Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fantasy Football 2016 End of Year Review

Image result for dak prescottBefore I get into my recap from my preseason picks, I'll review my own performance in my fantasy league.  To sum it up in one word this year, I'd probably go with "mediocre".  But if you read my rankings toward the end, you'll recall that I did barely miss the playoffs and would have made it into the championship game had I been able to get that 6th playoff spot.  Well, my "What If" scenario played out such that I would NOT have won the championship had I been there in Week 16, which is kind of a relief.  I ended up losing in the consolation championship and finishing 8th overall.  Better luck next year!

Also if you read my rankings up until the end, you'll recall I started picking games against the spread in Week 12, and I did 3 "locks" in Weeks 15 & 16.
Here were my results from Week 16 and below that my results for every week I picked games...

Week 16 results: 9-7, LOCKS 3-0
NYG @ PHI (NYG -2.5)
MIA @ BUF (BUF -3.5)
NYJ @ NE (NE -16.5) LOCK
TEN @ JAC (TEN -4.5)
MIN @ GB (GB -6.5) LOCK
SD @ CLE (CLE +6.5)
WAS @ CHI (CHI +3.5)
ATL @ CAR (ATL -2.5)
IND @ OAK (IND +3.5)
TB @ NO (TB +3)
ARI @ SEA (ARI +8.5)
SF @ LA (SF +3.5)
CIN @ HOU (HOU -1)
DEN @ KC (DEN +4)
DET @ DAL (DAL -7)

Week 12: 9-7
Week 13: 8-7
Week 14: 9-7
Week 15: 8-8   (LOCKS: 2-1)
Week 16: 9-7   (LOCKS: 3-0)

Since I'm getting this done before the Week 17 games, I thought I'd go ahead and pick them too.  Why not, right?  I mean, it can be a tricky week with certain teams resting starters, some playing for nothing, some pride, etc.  Some of these spreads are as difficult to read as a preseason game, but I'll do my best and see what happens!

Like the last couple of weeks, I'll also put 3 games in BOLD for my Week 17 "locks".  So far, my results are just slightly better than average overall, but my locks have been solid!  Let's see if I can keep that rolling in this final week of the NFL season.  Again, I'm going with ESPN's lines on their website, and some have moved around in the last couple of days.  I don't follow the betting lines very closely, so forgive me if some of these aren't 100% up to date.  I'll recap my Week 17 picks when I do my "Way Too Early 2017 Rankings" in the next couple of weeks.

Week 17 picks
BAL @ CIN (BAL +1)
HOU @ TEN (TEN -3)
CAR @ TB (CAR +6.5)
JAC @ IND (IND -4.5)
NE @ MIA (MIA +10.5)
CHI @ MIN (MIN -5)
BUF @ NYJ (NYJ +5.5)
DAL @ PHI (PHI -3.5)
CLE @ PIT (CLE +6.5)
NO @ ATL (NO +7)
NYG @ WAS (NYG +8)
ARI @ LA (ARI -6)
OAK @ DEN (OAK +1.5)
KC @ SD (KC -4.5)
SEA @ SF (SEA -9.5)
GB @ DET (GB -3.5)

So let's get into my year end review, shall we?

If you read my preseason article SPECTACULAR, you may recall a few lists I put together.  Well, I don't just like to put lists out there and not follow up on how I did.  So let's see how things shook out this year with my picks.

I'll start off recapping the list of a few guys I said I wouldn't be drafting this year.  This wasn't to say it was impossible that I'd draft any of these players, but definitely unlikely for various reasons.  I hit the nail on the head with Romo and Boswell, but I missed the mark on Jimmy Graham, and to a much lesser extent Sproles and Steve Smith.  I'll summarize the predictions/results below each name.

Steve Smith
I said he'd
 be inconsistent and frustrating to start/sit until he finally decided to retire for one reason or another.  While he gutted out the season and didn't retire in the middle due to injury or otherwise, he was fairly inconsistent.  He began the season with back to back poor showings, so you may not have played him the next two weeks when he did produce.  That up and down trend continued pretty much the rest of the year.  While he had solid production in Weeks 15 & 16, he had a combined 13 fantasy points in the 3 games before then.  So it would have taken some guts to start him in your fantasy playoffs, and it looks like with a strong finish, he'll still just barely finish inside the top-40 fantasy WRs on the season.

Darren Sproles

I didn't even rank Sproles in my top-50 RBs (like most experts did).  The Eagles drafted Wendell Smallwood, and I thought Ryan Mathews was likely the only Eagle RB worth drafting.  While it looks like Mathews will finish with more fantasy points than Sproles on the season, it's actually not that big of a lead.  The little guy has been a serviceable fantasy RB this season, consistently getting 5-10 fantasy points most weeks, so I'd say I was wrong about the 33 year Sproles.

Tony Romo
Speaking of less than average BACKS, here's a guy who was a top-10 QB for a TON of experts, and he averaged right around the 12th or 13th QB when you combined expert preseason rankings.  But for me, he was barely in my preseason top-20.  I didn't believe in Romo staying healthy, and I was pretty spot on here since he got hurt in the preseason and hasn't played a snap since.  I'd say the days of ranking/drafting Romo in fantasy are over, even if he lands with a different team in 2017.

Image result for jimmy grahamJimmy Graham
This was another guy coming off a serious injury that I wasn't willing to touch.  We're talking about the same type of patellar tendon injury that caused Victor Cruz to miss a whole season.  Before this season started, there was concern that Graham would even play a snap in 2016, but he did way more than that.  It's looking like he'll likely finish the year as a top-5 fantasy TE, so I was wrong to not rank him due to injury concerns.

Chris Boswell
I hate feeling the need to discuss kickers because I'm still campaigning to get rid of them in my league, but I felt the need to point out how the aggressive play calling of Mike Tomlin would lead to Boswell not being a good fantasy kicker.  No team attempted more two point conversions in 2015, and the same goes for this season.  Not only that, but the Steelers seem to go for it on 4th down when they're in the middle of the field.  This all contributed to Boswell being one of the lowest scoring fantasy kickers of all of the regular kickers, even including his 6 FG outburst in Week 15!

The next preseason list was guys ready for the NEXT LEVEL.  These were players who I thought were primed to make that jump from virtual fantasy irrelevance straight to a top-10 or top-20 at their position (depending on where they were in the previous season).  These weren't players who were already top-10 or 15 in their position preseason rankings, so I couldn't include someone like Carlos Hyde or Amari Cooper.  Anyway, here is my list for 2016.  Let's see how I did...

QB: Jameis Winston
Image result for jameis winston tampaI predicted a 4000 yd & 30+ pass TD second year campaign for Jameis (similar to Derek Carr's second year stats).  He should easily hit the 4000 yard passing mark, but he'll need 3 passing TDs on Sunday to get to 30 on the season.  Either way, a solid performance in Week 17 could land him inside the top-10 fantasy QBs in 2016.

RB: Duke Johnson
Swing and a miss!

I thought Duke would break out and be closer to a top-20 RB in his second year in the league, especially with Hue Jackson likely to use him heavily in the Giovani Bernard role.  As it turned out, the Browns were so terrible that this was a virtual impossibility for the sophomore running back, and it looks like he'll barely finish as a top-40 RB.  We'll see if next year he can be a post hype sleeper!

WR: Marvin Jones
Here's a guy who was ranked/drafted somewhere around the 40th WR, near the likes of guys like Josh Gordon.  And while Jones was somewhat of a risky pick with his injury history, he obviously didn't carry anywhere near the risk of someone like Josh Gordon!  (At least that was obvious to ME.)  Turns out I was right about that.  And when the season started, Marvin looked like he was set to fill that Megatron-sized hole of 150 targets.  My prediction of 1000 yards and 8 or 9 TDs didn't seem unrealistic after he gained 408 yards and had a pair of TDs through just THREE games this season!  But that was the peak of his 2016 campaign, as he couldn't even match those stats in his next TEN games.  He showed promise early on, but Marvin didn't improve much from 2015 to 2016.

TE: Vance McDonald
I wanted to give you someone WAY off the radar here, and Vance was definitely that guy.  He was being draft around the 25th TE, so you could snag him in the last round of your draft if you wanted.  And if you did draft him (and even start him the first couple of weeks), you were pleasantly surprised.  He began the season scoring in back to back games, but it was mostly downhill from there.  As it turned out, injuries caught up with him again.  He missed a couple of games shortly after those first two, and he missed the last few after being put on the IR.  He ended up with 391 receiving yards and 4 TDs, but a top-15 fantasy TE on a per game average.

The final list I'll recap is "Who is this year's Zac Stacy?"  Remember that guy in 2014?!?  Well, basically no one in their right mind would have taken him in a fantasy draft that year, but he ended up being very relevant later in the season.  The following Q&A was an attempt to predict some long shots...I repeat: LONG SHOTS.  I'll give you my preseason answer along with the actual one...

Question: Who is this year's Zac Stacy (2013), Tre Mason (2014), or David Johnson (2015)?
[Description: A rookie (later-round draft pick) who is in a clouded backfield situation, UNDRAFTED in virtually all fantasy leagues, but could get a shot sooner rather than later to be the "bellcow" running back.]

Image result for jordan howardMy preseason answer: Paul Perkins
Actual answer: Jordan Howard
I actually had the #2 waiver priority and was able to scoop up Jordan Howard this year (thanks for not picking him up, Andrew!).  He took over for an injured Jeremy Langford in Week 3, and he proceeded to gain 100+ rushing yards in back to back starts Weeks 4 and 5.  He had ONE bad week in Green Bay (Week 7), but otherwise has been a stud.  He'll likely end the season as a top-10 fantasy RB, even though he basically didn't play in the first two games of the year.

Q: Who is this year's Knowshon Moreno (2013), Mark Ingram (2014), or Darren McFadden (2015)?
[Description: Former early round NFL draft pick, career plagued by injuries, but finally finds himself in a nice spot to be a feature running back.]

My preseason answer: Ryan Mathews
Actual answer: Ryan Mathews
There's not really a great answer here, so I'll just say I'm right with Mathews.  He sort of fit the description, and he ended up as a top-25 fantasy RB in somewhat of a feature role.


Q: Who is this year's Danny Woodhead (2013), Darren Sproles (2014), or... Danny Woodhead again (2015)?
[Description: Shifty veteran who sneakily finishes in the top-20 overall fantasy RBs.]

My preseason answer: Theo Riddick
Actual answer: Theo Riddick
This one I actually did get right.  Riddick caught 80 balls out of the backfield last season and actually had more fantasy points than teammate Ameer Abdullah.  With Megtron out of the picture, receivers like Golden Tate and Marvin Jones were now the top options in Detroit, but I thought Riddick would still get a ton of targets and sneakily go from a top-40 RB to a top-20 kinda guy.  The injury to Abdullah certainly helped, but Riddick missed five games due to injury himself, and he's still nearly a top-25 fantasy RB heading into the last week of the season.  If he avoided the injury bug this season, he likely would've been close to a top-15 fantasy RB.

Q: Who is this year's Keenan Allen (2013) or Odell Beckham, Jr. (2014)?
[Description: Rookie WR who finds himself on a team with a solid QB in need of a #1 WR, so he becomes that guy.  Must be late-round fantasy pick or even undrafted in most leagues.]

My preseason answer: Tyler Boyd
Actual answer: Tyreek Hill 
Image result for tyreek hillMichael Thomas was being drafted in the preseason top-125 (based on ADP), so I excluded him from contention for this category (but he almost fits the description as perfectly as Tyreek).  Also, Tyrell Williams doesn't fit either because he's actually a second year guy.  Who knew, right?

But you know who fits this category pretty damn well?  Tyreek Hill.  Not only was Tyreek drafted late in the actual NFL draft (5th round), but he was completely undrafted in fantasy drafts.  And he was relatively quiet through the first 6 weeks this season, but with Maclin struggling and ultimately missing 5 games due to injury, Tyreek the Freak broke out.  He averaged over 12 fantasy points per game in Weeks 7-16, and he got more than 12 fantasy points in each of his games in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16).  This guy peaked at the right time, and his owner in my fantasy league ended up winning the whole thing.  Tyreek was definitely a big part of that.

That's it for my 2016 recap.  I hope you enjoyed the blog and had a good season.  I'll try to post some early rankings for next season in the next couple of weeks!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 Fantasy Football Week 16 Rankings

Seeing as how I barely missed the playoffs in my league, I've been paying close attention to what would have happened if I had found a way to get into that 6th playoff spot.  Well, the "what if" game is driving me nuts. I would've won in the first round in the championship bracket, and I would've won in the semifinal last week!  In fact, I scored the most points in the entire league last week.  Ugh.  What a kick in the gut.  The "What if" game is starting to annoy me, but I can't stop.  I'll have my eye on the championship game and wonder what if...?

Image result for drew breesBut those are the breaks in fantasy football.  Sometimes your team is great all season and craps the bed in the playoffs.  Sometimes you miss the playoffs and then your team is playing great at the end of the season when it doesn't matter.  I'm sure there were tons of Drew Brees owners in Week 15 asking "Where was that last week?!?"  Doesn't always work out that way, does it?

Anyway, it's the last week of the fantasy season for most people, and hopefully for you that means a potential championship.  Either way, this is my last rankings of the season.  I'll probably get out a "Year End Review" article and maybe even a "Way Too Early 2017 Rankings" piece in the next month or so.  After that, who knows?  I'll try to keep up with the rankings, but it could be something that falls to the wayside in the months/years to come.  Time will tell...

For now, let's do the rankings for one last time in 2016!

1.Drew Brees    
2.Tom Brady     
3.Aaron Rodgers  
4.Andrew Luck 
5.Matt Ryan
6.Philip Rivers  
7.Cam Newton 
8.Ben Roethlisberger 
9.Derek Carr
10.Kirk Cousins 
11.Jameis Winston  
12.Russell Wilson  
13.Dak Prescott  
14.Marcus Mariota
15.Tyrod Taylor 
16.Matthew Stafford  
17.Eli Manning    
18.Colin Kaepernick
19.Carson Palmer 
20.Matt Barkley

Last week I was high on Tyrod Taylor (ESPN #10, ME #4) against the lowly Browns, who give up the most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season.  However, they also give up the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing RBs, and that's who did most of the damage for the Bills in this game.  Still, Tyrod nearly finished as a top-12 fantasy QB, so it wasn't all bad.  However, it was mostly bad for the guy I was down last week: Jameis Winston (ESPN #11, ME #20).  Winston only had 1 touchdown in his previous 2 games combined, but the Cowboys actually did give up 2 passing TDs to Jameis.  But they also picked him off 3 times, and Winston finished as the #17 fantasy QB (much lower than where the ESPN guys ranked him).

This week my QB rankings actually mirror ESPN's consensus rankings pretty well, so I don't have a guy I'm high/low on versus the experts.  On to the running backs! 
1.Ezekiel Elliott
2.Le'Veon Bell 
3.David Johnson 
4.LeSean McCoy     
5.DeMarco Murray
6.Jordan Howard 
7.Latavius Murray
8.Devonta Freeman    
9.Todd Gurley
10.LeGarrette Blount 
11.Lamar Miller
12.Carlos Hyde    
13.Spencer Ware   
14.Jonathan Stewart   
15.Jeremy Hill        
16.Rob Kelley  
17.Doug Martin   
18.Thomas Rawls
19.Jay Ajayi  
20.Frank Gore 
21.Ty Montgomery 
22.Bilal Powell 
23.Kenneth Farrow 
24.Ryan Mathews
25.Mark Ingram 
26.Kenneth Dixon 
27.Dion Lewis 
28.Derrick Henry
29.Tevin Coleman
30.Terrance West  
31.Adrian Peterson
32.Isaiah Crowell
33.Justin Forsett 
34.Rashad Jennings
35.Mike Gillislee 
36.Darren Sproles
37.Dwayne Washington
38.Tim Hightower
39.T.J. Yeldon  
40.Paul Perkins
Last week I was high on Kenneth Farrow (ESPN #26, ME #19), as I expected a heavy workload against the porous Raider rush defense.  I predicted he would get his first NFL touchdown and would easily be an RB2, but that was NOT the case.  While he did get 17 touches, he only turned that into 53 total yards and also lost a fumble.  The waiver wire pickup didn't produce much for fantasy owners looking for some extra help in Week 15.

Image result for jay ajayiI was down on Jay Ajayi (ESPN #12, ME #23) who only had 1 TD in his last 5 games and less than 80 rushing yards in each of those contests.  That trend continued, as Ajayi managed just 51 rushing yards and didn't score for the third straight week.  He nearly finished outside of the top-40 RBs, and it's difficult to even rank him in my top-20 this week in Buffalo (who gives up top-10 fantasy numbers to opposing RBs this season).

I'm still high on Farrow and down on Ajayi versus the ESPN experts, but I'm not going to get too deep into my comparisons this week because I won't have a recap next week (since I won't be doing Week 17 rankings).  I will say that I'm high on guys like Derrick Henry and Mike Gillislee versus the ESPN experts.  Both are #2 RBs, but the Bills and Titans run the ball a TON and I like both of these guys in plus matchups.  I'm down on Rashad Jennings, who I finally waived in my league.  I'm not planning to use him tomorrow night, so I figured I'd let someone else roll the dice with the veteran.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Paul Perkins ramp up here at the end of the year and turn out to be the guy in 2017.
1.Odell Beckham, Jr.  
2.Antonio Brown    
3.T.Y. Hilton 
4.Mike Evans  
5.Jordy Nelson 
6.Julio Jones
7.Brandin Cooks 
8.Julian Edelman
9.Dez Bryant
10.Demaryius Thomas 
11.Michael Thomas
12.Michael Crabtree 
13.Doug Baldwin 
14.Emmanuel Sanders 
15.Amari Cooper  
16.Golden Tate 
17.Tyrell Williams 
18.Davante Adams 
19.Taylor Gabriel
20.DeSean Jackson  
21.Alshon Jeffery 
22.Dontrelle Inman 
23.Jarvis Landry 
24.Ty Montgomery  
25.Kenny Britt 
26.Tyreek Hill   
27.Rishard Matthews 
28.Tyler Lockett   
29.Malcolm Mitchell 
30.Larry Fitzgerald 
31.Stefon Diggs   
32.Jordan Matthews 
33.Donte Moncrief 
34.Pierre Garcon    
35.Willie Snead  
36.Sammy Watkins
37.Sterling Shephard
38.Jamison Crowder
39.Steve Smith, Sr. 
40.DeAndre Hopkins
41.Mike Wallace 
42.Tyler Boyd 
43.Kelvin Benjamin
44.Terrelle Pryor, Sr.    
45.Cameron Meredith  
46.Robby Anderson
47.Ted Ginn
48.Allen Robinson 
49.Randall Cobb
50.J.J. Nelson

Image result for tyler lockettI was WAY high on Taylor Gabriel last week (ESPN #35, ME #15), who has been a top-5 fantasy WR in the second half of the season.  He had 6 TDs in his previous 6 games, and he found the endzone against the 49ers to go along with his 60 receiving yards.  He ended up right where I ranked him as the #15 fantasy WR in week 15.  I'm hoping Julio will be back this week as I try to win the Consolation Championship (and a few extra bingo balls for next year's draft), but I still have Gabriel ranked in my top-20.  ESPN moved him up a mere four spots to #31, as they continue to disregard his fantasy production in the last 8 WEEKS!  I'm also still really high on Tyler Lockett versus the experts (ESPN #47, ME #28).  This guy has put up HUGE numbers in two of his last three games, as he's been flashing that playmaking ability we all thought he'd show all season.  It's not too late to jump on the Lockett bandwagon...!!!

Last week I was down on A.J. Green (ESPN #10, ME NOT RANKED) because I didn't think the Bengals would rush him back (they didn't, but all of the ESPN experts ranked him not only that he would play, but that he'd be a top-10 play).  What about his week?  Personally, I don't see why the Bengals would start him against the Texans in a meaningless game for them, so I didn't rank A.J. again.  I also continue to be down on Larry Fitzgerald versus the ESPN experts.  He has one double digit fantasy point game in his last 9 contests, and he has just one touchdown against the Seahawks in his last 9 games against the Legion of Boom.  He's just nowhere close to a top 15 or 20 fantasy WR for me.  Also, DeAndre Hopkins?  Really?!?  ESPN ranked him at #22 this week.  Wow.  This is another guy with just one double digit fantasy game in his last 9.  I guess they think Tom Savage will magically get the ball to him, but I don't have that kind of faith in the backup to Brock Osweiler.

1.Greg Olsen 
2.Kyle Rudolph 
3.Travis Kelce 
4.Zach Ertz 
5.Tyler Eifert  
6.Delanie Walker 
7.Cameron Brate             
8.Hunter Henry
9.Jimmy Graham 
10.Antonio Gates 
11.Martellus Bennett   
12.Jordan Reed
13.Dion Sims
14.Eric Ebron
15.Charles Clay

Image result for kyle rudolph coltsLast week I was high on Kyle Rudolph (ESPN #8, ME #3), who was averaging 10 targets in his last 3 games.  Well, he got 10 targets again and turned that into nearly 100 receiving yards.  Rudolph finished as a top-5 fantasy TE against the Colts, and only Cameron Brate was ahead of him among the top ranked TEs heading into Week 15.  This week I still have him ranked 5 spots higher than the ESPN experts, and I don't see why he'd be anything other than a top-5 fantasy TE against Green Bay.  I also kind of like Dion Sims this week, who NONE of the ESPN experts ranked.  I guess they don't believe in his 4 TDs in his last 4 games, but why not?  Meanwhile, they continue to rank guys like Pitta and Witten in their top-12.  I swear.  Sometimes it's like they're just doing their weekly rankings based on preseason rankings from August.  I just don't get it...

Speaking of Witten, as I am EVERY week, I was down on him versus the experts in Week 15 (ESPN #14, ME NOT RANKED).  He was averaging just 4 catches for 32 yards in his previous 3 games.  He actually caught all 10 of his targets against the Bucs on Sunday night (a season high for catches in a game), but he only had 51 receiving yards and lost a fumble.  He finished outside of the top-25 TEs in Week 15, and I continue to be astonished that the experts rank him...every.....week.  Also, you may notice nearly all of the ESPN guys ranked Ladarius Green this week.  This is a guy who was dealing with migraines in the preseason and is still in the concussion protocol after a hit last week.  I'd say he has about a 1% chance of playing against Baltimore, so you might want to have a backup plan if you were thinking of starting him in your fantasy championship.

I wasn't too high/low on many defenses versus the experts last week, but I said to keep rolling the Chiefs out there and stay away from the freaking Jets!  How'd that advice pan out?  Well, the Chiefs were still a top-10 fantasy defense, and the Jets were a bottom-5 unit.  Seriously, ESPN.  Stop ranking the Jets defense!  They are THE worst fantasy defense over the last 4 weeks and a bottom-5 squad on the season.  At least this week in New England, all of the experts should be ranking them dead last, right?  Not Matthew Berry though.  He has them as his #20 fantasy defense in Week 16.  Maybe he's just trying to be contrarian to his colleagues, but to me, that's just dumb.  Sure, the Jets could get lucky and return a fumble for a TD or something.  But any defense could.  And you know damn well the Jets are giving up 30+ points to Tommy and the Patriots, and they probably won't even sack him once!

Image result for cowboys defenseMeanwhile, Berry didn't even rank Dallas, and the consensus ranking is 26th among the experts.  Maybe I'm way off in ranking them in my top-12, but they've been a top-10 fantasy defense in their last 3 games, and Matthew Stafford may continue to struggle playing through that injured middle finger on his throwing hand.  I think this game has a chance to get ugly, and I like the Cowboy D in this one.  I also like the Steelers and Bucs as top-15 plays this week, but NONE of the experts like the Bucs and just a couple have the Steelers up that high.

Anyway, let's wrap this thing up with my picks versus the spread, which I started doing in Week 12. 
So far, here are my results:
Week 12: 9-7
Week 13: 8-7
Week 14: 9-7
Week 15: 8-8   NOTE: Week 15 LOCKS: 2-1 (PIT, ARI, NE)

Below are my results from last week with my correct picks in BOLD, followed by my picks for Week 16.  Like last week, I'll also put 3 games in BOLD for my Week 16 picks as my "locks".  Let's see if I can finish strong with my picks versus the spread, and I'll give a recap in my year end review piece.

Week 15 results: 8-8
LA @ SEA (LA +16.5)
MIA @ NYJ (MIA -2.5)
GB @ CHI (GB -6.5)
CLE @ BUF (BUF -10)
PHI @ BAL (BAL -5.5)
TEN @ KC (KC -5)
PIT @ CIN (PIT -3)
DET @ NYG (DET +4.5)
IND @ MIN (IND +4.5)
JAC @ HOU (HOU -6)
NO @ ARI (ARI -2.5)
SF @ ATL (SF +13.5)
OAK @ SD (OAK -2.5)
NE @ DEN (NE -3)
TB @ DAL (TB +7)
CAR @ WAS (CAR +6.5)

Week 16 picks
NYG @ PHI (NYG -2.5)
MIA @ BUF (BUF -3.5)
NYJ @ NE (NE -16.5)
TEN @ JAC (TEN -4.5)
MIN @ GB (GB -6.5)
SD @ CLE (CLE +6.5)
WAS @ CHI (CHI +3.5)
ATL @ CAR (ATL -2.5)
IND @ OAK (IND +3.5)
TB @ NO (TB +3)
ARI @ SEA (ARI +8.5)
SF @ LA (SF +3.5)
CIN @ HOU (HOU -1)
BAL @ PIT (BAL +5.5)
DEN @ KC (DEN +4)
DET @ DAL (DAL -7)

Good luck to everyone in Week 16!  
(Except you, Billy...)


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

2016 Fantasy Football Week 15 Rankings

If you read my intro last week, you may recall that I missed the playoffs in my fantasy league by just 21 (season total!) fantasy points.  You also probably don't care, but I like to play the "what if" game.  As in "What if I had found a way to get into that 6th playoff spot?"  Well, I would've won in the first round in the championship bracket.  Dang it!!!

Image result for matt ryan gabriel falcons(Side note: There are two other guys in my league who are in the same situation as me - BARELY missed the playoffs and would've won this week if they were in.)

I should probably stop now with the "what if" game...but I won't.  I can't help but look at my matchup this week and wonder if I would've made it to the championship if I'd found a way to get that last playoff spot.  I'll give you an update in next week's rankings, and I know you can't wait...hah!

What about my wife's team?  Well, she ran into 50+ points from Le'Veon Bell, and she also had Melvin Gordon go down with an early injury (and zero points).  She didn't stand much of a chance and didn't make it to the championship, so no more Wheelers in the fantasy playoffs.  I'll still play for pride and bingo balls for next year's draft lottery, so I'll keep these rankings going.  Also, I know there are like 5 of you who read this, so I don't want to let you all down. :)

To the rankings!

1.Matt Ryan      
2.Aaron Rodgers  
3.Kirk Cousins
4.Tyrod Taylor 
5.Tom Brady  
6.Andrew Luck  
7.Philip Rivers   
8.Drew Brees
9.Russell Wilson 
10.Ben Roethlisberger    
11.Derek Carr 
12.Marcus Mariota
13.Cam Newton 
14.Dak Prescott 
15.Carson Palmer 
16.Eli Manning   
17.Joe Flacco
18.Colin Kaepernick  
19.Andy Dalton
20.Jameis Winston 

Last week I was down on Cam Newton versus the ESPN experts for probably the 10th time this season (ESPN #9, ME #15).  But who's counting, right?  He finished 18th by the way.  This week, ESPN inexplicably has Cam ranked all the way up at #4.  Um...what?  He's not a top-12 fantasy QB on the season, and he's outside of my top-12 this week. 

Anyway, I gave you someone else I didn't like for my official pick last week, and that was Ben Roethlisberger (ESPN #7, ME #12).  His road splits are clearly much worse than at home, and the winter weather in Buffalo was not appealing.  Ben threw 3 picks and had zero TDs on the day, finishing as THE worst fantasy QB in Week 14.

I was high on my man Kirk Cousins (ESPN #11, ME #6), who had been as hot as any fantasy QB in his last few games.  He was also facing a Philly defense that has been getting lit up by opposing QBs in their last few.  I predicted 300+ yards and 2 or 3 TDs, but he ended up with just 234 passing yards and the pair of TDs.  Still, he finished as the #7 QB right about where I ranked him.

I'm high on: Tyrod Taylor (ESPN #10, ME #4)
Image result for tyrod taylorLet me start off by saying this was a very tough week to rank QBs.  A lot of your top options are either facing tough opponents (Brady), not playing well lately (Dak, Big Ben, Russell), or a combination of BOTH (Drew Brees).  So my rankings feel a little all over the place, and I totally get if you want to start Joe Flacco over Drew Brees, or something like that.  After my SOLID (ish) top-3, I actually have Tyrod at my #4 spot in what I'm hoping is a sure thing against the Brownies at home.  Cleveland gives up THE most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season, and in their last couple it's been top-10 numbers to guys like Andy Dalton & Eli Manning.  We're not talking about Aaron Rodgers here, people.  And while Tyrod has been struggling a bit of late, I think the Browns coming to town is just what he needs to get back on track.

I'm down on: Jameis Winston (ESPN #11, ME #20) 
Jameis has had some good matchups the last couple of weeks (at San Diego and home to New Orleans), but he only has 1 touchdown in those two games combined.  Both were victories, and the Bucs have actually won 5 in a row, so he's probably not too concerned about the numbers while the Ws are there.  This week he travels to Dallas, and the Cowboys haven't allowed more than 1 passing TD in a game since Kirk Cousins lit them up on Thanksgiving Day.  I think Winston could have a quiet game, and I'd have a hard time trusting him as my starting QB if I were in the fantasy playoffs.
1.David Johnson
2.Le'Veon Bell  
3.LeSean McCoy
4.Ezekiel Elliott   
5.DeMarco Murray
6.Devonta Freeman 
7.Latavius Murray   
8.Thomas Rawls
9.Jeremy Hill
10.Carlos Hyde
11.Jordan Howard   
12.LeGarrette Blount 
13.Spencer Ware 
14.Lamar Miller               
15.Jonathan Stewart  
16.Bilal Powell     
17.Rob Kelley  
18.Tevin Coleman 
19.Kenneth Farrow  
20.Doug Martin 
21.Isaiah Crowell   
22.Frank Gore 
23.Jay Ajayi     
24.Todd Gurley
25.Mark Ingram 
26.Kenneth Dixon 
27.T.J. Yeldon 
28.Ryan Mathews
29.Jerick McKinnon 
30.Theo Riddick 
31.Ty Montgomery
32.Rashad Jennings 
33.Mike Gillislee 
34.Terrance West
35.Matt Asiata   
36.Justin Forsett  
37.Derrick Henry
38.Dion Lewis 
39.Dwayne Washington
40.Rex Burkhead

Last week I was high on Rex Burkhead (ESPN #40, ME #31) and down on Rob Kelley (ESPN #18, ME #25).  Burkhead was facing the Browns, who give up the second most fantasy points to RBs.  As it turns out, most of those points went to Jeremy Hill (who finished as a top-5 RB).  As for Burkhead, he racked up 51 total yards but finished closer to where ESPN ranked him than where I had him. 

I was down on Fat Rob because he hadn't done much in the last couple of weeks since going off against the Packers.  He actually had the exact same number of rushing yards this week as last week (63), but he found the endzone and finished as a top-10 RB.  Hey, I'm fine being wrong with this one because it helped Washington get the win!

I'm high on: Kenneth Farrow (ESPN #26, ME #19)
Image result for kenneth farrowThe undrafted rookie out of Houston came in last week when Melvin Gordon got injured, and he proceeded to gain 78 yards on 24 touches.  Granted, Ronnie Hillman was inactive last week and likely will be the passing down back in Week 15.  But I feel like Farrow will get plenty of touches and I like him to find the endzone for the first time in his young NFL career.  That easily makes him an RB2 for me.

I'm down on:  Jay Ajayi (ESPN #12, ME #23) 
Remember those 3 or 4 weeks when Ajayi lit the fantasy world on fire?  That seems like ages ago now, as the Dolphin RB only has 1 TD in his last 5 games and less than 80 rushing yards in each of those contests.  I think the Dolphins could have a hard time moving the ball with Matt Moore behind center, and I think Ajayi will be in line for 20+ touches but only 75 total yards and no scores. 

(Of course I haven't been right about the running back I'm down on versus the ESPN experts since Week 11.  So there's that...)
1.Antonio Brown    
2.Odell Beckham, Jr.  
3.Jordy Nelson 
4.Mike Evans  
5.T.Y. Hilton
6.Dez Bryant
7.Amari Cooper  
8.Sammy Watkins 
9.Davante Adams  
10.Demaryius Thomas
11.Tyreek Hill 
12.Emmanuel Sanders 
13.Tyrell Williams  
14.Doug Baldwin 
15.Taylor Gabriel
16.Michael Crabtree 
17.Larry Fitzgerald  
18.DeSean Jackson
19.Rishard Matthews 
20.Dontrelle Inman  
21.Jamison Crowder  
22.Brandin Cooks
23.Julian Edelman 
24.Golden Tate   
25.Steve Smith, Sr. 
26.Stefon Diggs
27.Alshon Jeffery  
28.Michael Thomas 
29.Adam Thielen 
30.Jarvis Landry
31.Tyler Boyd 
32.Marqise Lee  
33.Jordan Matthews
34.Terrelle Pryor, Sr. 
35.Kelvin Benjamin 
36.Robby Anderson
37.Pierre Garcon  
38.J.J. Nelson
39.DeAndre Hopkins 
40.Malcolm Mitchell   
41.Tyler Lockett 
42.Willie Snead
43.Kenny Britt 
44.Brandon Marshall  
45.Mike Wallace 
46.Randall Cobb
47.Allen Robinson 
48.Sterling Shephard
49.DeVante Parker 
50.Anquan Boldin 

I did a little better with my WR picks versus the ESPN experts last week, as I was down on Larry Fitzgerald (ESPN #9, ME #20) who caught just 3 of his 9 targets for a whopping 12 yards!  He has now had fewer than 8 fantasy points in 7 of his last 8 games.  I was high on Tyler Lockett (ESPN #52, ME #33), who only one ESPN expert even ranked.  I'll say that I kind of whiffed on Lockett, but he at least racked up 56 total yards.  He finished just outside of the top-40, but I still think he's at least worth ranking!  The experts aren't ranking him for a second week in a row, but I sure am!!!

Image result for a.j. greenI'm high on: Taylor Gabriel (ESPN #35, ME #15)
I'm high on a lot of WRs versus ESPN this week, so it was hard to pick just one.  But in case you hadn't noticed, Taylor Gabriel has been a top-5 fantasy WR in his last 6 games.  That's right.  SIX GAMES!  I'm not talking about a fluky play here or there.  I'm talking about 6 TDs in those 6 games.  The Falcons face the 49ers on Sunday, and they're giving up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing WRs.  I don't think Julio will even play in this game, so I don't see why the #1 ranked fantasy QB (Matt Ryan) wouldn't get at least one score to his favorite WR of late.  Gabriel is a must start for me in Week 15.

I'm down on: A.J. Green (ESPN #10, ME NOT RANKED)
Yes, he's back at practice.  But no, the Bengals aren't exactly playing for anything the rest of this season.  Why would they rush Green back?  Just to beat the Steelers?  Well, I suppose it's possible.  But even if A.J. does suit up on Sunday, I still wouldn't have him anywhere near my top-10.  I'm putting this here so A.J. Green owners know to have a backup plan.  But not only that, I'd use that backup plan regardless of his status this week.

1.Tyler Eifert 
2.Travis Kelce  
3.Kyle Rudolph 
4.Jimmy Graham   
5.Greg Olsen 
6.Delanie Walker
7.Zach Ertz  
8.Cameron Brate 
9.Jordan Reed
10.Antonio Gates
11.Ladarius Green
12.Martellus Bennett 
13.Eric Ebron
14.Jermaine Gresham
15.Hunter Henry

Last week I wasn't really too high or low on many TEs versus the ESPN experts, but I did point out to Jordan Reed owners that they'd better have a Plan B.  Reed was back at practice as of last Wednesday, but I didn't think he had much of a chance to play in Week 14.  In fact, I thought it was kind of crappy for all of the ESPN experts to rank Reed like a top-5 fantasy TE when so many readers are looking at those rankings with their fantasy playoffs on the line.  As it turned out, Reed did play against Philly but wasn't involved much.  He played just 10 of 48 offensive snaps and only had one catch for 10 yards.  He'll obviously be difficult to trust in your fantasy playoffs, and I barely have him in my top-10 this week (even in an amazing matchup against Carolina)...

I'm high on: Kyle Rudolph (ESPN #8, ME #3)
Image result for kyle rudolphWhen a tight end is averaging 10 targets in his last 3 games, it's hard not to rank him in the top-3.  So you know what?  I did.  Touchdowns are difficult to predict, but I think 5 catches for 60 yards is a near certainty for Rudolph this week.  If he finds the endzone, he'll likely end up right where I ranked him.

I'm down on: Jason Witten (ESPN #14, ME NOT RANKED) 
I'm down on Jordan Reed versus the experts (for the reasons I mentioned above), but I have to mention Witten again here.  Hey ESPN experts!  Quit trying to make "Witten" happen!!!  The veteran TE has averaged just 4 catches for 32 yards in his last 3 games.  He's topped 66 receiving yards in a game just once this year.  I can't see ranking him in my top-15.

There were LOTS of turnovers in Week 14, and thus plenty of good fantasy defenses.  I stayed high on the Chiefs for the third week in a row (ESPN #16, ME #6), even though they were playing against the Raiders.  They played great on Thursday night, and Tyreek Hill returned a punt all the way to the house.  The Chiefs finished as the #8 fantasy defense in my league, but pretty much any other week they would've been in the top-5 with that performance.  I'm still high on them this week (ESPN #6, ME #3), but at least ESPN is bringing them up close to where they should be ranked.

Image result for chiefs defenseI was down on the Jets (ESPN #11, ME NOT RANKED), who had a decent matchup in San Fran but who are also just not a good defense.  They're a bottom-5 fantasy defense on the season, and they were a bottom-5 fantasy defense in Week 14.  This week, the ESPN experts still ranked them at 16th, with a couple of the guys tagging them in their top-10!  I realize Tannehill is out, but I still can't see trusting the Jets D in your fantasy playoffs.

I'm not too high/low on many defenses versus the experts this week, but I say keep rolling the Chiefs out there and stay away from the freaking Jets!

I started picking all of the games against the spread beginning in Week 12.  So far, here are my results:
Week 12: 9-7
Week 13: 8-7
Week 14: 9-7

Below are my results from last week with my correct picks in BOLD, followed by my picks for Week 15.  I'm also putting 3 games in BOLD for my Week 15 picks as my "locks".  Watch me miss all of them...

Week 14 results: 9-7
OAK @ KC (KC -3)
PIT @ BUF (PIT -2)
DEN @ TEN (DEN +1)
WAS @ PHI (WAS even)
ARI @ MIA (ARI +1)
MIN @ JAC (MIN -3.5)
HOU @ IND (HOU +6.5)
SD @ CAR (CAR -1)
CIN @ CLE (CLE +6)
CHI @ DET (DET -8)
NYJ @ SF (SF -2.5)
NO @ TB (TB -2.5)
ATL @ LA (ATL -6)
SEA @ GB (GB +3)
DAL @ NYG (DAL -3)
BAL @ NE (NE -7)

Week 15 picks
LA @ SEA (LA +16.5)
MIA @ NYJ (MIA -2.5)
GB @ CHI (GB -6.5)
CLE @ BUF (BUF -10)
PHI @ BAL (BAL -5.5)
TEN @ KC (KC -5)
PIT @ CIN (PIT -3)
DET @ NYG (DET +4.5)
IND @ MIN (IND +4.5)
JAC @ HOU (HOU -6)
NO @ ARI (ARI -2.5)
SF @ ATL (SF +13.5)
OAK @ SD (OAK -2.5)
NE @ DEN (NE -3)
TB @ DAL (TB +7)
CAR @ WAS (CAR +6.5)

Good luck to everyone in Week 15!  
(Except you, Andy...)