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:

Quarterbacks:

Nick Foles – Philadelphia Eagles

Matchup – Oakland Raiders

Eagles fans everywhere have got to be pretty excited about their chances to make a playoff run after watching Nick Foles last week. Philadelphia withstood Eli Manning’s very best effort last week in a win that came down to the final minutes. While Foles finished the game with only 237 passing yards, he threw four touchdown passes and looked extremely poised in doing so. Considering the weapons this team has on offense, Foles is absolutely worth snagging if you’re a Carson Wentz owner. I’d expect another solid outing this week against the Raiders at home.

Eli Manning – New York Giants

Matchup – Arizona Cardinals

As I just mentioned, Eli Manning had himself a day against the Eagles last week. I didn’t realize Philadelphia’s defense was so negatively impacted by Carson Wentz’s injury, because they did not look like the stout unit we’ve seen this season. Manning attempted a whopping 57 passes and completed 37 of them for 434 yards and three touchdowns, which was his best performance of the season by far. We already know he’ll get the start next week against Arizona. While his big game was encouraging, you can’t really put much faith in him based off one good outing.

Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars

Matchup – San Francisco 49ers

Is this real life? I mean, could Blake Bortles actually be developing into a viable fantasy quarterback down the final stretch of the season? If you look at the numbers, then the answer seems to be yes. Bortles has thrown for at least two touchdowns with no turnovers in three consecutive weeks, which is the first such streak for him this season. He picked apart Houston last week for 326 yards and three touchdowns, which was much needed considering the team was without Leonard Fournette. If you need help at quarterback, then you could do worse than Blake Bortles this week against San Francisco.

Running backs:

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

Matchup – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Christian McCaffrey has been extremely consistent in his first season in the league and has been utilized pretty much how most of us thought he’d be. He typically doesn’t see too many carries and does the bulk of his damage in the passing game. However, the rookie did both against the Packers last week. McCaffery racked up 136 total yards and scored a touchdown as the Panthers ruined Aaron Rodgers’ return to the field following his broken collarbone. McCaffery should continue to see lots of attention as Carolina faces a hapless Tampa Bay team this week.

Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins

Matchup – Kansas City Chiefs

Kenyan Drake continues to impress as he continues to make his case for the lead back role in Miami. With Jay Ajayi in Philadelphia and Damien Williams sidelined with injury, Drake is averaging 104 rushing yards over the last three weeks and has found the end zone in each game during that span. At this point I don’t see Williams taking much work away from his counterpart considering how well Drake has been playing. His next test will come against a Kansas City defense that’s allowed some big games to opposing running backs. Drake has a strong chance to continue his impressive run.

CJ Anderson – Denver Broncos

Matchup – Washington Redskins

CJ Anderson is one of the most frustrating running backs in fantasy football. Anderson hasn’t rushed for more than 80 yards in a game since week four. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. I’ve been avoiding this guy like the plague, and all he does is rush for 158 yards against the Colts last week. What’s even more mind boggling about this is the fact that Anderson was fed 22 carries two weeks ago against the Jets and was only able to muster up 48 yards. That’s absolutely horrendous no matter how you look at it. In my mind Booker is the most explosive running back the Broncos have, but they fail to utilize him week in and week out. This performance from Anderson is an outlier and nothing more.

Wide receivers:

Keelan Cole – Jacksonville Jaguars

Matchup – San Francisco 49ers

I’ve been hyping Blake Bortles for a few weeks now, and it looked like Dede Westbrook was going to be the guy that took this offense over. While we discussed Keelan Cole as a guy to watch last week, I never would’ve thought this kid would put up 186 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions last week. Even after scoring a touchdown in back to back games Cole was still less than 2% owned heading into last week. That will definitely change as we head into the fantasy football championships. Go grab this guy immediately. Blake Bortles is playing at a high level and clearly has an affinity for dropping deep bombs to Keenan Cole. As a bonus they face San Francisco this week.

Sterling Shepard – New York Giants

Matchup – Arizona Cardinals

I’ve been waiting for a game like this from Sterling Shepard for a while now. The second year player is literally the only receiver left on the depth chart that was a starter heading into this season, but he’s been banged up and often has been left on the sidelines. Shepard was peppered with 16 targets from Eli Manning last week, and he turned that into 11 receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown in what was a surprisingly close game against the Eagles. Now that Shepard is seemingly healthy, I like his chances at producing at a high level moving forward as Manning’s favorite target. He’s a strong start against the Cardinals this week.

Marquise Goodwin – San Francisco 49ers

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars

As I’m writing this Marquise Goodwin is only 61% owned in fantasy football leagues. That’s incredibly surprising to me considering his involvement in the 49ers offense over the last several weeks. Goodwin has at least 65 receiving yards in each game he’s played going back to week seven and has reeled off two straight games with over 100 yards. He is clearly Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite target and deserves to be owned in all formats. Unfortunately, San Francisco faces a tough matchup in the Jaguars this week. However, he’s worth plugging in if you need help at the wide receiver position.

Tight ends:

Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers

Matchup – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’ll admit that I had given up on Greg Olsen this season. Even after returning from injury, the veteran had absolutely no impact on the field for the Panthers. He was on the field for all but five offensive plays two weeks ago but was only targeted once by Cam Newton. If there has ever been a bounce back game, then Olsen had one last week against the Packers. He hauled in nine catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, which surpassed his totals in each category for the entire season. Considering he is seemingly healthy, Olsen is a must start this week against a just plain bad Buccaneers team.

Benjamin Watson – Baltimore Ravens

Matchup – Indianapolis Colts

I remember when Benjamin Watson was a serviceable fantasy tight end a few years ago for Baltimore. Unfortunately injuries halted the veteran’s career, but he’s still capable of putting up some decent points when Joe Flacco is looking his way. His 74 yards last week against the Browns was his second highest output of the season, and Watson scored a touchdown for the second time in three games. While I don’t see this being a sign of things to come, the Ravens have an advantageous matchup in the Indianapolis Colts this week. There are worse options out there if you’re desperate.

Garrett Celek – San Francisco 49ers

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s a shame that the 49ers have to play Jacksonville this week. This offense is operating at a high level with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, and several players have been useful options from a fantasy standpoint. For example, Garrett Celek has back to back games with more than 60 yards and a touchdown. That’s not something I thought I’d be typing out this season. Considering his low usage rate and a tough matchup, I don’t think Celek continues his streak for a third straight game. I’d look elsewhere for tight end production.

Ice Cold:

Quarterbacks:

Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks

Matchup -Dallas Cowboys

What in the hell happened to Seattle last week? The Seahawks struggled in all facets of the game in a complete beatdown against the Rams, and the offense simply could not put anything together. Russell Wilson snapped a streak of eight consecutive games with multiple touchdowns to his credit and looked completely lost out on the field. Wilson was my pick to win the MVP award, but last week’s performance has me doubting that decision. I’m content to chalk this up as just a bad week at the office and move on, but it’s hard to trust Wilson heading into what should be an opportunistic matchup with the Cowboys.

Phillip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers

Matchup – New York Jets

I knew it was too good to last. Phillip Rivers had been on fire in recent week’s heading his matchup with Kansas City as he threw for 1,097 yards and completed six touchdown passes over three consecutive games. Unfortunately, Rivers ran into a buzzsaw that was the Chiefs defense. The veteran threw for just 227 yards and a touchdown while throwing three interceptions. That’s obviously less than ideal considering the hot streak he was on. Consider him a bounce back candidate this week as the Chargers travel to play the Jets.

Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals

Matchup – Detroit Lions

At what point do the Bengals throw in the towel with Andy Dalton? To say that the Red Rocket has had a bad season would be putting it mildly. Cincinnati has a potential starting quarterback on the sideline in AJ McCarron, so why not give the guy a shot at this point? Dalton threw for only 113 yards against the Vikings last week with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. That marks the fifth time this season that he has scored less than ten fantasy points, and this guys is a freaking quarterback. If you’re starting Dalton at this point you’ve got larger issues happening, but I’d expect more of the same out of him this week.

Running backs:

Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears

Matchup – Cleveland Browns

You’ve got to feel bad for Jordan Howard. This kid has a ton of talent that is being squandered in a cesspool of mediocrity in Chicago. I was hopeful that Howard could build upon his impressive 147 yard performance against Cincinnati, but the second year standout saw only ten carries in his matchup with the Lions and was only able to gain 37 yards. It’s obvious that the Bears are not a great team, which often leads to them getting down early in games. They’re quick to abandon the run in those situations, and Jordan Howard often becomes an afterthought. The good news is the Browns are coming to town this week, which bodes well for Howard’s prospects. Start him if you’ve got him.

Samaje Perine – Washington Redskins

Matchup – Denver Broncos

I really wanted Perine to work out this season. It’s a very similar situation to what Rob Kelley found himself in last year, as he was the de facto starting running back due to injuries. While Perine has had some solid games, the rookie is on a three game skid where he’s averaging just 40 yards a game and 2.8 yards per carry. Those numbers are just flat out bad. Unfortunately, I don’t see him turning things around this week. Washington has a tough matchup in the Broncos, and Perine doesn’t necessarily have the skill set to overcome such a challenge. Keep him on your bench.

Carlos Hyde – San Francisco 49ers

Matchup – Jacksonville Jaguars

I’m honestly a little surprised that Carlos Hyde hasn’t played better since Jimmy Garoppolo took over for San Francisco. It made sense earlier in the season when defenses knew they only had to slow Hyde down and dare the 49ers to beat them through the air. The veteran running back carried the ball 16 times against the Titans last week and was able to rack up only 25 yards. That’s only 1.6 yards per carry, which is absolutely terrible. I don’t see this situation improving as we head into championship week either. The Jaguars have been a defensive juggernaut this season.

Wide receivers:

Doug Baldwin – Seattle Seahawks

Matchup – Dallas Cowboys

While he’s had some impressive outings, this hasn’t been the best year for Doug Baldwin. It seems there’s rarely a middle ground between a week where he puts up big numbers and the next where he’s a bust. Considering how poorly Seattle played in general last week, it’s not shocking to find Baldwin on this list. His one catch and six yards were both season lows as the Seahawks were dismantled by the Rams in a game that was over before the end of the first half. Considering the implications of this week’s matchup against Dallas, I have to think Baldwin will get on the same page with Russell Wilson.

AJ Green – Cincinnati Bengals

Matchup – Detroit Lions

AJ Green has long been among the fantasy elite at the wide receiver position. While he’s had some impressive performances, the star receiver has really struggled with Andy Dalton at times this season. One example happens to be last week against the Vikings. We all assumed Minnesota’s defense would be too much for the Bengals to move the ball against, but when a player like Green catches two passes for only 30 yards there’s deeper underlying issues there. It says a lot when that stat line isn’t even Green’s worst output of the year. I’d like to say a bounce back game is imminent, but it’s hard to have much faith in this offense when there’s nothing left to play for.

Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers

Matchup – Minnesota Vikings

I was among those that thought the return of Aaron Rodgers last week would catapult Jordy Nelson straight back to fantasy relevance. This is one of the most dynamic duos in the National Football League, and the stage was set for a triumphant return for both players. While Rodgers definitely showed signs of rust, it still surprised me that Nelson was targeted only six times. He caught three of them for just 28 yards, which is the eighth straight game the veteran has failed to surpass 40 yards receiving. If you’re a Nelson owner there’s simply no way you can trust him at this point, especially with Aaron Rodgers placed on injured reserve.

Tight ends:

Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks

Matchup – Dallas Cowboys

What in the hell is happening here? Before week 14 Graham had ten consecutive games with double digit fantasy points and scored nine touchdowns during that span. However, he’s now suddenly become a ghost on the field as he has just one catch and negative one yard in the last two games combined. I’m honestly at a loss for words here, and I don’t know what the solution could be considering the high level Graham has been playing at this season. I’m nervous as hell if I’m stuck playing him this week.

Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts

Matchup – Baltimore Ravens

If you listen to our podcast you already know that Jack Doyle holds a special place in our hearts here at No Huddle. Unfortunately, his play on the field has left much to be desired as of late. While he did have seven receptions against the Broncos last week, Doyle was only able to turn that attention into 47 yards. This is the fourth time in five games the big tight end has failed to pass the 50 yard mark, and I don’t anticipate that changing this week against a stout Ravens defense.

Vernon Davis – Washington Redskins

Matchup – Denver Broncos

There was a time earlier in the season when Vernon Davis was an incredibly valuable waiver wire addition at the tight end position with Jordan Reed out. The veteran had at least 65 receiving yards or a touchdown in seven out of eight games and looked locked in as one of Kirk Cousins’ favorite targets. That has certainly changed over recent weeks, however. Davis has now averaged 15 yards a game over the last four weeks and seems to be a complete afterthought in the passing game. He’s best left on the bench this week against the Broncos.

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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