Start 'Em for Week 16 Fantasy Bowl: With MJD Doubtful, Where Do You Turn?
There are a lot of late-breaking news-bombs being dropped on fantasy football's faithful and, with question marks surrounding some of the league's top fantasy players in 2010, owners need the skinny on some potential alternatives.
In the next few slides, we serve up some useful data and analysis on what we feel are some solid "Start 'Em" choices that are not obvious upon first glance.
Start Jon Kitna @ Arizona: 8pm Saturday
Jason Garrett should have a job next summer.
Check it: he took over six weeks ago and this offense has scored no less than 27 points in each game and has averaged 32.2 per since. They have gone 4-2 after a miserable start at the direction of the lifeless Wade Phillips.
The players have responded to Garrett, and no one more so than his QB2.
Kitna has exceeded all expectations in Tony Romo’s place, averaging a healthy 21.3 fantasy PPG since taking over. Kitna faces a highly overrated Arizona defense. It ranks eighth best according to the stat charts, but their competition (primarily in the NFC West) has been weak. Nine of the 14 QBs Arizona has faced this season rank 20th or worse in fantasy average points among QBs.
If you are desperate for a concern relative to Kitna, I suppose the fact that the AZ’s inability to score is concerning. But journeyman Rex Grossman looked like an all-pro notching his second 300+ yard passing afternoon and was able to add four TD passes on this Dallas D. So my guess is John Skelton should be able to get something going through the air, forcing the Cowboys to pass to keep a lead.
Start Matt Ryan @ Home vs New Orleans: Monday Night Football
Ryan has played exceptional at home in his career, leading the Falcons to a 19-1 record in the Georgia Dome.
His only loss came when Roddy White dropped a sure TD pass in the final minutes in a game against Denver that would have given them the lead.
Ryan is 6-0 at home, averaging 257 passing yards and two TD this season.
After three straight games on the road, Ryan will be returning home to face the New Orleans Saints, who rank second in fantasy points allowed to QBs but have rarely been tested. The Saints have not faced a top nine fantasy QB yet this season and only have faced three top 15 fantasy QBs so far.
Beyond that, you may want to consider that Matt Ryan is averaging over 22 fantasy PPG over his career facing division rival New Orleans.
Start Tim Tebow? @ Home vs Houston: 4pm Sunday
200 yards passing, 50 yards rushing and a couple of TD passes are a real possibility for Tebow this week against a Texans defense that has allowed at least 19.7 fantasy points to all QBs they have faced, except Florida Atlantic U’s own Rusty “Trombone” Smith.
The Texans are allowing an average of 289 yards passing and 2.2 TD to opposing QBs in 2010.
While Tebow may be a little risky to play, since it’s most likely your fantasy super bowl, he makes for an intriguing play in weekly contests due to his low salary.
Obviously, if you play in a two QB league, you must consider him.
Start Rex Grossman @ Jacksonville: 1pm Sunday
Yes, we are on the Grossman bandwagon for at least one week.
Yes, it’s true, his 32 fantasy points in Week 15 came against a Cowboys defense that has allowed the second most points to fantasy QBs this season.
This week Grossman has another great match up against a Jaguars defense that has allowed the fifth most points to fantasy QB this year. In 11 of 14 games this season, a QB facing the Jaguars has scored at least 19.2 fantasy points (the lone holdouts were the Titans QB corps, led by the talented Rusty Smith, Vince Young and Kerry Collins, and then Matt Cassel).
Jason Campbell and Colt McCoy both went for over 20 fantasy PPG versus this Jags D.
Another thing Grossman has going for him is the fact that the Redskins' defense might actually be worse than the Jaguars'. Over the Redskins' last seven games, they allowed 30 points per game.
Start Ryan Fitzpatrick @ Home vs New England: 1pm Sunday
The Pats have given up the third most fantasy points QBs this season.
While many had thought they had turned the corner after healthy outings against the Jets and Bears, they seem to have reverted to their old ways last week against QB2 Matt Flynn, by allowing him 25.9 fantasy points.
Fitzpatrick has slowed down as of late, only averaging 16.8 fantasy over his last four games after averaging 23.5 in his first eight games. He came back around last week versus a stout Miami pass D, going for 223 yards and two TDs.
He faced the Pats in Week three and rattled off 22.2 fantasy points in his first start of this season.
This is a solid match up with no pressure. He’s worth a look in deeper leagues and weekly salary leagues.
Start Matt Schaub @ Denver: 4pm Sunday
Schaub investors who held onto him all year and still managed to slip into the playoffs are being rewarded huge with his last three games, in which he’s averaging 351 yards per while throwing seven TDs.
If Schaub passing attempts can reach at least 35, he should have a big game.
The Broncos are giving up an average of 22.33 fantasy points to QBs over their last eight games and check out their competition: Jason Campbell (twice), Troy Smith, Matt Cassel (twice), Sam Bradford, Philip Rivers and John Skeleton. Jason Campbell, Troy Smith, Matt Cassell and Sam Bradford all scored at least 20 points against Denver.
Make sure to monitor the health of Andre Johnson though, as he is listed as a game-time decision.
Start Benjarvus Green-Ellis @ Buffalo: 1pm Sunday
He had a nice line last week, considering it was against the Packers.
He is only the fourth RB to score 10 or more fantasy points against them.
The Bills are third worst, allowing 14 TDs on the season and an average of 141 rush yards per game. Ronnie Brown has three double digit fantasy point games in 2010 and two of have come vs. the Bills.
BJGE has 96 carries for 439 yards and five scores over his last six games, which is solid. It’s more solid when you review who he’s played (Steelers, Packers and Jets, who are first, second and third best—and another was vs. the Bears, who are eighth best) In an earlier meeting with Buffalo, Green-Ellis rushed for 98 yards and a score on only 16 carries and scored 16.4 fantasy points
Start Choice Or Felix Jones, but Only If Babs Does Not Play: Saturday @ Arizona
Only play one of these guys if Marion Barber is inactive. Otherwise, there is no empirical data to point to which of the three will dominate carries or goal-line touches.
Arizona currently ranks second worst in fantasy points allowed to RBs, so it would be a fantasy shame if Barber does play.
The Cowboys have really committed to the run since Jason Garrett took over, averaging 31 attempts in six games—versus only 21 attempts in eight games with Wade Philips.
The Redskins allowed Choice and Jones to notch a total of 26 fantasy points in Week 15. Choice is the better option as he is the goal-line guy, but Jones should also see about 15 touches in this one—and at least used to be a threat to bust off a long one, though not as much this season.
Start LaGarrette Blount @ Home vs Seattle: 1pm Sunday
Blount has gone over the century mark and scored a TD in two of this last three contests.
He is averaging an impressive 5.3 YPC over his last five games and 4.7 YPC on the season. He’s been even more effective at home, scoring a minimum of 15 fantasy points in his last three home games.
Here is a nice complementary stat for you: over the Seahawks last four road games, they have given up an average of 192 total yards to RBs and have allowed an average of 26.73 fantasy points (to RBs).
Start Ryan Torain @ Jacksonville: 1pm Sunday
When Torain plays, he is productive.
He’s played in eight games this season and has either gone over 100, scored a touchdown or both in six of them.
He had two lean games against the Rams (14th best vs. the run) in Week three and the Packers (third best) in Week five.
Torain will face the 21st ranked Jaguar rush defense, who is allowing 4.63 YPC and 14 TDs on the year. They’ve been even worse the last two games, allowing Darren McFadden and Donald Brown to rush for over eight yards per carry and rack up multiple scores.
Four different RBs have had their best fantasy outings for 2010 (Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Mike Tolbert and Thomas Jones) and McFadden had a close second (his Denver game was slightly better).
Start Mike Tolbert @ Cincinnati: 4pm Sunday
Ryan Matthews started last week, but anyone who watched the game knows who San Diego’s real RB1 is.
Tolbert got 17 of the first 22 carries last week and scored another TD. He has 11 TDs on the season and has scored in nine of his last eleven games.
The Bengals rank 12th best in fantasy points allowed to RBs, but in the last five weeks have allowed both Chris Ivory and Fred Jackson to top 23.5 points each.
Even if the defense holds Tolbert in check, he should have plenty of opportunities to score as the Chargers are among the top teams in goal-line attempts in 2010.
Start Rashad Jennings If MJD DNPs @ Home vs Washington: 1pm Sunday
MJD is doubtful and if he DNPs, Jennings is a no-brainer.
MJD was not able to finish the game last week. Jennings has looked good in limited action, averaging 6.8 YPC this season. Even if you take away his 74 yard TD run a couple of week ago, he still is averaging 5.3 YPC.
The Jags will be welcoming a Redskins rush defense that is allowing 167.4 total yards to RBs per contest and ranks eighth worst in fantasy points allowed to RBs at 21.9 fantasy PPG. They’ve been worse of late, for over their last six games they've coughed up 27.1 fantasy PPG to RBs.
For perspective, Denver has allowed the most points to fantasy RBs, with an average of 26.8 per game.
Ride the news-breakers up until the last possible minute and make the right call.
Start Santana Moss @ Jacksonville: 1pm Sunday
Moss has been hot the last two weeks, combining for 15 receptions for 154 yards and scoring three TDs.
The Jags are allowing over 12 fantasy PPG to WR1s on the season and in 11 of their 14 games, at least one receiver has scored 11.7 fantasy points against them.
The three games it didn’t happen were against the Titans twice and Cleveland and we need not explain how poor those passing attacks are.
Also, Britt was not in the second meeting and in the first he did catch a TD to go along with about 30 or so yards, so he was close.
Moss should toy with this secondary, assuming Rex Grossman does not implode.
Start Wes Welker and Deion Branch @ Buffalo: 1pm Sunday
This is a welcome match up for the Patriots' wide outs, as few teams have had a rougher schedule in the NFL than New England where the pass defenses are concerned.
The Bills have allowed the eighth fewest fantasy points to WRs. However, they have been more porous of late, giving up 289 yards and three TDs to Sidney Rice, Davone Bess and Brandon Marshall in their last two.
In an earlier meeting this season with the Bills, Tom Brady threw for 252 yards and three TDs and completed 78 percent of his passes.
Branch missed a few practices this week but appears on target to play. Welker is a no-brainer.
Start Josh Morgan @ St. Louis: 1pm Sunday
Fine, this is a stretch. Some might call it a “super” sleeper.
If we were into labeling every piece of analysis, maybe we would call it just that. Lucky for you, we aren’t, we feel start’em, sit’em covers most. This advice is for teams in deeper leagues, with this cat sitting at the end of your bench while you have other much more questionable options.
Check it: Morgan has been targeted 12 times in two games and has caught 10 of those for 188 yards and a score. He became only the third receiver this season to reach 100 yards against the Chargers in Week 15.
Meanwhile, Crabtree seems to have fallen out of favor with the organization and his numbers are showing it. He has caught four of his nine targets for 18 yards and no TDs during the same two week stretch.
Crabtree, though, will continue to draw the top coverage, leaving Morgan with easier match ups. And St. Louis ranks 11th worst in fantasy points allowed to WRs.
It’s a stretch, but I’d start him over Crabtree without hesitation.
Start Steve Johnson @ Home vs New England: 1pm Sunday
Stevie got himself "off the shneid" last Sunday with his TD catch, his first since tweeting and blaming God for dropping that game-winner against the Steelers. He is 57 yards away from his first 1,000 season and that will likely happen this weekend against a Patriots pass defense that allows the fifth most fantasy points to WRs on the season and ninth most over the last five weeks.
Finally, and this is key, opponents of the Patriots are averaging 38.4 pass attempts per game, making this call rather easy.
Start Mike Williams @ Home vs. Seattle: 1pm Sunday
This is, perhaps, his best match up of the season as he's playing at home and facing the third most porous fantasy pass defense in the NFL.
He torched the Lions for 96 yards on six catches and a score in Week 15 and currently sits 15th on the fantasy WR stack rankings—the dude's a rookie playing with a second year QB; he's special. He's also a high-end WR2 this Sunday.
Start Pierre Garcon @ Oakland: 4pm Sunday
Garcon only goes as far as Collie will let him.
"Huh?" you ask?
What I mean is, if Collie is in the game, get Garcon out of it. His stats have been dreadful in games that Collie has been healthy (Week six withstanding). And, good news Collie owners, Collie has been placed on the IR, leaving Garcon as Manning's 2nd target facing a Raiders' pass D that is short one healthy Nnamdi Asomaghu.
Since Nnamdi has been dinged up, this Raider pass D has struggled. On the season they are eighth best defending fantasy WRs. However, over the last five games they've allowed the tenth most fantasy points to WRs. Garcon makes for a rock solid WR2 play this weekend.
*Obvious Alert* Jason Witten @ Arizona: 8pm Saturday
He has come alive since Kitna took over. With Antonio Gates on the pines, most likely for the remainder of the season, Witten is now the top TE on the board.
He is averaging 12.8 fantasy points over his last five games, which is 5.1 points higher than the next closest TE. He has notched four TDs in his last three games, after scoring only four TDs in his previous 27 games.