Studs, Duds, & Sleepers: Week 16

December 24, 2020

Fantasy Football Championship Week is upon us and if you are lucky enough to be playing for the gold this weekend, then you need to be smart enough to be soaking up the fantasy football gold I are serving up this week! With money and pride on the line all across the world, and this week’s games spread out – Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday – you need to make sure your lineup is set early.

So, before you start over indulging yourself in all your holiday festivities, make sure you indulge yourself first, in the Championship edition of my 100% guarantee, can’t possibly miss, stone cold/room temperature ‘Studs, Duds & Sleepers.’

 

Studs:

Quarterbacks:

Aaron Rodgers, GB:

Rodgers averages nearly three passing touchdowns per game and has an astonishing 10:1 touchdown to interception ratio. He has thrown a league leading 40 touchdowns and a league low four interceptions. He also ranks first in rating, QBR and is in the top six of every other quarterback stat of value. This week, he gets a Titans defense which ranks in the bottom four in pass defense, including dead last in sacks (14). Rodgers should have no issues putting up big numbers this week against the Titans.

Patrick Mahomes, KC:

After his worst game of the season in Week 14 (three interceptions), Mahomes bounced back with another three touchdown, zero interception performance against one of the league’s top defenses in New Orleans. He gets a much more favorable matchup this week against Atlanta. The Falcons rank 31st against the pass, giving up 287.7 yards per game. 

Others receiving votes:

Tom Brady, TB:

Brady put up 390 yards, two touchdowns and zero picks last week against the Falcons, and this week, gets a Lions defense which ranks in the bottom six in terms of passing yards per game (28th), passing touchdowns allowed (28th), interceptions (29th) and sacks (28th).

Deshaun Watson, Hou:

Despite playing for a terrible Texans team with no top tier weapons, Watson is having a great statistical season. If you take into account how bad this Texans team is, you could make the argument that no quarterback is playing better in 2020 than Watson. Certainly no one is doing more with less. Watson has 18 touchdowns and just one interception over his last nine games, including 373 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions last week against a top 10 Colts defense. He should have a much easier go this week against a Bengals defense, which despite playing inspired on Monday night, is still one of the worst in the NFL. 

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Running backs:

Derrick Henry, Ten:

Henry has rushed for more than 130 yards and a touchdown in four of his last five games and over his last two games, he has 362 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries. Unless the game in Green Bay gets out of hand quickly, the Titans are again likely to lean on Henry to test the Packers defense – a defense which is surrendering 4.5 yards per carry to backs far less talented than Derrick Henry.

Nick Chubb, Cle:

For all the talk about Henry, Chubb actually leads the NFL in yards per carry (5.6). The Jets actually have a decent run defense, but with nothing to play for, I expect Cleveland to get up early lean heavily on Chubb and Kareem Hunt. 

Others receiving votes:

David Montgomery, Chi:

After a slow start, Montgomery has picked it up and is a clear RB1 again this week. Montgomery has put up 100+ all-purpose yards in each of his last four games, rushed for 100+ yards in three of those games and scored six touchdowns in that stretch. I expect his hot streak to continue against a Jaguars run defense which ranks in the bottom five of every significant stat.  

Miles Sanders, Phi:

Prior to Jalen Hurts playing, Sanders had gone five straight games without a touchdown. In the two games Hurts has played, Sanders has scored twice, put up 226 all-purpose yards – including 179 on the ground – and pulled in five catches. He should have a big day this week against a Cowboys defense which is terrible all around. 

Pass Catchers:

Davante Adams, GB:

Adams is arguably the best wide receiver in the game and is playing with, arguably, the best quarterback in the game, and he gets to go against one of the worst pass defenses in the league (Titans). He is averaging 11 targets, eight catches, 90+ yards and 1+ touchdown per game. I expect him to surpass all of those averages this week. 

Darren Waller, Oak:

Two tight ends rank in the top 40 receivers in terms of yards – Travis Kelce…and Darren Waller. Even with Marcus Mariota starting, I like Waller to have another big day. He ranks in the top 15 in terms of yards (967), receptions (93), targets (129), and touchdowns (8). 

Others receiving votes:

Travis Kelce, KC:

It could be argued that Kelce is the best receiver in the game. What cannot be argued, is the fact that he is the biggest mismatch in the game. Kelce is the most consistent piece of the most prolific offense, ranking in the top five in yards (1,318), catches (98), targets (132) and touchdowns (10). He should put up big numbers this week against the Falcons. 

Mike Evans, TB:

There is a trend this week with my quarterback ‘Studs’ and pass catcher ‘Studs’ matching up. If you have one of these QB/WR/TE combos, you should have a good day. The Lions just gave up 46 points to the Titans, including 273 yards and three touchdowns to Ryan Tannehill. I expect Brady and Evans to surpass those number this week. 

Duds:  

Quarterbacks:

Ben Roethlisberger, Pit:

On Monday night, Roethlisberger threw for 170 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while barely completing 50% of his passes and compiling a QBR of 62.4, including a first half performance of 7/16 for 19 yards and an interception…against the Bengals! Don’t try starting him this week against the Colts. 

Drew Lock, Den:

Lock is just one week removed from a 280 yard, four touchdown performance, and hasn’t thrown a pick in two games, but his ceiling is so low. He has thrown for 300+ yards in just one game this year and has as many multiple interception games (4) as he has multiple touchdown games (4). I wouldn’t expect much from Lock this week against a formidable Chargers pass defense. 

.Others receiving votes:
Giants Quarterback:

I don’t know who will be starting this week, but suffice it to say, whomever it is, is not worth a start on your fantasy team. The Giants quarterbacks have gone six straight games without a 250 yard passer, and two of those games were against two of the worst pass defenses in the league (Seahawks and Bengals). No quarterback in a Giants uniform is going to reverse that trend this week against the Ravens, in Baltimore. 

Phillip Rivers, Ind:

Rivers hasn’t put up gawdy numbers, but he has been consistent and hasn’t hurt his team (real or fantasy teams). In fact, he has six touchdowns and no picks over his last three games. But, that was against the Texans (twice) and the Raiders. The Steelers defense is a different beast. Sure, they got beat by Ryan Finley on Monday night, but it wasn’t Finley’s arm that gave them troubles, it was his legs. Finley only threw 13 passes, completing seven for 89 yards, one touchdown and no picks. But he ran 10 times for 47 yards and a touchdown. Not only can Rivers not run, he can no longer move…at all. That is going to be a problem against the Steelers pass rush. 

Running backs:

Cam Akers, LAR:

If you gambled two weeks ago and started Akers (171 yards) you probably won your game. If you started him last week (63 yards), you may not have been as lucky. I wouldn’t take the chance this week. As much flak as the Seahawks defense has received this year, they have been good against the run – giving up just 3.9 yards per carry. 

Le’Veon Bell, KC:

I understand the thought here – with Clyde Edwards-Helaire out, Bell gets inserted into the Chiefs high flying offense and has a big day, right? I’m not so sure. Yes, he did put up 62 yards and a touchdown last week against a very good Saints run defense, but if you look at how the Chiefs use their backs, they don’t use them very consistently. CEH has just five touchdowns on the year, and before last week, CEH had gone six straight weeks without breaking 70 yards rushing. In fact, he has only surpassed 70 yards three times this year. So I am not confident things change with Bell.  

Others receiving votes:

Lions Running Backs:

The Bucs have the number one ranked run defense in terms of yards per carry (3.4) and yards per game (77.4) and still have a shot at winning the NFC South, and the Lions have the third worst rushing offense (92.6 ypg) and absolutely nothing to play for. That is not a recipe for success.

Steelers Running Backs:

They may get James Conner back, but it doesn’t matter. the Steelers cannot run the ball. Period. Their 3.7 yards per carry rank them tied for last with the Atlanta Falcons, and only the Texans (86.0) pick up less yards on the ground than the Steelers (88.9). The Colts defense will shut down the Steelers running game and make Ben try and beat them this week. 

Pass Catchers:

All Pass catchers wearing Bengals stripes:

They have been here the last three or four weeks and deservedly so. On Monday night, the Bengals threw the ball just 13 times, completing only seven of those passes for a measly 89 yards. players again. 

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pit:

Whether he dances pre-game or not, he shouldn’t be in your lineup during Championship week. I was a great stat somewhere, that JuJu has more tiktok videos than catches this year. Since my research department doesn’t delve into tik tok, I will take it as truth. What I do know to be true though, is JuJu isn’t putting up big numbers this year (just 670 yards) and I don’t expect that to change this week against a good Colts defense.   

Others receiving votes:

Marvin Jones, Jr., Det:

This may be surprising, seeing that Jones just had 12 targets last week, pulling in 10 for 112 yards and a touchdown, but that was against one of the league’s worst pass defenses (Titans) and I don’t like the matchup this week against the Bucs.  

T.Y. Hilton, Ind:

I could essentially copy what I just said about Jones above and paste it here for Hilton. Hilton has been playing very well of late, but I think the Steelers are going to pressure Rivers into a rough day, meaning not much luck for Hilton.

 

Sleepers:

Jared Goff, LAR:

I know, he just lost to the Jets, but that was a game the Seahawks likely overlooked. That won’t be the case this week with the NFC West on the line in Seattle. To help Goff out, the Seattle has the world’s worst pass defense.

Marcus Mariota, LV:

Mariota played very well last week when he came in for Carr, putting up more than 300 all-purpose yards (226 passing, 88 rushing) and two touchdowns (one passing, one running). With a week to prepare for a mediocre Dolphins defense, Mariota could have a big game. 

Mitchell Trubisky, Chi:

If you are in a game for money this weekend and you are in a pinch at quarterback, if Mariota is not available, you could do worse the Trubisky. Over the last four weeks, he is averaging about 250 yards a game, has eight touchdowns and three interceptions and has completed better than 70% of his passes in each of his last three games. Not terrible numbers.

 

Running backs:

Giovani Bernard, Cin:

I kept predicting big things for Gio, and he and the Bengals offense kept letting me down. So I move him to the ‘Duds’ list, and “Voila!” he gets 26 touches, 97 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals are likely to rely heavily on Bernard again this week against a bad Texans defense. 

Jonathan Taylor, Ind:

Taylor is having a fantastic rookie season, so normally, he wouldn’t be a ‘Sleeper’ so to speak, but given that he is going up against one of the best defenses, you may be thinking to sit him. Don’t. Teams can – and have – moved the ball pretty well on the ground against the Steelers this year. I expect the Colts to rely heavily on their ground game this week in an effort to neutralize the Steelers pass rush.

David Johnson, Hou:

He hasn’t done much this year in terms of running the ball, but he pulled in all 11 of his targets last week for 106 yards. Despite their gutty performance on Monday night, the Bengals defense still struggles against the run and struggles to cover running backs. That is good news for Johnson. The threat of Watson and his arm should be enough to open up plenty of running room for Johnson.

 

Pass Catchers:

Emmanuel Sanders, NO:

With Drew Brees back and Michael Thomas out again, Sanders should see the bulk of the targets. Last week, he led the Saints in catches (4) and yards (76). He and Brees should have a little more luck this week against a Vikings pass defense which ranks in the bottom ten. 

Jamison Crowder, NYJ:

Yep, I actually have a Jet in a category other than ‘Duds!’ Crowder and Darnold have decent chemistry and he started the season with four straight games of 10+ targets and 7+ catches, including three 100+ yard games. Last week, against a tough Rams defense, he pulled in six of his eight targets for 66 yards – not bad in PPR leagues. He could have a big week this week against Cleveland.

Brandin Cooks, Hou:

I think Watson is going to put up big numbers this week against the Bengals, and someone is gonna have to catch the ball, so I have my money on Cooks. Last week, he pulled in six of his seven targets for 59 yards. I expect those numbers to go up this week.

Bonus Sleeper:

Logan Thomas, Was:

I have had him here now two straight weeks, but if you are looking for some help at tight end and Thomas is still out there, pick him up and play him! Over the last three weeks, he has seen 32 targets, pulling in 28 of those for 242 yards and a touchdown – including a 13 catch, 101 yard performance last week.

  • Categories: NFL

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