Championship week is upon us! If you are still reading this, it means one of two things. Either you have way too much time on your hands, or you are playing for a title!
Last week’s quarterback streamer picks disappointed, so hopefully you had either David Johnson or Antonio Brown on your roster to make up for it. There are many variables that can impact performance of a QB2 or a low owned DST. If game flow goes in the wrong direction, your sure thing streamer play can quickly turn into a dud. To be clear, I do not recommend playing any of these guys ahead of a legit QB1 with a difficult matchup, like Tom Brady. Don’t get too cute in championship week. The single biggest mistake that owners tend to make this time of year is leaving safe points on the bench while opting for boom or bust high ceiling options.
Even if your starting lineup is all set, don’t underestimate the value in blocking a top waiver add from your opponent. Depth no longer matters, so grabbing a player or two that you would prefer your opponent not use against you is a great way to use those bench spots.
All of the players listed here are owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues as of 12/21.
Week 16 Quarterback
Kirk Cousins @PHI, owned in 25% of leagues: Cousins is going to be a very popular play coming off of a 5 TD outing and going up against the terrible Eagles secondary. Before you do something stupid and consider starting him ahead of a player like Tom Brady, you need to consider the fact that Cousins has been much worse away from home and that his game log is as volatile as any QB in the league. Cousins offers week winning upside. In a high stakes game that could decide the NFC East, there is also a chance that Cousins tanks in spectacular fashion.
Jay Cutler @TB, owned in 26.4% of leagues: Tampa Bay is very good against the run and suspect against the pass. Cutler had a strong performance against the Redskins in week 14 and another solid outing against the Vikings in week 15. If you are thinking about dialing up Cutler in week 16, make certain to check on Alshon Jeffery’s status as the week progresses. Jeffery left week 15 with hamstring tightness and his potential absence would significantly diminish Cutler’s fantasy appeal.
Teddy Bridgewater vs. NYG, owned 15.6% of leagues: Bridgewater has had two nice games in a row and now gets the Giants. Normally, I would shy away from using Bridgewater do to his low usage. Given that Peterson emerged from week 15 with an ankle injury and that Teddy B has played well lately, I would consider him if I were desperate.
Week 17 Quarterback
For those who don’t finish up this week.
Brian Hoyer @JAX, owned in 18.6% of leagues: Hoyer is easily the best play out of this group against a Jaguars D that gives up points in bunches through the air. The only caveat is that Hoyer is still in the concussion protocol. The Texans are battling for the playoffs, but since Hoyer has had two concussions in the past month, he is not a lock to be ready for this one.
Sam Bradford @NYG, owned in 17.5% of leagues: I would not feel good at all about using the human ace bandage during championship week, but the pickings are slim here. The matchup is right and the Eagles can still win the NFC East if they win out. With Jordan Matthews showing up big lately, Bradford could post a nice number in this spot.
Kellen Moore vs. WAS, owned in 0.0% of leagues: This one is for ultra deep leagues only. Moore displayed a little bit of a gunslinger’s mentality against a very tough Jets’ defense. Now that Dallas has been eliminated, I expect a much more aggressive offensive approach. They would like nothing more than to play spoiler to their biggest rivals. The Redskins’ defense is vulnerable to big plays and Moore was far more aggressive down the field than Cassell ever was.
Week 16 Defense/Special Teams
Detroit Lions vs. SF, owned in 15.9% of leagues: I am writing this before the start of the Monday Night game against New Orleans. Regardless of what happens in that one, the Lions will be among the premier week 16 streamer plays. San Francisco has trouble scoring points and the Lions will be heavy favorites at home. Ziggy Ansah is likely to notch a couple sacks in this one.
Tennessee Titans vs. HOU, owned in 15.8% of leagues: This one depends on who is under center for the Texans. If Hoyer makes it back, I will find somebody else. If Brandon Weeden is playing, sign me up! The Texans have trouble running the football and Weeden is a poor NFL quarterback. The Titans could make for a very solid play.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. WAS, owned in 48.7% of leagues: I don’t particularly like this play, but the Eagles have a way of scoring defensive and special teams touchdowns while the Skins have made their share of special teams mistakes this season. What I do like is the possibility of using the Eagles DST as a safe, negative correlation play for anybody also planning to use Cousins. This way, you get to count all of Kirk’s TD passes, whichever team they go to!
Week 17 Defense/Special Teams
San Francisco 49ers vs. STL, owned in 3.7% of leagues: It may seem like I am scraping the bottom of the barrell here, but the 49ers have been very tough against the run while playing at home. Facing a Ram team with a very questionable QB play, this could be a good spot to tee up the ‘9ers.
Indianapolis Colts vs. TEN, owned in 5.6% of leagues: Marcus Mariota has a sprained MCL. While he has not yet been ruled out for week 17, there is really no reason for the Titans to play their franchise QB in a meaningless game. If Mariota sits, the Colts will face a competent, yet far less explosive Zach Mettenberger.
Washington Redskins @DAL, owned in 8.3% of leagues: Dallas has officially been eliminated from playoff contention, while the Redskins might need a win in order to win the division. Generally speaking, teams that have more at stake tend to play with more energy. Dallas is not going to roll over against an arch rival, but I like the Redskins to win the game and it is likely that Moore throws a pick or two.
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