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FantasyNFL

Fantasy Football Week 16 Point/Counterpoint: Where Eagles (And 49ers) Dare


The NFL playoff situation could play havoc on your team this Fantasy Championship Weekend. Between the uncertainty of the 49ers playing RB Frank Gore to the thorny scenario that could see Eagles coach Chip Kelly sitting down his starters in order to play the Cowboys for the NFC East title next week, there is much uncertainty. How to handle this situation? This week on Point/Counterpoint, Brandon C. Williams and Chris Mitchell debate on whether you should start or sit the key players in these two matchups.

POINT by Brandon C. Williams

The Cowboys could beat the Redskins Sunday afternoon.

The Redskins could beat the Cowboys Sunday afternoon.

The Cowboys could tie the Redskins Sunday afternoon.

The Redskins could tie the Cowboys Sunday afternoon.

….and neither of these four scenarios should deter you from starting your Eagles against the Bears Sunday night.

I could stop right here, but — at the risk of getting a lump of coal from my boss, Scott Engel — I’ll explain why.

You didn’t draft LeSean McCoy or DeSean Jackson just to sit them down on Championship Weekend. You didn’t make the shrewd move of selecting Nick Foles at the end of the draft and have your hunch pay off into a quarterback that has emerged as a must start performer each week just to ponder whether Ryan Tannehill or Ryan Fitzpatrick should start in place of Foles.

Oh, sure, the early season acquisition of Riley Cooper was met with a laugh or two, but who’s laughing now?

Look, there is a chance Sunday night’s game against Chicago could be meaningless for Philadelphia, which could find themselves in a winner-take-all showdown with Dallas next week (it had better be your flex play, NBC) should the Cowboys win earlier in the day. The notion, as well-described by our George Kurtz during our weekly podcasts, would be that with nothing to gain, Eagles coach Chip Kelly would be better off sitting his starters and avoiding the risk of injury. Noble, but again, are you willing to take a chance that the worst defense in the NFL will play just good enough to keep the Cowboys alive one more week?

Sitting your Eagles players puts you right into the “overthinking it” zone, the space of Fantasy No-Man’s Land where you turn a simple decision into the equal of taking the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Physics test (having taken it before, trust me, your brain doesn’t need the abuse). As former Jets coach Herm Edwards once proclaimed, “you play to win the game,” and if you’re planning on winning, McCoy, Jackson, Foles and Cooper are in your respective lineups.

When you think about it, life offers a slim chance of anything happening. Sure, the Cowboys could win, but you could also win the next $660 million lottery, or you could get great customer service from your cable/satellite provider. Perhaps, you could have Lizzy Kaplan arrive at your door on Christmas Eve (oh, wait….that’s my wish. Never mind).

Don’t let the Cowboys keep you from victory. It’s that simple.

Merry Christmas.

COUNTERPOINT by Chris Mitchell

If you’re a Jamaal Charles owner, then you must have been very, very good this year because Santa Claus dropped down your chimney with a monstrous 51-point Christmas present last week. Week 16 against the Bears was supposed to be the week that Santa rewarded LeSean McCoy owners for being good all year. Instead, Bad Santa stepped in and muddied up the waters and it’s not only Mccoy, but all of the Eagles (and 49ers) players that are clouded with doubt and uncertainty. This week on Point/Counterpoint I am advocating that you sit most of these otherwise must-start players in the biggest week of your Fantasy season. It hurts me to burst your bubble, but I gotta shoot you straight, it’s too risky.

Lets look at the key players in jeopardy.

I am going to start with McCoy and Vernon Davis. I cannot recommend benching these players unless half a game from these two studs will be less than the alternatives on your bench. RB and TE are so thin that in most cases, even limited snaps likely means they start for you. I expect Dallas to beat Washington and therefore I expect Mccoy to play less than three series of the second half on Sunday night. I project McCoy to get 4-6 receptions, 90 total yards from scrimmage and at least one touchdown, so if you have a Flex player that you feel will score more than 17 points, then bench McCoy.

If McCoy was facing the Seahawks or 49ers, or even a stout rush defense like the Ravens, I would suggest outright benching him, but even half of a game versus the Bears is too juicy to pass up. In the case of Davis, I expect three receptions, 30-40 yards and a high possibility of a touchdown, so if you have a TE that you feel confident can score double digit points, then bench Davis.

Let’s look at the rest of the Fantasy relevant Eagles and Niners players: Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper. Except for Kaepernick, I would normally consider all of these guys must starts this week, but because of the evil mess we have, I think you need to bench them all.

Foles: The Bears defense couldn’t stop the run if they were allowed 15 players on the field, but against the pass they are pretty good (11th overall in passing yards and touchdowns allowed). The game plan for the Eagles has to be run-heavy, which should limit Foles’ passing stats. Combine the expected game plan with the risk that Foles sits out the majority of the second half, stronger alternatives at quarterback and the possibility of limited snaps, and the risk isn’t worth the reward. There are at least 10 QB’s I would start over Foles this week and another 4-5 that I would consider justifiable starts over Foles.

Kaepernick: I don’t consider Kaep a must start this week, even if you could guarantee me he plays every snap. I love the matchup against the Falcons on Monday night, but I don’t love Kaepernick and his inconsistency. I also don’t like that Michael Crabtree and Davis are likely to play limited snaps. Kaepernick has shown that he struggles without weapons and this week he is likely to be playing shorthanded.

Gore: Great matchup, and as a Gore fan, I regret having to bench him this week. The Niners have been limiting Gore’s touches going all the way back to Week 11. Of the players on both the Eagles and Niners, Gore is the guy that I think sees the least amount of snaps. Gore is essential if the Niners want to win at the Seahawks in the playoffs, and they need Gore rested and at 100%. If this was a different article and you were desperate, I would recommend taking a flyer on Kendall Hunter. I bet he gets double-digit touches and has a 100+ day from scrimmage in this matchup.

Cooper and Jackson: If I had to pick one of these two I would, against common sense, recommend Cooper because he has performed very well with significantly fewer opportunities and that is what I expect this week. I expect both players to see limited opportunities in a week when the Eagles should have a run-heavy game plan. If this game was meaningful, I would be down on one of these two anyway because of the game plan but with limited snaps, I think you’re living and dying on the hope one of them scores a TD, and I can’t recommend a TD’s or bust philosophy.

There is too much risk with Eagles and Niners players. You have to sit them. It stings, you might look stupid, but you can’t risk a 3-point day for players that played half the game running up and down the field as decoys. Winning the title means you need to adapt, struggle and overcome. That’s what your Fantasy destiny is resting on. Look on the bright side: all this uncertainty makes it more fun. You didn’t want a walkover did you? How fun would that be? Good luck ladies and Gents. Enjoy the Fantasy playoffs, enjoy your Fantasy spoils and Happy Holidays everyone.

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