Now is not the time for fantasy owners to make a mistake with their lineup.
With the championship round here for most fortunate enough to still be in play, one critical, final lineup remains.
Perhaps the most important factor to remember? Do not overthink a decision. Do what has worked to get to this point. See a guy on the market who is on the uptick and may have a big game? Grab him.
Do not ignore this sort of potential. The guys and gals who did not are likely the ones who started Minnesota running back Matt Asiata in Week 15 and were rewarded with 24 points.
It does not even have to be that difficult. There are stars out there who have been producing at a steady pace all year or are clearly about to explode. Get them in lineups and score a major win.
Note: All fantasy scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues. Points-against info courtesy of ESPN.
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. IND)
Not Alex Smith.
Yet, Smith has been quietly humming along. While coaches like Mike McCoy get credit for turning around Philip Rivers and Marc Trestman is praised for his work with a Jay-Josh hybrid, Kansas City's Andy Reid has flown under the radar with Smith.
Smith has seven games with a minimum of 21 points this year, including four of his last five. Week 14 broke the streak, but the Chiefs were up 38-10 at halftime over Washington—not exactly a time for Smith to be going deep.
The Utah product exploded for 30 points against Oakland last week (he scored seven against the Raiders in Week 6), making him the second-highest scorer at his position before the Monday night game.
Week 16 is a date against an Indianapolis defense that ranks just outside the bottom 10 against quarterbacks with an average of 17 points allowed.
An opposing owner may laugh at Smith getting the nod in a critical contest, but he will come through.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Oakland Raiders (at SD)
Week 15 was just another day at the office for Oakland Raiders running back Rashad Jennings, who continues to fly under the radar in the fantasy landscape.
Best unheralded name to rely on in Week 16?
Jennings is owned in just 77.1 percent of leagues, which is a crime. Fantasy owners understand that touches equal production at running back, so it makes no sense for a rare three-down back to not only be owned in all leagues but to be a starter each week.
Is it because he plays for the Raiders? Or maybe because his previous team was Jacksonville?
Regardless, the smart owners are doing everything they can to get Jennings. He missed Week 14 with a concussion, but Jennings has now gone over 100 total yards in five of his last six games with six touchdowns as the every-down back.
Last week, Jennings scored twice against a Chiefs defense that ranks in the top 10 against running backs with an average of just 14.8 points allowed per game—Jennings scored 22.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks (vs. ARI)
Quick—name the No. 1 receiver in Seattle.
That man would be Stanford product and slot receiver Doug Baldwin, who has scored 13 points in two of his last three games.
Baldwin has emerged as quarterback Russell Wilson's favorite target since the halfway point of the season, which started his run of four games with double-digit points.
The coaching staff loves Baldwin, too. In Week 15 against the New York Giants, Baldwin played 57 snaps—more than any other receiver on the team, per Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times.
Baldwin has averaged 4.3 catches for 66.3 yards with four touchdowns over the last six games. John Paulsen shares a telling stat:
Since taking over as a starter in Week 9, Doug Baldwin 6-71-1 (7) is the #22 WR. Golden Tate is the #47 WR in that span.— John Paulsen (@4for4_John) December 16, 2013
Week 16 will be another productive outing for Baldwin. Sure, the Arizona Cardinals rank in the top five with just 15.2 points allowed to the position, but Baldwin operates out of the slot and will be away from star corner Patrick Peterson.
Last week, the Cardinals defense allowed two receivers to catch a minimum of seven passes for 92 yards. Baldwin may not reach those heights, but owners have to love his chances at home given his recent trends.