This is it. The time has come to overanalyze your lineup because it is Fantasy Football Championship week. As we have done each of the past two weeks, we’ll hit on plays, pauses, DFS options and dynasty prospects in this week’s special holiday Playlist. Good luck in what should be the last weekend of meaningful Fantasy football. Hopefully, your finals do not continue through Week 17.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas By Frank Sinatra
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on, our troubles will be out of sight.”
Cam Newton (QB, Falcons) – Newton is no longer a must-start, so that is why he finds himself here. At home against the Falcons is about as good a matchup for any QB. Newton is a surefire QB1 this week, as Atlanta has been bleeding points to QBs all season. It was nice to see a big game from Newton last week to get things back on track; hopefully, the momentum carries through against their division rival. It may have been a lost season, but Newton can still deliver.
Todd Gurley (RB, Rams)- When you drafted Gurley in the first round back in the summer, you were probably salivating over this Week 16 matchup, right? What you definitely did not consider was that Gurley would’ve failed to top 85 rushing yards all season. He has been one of, if not the biggest bust in Fantasy this year. The Niners have given up eight rushing TDs in the past three weeks alone. Sure, Gurley only managed 47 yards rushing against this very defense earlier this year, but that was all the way back in Week 1. If Gurley cannot come through here, you don’t deserve to win a title. Start him if you’ve got him. His price has been escalated on DraftKings as well ($6,500), but he’s worth a tournament shot there too.
DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Texans) – Another first round bust, Hopkins has been victimized by poor quarterback play all year. Once Brock Osweiler was replaced, Hopkins immediately started getting peppered with targets from Tom Savage; as he should as one of the most dangerous receivers in the league. He finished last week’s contest with eight receptions for 87 yards and should see similar attention this week. It is a tough matchup against the Bengals, who’ve been clamping down on receivers since October. Still, with his expected double-digit target volume, Hopkins is worthy as a WR3 this week.
Eric Ebron (TE, Lions) – Ebron has not had the breakout season many had hoped, but he remains a Top 10 option this week against the Cowboys. He has four receptions in each of the last three games but with a yardage total of no more than 38. While he hasn’t scored a receiving TD since Week 1, do not let that deter you from his upside. Ebron is a prime 2017 breakthrough player and a strong finish here would certainly help the hype machine in the offseason.
Last Christmas by WHAM (The GOAT of Christmas songs, by the way)
“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. But the very next day, you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears. I’ll give it to someone special.”
Marcus Mariota (QB, Titans) – It has been a tough stretch for Mariota over the last month, especially with Denver and Kansas City in the past two weeks. It does not get much easier on Saturday, as the Titans face an underrated Jaguars secondary. They have allowed just two passing TDs in the last five games and no more than two in any game since Week 2. Mariota had a solid performance against them in Week 8, with 270 passing yards and two scores. Expecting much more than that this week would be foolish. Mariota is just outside QB1 territory despite his every week upside.
Rob Kelley (RB, Redskins) – The Bears have given up the third-fewest Fantasy points to opposing RBs, which does not bode well for a one-dimensional back like Kelley. He’s a backend RB2 option this week, not completely benchable but far from a must start. He needs to find the end zone to really be an asset to your squad in the Championship. Kelley’s 2017 role and long-term upside are questionable at best, making him a surefire sell in dynasty formats.
Jeremy Maclin (WR, Chiefs) – The Broncos have locked down receivers all year long. Despite coming off a solid outing, Maclin should go right back on your bench. It has been a lost season for Maclin, but he should bounce back as a Top 25 option in 2017. He will definitely have more competition for limited Alex Smith targets, though. For the upside, Tyreek Hill makes a more interesting, yet risky WR3 start this weekend. The Chiefs will continue to be creative about getting the ball in his hands. Denver would be wise to key in on him after Hill burned them for three scores in their last meeting.
Jordan Reed (TE, Redskins) – The most action Jordan Reed has seen in the past two weeks was getting ejected for swinging at Kurt Coleman last Monday night. He is clearly not 100-percent healthy and that drops his ceiling. There is a chance he does not even play on Saturday. If he does, he shouldn’t be in your lineup. Hit the waiver wire in search of a better option, unless you want to take a huge risk on Reed.
DFS Top 5 Countdown
All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey
“I don’t want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need. I don’t care about the presents. Underneath the Christmas tree. I just want you for my own. More than you could ever know. Make my wish come true oh. All I want for Christmas is you.”
- Tom Savage (QB, Texans) – Savage was slinging it last week against a tough secondary, leading a comeback in his first game action of 2016. There is a lot of risk here and another brutal matchup against the Bengals. Then there is his bottom of the barrel price tag to make it tempting. At $5,000 on DraftKings, you could do a lot worse than a starting QB throwing to DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
- Kenneth Dixon (RB, Ravens) – Dixon saved his Fantasy day with a TD, but what was with all the Terrance West love? A week after looking like he was finally taking over the backfield, Dixon took a backseat to West for most of the game. The Steelers represent one of the best matchups for an RB, with 17 TDs and more than 700 receiving yards allowed to backs. That bodes well for Dixon, who should have low ownership across the board thanks to last week’s timeshare situation. At $4,200 on DraftKings, there is plenty of upside for at least triple value.
- Cameron Brate (TE, Bucs) – Brate is going to finish the season as a TE1, something that seemed far-fetched in Week 1. He is perhaps the best bet of any TE to hit paydirt. Operating as the clear-cut second option behind Mike Evans, Brate has seen 79 targets this season and is a featured option in the red zone. At $3,900 with a matchup against the Saints, he’s one of the best bargains at any position.
- Frank Gore (RB, Colts) – Old Man Gore is never an exciting play, but he still has some juice left. The Raiders have allowed 15 TDs and nearly 2,000 total yards to running backs this season. Gore is a decent bet to score if he isn’t sniped again by Robert Turbin. He has seen double-digit touches in every game this year, including a season-high 30 last week. Don’t overlook the veteran this week, especially with a $4,800 salary on DraftKings.
- Allen Robinson (WR, Jaguars) – Robinson has certainly not lived up to expectations this season and that has many owners abandoning ship. In seasonal formats, I cannot blame you, though, I think he’s a decent WR3 start this week. He’s a strong play on DraftKings at $4,600 against the Titans, who just happen to give up the most points to opposing receivers. It sounds crazy because the production this year has been dreadful, but he’s a bargain this week.
Next Up and New Releases (Keeper/Dynasty Discussion)
Frosty The Snowman by Jimmy Durante
“’Frosty the snowman is a fairy tale they say He was made of snow but the children know How he came to life one day.”
Tyler Lockett (WR, Seahawks) – Finally healthy, Lockett is flashing the potential that made him one of the most hyped players this offseason. He is coming off a 7-130-1 performance and is eating into Jimmy Graham’s target share in the process. Lockett has speed to burn and could be a quality WR3 option as early as 2017. Doug Baldwin has proven to be a very reliable receiver, though, and Graham is an underutilized beast, making consistent targets a question. Still, he’s a strong offseason buy in dynasty formats if you can afford to sit on him for another year or so.
Jeff Heuerman (TE, Broncos) – With Virgil Green and A.J. Derby in concussion protocol and already ruled out, Heuerman is the only healthy Broncos tight end. He registered two receptions for 40 yards last week and could be Trevor Siemian’s third option on Sunday night. He has some intriguing long-term ability as a pass-catcher and these next couple of weeks will be a good audition. Heuerman is also a cheap daily option if you want to punt the position.
Byron Marshall (RB, Eagles) – With Wendell Smallwood out for the year and Ryan Mathews now out for Week 17, Marshall will get his chance. He is not likely to be a long-term featured back, but could carve out a 2017 role if he impresses. Keep an eye on his usage next week.
Brandon Allen (QB, Jaguars) – Now that Brock Osweiler has finally been benched, Blake Bortles is next up on the hot seat. He’s been a disaster this season and his inefficiencies from last year were masked by volume and garbage time stats. It is not likely to happen in 2016, but Bortles will be on a short leash come Week 1 of next season. Chad Henne is next up on the depth chart, but the intriguing prospect here is Allen. While he is undersized for the position, he offers solid arm strength, accuracy and athletic ability. Allen is seen more as a potential backup than starter, but could be developed further. He is not likely the long-term answer in Jacksonville, but let’s face it…neither is Bortles.