Week 16 is the fantasy finals for many leagues and if it isn’t, it’s only one week away. Hopefully you are adding depth only as this point because I’ll be honest; the pickings do not get much slimmer than they are right now. Week 16 is ripe with some matchups to exploit though so I hope that you can nab a couple difference makers to put you over the top.
It was a skinny week for the IDP Free Agent report in week 15. Tamba Hali only managed 1 tackle and a fumble recovery. Despite a nightmarish game from all Oakland QBs, there were zero sacks. Junior Galette donutted despite a quality matchup against the Rams. Von Miller was pedestrian with 4 solos and 2 assists with no splash plays. On the positive side, Moise Fokou posted a workman-like 7 solo tackles in an overtime loss to the Cardinals. Danny Trevathan is proving to be the best Denver LB option with 7 solo tackles and 3 assists.
Lance Briggs CHI LB – WLB 4-3
Lance Briggs was averaging 9 total tackles and 1 PD per game with a decent penchant for splash plays for a 4-3 LB before falling to a shoulder fracture earlier this year. He hasn’t played since week 7 but is scheduled to return to action in week 16 against the Eagles with the Bears in the thick of the NFC North race. Briggs may have been dropped due to injury in your league but he needs to be owned in every league. His floor is so high with elite ceiling production that there aren’t very many LBs in the league that I would take over him.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB1 to Mid LB2
Joe Mays HOU LB – ILB 3-4
Mays isn’t the most talented linebacker in the world but he is the current man up after a myriad of injuries that have plagued the Texans LBs. Brian Cushing is lost for the season and Darryl Sharpton suffered a knee injury in week 15. Mays filled in to post 5 solo tackles, 8 assists and 1 PD. He also slides into a quality matchup against the Broncos in week 16. He is the best pickup to make in moderate to deep benches for normal scoring and tackle heavy leagues. Expect heavy opportunity against the Broncos running game if this one gets out of hand early.
Roster Recommendation: Mid LB2 to Mid LB3
Dekota Watson TBB LB – SLB 4-3
Dekoda Watson is seeing increased snaps after Jonathan Casillas was lost to injury. Neither middle linebacker Mason Foster nor Watson are really that great of coverage LBs but they can tackle. Watson posted a gaudy 10 solo tackle, 2 assist day against the San Francisco 49ers. He’s a riskier play than most but the Rams have looked great as of late and could present some solid tackle opportunity for Watson and the other Tampa LBs.
Roster Recommendation: Low-end LB2 to Low-end LB3
Sneaky Linebacker Play
Aldon Smith SFO LB – Smith is rounding into form after a 2 sack performance against Tampa Bay. Smith and the 49ers get the hapless Falcons in week 16. Start him if you want to take a shot at hitting a home run.
Defensive Linemen Plays
It was a pretty vanilla week for fantasy defensive linemen. No touchdowns, no INTs, only 36 sacks NFL-wide. The top linemen were tackle-heavy with a couple sacks. Difficult to predict those tackles for DL but it has proven to be necessary to succeed in a few weeks.
As with last week, the sneaky option was the best option with George Selvie logging a top 5 finish with 6 total tackles and a sack. Heyward was disappointing despite plenty of pass rushing opportunity; getting only 3 total tackles. Jackson escaped that mess of a game in Oakland with 2 total tackles and a PD.
Chris Long STL DE – DE 3-4
Chris Long benefits from having who I think is the best defensive end in football today; Robert Quinn. Tampa Bay has one of the shakiest pass protection teams in the league, giving up 4 or more sacks in three of their last 4 games. I think that the Rams defensive unit gives the Bucs fits. Both Quinn and Long have big games but since Quinn is almost assuredly not available, nab Long for this week.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DL2 to Mid DL3
Nick Fairley/Willie Young DET DT/DE – DT/DE 4-3
Roster Recommendation: Mid DL2 to Low-end DL3
I’m making this pick because the Giants might be the sloppiest team on offense in the league right now. Eli Manning is taking sacks and throwing picks all day. I’ll take the over on how many times Eli (or whoever Coughlin throws to the dogs) eat dirt against the Lions who can’t let another game slide after losing a heartbreaker to the Ravens.
Sneaky Defensive Linemen Play
Derrick Morgan/Jurrell Casey TEN DE/DT – Taking a shot here that the Titans will be able to sustain a decent pass rush against a Jaguars team that has been on ropes in term of pass protection as of late. Casey is a much better play with tackle upside than is Morgan.
Defensive Back Plays
Week 15 was a completely different week than week 14; lots of splash plays dominated the IDP fantasy scoring for defensive back. 7 different defensive back logged 2 interceptions this week and of those 7, four players scored a touchdown. Those games are hard to predict as well but if you were lucky enough to have started one of those guys, you got a huge boost when you needed it most.
Outside of one pick, the Free Agent report was pretty stellar in the defensive back column. Marcus Gilchrist posted 6 tackles, a sack and a PD against the Broncos on Thursday night football to get your team started on a good note. Trumaine Johnson managed to pick off Drew Brees once to go along with 6 solo tackles. He was the best defensive back in that game. My sneaky pick was the best play of the week as Chris Clemons managed to pile up 9 total tackles and a PD in a big win against the Patriots. James Ihedigbo was a disappointment with only 3 solo tackles. Rookie Matt Elam, not Ihedigbo, was the better play with 10 total tackles and an interception.
Captain Munnerlyn/Quintin Mikell CAR CB/S – 4-3 CB/SS
Munnerlyn is coming off of a monster game against the Jets with 4 solo tackles, 2 sacks and an interception. Mikell had his best game of the year against the Saints two weeks ago with 7 tackles, 1 FF and 1 INT. The Panthers head to New Orleans to play the Saints for the second time this year. Both teams have a lot to play for but in the first meeting, it was the Panthers defense that let them down against a high-powered Saints offense. I don’t see much changing. Look for the Panthers defensive backs to be exploited on Sunday.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Mid DB3
Jonathan Joseph HOU CB –3-4 CB
Denver gets the Houston Texans in week 16 in a game that is shaping up to be a train wreck. I look for Peyton Manning to set a record against the Texans in TDs for a season. Joseph might get picked on a lot. He was good for 9 tackles and an interception against the Colts in week 15 in what I think is a fairly similar game to what you can expect in week 16.
Roster Recommendation: Mid DB2 to Mid DB3
Bradley Fletcher/Patrick Chung PHI CB/S – 4-3 CB/FS
I like the fact that Jay Cutler is back. He will throw the ball to his guys, winning or losing and that means IDP stats. Chung and Fletcher are the best Philadelphia Eagles DBs for tackling so I like both of them going into a really important game for both teams. Both Fletcher and Chung are coming off of double digit fantasy points against the Vikings in a losing effort in week 15. Either are a solid play.
Roster Recommendation: High-end DB2 to Low-end DB3
Sneaky Defensive Back Play
Kendrick Lewis KCC S – The Colts get the Chiefs at home in Kansas City. The Colts can’t move the ball on the ground, especially against a stout Chief run defense. Andrew Luck needs to air it out to give his team a shot to win. I see short completions over the middle as a steady diet and that means the safeties coming up to make tackles in zone. Lewis could be in for a very big day.