Fantasy Football: Week 16 High Risk/High Reward Players For Your Championship

Keet Bailey@@KeetBaileyCorrespondent IIDecember 22, 2010

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns runs against Jairus Byrd #31 of the Buffalo Bills  at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The championship trophy is in your grasp right now. You can taste it and you love it. But you need every point possible in order to win this fantasy football matchup for the ultimate bragging rights in your league.

High risk players can often have potential for high reward.

It’s important to know what guy you need to start that could blow up for you. Last week, guys like Kerry Collins and Vincent Jackson were big time risks that ended up producing at a very high level.

But what about this week? What do you do in the fantasy football playoffs?

You have to take into consideration divisional matchups for a few teams are in progress, and things change. It’s like college bowl games or March Madness, there’s no telling what could happen.

Check out NFL Soup’s Week 16 High Risk/High Reward players.

Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina

Ward has been a solid fantasy option just about every other week in the last few weeks. Usually, with Heath Miller out, Hines Ward is golden, but he was shut down against the New York Jets.

Carolina’s defense isn’t any good. But the Panthers have fared pretty well against No. 1 receivers in the league.

It’s very possible that Ward gets held to 50-to-60 yards in this game, but he could also blow up and score a touchdown with over 100 yards because he still has that big play ability.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas

Fitzgerald has been solid for the last three weeks, despite very bad quarterback play in Arizona. The problem is that Fitz hasn’t been in the end zone since Week 11 and is heavily relied on to pile up the yardage for fantasy owners.

The good news is that in Week 15, Fitzgerald had a very good game, catching nine passes for 125 yards. While he didn’t get in the end zone, that’s still very respectable for a WR2 or even Flex. John Skelton is a rookie, and will make mistakes, but he also has the arm to get the ball down field and Dallas’ secondary has been less than stellar in 2010.

Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins vs. Detroit

Henne has been terribly inconsistent. He’s had a few games this season in which he’s played very well and produced quality QB2 numbers and he’s had games where he looked worthy of a drop.

Henne gets the satisfaction of playing a weak secondary and is coming off of a pretty solid Week 15. Miami won’t make the playoffs, but the Dolphins can still have a winning season if they can finish out their 2010 campaign strong.

Henne has Davone Bess and Brandon Marshall healthy and still has a decent running game to work with.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears vs. New York Jets

Cutler is everybody’s favorite fantasy player to hate on. He’ll have three or four touchdowns in one game and then he’ll throw three interceptions in the next game, blowing your fantasy week.

Cutler has been a solid QB2 in three of his last four matchups and gets a tough one in Week 16 against the Jets.

But the Jets pass defense isn’t what ESPN makes it out to be. They still give up big plays and are susceptible against the passes over 15-20 yards in the middle of the field, which is what Cutler loves.

I wouldn’t recommend the start, but Cutler could have a big game as the Bears will want to win out to try and secure home-field advantage.

Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis

Alex Smith is another one of those quarterbacks we love to hate. Smith was benched earlier in the season for Troy Smith and came back in Week 14 to light it up against the Seahawks.

Then he fell on his face in Week 15 on Thursday night.

We know that Smith has the ability to make plays and get it done, but we just rarely see it. The 49ers have to win out in order to have a shot at winning the division and making the playoffs. Smith gets a very favorable matchup against a poor Rams secondary, but a divisional matchup against an improved Rams team won’t be easy.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore

Anybody reading this probably thinks that I’m crazy. Peyton Hillis a risky start? I think not!

Believe it or not, this is somewhat risky. Hillis has put up single-digit fantasy numbers for the last three weeks and he’s failed to get into the end zone. He’s been playing with an injured lead fullback in Lawrence Vickers and has been the victim of terrible playcalling in Cleveland.

With Baltimore still playing for a playoff spot, the Ravens will be bringing everything they have.

Hillis tore the Ravens up in Week 3 and started his fantastic 2010 campaign. But don’t be surprised if he gets held to another 60-yards-or-less game, and without a touchdown in this one. At the same time, he did put up 144 yards on them before and he has the ability to do it again.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland

This is another “What are you thinking!” pick.

Boldin has been held to single-digit fantasy points in five of his last seven matchups and has been a bit more ineffective with teams focusing more on him and Derrick Mason seeing more receptions.

Boldin lit up the Browns in Week 3, giving his owners a victory ultimately. But Eric Wright won’t be covering him. Eric Wright won’t even be on the field. Rookie Joe Haden will be on Boldin and he has been playing very well against No. 1 receivers. I’d be careful starting Boldin, but he could blow up against the weak safeties in Cleveland.

Tim Tebow, QB, Denver Broncos vs. Houston

I’m not jumping on the Tebow bandwagon and I most likely never will. But I won’t let my personal bias against Tebow affect my fantasy judgement. Tebow threw the ball just 16 times in a loss to Oakland, but threw for a touchdown and ran for a 40 yard scamper.

Tebow gets an extremely favorable matchup against the Texans who may have the worst overall defense in the league. They can’t stop the run or the pass. If you’re in a two-QB league, then Tebow could be just the guy for you.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks @ Tampa Bay

I loved Lynch coming out of the NFL Draft. I thought he was a great overall back. His attitude problems and injuries forced him out of Buffalo and he’s not in a much better situation in Seattle.

However, he is producing as of late.

Lynch had three touchdowns against Carolina and rushed well against the Falcons, getting into the end zone once. Tampa Bay’s run defense is bad and it is riddled with injuries. Lynch could be a very good flex play and could get into the end zone.

It could be just the risk you need to take to put you over the top.

Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans

Turner is one of my favorite running backs in the NFL.

He’s so tough and physical and has a great mix of size and speed. But he seemed to slow down against a very poor Seattle Seahawks defense, as he rushed 25 times for just 82 yards.

New Orleans' run defense isn’t anything to brag about and the Saints could easily give up big yardage. But they could still make a run for the NFC South if they win the next two and the Falcons lose the next two.

You have to believe Sean Payton will have the Saints ready to play in this game and shutting down Michael Turner will be the key. Turner ran all over them in Week 3. But this could be a different story.


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