you in Week 16. Chances are, they will have to make a lineup decision at some point, and that lineup decision may even include a player currently on the waiver wire. For example, let’s say your opponent has been using Steven Jackson as his RB2 over the past few weeks and reaping the benefits of his minor fantasy resurgence. You notice it is very likely he will have to start Jackson vs. the tough 49ers defense this upcoming week, unless of course he has a better option on the waiver wire. Take the initiative to try and acquire any other options he might consider so that his hands are tied, forcing him to use Jackson in what will likely be a poor performance. How exactly do you do that? Good question…

Trim the fat on your roster

If you have been holding onto a couple of handcuffs throughout the season, and there is no situation in which you or your opponent will start them this week, and this week alone, then feel free to trim the fat off your roster and acquire any player that could even possibly be an upgrade over your opponent’s current starting lineup. Here is a real-life example:

In a 16-team deep league, and my opponent for this week is having major injury issues at tight end. On the waiver wire are Andrew Quarless, Zach Ertz and Ryan Griffin. On my team, I have been holding onto Roy Helu, Jacquizz Rodgers, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kendall Hunter for months now. Well guess what, none of those players have any chance of contributing for me this week. And more importantly, they have no chance of contributing to my opponent, either. I am trimming the fat so to speak off my roster by dropping as many players as I can that I know won’t start for either team in the championship, and I am adding anyone that possibly could.

In some leagues of course, there might not be a single player available who can be considered a possible upgrade. But it is still worth taking a look and dotting your i’s and crossing all of your t’s. The two positions that this tactic could work best would be at the quarterback and tight end positions. Anything and everything that can give you an edge at this point must be explored.

Week 16 Matchups

Simply put, if you have Kirk Cousins on your team, it is going to be very hard to keep him on the bench. A defense that gives up four touchdowns in one single half to Matt Flynn, and has proven to be one of the most inept pass defenses in the history of football will again be exploited by a motivated Cousins. Yes, the Redskins aren’t playing for much, but in a rivalry game vs. Dallas, and a chance to ruin their playoff hopes will be motivation enough at home to put out their best effort. The only four quarterbacks I would feel comfortable starting over Kirk Cousins this week are Drew Brees, Nick Foles, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Jay Cutler and Cam Newton would also be very close to joining those four, but when you consider the guaranteed high-scoring affair that is to take place in Washington D.C., I will take my chances playing against a Monte Kiffin defense that has been torched by even the weakest of NFL signal callers.

At running back there are a handful of guys that are guaranteed starts, of course, but it gets very tricky after that. I don’t want to create a huge list of running backs and their rankings, but if you have any questions, please direct them to me on twitter @JohnnyLFootball. Some of the unique lineup situations could include Bobby Rainey, Andre Brown, Ben Tate, Shane Vereen and Steven Jackson.

Lastly, the ace in hole. One last trick up your sleeve. A sleeper WR3. You can be assured thousands of fantasy manages are looking for exactly that. In PPR leagues, I’d consider plugging in Brian Hartline. Down the stretch, Ryan Tannehill has relied on him more and more. Hartline has caught five or more balls in six straight games and has only been targeted less than eight times only once in that same stretch. Another player, Rod Streater of the Raiders, has seen 40 targets in his last five contests combined. Don’t be afraid to use him vs. a Chargers’ pass defense that yes, looked sound last week vs. Peyton, but has shown a propensity to give up big plays in the passing game.

Doug Baldwin of Seattle also piques my interest as an excellent plug-and-play this week vs. a Cardinals defense that should be pretty stout vs. the run. Baldwin has hit paydirt in four of his last six games and it isn’t likely Patrick Peterson will be covering him in the slot very often. Baldwin is one of the most underrated players in the NFL right now and has caught over 72% of his targets since taking on a bigger role in the Seahawks offense. He should receiver plenty of opportunities and he will take advantage.

Thanks again for reading and best of luck in your Week 16 championship. Have a great weekend, win or lose.

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