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Thoughts on Week 16

The big topic of Week 16 around the NFL and in fantasy circles was the way the Colts took out their starters with five minutes left in the third quarter with a 15-10 lead. It was a concern for fantasy owners all week and made the Colts very risky. While some teams don’t clearly state what they will do when nothing of significance in terms of playoff positioning is on the line, the Colts made it clear that an undefeated season didn’t mean much to them and it’s a philosophy they have always employed.

Peyton Manning went 14 of 21 for 192 yards with no TDs and was risky. You knew this was a possibility if you started him. Joseph Addai had the most risk and while he had six carries for 40 yards, he did score a TD. Reggie Wayne faced Darrelle Revis so that made him a tough start even for a regular game and then you take into account that he would come out early and three catches for 33 yards isn’t a shock.
The only Colts player I started and had ranked in his usual spot was Dallas Clark. He had four catches for 57 yards, which isn’t awful in a PPR league. Austin Collie benefited the most, especially with Pierre Garcon out and he had six catches for 94 yards. Donald Brown returned from injury and had 15 carries for 22 yards. Expect a similar workload next week to get him back to game mode.
Thomas Jones has been consistently ranked in my top 10 each week. He gets more than 20 carries every week, is featured in this offense and even if he’s not doing well, he keeps getting fed the ball and usually breaks a big play off, like he did against the Colts.
With Mark Sanchez at quarterback, the Jets will run most of the time and Shonn Greene had 16 carries for 95 yards.
Sean Payton said the Saints will play Week 17 like a regular game after the Saints lost their second straight game. Pierre Thomas, clearly the best back on the Saints, was on his way to a good game with six carries for 60 yards and a TD, but left the second quarter with bruised ribs. It sums up the season for Thomas owners.
It has been a disappointing season for Matt Ryan, but if you were desperate at QB and started him, he rewarded you with three TD passes against a Bills secondary that has been tough.
Jason Snelling had a great matchup against the worst run defense and failed to deliver with 15 carries and 68 yards and one reception for six yards. Jerious Norwood had 13 carries for 52 yards and 1 catch for 9 yards.
Roddy White was the Falcons offensive player who shined with 8 catches for 139 yards and 2 TDs. Tony Gonzalez had 2 catches for 17 yards and left the game early with a calf injury.
I’m sure Texans running back Arian Foster was in more lineups last week than this week and of course he was productive this week. He fumbled on his third touch of the game in Week 15 and was benched the rest of the game. Against the Dolphins yesterday, Foster had 19 carries for 97 yards and a TD. Ryan Moats had eight carries for 23 yards, while Chris Brown has been phased out. Look for Foster to get most of the carries again in Week 17.
Ricky Williams left the game with a shoulder injury and returned late in the fourth quarter for one play. Williams had 10 carries for 35 yards and five catches for 26 yards. Lex Hilliard replaced him and had nine catches for 74 yards with one TD and 3 carries for 12 yards with a TD.
A great matchup for Aaron Rodgers didn’t work out well since the Packers opened up a huge lead on the Seahawks and Rodgers was removed early. He threw just 23 passes for 237 yards with 1 TD.
Ryan Grant had 16 carries for 97 yards and 2 TDs. And everyone’s favorite sleeper this week, Brandon Jackson had five carries for 20 yards with 2 TDs and 3 catches for 19 yards with a TD. Anyone play him? Even Ahman Green scored and he had 8 carries for 29 yards. A dream matchup for the Packers in championship week that didn’t work out like most owners hoped.
Greg Jennings had 4 catches for 111 yards and Jermichael Finley had 3 catches for 80 yards, but the lopsided score limited more production.
The Panthers have played much better with Matt Moore at quarterback. It makes you wonder how they would have played if he got the call earlier in place of an inept Jake Delhomme. Moore had three TDs in a win over the Giants and helped those owners who were patient with Steve Smith, who had five catches for 60 yards with a TD, but broke his forearm on the TD catch.
Jonathan Stewart was an obvious RB1 once DeAngelo Williams was ruled out, but no one could have expected 28 carries for 206 yards and a TD and 2 catches for 16 yards. It’s too bad the Panthers have two excellent fantasy backs on the same team.
I was a little concerned about Eric Mangini’s usage of Jerome Harrison earlier in the week, but as I thought more about it with the Raiders weak run defense and Derek Anderson at quarterback, even Mangini couldn’t keep the ball out of Harrison’s hands coming off a historic performance. I had Harrison as a RB 2 and he had 39 carries for 148 yards with a TD. He wasn’t in most lineups in Week 15, but I am sure he helped many teams in championship week.
Zach Miller returned from a concussion and had 9 catches for 110 yards. He’s an excellent tight end, but QB woes in Oakland cause him to be erratic.
The Raiders fell behind and it limited their running attack. Michael Bush 10 carries for 52 yards and a 7-yard catch, while Darren McFadden started and had seven carries for 23 yards and caught four passes for 55 yards.
I know Tom Brady hasn’t played well lately and he might have ended some seasons before Week 16, but I found it hard to bench him at home against a Jaguars team that doesn’t rush the passer well at all and has a poor secondary. Brady came through going 23 of 26 for 267 yards and 4 TDs.
Laurence Maroney fell down the rankings this week because it was expected that the Patriots would pass more early and the return of Fred Taylor. Maroney fumbled on first drive near the goal line and was benched the rest of the game. He had 5 carries for 22 yards. Sammy Morris looked very good with 12 carries for 95 yards with a TD and Taylor had 11 carries for 35 yards. The Patriots were up big, so there were plenty of carries to go around, but we’re back to staying away from Patriots running backs.
I was amazed at how many people dropped Randy Moss in rankings because of his episode two weeks ago. He was in my top six each of the last two weeks and it was no surprise that he came through. He had four catches for 45 yards with 3 TDs. Hope you didn’t bench him.
Wes Welker had 13 catches for 138 yards. He has just four TDs, but in PPR league he is easily a top-10 WR every week. He has 122 catches for 1,336 yards and he missed two games. In 13 games, he had at least 10 catches in seven of them. Money in the bank. He has at least 111 catches in three consecutive seasons and is PPR gold.
Carson Palmer became a non-option for me weeks ago, regardless of matchup. The Bengals are too conservative and just don’t throw enough. They are a running team and even though Palmer had a great matchup, he passed for just 139 yards, but did have 2 TDs.
Some may have been concerned about using Jamaal Charles against a good Bengals defense, but I wasn’t. He was in my top-10 and he had 24 carries for 102 yards and three catches for 22 yards. He had scored in six straight games and is climbing up the rankings for 2010. He had 27 touches for the third consecutive game and at least 124 total yards in each.
Another matchup-proof player is Ray Rice. He was impressive once again and became the first player to rush for 100 yards against the Steelers since 2007. Rice had 30 carries for 141 yards and a 14-yard catch.
If you fell victim to Todd Heap, I know your pain. He doesn’t score since Week 2 and then gets two TDs in each game over the last two weeks.
Steven Jackson was declared inactive late in the day since the Rams played at 4:15 p.m. The herniated disc in his back caused him too much pain. He expects to play this week.
How good would Calvin Johnson be with a good quarterback? He has no receivers opposite him and gets constant double teams and could still put up good numbers. He had 7 catches for 96 yards on 12 targets and 2 carries for 36 yards, which is why it so difficult to bench him.
 Alex Smith had a great matchup against the Lions and didn’t come through as I hoped with 230 yards and 1 TD. The 49ers got the lead and then ran the ball as Frank Gore got 28 carries for 71 yards with a TD and had four catches for 81 yards.
A great matchup for Vernon Davis and he had just 3 catches for 18 yards, but he did score. He has 72 catches for 876 yards and 12 TDs. One of the best values this season.
Kyle Orton threw 3 TDs, but a 4.6 YPA is terrible and he just doesn’t throw downfield enough. It hurt Brandon Marshall, who had eight catches for 39 yards. Jabar Gaffney had 7 catches for 69 yards and 2 TDs in what was useless for fantasy purposes. Eddie Royal didn’t play and Brandon Stokley was ejected in the first quarter.
Brian Westbrook returned and had nine carries for 32 yards and 2 catches for 5 yards.
DeSean Jackson didn’t break a big play, but did score. Jeremy Maclin returned and had six catches for 92 yards. Brent Celek, another great value at TE this season, at four catches for 121 yards and a TD.

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