Saturday December 26th, 2015

The Week 16 Cheat Sheet marks our final standard fantasy football column of the 2015 season. We’ll still be with you next week with a pared-down version of our usual schedule for those of you playing Week 17. Between the last week of the regular season and start of the playoffs, we’ll put a bow on the 2015 season and take a quick look forward to 2016. We’ll also be with you throughout the playoffs, helping with your DFS endeavors. Before all that, however, we need to say thank you for spending part of your NFL season with us in 2015. We hope you enjoy all of what you read, and if you’re reading this column this week, we’d like to believe that we had at least a little something to do with you making it to your championship game.

With that, let’s get to the last-minute advice you need in the Week 16 Cheat Sheet.

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Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Redskins

19th

17th

26th

7th

Eagles

30th

26th

30th

3rd

Washington can clinch the NFC East with a win in Philadelphia on Saturday, an outcome few people predicted during all the Robert Griffin drama last summer. Of course, they’d be clinching the division with eight wins, so it’s not like they totally blew the doors off the league. Still, the decision to start Kirk Cousins was the right one.

Player who could surprise: Ryan Mathews

Fantasy
Fantasy football Week 16: Complete player rankings for every position

Cousins, Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson are the marquee fantasy players in this game, another outcome few could have foreseen back in September. Mathews ran for 58 yards on 11 carries last week and is clearly the best option in the Philadelphia backfield. DeMarco Murray, meanwhile, has 13 carries in the last two games combined. He’s essentially a non-factor. Washington is 23rd in Football Outsiders rush defense DVOA this season, and the ground is where the Eagles will have to focus to keep their playoffs hopes alive. Mathews should be at the center of those efforts.

Player who could disappoint: Kirk Cousins

Cousins’ consensus ranking at the quarterback position in the fantasy industry this week is 10th, making him a low-end QB1 the collective eye of the experts. The Eagles have undoubtedly struggled against the pass for the last month, but they’re still 12th in pass defense DVOA. For what it’s worth, Cousins had 290 yards but just 6.3 yards per attempt and one touchdown the first time these teams met. He did punch in a one-yard touchdown run, but it’s hard to bet on him doing that again. Remember, the Eagles are favored by three in this game.

Matchup to watch: Eagles offensive line vs. Washington run defense

The Eagles rank first in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus, and that’s an advantage they can bring to bear in this game. In addition to ranking 23rd in DVOA against the run, Washington is 27th run defense according to Pro Football Focus. The Eagles would climb to first in the division if they win this game. You can bet on them leaning on the run game to do so.

Injury report

Matt Jones (hip): Questionable

Dallas Cowboys at Buffalo Bills

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Cowboys

5th

27th

5th

4th

Bills

21st

19th

22nd

18th

Both of these teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, but it has been a nightmare season for just one of them. Buffalo has plenty of reason to be happy about what it accomplished this year, as well as the fact that it seems to have a quarterback for the future. Bills fans will remember this season as the year Tyrod Taylor broke out and took command of the offense.

Player who could surprise: Karlos Williams

We’ve written about Williams a lot this week. He has delivered all season when given a chance, and he has a prime one this week against the Cowboys. They’ve surrendered the sixth-most points to running backs this season, ranking 27th in rush DVOA. Williams is having an elite per-touch season, aided partially by a small sample size, but mostly driven by his performance. He’ll be an RB1 in championship week.

Player who could disappoint: Darren McFadden

McFadden has rushed for at least 100 yards in both of the last two weeks, and this would seem to be a good matchup. The sole concern, though, is that the Bills jump out to a huge lead, forcing the game into Kellen Moore’s hands. In a similar situation two weeks ago, McFadden got just nine carries in the Cowboys’ 28-7 loss to the Packers. McFadden had two huge runs in that game, en route to a 111-yard afternoon, but nine carries is never a good starting point for a running back. The Bills are favored by almost a touchdown here. That could be bad news for McFadden.

Matchup to watch: Sammy Watkins vs. Byron Jones

Jones won’t be the only corner to match up with Watkins, but he will likely line up across from him most frequently. Watkins is in the best stretch of his two-year career, catching 19 passes for 459 yards and six touchdowns in his last four games. Jones and the Cowboys, who rank 31st in DVOA vs. No. 1 receivers, could be in serious trouble.

Injury report

Dez Bryant (foot): Doubtful

Jason Witten (chest): Probable

Morris Claiborne (hamstring): Questionable

Charles Clay (back): Out

LeSean McCoy (knee): Out

Karlos Williams (shoulder): Probable

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Bears

22nd

21st

12th

6th

Buccaneers

18th

8th

24th

12th

Who’s ready for a Lovie Smith revenge game? Seriously, though, this is one of those games that could only fantasy football can make compelling. Otherwise, it’s a couple of also-ran, decent-at-their-best teams playing a meaningless game two days after Christmas. But when it also has Matt Forte, Doug Martin, Alshon Jeffery and Mike Evans, fantasy owners will have their eyes trained on this game.

Player who could surprise: Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Fantasy
Start ’Em, Sit ’Em: How to set your Week 16 fantasy football lineups

This will go down as a lost season of sorts for Seferian-Jenkins, who had plenty of breakout potential coming into the year. A shoulder injury cost him nine games, and effectively 11 if you count the one in which the injury happened, as well as his first game back on the field. There’s little doubt, however, that his pass-catching ability ranks alongside his fellow new breed tight ends, and that makes him a weapon every time he takes the field. With the attrition at the position, he rates as a low-end TE1 this week.

Player who could disappoint: Alshon Jeffery

If Jeffery is out there for the Bears, he should be out there for his fantasy owners. He is questionable yet again, this time with a hamstring injury. He played through it last week, but had just one catch, which happened to be a 10-yard touchdown. Jeffery’s status, combined with the up-and-down nature of the Chicago offense, gives him the bust floor for championship week.

• BEDARD: Winston, Bucs poised for success

Matchup to watch: Mike Evans vs. Kyle Fuller

In four games without Vincent Jackson, Evans has averaged just shy of 15 targets. Jackson is expected to miss this week’s game because of a knee injury, meaning you’re going to see a whole lot of Evans and Fuller on your television screen. In the last three games sans Jackson, Evans has 25 catches for 433 yards.

Injury report

Alshon Jeffery (hamstring): Doubtful

Eddie Royal (knee): Questionable

Pernell McPhee (knee): Questionable

Vincent Jackson (knee): Out

Logan Mankins (knee): Questionable

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Panthers

4th

13th

7th

16th

Falcons

8th

29th

2nd

28th

The Panthers are two wins away from an undefeated regular season, and only have to go through the Falcons and Buccaneers to get there. The Falcons could give them a real test in the Georgia Dome, but the former will still need the Panthers to have less than their A-game to win and keep their fledgling playoff hopes alive.

Player who could surprise: Cameron Artis-Payne

Artis-Payne has been another oft-discussed player on the pages of SI.com this week. The Panthers have no reason to put Jonathan Stewart back on the field if he is anything less than 100%, and yes, that even means if he’s 90%. If the Panthers are going to win the Super Bowl this year, they need Stewart one month from now, not a few days from now. That would leave the rookie Artis-Payne in control of the backfield once again. He ran for 59 yards on 14 carries last week, and flashed his ability as a receiver, catching two passes for 34 yards. He’d be an RB2 if he indeed ends up with the reins on Sunday.

• BURKE: Panthers stay atop latest Power Rankings as Chiefs rise

Player who could disappoint: Devonta Freeman

Freeman is the only logical answer here. Julio Jones has delivered all season, even as everything crashes down around him. Seriously, all things considered, he might be having the most impressive receiver season this year. Freeman, however, is a bit more dependent on a favorable game flow, and there’s little chance he has that on Sunday. If the Falcons are chasing, he’s going to have to do the majority of his work as a receiver. No matter how dangerous a back is catching the ball, that’s never a good thing.

Matchup to watch: Julio Jones vs. Josh Norman

Let’s get back to Jones for a second. He has 118 catches for 1,544 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Given the way Atlanta as a whole, and Matt Ryan specifically, have played this year, that could be a more performance season than what we’ve seen from Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham. Norman, however, won Round One between these heavyweights. Few, if any, have two wins over Jones.

Injury report

Jonathan Stewart (foot): Out

Tevin Coleman (concussion: Out

San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

49ers

13th

30th

18th

11th

Lions

20th

20th

15th

29th

All the storylines in this game are on the Detroit side. Can Ameer Abdullah protect the football? Will Calvin Johnson have more than one catch? Are there actually some building blocks here? As for the 49ers, all the fantasy intrigue left this team long ago. They’re here because we need two teams on the field.

Player who could surprise: Ameer Abdullah

Despite the fumbles, the Lions appear committed to getting Abdullah as much time as possible in advance of the 2016 season. He could be their starting running back next season, but they need to see what they have in him first. Over the last five weeks, he has 57 carries for 274 yards and a touchdown, which was just his third of the season. The 49ers are 24th in rush defense DVOA this season, and have allowed the third-most points to running backs.

Player who could disappoint: Calvin Johnson

Since his three-touchdown game against the Eagles on Thanksgiving, Johnson has five catches for 79 yards in three games. Take that big performance out of his game log, and he’s averaging just 8.75 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. That’s on par with James Jones and Travis Benjamin. Johnson is no more than a WR2, a status he will carry into 2016.

Matchup to watch: Golden Tate vs. Jimmie Ward

Ward is a safety by training, but has served as San Francisco’s primary slot corner this season. It’s a role in which he hasn’t exactly thrived, allowing a 100.1 quarterback rating. Tate is on a bit of a heater, catching 30 passes for 218 yards and five touchdowns in his last four games. He has done great work in the red zone, succeeding where Johnson isn’t really getting a chance. Matthew Stafford should continue to look his way when the Lions are in scoring range.

Injury report

Shuan Draughn (knee): Out

Calvin Johnson (ankle): Questionable

Glover Quin (concussion): Questionable

• KAPLAN: Reviewing the possible impact of 'Concussion'

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Browns

27th

25th

28th

13th

Chiefs

11th

5th

29th

1st

The Chiefs are looking for their ninth straight win and could be atop the AFC West by Monday night. If they win and the Broncos lose to the Bengals, the Chiefs will be in first place, one win away from claiming the division crown. And to think, they were once 1-5 looking at 10 more games without Jamaal Charles.

Player who could surprise: Charcandrick West

I’ve said it all week, so I might as well say it once more right here. West is going to win a lot of people fantasy championships on Sunday. He’s back in command of the Kansas City backfield after running for 76 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries last week. The Chiefs are favored by 11.5 points in this game, and the Browns rank 28th in rush defense DVOA. This is an ideal situation for a running back, especially one who has played as well as West has this year. He’s my No. 1 running back for Week 16.

Player who could disappoint: Gary Barnidge

Fantasy
Week 16 DFS picks: Bortles a strong play due to Jags' high passing volume

This is a tough spot for Barnidge, the only player on Cleveland worth starting in typical fantasy formats this week. On one hand, his status as the team’s most dangerous weapons should guarantee him plenty of volume, On the other, no team has been tougher on tight ends this season. The Chiefs have surrendered the fewest fantasy points to, and rank second in DVOA against, the position. A brutal matchup for Barnidge could not have come at a worse time for his fantasy owners.

Matchup to watch: Gary Barnidge vs. Derrick Johnson

Johnson has had more coverage snaps than any other Kansas City linebacker, and figures to have the primary responsibility for Barnidge. Johnson has faced 51 targets, allowing 35 catches for 241 yards and a touchdown, and also has two interceptions. Barnidge has the upper hand individually, but Johnson will have help from one of the best pass coverage defenses in the league.

Injury report

Joe Thomas (knee): Questionable

Justin Houston (knee): Out

Tamba Hali (thumb): Questionable

Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Colts

24th

22nd

27th

20th

Dolphins

25th

31st

23rd

15th

Call it the Letdown Bowl. The Colts entered 2015 as apparent Super Bowl contenders, while it seemed the Dolphins were finally ready to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East and perhaps secure a playoff spot. The latter has already been eliminated from postseason contention, while the former is hanging onto fleeting hopes in arguably the worst division in football.

Player who could surprise: Frank Gore

Gore has zero 100-yard games this season and hasn’t found the end zone in the last five weeks. It’s a minor miracle that he has remained healthy, but he has made a career out of taking punishment and remaining upright. It may finally pay off against a Miami defense that has allowed the second-most points to running backs and ranks 22nd in rush DVOA. The Colts will have either Charlie Whitehurst or an injured Matt Hasselbeck under center on Sunday. Either will force them to lean on Gore and the run game to stay within striking distance of the Texans.

Player who could disappoint: Lamar Miller

This is, of course, not Miller’s fault. Only Miami could find a way to have one of the best running backs in the league and give him fewer than 10 carries in six of 14 games. On the right team, we could be a few weeks from anointing Miller the No. 1 fantasy running back this season. Instead, we talk about him as the most criminally underused player in the NFL. That showed up at a terrible time for his fantasy owners last week. You can never be sure when the usage monster will strike, making him the riskiest RB1 in the league.

Matchup to watch: Colts offensive line vs. Dolphins pass rush

The Colts rank 11th in pass blocking, while the Dolphins are the league’s top pass rush team, according to Pro Football Focus. Both teams are likely to pound the ball on the ground this week, but they’ll still need to make plays through the air. That could give the advantage to the Dolphins.

Injury report

Donte Moncrief (toe): Questionable

Mike Pouncey (foot): Questionable

Jelani Jenkins (ankle): Questionable

New England Patriots at New York Jets

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Patriots

6th

7th

17th

9th

Jets

9th

2nd

19th

5th

A pair of familiar rivals meet in Week 16 with a ton on the line. The Jets, locked into a three-way tie with the Chiefs and Steelers, might need to win out to make the playoffs. The Patriots, meanwhile, are a win away from securing homefield advantage in the AFC. It might actually be the Jets who enter this game with a better, and certainly more cohesive, offense. No trio has a safer fantasy floor than than Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.

Player who could surprise: Bilal Powell

Fantasy
Week 16 Waiver Wire: Williams, Artis-Payne top pickups for title games

Since returning from injury five weeks ago, Powell has consistently outproduced Chris Ivory. He has 393 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in that time, playing a more significant role in the Jets offense. Powell has outgained Ivory in three of the five games, and outscored him, in fantasy terms, in four. A game against the Patriots, which figures to be pass-friendly and fast-paced, is much more Powell’s speed.

Player who could disappoint: Tom Brady

There’s no doubting that Brady can deliver in the toughest of circumstances and most Spartan of environments. If he carried you all the way to the championship, you’re starting him without question this week. Still, take a look around. Julian Edelman (foot) and Danny Amendola (knee) likely won’t play. Dion Lewis (knee), of course, is done for the season. As good as Rob Gronkowski is, Brady needs another reliable weapon in the passing game. Who is that? James White? Brandon LaFell? Keshawn Martin? There’s a chance Brady is only good for low-end QB1 production.

Matchup to watch: Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker vs. Patriots secondary

As we said in the intro for this game, no receiver duo is more consistent than Marshall and Decker. They are WR4 and WR10, respectively, and have been among the top-24 receivers in the same week nine times this season. The Patriots, meanwhile, rank second in pass coverage this season, and have a standout corner in Malcolm Butler. This game could be won or lost based on the winner of this matchup.

Injury report

Julian Edelman (foot): doubtful

Danny Amendola (knee): Questionable

Scott Chandler (knee): Questionable

Brandon LaFell (foot): Questionable

Devin McCourty (ankle): Questionable

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Texans

16th

16th

8th

10th

Titans

29th

9th

21st

25th

The Texans could clinch the AFC South this week, but will have to do it with their fourth different starting quarterback of the season. Brandon Weeden will join Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and T.J. Yates as quarterbacks who have started at least one game for Houston, and Weeden will be the second quarterback to start for two teams this year. The other is Jimmy Clausen. The NFL in 2015, ladies and gentlemen.

Player who could surprise: Brandon Weeden

Hey, why not? The Titans have allowed the fourth-most points to quarterbacks this season, and Weeden has the luxury of playing with DeAndre Hopkins. That could certainly be enough to carry him to QB2 production. If you’re scrounging for help in a two-QB league, Weeden would not be the worst choice. And yeah, that actually stands as a compliment for Weeden.

Player who could disappoint: Delanie Walker

Walker should get plenty of volume in this game, but that volume, unfortunately, will be coming from Zach Mettenberger. Walker caught just two passes last week, though both of them did go for touchdowns. Still, you can’t feel as good about Walker with Mettenberger at the helm as you do with Marcus Mariota, who is out with a knee injury. He’s still a TE1, but the ceiling isn’t as high as it usually is.

Matchup to watch: Texans offensive line vs. Titans pass rush

Neither of these teams move the needle all that much, but the Texans do rank seventh in pass blocking, while the Titans are 11th in pass rush, according to Pro Football Focus. Given that the Texans advantage in this game rests with DeAndre Hopkins, the trench battle when they have the ball will be crucial.

Injury report

Cecil Shorts (hamstring): Out

Brian Hoyer (concussion): Questionable

Marcus Mariota (knee): Out

Delanie Walker (hamstring): Probable

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Steelers

26th

3rd

31st

26th

Ravens

23rd

4th

32nd

2nd

This one seems academic for the Steelers, but one ill-timed slip-up could have them headed home, with both the Chiefs and Jets playing their best football of the season. The Ravens haven’t been as bad as their record suggests, and Pittsburgh’s offensive home/road splits suggest this game could be closer than expected.

Player who could surprise: Markus Wheaton

Fantasy
Fact or Fiction: Brown, Roethlisberger immune to tough defensive matchups

I’m done listing Kamar Aiken in this space because his success shouldn’t be a surprise at this point. Wheaton has followed up that 201-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Seahawks a month ago with 13 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. He and Martavis Bryant have been equally as productive in that time. With Antonio Brown at the top of the depth chart, there’s no way to cover the Steelers’ passing game.

Player who could disappoint: Buck Allen

Allen gave his fantasy owners negative points last week, meaning a lot of them could be just observing the championship rather than playing in it. If you did survive, however, you might want to shuttle Allen to the bench this week. The Ravens are 10.5-point underdogs in this game, and if that line is prescient, there won’t be too many carries for Allen on Sunday. He also earned himself a trip to John Harbaugh’s doghouse with a fumble last week. Allen will be a nice target in 2016, but his 2015 usefulness could be in the rear-view mirror.

Matchup to watch: Antonio Brown vs. This Week’s Overmatched Secondary

In Ben Roethlisberger’s 10 games this season, Brown has 98 receptions for 1,351 yards and nine touchdowns. Slide the decimal point one spot to the left to get his averages of 9.8 catches for 135.1 yards and 0.9 touchdowns with Roethlisberger under center. Yes, Brown should be in the MVP discussion. He won’t win that, but he should be the unanimous Offensive Player of the Year.

Injury report

No significant injuries

• BLACK MONDAY WATCH: Coaches in danger; possible replacements

Jacksonville Jaguars at New Orleans Saints

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Jaguars

28th

18th

16th

27th

Saints

32nd

32nd

20th

32nd

The Jaguars are going to be a chic pick to with the AFC South next year, and with good reason. Until then, they’ll have to settle for being one of the most dangerous offenses in championship week. This is expected to be the highest-scoring game of Week 16, but it might be the Saints who aren’t able to live up to their end of the bargain.

Player who could surprise: Allen Hurns

Allen Robinson will get all the attention in this game, but the Saints have actually been worse against No. 2 receivers than No. 1s this year. They rank 22nd in DVOA against second bananas, compared with 15th against the top options. Just last week, Golden Tate had two touchdowns while Calvin Johnson had just one catch against the Saints. Both Hurns and Robinson should explode on Sunday.

Players who could disappoint: All running backs

Neither team is winning this game on the ground. It’s going to take 30 points to come away with a victory, and that means Blake Bortles and Drew Brees (foot) will be hard at work all afternoon. Tim Hightower, T.J. Yeldon (knee) and Denard Robinson will have their roles to play, but none will be all that lucrative.

Matchup to watch: Allen Robison vs. Delvin Breaux

Breaux is the reason why the Saints are at least decent against No. 1 receivers despite having the worst pass defense in the league. Robinson, meanwhile, is one of the true breakout stars of the 2015 season. Their matchup will be one of the best receiver-corner battles of Week 16.

Injury report

T.J. Yeldon (knee): Doubtful

Drew Brees (foot): Questionable

Marques Colston (chest): Questionable

Ben Watson (knee): Questionable

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Packers

15th

12th

9th

21st

Cardinals

10th

6th

11th

17th

Both these teams are headed to the playoffs, but they still have something to play for on Sunday. The Packers will almost certainly meet the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs, but the location of that game is yet to be determined with both teams still alive for the NFC North crown. The Cardinals, meanwhile, need to win one more game to clinch a first-round bye.

Player who could surprise: Aaron Rodgers

Fantasy
Week 16 Risers/Sliders: RB Johnson could win you a championship

Everyone is burying Rodgers’ fantasy prospects for Week 16, myself included. His expert consensus ranking is ninth, which has to be the lowest he has been in the least three seasons. This is still Rodgers, and even though the Green Bay passing game doesn’t have the same ceiling without Jordy Nelson, he remains the best real-life quarterback in the league. In other words, never bet against Rodgers showing up in a big game.

Player who could disappoint: Eddie Lacy

I admit, I was fooled by Lacy heading into last week. Like Roger Daltrey, though, I won’t be fooled again. There’s no way to trust Lacy in your fantasy championship. He could get 20 carries and 100 yards, or he could touch the ball eight times all game. You simply cannot play him this week, unless you are devoid of options at your running back and flex spots.

Matchup to watch: Cardinals offensive line vs. Packers run defense

David Johnson has turned into a fantasy monster over the last few weeks, and is making himself a first-round pick for 2016. As good as Carson Palmer and the passing game have been this year, it’s Johnson who stands as the single best fantasy option in this game. Green Bay ranks 12th in rush defense DVOA, but Arizona is the league’s second-best run-blocking unit, according to Pro Football Focus.

Injury report

Eddie Lacy (ribs): Probable

Carson Palmer (finger): Probable

Andre Ellington (toe): Questionable

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Rams

2nd

24th

6th

22nd

Seahawks

7th

1st

3rd

24th

Don’t be fooled by the line on this game. The Rams are the one team that has seemed to have the Seahawks number over the last three seasons, and they always give them a tough test in Seattle. The teams may be mismatched, and it would be a shock if Seattle doesn’t come away with a victory, but don’t expect a blowout.

Player who could surprise: Todd Gurley

This is obviously a brutal matchup for Gurley, but the only way the Rams keep it close is if they can ride him to a big game. Gurley missed the first game between the two teams, an eventual win for the Rams way back in Week 1. These teams look a whole lot different since that surprising result, and Gurley might be the best player on the field when the Rams have the ball.

Player who could disappoint: Doug Baldwin

Are we ready to call Baldwin Jerry Rice? He’s the first receiver since the greatest of all-time to score 10 touchdowns in a four-game run. I am not quite ready to put these two in the same class. It’s never useful when someone points to average-based regression without any underlying evidence, but the fact remains that Baldwin’s touchdown rate has to slow down eventually. It would make all the sense in the world if that happened against one of the league’s better pass defenses.

Matchup to watch: Russell Wilson vs. Rams pass rush

We know the Rams can get after the quarterback, evidenced by their No. 3 pass rush grade on Pro Football Focus. Getting after Wilson and actually getting to him are two different things. No quarterback has played better over the last five weeks. He’ll need to be at his best to keep Seattle’s win streak rolling on Sunday.

Injury report

Marshawn Lynch (abdomen): Out

Kam Chancellor (pelvis): Questionable

Russell Okung (calf): Questionable

Doug Baldwin (hamstring): Questionable

Michael Bennett (toe): Questionable

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Giants

31st

23rd

25th

31st

Vikings

14th

11th

14th

14th

Odell Beckham’s suspension couldn’t have come at a worse time for his fantasy owners, or the Giants for that matter. His owners will be without one of their best players in championship week, while the Giants will be missing their most dynamic playmaker in a game where a loss eliminates them from playoff contention. The Vikings are justifiably big favorites on Sunday night.

Player who could surprise: Stefon Diggs

Diggs is easily Minnesota’s best vertical threat going up against a Giants defense that cannot stop anyone through the air. The Giants have allowed the eighth-most points to receivers this year, and spent last week getting torched by Ted Ginn, another dangerous receiver on the deep ball. Kenny Stills and DeSean Jackson, too, burned the Giants for long touchdowns in the last few weeks. Diggs is a similar player in skill and spirit, and can take it to this poor Giants secondary.

Player who could disappoint: Eli Manning

Who else, really? Manning is no more than a mid-tier QB2 without Odell Beckham. He’ll have to lean on Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris and Will Tye in this one, so forgive us if we aren’t exactly bullish on his fantasy value. He could get plenty of volume with the Vikings being heavy favorites, but you want to count on more than just volume in your fantasy championship.

Matchup to watch: Teddy Bridgewater vs. Giants pass rush

Bridgewater has had two of his best games of the season over the last couple weeks, and is starting to find a groove with the Vikings one win away from clinching a postseason berth. The Giants have had one of the worst pass rushes all season, setting up Bridgewater with another plus matchup this week.

Injury report

Dwayne Harris (shoulder): Questionable

Harrison Smith (knee): Probable

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos

 

vs. QB

vs. RB

vs. WR

vs. TE

Bengals

3rd

10th

10th

8th

Broncos

1st

14th

1st

19th

Week 16 wraps up with a game that, under normal circumstances, would keep a lot of fantasy championships hanging in the balance. With A.J. McCarron and Brock Osweiler starting, however, this could be more of a defensive battle than we would have though with Andy Dalton and a previous incarnation of Peyton Manning available. If the Bengals win, they’ll lock up a first-round bye in the playoffs. If the Broncos win, they’ll have pole position for the No. 2 seed. Remember, though, that the Broncos could still fall out of the postseason.

Player who could surprise: Giovani Bernard

NFL
Week 16 picks: Will Bengals top Broncos to clinch a playoff bye?

It’s hard to get excited about any of the players in this game. Bernard could play a larger role in the passing attack than he usually does with Tyler Eifert out for the second straight game because of a concussion. Bernard hasn’t made much of a fantasy impact for more than a month, totaling just 220 yards from scrimmage in his last four games. The Bengals will need more out of him if they’re going to get out of Denver with a win on Monday.

Player who could disappoint: A.J. Green

Green is going to be less than 100% because of a back injury that has kept him out of practice for most of the week. He’ll be playing with McCarron, a backup quarterback who limits the ceiling of the Cincinnati passing game, especially deep down the field. Finally, Green will be going up against Chris Harris, who will be even more motivated than usual after getting worked over by Antonio Brown last week. Green is, at best, a low-end WR2.

Matchup to watch: Demaryius Thomas vs. Adam Jones

If Dalton and Green were healthy, the receiver’s matchup with Harris would be the best one in this game. With Dalton out and Thomas compromised, the Thomas-Jones battle becomes the premier showdown on Monday night. Jones is the No. 9 corner in coverage this season, according to Pro Football Focus, while Thomas has managed to keep his production up despite the less-than-ideal conditions in Denver. He has 93 catches for 1,128 yards, but just five touchdowns this season.

Injury report

The official injury report for Monday Night Football isn’t available until Sunday, but, outside of Andy Dalton (thumb), the only fantasy-relevant player expected to be out is Tyler Eifert, who is dealing with a concussion.

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