Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings: Last-Minute Championship Game Advice

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystDecember 23, 2012

Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings: Last-Minute Championship Game Advice

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    This is it, folks.

    It's Week 16 of the 2012 fantasy football season, which means that in the majority of fantasy leagues it's championship week, with two teams squaring off to settle the question of who is league champion this year.

    That means that for two fortunate (and savvy) fantasy owners, there's one more pass through lineups this season, and as you sit down to do that on Sunday, here's some last-minute fantasy advice to keep in mind.

Start: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins (at PHI)

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    There may well have been no more valuable player in fantasy football this year than Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who was drafted in most leagues as a fantasy backup but has gone on to post top-five fantasy numbers in points per game.

    However, fantasy owners face a dilemma in Week 16. Although it appears that Griffin will start Sunday's matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, his balky knee raises questions about his effectiveness.

    With that said, given how well Kirk Cousins played in relief of Griffin a week ago, the Redskins wouldn't be starting the future of their franchise if he wasn't ready to go, so in a favorable fantasy matchup, teams that have ridden Griffin to the title game should roll the rookie out there one last time.

Sit: Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (at PIT)

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    The Cincinnati Bengals are on the cusp of making the playoffs for two seasons in a row for the first time in 30 years, thanks in large part to the play of quarterback Andy Dalton, whose numbers have improved across the board compared to his rookie season.

    That success hasn't translated into consistent fantasy production, however, and with three straight games of under 20 fantasy points and facing a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has been very stingy to fantasy quarterbacks this season, Dalton is a very risky Week 16 bet.

Start: DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NO)

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    Part of the reason for the Dallas Cowboys' roller-coaster 2012 season has been the lack of a running game, and part of the reason for that 31st-ranked rushing attack was the foot injury that sidelined starting running back DeMarco Murray for much of the year.

    The second-year pro is now back in the starting lineup and has scored a touchdown in three straight games. This week Murray and the Cowboys face a New Orleans Saints team that has had about as much luck stopping the run this year as Dallas has had moving the ball on the ground.

    Something's gotta give.

Sit: Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns (at DEN)

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    While he hasn't posted the sorts of numbers that fellow rookies Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins and Doug Martin of Tampa Bay Buccaneers have, Trent Richardson of the Cleveland Browns has still had a fine first year in fantasy terms, buoyed by his 11 touchdowns on the ground.

    That's all well and good, but the fact remains that Richardson is also dealing with an assortment of maladies and has averaged only 3.5 yards a carry this year. The sledding isn't going to get this easier this week against a Denver Broncos club surrendering the fourth-fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2012.

Start: Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers (vs. OAK)

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    Say what you will about Cam Newton's second season as quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, but you likely won't hear many complaints from wide receiver Steve Smith, who has topped 1,000 receiving yards for the second straight year after failing to hit that benchmark the two seasons prior.

    Smith has benefited greatly from Newton's recent hot streak, reeling in 18 catches for 286 yards and two touchdowns over the past three games, and there's little reason to think that streak can't continue this week against a porous Oakland Raiders secondary.

Sit: Danario Alexander, WR, San Diego Chargers (at NYJ)

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    Many fantasy teams were buoyed late in the season by the surprising emergence of San Diego Chargers wide receiver Danario Alexander, who averaged nearly 100 yards a game and scored five times over a five-week stretch from Week 10 to Week 14.

    Those same fantasy owners were left in the lurch last week when Alexander failed to record a single catch against the Carolina Panthers, and the teams that survived that goose egg should leave Alexander on the bench against a New York Jets team allowing the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in 2012.