Playoffs scenarios are in flux
Things are down to the nitty gritty as Week 16 in the NFL approaches. Playoffs scenarios are in flux as must-win games are abundant for those fighting for playoff positioning in both the AFC and NFC.
Aside from the teams in contention, other franchises will merely be playing to save some face, or potentially act as spoilers to said upper-echelon teams.
The Los Angeles Rams fall into the latter group and will go head-to-head against a bad team, but it’s one that sports a top-five passing defense.
In the AFC, things are also heating up. Another win for the Los Angeles Chargers along with a loss for Kansas City would shift the power in the AFC West.
Lastly, a Monday Night Football game for Jon Gruden’s struggling Raiders could mark the last time the team plays in Oakland.
Here are some stud and dud predictions for the NFL Week 16 action.
Stud: Antonio Brown, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 16 marks crunch time when Brown and the Steelers head to New Orleans to face the Saints. This presents Brown with a great opportunity to improve on the lowly yards he has been tallying in his last two games. The Saints have given up 25 passing touchdowns and the total most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. We can bet the Steelers will arrive with their boxing gloves on and a game plan to target their top receiving weapon as much as possible.
Dud: Matt Breida, running back, San Francisco 49ers
Breida’s yards per carry have been diminishing as of late and he has averaged just 2.07 yards per attempt in his last two games. A Week 16 matchup — even at home — against the Chicago Bears could spell a recipe for disaster. On the season, the Bears have allowed five rushing touchdowns and an average of 3.8 yards per attempt. If the 49ers fall behind against a tough Bears defense, they will rely on quarterback Nick Mullens’ arm to move the ball downfield.
Stud: Derrick Henry, running back, Tennessee Titans
Apparently Henry’s standout performance in Week 14 when he rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns was no fluke. He next proved all of his doubters wrong by forcing a 170-yard performance and two touchdowns on a hapless Giants team. Henry’s total of 51 touches over his past two games must now be taken seriously. Tennessee will play host to the Washington Redskins this weekend. On the season, Washington has yielded 4.6 yards per carry, which should suit Henry just fine now that he has clearly found his mojo.
Dud: Kenny Golladay, wide receiver, Detroit Lions
Golladay’s numbers have been a nightmare to predict. The sophomore receiver caught two passes for five yards in Week 14, only to follow that up with a 146-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15. Next up for Golladay is a tilt with the Minnesota Vikings, who will surely have Golladay’s number dialed in. The last time Golladay played the Vikings he recorded a mere three catches for 46 yards. Additionally, the Vikings have surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wideouts.
Stud: James White, running back, New England Patriots
After two losses, the Patriots need to get their offense back on track. A good start to fixing things is giving White more overall touches. Clearly, the team’s strategy — spreading the ball around thin to multiple running backs — over their last two games has not been cutting it. White last averaged six yards per attempt and caught 71.4 percent of his targets. But, he unfortunately touched the ball only seven times. He is a key cog on offense and the Patriots would be wise to give him a huge increase in work as they attempt to run the table.
Dud: Mike Williams, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers
We last saw Williams get away with the farm when he piled up 76 yards, two touchdowns and managed a game-winning two-point conversion. But, that was because Williams was playing against the Chiefs and their bottom-feeding passing defense. Things won’t be easy for Williams to repeat squaring off against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are giving up just 202.6 passing yards on average per game. This could certainly make life for Philip Rivers rough as well as for Williams. Plus, a potential return of Keenan Allen stealing targets won’t help.
Stud: Nick Chubb, running back, Cleveland Browns
In Week 15, Chubb and the Browns host a Bengals team they would like to see remain in last place in the AFC South. Fortunately for Chubb, this is a great matchup that heavily favors an awesome performance by the rookie. The Bengals have been wretched against the run and have yielded the fourth-most rushing yards per game as well as 4.8 yards per carry. We could also see the Browns potentially running down the clock late, which even further favors Chubb producing a fantastic turnout.
Dud: Jameis Winston, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston is coming off a pedestrian performance that last saw him record 157 yards and one touchdown against a stout Ravens defense. Coming up in Week 15, Winston hits the road to face the Dallas Cowboys, who will be looking for revenge. Everything that last went south for the Cowboys, including their defensive efforts, should get back on track. On the season, the Cowboys defense has yielded the seventh-fewest passing yards. This doesn’t bode well for Winston, whose overall production as of late has taken a cliff dive.
Stud: Marlon Mack, running back, Indianapolis Colts
Well. We had Mack pegged to struggle against Dallas in Week 15 and that did not happen. Now, he has a shot at another glowing performance at home against the lowly New York Giants. Mack last thrived when the Colts dominated Dallas. The Colts should hands-down dominate a bungling Giants team when another shutout could be in store for New York. This would boil down the Colts wasting away the clock with Mack on the ground. It is also worth noting that the Giants have given up the fifth-most rushing yards this season.
Dud: Michael Thomas, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints
Thomas has been kind of a dud and has not topped 100 yards since Week 9. Nor has he scored a touchdown since Week 11. Quarterback Drew Brees simply has too many pass catchers on the field prompting him to spread the ball around. Plus, Thomas is so good when he gets the ball, he’s often blanketed in coverage. The Steelers will be the next team attempting to shut down Thomas. Plus, Brees has suddenly looked terribly out of sorts as of late, which is another good reason to question Thomas’ production in Week 16.
Stud: DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Houston Texans
Hopkins just had an incredible 170-yard performance that included two touchdowns. The receiver was in the zone, and that should continue in Week 16 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Sure, the Eagles just pulled off an upset win over the Rams. But in the process, Philly’s depleted secondary allowed for Rams quarterback Jared Goff to pass for 339 yards. Simply put, the Eagles defense should get torched by Hopkins, who is clearly Deshaun Watson’s favorite go-to guy.
Dud: Jared Goff, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
Speaking of the aforementioned Goff, his passing yard numbers do not amount to a hill of beans lately as he’s turned the ball over six times in his last two games. Games that both led to losses when Goff failed to score a single touchdown. These stats are hideous. Next, Goff and the Rams head to Arizona to play the Cardinals. Despite the Cardinals offense choking on a regular basis, the defense ranks fifth-best against the pass. It has given up just 19 passing touchdowns in 14 games and and a mere 211.5 passing yards on average per contest. Perhaps the Rams win, but Goff could easily stumble along the way.
Stud: Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Kansas City Chiefs
Just when Mahomes needed to deliver the most, he produced his worst passing yards (243) to date in a stinging loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Don’t look for this to be the case for Mahomes in Week 16. “Showtime” next stands see an uptick in production against a Seahawks defense that last gave up 275 passing yards to 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens. Mahomes and his offense are better than that of the 49ers and the Seahawks should be challenged slowing down the Chiefs who are in a must-win playoff situation.
Dud: Tevin Coleman, running back, Atlanta Falcons
The NFL world rediscovered Coleman, who finally showed up to play in Week 15 with a 145-rushing yard game against the Packers. So, will Coleman come to life again in his next game? He may go missing again considering he stands a tough matchup against the Panthers in Carolina. Despite the Panthers’ disastrous play on offense, their defense is strong against the run. Overall this season, the Panthers have given up the seventh-fewest rushing yards and only nine rushing touchdowns to opposing backs.
Stud: Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
We would like to think that the Cowboys get back to looking like real football players in Week 16. Cooper stands to rebound with an awesome performance in what should be an easy, breezy matchup against the Buccaneers. The Bucs have surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. This would include the Buccaneers allowing 30 passing touchdowns, marking the second most in the NFL. Cooper and the ‘Boys should feast this week.
Dud: Tarik Cohen, running back, Chicago Bears
As of late, Cohen’s numbers have been dropping, while fellow back Jordan Howard’s production has been up. As for Cohen, he last managed only 10 touches when he produced 52 combined yards against Green Bay. A receiving touchdown thankfully saved Cohen’s day. Next up for Cohen is matchup against the 49ers on the West Coast. This is a 49ers team that just played extremely well at home and upset the Seahawks. If the 49ers pour it on thick again, Cohen and his offense could sputter.
Stud: Josh Allen, quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Allen has accomplished enough as of late that he deserves a shout-out as a potential stud in Week 16. After all, he has been the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback over the past four weeks. In his next game, Allen with face a very worn-out looking Patriots defense. This defense has allowed five passing and two rushing touchdowns in its past two games. With Allen’s mobility, he might just surprise with a grand game as the Bills attempt to let more air out of their AFC East rival’s tires this week.
Dud: Adam Thielen, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Thielen’s targets have taken a severe dive. Quarterback Kirk Cousins barely looked his way in their last game when the receiver caught the only two balls launched his way for a paltry 19 yards. Plus, Thielen has not scored a touchdown in his last two games. This could mark a red flag for Thielen’s upcoming matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Lions defense last held Thielen to four catches for 22 yards in Week 9. This and the fact that Thielen has suddenly looked like a Vikings outcast are cause for concern in Week 16.
Stud: Zach Ertz, tight end, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are facing a crucial matchup in which they must win to keep playoff dreams alive for the NFC North. Ertz will next face the Houston Texans, at home. It just so happens the Texans struggle when it comes to defending tight ends. Over their last four games, the Texans have ceded 306 yards and two touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Ertz last received the second-most targets (five) from quarterback Nick Foles, who also should not be underestimated in this contest.
Dud: Case Keenum, quarterback, Denver Broncos
Attempting to finish his season on a high note, Keenum has a road game against the Raiders in Week 16. And while the Raiders defense at times looks like an utter joke, it did hold Keenum to only 222 yards and one interception in Week 2. Taking into consideration this is likely the Raiders last game in Oakland, the atmosphere is going to be off the charts. The noise and the raging fans clamoring for the Raiders to win might just cause Keenum to cave. Meanwhile, Phillip Lindsay should be the one to thrive against a Raiders’ dead-last ranked rushing defense.