HOGS AND DOGS: WEEK 17
By: Chris Dugas (@TheFantasyBoys)
Happy New Year, ladies and gentlemen. As we commence on the last week of the 2015 fantasy season, we want to thank you all for another great year. While this has been one of the wackiest fantasy football years to date, we still had a blast with it. Next year looks to be even crazier as many owners embark on whether or not they want to go with the zero RB strategy that gained some traction at the beginning of this year. This will continue to be a hot debate heading into the 2016 fantasy season, and quite possibly could become the biggest changing of the guard in fantasy since it was conceived. Do we stick to our guns and still choose running backs high in the draft? Or do we believe that wide receivers have a much safer floor and lower injury risk and therefore go that direction? The hot stove will continue to simmer into August, when drafts commence.
Tom Brady – The NFL’s leading passer through 15 games looks to keep things going against a bottom-10 pass defense in Miami. He’ll be without two of his top targets in Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, but I’m still bullish on him this week as New England looks to lock up the number 1 seed. I think Gronk and LaFell could have big games and that New England puts their upmost importance in winning this weekend so they can clinch homefield throughout the playoffs.
Adrian Peterson – He would’ve had an even bigger game had the Vikings needed that from him, but this one became a blowout. The way he was cutting and running all over New York’s defense was impeccable, especially on a bum ankle. He’s making a strong case to be a top 3 pick next year, barring everyone going with the zero-RB strategy. Peterson will be fed this weekend, as Minnesota looks to get the best seed they can in the playoffs, and teams usually figure out by the end of the year (once we’re all eliminated in fantasy) that they need to get the ball to their best players to win.
Allen Robinson – One of the biggest snubs of the Pro Bowl, Robinson has had an incredibly strong sophomore campaign. Frequently compared to Dez Bryant, Robinson has posted huge numbers this year (75-1,292-14) as he looks to skyrocket up people’s draft boards next year into round 2 ADP. Keep him fired up this week as the Jaguars take on the hot Houston Texans. The Jags will be looking to play spoiler against a top-3 Houston pass defense. Oh well, ARob is an animal and there’s zero chance I’m benching him.
Julio Jones – A perennial elite talent, Julio leads the league in receiving yards with 1,722 and has entrenched himself as an obvious keeper next year for me in one league. Julio exploded last week against one of the best defenses in Carolina and looks to keep the ball rolling this week against one of the worst pass defenses in New Orleans. Julio will get dangerously close to having 2,000 yards receiving yards once this one is over. With some improved Matty Ice play from last week and going up against a much weaker pass defense, Julio will feast this weekend.
Jordan Matthews – The garbage time king helped me to a victory last weekend in one of my championships and should continue to do so this weekend against the league-worst Giants’ defense, which has given up 29 touchdowns and 306.7 yards through the air this year. Matthews needs 57 receiving yards to get to 1,000 and that will be easily attained this weekend.
A.J. Green – A.J. had some incredible catches last weekend against one of the best pass defenses in Denver. I think he carries that success into this weekend against a Baltimore team that is feeling a little over confident after last week’s game. The talent is obviously still there and Green has the ability to fly by the Baltimore defense. Green has stayed healthy this year and will be a bit under the radar next year in what could be the biggest early round wide receiver heavy fantasy draft. Now on the same page as quarterback A.J. McCarron, A.J. to A.J. should be a big story line this weekend.
Aaron Rodgers – I still don’t see how people can think he’s better than Tom Brady, especially after this year. Rodgers loses one guy (Jordy Nelson), and basically falls apart. Brady loses countless guys and still manages to piece together wins and for the most part, fantasy points. Who would’ve thought such a great talent like Rodgers would crumble with some shaky o-line play and the loss of one receiver. Yikes. He mustered 7.94 points last week, 10.06 the week before, and a huge 19.42 the week prior. He also hasn’t thrown for 300 yards in a game since the middle of November and has 2 or fewer touchdowns in all of those outings as well. Eli just put up a whopping 11.36 points against the Minnesota defense last week. I’m guessing Rodgers doesn’t top 20 points for a 4th straight week.
Bryce Brown – He was supposed to take over this backfield once Thomas Rawls went down, right? Wrong, I guess. Bummer. He has shown flashes throughout the years of being a good running back, but hasn’t strung much together to show that he can be a consistent player, even with the talent that he has. He wasn’t able to do much against the Rams defense and the o-line was somewhat overpowered without Russell Okung, who is doubtful to play again this weekend. Through two games since the Rawls injury, Brown has scored a total of 5.2 fantasy points. Going up against an Arizona team that is fourth in the league against the run and can put up points fast, Brown should not be started at all this week.
Reuben Randle – What a headache. He finally had chance to step up, and clearly couldn’t. He complained earlier this year that he wasn’t getting the ball enough, so the Giants responded by trying to get him the ball. Didn’t work. He’s nothing more than just another guy and made one big play in the game Sunday night as the Vikings basically stopped playing. He was otherwise shut down and will go back to a supporting role this week as OBJ comes back from his suspension. Randle was expected to step up but simply can’t get open well enough and doesn’t really do much when he has the ball in his hands. Expect the Giants to let him walk after the season. Oh, and throw him back on the waiver wire in your league.
Chris Conley – I hope you didn’t listen to the coach speak with this guy. If you weren’t aware, OC Doug Pederson planned to get Conley more involved in the offense. Lol. While the rest of the offense has been firing on all cylinders as the Chiefs have now won 9 in a row, Conley has had nothing to do with it. The last time he saw a target was week 12, when he saw 1 target. Since then, he has seen zero. Another reason not to take coach-speak to heart.
Antonio Gates – I hope you weren’t relying on this guy last week. Woof. Remember when everyone said the Raiders were terrible against tight ends? Part of me thinks that taking away the tight end is more of a gameplan thing (Gronk aside) and that’s why a lot of tight ends were able to dismantle the Raiders earlier in the year. Gates will be going up against the Denver defense this week, which I’m lower on this week, but they’re still very good. Rivers threw the ball 49 times last week and Gates somehow only saw 2 targets. I expect him to get a few more targets this week against the Broncos, but I’m not sure he’ll be able to do much with them, especially facing some of the great Denver linebackers. Gates only has two games with double-digit fantasy points this year (his season started in week 5). I wouldn’t expect more than 50 yards this week from him.
Denver – Until the end of the game last week, Denver’s offense could not muster much. They somehow won that game after the Bengals imploded, but recently they have not been the juggernaut that they once were earlier in the season. When the Broncos offense isn’t functioning well, which has been the case recently under Osweiler, the defense is on the field more often. Since the defense is on the field more, it gives the other teams more opportunities to score, obviously. Additionally, at one point in Monday night’s game, the defense had given up a touchdown on 9 of the last 10 red zone drives. I’m not saying to bench them, but be weary this week as they go up against a decent Oakland offense that has had some extra time to rest and prepare following their Thursday night game last week.