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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

The Fantasy 6-Pack: Week 16
Paul Sandy
December 23, 2011
 

Quarterback

  • You might be skeptical about whether Tim Tebow can ever lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory. Fair enough, but don’t doubt his ability to win a fantasy championship for your team this week. With a matchup against the Bills, things are set up perfectly for Tebow. Buffalo has allowed five of the last six QBs they’ve faced to post multiple touchdown throws. They’re also leaky against the run, which means Tebow will be a double-threat for fantasy points. Play him and look for 240 total yards with three combined rushing and receiving scores.
  • The Browns have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to QBs this year. Three weeks ago when the Ravens met Cleveland, QB Joe Flacco attempted 23 passes completing just ten. The formula for Baltimore in that game was to ground and pound. They rushed the football a mind-blowing 55 times. Expect a similar game-plan in Week 16—especially with top WR Anquan Boldin (knee) out. Flacco is unlikely to pass for more than 200 yards.
  • In the last eight games, the Cardinals have allowed just one QB to post a useful fantasy stat line against them. Consider finding an alternative to Any Dalton for your fantasy finals. He will likely throw his requisite long touchdown to A.J. Green but don’t expect much more in what should be a defensive slugfest.
  • Fantasy owners who aren’t afraid to gamble should be able to coax a quality line out of Kyle Orton in Week 16. Orton will face a familiar opponent in the Raiders. He passed for 304 yards and a touchdown against them back in the season opener. Oakland’s defense has been a source of consistent fantasy points for fantasy passers this season. Opposing QBs have put up useful numbers in 12 of the last 13 contests against them.

This Week’s Sleepers: Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Mark Sanchez and Matt Moore

Running Back

  • Something has to give on Saturday when the Seahawks meet the 49ers. Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch has scored in ten straight games. The 49ers haven’t allowed a rushing score this season. Although most pundits will put their money on San Francisco’s defense, the Six-Pack suggests siding with Lynch unless you have a clear alternative. The “never-bench-your-studs” rule is in full effect here. Make no mistake: Lynch is a stud. Under most scoring systems, he’s the fifth-ranked fantasy RB. Having scored against stalwart opponents like the Bears, Ravens, Redskins, Bengals and Cowboys—all top 15 run defenses—Lynch deserves the benefit of the doubt. Ride the horse who brought you.
  • Think about getting Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart some work against Tampa. Stewart has reached paydirt five times in his last five meetings with the Bucs. He also put up 99 or more total yards in four of those five contests. No team has allowed more fantasy points to RBs than Tampa so Stewart’s streak of good fortune against them should continue in Week 16.
  • Just when Felix Jones is starting to get back in the good graces of fantasy owners his hamstring tightens up. Go figure. Jones will probably play on Saturday but don’t count on him getting a full workload. Look for Sammy Morris to receive at least 15 touches. Against an Eagles defense that has yielded the tenth-most fantasy points to RBs Morris is an intriguing option as a RB2 or flex. Play him if you’re desperate and look for 80 yards and a score.
  • Benching him would probably be going overboard but make sure to set your expectations for Saints RB Darren Sproles at a reasonable level. Sproles had easily his worst game of the season against the Falcons when the two teams met on November 13. He posted just three yards on six touches. Drew Brees will probably try to get him more involved this time around but Atlanta appears to have a plan for limiting his impact. 

This Week’s Sleepers: Jonathan Stewart, Sammy Morris, Kahlil Bell and Mike Tolbert

Wide Receiver

  • Wes Welker is always a major factor whenever he faces his former team. The NFL receptions leader has averaged 7.9 catches per game in eight meetings with the Dolphins. This includes four games with 120 yards or more. Look for Welker to make around eight grabs for 100 yards and a touchdown.
  • Pull the plug on Rams WR Brandon Lloyd. He hasn’t scored or exceeded 85 yards receiving in the last three games. It’s not his fault. Tough matchups combined with inconsistent QB play have limited his opportunities to score fantasy points. With a game this week against the Steelers and next week against the 49ers, Lloyd will struggle to right the ship. The Steelers have allowed the fewest fantasy points to WRs this season.
  • In his last ten games against the Bears, Donald Driver has failed to score a touchdown or exceed 61 yards receiving. Although Driver has been hot, posting three decent stat lines in a row, you might want to find an alternative WR. Chicago seems to have his number.
  • Jets WR Santonio Holmes has averaged just 3.1 receptions per game this season. His lack of catches made him maddeningly inconsistent over the first half of the season. However, he’s on a four-game scoring streak and has a plus matchup in Week 16 against the Giants. Play him with confidence. The G-men have allowed nine WR scores in the last four games.

This Week’s Sleepers: Demaryius Thomas, Santana Moss, Jon Baldwin, Titus Young and James Jones

Tight End

  • Jermichael Finley has not justified his high preseason ranking but if you made it this far with him, you might finally reap the benefits. Finley is a Bear killer. He had his best game of the season in the prior meeting with Chicago, recording three touchdowns on seven receptions. In the two meetings prior to that, Finley chipped in 115 yards and 70 yards, respectively. Considering Chicago has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to TEs, Finley should be able to get over his recent case of the drops and produce like the elite TE you thought he’d be. 
  • Cincinnati TE Germaine Gresham was a Six-Pack favorite over the first half of the year but he’s on a month-long dry spell. He hasn’t scored or exceeded 45 yards in December. Find another option this week. Gresham will have a difficult time against the Cardinals, who have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2011. They’ve contained guys like Vernon Davis and Jason Witten in recent weeks.

This Week’s Sleepers: Brent Celek and Brandon Pettigrew

Kicker

  • Remember back in September when the Bills were the toast of the NFL? Those were good times. During their seven-game losing streak, the Buffalo has given up 31.6 points per game. Not surprisingly, kickers have averaged a robust 8.9 points per game (not including yardage bonuses) against them during that stretch. Insert Denver’s Matt Prater into your lineup and look for a double-digit effort.  
  • No team has allowed more points to kickers than the Vikings. If your team hasn’t had consistent production from your kicker in 2011, make Graham Gano you guy for the finals. Gano has come up big in each of the last three games. It’s hard to imagine the Redskins scoring fewer than 27 points in this game. That makes Gano a “safe” option and one with high upside. What more can you ask of a kicker?

This Week’s Sleepers: Matt Prater and Graham Gano

Team Defense / Special Teams

  • In their last three home games, the Kansas City Chiefs have held the Packers, Steelers and Broncos fewer than 18 points. For most of the season it would’ve been absurd to recommend starting Kansas City’s defense. However, with a home matchup against the Raiders, starting them isn’t such a crazy idea. Oakland hasn’t fared well on the road of late. In their last two away games, they’ve given up three sacks, six turnovers and two defensive touchdowns.  Oh, and in their last meeting with the Raiders, the Chiefs shut them out 28-0—scoring two defensive touchdowns. Starting them this week is an aggressive move. Time will tell if it’s a smart one.
  • The New York Giants defense has been a liability for fantasy over the second half of the season. Under traditional scoring systems, they haven’t had a noteworthy effort in seven weeks. Sacks used to be this team’s specialty but only once have they recorded more than two in a game since Week 8. What’s worse, they haven’t scored a DST touchdown since Week 2. Even though the Jets have been generous to opposing DSTs, it’s hard to justify starting the Giants.

This Week’s Sleepers: Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins

The Six-Pack

This Week's Six-Pack: Widmer Brrr Seasonal Ale

Brewed by: Widmer Brothers Brewing, Portland, Oregon

Price: $8.99

Appearance: My sampling of Brrr Seasonal Ale was offered up in six brown longneck bottles. The pour was spectacular, with a two-finger-thick head that hugged the rim of the glass and left a nice lace down the side of the glass. The color was chestnut brown with a slight haze.

Smell: Hops dominate the aroma with hints of citrus and evergreen.

Taste: There’s no mistaking it: From first sip to last, this is a hop-forward brew. It starts out with distinct evergreen characteristics which give way to some orange zest flavors. The finish is nice—the hops linger but there is also some interesting spiced bread and nutmeg flavors. Brrr is a wonderful tasting brew that stands up against the winter weather.

Drinkability: This beer borders on hop-bomb status but instead of being obnoxious, it toes the line nicely. I had no trouble knocking back three in one sampling. A 7.2% ABV is well disguised.

Last Call: This is an assertive, articulate beer that knows what it wants to be. It’s an excellent choice to bring to your holiday celebration this weekend and share around the yule log. Five stars out of five.

Up Next: None . . . Until 2012.


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