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What Did We Learn – Week 16 Edition

My apologies for posting this late. The holidays have put me off my game. I hope that everyone enjoyed themselves and either got to spend plenty of time with their families or as little time as possible (depending on your family). Let’s get into it.

Arian Foster solidified his standing as a Top-3 RB. Foster has overcome some early injury issues to once again prove himself one of the more consistent and valuable players in fantasy football. Despite putting up just three points in the first three games of the season, only LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice have scored more points than Foster. His 158 yards and a touchdown on Thursday night just further cemented his fantasy reputation, and he should be a Top-3 selection next season.

CJ Spiller keeps producing. Since coming on in relief of starting running back Fred Jackson, Spiller has been incredible, as he has finally started to display some of the talents that made him a Top-10 selection in the draft. On Saturday, Spiller ran for 111 yards on just 16 carries, and he got in the end zone. As good as Fred Jackson was earlier this season, the Bills may now have a serious decision on their hands, with the 30-year old Jackson on injured reserve with a broken leg and Spiller demonstrating that he can handle the load.

Reggie Bush continues to impress. With his fourth straight 100-yard performance, Bush has emerged as a Top-10 running back. Matt Moore’s ascension to the starting quarterback job has been a blessing for both Bush and Brandon Marshall. With mass changes expected in Miami this offseason, Bush’s long-term outlook remains unclear, but his game-breaking potential is still there.

Jordy Nelson has become a star. He’s been doing it all season, but Nelson once again put his personal stamp on a game. With 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Nelson has now become the third highest scoring receiver this season, tallying 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns, and all on just 81 targets. Of course it helps that Aaron Rodgers is having a season for the ages, but Nelson has become one of the more reliable fantasy pass-catchers around.

Aaron Rodgers deserves to be the top fantasy pick. I’ve argued this before, but when a quarterback’s bottom end is around 20 points, I take notice. On Sunday night, Rodgers put up just 283 yards, but five touchdowns. His 4,600+ yards, 45 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions have put him in rare company, and his running ability just puts the icing on the cake. With relative uncertainty at running back, Rodgers has to be in the conversation to be the top pick next year.

Peyton Hillis turns in another good performance. Hillis has been a nightmare this season, as he’s fought injuries and poor play all season. However, the past two weeks, Hillis has looked like a throwback to last season. In fact, over half of his production this season has come from his Week 2 matchup with the Colts or the past two weeks. He can’t be counted on for good health, and 25% of his games with the Browns will come against the Steelers and Ravens. It could be that the best thing for him will be a change of scenery, and he’s a free agent after this season. He’s auditioning well thus far.

Adrian Peterson goes down. On Saturday, Peterson was off to a nice start in his return to the lineup, but a shot to his knee has ended his season and may have a serious impact on next season as well. He’s been placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL and MCL. Currently, he’s expected to begin next season on the PUP list, meaning he’d be unable to play until mid-October. While it’s still early, it will definitely have an impact on draft strategy, not to mention keeper league selections.

Chris Johnson isn’t very good. It will be interesting to see how his offseason goes. One would think that an offensive line coach taking over as Head Coach would be good for the stud running back, but he’s had a terrible season. With just 986 yards rushing on the season, CJ2K should worry about the first thousand. Hopefully, a full complement of offseason activities and training camp will help Johnson to be his old self next season.

Ryan Mathews stumbled in Week 16. When owners needed him most, Mathews disappointed. The Chargers feel behind big early in the game, meaning Mathews only received 11 carries. His 58 yards was his lowest total in five weeks. He’ll get back on track against the Raiders in Week 17, and hopefully this late season surge can be indicative of what can be expected of Mathews in the future. Unfortunately, he’ll always be a health risk.

Michael Turner disappoints against the Saints. With a favorable matchup, and what should have been a run-centric game plan, Turner couldn’t get anything going. Turner posted 39 yards rushing on just 11 carries, a result of a New Orleans blowout. Turner has been a consistent back this season, but he’s definitely trailed off in the second half of the season. It could be a changing of the guard, as Matt Ryan is given more responsibility in the offense, but the Falcons are also concerned with his workload going into the playoffs. He should be a reliable option once again next season.

Good luck.

Drew Magyar is a staff writer and can be reached at

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