A just above .500 week last week takes us to the final week of the season!
We’ve had a solid year and I’m sure you’re sad to see it go – just like I am!
But we’re not done just yet! We have one more week to make that final push to win your season long pool. I hope I have helped you out this year! If so, please contact me and I’ll let you know how to send me my cut from your winnings! ;) Just kidding!
Happy Holidays everyone!!
WEEK 17!! HERE WE GO!!!
(HOME TEAM IN CAPS)
16 – DENVER over Oakland – The Raiders are on the cusp of turning the corner…they’ll just have one more Bronco beat-down to take before another off-season of change. This may be nothing more than a hopeful fan, but my BOLD PREDICTION to end 2014 is that the Raiders will have a .500 or better record in 2015.
15 – MIAMI over New York Jets – Miami had one of the more surprising seasons in the league this year and should have no problem ending it with an exclamation point and send Rex Ryan to the unemployment line.
14 – SEATTLE over St. Louis – No team has risen to the top faster than the defending champs. After a start that had some, including me, questioning their playoff chances, they should be able to lock up home field advantage with a win this week.
13 – NEW ENGLAND over Buffalo – In the first few weeks of the season I predicted that the Bills would make the playoffs and the Patriots dynasty was done…well this game should pretty much sum up how wrong I was on both fronts.
12 – Indianapolis over TENNESSEE – The Colts need to get things back in order before the playoffs start. Look for them to take out some aggression on the lowly Titans.
11 – BALTIMORE over Cleveland – The Ravens still have a chance to make the playoffs this year and should be able to do their part and beat the Johnny Football-less Browns.
10 – New Orleans over TAMPA BAY – Don’t worry Bucs’ fans! After that pesky little Super Bowl thing is over, YOU will be the NFL’s #1! … in the draft. You are now on the clock.
9 – MINNESOTA over Chicago – Teddy Bridgewater has shown that he could be a top quarterback in this league sooner rather than later. This week he will learn about how NOT to be an NFL quarterback as Jay Cutler is back under center for the Bears.
8 – GREEN BAY over Detroit – The NFC North comes down to this. A first round bye and a home playoff game is likely on the line. There aren’t too many teams that I have more faith in when playing at home than the Packers right now.
7 – HOUSTON over Jacksonville – Houston is still fighting for their playoff lives. They need help that I don’t think they’ll get but they still should be able to do their part.
6 – PITTSBURGH over Cincinnati – The best division in football this year comes down to week 17 where the Steelers, who have been one of the hottest teams to end the year, should be able to take care of a Bengals team that still seems to have some problems winning a big game.
5 – Dallas over WASHINGTON – The Cowboys should be able to put the 2014 Redskins out of their misery and usher them to the off-season quickly and quietly.
4 – ATLANTA over Carolina – The NFC South champion and 7-win play-off team will be decided here…that’s really all the effort this game deserves.
3 – KANSAS CITY over San Diego – The Chargers hold their play-off destiny in their hands. Unfortunately that destiny is in Arrowhead right now – not a place you want to HAVE to win a game.
2 – NEW YORK GIANTS over Philadelphia – The Eagles were prime to make a run to the Super Bowl, they just ran out of gas a few weeks too soon.
1 – SAN FRANCISCO over Arizona – Congrats Jim! Now wave good-bye – we’ll see you next year in Ann Arbor.
In our last push to get that full season championship, we get a week of divisional match-ups with almost no playoff scenarios finalized – that is a Christmas present in itself. We don’t need to worry about the Panthers benching their starters – they are still playing for home-field advantage thanks to the Falcons. The Redskins have their playoff opening week set, but they play a depleted Dallas team, so no real need to think too much about that game.
It has been another exciting year of football. I think we can all agree that the biggest takeaway from 2015 to take into 2016…the Raiders will win Super Bowl 51!
Week 17 – HERE WE GO!!!!!!!!!
(HOME TEAM IN ALL CAPS)
16 – CAROLINA over Tampa Bay – Remember how I said that the Panthers still have something to play for? That’s bad news for the Bucs.
15 – CINCINNATI over Baltimore – Baltimore just needs to look towards 2016 and the Bengals will be more than willing to help them put an end to a bad 2015.
14 – DENVER over San Diego – The Broncos always seemed to find ways to win a game in 2015…and the Chargers always seemed to find ways to lose a game.
13 – New England over MIAMI – Simply put, the Dolphins were a joke this year. Tom Brady and friends get to put the final punch line in Miami this season.
12 – Pittsburgh over CLEVELAND – In the spirit of the college bowl season, the Steelers get to play the equivalent of a mid-major college team.
11 – ARIZONA over Seattle – Wow the Cardinals are good! With such an explosive offense and a potentially dominating defense, the Panthers in the Super Bowl may not be a sure thing.
10 – INDIANAPOLIS over Tennessee – To say the season has been a letdown for the Colts would be an understatement. They can still sneak in the playoffs with a win and a Houston loss. They’ll do their part and …
9 – HOUSTON over Jacksonville – …well it won’t matter. Houston has been looking solid the last few weeks and should be able to wrap up the dreadful AFC South title.
8 – KANSAS CITY over Oakland – These two teams could very well rekindle their storied rivalry over the next few years. As for this year, the Chiefs look too strong.
7 – NEW YORK GIANTS over Philadelphia – At least the Eagles get to look forward to a non-Chip Kelly led team next year.
6 – New York Jets over Buffalo – The Jets have been a very pleasant surprise this season. A win here and some help will give them a seemingly improbably playoff berth.
5 – GREEN BAY over Minnesota – The regular season ends in Lambeau. The winner of this one wins the NFC North and hosts Seattle in the Wild Card round … the loser gets to play Washington … hhmmm …
4 – St Louis over San Francisco – Cheer up 9er fans – with the way the draft order is playing out, Jared Goff should be there for you to snatch up.
3 – Washington over Dallas – Kirk Cousins probably won’t play the whole game … shouldn’t matter against whoever is left to play for the Cowboys.
2 – Detroit over Chicago – The Bears have been horrible on the lakefront this year – why should this week be any different for them?
1 – ATLANTA over New Orleans – How the mighty have fallen! This game could have been an NFC Championship preview the last few years. My final BOLD PREDICTION of the season is that DREW BREES WILL NOT BE THE STARTING QUARTERBACK FOR THE SAINTS IN WEEK 1 NEXT SEASON.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! This week’s report will be a little bit different. For the most part, season-long leagues have already come to a close…at least if they have a reasonable commissioner. Week 17 is a nightmare to try to predict. It’s like trying to guess what will happen in the lesser bowl games in college. It’s all about which team is motivated to win, which team is motivated to play their starters, and which team is motivated to just get the year over with. Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to accurately predict what will happen in a lot of the games. The wackiness of week 17 will cause me to change things up just a little bit this week and put more of a focus on daily fantasy games. There won’t be a ‘Deep League Sleepers’ section or a ‘Rookies to Sit’ section this week. For those of you still in season-long leagues, I’ll still list which rookies I’d feel good about starting this week and which ones are borderline options, but I’m also going to list a few DFS punt play options at the end. These are low-priced options that not a lot of people are likely to own that can be difference makers in guaranteed prize pool tournaments if they happen to have a big game.
Before we dive in, here are some rookies that won’t come up in the sections below: QB Marcus Mariota (out with injury), RB TJ Yeldon (Likely out with injury), RB Ameer Abdullah (Not getting goal-line work and not trustworthy), RB Duke Johnson (hasn’t produced 15 PPR points since week 7), RB Jay Ajayi (llimited role and tough matchup), WR Devin Funchess (8 catches in his past 5 games), WR Nelson Agholor (hasn’t produced all year), WR Phillip Dorsett (might have liked him as a punt play, but will have either Ryan Lindley or Josh Freeman throwing him the ball), and TE Maxx Williams (brutal matchup).
Alright, let’s dive in to week 17…
Rookies to Start:
RB Todd Gurley, STL (Wk. 17: @SF): Gurley has the best combination of role and matchup of any rookie this week. In the 6 games since their bye week, the 49ers have allowed 132.5 rushing yards and 24.3 fantasy points (all point totals are in ESPN standard scoring) per game to opposing RBs, as well as 10 total TDs to the position as well. Gurley put up 146 scrimmage yards and a TD in the first meeting with San Francisco, and it’s one of the few opponents he could face where game script is virtually guaranteed to be neutral or positive for him. He’s a locked in RB1 this week, and would be a chalk play in DFS.
RB David Johnson, ARI (Wk. 17: vs. Sea.): The Seahawks allow the fewest RB fantasy points in the league, so Johnson isn’t a great DFS target except as a contrarian play in tournaments, but his role has been too big to sit him in season-long leagues. If Arizona wins and Carolina loses, the Cardinals will secure homefield throughout the playoffs, and the games will occur simultaneously, so the Cards won’t know the Panthers’ outcome beforehand. That should keep them from resting starters. Johnson’s passing game usage gives him a floor that will keep him in the RB2 mix even in brutal matchups. He’s averaged just under 150 scrimmage yards with 5 TDs in his 4 starts, and hasn’t had fewer than 120 yards in any of them. Don’t shy away in championship week just because he faces Seattle.
WR Amari Cooper, OAK (Wk. 17: @KC): Cooper has been far more boom-or-bust than I expected this year, and he likely killed you last week if you played him with his 2-10 line. One thing that he has done consistently this year is bounce back from his worst outings. Cooper has scored 5 points or fewer 6 times this year including last weekend. In all 5 of the previous instances, he topped 10 points the following week, averaging a line of 6.4-113-1 in those 5 contests. It also doesn’t hurt that the Chiefs are 24th in Football Outsiders’ Pass DVOA (measures defensive efficiency) on throws to #1 WRs. Kansas City allows 98 yards per game to the opposing #1 wideout, and Cooper put up 4-69 in the first meeting. I like his chances to bounce back this week, and he would make a decent play in DFS and as a WR2 in season-long leagues.
RB Karlos Williams, BUF (Wk. 17: vs. NYJ): Karlos turned in a solid effort last week starting in place of injured LeSean McCoy, picking up 97 scrimmage yards and a TD, but there are a couple of concerns this week. First of all, the Jets are a brutal matchup. They allow the 3rd-fewest fantasy RB points in the league. Second, the recent success of Mike Gillislee as a runner could cause him to cut into Karlos’s workload a bit. Gillislee has gained 239 yards on 23 carries over the past 4 weeks (10.4 ypc), and has scored a TD in each of the past 3. With that said, Gillislee is more effective as a change of pace back and Karlos should continue to run as the lead back. He did manage 10 points against the Jets in a week 10 start, and the Bills still boast the best running game in the league (#1 in rush yards and yards per carry). Karlos might be a little lighter than you’d like on yards this week, but I’d still put him at better than a 50-50 bet to score a TD.
RB Javorius Allen, BAL (Wk. 17: @Cin.): Allen was surprisingly impressive against a stingy Steelers RB defense last Sunday. This week he gets to face a Bengals team that has allowed over 6 catches and about 50 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs this year, and also 17 or more fantasy points to the position in each of their past 3 games. Allen should be a solid PPR flex play this week, assuming he doesn’t fumble and get benched again.
RB Cameron Artis-Payne, CAR (Wk. 17: vs. TB): At this point, it appears that Jonathan Stewart is likely to miss the week 17 game with Tampa and Fozzy Whitaker has already been ruled out. That would leave just Cam Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert as healthy RBs for the Panthers. Artis-Payne will likely cede goal line carries to Cam Newton and Tolbert, but he put up 49 yards on just 5 carries last week , and the volume should be much better in this one. Tampa has allowed at least one rushing TD to a running back in each of the past 3 weeks, and the backs have totaled at least 26 carries in each of those 3 games against them. I’d expect Artis-Payne to be in the 15 carry range, which puts him in the Flex discussion despite his lack of red zone opportunities.
RB Jeremy Langford, CHI (Wk. 17: vs. Det,): I would probably avoid playing Langford this week if possible, but when the Lions & Bears get together, you can usually throw out the season numbers. Matt Forte was hampered by a back injury last week, and the Bears seem to be grooming Langford to be the lead back next year. Expect him to see the bulk of the RB volume this week. The Lions have been a tough matchup lately (11.8 RB points per game allowed since week 9 bye, 20.6 per game before the bye), and Ka’Deem Carey has been vulturing some goal-line work lately (2 short scores last week vs. Tampa), but Langford should be on the flex radar on volume alone with so few elite RB options right now.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA (Wk. 17: @Ari.): Lockett was a little bit of a disappointment in week 16, but his volume remained constant. He’s had exactly 7 targets in each of the 4 games since Jimmy Graham went down, and last week was the only game in that stretch where he had fewer than 5 catches and 9 fantasy points. The volume should be there again this week. The Cardinals are a tough matchup as they boast a versatile secondary, but the injury to Tyrann Mathieu improves the pass game outlook for Seattle. Lockett should be a high-risk/high-reward WR3 option this week.
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (Wk. 17: vs. NE): The matchup isn’t great this week for Parker, but it isn’t terrible either. The Patriots are middle of the pack in limiting WR fantasy points (allow 15th-most in the league), but their defensive focus is always on taking away the offense’s favorite options. The Pats should make it their goal to take away Jarvis Landry, which should help DeVante find some room to operate. Miami should also be playing from behind, which will keep them throwing, and Parker has 87 or more yards and/or a TD in 4 of the last 5 games. There’s risk that the ‘Fins phone it in with the season essentially over, but I like Parker’s chances at another solid day.
TE Will Tye, NYG (Wk. 17: vs. Phi.): I was surprised Tye didn’t do more with Odell suspended a week ago, but Beckham’s return should open things up for the whole offense. Tye scored 7 or more fantasy points in each of the 4 games leading up to last week’s game without Odell, and the Eagles have allowed double-digit fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 3 of their past 6 games, including 24 to Jordan Reed last Saturday. Tye should find himself in the lower half of the TE1 ranks once again.
DFS Punt Play Options:
QB Jameis Winston, TB (Wk. 17: @Car.): You might call Winston more of a contrarian play than a punt play, but his price tag is just $300 more than the minimum for a QB on DraftKings, and with a matchup against the Panthers (allow the 4th-fewest QB points in the league), virtually no one will be using him. While the matchup isn’t good, the game script figures to keep Tampa throwing and the Panthers have been vulnerable to the pass over the past month. Carolina has allowed 22 points to Drew Brees, 23 points to Eli Manning, and 306 yards to Matt Ryan all within the last 4 weeks. Jameis is yet to tally fewer than 12 fantasy points in a game all year, and there is more ceiling in this matchup than you might think. He also remains a floor play QB2 in season-long leagues.
RB Matt Jones, WAS (Wk. 17: @Dal.): This all depends on how healthy Jones is. Washington seems content to rest the majority of their starters this weekend to get ready for the playoffs, but someone has to carry the load at running back. They may look to use Jones more as he shakes off the rust of missing last week with a hip injury. This is a great matchup for the Washington backs, as Dallas ranks 27th in run DVOA on the season, and has allowed 29.3 running back fantasy points per game over the past 3 games. If the team rests Alf Morris and gives Jones enough work to get rolling, he could have really nice upside at a price tag of just $3,900 on DraftKings. Obviously this game is a bit of a wild card, with Washington having little to play for, but the situation is positive if Jones gets enough action to take advantage of it.
WR Stefon Diggs, MIN (Wk. 17: @GB): While Diggs hasn’t done a whole lot since his 4-game breakout earlier in the season to convince you he’s a good fantasy option, Green Bay should force Minnesota to throw more than they like to. The Packers rank 26th in pass DVOA against #1 WRs, and Diggs went 6-66 against Green Bay in the first meeting between the teams in week 11. While Diggs is a little more expensive than I would have expected ($4,600 in DraftKings), the price isn’t ridiculous and no one will be on him after his 4-19 showing last week. I wouldn’t be stunned if he ends up in the 20-point range.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (Wk. 17: @Ind.): With Zach Mettenberger at QB, trusting Dorial even in a reasonably good matchup is tough to do after last week’s goose egg. However, we’ve seen DGB’s ceiling, and it’s impressive. He’s topped 110 yards twice in the past 4 games, and he does have an exploitable matchup if he isn’t locked up with Vontae Davis all game. Indy has allowed the 3rd-most WR points on the year and Green-Beckham will cost just $3,800 in DraftKings.
That’s all I’ve got for this season. Hopefully it helps you set your championship and DFS lineups for this week. I’ll be back within the next couple of weeks with a 2015 rookie recap and will project the 2015 class to next year. If you have any specific questions or complaints, feel free to hit me up on twitter (@shawn_foss) and let me know. As always…good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game.
I'm here filling in for Tad this week as we wrap up the NFL regular season games on Sunday. What a great year! I'm sure we'll see a recap article to go over all of the bold predictions that have been made throughout the course of this season.. and I'll add one of my own to the mix!
Week 17 – HERE WE GO!!!!!!!!!
(HOME TEAM IN ALL CAPS)
16 – New England over MIAMI – I still have no idea how the Dolphins made the playoffs, but my crystal ball tells me that they won't be there very long. The Patriots, on the other hand, are playing for the first or second seed in the AFC. They'll devastate the Dolphins, guaranteed.
15 – Seattle over SAN FRANCISCO – Seattle has already made the playoffs, but they can actually still clinch a first-round bye if all goes well for them. Needless to say, their shot at that and their baby food matchup against the 49ers should lead them to victory.
14 – WASHINGTON over New York (Giants) – The Giants have locked in their trip to the playoffs, but Washington still has a chance to get in. It's likely that the Giants don't go 100% in this matchup.
13 – Kansas City over SAN DIEGO – Should be no surprise to anyone, the Chiefs are still trying to up their playoff seed and the Chargers will finish 5-11.
12 – Arizona over LOS ANGELES – The Cardinals had plenty of issues this year, but nowhere near as many as the hapless Rams. Los Angeles will finish the season flailing their arms.
11 – ATLANTA over New Orleans – Drew Brees may be locking up a ridiculous 5,000-yard season this week, but Matt Ryan has been the story this year - carving up defenses left and right. Well, the Saints' defense is already plucked and skinned.
10 – TAMPA BAY over Carolina – Technically, the Buccaneers can still make the playoffs, whereas the Panthers are out of the running. Look for Tampa Bay to pull out as many stops as they possibly can to get the win on Sunday.
9 – INDIANAPOLIS over Jacksonville – More of the same here, the Jaguars are a dismal team and Luck and Co. will be out in full force, according to reports.
8 – MINNESOTA over Chicago – After starting so well, the Vikings fell off the map - but they can still manhandle a team that has even less of an idea who they are, the Chicago Bears.
7 – PHILADELPHIA over Dallas – Ahh, week 17. The Cowboys have no business playing their starters, so they may show up for a series but expect this game to be mostly in the hands of the butt-fumbler, Mark Sanchez.
6 – Green Bay over DETROIT – The Lions season wasn't half bad, unfortunately, they aren't as good as a surging Packers offense, who will likely win by a touchdown or more in this matchup. BOLD PREDICTION: TY MONTGOMERY SHOWS UP AGAIN WITH 2 TOUCHDOWNS.
5 – Houston over TENNESSEE – After Mariota went down, the Titans lost a lot of upside. They'll still have a great rushing attack with Murray and Henry but won't be able to overcome the Texans if they can't pass the ball.
4 – CINCINATTI over Baltimore – The Ravens have been kicked out of the playoffs after their skirmish on Christmas Day with the Steelers, and they very well might spend the entire game just padding Steve Smith's stats before he retires.
3 – Buffalo over NEW YORK (JETS) – Sometimes a team plays better after firing their coaches. Whether or not that's the case, it doesn't matter - the Jets are about as low as they can get. Hey look, everyone, it's E.J. Manuel vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick! Yay...
2 – DENVER over Oakland – The Raiders could have taken this game if they hadn't lost Derek Carr. Sorry, Oakland fans - better luck next year!
1 – PITTSBURGH over Cleveland – Normally, the Steelers would have all kinds of confidence points here against the worst team in the NFL, but it looks like Ben, Brown, and Bell will all be sitting on the sideline this week, resting up for the big show. I still think that the Steelers can eek out a win, but it's no longer assured.
We're joined by fantasy football veteran and former drinkfive.com contributor Vince Foss as we discuss the very best plays moving forward into championship week. We'll analyze the matchups and go over recent NFL news and updates that can impact the production of your players.
For Fantasy Football team managers, playing in week 15 is all about making the right starts to get to the championship. Whether you fought hard to get into the playoffs from the bottom of the league or coasted into a bye spot early on, everyone is on an even playing field and (in most cases) only has one shot.
We'll be paying special attention to the players that you should and shouldn't start in week 15 and what matchups to keep in mind should you make the championship game in Week 16. We're joined by regular guest and drinkfive.com contributor Mike Mocerino.
Welcome back! We're joined this week by fantasy football veteran Matt Ellis to discuss the best starts moving forward into Week 13. This is the last week of the regular season of most fantasy football leagues, so put your best foot forward!