Just one game remains in most fantasy leagues as Week 16 is nearing its conclusion. Title dreams hanging on the performances of Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos players will be decided in a matter of hours, with championships now clearly within reach. Sunday was packed with the usual assortment of injuries, break out performances, and duds, but each fantasy twist and turn was felt more deeply as the offseason is now on our doorstep. Before settling down to watch the Week 16 finale, join me as we jump in and highlight a few notable developments from Week 16 in the Monday Daily Dose.
The fantasy quarterback position was disappointing on Sunday as multiple top-tier options were outscored by far less attractive waiver wire backups. For example, Brandon Weeden marched into Tennessee and threw for 200 yards and two scores while showing off his “wheels” by chipping in with a rushing score. This surprising performance outshined the likes of Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, and Cam Newton on Sunday. The biggest shocker was Roethlisberger, who picked a tough spot for his worst performance since getting injured at St. Louis in Week 3. Ben threw for just 215 yards with no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions after averaging 365.8 yards and 2.2 touchdown passes per game in his last six outings prior to Week 16.
Cam Newton was also held in check today along with the rest of the Carolina Panthers, who dropped their first game of the season on Sunday. Cam did contribute a rushing score on the day, but failed to throw a touchdown pass after chucking 13 scores in Weeks 13-15, and his 142 passing yards marked his lowest output since the first week of October. Cam Newton did his best to carry fantasy teams to the finals, but his Week 16 performance couldn’t continue the trend. These are the breaks at times in the fantasy world.
Take Me To Title Town
Numerous players packed a punch in NFL box scores on Sunday, tilting fantasy playoff matchups in the process. Two notable contributors from Sunday’s action came from the shootout between Jacksonville and New Orleans, and they even share the same name. The two teams combined for 949 total yards and 65 points in this high-scoring affair, with Blake Bortles feeding wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, who combined for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Bortles’ top two targets have been scoring machines in 2015, with Robinson finding the end zone 14 times in addition to Hurns’ 10 scores. This duo also chipped in with three touchdowns each during the fantasy playoffs in Weeks 14-16. Jacksonville’s “Allens” will be hot commodities in 2016 fantasy drafts as the Jaguars’ offense continues to blossom.
Another fantasy playoff stud kept his top-flight production rolling on Sunday, as Arizona’s David Johnson stuffed his fantasy stat line in limited action before the Cardinals put the hammer on the Green Bay Packers. In just 12 touches, Johnson stacked up 127 total yards and scored a touchdown, giving him four-straight games over 100 total yards to go with 12 touchdowns on the season. In fantasy crunch time, Weeks 14-16, Johnson averaged 159.7 total yards per game while scoring four touchdowns as he led fantasy teams to the winner’s circle. Johnson’s late-season surge has been incredibly impressive, and he will most certainly barge his way into the early-round fantasy discussion next summer.
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Extra Special Teams
Fantasy leagues are evolving with new, creative league settings developed every year and soon fantasy owners may be lining up to abolish the kicker and D/ST positions after a pair of fantasy special teams contributors went off in championship week. In the kicking game, Minnesota’s Blair Walsh turned in a matchup-altering performance as he booted four extra points and five field goals, including two bombs over 50 yards. Walsh’s golden leg will be remembered for years by victorious teams this week, and reviled by fantasy owners who were edged out by Walsh’s big game.
The fantasy D/ST position also had a clear front runner on Sunday, as the Arizona Cardinals destroyed the Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals D/ST erupted for an incredible nine sacks and four forced turnovers, while adding two defensive touchdowns for good measure. The Arizona defense also allowed just eight points and 178 total yards for leagues that award points in those categories in an all-around thrashing of Aaron Rodgers and company. Adding additional flex spots is a respectable way to limit the hard-luck losses that fantasy kickers and defenses produce, but we will leave that heated debate for the long, cold football-less winter months.
Injury Quick Slants
There were a surprisingly low number of injuries on Sunday, compared to the carnage that the NFL has seen to prominent players throughout the 2015 season. The fantasy world did see a few notable dings and dents however, led by Chris Ivory (knee), who briefly left the Jets’ game against New England on Sunday with knee concerns, but managed to return to the game. … Matt Forte (back) was reportedly dealing with a back issue in Chicago’s game on Sunday, which limited his playing time. … Matt Hasselbeck (shoulder) was once again unable to finish his start this week, giving Charlie Whitehurst snaps for Indianapolis. Whitehurst could very well draw a Week 17 start with Andrew Luck still hurting. … Kendall Wright (knee) aggravated his knee injury that has kept him off the fantasy radar this season. … Seattle tight end Luke Willson (concussion) left Seattle’s game on Sunday early due to a concussion.
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