This is it. Your last chance to make the right lineup decisions and our last edition of “Featured Pros” for this season. We’ll continue to provide Consensus Rankings and Who Should I Start advice through Week 17, but I’m sure most of you could use a little extra advice this week.
If you own Adrian Peterson, Knowshon Moreno, or a portion of the RBBC in Dallas, you’re probably not feeling all that confident about their prospects this week. This week’s Featured Pros, John Paulsen of The Scores Report and Pat Fitzmaurice of Pro Football Weekly, gave us their take along with sleeper and dud picks.
If you’re scrambling to find a high upside player to gamble on or just second guessing your every-week-starters, you might want to check out our Featured Pros responses to the following questions:
Q1. Give us your quick take on a few running backs that are making their owners nervous:
Adrian Peterson – If he plays this week against Philadelphia, how will he perform assuming Joe Webb gets the start at QB?
Pat Fitzmaurice: This is a projection that requires me to balance individual respect for Peterson with complete disrespect for the Vikings and the abysmal effort they’ve turned in the last couple of weeks. Not likely that a banged-up Peterson running behind a mediocre, unmotivated offensive line is able to turn in primo numbers, but against Philly’s so-so defense, he should be able to go for 80-90 rushing yards if he plays, with a 50-50 chance that he scores a TD.
John Paulsen: His matchup with the Eagles is decent, so if AP looks good at practice, it would be really tough to bench him. I have him ranked at #14 behind Blount and the Law Firm and ahead of Torain and F. Jackson. I think I’ll leave him there if he’s a go for Sunday but still seems to be favoring the injury. I think 70-90 total yards and a TD is a reasonable expectation given the circumstances, assuming he’s a full-go. There is lots of downside here, however.
Knowshon Moreno – If he plays this week against Houston, how will he perform assuming Tim Tebow gets the start at QB?
Pat Fitzmaurice: Tough call here. I’ve heard it suggested that Moreno is a guy who doesn’t ever play well if he’s in any sort of pain. If he plays with injured ribs, he’ll have to deal with pain. He might also have to deal with eight or nine defenders in the box since no one respects Tebow as a passer. Maybe 60 rushing yards for Moreno this week and a couple of short receptions.
John Paulsen: Moreno is not a guy who has played well through injuries in the past, so I’m very leery. The matchup might seem great, but the Texans have been decent against opposing RBs this season. He has a chance to find the endzone, but I don’t think it will be a big yardage day, unless Denver really utilizes him in the passing game.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Jones has to be downgraded, especially if he continues to miss practice, as he did on Wednesday. I now have Choice in my top 20 at running back. He’s a good bet to get 15 or more carries against a bad Arizona defense. Barber’s health doesn’t sway me on his value, which I consider to be negligible. I just don’t think he’s useful anymore.
John Paulsen: If Barber is a go for Sunday, it’s a small downgrade to both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, but I think Choice has passed Barber on the depth chart. He’s been too productive to turn back to Barber, in my opinion. That said, the Cowboys have really struggled in the redzone, so they may give Barber a chance at the goal line, which would cut into the value of both Choice and Jones since they have been sharing those duties.
Q2. Name one “sleeper start” for Week 16 and tell us why the gamble to start him over one of the consensus top players could pay off.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Fred Jackson could be a sneaky-good play this week. Did you see what the Green Bay running game did to the Patriots last week? And the Packers haven’t been able to run the ball all year. The Patriots’ run defense is one of their few vulnerabilities. The Bills won’t want to get into a shootout with New England that they can’t possibly hope to win, so Jackson should get 20-25 carries.
John Paulsen: I think Tim Tebow is going to have a big week against a Houston defense that has given up at least 18.7 fantasy points to opposing QBs not named Rusty Smith. For a deeper sleeper at WR, I think David Nelson has a chance to have a big day against a Pats defense that has struggled all year to stop the pass. The Bills will probably be playing from behind so Nelson should be able to rack up good numbers in garbage time.
Q3. Name one “dud” for Week 16 and tell us why you think this is one stud that we should strongly consider benching in the championship.
Pat Fitzmaurice: This may be an underestimation of Eli Manning’s leadership skills, since Eli called a rare players-only meeting after the Giants’ collapse against the Eagles, but I think the G-men are ready to go into the tank for good. I wouldn’t start Manning or either of the Giants’ running backs this week — the Packers are going to bottle them up.
John Paulsen: I don’t know if he really qualifies as a “stud,” but Santonio Holmes was approaching must-start status as recently as his W14 matchup against the Dolphins. I am down him this week given his matchup – CHI has given up the 5th-fewest adjusted points to WRs this season – the weather, his turf toe, and the health of Mark Sanchez’s arm.
I want to thank our Featured Pros for taking time out of their busy Holiday week to offer our readers some helpful advice. You can get more championship advice from Pat Fitzmaurice at Pro Football Weekly and from John Paulsen at The Scores Report.
Good luck in Week 16 and Happy Holidays!