Fantasy Football Week 16: Matt Camp's BS Meter
With the majority of fantasy championships decided in Week 16, the situations covered in this edition of the B.S. Meter will mainly focus on the upcoming week of games.
Streaming QBs continues to be a viable strategy multiple weeks into the fantasy playoffs. Week 15 saw strong performances from Nick Foles, Jimmy Garoppolo and Blake Bortles. Both Garoppolo and Bortles have been reliable options for the last few weeks, although you must continue to re-assess their respective matchups heading into Week 16.
Injuries to Antonio Brown, Rex Burkhead and Marqise Lee could open the door for players on your bench or waiver-wire additions to move right into your championship week starting lineup. As obvious as it may be to start your studs, losing them means you have to make adjustments. That's why it's so important to manage every spot on your roster to get maximum value, just in case unforeseen circumstances pop up this late in the year.
The B.S. Meter covers the most pressing issues in fantasy football. The statements will be rated from 1 to 10 with 1 being completely true and 10 being total B.S.
Note: All fantasy stats used to calculate finishes are from FantasyPros. All advanced stats are calculated using data from Pro Football Reference. Snap counts are also from Pro Football Reference. All stats are based on a points-per-reception (PPR) format.
Robert Woods Is Already Back to Must-Start Status
The Los Angeles Rams and fantasy teams went three weeks without the services of Robert Woods in the midst of the best season of his career. A shoulder injury suffered in Week 11 killed the momentum Woods built as one of the most reliable WRs in fantasy football. While he was fully expected to play in Week 15, he popped up in many lineup questions leading up to the matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
Woods reclaimed his spot as the top fantasy WR for the Rams with six receptions for 45 yards and a TD on seven targets in a blowout victory on the road. While Woods was productive leading the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards, it was a pretty quiet day for the team's passing game as a whole because of the lopsided score. Jared Goff completed 14 of 21 passes for 120 yards with two TDs and an INT. That means Woods accounted for a third of Goff's attempts and 37.5 percent of the team's receiving yards.
Following a strong return in Week 15, Woods has at least five receptions in six of his last seven games and seven of 11 games on the season. The 45-yard effort is actually his third-lowest total of the season and only the fifth time he failed to register at least 60 yards. All five of Woods' TDs have come in his last four games. Even with a three-game absence, he's not far behind Cooper Kupp for the team lead in targets (88-77), receptions (58-53) and receiving yards (804-748).
There's no question Woods belongs in your starting lineup for Week 16 when the Rams take on the Titans in Tennessee. Hopefully, you survived his absence to stay alive for the fantasy championship.
B.S. Meter on Woods being back to must-start status: 1/10
Dion Lewis Can Make Up for the Loss of Rex Burkhead
A rib injury cost Rex Burkhead four games earlier this season, but after his return in Week 7, Burkhead turned into a viable fantasy option and then into a weekly starter. For those that rode him to the fantasy playoffs, Week 15 brought bad news.
Burkhead ran four times for 12 yards and a TD and added a reception for five yards on his only target before exiting with a knee injury, which kept him out for the rest of the eventual victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Burkhead has a sprained knee and bruise, which will keep him out for the rest of the regular season with the "early hope" being a return for the playoffs. That cuts into the depth of the Patriots backfield, but the team has enough talent to cover the loss of Burkhead.
The biggest boost may belong to Dion Lewis, who has led the team in rushing yards and carries in each of the last nine games. Week 15 saw him carry 13 times for 67 yards and a TD with a reception for 13 yards on two targets. He led the backfield with 55 percent of the snaps, which was both a season-high and the first time he played more than 43.3 percent of the snaps. James White played 33 percent of the snaps, which is the third straight week he hit at least that snap share after failing to top 28.3 percent in four previous games.
The New England Patriots take on the Bills in Buffalo this weekend, which comes just three weeks after their last meeting. In that game, Lewis had his second-best rushing performance of the season with 15 carries for 92 yards on 37.1 percent of the snaps. Buffalo's run defense remains a vulnerable unit, so expect the Patriots to attack it with Lewis and potentially Mike Gillislee, as he'll likely return to the active roster after six straight healthy scratches.
The absence of Burkhead combined with the favorable matchup makes Lewis a potential RB1 for Week 16.
B.S. Meter on Lewis making up for the loss of Burkhead: 2/10
Martavis Bryant Gets a Boost from the Absence of Antonio Brown
It's not hyperbole to say that Antonio Brown's calf injury is one of the most significant in the history of fantasy football because of the timing. Early in Week 15, the injury forced Brown out of the game and eventually to the hospital following just two receptions for 24 yards on three targets.
While initially called a calf bruise by the team, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the injury was actually a "partially torn calf muscle" with Brown "unlikely to play" in Week 16, although he is expected back for the playoffs.
JuJu Smith-Schuster returned from his one-game suspension to rack up six receptions for 114 yards on six targets as the top option in for the Steelers passing attack. He would get the most obvious boost in fantasy value, but he was already a legit starting option when he was sharing the field with Brown. Smith-Schuster is second amongst the team's WRs in receptions (43), yards (699) and TDs (five).
Martavis Bryant is the player who could move from fantasy benches to starting lineups. Initially considered to be an excellent fantasy asset at the start of the season, Bryant fell out of favor over the first half due to his disappointing play and complaints about his role. However, in the last four weeks, he's worked his way back into the mix. Over that span, Bryant has 18 receptions for 172 yards and two TDs on 28 targets. He finished Week 15 with four receptions for 59 yards and a TD on six targets.
If available, Bryant is arguably the top waiver-wire addition heading into Week 16, especially because of a great matchup against the Houston Texans. He could be in the WR2 mix on fantasy championship rosters.
B.S. Meter on Bryant getting a boost from the absence of Brown: 3/10
Nelson Agholor Is a Viable Fantasy Option Regardless of QB
The doom and gloom associated with Carson Wentz's torn ACL may have put a damper on the Super Bowl hopes of the Philadelphia Eagles, but after one week, fantasy production remains strong for their passing game under Nick Foles.
While Foles isn't nearly as talented as Wentz, the skill around him and a favorable schedule were enough reason to consider him a viable streamer and not massively downgrade the usual fantasy starters. Those regular starters include Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz, but should they also include Nelson Agholor?
In an ugly win over the New York Giants, Foles was forced to throw more than expected thanks to the struggles of the Eagles defense. Luckily, he came threw with 237 yards and four TDs on 24-of-38 passing. Jeffery led the team with 10 targets, which he converted into four receptions for 49 yards and a TD. Ertz caught six of his nine targets for 56 yards and a TD. Agholor also had nine targets, but was the team leader in receptions (seven) and yards (59) with a TD of his own.
Over his last four games, Agholor has 25 receptions for 296 yards and three TDs on 38 targets. During that same time period, Jeffery has 18 receptions for 221 yards and three TDs on 36 targets. That means Agholor has been the better fantasy option in the last month with 19.7 fantasy points per game to Jeffery's 14.4. Both players, along with Ertz, remain strong starts for Week 16 in a great matchup with a suspect Oakland Raiders secondary. Foles is good enough keep the faith in the Eagles passing attack.
B.S. Meter on Agholor being a viable fantasy option regardless of QB: 4/10
The Seahawks Offense Is Doomed
In a huge NFC West matchup at home, the Seattle Seahawks played what may have been their worst game of the Russell Wilson era in a 42-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. While the division-leading Rams deserve plenty of credit for their performance on both sides of the ball, the Seahawks offense couldn't even muster more than one score, which marked only the second time this season they failed to tally at least 12 points.
Fantasy owners were disappointed across the board. Russell Wilson managed just 142 yards and a TD on 14-of-30 passing and five carries for 39 yards with a lost fumble. Mike Davis was set up well in a good matchup, but game flow limited him to just six carries for 19 yards and he was only able to add two receptions for 20 yards on his only two targets.
Other than Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham are the no-doubt fantasy starters for Seattle, but they were the biggest disappointments. Baldwin caught just one of four targets for six yards while Graham had one reception for negative-one yard on three targets. Just one week earlier, Graham was blanked with just two targets. Baldwin saved some face in that same game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with three receptions for 78 yards and a TD on six targets.
In the last five games, Baldwin registered at least five receptions once and topped 60 yards twice. In the last four games, Graham has seven receptions for 59 yards and two TDs on 15 targets. While the TDs helped them save some fantasy value, these are far from reliable performers with the way the offense is operating coming down the stretch.
Unfortunately, you likely have to keep rolling with both unless you have a totally stacked roster heading into Week 16. Luckily, the Seahawks go from two tougher matchups with the Rams and Jaguars to a much easier game with the Dallas Cowboys. Wilson, Baldwin and Graham are still worth using, but you can think twice about Davis.
B.S. Meter on the Seahawks offense being doomed: 5/10
Ezekiel Elliott's Return Destroys Rod Smith's Fantasy Value
The Dallas Cowboy get Ezekiel Elliott back from his six-game suspension this week with a chance to still make the playoffs. They have won their last three games following losses in their first three games without Elliott.
Where does that leave Alfred Morris and Rod Smith after they filled in for Elliott during his suspension?
With Elliott healthy, the Cowboys have no reason to work him back slowly nor can they afford to do so with only two weeks left in the regular season. That means Morris is heading back to the bench after doing an admirable job as the lead back during Elliott's absence.
During that time, he carried 99 times for 430 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and one TD with six receptions for 36 yards on seven targets. He had just one game with at least 20 carries while Elliott did than in all but one of his eight appearances this season.
Morris is easy to eliminate because Elliott can take on the lead-back role, but Smith is in an interesting situation. Without Elliott, Smith carried 43 times for 153 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and four TDs. He also added 14 receptions for 161 yards and a TD on 17 targets. Smith has at least one TD in each of the last four games. Even though Elliott has proved to be a capable receiver, it's fair to wonder if the Cowboys would keep Smith involved as a change-of-pace option and for some help in a passing game that doesn't have a lot of options.
Morris can be cut from your fantasy roster, but if you're desperate, it might be worth keeping Smith around to use as a deep reach this weekend when the Cowboys host the Seattle Seahawks.
B.S. Meter on Elliott's return destroying Smith's fantasy value: 5/10
The Packers Will Stick with Aaron Rodgers for the Rest of the Season
The Green Bay Packers and fantasy owners held out hope that the team would still be in playoff contention come Week 15, as that was the first time Aaron Rodgers would be eligible to return from his broken collarbone. Rodgers was cleared ahead of practice last week and was penciled in as the starter in a huge game with the Carolina Panthers.
It was an uneven effort from Rodgers in his first game action since Week 6. He completed just 26 of 45 attempts for 290 yards with three TDs and three INTs. His 57.8 completion percentage marked the first time he dipped below 60 percent in that category since Week 5 of last season. He made some great throws, but also some poor decisions.
Rodgers was sacked three times in the loss that will cost the Packers their season after they were eliminated from playoff contention with the Atlanta Falcons victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, Head coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers was "sore" and "took too many hits," which is why they are monitoring his status for what has become a meaningless game for the Packers on Saturday night against the visiting Minnesota Vikings.
It's important to note that Ian Rapoport from NFL Network reported Rodgers' collarbone was "not 100 percent" heading into Week 15, which means he'd be at risk to rebreak it. Knowing Rodgers is the franchise player, the team would be foolish to risk him in meaningless games, so you certainly can't count on him to be out there. That's obviously a downgrade for their entire offense.
B.S. Meter on Packers sticking with Rodgers: 7/10
Jimmy Garoppolo's Hot Streak Will Continue
Apparently, Jimmy Garoppolo was well aware of how many people were streaming him in the fantasy playoffs. In his third start with the San Francisco 49ers, Garoppolo had his best fantasy performance and led the 49ers to a comeback victory over the Tennessee Titans.
With the matchup in his favor, Garoppolo completed 31 of 43 attempts (72.1 percent) for 381 yards and a TD. He finished Week 15 as a top-10 QB with 19.6 fantasy points. Over his first three starts, Garoppolo has 1,008 yard with two TDs and two INTs on 77-of-113 passing. Those were all games in favorable matchups with the Titans, Houston Texans and Chicago Bears. For a team out of playoff contention, Garoppolo is giving the 49ers plenty to be excited about over the final weeks of the season.
The streaming success for Garoppolo will likely come to an end in Week 16. While the 49ers are at home once again, they will face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are on a three-game win streak and are winners of seven of their last eight games. For the season, they lead the league in passing yards allowed per game (168.9), points allowed per game (14.9) and sacks (51).
This is easily Garoppolo's toughest test to date, and while it might be a great learning experience, it is not the week to consider him as a reliable fantasy starter, especially if your championship is on the line. He'd likely need garbage-time production to have a decent fantasy day.
B.S. Meter on Garoppolo's hot streak continuing: 8/10
Relying on Blake Bortles Is Risky
Much like Jimmy Garoppolo, Blake Bortles has proved you can stream QBs at any point of the season with success. They are just two more examples of why streaming QBs is a useful strategy, as opposed to using an early draft pick to take one of the top-ranked QBs.
Lots of credit for the Jacksonville Jaguars' success has been given to their great defense and rushing attack led by Leonard Fournette. Fournette wasn't available for Week 15 against the Houston Texans while nursing ankle and quad issues, which put more focus on Bortles to deliver. He came through with one of his biggest games of the season in one of the rare weeks that he was a consensus pick to be a strong streamer.
Bortles carved up the Texans for 326 yards and three TDs on 21-of-29 passing in a 45-7 victory. Besides the absence of Fournette, Marqise Lee went down early with an ankle injury, but that wasn't a problem, as Keelan Cole went for seven receptions, 186 yards and a TD on nine targets.
The Jaguars are riding a three-game wining streak heading into another favorable matchup on the road with the San Francisco 49ers. During that streak, Bortles has completed 65 of 91 attempts (71.4 percent) for 903 yards and seven TDs in addition to 25 rushing yards on 10 attempts. He's averaging 22.2 fantasy points over that span, which makes him one of the top QBs in the month of December.
A year ago, it would have been crazy to say Bortles would be one of the best QBs in the fantasy playoffs in 2017, but this is a much better team than a year ago with a good supporting staff around Bortles. To his credit, he's more than just a game manager and is definitely an important contributor to the Jags' success. He can absolutely lead you to a fantasy championship.
B.S. Meter on relying on Bortles being risky: 9/10
You Can Count on the Titans Backfield
The Tennessee Titans are still alive in the AFC playoff race at 8-6, but they certainly don't look like a playoff team following bad losses to the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers. Even on the road, you can't lose games to two teams out of playoff contention, although it shouldn't be that surprising, since the Titans don't excel in any aspect of the game.
Last season, they relied on a strong rushing attack by DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Even though Murray continues to lead the way, he hasn't been nearly as reliable in reality or fantasy. In the last five games, Murray has just 178 yards and one TD on 60 carries (three yards per carry) and 13 receptions for 100 yards on 16 targets.
Murray's only 100-yard rushing effort came back in Week 3, and he doesn't have another game with even 70 rushing yards. However, he continues to lead the backfield, as he did in Week 15 with 18 carries for 59 yards and a reception for four yards on his only target.
In that same game, Henry had just seven carries for 19 yards and a pair of receptions for nine yards on his only two targets. Over the last five games, Henry has three receptions for 19 yards on four targets, which isn't surprising since he's never had much of a role in the passing game. During that same time, he posted 259 rushing yards and two TDs on 46 carries (5.6 yards per carry). After rushing for 109 yards and a TD on 11 carries in Week 13, he has just 15 carries for 39 yards and a TD in the last two games.
Murray might be leading the backfield, but he's doing a poor job in that role. However, Henry isn't getting enough chances to overtake him. This backfield is a complete mess for fantasy, and with so much on the line this week, you're better off looking elsewhere for options in your starting lineup.
B.S. Meter on counting on the Titans backfield: 10/10