Fire and Ice: Week 16

by Byron Hamilton

Fire and Ice – Week 16

It’s time to take our weekly look around the NFL to see which players have the potential to set your roster on fire and which ones seem to be cooling down. I’ll try to avoid the obvious candidates for the players that are heating up, in addition to focusing in on higher profile players that could leave your team on ice this week. I will also be taking a look at their performance from the previous week, as well as what the matchup holds for them heading into Sunday.


On Fire:

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Quarterbacks:

Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints

Matchup – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Well, look who it is. Fantasy owners that are still somehow alive in the playoffs after Brees’ abysmal performances over the last couple of weeks were rewarded for their perseverance. Brees very well could have put up terrible numbers this week. He was on the road against the Cardinals, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous after watching him post back to back season low numbers in consecutive weeks. The veteran QB finished with 389 passing yards (his third-highest total of the season) and chipped in four touchdown passes in Sunday’s victory against the Cardinals. Although his consecutive three-interception games were awful, you’re likely sitting in the playoffs because of Brees’ impressive play for the majority of the season. I’m rolling him out again this week at home against the same Buccaneers defense that limited him to his worst fantasy performance of the season just two short weeks ago. Keep the faith.

Matt Moore – Miami Dolphins

Matchup – Buffalo Bills

Let me preface this by saying I can’t think of a situation where you would pick up and play Matt Moore this week. You’re more than likely set at quarterback if you’re taking the time to read this because you’ve made it deep into your championship run. However, Moore’s performance Saturday night deserves to be recognized. Yes, it was against the New York Jets. However, Matt Moore was impressive as he completed 12 of his 18 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns. Twelve completed passes, four touchdowns. Those are crazy numbers. This kid threw a touchdown for every three passes he completed against the Jets, so you can to feel a little better about the Dolphins offense moving forward. I’m obviously much more leery this week against Buffalo, but Moore appears to be a serviceable quarterback that knows who his playmakers are.

Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks

Matchup – Arizona Cardinals

Russell Wilson has to be one of the most frustrating quarterbacks to own this season. At least with Cam Newton we’ve come to accept the fact that he’s just not the same player we saw last season. Russell Wilson teases us with three touchdown games one week and five interception performances the next. There wasn’t much reason for Seattle to throw the ball during the 24-3 beat down of the Rams last week, but Wilson finished the day with 229 passing yards and three touchdowns. He hasn’t thrown for more than one touchdown in a game since week ten against the Patriots, so this game was encouraging. He’ll look to build upon this performance this week when Seattle hosts an Arizona defense that was just picked apart by Drew Brees.


Running Backs:

Bilal Powell – New York Jets

Matchup – New England Patriots

After watching Bilal Powell play over the last two weeks I can’t help but wonder why the Jets haven’t been getting this guy more involved earlier in the season. Through two games as the featured running back Powell has rushed for 229 yards and is averaging over five yards per carry. He’s also caught 16 passes for 112 yards over the last two weeks and has over 20 fantasy points in back to back games. He’s basically a more efficient Matt Forte. The former Bears running back was active for Saturday night’s game but only saw four carries. At this point, it’s tough to figure out if Forte was active simply as an insurance policy, or if the coaching staff has chosen to give Powell a chance to show what he can do. It’s certainly a situation to monitor this week, but I have a feeling the Jets may give Powell an extended look. They’re not in playoff contention, so maybe they’ll be tinkering with their starters as they travel to New England this week.

Ryan Mathews – Philadelphia Eagles

Matchup – New York Jets

Its games like this that make you wonder if Ryan Mathews could be a great running back if injuries weren’t such a factor. Mathews rushed for 128 yards on 20 carries and added a touchdown against a stout Ravens defense last week. He dominated the work in a game where both Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles were banged up. Regardless of injuries, Mathews has been a decent source of fantasy points when he’s healthy this season. Carson Wentz has played much better as of late, which helps take the pressure off the running game. The Eagles will face a sneaky good Patriots defense this week, but Mathews is a solid option if his running back counterparts can’t suit up.

Ty Montgomery – Green Bay Packers

Matchup – Minnesota Vikings

In case you didn’t know, Ty Montgomery is officially a running back. You’ll still see the wide receiver designation, but this guy is listed on the depth as a running back. He certainly looked the part last week against the Bears as he racked up a whopping 162 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. For reference, the only other running back to log any carries was Christine Michael who only had four attempts. James Starks sat out last week due to a concussion, but I can’t imagine he’ll return as the primary back in the Green Bay offense. He’s not come anywhere close to matching Montgomery’s numbers at any point this season. The Vikings will serve as an intimidating threat, but you have to feel good about Montgomery after last week. If you need help at running back I think he’s your guy.


Wide Receivers:

Brandin Cooks – New Orleans Saints

Matchup – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cooks has been up and down all season. Most of us expected him to take that next step to becoming an elite fantasy wide receiver this year, but the emergence of rookie Michael Thomas has taken some of the attention away from his teammate. Cooks made up for lost time against the Cardinals last week as he caught seven passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns, which was his best game this season. It was his first 100 yard receiving game since week six and the first time he’s scored since week ten against Denver. With Drew Brees seemingly turning a corner after the awful performances he had against the Lions and Buccaneers, there’s a chance Cooks could build upon his impressive display. The Saints will look to get a little payback this week against the same Buccaneers defense that limited Brees to his worst game of the season just two short weeks ago.

Alshon Jeffrey – Chicago Bears

Matchup – Washington Redskins

While there were other wide receivers that had better games, I thought it was important to point out Alshon Jeffrey’s performance last week. I was a little skeptical that we’d see much out of him in his first game back, but he finished the day with 89 yards and a touchdown on six receptions against the Packers. While most of his production came late in the game, Jeffrey was still able to turn in his best fantasy performance of the season. Matt Barkley isn’t necessarily turning heads in Chicago, but he’s been a serviceable quarterback in the absence of Jay Cutler. The Bears have a solid matchup this week against a Redskins secondary that’s been shaky outside of Josh Norman most of the season, which makes Jeffrey a decent option should you need him.

Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphins

Matchup – Buffalo Bills

I had all but written off Jarvis Landry. In weeks nine through twelve he only had one game with more than 50 receiving yards and failed to score more than ten fantasy points in all but one game. Now over the last three games, Landry is averaging six catches and 99 yards. I was certain Matt Moore would fall on his face, but he played surprisingly well against the Jets last week. Landry is on a roll and has a decent shot to put up big numbers again this week against the Bills.


Tight Ends:

Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills

Matchup – Miami Dolphins

Clay has been on a little roll over the last couple of weeks, and Tyrod Taylor seems to have taken a liking to his big tight end. Clay has scored in both games over the last two weeks and has at least 50 receiving yards in each game has well. While this season has been mostly a disappointment, Clay could be a sneaky waiver addition if you need help at the position as he’s under 10% owned. Buffalo will host the Dolphins this week, who have given up 22 points or more in five out of the last seven games.

Dion Sims – Miami Dolphins

Matchup – Buffalo Bills

Dion Sims is quietly putting up some decent numbers over the last few weeks of the season. While he’s only scored four touchdowns all season, all of them have come over the last four weeks. His yardage totals aren’t all that impressive as he’s only had more than 50 yards once, but Sims seems to be developing into a solid target in the red zone. With Matt Moore locked in as the Dolphins starter moving forward, Sims could be relied on more heavily if the backup quarterback struggles against the Bills this week.


Ice Cold:

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Quarterbacks:

Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

Matchup – Minnesota Vikings

It’s a little unfair to drop Rodgers down after one bad game, but it was one bad game that very well could cost many a fantasy championship. Rodgers failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time all season against the Bears and snapped an eight-game streak of throwing multiple touchdowns in a contest. The run game was dominate last week as Ty Montgomery racked up 162 yards and two touchdowns, so there wasn’t much need for Rodgers to put the team on his shoulders. If you managed to squeak by and advance then lucky you. However, Rodgers will have another tough test this week against a stout Vikings defense.

Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders

Matchup – Indianapolis Colts

Derek Carr followed up his worst performance of the season with another dud last week against the Chargers. He threw for only 213 yards and had one touchdown with an interception. Carr has continued to struggle to get the ball to Amari Cooper, who was targeted only three times in the win. While the struggles are concerning, this week’s matchup against the Colts could be exactly what this offense needs to get back on track. Carr has played much better at home over the last half of the season and should put up big numbers against a weak Indianapolis secondary.

Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s always interesting to see how quickly the mood can sour on a player when things aren’t going well. The general attitude in fantasy football is “what have you done for me lately?” In Marcus Mariota’s case, not a whole lot. It’s easy to forget that this kid was one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the league for the majority of the season when you look at the numbers over the last two weeks. First, we had the 88-yard performance against Denver two weeks ago, which is excusable considering you likely didn’t play him against one of the league’s best defenses. Last week against the Chiefs was another story as Mariota turned in his worst fantasy performance of the season with 241 yards passing and two turnovers. While he’s a decent option this week against the Jaguars, I’d be a little nervous rolling him out there during this rough patch.


Running Backs:

Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins

Matchup – Buffalo Bills

This one stings a little bit on a personal level. Ajayi was on top of the world for those three magical weeks in the first half of the season. And then reality set in. While he’s been decent as Miami’s featured back, Ajayi hasn’t rushed for more than 100 yards since week nine and has found the end zone only once over that span. I was hopeful he would get something going against the Jets last week, but he finished with his worst fantasy performance since being named the starter earlier in the season. Miami will face a Buffalo defense that’s given up quite a few points at times this season, but I’m not overly optimistic that Ajayi will get back to the fantasy darling he was when he caught all of our attention.

Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks

Matchup – Arizona Cardinals

How badly do the Seahawks miss Marshawn Lynch? Maybe not his antics off the field, but his skills on the gridiron would be a welcome addition to the Seattle offense this season. Thomas Rawls is certainly a far cry from our beloved Beast Mode. Since returning from injury Rawls has turned in one great fantasy performance. Outside of that 100 yard game against Carolina he’s only averaging a little more than 47 yards per game and hasn’t scored a touchdown. Rawls had some stellar games as a rookie while Lynch was out with injury, but we’ve only seen flashes of that potential so far in the five games he’s played this season. If I’m a Rawls owner I’m seriously concerned about starting him this week against a usually strong Cardinals run defense.

Kenneth Farrow – San Diego Chargers

Matchup – Cleveland Browns

Whelp, so much for Kenneth Farrow being a plug and play option last week. The rookie looked decent after Melvin Gordon was injured against the Panthers as he finished with 55 yards on 16 carries. What was more encouraging was his activity in the passing game. Farrow caught six passes for 23 yards, so he was an intriguing waiver add. Last week was an entirely different story. He had only one less carry against the Raiders but was only able to gain 39 yards, and he was mostly a non-factor in the passing game. This week’s matchup against the Browns is certainly much more enticing, but there’s an outside chance Melvin Gordon could return. Either way, Farrow is a risky option in my opinion based on last week’s shaky performance.


Wide Receivers:

Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Matchup – New Orleans Saints

This is the absolute worst time for Mike Evans to hit a slump. In weeks eleven and twelve, he had a total of 209 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he’s not found the end zone over the last three games and only has 139 yards over that span. That’s only 46 yards per game, which is obviously less than ideal during the final stretch of the fantasy season. I would say this week’s matchup against the Saints is a lock for a bounce back game, but Evans only caught four passes for 42 yards against them just two weeks ago. I’m not advocating sitting Evans by any means, but his last three games have been concerning.

Jordan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles

Matchup – New York Giants

Matthews started off the season with a bang against the Cleveland Browns where he caught seven passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. The future was bright, and he looked primed for a breakout year. Unfortunately, that first week was the only game he’s passed the 100-yard mark and only has two other touchdowns on the season as Carson Wentz has endured some expected growing pains in his rookie year. Matthews is coming off a six catch 27-yard performance against the Ravens, and I’d feel nervous as an owner this week against a surprisingly stingy Giants defense.

Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers

Matchup – Minnesota Vikings

Adams has gone from an every week starter to a high risk, high reward player in just a handful of games. In weeks seven through ten Adams had either scored a touchdown or accumulated over 70 receiving yards in each game, which includes passing the 130-yard mark twice. However, in the five weeks since Adams has been reduced to an every other game contributor. Over those five games, Adams point totals are as follows: 5.5, 25.5, 1.5, 18, and 3. I don’t know about you but the inconsistency here scares me. If that pattern holds true Adams is due for a big game this week. Sadly, he’ll have to do it against one of the best defenses in the league. Minnesota hasn’t given up many big games to receivers this season, which makes Davante Adams a risky play heading into most fantasy league’s championship game.


Tight Ends:

Dennis Pitta – Baltimore Ravens

Matchup – Pittsburgh Steelers

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. There was a lot of buzz surrounding Pitta a couple of weeks ago after his big two touchdown game, and I told everyone on our podcast to stay away. Hopefully, you listened. Dennis Pitta has two games with this season with more than 60 receiving yards. That was in weeks two and thirteen. He also only has two touchdowns on the season, both of which came in week thirteen. I don’t know why Flacco chooses to look his tight end’s way so little, but Pitta is fool’s gold. There’s something shiny there at times, but it’s mostly just disappointment.

Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks

Matchup – Arizona Cardinals

I’ve liked Jimmy Graham since his days in New Orleans, and I honestly want him to do well with the Seahawks. It just doesn’t seem like the tight end position is something that Seattle tries to utilize on a weekly basis. I think most of his struggles stem from how Russell Wilson plays at the quarterback position. Tight ends are typically not the agilest players. They’re bigger and stronger than wide receivers and benefit in using their bodies to make plays on set routes. Unfortunately, Wilson plays his best ball when he moves out of the pocket and has to quickly look downfield to find open receivers. That sort of play generally benefits faster, quicker players like Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Russell Wilson finally looks healthy, which doesn’t bode well for Jimmy Graham. He only has two catches for 44 yards over the last two games, and I feel like you’re basically praying for a red zone catch at this point. His matchup against the Cardinals this week makes me like his chances at a big game even less.


As always, please feel free to give us a shout on Twitter @No_HuddleFFB if you have any questions or concerns regarding your lineup or just want to chat about fantasy football. Best of luck this week!

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