Happy New Year! Welcome to the conclusion of the 2015 season. This will be the final week of leagues holding championship games. Week 17 brings an end to a very injury-plagued season where we saw 467 players end up on injured reserve. Injuries are a part of football but there has been so many this season it is hard to believe that any fantasy team could avoid it this season.
I would like to thank all of you that have taken the time to read my weekly insight into the NFL. Good luck to those playing this week in the Championship game.
The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.
Tim Hightower– 27 carries for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Every season we see some player come out of the scrapheap during the last few games of the year to help win someone a championship. Those who picked up Hightower over C.J. Spiller have reaped the benefits.
DeAngelo Williams– 17 carries for 100 yards 2 touchdowns, 6 receptions for 53 yards. The Steelers offense last week was a big disappointment except for Williams. Williams needs 101 rushing yards this week to reach 1,000 for the first time since 2009. He currently has the 3rd most rushing yards in his career and the second best season for touchdowns.
Kirk Cousins– 365 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. Cousins has thrown for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns in back to back games and has 300+ yards in 5 of the past 7. This week with the division locked up Cousins might not play a full game.
The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well you know.
Randall Cobb– 3 receptions for 15 yards. It has been a very disappointing season for Cobb as he will finish with under a 1,000 yards and less than 10 touchdowns to end the year. Cobb has just 2 touchdowns over the last 12 games with none in the last five.
Ben Roethlisberger– 25 yards passing and 2 interceptions. In a game the Steelers needed to win and were heavy favorites, Roethlisberger put up the worst performance of any quarterback this week. The eight fantasy points are the lowest he has had since Week 3 when he left the game with an injury.
Ted Ginn Jr.– 1 reception for 9 yards. If you’ve been riding Ginn the previous 3 weeks he had been putting up monster numbers with 2 touchdowns in 3 straight games before last week. He did have a knee injury during the game but still was a non-factor when he played.
Good quarterback matchups this week:
Matt Ryan against the Saints. It is hard to predict the how teams will play in Week 17 having clinched a playoff spot, or in the case of the Falcons and Saints, playing for nothing at all. This is still a divisional game and both teams are 6-9 and should look to avoid finishing in last place. The Saints are allowing 281.1 passing yards per game (31st) and have already set an NFL record for passing touchdowns allowed in a season with 43. The Saints allow 23.5 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Tom Brady against the Dolphins. Although the Patriots have secured the division and a first round bye, they are still playing for the top seed and home field advantage. Brady always plays well against the Dolphins and last time lit them up for 356 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brady will play well this week against a Dolphins team allowing 258.3 passing yards per game (24th) with 31 touchdowns.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Eli Manning against the Giants. Manning was on a roll before last week with back to back games with 4 touchdowns. I would have recommended Sam Bradford in this spot against the Giants 32nd rank defense but I think Eli has the better game against the fast-paced Eagles. The team has lost its coach and has given up on the season. The Giants though were blown out last week and will get Odell Beckham Jr. back who will look to redeem himself and perhaps play the final game for Tom Coughlin at home. The Eagles are 26th in the NFL allowing 265.3 passing yards per game with 34 touchdowns.
Good running back matchups this week:
Todd Gurley against the 49ers. Back in Week 8, Gurley put up 133 rushing yards and a touchdown. Last week, he rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown but was injured late in the game and has not practiced. If he is able to play it will be a great matchup again for him against a 49ers defense allowing 125.8 rushing yards per game with 19 touchdowns. The 49ers have allowed 150-or-more yards in 5 games this season and have given up the 2nd most fantasy points to running backs with 21.7 per game.
Devonta Freeman against the Saints. Freeman is another running back that has a great match up this week but is also banged up as he has missed practice with a knee injury. If he is able to go, he will face a Saints team he burned in Week 6 for 100 yards rushing and 2 total TDs. I look for Freeman to score another pair of touchdowns against one of the worst run defenses in the league allowing 132.3 rushing yards per game (31st) with 12 touchdowns.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Jeremy Langford against the Lions. Langford is looking to be the Bears running back for 2016 as the team is expected to lose Matt Forte to free agency. Last week, Langford received 19 carries and I expect him to get the bulk of the carries again this week. He faces a Lions defense that has allowed 110 rushing yards in 2 of the past 3 games after not allowing more than 64 in the previous 4 games. In a game where both teams have nothing to play for, I can see Langford getting a ton of touches.
Bad quarterback matchups this week:
Blake Bortles against the Texans. I have been rolling with Bortles since Andy Dalton went down, but this week I will have to keep him on the bench as he has a tough matchup against the Texans. The Texans have not allowed a 300-yard passer in the last 9 games and are ranked 3rd with 212.2 passing yards per game and 24 touchdowns. If Allen Robinson can’t go, you definitely need to avoid the Jacksonville offense.
Carson Palmer against the Seahawks. The Cardinals have wrapped up the division and a first round bye. The only thing they can play for is the top seed but would need to win and a loss by the Panthers. Both teams are playing at the same time but if the Panthers get up big early, they may choose to take the foot off the gas and limit Palmer in the second half. The matchup itself isn’t ideal as the Seahawks have held quarterbacks under 200 yards passing in 3 of the past 4 games while not allowing more than 1 touchdown in a game in 6 straight. The Seahwaks rank 2nd in passing allowing 210.6 passing yards per game with a league best 13 touchdowns given up.
Kirk Cousins against the Cowboys. The Redskins are locked into a playoff spot and have nothing to play for this weekend. The team will play it safe and I could see this being a very low scoring, boring game for both sides. If you are thin at quarterback, try working the waivers one last time to see of there is another viable option. The Cowboys are ranked 5th in pass defense allowing 223 passing yards with 15 touchdowns.
Bad running back matchups this week:
Karlos Williams against the Jets. In the first game against the Jets, Williams received just 8 touches but did score on 1 pass play from 26 yards out. Williams is sharing the carries with Mike Gillislee but is still the lead back. He will face a Jets team that hasn’t allowed a touchdown to a running back since Week 3 which is the only running back touchdown they have allowed all season. The Jets are ranked #1 in run defense allowing just 81.5 yards per game.
Christine Michael against the Cardinals. Michael’s second start with the Seahawks produced next to nothing on the ground with 6 carries for 6 yards. The running back has been a sleeper since 2013 but has yet to live up to any of the hype. This week will be a tough week as the Cardinals are ranked 4th in the NFL allowing 87.7 rushing yards per game with 8 touchdowns. The Cardinals have allowed just 1 running back over 100 yards this season back in week 4.
Latavius Murray against the Chiefs. The Chiefs defense has been on a roll and the team has won 9 straight games. They are 12th in the NFL allowing 101.5 rushing yards per game with 7 touchdowns. They have allowed just 2 rushing touchdowns over the past 6 games. They are holding fantasy running backs to 12.7 fantasy points per game tied for 4th best.