NFL Week 16 Hot Takes
Howard Bender offers up some hot takes on what went down during the Week 14 NFL games and how you should interpret for fantasy football purposes.
Well, here we are. Week 16 is nearly in the books and for most of us, fantasy championships have been won or lost. For those who still have to play in Week 17, we’ll do the best we can to help you out and bring home the title. It’s never easy as we sift through the teams and players who have something to play for while pushing aside those we expect to get some rest this week. Not to mention the late-season, soul-crushing injuries we got hit with here at the end as well. So say goodbye to your Lamar Jackson and Chris Carson and say hello to your RGIII and Travis Homer.
In the meantime, we’ve got some stuff to address from this past weekend, don’t we?
Just Because a Bad Move Pans Out Doesn’t Mean It Was the Right Thing to Do
Such a frustrating debate on the old Twitter machine and yet another reason that social media cesspool needs to get sucked into a black hole somewhere and disappear for good. Many fantasy analysts, myself included, suggested to sit Titans WR A.J. Brown this week. Marshon Lattimore was expected to shadow Brown throughout the game and has been one of the strongest cover corners in the NFL. The match-up of a rookie receiver against a veteran corner was not appealing and if you had other strong wideouts with softer match-ups, you should have made the pivot. But early in the game, the Titans got a little funky and used Brown in an end-around in which he scored on a 49-yard run. Immediately the tweet came my way that I blew it by telling someone to sit Brown. I argued that a fluke play like that did not make my suggestion wrong. Fluke stuff happens. It’s no different than suggesting a you start Chris Carson in a smash-spot and watching him leave with a hip injury. You’re not going to sit a guy because you’re afraid he’ll get hurt and you’re not going to start a guy hoping for a fluke touchdown unless you have no other options.
The original tweeter never re-engaged, but some other jackass did and said you couldn’t sit Brown based on what he did the last few weeks. Sorry, but that just doesn’t make sense to me. Fantasy football is all about playing those match-ups and while Brown had looked good recently, he still wasn’t at that Michael Thomas or Julio Jones level where you start them no matter what. His match-up was terrible and the guy had other decent options. New guy wasn’t backing down. Brown scored the points this week whether it was a fluke TD or not. Forget about the fact that Brown saw just two targets all game and finished with one catch for 34 yards.
I’ll just say this – nine times out of 10, that fluke touchdown doesn’t happen and this guy who is standing his ground on the argument is going to lose more fantasy football games than he will win. I’m not saying he can’t get lucky and back into a fantasy title – any mouth-breathing knuckle-dragger can win a fantasy football league – but if that’s how he’s going to play his team, he’s going to do a lot of losing. A bad move is still a bad move no matter how lucky someone gets. Remember that when you’re setting your lineups next season.
Kenyan Drake will be a first-round pick in 2020
Will the lovefest between the Drake and the Cardinals continue? Both sides seem very happy with each other and the expectation is that the two sides will negotiate a deal to keep the former third-rounder in Arizona. If that happens, is he a first-round pick? His first game as a member of the Cardinals, he rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown against the then-unshakeable 49ers defense. The next four weeks were pretty pedestrian and he looked like the Drake we all knew and despised, but suddenly Week 15 rolled around and head coach Kliff Kingsbury started giving Drake 20-plus carries and the results could not have been better. His Week 15 four-touchdown performance launched numerous fantasy owners into their championship games and when he churned out another 166 yards and two touchdowns in Week 16, keeper league owners’ radar perked up. If he stays with the Cardinals, the only thing people are going to remember was how the season ended. He got 20-plus carries in each game and dominated. Why wouldn’t I take him in the late first round?
Well, first things first – we need to figure out exactly why he got 20-plus carries. Was it just a matter of riding the hot hand or was it because Kyler Murray ’s hamstring started acting up in Week 15 and Kingsbury opted to relieve some of the pressure on his rookie QB and avoid the injury? The unfortunate thing is that we won’t know until next year. The Cardinals aren’t going to risk further injury with their star quarterback so while you can expect 20 touches for the Drake in Week 17, it won’t be revealed to use for 2020 until Week 1. When studying up in the offseason, keep this in mind.
Was it just Washington’s Defense or is he really Danny Dimes?
What a game for the Giants rookie quarterback, right? Daniel Jones became the first rookie QB in NFL history to throw for at least 350 yards with five touchdowns. He had 352 yards to be exact. Jones did a nice job spreading the ball around as seven different players caught passes. He completed 66.7-percent of his passes and wisely leaned on veteran Golden Tate to move the chains. He got Saquon Barkley more involved in the passing attack, and four different players caught touchdowns. A performance for the ages, right? Absolutely fantastic. But is this the re-emergence of Danny Dimes or is it just a matter of playing the Redskins, one of the worst defenses in the league?
I’d say a little from Column A and a little from Column B. First off, yes, the Skins are atrocious and fail to contain any offense, let alone this one. But the weaponry we are looking at right now is pretty ridiculous. If the Giants have Jones under center, Barkley in the backfield and retain the trio of Tate, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slay ton at wide receiver, this offense is sick. Now add in the TE tandem of Evan Engram and Kaden Smith? Wow. Just wow. If the Giants retain this group and spend the offseason building up the offensive line and the secondary, this team could be fierce regardless of who they play.
Saquon Barkley is thankfully back in everyone’s good graces
When Barkley came back from his high-ankle sprain about three weeks too soon, everyone was left scratching their heads. Is he super-human or is he going to flop because he’s still hurt and about to make it worse. Well, he didn’t make it worse. He may have been barely-average for seven-straight weeks, but fantasy owners who stood by him reaped massive benefits in the playoffs with these last two performances. Pretty impressive, to say the least. For Weeks 15 and 16 combined, Barkley rushed for 301 yards and three touchdowns while also catching eight passes for 121 yards and one score. It’s the type of performance that makes you forget about the middle of the season and returns Barkley to his rightful spot as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 season.
Alvin Kamara Doesn’t Deserve Barkley-Love
Nope. Sorry. I was against Kamara as a high pick this year and will maintain that stance this year even after his two-touchdown game helped win people their fantasy championships. Obviously, there’s a built-in excuse for those against me as Kamara got hurt in Week 6 and missed the next two games. Similar to Barkley, he made his way back and struggled with production. But while Barkley steadily elevated his game and production, Kamara is exactly where he was to start the season. He’s not a 100-yard rusher. Maybe he can rack up triple digits through the air, but this is a player who will forever be in a time-share. He not a big dude and his team will always have a complementary RB on the roster to do some of the heavy-lifting between the tackles. It used to be Mark Ingram , now it’s Latavius Murray and eventually it will be some other journeyman back who also can’t hold a starting backfield all to himself. Barkley can. Kamara can’t and we just witnessed first-hand. Sure, he helped you win this week, but next year it will be Barkley doing it on his own while Kamara stays in a time share.
Defense Wins Fantasy Championships
OK, maybe it doesn’t, but it also may in this situation. Holy Indianapolis Colts!!! Granted, it was Will Grier under center for the Carolina Panthers, but the defense posted five sacks and three interceptions, en route to a 38-6 victory. But it doesn’t end there. The special teams work was where it’s at and a shout-out to Nyheim Hines for running back not one but two punt returns for a touchdown. Crazy impressive. But not as crazy as the defensive scoring in championship games. The Colts posted 39 points in my Jam On Fantasy Football league and the guy who was a longshot to win it all, Ari Fink, ended up with a 23-point lead and Aaron Jones still to go while his opponent, Ryan Stasik, has just Mike Boone left. If you were wise enough to grab the Colts because they were facing a rookie QB on a team that has already quit on the season, you were very, very smart.
The Excessive Love & Bias for Patrick Mahomes Needs to Stop
I blame the broadcasters as well as the main multi-media companies like ESPN and Yahoo. This is getting completely ridiculous. To have the main story of Sunday night’s Chiefs win over the Bears be that Mahomes started counting on his fingers, the number of teams that passed on him in the draft, including the Bears who traded up to get Mitch Trubisky, is ridiculous. Can everyone please take this guy’s junk out of their mouths and just analyze the game for the game itself and not the bullshit antics of a 24-year old kid who is beating an underachieving crap team? It’s not like he lit them up for a ton of yards or five touchdowns, did he? No. He threw for 251 and two. Big deal. Did they win? Yes. Is he good? Yes. But can we stop putting this guy on a pedestal? He is posting numbers nowhere near what he had last year and he wouldn’t be coming close even if he didn’t miss two games with a knee injury. There’s a fine line between keeping your viewers interested in a blow-out and fluffing a guy to the point where we can hear you gargling his fluids. Enough already.