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Fantasy Football Week 16 Rankings: Projections for Players with Matchups We Love

Published by Bleacher Report on Fri, 19 Dec 2014

In some ways, it's sort of a relief that fantasy championship is here. We all love fantasy football, sure, but after the championship don't you feel like you get your life back a little bit'Look, I know the feeling lasts until the Super Bowl ends and you have to face the cruel reality of months on end with no football. It's horrible. But fantasy is hard work. You research. You make soul-crushing lineup decisions that often blow up in your face. You have to consistently come up with funny new ways to trash talk.And you do it all to win the championship. For the bragging rights that last a year. Because winning is just way more fun than losing. So yes, maybe the end of the fantasy season is a slight relief. But you don't want to have done all that work and put in all that effort to lose in the end, right'Of course not. The end is in sight. A championship is within your grasp. This is the week to utilize every tool in your arsenal, every resource in your possession. Hopefully my weekly rankings and a look at some of the players I love this week will help you earn the chip.And then, and only then, do you get to relax.ScheduleQuarterbacksWhen last Tom Brady and the New York Jets met in Week 7, the star quarterback from the New England Patriots threw for 261 yards, three touchdowns and notched 22 fantasy points. There's no reason to think he can't do so again, especially because Brady is in the midst of scoring 17 or more fantasy points in nine of his last 10 games.While the Jets have been a bit better defending the pass of late, they also haven't been facing quarterbacks of Brady's quality. Remember, the Jets have given up 29 passing touchdowns this season but have picked off just five passes, surrendering 18.1 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week, 28th in the NFL.It isn't hard to make a case for Brady this week.It's not hard to make a case for Matt Ryan in a huge divisional tilt and likely shootout against the New Orleans Saints, either. The Saints are giving up 18.5 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week, 29th in the NFL, while Matty Ice has 71 total fantasy points in his last three games.Hopefully, he'll have Julio Jones available in this one. And hopefully he and Drew Brees will start trading touchdown passes early and keep them coming throughout. Ryan has been a high-end QB2 for much of the season, but this week he's an easy selection to be a QB1.Running BacksC.J. Anderson has been fantasy football's MVP down the stretch of the 2014 season. With nine or more fantasy points in six straight games, Anderson has gone from Denver's third-string running back to one of the most consistent fantasy performers in the NFL.They'll likely have to rely on him again this week. While the Cincinnati Bengals have been solid against the pass this year, with the 12th-ranked pass defense, they have been vulnerable against the run (24th in run defense) and are giving up 20 fantasy points a week to opposing backs, 28th in the NFL.The Broncos have one of the league's most balanced offenses all of a sudden and can lean on the run when needed. Expect them to do just that this week.I focused on Ryan on one side of what I expect to be a shootout between the Falcons and Saints, so I'll focus on Mark Ingram on the other. Ingram has nine or more fantasy points in six of his last eight games, and in Week 1 he rushed for 60 yards and scored two touchdowns against Atlanta.The Falcons, meanwhile, are giving up an NFL-worst 22.4 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, including a league-worst 21 touchdowns to backs. It would be pretty surprising if Ingram failed to reach paydirt, in other words.Wide ReceiversLet's focus on the matchup between Washington and the Philadelphia Eagles here.Philadelphia is 31st in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts per week, while Washington is 27th. Philly is 28th in passing yards allowed per game and 29th in passing touchdowns sacrificed, while Washington is 18th and 31st, respectively.When these teams met in Week 3, Jeremy Maclin had eight receptions for 154 yards and a score, Jordan Matthews had eight receptions for 59 yards and two scores and DeSean Jackson had five catches for 117 yards and a touchdown.I'm sure you're picking up what I'm putting down at this point. While I think it's hard to trust Matthews after two quiet games, Maclin and Jackson are must-starts this week. Given how poor both of these secondaries have proved to be this year, we should see plenty of fireworks through the air in this contest.Tight EndsThere are two ways to look at Rob Gronkowski this week.The first is that the Jets held him to five receptions for 68 yards in Week 7, keeping him out of the end zone. This is the argument that Gronk owners who are extreme pessimists will cite when noting they are worried about the tight end failing to produce this week.The second is that Gronk has scored fewer than those six points just once this season. Or that he has touchdowns in nine of 14 games this year. Or that he's gone for 70 or more receiving yards nine times. Or that the Jets give up 9.4 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week, 29th in the NFL.It's sort of easy to pick Gronk in this section since he's one of the safest starts in fantasy. But he has the potential to absolutely explode this week, and if you have him on your roster you might be kissing that championship trophy soon enough.Defense/Special TeamsThis section is pretty easy to write. The Detroit Lions have been excellent on defense all year long and are third in fantasy points among defenses, while the Chicago Bears just gave up 16 fantasy points to New Orleans' suspect defense.Oh, and Jimmy Clausen is starting at quarterback this week. Things have become so dysfunctional in Chicago that the team actually thinks Clausen gives them a better chance to win than Jay Cutler (or the Bears just want to run Cutler out of town).Of course, we all know Clausen, an NFL backup, most certainly doesn't give the Bears a better chance to win, and we all know Detroit's fearsome defensive line will likely have a field day in this game. Start the Lions defense with confidence.KickersMy philosophy on kickers hasn't changedfind a consistent player on a good offense in a matchup that has the potential to be a shootout. Philly shouldn't have many issues moving the ball on Washington's defense and will be looking to end a two-game losing streak, so Cody Parkey should have plenty of opportunities this week.Start him with confidence.Allpoint totalsandpoints-against statisticsviaESPN standard scoring leagues.
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