And some last-ditch fantasy advice heading into Week 15
So I got a lot of questions about weather this past weekend, particularly whether or not to bench guys playing in Green Bay or Buffalo. And my answer was basically: “Proceed as normal if it’s only light snow.” But I figured it would be helpful to put together a Bush-era Weather Terror Alert chart for everyone’s future reference. From here on in, just look toward MMQB HQ every Sunday morning to get the Weather Terror Alert Level, and act accordingly:
BROWN (proceed as normal)
RUSSET (slight downgrade for passing game personnel)
Steady rain showers
Wind gusts greater than 15 mph
BEIGE (slight downgrade for all players)
BURNT UMBER (significant downgrade for all players)
CHESTNUT (bench any non-superstars)
TAUPE (bench all players)
Tear in fabric of time and space
Really anything from the Book of Revelation
And with that, I give you the penultimate traditional Fantasy 40 of the 2016 season…
Bilal Powell and Matt Forte: Powell is the last waiver wire star of 2016. A little more than a week ago, Powell was watching from the sidelines as the Jets carved out time and touches for C.J. Spiller. What a difference the forward march of time makes. Forte suffered a knee injury in San Francisco, missing the bulk of that game, and while the Jets are being sufficiently vague about his status Forte himself said he felt “cracking and popping” in the knee. So it’s safe to say that stuff in his knee is, like, messed up. Powell had the game of his life in San Francisco, with 179 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. He won’t put up those kinds of numbers going forward because the Jets are crappy particularly on the offensive side of the ball, but a talented running back with a chance for 25-plus touches does not often come along during the Holiday season.
Melvin Gordon, Kenneth Farrow and Ronnie Hillman: Farrow is the off-brand waiver wire pickup this week. Gordon is dealing with hip and knee injuries, and seems doubtful at best to play on Sunday. Farrow will be surrounded by a good offense facing a mediocre defense (Oakland) in Week 15, but the undrafted rookie has the talent level of... an undrafted rookie, specifically one who entered the year fourth on the Chargers’ depth chart. Ronnie Hillman is kicking around as a No. 2 back, threatening to take just enough work to make Farrow a regrettable start.
Matthew Stafford: I’m sure he’s capable of doing anything he wants with his right index finger, from throwing a football to pointing at things. Stafford is a shaky play against a good Giants defense though.
Chris Hogan: He was the star on Monday night, but keep in mind that he had four catches for 50 yards before a late 79-yard TD on a busted coverage. Hogan has still yet to have more than seven targets or five catches in a game this season.
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Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers: Martin is the clear-cut No. 1 back, but the surprise was that it was Sims, not Rodgers, filling the change of pace role against New Orleans on Sunday. Sims looked good. Rodgers can be dropped.
Alshon Jeffery: He’s back, and if you weren’t already stashing him you should pick him up now if he’s still available. Jeffery is the best receiver in Chicago by a wide margin. It’s just a question of whether his chemistry with Matt Barkley is closer to what it was with Jay Cutler (yay!), or what it was with Brian Hoyer (boo!).
Dak Prescott and Tony Romo: Prescott’s not going anywhere at the moment, but Sunday night was a reminder that sometimes rookies, even really good rookies, play like rookies when facing good defenses. Prescott has a chance to get right against the Bucs (good defense, but not as many disguises as the Giants and lesser cornerback play), but he’s the ultimate boom-or-bust start in Week 15.
Kenneth Dixon and Terrence West: Baby steps in Baltimore. The Ravens still refuse to run the ball, but at least they finally recognize that Dixon is their best back. Part of it was that the Ravens were playing from behind and Dixon is the superior passing-game back, but Dixon played 42 snaps to West’s 14. One guy is worth playing going forward, one guy is not.
Trey Burton: If you need a Hail Mary at tight end, Burton could be your guy. He’s still a part-time player, but Carson Wentz has targeted him 19 times over the past two weeks.
Adrian Peterson: He says he wants to play in Week 16, so if you have the room you might as well stash him. Though I’m not sure what kind of black magic he’d need to be able to play more than 20 or so snaps in a game, and if he couldn’t find any running room behind this Vikings line when it and he were healthy…
Devontae Booker, Justin Forsett and Juwan Thompson: It’s like Booker was playing that game show “Hole in the Wall” but instead of properly contorting his body to fit through the hole in the wall he hit the wall. And so it looks like Forsett will have some kind of role, despite looking slow and losing a fumble in Tennessee last week. There have been calls for Thompson, a street-free-agent-level one-time short-yardage specialist, getting a bigger role. But basically, for Gary Kubiak, setting a rotation with this crop of backs is the equivalent of choosing between having your hand slammed in a car door, undergoing a root canal or watching a marathon of that game show “Hole in the Wall.”
Trevor Siemian: Above is why Trevor Siemian might keep throwing it 40-plus times per game. The Broncos like throwing it on first down anyway, since the reads on first down are easier on a young quarterback. He’s not a bad Hail Mary play.
Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner: With Matthew Stafford nursing a finger injury and Theo Riddick questionable with a wrist injury, the Lions might have no choice but to go (relatively) run-heavy on Sunday against the Giants. Washington was serviceable last week in the win over Chicago, with 64 yards on 16 carries. Zenner is strictly a No. 2 back behind him. But Washington is worth a look if you, say, lost Melvin Gordon or Matt Forte and couldn’t get Bilal Powell or Kenneth Farrow and are desperate for this week. Then just pray to your god that Riddick’s wrist does not heal properly.
Bryce Petty and Robby Anderson: It’s like Montana and Rice with these two. Sorry, that’s Mantegna and Rice, as in Italian-American actor Joe Mantegna and Gigi Rice of the The John Larroquette Show, as I always felt they would make a good Hollywood couple.
Donte Moncrief: A nightmare performance against Houston on Sunday ended with Moncrief suffering a hamstring injury. If healthy I’d have been interested in him as a bounceback candidate, depending on whether or not the Vikings try top corner Xavier Rhodes on the speedy T.Y. Hilton or not.
Ryan Mathews, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles: Hello darkness, my old friend. Smallwood suffered an MCL injury on Sunday, while Sproles was concussed while fielding a punt. So Mathews, despite all his limitations in the passing game in an offense that wants its backs to contribute in the passing game, gets to take on a massive workload over the next week or two.
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