Round 2 of the 2013 fantasy football playoffs is almost complete, and owners have begun shifting their focus to the Week 16 position-by-position rankings to find out which players will help cement a championship.
After a wild week that saw Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles have one of the biggest fantasy performances in NFL history—amassed over 200 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns—owners are desperate to decipher which stars will explode this week.
Here are my top-10 rankings at every position to help you make the toughest game-day decisions in such a pivotal week of the season.
*Based on standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats via Yahoo! Sports.
|Week 16 Quarterback Rankings|
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||27|
|2||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||Carolina Panthers||25|
|3||Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers||Oakland Raiders||25|
|4||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||24|
|5||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||Kansas City Chiefs||22|
|6||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||22|
|7||Matthew Stafford||Detroit Lions||New York Giants||21|
|8||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||New Orleans Saints||19|
|9||Alex Smith||Kansas City Chiefs||Indianapolis Colts||19|
|10||Nick Foles||Philadelphia Eagles||Chicago Bears||18|
If you made it this far in the fantasy postseason, that likely indicates you have one of the top quarterbacks in the sport. If you have a player like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers or Andrew Luck, start them without hesitation.
Whether it’s the high-octane play of their offense or a favorable matchup, perennial fantasy powerhouses Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton are also worth a start in every formatted league this week.
The biggest surprises in the top 10 are both Andy Reid protégés, Alex Smith and Nick Foles.
Smith has been a force in Kansas City, throwing for 14 touchdowns over the last four weeks and trailing only Manning in the overall rankings during that stretch. Fantasy players should continue playing Smith’s hot hand.
Philadelphia may have been defeated Sunday, but Nick Foles has been one of the most explosive fantasy players in 2013. With 428 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s loss to Minnesota, Foles should find even more success against a Chicago Bears team that gives up an average of 15.77 fantasy points to opposing QBs.
|Week 16 Running Back Rankings|
|1||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||Indianapolis Colts||22|
|2||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||Chicago Bears||20|
|3||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals||18|
|4||Knowshon Moreno||Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||18|
|5||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||17|
|6||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||16|
|7||Eddie Lacy||Green Bay Packers||Pittsburgh Steelers||16|
|8||Zac Stacy||St. Louis Rams||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||15|
|9||Ryan Mathews||San Diego Chargers||Oakland Raiders||15|
|10||Le'Veon Bell||Pittsburgh Steelers||Green Bay Packers||14|
Running Back Notes
Before the focus can turn to Week 16’s projected outcomes and point totals, fantasy owners must reflect on the awe-inspiring five-touchdown performance by Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles.
If you have Charles on your roster, you likely made the championship game due to his performance; if you don’t have him on your team and you still made the finals, your only hope is that the Indianapolis Colts slow him down Sunday.
Charles earns the No. 1 spot without question, but the rankings get convoluted after that. With Adrian Peterson missing last week’s game and being listed as questionable for Week 16, LeSean McCoy has slid into the No. 2 spot, and the rest of the running backs have moved up as well.
Other must-start RBs include Marshawn Lynch, Knowshon Moreno, DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte and Eddie Lacy. Each of these backs has been successful this season and has added to your run this far in the postseason.
The three underrated stars to watch for this week will be Zac Stacy, Ryan Mathews and Le’Veon Bell. If you have any of these players on your bench, do whatever it takes to get them into an RB2 or Flex spot.
|Week 16 Wide Receiver Rankings|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||New York Giants||23|
|2||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||21|
|3||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||New York Jets||20|
|4||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||19|
|5||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||Minnesota Vikings||19|
|6||Brandon Marshall||Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||18|
|7||Antonio Brown||Pittsburgh Steelers||Green Bay Packers||18|
|8||DeSean Jackson||Philadelphia Eagles||Chicago Bears||16|
|9||Alshon Jeffery||Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||15|
|10||Julian Edelman||New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||15|
Wide Receiver Notes
One of the most consistent positions in fantasy football this season has been wide receiver. While the overall numbers are down, each of the stars who made the top-10 rankings this week can be counted on to get several catches and to contend for the occasional touchdown on a weekly basis.
The top spot belongs to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson until another receiver proves that they can produce bigger catches on a more consistent basis or a defender in the league finds the recipe to stop Megatron.
There are plenty of other fantasy juggernauts like Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson who are bona fide starts each week, but the focus has turned to the bottom of the top 10.
The two biggest surprises over the last four weeks has been the successes of Alshon Jeffery and Julian Edelman. Jeffery has emerged as a viable No. 2 receiver in Chicago and has showcased his circus-like skills on a weekly basis. Edelman is coming off a game in which he totaled 13 receptions for 139 yards and one touchdown.
Both men are worth a start this week.
|Week 16 Tight End Rankings|
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||Carolina Panthers||20|
|2||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||19|
|3||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||18|
|4||Tony Gonzalez||Atlanta Falcons||San Francisco 49ers||18|
|5||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||Atlanta Falcons||17|
|6||Dennis Pitta||Baltimore Ravens||New England Patriots||17|
|7||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||New York Jets||16|
|8||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||New Orleans Saints||15|
|9||Coby Fleener||Indianapolis Colts||Kansas City Chiefs||13|
|10||Martellus Bennett||Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||13|
Tight End Notes
The tight end position has been incredibly frustrating this season. Not only has almost every player failed to perform consistently—even No. 1 overall player Jimmy Graham was limited to just two catches in Week 15—but injuries have also played a role in the lack of success.
That’s why reliability rules in Week 16.
Graham remains the top TE due to his rapport with Drew Brees and the fact that he burned the Carolina Panthers for two touchdowns in their first meeting. Other players worth a start this week include Julius Thomas, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, Vernon Davis and Jordan Cameron.
While Greg Olsen, Coby Fleener and Martellus Bennett are all fringe top-tier starters worth a shot Sunday, the biggest focus of Week 16 will be how Dennis Pitta continues to round into shape with the Baltimore Ravens.
It’s clear that quarterback Joe Flacco loves Pitta and will look to him early and often, and the owners who lost Gronkowski to season-ending surgery and placed their confidence in the Ravens’ tight end should begin to see it pay major dividends immediately.
|Week 16 Defense/Special Teams Rankings|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals||18|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Atlanta Falcons||16|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||Indianapolis Colts||15|
|4||Carolina Panthers||New Orleans Saints||14|
|5||Arizona Cardinals||Seattle Seahawks||14|
|6||Baltimore Ravens||New England Patriots||14|
|7||Pittsburgh Steelers||Green Bay Packers||13|
|8||Miami Dolphins||Buffalo Bills||12|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Minnesota Vikings||10|
|10||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||St. Louis Rams||10|
Defense/Special Team Notes
Now is not the time to get fancy with your defense and special teams. If you are reading rankings in Week 16, it’s likely because you made it or are fighting to make it to the championship round of your fantasy league.
Start the best possible defense you can in the top 10.
The Seattle Seahawks proved once again why the team deserves the No. 1 ranking this week, but strong performances from San Francisco and Kansas City have the team’s spot as the undisputed No. 1 defense in the league ready to fall.
If an owner doesn’t have one of the defenses on this list and can’t pick them one up off waivers, check out matchups and pick the team playing the least imposing offensive unit.
|Week 16 Kicker Rankings|
|1||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos||Houston Texans||16|
|2||Dan Bailey||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||14|
|3||Steven Hauschka||Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals||12|
|4||Stephen Gostkowski||New England Patriots||Baltimore Ravens||11|
|5||Phil Dawson||San Francisco 49ers||Atlanta Falcons||11|
|6||Justin Tucker||Baltimore Ravens||New England Patriots||10|
|7||Robbie Gould||Chicago Bears||Philadelphia Eagles||10|
|8||Adam Vinatieri||Indianapolis Colts||Kansas City Chiefs||9|
|9||Blair Walsh||Minnesota Vikings||Cincinnati Bengals||9|
|10||Mason Crosby||Green Bay Packers||Pittsburgh Steelers||9|
Matt Prater still holds the No. 1 spot in the kicker rankings, but it is far from a lock. With consistent studs like Steven Hauschka, Stephen Gostkowski and Justin Tucker all with the ability to outscore each other, there are several safe routes at the kicker position this week.
Each kicker on the list deserves credit, but with San Francisco dominating lately and playing some of its best football of the year, Phil Dawson has emerged as an elite fantasy player.
Remember that when setting your starting lineup.