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5 Burning Questions: Week 16 (2019 Fantasy Football)

by Sam Schlesinger | @avishai41 | Featured Writer
Dec 20, 2019

Should fantasy owners be worried about Christian McCaffrey’s tough matchup against the Colts?

The main question going into the fantasy championship weekend is how many healthy players do you have left on your team? Despite any and all research you do, your amazing draft, and the strategic moves you made along the way, nothing keeps you safe from the injury bug. The best team in your league by Week 16 is likely also among the healthiest.

After the injury storm of Week 14, Week 15 swept through taking Dalvin Cook and Chris Godwin with it. In half PPR scoring, they were the RB2 and WR2 so far this season and probably made it onto most playoff teams. Losing them is a huge hit, but there’s one more game to play. Here are my five burning questions for championship week — Week 16.

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Are the fantasy studs going to show up when you need them?
Despite the aforementioned injuries, the QB1 (Lamar Jackson), the RB1 (Christian McCaffrey), and the WR1 (Michael Thomas) are all intact. The Browns somehow got the better of the Ravens in their first matchup this season, but Jackson still threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 66 yards. It should be a cream puff matchup for Jackson. The Browns proved last week that they had no answer for the run. Kenyan Drake ran for 137 yards and four touchdowns while Kyler Murray ran for another 56.

McCaffrey has a tougher matchup on paper as the Colts have given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, but no team has really been able to slow down McCaffrey. He hasn’t had a 100+ yard rushing game since Week 10, but he’s still the RB1 in the five games since then thanks to his involvement in the passing game and basically being the Panthers’ entire offense.

Thomas also has a less than ideal matchup against the Titans, but he may be just as matchup-proof as McCaffrey. Two weeks ago, he put up 11 catches for 134 yards and a score against the 49ers’ defense and Drew Brees and the Saints seem set on helping Thomas break Marvin Harrison’s single-season reception record, of which he’s only 10 shy of right now. Your fantasy studs are good to go.  

How far will the Dolphins’ stack take you this week?
One of the biggest surprises this season has been DeVante Parker’s breakout (finally). Since Week 7 when Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for the second time, only Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins have scored more fantasy points than him. In his last two fully healthy games, Parker had 231 yards and four touchdowns. Now he gets to face the Bengals and their bottom-10 defense.

If you managed to make it to the fantasy championship playing the quarterback streaming game, Ryan Fitzpatrick is your guy this week. Over his last four games, he’s had at least 200 yards and two touchdown passes in three of them. His one dud was when Parker left early due to a concussion. There’s always risk involved as Fitzpatrick is prone to a pick or two, but you couldn’t ask for a juicier matchup for the championship.

What do you do if you lost Chris Godwin or Dalvin Cook?
With the loss of both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, it’s fair to wonder what type of success Jameis Winston is going to have throwing the ball. The Bucs are a pass-first team. Winston is currently leading the league with 554 pass attempts and the Bucs’ offense runs the ball at the eighth-lowest rate in the league. The running backs may get a bit more work this weekend, but the offense isn’t going to drastically change.

If you managed to grab Breshad Perriman before last week, you may have hit the fantasy championship lottery. Last week he caught five passes on six targets, three of them for touchdowns. This week he should be the No. 1 option. It’s also a big opportunity for O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, who will likely function as the second and third options.

The Dalvin Cook injury is going to be a tough ride. The Vikings don’t play until Monday night and we may not know until close to that time whether it will be Alexander Mattison or Mike Boone as the primary backup. Mattison has been the No. 2 all season, but as of now he only has a “chance” to play this week. Boone was efficient when he took over last week, taking his 13 carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns. If Mattison plays, it’s likely they’ll split the work, which would be the least popular outcome for those who emptied the rest of their FAAB on Boone.

How reliable will Miles Sanders be after his career day?
Last week against the Redskins, Miles Sanders had career highs in carries, rushing yards, receptions, and receiving yards. The Eagles were down their top-three wide receivers and Sanders was heavily relied upon for production. They have a tougher matchup this week against the Cowboys, but they’ll need Sanders just as much since their receiving corps is still ravaged with injuries. 

Sanders has been the starter since Jordan Howard went down in Week 9 and has averaged an impressive 4.7 yards per carry, but he had only found the end zone once until last week. It’s possible that Howard returns in Week 16, but Sanders has done enough through his versatile play as a rusher and a receiver to earn the starting role.

Who could potentially bust this week?
Last week, Derrick Henry broke a five-game streak where he had either 100+ rushing yards or a touchdown (or both) in each game. Against the Texans though, he had his lowest yards per carry rate since Week 7 and now he faces the Saints, who let up the fourth-fewest points against running backs. The Saints are also scoring the fifth-most points in the league and, if they start running up the score, it could take Henry out of the game script.

Patrick Mahomes had been riding a three-game slump with quarterback ratings under 85 until playing in the snow last week against the Broncos. Last year, Mahomes only had two games the entire season where he threw for one or fewer touchdowns, but this year he already has six single (or fewer) touchdown games. The Bears don’t seem as formidable as they were last year, but they’ve still given up the third-fewest points on the season and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. I wouldn’t expect a vintage Mahomes-style passing fest against the Bears’ pass rush and secondary. 

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Sam Schlesinger is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @avishai41.

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