1:00PM ET Games
Minnesota @ Miami
Vikings-Dolphins has an underwhelming 42-point Vegas total with Miami favored by 6.5. The likeliest means of ball movement for the Fins is on the ground, where the Vikings cough up 4.51 yards per carry to running backs and rank 24th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA. Finally getting a plus matchup after a lengthy string of brutal ones, Lamar Miller is a quality RB2 this week. You can't expect workhorse usage, but Miller has a decent floor with 15-plus touches in four of his last five games. Miller had 17 touches in last week's loss to New England, while reserves Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams combined for just six. ... Along with his team's, Ryan Tannehill's season has begun to circle the drain. Tannehill is still completing a high percentage of passes in OC Bill Lazor's quarterback-friendly system, but he's managed two touchdowns and been picked off three times over his last three games while absorbing ten sacks. Quietly playing top-six pass defense on the year, Minnesota ranks No. 6 in the NFL in sacks (38) and is getting suffocating coverage from breakout RCB Xavier Rhodes on the perimeter. Rhodes was the primary reason Calvin Johnson managed 53 scoreless yards on six targets last Sunday. Tannehill would be a weak QB1 streamer and is a preferred start in two-quarterback leagues.
Tannehill's target distribution since Miami's Week 5 bye: Jarvis Landry 76; Mike Wallace 71; Charles Clay 46; Brian Hartline 30; Miller and Brandon Gibson 26; Dion Sims 21; Williams 19; Thomas 13. ... The clear focal point of Miami's inside-the-numbers passing attack, Landry has now seen double-digit targets in four of his last six games. He went 8-99 in last week's loss to New England despite drawing Darrelle Revis' coverage for much of the game. Now taking on 5-foot-8, 182-pound Vikings slot corner Captain Munnerlyn, physical Landry will remain a quality WR3 start in PPR leagues. ... With Revis primarily on Landry, Wallace broke out for a season-best 5-104-1 line against New England. He got most of his production on Patriots UDFA corner Malcolm Butler. After they did it against Megatron last week, it's fair to wonder if the Vikings will use Rhodes to shadow Wallace in this game. Otherwise, I'd see Wallace as an excellent start versus liability LCB Josh Robinson. With uncertainty regarding his matchup, I'd view Wallace as a boom-or-bust WR2/3 play in fantasy title week. ... Clay resumed full-time tight end duties in last week's loss to the Patriots, playing 85% of Miami's snaps and seeing seven targets. Unfortunately, the Vikings permit the third fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends. Aim higher for streamers in title week.
Teddy Bridgewater's improvement over the course of his rookie season has been noticeable. He was the best quarterback on the field for much of last week's loss in Detroit. Bridgewater has earned every-week two-quarterback-league consideration, but his matchup is prohibitive for daily and standard-leaguers. Ranked No. 6 in pass defense per Football Outsiders' DVOA, the Dolphins have enough front-seven talent to cause constant disruption against the Vikings' leaky offensive line. The best way to attack Miami at this stage of the season is on the ground. ... Over the past four weeks, the Dolphins have allowed 612 yards and four touchdowns on 115 carries (5.32 YPC) to enemy running backs. Still getting feature back treatment for the Vikings, Matt Asiata's matchup is good enough for lower-end flex consideration. In-season waiver claim Ben Tate has managed 38 yards on 13 runs (2.92 YPC) in three games since joining the team, while Joe Banyard isn't seeing the field much. The Vikings' coaching staff can't quit Asiata, giving him 18 more touches in last week's loss to the Lions, which he parlayed into 86 yards and a touchdown. Asiata is painfully short on talent, but he's used extensively in the passing game and will get any and all goal-line work against the Dolphins.
Bridgewater's target distribution since the Vikings' Week 10 bye: Charles Johnson 37; Greg Jennings 26; Asiata 20; Kyle Rudolph 17; Jarius Wright 15; Cordarrelle Patterson 9; Rhett Ellison 7; Banyard 4. ... Vikings No. 1 wideout Johnson's stat lines since Minnesota's bye are 6-87, 3-52-1, 2-41, 4-103-1, and 5-72. He's the No. 20 overall fantasy wideout during that span. Johnson runs most of his routes at right cornerbacks and will primarily square off with Dolphins RCB Cortland Finnegan in this game. Finnegan has had a solid season, but isn't an imposing matchup. Johnson has earned every-week WR3 treatment. ... Jennings gets the toughest draw versus LCB Brent Grimes and is a low-upside WR4 for Week 16. ... Rudolph turned in his best game of the year in last week's loss in Detroit, securing 7-of-7 targets for 69 yards. Unfortunately, it looks like Rudolph won't play after missing practice time with ankle, knee, and groin injuries this week. If he does, Rudolph would be doing so at less than 100%. The Dolphins have allowed the seventh fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends. Rudolph's backup is Chase Ford.
Score Prediction: Dolphins 21, Vikings 17
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $2 Million Fantasy Football league for Week 16's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $200,000. Starts Sunday, December 21st at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
Baltimore @ Houston
Ravens-Texans projects as another low-scoring affair with a 41-point Vegas total, fifth lowest of the week. The Texans are five-point underdogs, setting their team total at 18. After losing Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage to injury in Week 15, the Texans will trot out Case Keenum at quarterback after signing him off the Rams' practice squad on Monday. With Andre Johnson back healthy to muddy Houston's target pecking order, it's hard to imagine trusting any Texans pass catcher in a daily or season-long league. I'd view Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins as crapshoot WR3 options at risk of laying goose eggs. The odds of Keenum turning in a productive box score versus a Ravens defense that ranks third in the NFL in sacks (45) and allows the tenth fewest touchdown passes (21) seem pretty long. ... Even against Baltimore's stout defensive front, coach Bill O'Brien's likeliest course of Week 16 action is to stay heavily committed to his running game, even if it doesn't work early on. This has been Houston's offensive formula all year, anyway. The Ravens rank No. 5 in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and hold opposing running backs to 3.51 yards per carry. Baltimore has allowed the fewest fantasy points in the league to running backs. Even if Foster averages below 4.0 YPC in this brutal matchup, I think he'll have a realistic shot at 30 all-purpose touches. He's an RB1 in fantasy finals week.
The matchup is softer on Baltimore's end. Joe Flacco should benefit from playing indoors, and from having top playmaker Torrey Smith back healthy. I also think Baltimore's offensive line is good enough to largely contain J.J. Watt. It can't hurt that the Texans have allowed the eighth most TD passes (25) in the league. With an 11:2 touchdown-to-turnover ratio over his last six games, Flacco is worth a look as a desperation QB1 streamer. He's an every-week starter in two-quarterback-leagues. ... Justin Forsett (16-48-0) disappointed in last week's win over the Jaguars, but still out-touched Bernard Pierce 17 to 6 and should see a healthy dose of work at Houston. The Texans rank 17th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and permit a crisp 4.19 YPC average to running backs. 3-4 defenses like Texans DC Romeo Crennell's have historically had trouble with zone-run schemes like Ravens OC Gary Kubiak's. Back in Houston, this is a "revenge game" of sorts for Kubiak, and my guess is he'll want to hammer his old team on the ground. I like Forsett as a high-end RB2 play against the Texans.
Flacco's target distribution since the Ravens' Week 11 bye: Steve Smith Sr. 26; Owen Daniels 19; Torrey 17; Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown 12; Forsett 9; Kyle Juszczyk 8; Crockett Gillmore 4; Jacoby Jones 3. ... Continuing to scuffle late in his age-35 season, Smith Sr. has been held under 40 receiving yards on five of his last seven games. With Torrey off the Week 16 injury report, Steve Sr. is a weak WR3 option against the Texans. ... Torrey is the preferred play in Baltimore's wideout corps. He seems to be beyond his knee injury, playing 81% of the Ravens' Week 15 offensive snaps. A speed burner now playing indoors, I like Torrey's chances of getting behind the Texans' defensive backs for a shot play or two. He's a boom-or-bust WR3 option, but with increased odds of booming. ... If "revenge games" are real, Daniels has one against his old team. Unfortunately, Houston allows the tenth fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Daniels is coming off his most productive game in months (4-62-1), but is still best treated as a fringe TE1. That was his first game over 60 yards since Week 5.
Score Prediction: Ravens 20, Texans 13
Editor's Note: Expert picks come from humans...and humans occasionally make mistakes. The key, though, is to make sure one mistake doesn't lead to another. Learn how to better use expert picks in this RotoGrinders column: "FanDuel Week 16: In Which I Am Not A Robot."
Detroit @ Chicago
Matthew Stafford took a statistical step back in last week's 16-14 win over Minnesota, but Mel Tucker's slump-busting defense returns to break his fall. With all three quarterbacks coming off poor games and/or stretches at the time, the Bears have been carved up by Stafford, Tony Romo, and Drew Brees for a combined 89-of-115 passing (77.4%), 1,076 yards (9.36 YPA), and an 8:0 TD-to-INT ratio the past three weeks. Stafford skewered Chicago for a season-high 390 yards on Thanksgiving. He's a mid-range QB1 in this rematch. ... The Bears also pose an appetizing matchup for Lions feature back Joique Bell. Minus WLB Lance Briggs and MLB D.J. Williams for the year, Chicago has coughed up 367 yards and five TDs on 77 carries (4.77 YPC) to running backs over the last three weeks, including Bell's own 23-91-2 number on Thanksgiving. The Lions are 8.5-point road favorites, a line that suggests Joique is set up for plenty of clock-killing carries. He's a quality RB2 and a good bet to hit pay dirt. ... Increasingly a non-factor in Detroit's offense, Reggie Bush has played 32% of the offensive snaps the last two weeks, handling touch totals of 12 and 4. Just a change-of-pace back under OC Joe Lombardi, Bush has made very little happen when healthy this year and isn't a flex option in fantasy finals week.
Stafford's target distribution since the Lions' Week 9 bye: Calvin Johnson 68; Golden Tate 48; Joique 23; Theo Riddick 22; Eric Ebron 21; Jeremy Ross 12; Bush 9. ... Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes deserves a lot of credit for effectively checking Megatron (4-53-0) in last week's close Detroit win. Bears CB Kyle Fuller had no such luck on Thanksgiving as Johnson pounded the rookie for 11-146-2. Chicago's alternative to Fuller is LCB Tim Jennings, who stands 5-foot-7 3/4 and weighs 185 pounds. Megatron is a top-three fantasy wideout play in Week 16. ... Tate capitalized on Rhodes' stingy Week 15 coverage of Megatron, securing all seven of his targets and his first touchdown since October. The Lions also got him involved twice in the running game. Tate caught 8-of-10 targets for 89 yards in the Lions' Week 13 win over the Bears and is a strong WR3 in the rematch. ... Due to Ebron's slow development, tight ends have played a much smaller role in Lombardi's theoretically Saints-like offense than was expected before the season. Ebron has one touchdown on the year, is just barely averaging over nine yards per catch, and is a Week 16 streamer option to avoid.
The Bears seem to have called it a season, both offensively and defensively. Their second-year coach is on his way out and the effort on both sides of the ball has been in question for over a month now. This adds a dimension of risk to all of Chicago's offensive skill-position players. ... As does the insertion of Jimmy Clausen at quarterback. Clausen did finish preseason with a 64.9 completion rate, 7.6 YPA, two touchdowns, and one interception, but keep in mind he was mostly facing second- and third-stringers. The Lions rank No. 1 in points allowed and No. 2 in total defense, are tied for second in the league in interceptions (19), and rank fifth in sacks (39). Early in his career with the Panthers, Clausen showed a tendency to play small in the pocket -- particularly when pressured -- and his physical tools have always been limited. In Marc Trestman's quarterback-friendly scheme, it wouldn't surprise me if Clausen moved the offense in spurts against lesser defenses. Unfortunately, the Lions have the NFL's best defense east of Seattle. Clausen isn't an advised QB1 streamer or two-quarterback-league play. I still wouldn't strongly discourage anyone from starting him in FanDuel cash games, where Clausen's price is the minimum ($5,000).
The Lions stuffed Matt Forte for six yards on five carries in these teams' Thanksgiving meeting. Forte did catch six balls for 52 yards. Expect a lot more usage for Forte in this one, but he's not a great bet for a truly big day. Detroit ranks No. 1 in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and allows a league-low 3.09 yards per carry to running backs. ... Much as he did against the Lions on Thanksgiving, expect Trestman to call a quick-hitting passing attack with lots of high-percentage throws for Clausen. The Bears will want to get the ball out of Clausen's hands quickly. There is more risk than usual with Alshon Jeffery, but he now has 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 10 of his last 12 games, and is sure to be the focus of Chicago's passing attack on drags, shallow crossers, and screens. Jeffery went 9-71-2 on 13 targets against the Lions on Thanksgiving. ... Martellus Bennett is another big, inviting target for Clausen. Detroit has allowed the fifth most receptions (77) and 11th most yards (764) in the league to tight ends. ... Marquess Wilson scored a touchdown in last Monday night's loss to New Orleans, but hasn't seen more than five targets in any of his five 2014 appearances, and goose egged against the Lions on Thanksgiving. He's a WR4/5 with Clausen at the controls.
Score Prediction: Lions 28, Bears 20
Cleveland @ Carolina
Johnny Manziel resembled Troy Smith more than Russell Wilson in his first NFL start. Manziel barely looked like he belonged. With an early 17-0 deficit accentuating all of his flaws, Manziel displayed limited arm strength and was consistently too quick to abandon the offensive design, operating in a panicked and improvisational manner. He was picked off twice, managed 80 yards on 18 pass attempts, and was also ineffective as a runner (5-13) with Cincinnati using zone coverage on the perimeter and FS Reggie Nelson to "spy." Manziel's floor proved to be far lower than I anticipated against the Bengals, to the extent that he can't be trusted in two-quarterback leagues against the Panthers. Carolina has a lot of speed at linebacker and its pass defense has improved significantly in recent weeks. ... Manziel's insertion didn't have a positive impact on Cleveland's run game, either. The Bengals' defense knew what was coming. Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell combined for 40 scoreless yards on 12 carries (3.33 YPC) and were lightly involved in the passing game. Cleveland's offense looks like one to avoid altogether in fantasy title week. West and Crowell are both weak flex options, even against the Panthers' No. 21 run defense.
Manziel's target distribution in last week's 30-0 loss to Cincinnati: Josh Gordon and Andrew Hawkins 4; Crowell 3; Taylor Gabriel 2; Jordan Cameron and Travis Benjamin 1. ... As part of a dysfunctional and low-volume passing attack, Gordon has to be downgraded to a crapshoot WR3. The only exposure we have to Gordon and Manziel was an abject disaster. To start Gordon in a fantasy championship game would be to put a ton of faith in a sudden and dramatic turnaround from a quarterback who hardly looked backup caliber in his first extended playing experience. I do think Gordon makes some sense as a FanDuel tournament play, but he's obviously not for the faint of heart. ... As for the rest of Cleveland's pass catchers, matchups don't really matter when they're playing with a quarterback seemingly incapable of feeding them the ball. Cameron played 80% of the Browns' Week 15 offensive snaps, but was targeted once. Hawkins' target totals since Gordon returned from suspension are 5, 3, 7, and 4. He shouldn't be in anyone's fantasy lineup.
The Panthers apparently plan to start Cam Newton (back) after he handled most of this week's practice reps. He certainly won't return to a plus matchup. The Browns rank No. 2 in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA and have held opposing quarterbacks to the NFL's lowest combined passer rating (71.7). Cleveland leads the league in interceptions (20). Carolina's coaching staff may also balk at designing quarterback runs for Newton under two weeks removed from his car accident. And if he shows any signs of early-game struggle, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Derek Anderson inserted. I'd view Cam as a scary-low-floor QB1 option in fantasy finals week. Another big red flag on Newton is this game's 40.5-point over-under, fourth lowest of the week. ... All season, the best means of attacking Cleveland has been on the ground. The Browns rank dead last in FO's run-defense DVOA and permit 4.41 yards per carry to running backs. I think DeAngelo Williams' (hand) return is a minor threat to Jonathan Stewart's workload. Williams was still unable to practice in full this week, and Stewart has outplayed him throughout the season. Williams' return may render Stewart more high-end flex than RB2, but he should be viewed as a solid fantasy play with upside in this matchup. ... Another reason to fade Cam in Week 16 lineup decisions is the challenging setup for his primary pass catchers. Joe Haden is nursing a shoulder injury, but I don't think he'll have much trouble slowing down Kelvin Benjamin if he's healthy enough to be cleared by doctors. The Browns permit the fifth fewest fantasy points to tight ends and could make life tough on Greg Olsen. Independently, Benjamin is an every-week WR2/3 and Olsen is a top-six TE1. But I'd avoid them in daily leagues in this projected low-scoring affair.
Score Prediction: Panthers 20, Browns 17
Atlanta @ New Orleans
With the exception of his Week 14 dud versus Carolina -- one that now looks like an outlier -- Drew Brees has been on fire for a solid month, completing 112-of-157 throws (71.3%) for 1,287 yards (8.20 YPA) and a 12:2 TD-to-INT ratio over his last four games. Brees posted his season-high passer rating in Week 13 and his third-best rating of the season in last week's drubbing of the Bears. In fantasy title week, Brees will face the NFL's worst defense at home inside the Superdome. The game has a 55.5-point Vegas total, tied with Colts-Cowboys for largest of the week. The Falcons are 31st in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA. The Saints are six-point favorites with a nearly 31-point team total, highest of Week 16. I'll admit I'm a bit gunshy on Brees after going all-in on him in daily fantasy for that Panthers game. But pretty much all signs point to a big box score. ... Mark Ingram also appears set up for title-week success. After handling 17 touches compared to Pierre Thomas' 7 and Khiry Robinson's 5 in last week's win over Chicago, Ingram meets a Falcons team that's permitted the most fantasy points to running backs in the league, including an NFL-high 21 touchdowns. Ingram isn't getting the same workloads he did at midseason, rendering him an RB2, but he'll be a good bet to hit pay dirt versus Atlanta. He's a must-start in any format.
Brees' target distribution since Brandin Cooks went on I.R. four games ago: Jimmy Graham 28; Kenny Stills 26; Pierre Thomas and Marques Colston 23; Nick Toon 15; Ben Watson 8; Josh Hill 7; Ingram 6. ... Mike Nolan took over as Falcons defensive coordinator in 2012. Graham's five career stat lines against Nolan's defenses are 8-82, 5-100-1, 4-45-1, 4-59, and 7-146-2. Graham is this week's No. 2 fantasy tight end start, behind only Rob Gronkowski. ... Notable wideout stat lines permitted by Atlanta over the past ten weeks: 10-123 (Antonio Brown), 8-146-2 (Jordy Nelson), 3-81-1 (Torrey Smith), 5-136 (Alshon Jeffery), 6-113 (Brandon Marshall), 7-151-1 (Golden Tate), 7-125-1 (Mike Evans), 9-109-1 (Kelvin Benjamin), 8-120 (Josh Gordon), 5-93 (Andrew Hawkins), and 7-75 (Jaron Brown). In this expected shootout, I like Stills' floor and ceiling as a WR2/3 start. ... Colston's four stat lines since the Cooks injury are 4-82-1, 3-16-1, 5-72, and 5-65-1. He went 5-110 when the Saints visited the Falcons in Week 1. Although Colston's upside is limited, he is finally scoring TDs and has earned WR3/flex consideration with improved late-season play.
Julio Jones' (hip) outlook seemed bleak as this column was being written Thursday evening. Matt Ryan topped 300 yards and threw a pair of touchdown passes with Julio on the shelf last week, however, and New Orleans' defense is poor enough that he'll be a good bet for another solid stat line even without Jones for a second straight game. Prior to last Monday's benching-worthy performance by Jay Cutler, the Saints were gashed by Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, and Cam Newton for a combined 87-of-137 passing (63.5%), 1,124 yards (8.20 YPA), and a 9:2 TD-to-INT ratio in their previous four games. Like Brees, Ryan benefits on paper from this game's lofty over-under plus the domed environment. Ryan's ceiling is lowered by Julio's absence, but he should maintain a safe floor. Ryan has multiple touchdown passes in four straight games and a 66.9% completion rate during that stretch. ... The Saints have been even worse in run defense, coughing up the fourth most fantasy points in the league to running backs and surrendering 4.82 yards per carry. As has been shown in previous Matchups columns, however, bad run defenses don't make Steven Jackson a good bet for big games. He managed 52 total yards when the Falcons hosted the Saints in Week 1 and has been an entirely touchdown-dependent flex option all year. At this stage of S-Jax's career, he's a more decorated version of Matt Asiata.
Ryan's target distribution with Julio out of the lineup last week: Harry Douglas 14; Roddy White 10; Devin Hester 6; Devonta Freeman, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Levine Toilolo 2; S-Jax 1. ... Assuming Jones is out again, Roddy will get the Keenan Lewis treatment in this one, although Lewis hasn't been the same since his midseason knee injury. He's surrendered five touchdowns over his last six games and is PFF's No. 100 cornerback among 104 qualifiers over the past five weeks. White has 90-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six of his last seven games. He's a WR2 at the Superdome. Keep in mind the Saints primarily left Lewis on Roddy in these teams' Week 1 meeting. Roddy went 5-72-1 on six targets. ... In the event Lewis does give White some trouble, Douglas would remain a target monster. Douglas has pathetically scored just five touchdowns across his last 45 regular season games, but he is capable of being a PPR machine. He's a legitimate WR2 in points-per-reception leagues if Julio can't go.
Score Prediction: Saints 27, Falcons 24
Green Bay @ Tampa Bay
Aaron Rodgers played one of the worst games of his career in last week's road loss to Buffalo, making off-balance inaccurate throws and never finding a rhythm. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the game, but often toes the line between random playmaker and surgical pocket marksman. He obviously gets away with improvisation far more often than not, and a bounce back is highly likely Sunday at Tampa Bay. Rodgers consistently had Bucs coach Lovie Smith's number when the two were NFC North rivals, and Lovie's defense is much worse now. The Bucs could hardly stop Derek Anderson last week and were flamed by Matthew Stafford for 311 yards and three touchdowns the week before. Now missing DT Gerald McCoy (knee), Rodgers' pocket will be so clean it might get awkward. On the season, Tampa has permitted the sixth most TD passes (26) in the league and the fifth highest quarterback rating (99.1) against. I'd set Rodgers' Week 16 floor at 260 yards and two touchdowns. ... The Packers are 11.5-point favorites, which suggests game flow should work in the favor of their rushing attack, particularly in the second half. The Bucs' defensive strength is on the ground -- they quietly have a top-12 run defense per Football Outsiders' DVOA -- but this should be an active day for Eddie Lacy. Despite concern over a hip bruise, Lacy out-touched James Starks 17 to 5 against the Bills and severely outplayed him, totaling 108 yards and a touchdown to Starks' scoreless 29 yards. Lacy now has 12 TDs over his last 11 games and 100-plus yards from scrimmage in seven straight. He's averaging 5.19 YPC since September. Lock in Lacy as an RB1 in finals week.
Rodgers' target distribution since Green Bay's Week 9 bye: Jordy Nelson 54; Randall Cobb 53; Davante Adams 27; Lacy 26; Andrew Quarless 20; Richard Rodgers and Starks 11. ... These are the last three No. 1 receiver stat lines allowed by the Bucs: 8-104 (Kelvin Benjamin); 8-158-1 (Calvin Johnson); 4-57-1 (A.J. Green). Like Rodgers, Nelson is an excellent bet to rebound after dropping a back-breaking would-be 94-yard touchdown bomb in last week's loss to Buffalo. I might rank Nelson as my No. 1 fantasy wideout for Week 16. ... Cobb was the lone Green Bay pass catcher who remained productive against the Bills. He was funneled a team-high 13 targets and aligned frequently in the backfield during the second half of the game, turning three rushing attempts into 15 additional yards to finish at 111 on the day. A good bet to get open versus Lovie's Tampa-2 zone, Cobb is a borderline WR1 every week. ... The old James Jones role just isn't happening for Adams, who played a season-high 91% of Green Bay's snaps against the Bills but saw four or fewer targets for the fifth time in his last six games. Adams has plenty of long-term promise, but he's a WR4/5 in the fantasy playoffs. He's barely worth daily-league discussion at this point.
Looking every bit a quarterback who deserves to be benched, Josh McCown is 73-of-144 passing (50.7%) for 935 yards (6.49 YPA) with a 4:6 TD-to-INT ratio over his last four games. He's lost four fumbles and taken 15 sacks during that span. The Packers' defense is a better Week 16 streamer than McCown would be a two-quarterback-league start. It shouldn't surprise anyone if he starts slow and gets benched for Mike Glennon a couple of quarters in. ... Green Bay can be exploited by running games, but it doesn't really matter for the Buccaneers' backfield. Doug Martin flukily got free for a 63-yard run on Tampa Bay's second play from scrimmage last week, only to manage 33 yards on 13 carries the rest of the way. He's scored one touchdown since September and is barely involved in the passing game anymore. ... If the Packers dial up a lead like the Vegas line for this game indicates may well happen, Charles Sims could end up playing more snaps than Martin. The third-round rookie handled ten touches in last week's loss to Carolina, totaling 79 yards. Sims played 44% of Tampa Bay's backfield snaps compared to Martin's 56%. The two are involved in a value-sapping RBBC. Neither Martin nor Sims is worth trusting in fantasy finals week. If forced to choose in a PPR league, I'd take my chances with Sims.
McCown's target distribution over his last six starts: Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans 57; Louis Murphy 23; Sims 19; Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Bobby Rainey 14; Brandon Myers 4; Martin and Russell Shepard 3. ... The Buccaneers' wide receivers move around enough that it's futile to attempt to forecast their defensive back matchups. If the Packers get an early lead, both V-Jax and Evans should end up with a generous dose of opportunities. ... V-Jax primarily lines up on the perimeter, where he'll run routes at RCB Sam Shields and LCB Tramon Williams. Shields got torn up by Julio Jones in Week 14 and gave up two big catches to Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods in last week's loss. Pro Football Focus has charged Williams with seven touchdowns allowed, tied for third most in the league. This isn't an imposing matchup for Jackson, though he still has to contend with McCown's poor play. ... The same goes for Evans, who has eight-plus targets in seven straight weeks and 11 touchdowns over his last 10 games. He's an every-week WR2 with WR1 upside. Both Bucs wideouts could get an extra target or two after slot receiver Murphy (ankle) was placed on I.R. this week.
Score Prediction: Packers 28, Buccaneers 17
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh
Yet again, Le'Veon Bell is the top fantasy running back play of the week taking on a Chiefs team that permits 5.05 yards per carry and ranks 26th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA. This is a defense you categorically attack with the run because Kansas City is stout versus the pass. Seeing no fewer than 25 touches in four straight games, Bell also has at least five receptions in seven of his last eight and has been held under 100 total yards just twice all year. ... The Chiefs rank No. 2 in pass defense, No. 2 in completion rate allowed (57.6%), No. 6 in sacks (38), and No. 2 in YPA (6.2) against. They play physical man coverage on the perimeter and can generate pressure from both the edge (Justin Houston, Tamba Hali) and interior (Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey). It's not an easy defense to play against. Ben Roethlisberger has played too well over the course of the season to disregard as a fantasy QB1 -- I'll be starting him in one of my personal championship games -- but I think his box score could be slower than usual on Sunday. Kansas City hasn't allowed a 260-yard passer since Week 1 and has allowed more than two touchdown passes in a game just once all season.
Big Ben's target distribution since the Steelers' Week 12 bye: Antonio Brown 36; Bell 27; Heath Miller 22; Markus Wheaton 17; Martavis Bryant 15; Lance Moore 9. ... Brown is ideally suited to work underneath the Chiefs' man coverage and is too quick for RCB Sean Smith and LCB Marcus Cooper to handle. This should be another 8-11 catch game for Brown. ... Always a lower-end TE1 with a limited ceiling, Miller's matchup is improved by the absence of SS Eric Berry. On the season, however, Kansas City has permitted the fewest receptions (43) and yards (399) in the league to tight ends. Miller is the No. 12 overall fantasy tight end on the year and that's right around where he should rank for Week 16. ... Bryant's snap rates are 36%, 33%, and 43% since Pittsburgh's Week 12 bye, with target totals of 4, 6, and 5. In a tough matchup, he's difficult to support as more than a boom-or-bust WR3. Bryant's usage suggests he should truly be viewed as a WR4. ... Seeing more playing time than Bryant but not remotely as talented, Wheaton was worth dropping in 14-team leagues awhile back. He's scoreless in five straight games and hasn't cleared 70 yards since Week 1.
Jamaal Charles openly expressed frustration with his coaches' kid-gloves approach following a second-half collision in last week's win over Oakland. He was banished to the sideline while Knile Davis racked up yards and touchdowns. The Chiefs were just trying to preserve their best player, of course, and the squeaky wheel is sure to get the grease Sunday at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh's run defense is sub-average, ranking 18th in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric and permitting 4.42 yards per carry to running backs. Despite last week's slow performance, Charles still has 14 all-purpose touchdowns over his last 11 games, and his YPC average (5.16) has actually improved from last year (4.97), when Charles was the No. 1 overall fantasy back. He's a top-three RB1 in this matchup. ... Davis took on a bigger Week 15 role in a blowout win with Charles nicked up, turning ten touches into 81 yards and two TDs. When Charles has been at or near full strength this year, Davis has consistently been a bit player. His touch totals in the Chiefs' previous three games were 2, 0, and 4. Davis isn't a viable flex play in fantasy finals week.
There was a point last season where the film showed Alex Smith had become more willing to challenge defenses at the intermediate section. Smith's arm strength isn't great, but technically he is physically capable of making "all the throws." The issues for Smith have always been his risk aversion and unwillingness to pull the trigger. We've seen him revert into a shell this year. All that said, Pittsburgh's pass defense is poor enough that Smith should be taken seriously as a QB1 streamer and locked into two-quarterback lineups. Over their last four games, the Steelers have been shredded by Zach Mettenberger, Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, and a Julio Jones-less Matt Ryan for 81-of-117 passing (69.2%), 1,132 yards (9.68 YPA), and an 11:2 TD-to-INT ratio. Those quarterbacks took just three combined sacks. Pittsburgh can't rush the passer and arguably has league-worst cornerback play. They pose a cupcake pass-game matchup. ... Smith's target distribution the past three weeks: Travis Kelce 18; Dwayne Bowe 15; Jason Avant and Albert Wilson 13; Charles 12; De'Anthony Thomas 6; Knile Davis 5; Anthony Sherman and Anthony Fasano 3. ... Kelce is the lone Kansas City pass catcher worth firing up in finals week. Kelce has become a full-time player over the past five weeks on snap rates of 88%, 94%, 83%, 82%, and 81%. He's the No. 3 overall fantasy tight end during that stretch. The Steelers allow the eighth most fantasy points to tight ends. ... Despite the friendly matchup, we've seen enough from Chiefs wideouts this season to write all of them off as Week 16 plays. They've combined for zero touchdowns in 2014 and theoretical "No. 1" Bowe hasn't cleared 70 yards since early October.
Score Prediction: Steelers 24, Chiefs 20
New England @ NY Jets
The Vegas total on Patriots-Jets is 47 points with New England as a 10.5-point favorite. This is Rex Ryan's Super Bowl, so it's not surprising the game was assigned a relatively conservative over-under. The three-win Jets are still playing hard late in the season, and I wouldn't expect the Patriots to blow them away with scoring. It's still a good spot for Tom Brady, who's demonstrated a high floor with multiple touchdown passes in ten straight games. He logged 261 yards and three scores in New England's Week 7 27-25 defeat of New York. Brady is a mid-range to high-end QB1 in fantasy title week. ... Things get trickier for the Patriots' run game. Jonas Gray and LeGarrette Blount are now involved in a two-back timeshare after Gray (11-62) outplayed Blount (8-17-1) in last week's win over Miami. Gray played 19 snaps to Blount's 16. Now facing the Jets' top-four run defense, neither of New England's power backs is a fantasy option in Week 16. ... Shane Vereen was New England's primary back when these clubs played in Week 7, parlaying 16 touches into 114 yards and two receiving TDs. Vereen wasn't healthy for the Patriots' two 2013 games against the Jets, but did register 12-133-1 and 9-59-0 touch-yardage-touchdown lines against them in 2012. It would make more sense for the Pats to attack the Jets with space back Vereen rather than slamming Blount or Gray into an immovable New York front. I like Vereen as a flex play in PPR leagues and as a cheap tournament option on FanDuel.
Brady's target distribution since the Pats' Week 10 bye: Julian Edelman 55; Rob Gronkowski 46; Brandon LaFell 40; Vereen 21; Tim Wright 11; Danny Amendola 8. ... Catching late-season fire, Edelman has drawn double-digit targets in five of his last six games. He's New England's clear featured receiver with complementary pieces Wright, Amendola, and Brian Tyms all taking clear backseats. Edelman has earned every-week WR2 treatment in PPR leagues and is a solid WR3 play in non-PPR. ... Gronk's last four stat lines against Rex Ryan's defense are 5-68-0, 8-114-0, 6-78-2, and 8-113-2. Those numbers hint at a nice floor and great ceiling, and it can't hurt that the Jets surrender the third most fantasy points in the league to tight ends. As usual, Gronkowski is this week's No. 1 tight end play. ... The Jets limited LaFell to a 4-55-0 receiving line on six targets in Week 7. Although LaFell has seen at least seven targets in six of the Patriots' seven games since, he's been a somewhat boom-or-bust WR3 option. LaFell has an excellent matchup with Jets undrafted rookie RCB Marcus Williams, but Edelman and Gronk have really good matchups, too. I wouldn't classify LaFell as an exciting Week 16 fantasy start. I wouldn't hate it, either.
The Jets' Week 16 team total is under 19 points and the Patriots' defense is equipped to handle OC Marty Mornhinweg's offense in all phases. New York has piled up a whopping 120 runs compared to 70 passes since reinstalling Geno Smith at quarterback three games ago. Meanwhile, New England has stuffed enemy running backs for 301 yards and just one touchdown on 103 carries (2.92 YPC) over the last six weeks. With Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson staying in a near-even timeshare, New York's running back corps should be ignored in fantasy finals week. ... The game also sets up poorly for the Jets' passing offense. New England has held opposing quarterbacks to the league's sixth lowest completion rate (59.0) and seventh lowest combined passer rating (83.0). OLB Chandler Jones is back to spark the pass rush, making RCB Brandon Browner and LCB Darrelle Revis' coverage that much more suffocating. Eric Decker managed 65 scoreless yards on seven targets when the Jets visited Foxboro in Week 7. That was before Percy Harvin's acquisition. Harvin is coming off a receiving goose egg on three targets in last week's win over Tennessee. Decker and Harvin are mere closed-eyes dart throws in Week 16.
Score Prediction: Patriots 24, Jets 17
4:05PM ET Game
NY Giants @ St. Louis
Giants-Rams has a modest 43.5-point Vegas total with St. Louis favored by 5.5. New York's team total is 19 points. I really liked Eli Manning as a Week 15 start against the Redskins. He delivered with three touchdown passes and 250 yards. I really don't like Eli this week against the Rams. Over the past six weeks, St. Louis has held opposing quarterbacks to 160-of-244 passing for 1,327 yards (5.44 YPA) and a 3:9 TD-to-INT ratio. The Rams haven't allowed a touchdown pass since Week 12. I wouldn't even want to trust Eli in a two-quarterback-league in Week 16. ... Rashad Jennings logged one offensive snap in last week's win over Washington and aggravated a preexisting ankle injury on the play. I doubt Jennings will play in St. Louis. Regardless, expect Andre Williams to handle feature back work against the Rams. Over the last four games, enemy tailbacks have rushed for 327 yards on 73 carries (4.48 YPC) against St. Louis. This is an average matchup for Williams, who is best viewed as a flex option as opposed to an RB2.
Eli's target distribution over the last month: Odell Beckham 62; Rueben Randle 29; Larry Donnell 26; Jennings 23; Preston Parker 18; Williams 16; Daniel Fells 7. ... I think Eli will struggle on Sunday, but not to the extent that flaming-hot Beckham gets deleted. Beckham has double-digit targets in six of the past seven weeks and a touchdown and/or 90-plus yards in nine of his first ten NFL games. Randle has become a complete non-factor, and Rams WLB Alec Ogletree shuts down tight ends. I think Beckham is capable of roasting St. Louis' defense, even if his quarterback has a slow game overall. ... Randle's target totals over the last month are 3, 4, 3, and 4. He's been benched for the first quarter in two of those games. ... The Rams have allowed the second fewest fantasy points in the league to tight ends, most notably holding Jordan Reed (3-25-0), Mychal Rivera (3-21-0), Antonio Gates (2-14-0), and Travis Kelce (4-45-0) in check over the last two months. Be careful viewing Donnell as a TE1 option.
The most enticing fantasy play on St. Louis' side is Tre Mason, who I also noticed is priced very affordably ($6,500) on FanDuel this week. I'm probably going to put him in all of my lineups. Whereas Mason has been held under 3.60 yards per carry and is scoreless on the year in road games, he has four all-purpose touchdowns at home with a clean 4.91 YPC average. This week's matchup is close to ideal against a Giants team that ranks 25th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and allows the eighth most fantasy points to running backs, including 4.76 yards per carry. I like the idea of "stacking" Tre Mason and the Rams' defense in fantasy leagues of all kinds. ... Shaun Hill's target distribution since he resumed starting five games ago: Jared Cook 29; Stedman Bailey and Kenny Britt 28; Tavon Austin 18; Benny Cunningham 17; Mason 11; Lance Kendricks 9. ... Nothing about the Rams' pass-catcher corps really stands out in this game. The Giants allow the 11th most fantasy points to tight ends, but Cook's stat lines in Hill's last five starts are 3-19-0, 3-27-0, 0-0, 4-61-2, and 3-22-0. Cook is a low-floor TE1 streamer with purely theoretical upside. ... Britt and Bailey's usage is roughly similar these days. Whereas Britt has cleared 70 yards just once all year and figures to draw Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's coverage for most of Week 16, Bailey has topped 70 yards three times in the last month and should get a lesser corner. I like Bailey as a fringe WR3 in PPR leagues and would ignore Britt.
Score Prediction: Rams 23, Giants 17
4:25PM ET Games
Buffalo @ Oakland
Coming off a Week 15 home-game upset of Green Bay, this is a classic letdown spot for Buffalo trekking cross country into The Black Hole. The Raiders have won each of their last two home games, upsetting Kansas City 24-20 in Week 12 and San Francisco 24-13 in Week 14. If this game stays close and/or Oakland grabs a lead, Latavius Murray would project as the primary box-score beneficiary with lots of volume. Coach Tony Sparano publicly admitted after last week's loss that Murray deserved more touches after the Raiders abandoned the run following an early 10-0 deficit. Springing major leaks on the ground, the Bills have permitted 783 yards and eight TDs on 166 carries (4.72 YPC) to running backs over their last eight games. Murray is a flex option with RB1 upside in a better matchup than you might think. ... On the other hand, the Raiders' passing game should be avoided entirely in this contest. The Bills' defense has shut down Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in consecutive weeks, ranks No. 5 against the pass, and leads the NFL in sacks (49). I'd write off Mychal Rivera, James Jones, and Andre Holmes in a game where Derek Carr might struggle to break 150 yards passing.
There are a few players to be optimistic about in this game, but overall it's one to avoid wherever possible. The Vegas total is 39 points, tied for second lowest of Week 16 and one of the lowest all year. The Bills player I like best is Fred Jackson, who's piled up a team-high 65 touches and played 75% of Buffalo's offensive snaps over the last three weeks. I don't think Jackson's usage will take a major hit with C.J. Spiller replacing Anthony Dixon and/or Bryce Brown as a change-of-pace back. Scoreless since Week 12, this is a good week to bet on F-Jax re-finding the end zone against a Raiders team that's yielded 20 all-purpose touchdowns to running backs, second most in the league. ... The Raiders have allowed a 25:7 TD-to-INT ratio to opposing passers and have 19 sacks, the third fewest in football. Performing poorly on the field and likely playing in a low-scoring game, I'd still be hard pressed to trust Kyle Orton as anything more than a weak two-quarterback-league start. A checkdown machine who doesn't figure to fire up many attempts Sunday, Orton has four touchdowns and five interceptions over his last five games, averaging 225.2 passing yards over that span.
Orton's target distribution since the Bills' Week 9 bye: Sammy Watkins 49; Robert Woods 40; Chris Hogan 34; Jackson 33; Scott Chandler 28; Bryce Brown 22. ... Held under 40 receiving yards in four of his last five games, Watkins has regressed into a crapshoot WR3 late in his rookie season. Just one opposing wide receiver has cleared 70 yards against the Raiders over their last five games, and Orton's Alex Smith-like unwillingness and inability to complete passes outside the numbers has lowered Watkins' floor and ceiling. He's got plenty of talent to produce if utilized voluminously, but Watkins is a boom-or-bust play at this stage. ... Woods has gone over 80 yards once this year and twice through two NFL seasons. Aim higher in fantasy title week. ... The Raiders are 15th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. In a low-scoring game and with a middling matchup, Chandler is safe to overlook as a championship-game streamer.
Score Prediction: Raiders 20, Bills 17
Indianapolis @ Dallas
The Colts and Cowboys have injury concerns on both sides -- DeMarco Murray (hand) for Dallas and T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) for Indy -- but this is still fully expected to be a high-scoring affair. The Vegas total is 55.5 points, tied with Falcons-Saints for highest of Week 16. Murray's surgically repaired hand may sideline him for a few more snaps than usual, particularly in obvious pass-protection situations, but I think he'll be a safe bet for no fewer than 17 carries against the Colts, and perhaps upwards of 25 so long as game flow permits. The Colts are 23rd in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and allow the seventh most fantasy points to running backs, including a cool 4.24 YPC average. There is a bit more risk than usual, but ultimately Murray is a top-five RB1 play this week. ... Tony Romo has neared perfection in two games since Dallas' Thanksgiving debacle versus Philadelphia, carving up the Bears and Eagles in the rematch for a combined 43-of-57 passing (75.4%), 470 yards (8.25 YPA), and a 6:0 TD-to-INT ratio. This game will be played indoors and has shootout potential, and it's conceivable the Cowboys will play a bit more shotgun-spread offense if they don't feel comfortable with Murray handling his regular workload. Romo's recent play indicates a safe floor and I think his ceiling is a tad higher than usual in Week 16.
Romo's target distribution over his last five games: Dez Bryant 39; Murray and Jason Witten 27; Cole Beasley 17; Terrance Williams 12; Lance Dunbar 5; Gavin Escobar 3. ... Colts RCB Vontae Davis doesn't move at all, while Dez plays on both sides of the formation. Passing-game coordinator Scott Linehan has done a great job of designing favorable matchups for Dez this season. I might not rank him as my top wideout play of Week 16, but he's certainly up there with Jordy Nelson, Calvin Johnson, and Antonio Brown. ... Williams was droppable in re-draft leagues weeks ago, but I think he's a somewhat interesting cap-saving daily-league play. This is a likely shootout and Williams' FanDuel cost is the bare minimum at $4,500. He won't hurt you much if he catches two passes for 35 yards. And he'll pay big dividends if he scores a TD. I think he has a chance to be this week's Marquess Wilson. ... Matchups have proven non-predictive for Witten's stat lines this season. The latest example came in Week 15. He entered the Cowboys-Eagles game with four straight weeks under 35 receiving yards. Philly has been stingy versus tight ends for most of this season, but Witten emerged with a team-high nine targets, solidly securing seven for 69 yards. The Colts allow the fifth most fantasy points in the league to tight ends. Witten is an unreliable option, but is a top-12 tight end play this week.
In a domed game with a lofty Vegas total, Andrew Luck's Week 16 outlook would only be better if T.Y. Hilton's hamstring were 100%. As is, I think Luck is a top-four fantasy quarterback option even if Hilton can't go. The Colts' primary offensive weakness is line play, but Dallas struggles to generate pressure, ranking 28th in the NFL in sacks (23) and 20th in Football Outsiders' pass-rush metric. They're 22nd in FO's pass-defense DVOA overall. I prefer Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees to Luck this week, but it's awfully close. If Hilton can play and do so at a relatively high level, Luck could easily outscore the field. Hilton would primarily contend with Cowboys LCB Brandon Carr, who's been cooked for stat lines of 10-146-2 (Odell Beckham), 6-95-1 (Alshon Jeffery), 5-119 (Cecil Shorts), 8-108 (Jeremy Maclin), and 4-98 (Maclin again) over Dallas' last five games. ... Both of the Colts' tight ends have nice matchups, as well. Willing to concede the middle of the field as a function of DC Rod Marinelli's Tampa 2, the Cowboys have surrendered a league-high 92 receptions to tight ends, as well as the second most yards (904) and fifth most touchdowns (10). Dwayne Allen is better in the red zone than Coby Fleener and a superior bet for short TDs. Fleener is the better bet for catches and yards.
Whether Donte Moncrief is playable this week is entirely tied to Hilton's availability, in my opinion. Moncrief has been a low-volume boom-or-bust WR3 option with Hilton in the lineup. I think his snap rate would ascend into the 70% range if Hilton were out, and he'd have a floor of six targets. Moncrief's snap rates the past three weeks, in order, are 53%, 60%, and 54%. But he has not seen more than four targets in any game since Week 8 and is currently coming off a goose egg after having a long touchdown negated by a holding penalty against the Texans. ... Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks will both get playing time at Dallas, but neither has been effective enough for fantasy use. ... The Cowboys' biggest defensive weakness is on the ground, where they surrender 4.61 yards per carry and rank 27th in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA. Dan Herron has double-digit touches in four straight games and is a reasonable flex play at Dallas. Trent Richardson's touch totals during that span are 13, 8, 7, and 11. He has one touchdown over his last seven games and should be written off in fantasy championship week.
Score Prediction: Colts 30, Cowboys 24
Sunday Night Football
Seattle @ Arizona
Seahawks games keep setting new season lows for over-unders. This week's Seattle-Arizona game has a 36.5-point total, lowest of the year. I'd literally write off every Cardinals skill-position player with Ryan Lindley slated to start at quarterback. Arizona's offense has scored two touchdowns over its last 19 quarters, and the Seahawks are once again playing league-best defense. ... Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor will continue to form a running back committee against a Seattle team that’s held opposing running backs to 228 yards and just one touchdown on 73 runs (3.12 YPC) since MLB Bobby Wagner got healthy four games ago. I'd go with Williams if forced to choose between the two. Hopefully, fantasy title contenders have better options. ... Lindley has appeared in seven career games, starting four. He’s accounted for zero touchdowns and nine turnovers while absorbing a dozen sacks. He is a big, slow-moving, and inaccurate quarterback. Since RCB Byron Maxwell returned from a calf injury in Week 10, the Seahawks have held enemy quarterbacks to a combined 91-of-154 passing (59.1%) for 898 yards (5.83 YPA) and a 3:5 TD-to-INT ratio. Seattle has 16 sacks over its last four games. Ignore every Cardinals wide receiver. Fire up Seattle as the top D/ST play of fantasy title week.
There are also plenty of reasons to be concerned with Seahawks offensive players in this one. Seattle is an eight-point favorite, albeit with a team total of just over 22 points. Russell Wilson will not have LT Russell Okung (lung) to protect his blindside and managed 284 all-purpose yards with one touchdown when the Seahawks hosted the Cardinals in Week 12. Arizona does play a lot of man coverage, which can be exploited by dual-threat quarterbacks like Wilson. He rushed ten times for 73 yards in the Week 12 game. But Wilson is probably not going to have much passing success. The Cardinals have held opposing quarterbacks to a 10:13 TD-to-INT ratio over their last ten games, piling up 25 sacks the past six weeks. And the loss of Okung will definitely be felt. ... Marshawn Lynch's last two rushing lines against Cards DC Todd Bowles' defense are 15-39-0 and 18-71-0. Arizona is No. 3 in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and yields just 3.70 YPC to running backs. As we've shown repeatedly in past Matchups columns, Lynch is always a poor bet to hit pay dirt on the road. This year, he hasn't scored a single rushing touchdown in an away game. Lynch is an obvious fade in daily leagues. In season-long formats, you'll have to hang your hat on anticipated volume. Lynch has at least 18 touches in seven straight games.
Wilson's target distribution since the Percy Harvin trade: Doug Baldwin 59; Jermaine Kearse 48; Paul Richardson 29; Lynch 27; Luke Willson 22; Cooper Helfet 17; Robert Turbin 16; Tony Moeaki 12; Kevin Norwood 8. ... In these clubs' Week 12 meeting, every Seahawks pass catcher was bottled up. Vertical streaker Ricardo Lockette led Seattle in receiving yards with 48, all of which came on one reception in Cards FS Rashad Johnson's coverage. Kearse will run most of his Week 16 routes at LCB Patrick Peterson, while rookie Richardson will contend with RCB Antonio Cromartie. Baldwin primarily aligns in the slot and might be worth a glance, although Cardinals slot corner Jerraud Powers is having a good year. I'd view Baldwin as a low-ceiling and ultimately fringe WR3. Kearse and Richardson should be taken off the board. ... Moeaki (shoulder) won't play against the Cardinals, reducing Seattle's tight end rotation to Willson and Helfet. Helfet hasn't played since Week 12, but Willson might be worth a TE1 streamer look if you're very desperate. Arizona permits the seventh most fantasy points in the league to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 6
Monday Night Football
Denver @ Cincinnati
After throwing for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards last season, Peyton Manning is on pace for 42 TD passes and 4,735 yards with an arrow pointing down. He hasn't finished as a top-15 fantasy quarterback since Week 12. The Broncos seem to be implicitly showing their concern, reducing Peyton's pass attempts in favor of a balanced offense. I still think Peyton is a top-six fantasy quarterback play on Monday night, but recent trends suggest expectations should be curbed. The Vegas sharps agree that the explosiveness of Denver's passing offense is fading, assigning this game a modest 47.5-point over-under with the Broncos as mere three-point favorites. The best way to attack Cincinnati is not in the air, where DC Paul Guenther's unit ranks No. 9 in Football Outsiders' pass-defense DVOA and has limited opposing passers to a combined 14:14 TD-to-INT ratio and 76.4 quarterback rating, the third lowest clip in football. I would still set Peyton's median projection at 250 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. But recent evidence doesn't indicate this is a blowup spot for Peyton. ... The Bengals' primary weakness is in run defense. Cincinnati permits a crisp 4.39 yards-per-carry average to running backs and has lost top linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the year. Only the Saints and Browns are lower in Football Outsiders' run-defense grades. C.J. Anderson has been a bit nicked up in recent weeks, so the extended rest period before a Monday nighter should serve him well. Anderson played 88% of Denver's Week 15 snaps, his highest playing-time clip in a month. You could make an argument that Anderson has overtaken Peyton as the focal point of Denver's late-season offense. He's a shoo-in top-five RB1 against the Bengals.
Shaking off his own foot scare in last week's win over San Diego, Demaryius Thomas registered a 6-123-1 receiving line on a team-high 11 targets. Thomas will run his Week 16 routes at Bengals perimeter CBs Pacman Jones and Terence Newman, who have remained effective late in their careers but are 31 and 36 years old, respectively. This isn't an ideal matchup, but it's one I think Demaryius can win. ... Emmanuel Sanders has felt the effects of Denver's revised late-season offense. He's scoreless in four straight games with a steady three-week decline in yardage. Sanders is still a WR2 matching up with Jones and Newman. ... Julius Thomas finally returned from his ankle injury in last week's win over San Diego. He played behind blocking TE Virgil Green, however, and logged a 44% snap rate, seeing just two targets. Orange Julius' health should theoretically be improved with an extra day of rest, but Green's run-blocking superiority makes him a better fit for Denver's more running-oriented attack. Julius is a mid-to-low TE1 in fantasy title week. He does have a plus matchup on paper against a Bengals defense allowing the 11th most receptions (64) and ninth most yards (783) to tight ends. ... Averaging just 4.3 targets per game over the past month and a half, Wes Welker is a low-floor, low-ceiling WR4/5. Welker has two touchdowns through 12 games this season.
Whereas consensus preseason first-round fantasy pick Peyton is costing his owners games, tenth-round steal Jeremy Hill is putting owners on his back. A true NFL foundation runner, Hill exploded for a 25-148-2 rushing line in last week's 30-0 throttling of the Browns, out-snapping Giovani Bernard 47 to 28 and out-touching Gio 26 to 18. Bernard got most of his yardage in mop-up duty. Hill is an RB1 in fantasy championship week, but gashing Denver is a tall task. The Broncos rank No. 2 in Football Outsiders' run-defense DVOA and have held opposing running backs to a 3.22 YPC average. When starting Hill in a Week 16 fantasy lineup, you're banking on volume and his bellcow abilities as opposed to the matchup. He's a good bet for 20-plus touches and a goal-line plunge or two. The Bengals seem to have realized that feeding Hill is their optimal means of moving the chains, staying competitive in games, and ultimately putting opponents away. It certainly can't hurt that Denver lost WLB Danny Trevathan (knee) and WLB Brandon Marshall (foot) in Week 15. ... Gio came away with a solid Week 15 stat line (15-79, 3-24), but keep in mind seven of his carries and 46 of his yards came on Cincinnati's final drive in the 30-0 tail whipping of Cleveland. When the game was in doubt, Gio was the Bengals' change-of-pace back. I'd set his over-under for touches at nine against the Broncos. Having not scored a touchdown since Week 8, Bernard is an undesirable flex play in Week 16.
In Weeks 13-15, the Broncos limited Philip Rivers, Kyle Orton, and Alex Smith to 77-of-121 passing for 740 yards (6.16 YPA) and a 4:5 TD-to-INT ratio, with ten sacks absorbed. Some fantasy owners might see this game as a potential shootout opportunity for Andy Dalton. Based on the way these teams are now playing offense, I see it as more of a grind-it-out, run-based affair where Bengals OC Hue Jackson should do everything in his power to prevent a scenario where Dalton winds up trying to trade scores with Peyton. Dalton makes some sense as a two-quarterback play with upside, but I think he's a trap as a Week 16 streamer. ... Dalton's target distribution over his last four games: A.J. Green 50; Mohamed Sanu 16; Jermaine Gresham 15; Gio 12; Hill 10; James Wright 7; Ryan Hewitt 5. ... The Broncos' cornerback play has been superb all season, but I still think this is a good spot for usage monster Green. He has double-digit targets in four of his last six games and will be the primary beneficiary if this game at all turns pass happy. He's a top-six WR1 in the fantasy finals. ... Sanu's target totals the past five weeks are 6, 7, 3, 3, and 3. He's settled in as a WR4. ... Continue to avoid Gresham, who's topped 50 yards once through 13 games and missed last week's win over the Browns with a toe injury. Gresham is more of a blocker than receiver in Jackson's offense.
Score Prediction: Bengals 24, Broncos 23