The fantasy postseason is kicking into high gear, and owners are desperate to digest the Week 16 projections and see where they stand heading into the most important stretch of the season.
After watching Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles single-handedly change the landscape of fantasy football with his 51-point performance against Oakland Sunday, owners are desperate to find the next breakout star.
Here are top five performance projections for each position heading into the pivotal Week 15 games.
*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|
Breaking Down Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning has been one of the most dominant players in NFL history during his 2013 campaign, amassing 4,811 yards and 47 touchdowns with two games left. The Denver Broncos and fantasy owners have benefited from his resurgence.
The Broncos are coming off a tough loss to San Diego that featured one of Manning’s worst performances of the season. There is no better remedy for Denver’s woes than a meeting with the lowly Houston Texans in Week 16.
Despite only winning two games all season, Houston has played tough against the pass, allowing only 16.02 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. As well as the Texans have performed at times, they have yet to square off against the league’s top-ranked pass offense.
Fantasy owners should start Manning each and every week, especially with weapons like Knowshon Moreno, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas healthy and ready to play.
|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|
Breaking Down Jamaal Charles
I called Jamaal Charles the top running back to watch for Week 15, but there was no way anyone could have anticipated the 215 all-purpose yards and five total touchdowns he racked up on Sunday.
That’s 51 fantasy points in standard leagues.
After beating the Oakland Raiders every time he touched the ball, Charles and the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Indianapolis Colts in what promises to be a much tougher matchup. Despite the elevated level of competition, the running back should still have a monster day.
The Colts have allowed 17.38 points per game to opposing backs, but Charles isn’t a normal back. With four receiving touchdowns and only eight carries all day, Kansas City is using Charles in every facet of the offense.
With the consistency to make him one of the best all-around fantasy stars in the NFL and the big-game explosiveness to catapult teams into the next round of the postseason, Charles is the No. 1 overall fantasy running back in Week 16.
|Week 16 Wide Receiver Rankings|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||New York Giants||23|
|2||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||23|
|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|
Breaking Down Dez Bryant
After the controversy that surrounded wide receiver Dez Bryant’s decision to leave the field early, per Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com, fantasy owners now look to how he will perform in Week 16.
If Sunday’s on-field performance was any indication of what owners should expect this week, Bryant will have a big game against the lowly secondary of the Washington Redskins.
It will be hard to have a more explosive game than Calvin Johnson, but with Dallas looking to bounce back from a huge loss and Bryant looking to follow up on the 11 receptions, 153 yards and one touchdown he totaled, the team will be on a mission.
Washington is playing for nothing but pride, and the matchup is there for Dallas to exploit. Couple the matchup advantages across the depth chart with the fact that the Redskins have allowed 24.99 points per game to opposing wide receivers, and the stage has been set for Bryant to put up big numbers during a victory.
|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|
Breaking Down Jimmy Graham
Fantasy owners with Jimmy Graham are worried. After watching the Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense falter with the tight end facing double and triple coverage and the TE amass only two catches for 25 yards against St. Louis, owners are beginning to hit the panic button.
The meeting with the stout defense of the Carolina Panthers in Week 16—a unit only allowing 7.75 points per game to opposing tight ends—has owners even more concerned, but Graham knows how to handle the NFC South division rivals.
In the first meeting between the two teams this season, Graham and Brees hooked up for six receptions, 58 yards and two touchdowns. Expect more of the same when the teams meet up once again.
|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|
Breaking Down the Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are the most dominant defense in the NFL. While the New York Giants are futile offensively, Seattle managed to shut out a team made up of several two-time Super Bowl champions and made Eli Manning look like a rookie.
After the Seahawks racked up five interceptions, four sacks and nine pass deflections, the Arizona Cardinals look to be in serious trouble this Sunday. Fantasy owners with Seattle's defense/special teams will be hoping for the old Carson Palmer for Christmas.
|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|
Breaking Down Matt Prater
Matt Prater had the NFL world buzzing with his 64-yard field goal in Week 14, and he followed it up with another strong performance to help his team stay in the game against San Diego. With Denver poised for a big offensive game against Houston, Prater is your man once again.
At this point in the season, fantasy owners should have found a reliable kicker. As the old adage goes, dance with the one that brought you.