Do you have a Fantasy Bowl in Week 17? Our Traps & Trends guy Matt Wilson is going to lend you a hand – even though he thinks all Fantasy Bowls should be played in Week 16. Shhhh…don’t get him started on that topic. On Matt’s list this week are some fantasy studs from Week 16 who will disappoint and some fantasy duds who should rebound nicely.
1. KIRK COUSINS. I WANT TO BELIEVE, BUT…
The Damage: There’s no denying that the red-hot Cousins has been playing the best football of his career. During the last two weeks, he racked up a 319-4-0 line at home during a victory over the Buffalo Bills and a 365-4-0 road line on the road (yes, he was productive in a road contest) against the Philadelphia Eagles. The knock on Cousins has been his painfully mediocre showings away from FedEx Field, but some think that’s only because he has faced a ton of tough road matchups. Will Cousins continue has super-productive ways in Week 17 on the road against the Dallas Cowboys?
The Diagnosis: TRAP
If you start Cousins against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17, I think you’re making a mistake. I’m not convinced that Cousins has shaken his road blues. Granted, he played very well against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field (aside from the knee-down/spike goof), but the Eagles defense is terrible. Cousins draws a road matchup against a Dallas defense that limited him to just a 219-0-0 line at FedEx Field back in Week 13. Even though the Cowboys are out of the playoff chase, they’re still playing hard – and stopping the pass is their specialty. During the last month, Dallas has allowed just 229.8 passing yards and 1.0 touchdown passes per game.
2. HEY! AREN’T YOU POPULAR 2015 PRESEASON SLEEPER ZACH ERTZ?
The Damage: After spending most of the 2015 season either sitting on the end of most fantasy benches or sitting in many free-agent pools, Ertz has been hot lately. During the last three weeks, he posted receiving lines of 5-98-0 on seven targets against the Buffalo Bills (Week 14), 8-78-1 on 13 targets versus the Arizona Cardinals Week 15) and 13-122-0 on 17 targets this past Sunday, respectively. The 122 receiving yards, by the way, was a career high. Should you continue to trust Ertz to bring home the fantasy bacon?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Did you get a sense of déjà vu when you saw Ertz’s receiving line against Washington? No, you’re not crazy. About a year ago, he racked up a 15-115-0 receiving line in a game against…you guessed it…Washington. I see no reason to hop off the Ertz fantasy bandwagon. He has settled in as the second option in the Philadelphia Eagles passing attack with Sam Bradford looking his way frequently. Ertz looks like a nice play against a New York Giants defense that has struggled against enemy tight ends most of the season. Ertz probably will be a popular sleeper pick for 2016. Should you buy into the hype? Draft him as a fantasy TE2 this time and take a wait-and-hope approach.
3. IS CALVIN JOHNSON DONE DOING THE DECOY THING?
The Damage: Two quiet outings in a row (1-16-0 on five targets in Week 14 and 1-19-0 on one target in Week 15) seemed to confirm fantasy owners’ suspicions that Calvin Johnson’s bum ankle was bothering him more than the Lions were telling us, and he was operating only as a decoy. However, he surprised this past Sunday (while tethered to a lot of fantasy benches) with a 6-77-1 line on 10 targets against the San Francisco 49ers. In that contest, “Megatron” dropped a pass that would have gone for a long gainer, and he had a long reception overturned by replay. Is it safe to start Johnson in Week 17 against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Is Johnson safe to start again? Yes. On the one hand, Johnson, who still isn’t 100 percent healthy, racked up a nice outing at home against a San Francisco 49ers secondary that usually has been super-leaky on the road. The Chicago Bears have ranked in the top five of fewest points allowed to enemy wideout during the last month, but the Bears haven’t played well at home during the last two months. Johnson has either scored or racked up 100-plus yards in five straight games against Chicago, and I’m betting that trend will continue. Even though “Megatron” isn’t 100 percent healthy, he’s in good enough shape to do some damage.
4. IS KARLOS WILLIAMS THE BUFFALO BILLS RUNNING BACK TO OWN AND SAFE TO START WHILE LESEAN McCOY IS OUT OF ACTION?
The Damage: During the Buffalo Bills’ clash with Washington, LeSean McCoy went down with a knee injury and was replaced by a committee comprised of Karlos Williams, who usually operates as McCoy’s backup, and Mike Gillislee. However, Gillislee racked up a 4-81-1 rushing line while Williams cobbled together a 4-41-0. Facing the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday, Gillislee got the start and amassed a 9-93-1 rushing line while Williams racked up a 17-76-1 rushing line. Even though Williams isn’t technically the starter, is he the safer choice to start in Week 17 against the New York Jets?
The Diagnosis: TREND
Williams should be your guy. In that Cowboys game, Gillislee’s score came on a 50-yard touchdown run, while Williams received a heavier workload that included goal-line touches. During the last month, the New York Jets defense allowed the top-five fewest fantasy points to the running back position. However, Williams is playing at home, and I think the Jets will have a huge letdown following their emotional victory over the New England Patriots. Since Gillislee is still going to steal some touches, treat Williams as a fantasy RB3 with upside.
5. HEY! AREN’T YOU BEN ROETHLISBERGER, THE FANTASY STUD WHO TORPEDOED A TON OF FANTASY BOWL TEAMS IN WEEK 16?
The Diagnosis: Drawing what looked like a great matchup against a soft Baltimore Ravens secondary that had been gutted by the Seattle Seahawks just two weeks ago, Ben Roethlisberger stunned fantasy owners with one of his worst outings of the season – 215 passing yards and no touchdown tosses. The entire Pittsburgh Steelers passing attack was horribly out of synch all afternoon. Roethlisberger’s accuracy was off, and he looked confused by the Baltimore Ravens defense. Was this a fluke? Is Roethlisberger a rebound candidate for his team’s must-win road matchup against the Cleveland Browns?
The Diagnosis: TREND
If you made it to your fantasy bowl despite Roethlisberger’s stink bomb outing, you deserve a hardy high five. The Steelers had a letdown following an emotional Week 15 triumph over the Denver Broncos, and a road game against a divisional foe was way too toxic of a mix for Roethlisberger and company to overcome. Relax – he’ll bounce back this week against a porous Browns secondary.