The NFL isn't the only place where everything is on the line for teams, as the fantasy playoffs have reached the championship stage and owners eye winning the entire league.
There's never been a better time to figure out where the top fantasy options at each position rank heading into a crucial Week 16, with championship implications on the line for a select few fantasy owners who have made it to the winner-take-all final.
Here's a look at the top rated guys at every position heading into Week 16.
|Top Fantasy Quarterbacks|
|1||Peyton Manning (DEN)||at Texans|
|2||Nick Foles (PHI)||Bears|
|3||Cam Newton (CAR)||Saints|
|4||Drew Brees (NO)||at Panthers|
|5||Russell Wilson (SEA)||Cardinals|
It takes an awful lot to knock Peyton Manning from the No. 1 perch in fantasy. A Week 16 matchup against the Texans—the only team that has fired its head coach in season—won't do that, as Manning will continue shredding it at a historic pace.
After that is where it gets tricky. Nick Foles gets the nod at No. 2 thanks to a favorable home matchup against Chicago and tough upcoming game for New Orleans' Drew Brees and Carolina's Cam Newton, who play each other.
Russell Wilson goes up against an Arizona defense that has proven to be formidable this season, but its secondary gave up over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns through the air from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who doesn't have nearly the amount of ability that this Seahawks offense boasts. That slides him into the top five.
|Top Fantasy Running Backs|
|1||LeSean McCoy (PHI)||Bears|
|2||Jamaal Charles (KC)||Colts|
|3||Matt Forte (CHI)||at Eagles|
|4||Adrian Peterson (MIN)||at Bengals|
|5||Eddie Lacy (GB)||Steelers|
Normally, Adrian Peterson dominates this list in a way reminiscent of a certain aforementioned Manning does the QB spot, but not in Week 16.
With a tough road test against the Bengals, Peterson falls to No. 4, which is still respectful given Cincy has given up just five rushing TDs on the season—second lowest in the league. The Bengals defense also ranks fifth in the NFL with 98.7 rushing yards conceded per game.
LeSean McCoy has enjoyed a fantastic season and carries it into a home affair against the atrocious Bears defense. Mark Trestman's defense has given up a whopping 17 rushing touchdowns on the year and ranks dead last in rushing yards given up per game.
It should be a running back duel in Philly, with Matt Forte taking his stellar recent form into the game. The Eagles defense is average against the run, but it can't handle the pass, and that will leave openings for Forte—a deceivingly good pass-catcher.
|Top Fantasy Wide Receivers|
|1||Calvin Johnson (DET)||Giants|
|2||Josh Gordon (CLE)||at Jets|
|3||AJ Green (CHI)||Vikings|
|4||Brandon Marshall (CIN)||at Eagles|
|5||Antonio Brown (PIT)||at Packers|
Calvin Johnson is the top dog again at receiver in Week 16, even after two subpar performances for his standards. His Lions go up against a Giants squad that can't seem to stay in games as of late.
After him, Josh Gordon is the obvious target. The Browns wideout has been absolutely shredding the stat sheets despite his team's lack of relevance, and he goes up against a Jets pass defense that ranks 26th in the NFL in yards conceded.
A.J. Green is set to explode against the Vikings defense that gives up nearly 300 yards passing per game.
|Top Fantasy Tight Ends|
|1||Jimmy Graham (NO)||at Panthers|
|2||Vernon Davis (SF)||Falcons|
|3||Julius Thomas (DEN)||at Texans|
|4||Jason Witten (DAL)||at Redskins|
|5||Delanie Walker (TEN)||at Jaguars|
It should come as no surprise that Jimmy Graham tops the tight ends list. Actually, it'd be a shocker if he wasn't.
Graham faces the tough Panthers defense, but you can't count out his worth as a perennial star and one of the safest players in fantasy football.
Closely following him is Vernon Davis, who faces one of the worst defenses in the league in Atlanta. Julius Thomas should get more looks from Manning in the Broncos offense with Wes Welker facing a longer absence than expected.
But the big shocker on this top five? Delanie Walker. If you're looking for a bench tight end—or possibly waiver addition—on championship weekend, he could be your guy.
Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has grown a liking to Walker and was the team's starter against Jacksonville earlier this season. Walker posted 62 yards and a score, and he added 91 yards and a touchdown the next week.
Last weekend, he emerged again with eight grabs for 53 yards and a touchdown. With the Titans facing the Jaguars again in Week 16, he's set for another big day.
|Top Fantasy Defenses|
The Seahawks usually force so many interceptions and hold opponents to such few points that they're an obvious No. 1, but that's not the case when a solid Arizona offense comes to town. However, it's only enough to knock them one spot back to No. 2.
San Francisco is the best play of the weekend. Their defense that only has given up 15 passing TDs on the season goes up against a Falcons offense that hasn't found their typical success this season.
The Bengals (against Minnesota) and the Rams (against Tampa Bay) are also good picks to lock down their opponent in a favorable Week 16 matchup.
|Top Fantasy Kickers|
|1||Justin Tucker (BAL)||Patriots|
|2||Matt Prater (DEN)||at Texans|
|3||Stephen Gostkowski (NE)||at Ravens|
|4||Phil Dawson (SF)||Falcons|
|5||Steven Hauschka (SEA)||Cardinals|
How can you not rank Justin Tucker as the top fantasy kicker after last weekend?
His massive, six-field-goal performance was the difference in his Ravens' win over Detroit in Week 15, hitting a game-winning 61-yard field goal—I'm not sure if any fantasy leagues even have 60-yard field goals in the points system.
Going up against a formidable Patriots defense, Baltimore should continue to find itself in field-goal territory plenty—especially when anywhere seemingly inside the 50 is field-goal range for Tucker.
Long field goals are nothing new to Matt Prater, who will have another big day with Denver going up against Houston. Stephen Gostkowski is also a solid play as his Patriots struggle to reach the end zone without Rob Gronkowski.
Note: All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.
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