Blackhawks

Week 16: Start 'em, Sit 'em picks

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Week 16: Start 'em, Sit 'em picks

If you have made it to the fantasy football championship, congratulations and you're welcome for the free advice. If you're out and have come to see us mess up again, our bad and we'll try and do better next year. It's finally Week 16, which means the final week of the fantasy football year. Injuries continue to bite teams, and others are fighting for playoff position and will be using their stars accordingly. Take that into account when you set your rosters, and take these options into account, too.
Just a reminder for those keeping score at home (though we'll do it for you), for players who each analyst starts, these are the points they will receive:
Start 'em
5 points if a player scores 25 points4: 20-243: 15-192: 10-141: 5-90: negative-4
Sit 'em
5 points if a player scores negative points to 5 points4: 5-93: 10-142: 15-191: 20-240: 25
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 16. Good luck!
Mark Strotman (Week 15: 19 points; Season total: 195 points)
With just one week to play, it feels good knowing I can take home the crown with just a marginal week. But we're here to help, and that means making the right picks that will help win you your fantasy league championship. If you're reading this and aren't in the fantasy championship, we appreciate the clicks. As always, I'm looking for high-upside guys in the playoffs. You need your rock-solid starters, but if you have a toss-up you had better play the guy who can explode for 20 instead of the one who will for sure get you 9-10. Just go with it.
Start 'em
DeAngelo Williams, RB -- CAR (vs. OAK)
How about this? Williams has scored 16 and 18 points the last two weeks, respectively, yet hasn't found the end zone. Ever since Jonathan Stewart's ankle injury sidelined him, Williams has been the guy the Panthers were hoping he would be all year. I like him to find the end zone at home this week, as the Panthers' offense has rolled the last few weeks.
T.Y. Hilton, WR -- IND (@ KC)
Welcome to your boom-or-bust play of the week. Hilton is quickly becoming Andrew Luck's favorite receiver and, while his receptions don't do him justice, he's got deep-ball threat written all over him and should get behind the Chiefs' secondary multiple times this week. If Hilton is somehow on the waiver wire or on your bench, change that.
Jermichael Finley, TE -- GB (vs. TEN)
Rare to see a tight end in here, but Finley is really starting to turn it around and probably not in your starting lineup. With two regular season games left to prove his worth (either for the Packers or another team), you can bet Finley is going to "magically" pick up his production. He showed a bit of it last week, and with Jordy Nelson questionable again he'll have some targets come his way. I like him as a TE1 with, yes, high upside.
Sit 'em
Andy Dalton, QB -- CIN (@ PIT)
Dalton has thrown for four touchdown passes in three career games against the Steelers, and I don't see those numbers getting much better this week. It isn't a great matchup, but Dalton is also playing below-average for a QB1. Furthermore, BenJarvus Green-Ellis looks fantastic as of late. If there's a Matthew StaffordRussell WilsonColin Kaepernick on your bench, Dalton may have to ride the pine in a tough road contest.
LeSean McCoy, RB -- PHI (vs. WAS)
I really have no idea why the Eagles, playing for nothing, are risking the only player on their roster with real All-Star potential for the future. That being said, it looks like he'll play but will be splitting time with Bryce Brown, who hopefully you handcuffed. Owners will be excited to plug McCoy into lineups, but don't expect a big game from him.
Jeremy Maclin -- WR -- PHI (vs. WAS)
Outside of a fluky 104-yard, touchdown-receiving performance against the Bucaneers, Maclin can't seem to produce with Nick Foles. It's hard to blame anyone for the Eagles' woes at this point, but I'm staying away from Maclin, even against an average Redskins' secondary. Find a better upside player like, oh, I don't know, T.Y. Hilton.
Scott Krinch (Week 15: 15 points; Season total: 183 points)
Well things haven't gone according to plans for me. I dropped even further behind Mark and after a first-round bye in one of my fantasy leagues, I was ousted in the semifinals. Oh and the Packers celebrated once again at Soldier Field. With Christmas less than a week away, hopefully Santy Clause will help me turn my luck around.
With all of that being said, -- I know you could care less about my misfortunes -- I think I have a good sense of who to startsit this week. I've done my research and hopefully my picks will lead you to fantasy glory...that's if you decide to listen to me.
Start 'em
Russell Wilson, QB -- SEA (vs. SF)
Week after week, Wilson is proving he belongs in the same category as his rookie counterparts Andrew Luck and RGIII. Lately, the former minor league baseball player has been doing it in the air and on the ground, scoring a career-high three rushing touchdowns against the Bills. Normally I'd be against starting a QB against the 49ers defense, but after Tom Brady torched them, they're starting to look vulnerable. The Seahawks NEED this game and expect Wilson to play a large role in a Seattle upset.
Matt Forte, RB -- CHI (@ ARI)
I was wrong about Forte last week. Sorry if you listened to me. But this week, I have faith in Forte's matchup against a Cardinals defense who are allowing 136.5 rushing yards per game. That's not the only factor in No. 22's favor. Michael Bush was just placed on the IR and it looks like all those goal-line touches -- that's if the Bears offense finds the red zone -- will belong to Forte. The Bears are in a must-win situation and will need a monster day from their lead back. Start him with confidence and you will be reaping the rewards.
Danny Amendola, WR -- STL (@ TB)
Amendola showed no signs of a foot injury after catching six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. This week he will get the opportunity to feast on a Brutal (emphasis on a capital B) Tampa Bay secondary. Opposing wide receivers have totaled 3,059 yards and reeled in 16 touchdowns against the Buccaneers. I see Amendola as a must-start this week. I'm thinking at least 10 catches, 100 yards and a score for the rich man's Dane Sanzenbacher.
Sit 'em
Matthew Stafford, QB -- DET (vs. ATL)
What has happened to Stafford this season? You're probably regretting taking him in the first-round in your fantasy drafts by now. He's still putting up the yards, but the touchdowns just haven't been there. After seeing the Falcons dominate Eli Manning and the Giants, I don't have any faith in Stafford putting up a stellar game. Search your waiver-wire, there are much better options still out there. HINT HINT...Russell Wilson.
Knowshon Moreno, RB -- DEN (vs. CLE)
Moreno has come out of the doghouse (no pun intended for the former Georgia Bulldog) and has been running with a purpose the last two games with Willis McGahee out. With that said, I still don't trust Moreno in a fantasy championship matchup. The Browns have been playing better lately and I see this being a low-scoring game. I could be completely wrong on this one, but I just have a hunch that Moreno won't have another double-digit performance.
Mike Wallace, WR -- PIT (vs. CIN)
My first sit of the year was Wallace and I find it only fitting that I end our startsit with the disappointing Steelers wideout. You probably think I hate Wallace and you may be right. The last few seasons he had been my favorite wide receiver in the league, I drafted him on all my fantasy teams and I was furious the Bears didn't draft him back in '09 out of Mississippi. I really soured on him after his holdout in the offseason and it looks it's hampered his play in 2012. Only two 100 receiving games, not something you want out of a No. 1 wide receiver. This week he'll go up against a Bengals defense that's been dominate as of late. If you want to start a Steeler, go with Andre Brown or Heath Miller.
Tony Andracki (Week 15: 15points; Season total: 175)
It's championship week. Do or die. If you're still reading this, hopefully it means you're going for it all, and not just some consoltion prize. Though, I'm a big fan of leagues having some sort of reward (or punishment) for such spots as third place, winner of the consolation bracket, or loser of the dreaded Sacko Bowl.
At this point in the season, you probably don't need much prodding on who to play. It's obvious Michael Turner's value relies solely on touchdowns and Randall Cobb has become a bonafide option as a receiver. You don't need us to tell you that. But we all know that second-guessing that goes on before your biggest matchup of the season. So we're just here as another voice, telling you which guys might be the best plays...and which are not.
Eli Manning, QB -- NYG (@ BAL)
Eli has been the ultimate hit-or-miss fantasy quarterback thsi year -- he's scored five or less in four games, and 20 or more in four games. The Ravens have not been playing well lately and the Giants need to win out to get into the playoffs. It's make-or-break time for the New York Football Giants, too, so they're in the same boat as you. They need Eli as much as you do. Trust him this week.
Stevan Ridley, RB -- NE (@ JAC)
We've all seen what this Patriots' offense can do, even against the league's best defense. So how will they handle one of the league's worst Ds? New England figures to be up by a lot in this game, and fast, so Tom Brady won't have to throw so much. Or, at least that's what I'm hoping since I'm playing Brady for the 'ship. Ridley had scored in six straight games before that Sunday night game, and expect him to get back into that rhythm this week.
Cecil Shorts, WR -- JAC (vs. NE)
Shorts has emerged as a must-start wide receiver, which he proved by catching six balls for 101 yards in Week 15, which came after he missed a game with a concussion. The Patriots certainly give up points in the passing game, and the Jags will definitely have to throw. Start Shorts with confidence, and keep an eye on him next year, especially if Jacksonville figures out its quarterback situation.
Sit 'em
Ben Roethlisberger, QB -- PIT (vs. CIN)
Roethlisberger has been on fire since he returned to the field, with at least 285 yards and 2 TDs in both games. Couple that with the fact it's a must-win game for the Steelers and you'd think Big Ben would be a must-start. But he hasn't played the Bengals well the past couple of years and Cincy needs to win, too, so they'll be focusing on slowing down Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh passing game.
Chris Johnson, RB -- TEN (@ GB)
It's a lost season for the Titans, and they have nothing to gain by giving Johnson 25 touches in each of the final two games. Plus, his fantasy value is almost exclusively tied up in whether he can break a long run or not. The Packers will probably score early and often, which could see the Tennessee gameplan stray away from the run, as well. Start somebody else if you have a better option.
Torrey Smith, WR -- BAL (vs. NYG)
Two catches in the last two weeks? That's ridiculous. Smith has just three games this year with more than four catches and the Ravens offense has been horrible, especially lately. Don't worry about starting Smith. There are better options.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.