Title delays, Freeman up, Welker down; more Week 16 Fast Forward
Hold the parade! The NFL -- or rather, Mother Nature -- found a way to delay the crowning of thousands of fantasy champions today. The idea of an NFL game being cancelled by the weather threw a lot of people off, not just those working at NBC. Did the move of the game from blizzard conditions Sunday to what should be passable conditions Tuesday change the fantasy implications? Yes, but not significantly. Players didn't need to dump anyone, most notably Michael Vick or DeSean Jackson. The short week doesn't hurt them significantly. It could mean more for Adrian Peterson, but Peterson was likely to play Sunday. He'll likely split carries Tuesday anyway. The conspiracy theories are flying up about Brett Favre and it should help ratings if there's whispers about a return. The trophies and celebrations will have to wait until late Tuesday night and the Maalox people get a couple days worth of sales as people stare blankly at their team, knowing they only have a four-point lead and their opponent has Brent Celek or some similar scenario. You didn't get to the championship game by being impatient, so a couple more days shouldn't kill you. Shouldn't. Let's fast forward around the league:
Josh Freeman put up an aerial show that has to have Bucs fans and keeper league owners excited. His progress over the season is a real credit to the coaching staff, but his presence on the Bucs roster is credit to the scouting staff who had him valued properly. Big, strong, and fast shouldn't be hard to translate, but heading into last year's combine, there were a number of questions about whether Freeman was an NFL QB at all. His performance at the NFL Combine solidified things on the "he can play" scale, but it's the accuracy that few noticed. It was that precision that helped him in 2009 and allowed him to develop. Football Outsiders noted that Freeman, the son of a former player and coach, often seemed to make good in-game adjustments. That progression has continued and Sunday's breakout (+15) might end up the norm rather than the surprise in years to come. The Outsiders crew pretty much nailed their season projection (and they got the Chiefs right as AFC West champs) so it won't surprise me to see him on the cover of next year's edition. If he's available in any league with keepers -- and he's available in over 25% of leagues right now -- grab him and stash him if your league allows it. (Keeper stashing is always a smart play at this point of the season if rosters aren't locked, something some leagues overlook. Find your loopholes and use them.) Other breakout performances this week include Aaron Rodgers (+25 over an artificially low mark due to his concussion), and Jerome Simpson (+25, but will not ask to be referred to as "Ochonueve" anytime soon.)
I'll admit it -- I screwed up this week and recommended Wes Welker a couple times. If I'd listened to
A player who comes up with 10 points a week is a fantasy stud. It puts you on the front page of the scoring leaders and should put you in the first few rounds of any fantasy draft. How it happens is the interesting part. Putting aside players that ended up missing games for injury reasons or the flukish ones like Michael Vick, who missed several games and still ended up high on the leaderboard, there's a huge variation. Some guys put up a few goose eggs along the way, which means they had monster weeks that probably single-handedly won weeks and made up for it. I looked back at all the leaders and how they scored the points and the one thing that stood out was how random it was. Trying to balance players is almost impossible, even with advanced schedule knowledge that we wouldn't have had back at the August draft. Perhaps the most consistent player of the year was LeSean McCoy, a guy who's gone ignored by most behind the incredible seasons of Vick and Jackson. He did it before, after and during Vick, so I don't think we have to discount what he's done if Vick leaves Philly. There's no award for consistency, but put this one in your fantasy notebook for next year and look at it just before you draft someone -- anyone -- over McCoy in next year's draft.
Aaron Rodgers wore a new helmet today, one that was widely reported to be "specially modified" and a "more advanced design." While it's impossible to see inside the helmet, it's neither special nor that advanced. The
Mike Tolbert was carted off the field with a neck injury Sunday, but early reports are that he had full movement in all extremities. Still, that image is among the scariest things to see on a football field. Maurice Jones-Drew could be headed for surgery as soon as this week after the Jags were eliminated. Houston's record might also affect Andre Johnson, who wasn't able to go with his ankle sprain. The team has no reason to push him as they focus on next year and getting Arian Foster the rushing title. Arrelious Benn left early with a knee injury and it didn't look good. It would be a terrible end to a breakout campaign for him. With clinches, lots of teams will rest players next week, including Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez and more. It's why fantasy championships are played in Week 16 for most leagues ... but not all. I'll be back with the Injury Report and Med Check in Week 17 for those of you that play them or for those who might place a wager or two on games.