Kareem Hunt, RB Kansas City Chiefs
Hunt faces a Miami Dolphins defense that ranks third-worst in points allowed to running backs after back-to-back weeks in which he had 24 or more carries, 116 or more rushing yards, and at least one touchdown. He is clearly a must-start, Top 5 play in championship week just three weeks after being a debatable flex starter. Some guys step it up and win championships for owners, and Hunt’s timely resurgence could make him that guy this year.
Tom Brady, QB New England Patriots
Brady has thrown for fewer yards, rushed for fewer yards and produced fewer touchdowns than Blake Bortles over the last four weeks. He has thrown two touchdowns, combined, in his last three games and scored fewer than 16 Fantasy points in each of those games. Brady has a rivalry game against a Buffalo Bills defense that ranks third-best in points allowed per game to quarterbacks (12.2 points per game), while Bortles faces a 49ers pass defense that is third-worst in points allowed to quarterbacks (19 points per game). It would be blasphemous to even suggest owners claim Blake Bortles and start him while benching Brady…. but all the trends suggest you should. Seriously. It pains me, as a Patriots fan, to say such vulgarity, but the odds are very good that Bortles outscores Brady in the Fantasy championship Week 16 game.
Blake Bortles, QB Jacksonville Jaguars
A much-maligned pariah, Bortles has scored 22,25,18, and 25 Fantasy points over the last four weeks. He has thrown for at least 268 yards and two touchdowns in three straight games. In two of those games, he threw for over 300 yards and he rushed for two scores in Week 12. In Week 16, Bortles is as close to a must-start as a player as maligned like Bortles can be. He’ll be facing a 49ers defense that ranks third-worst in Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks – less than a point from being ranked the worst. Looking back with glory, Bortles, like Hunt, could be 2017’s gift that won some owners their leagues.
Keelan Cole, WR Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars’ receiving corps has flown mostly under the NFL radar and Cole has become one part of that group, but he has a touchdown in three consecutive games with 99 and 186 receiving yards respectively in the last two games. Cole led the Jaguars in targets for Week 15 after being mostly ignored in Weeks 13 and 14, making him a dicey but intriguing risk/reward option. DeDe Westbrook received ink in this column last week and Marqise Lee (out for Week 16), when healthy, has been Fantasy-relevant for most of the season. Now its Cole’s chance for some props. Fournette is banged up. The Jaguars may want to ease up on his workload to be prepared for the playoffs, and the 49ers have a leaky pass defense. Cole and Westbrook have both been targeted and productive in recent games, and they have one of their best matchups of the season in Week 16.
Marquise Goodwin, WR San Francisco 49ers
Goodwin has scored double-digit Fantasy points in four straight games and he has done it without scoring a touchdown. He’s had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games and six receptions or more in three straight games. Since Jimmy Garoppolo took over under center, Goodwin has led the team in targets in three straight games (13 targets in Week 8, 12 in Week 14, and 13 in Week 15). The knocks against lining up with Goodwin in your league championship is that he hasn’t scored a touchdown in any of those games and the Jaguars are second-stingiest in points allowed to wide receivers (24.5 per game). It depends on your alternatives, but Goodwin’s floor in PPR formats is probably 10 Fantasy points and if he can find the end zone, you could get a 20-point week at the flex spot from a guy that was available on the waiver wire over Thanksgiving.
Bengals Run Defense and Theo Riddick
Jerick McKinnon punished the Bengals in the passing game in Week 15, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen ran all over them in Week 14 and Le’Veon Bell did it all in bunches in Week 13. Theo Riddick struggled against the Bears in Week 15, but he scored 17 and 27 points in Weeks 13 and 14, and he has practiced fully this week. The juicy matchup makes him a tasty championship week flex play.
Chicago Bears Defense
They have scored eight,12 and 10 Fantasy points in their three previous games, and the NFL schedulers gave them Deshone Kizer and the futile Cleveland offense on Christmas weekend. The Bears have nine sacks in their last three games and have generated a turnover in five straight. They rank seventh on the season in Fantasy scoring in ESPN leagues, so they should be owned. But if they’re not, they are a premier stream this week.
Phil Dawson, K Arizona Cardinals
Robbie Gould kicked more than a few undeserving Fantasy teams into their league championships with six field goals in Week 15. Dawson has scored 16,12, 5 and 17 Fantasy points in his last four games and faces the lowly Giants, who are giving up points by the bushel. He should be a 10-point kicker this week, kicking at home in the friendly conditions of Arizona.