It’s always hard to believe when Week 16 rolls around; the NFL regular season is near the finish and most fantasy football leagues are in their “Super Bowl” week. After hitting on many sleepers in these weekly articles, we’ll look to finish strong in this critical championship weekend.
Many additional factors can come into play this time of year, such as resting players who are injured and don’t have much to play for. For example, Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) is back on injured reserve.
On the flip side, there are several players vying for key milestones that could have added incentive to deliver. Below are a few key ones:
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▪ Jared Goff (LA Rams) needs to average 246 passing yards over his next two games to join the 4,000-yard quarterback club. Goff has thrown multiple touchdowns in four straight games.
▪ Tom Brady (New England) leads Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) by 137 yards for the NFL’s 2017 passing crown (total yards). It would be just the third time Brady has led the league in passing yards (2005 and 2007 were the other two seasons).
▪ Just 35 yards separate running backs Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh), Todd Gurley (LA Rams) and Kareem Hunt (Kansas City) for the 2017 NFL rushing crown. No doubt each will have this on the back of his mind, which could fuel added touches and yards.
▪ Alex Collins (Baltimore) may be motivated to be a surprise entrant in the 1,000-yard rushing club. Collins needs to average 78 yards over his next two games.
▪ Off a strong game, Mike Evans (Tampa Bay) and the Buccaneers might be motivated to help him get over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Evans needs 161 yards in the next two weeks.
Other Play ’Em
▪ Cam Newton (Carolina) should put up strong numbers in a very meaningful game for the Panthers against an extremely depleted Tampa Bay defense. The Panthers offense has scored 14 touchdowns in its past three games at home.
▪ Russell Wilson (Seattle) comes off his lowest passing output of the season (142 passing yards) as the Seahawks got steamrolled last week by the Rams. But don’t lose the big picture – Wilson is still the No. 1 fantasy quarterback for the season – go down swinging with Wilson if he’s helped you reach your fantasy Super Bowl.
▪ Start Case Keenum (Minnesota) with confidence. No team has given up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the past three weeks than Green Bay.
▪ JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh) should play a major role in Week 16 with Antonio Brown out, while Houston allows the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
▪ Tampa Bay allows the most fantasy points to wide receivers, and they come into this one with a very depleted secondary. That gives Devin Funchess (Carolina) a chance for a huge bounce-back game after logging just one catch last week.
▪ Mike Wallace (Baltimore) has turned into the Ravens’ top receiver, and he comes into this one as the 20th-best fantasy wide receiver over the past five weeks, including more than 70 yards receiving in three straight games.
▪ Eric Ebron (Detroit) has really added to the cause ever since the Lions’ bye week in Week 7. Since then, Ebron ranks as the No. 8 fantasy tight end and should be another solid start this week.
▪ Phillip Rivers to Antonio Gates (LA Chargers) could have one last hurrah in perhaps one of the last games of Gates’ illustrious NFL career with Hunter Henry (lacerated spleen) out for the season.
▪ Brett Hundley (Green Bay) will again be the Packers’ starter with Aaron Rodgers back on injured reserve. Hundley will lead a team looking to 2018 and against a Vikings’ defense allowing just 199 yards per game, third-fewest.
▪ Full season, Marshawn Lynch (Oakland) is just the 26th-best fantasy running back while Philadelphia allows only 48.3 rushing yards per game at home (fewest in the league).
▪ Sterling Shepard (NY Giants) comes off an 11-catch game, though he will likely draw a lot of star defensive back Patrick Peterson.
Alan Satterlee is in his fourth year of writing about fantasy football for The Charlotte Observer. Find him on Twitter at @Speedkills_DFW.