By James Fotheringham (@NFLHypeTrain)
This is it. Hopefully if you are taking the time to read this, you are in your championship game (if not, good luck in avoiding the toilet bowl or any forfeits your league must have). There are a few things to consider this week. Teams who have qualified and cannot improve their seeding, teams that are trying to qualify and will be going all out to win, and teams looking to grab home advantage for the playoffs.
Houston and Tampa Bay may have a shootout although only the Texans have a chance to make the playoffs. The Bills play New England with a possible chance of usurping them as AFC East leaders and potentially end up with a first round bye. Dallas and Philly playoff in what may be a winner takes all match. The 49ers look to eliminate the Rams, the Titans look to hold onto their playoff hopes against a Saints team looking for the #1 seed in the NFC. Minnesota and Green Bay fight for supremacy in the NFC North, while at the other end the Bengals face the Dolphins in the latest Tankbowl.
Devonta Freeman (ATL vsJAX)
The Falcons and Jags are both out of contention, so this is a dead rubber, however Freeman needs to get into a groove and the Jags run defence are in a rut. There is a chance they use the time to try out rookie Quadree Olinson as the lead back after his performances in previous weeks so if you need a hail Mary play, there’s an option.
Chris Carson (SEA vsARI)
The most one sides matchup where the favourite is playing for something and the other team is out of it. Seattle have a lot to fight for with the 49ers in sight and they will be looking for their workhorse to power them on.
Those needing a plausible deep option the play may be looking for players trying to establish themselves in the lead role or make their HC pay attention. The likes of Patrick Laird (MIA vsCIN), Chris Thompson (WAS vsNYG), Ryquell Armstead (JAX @ATL) and Justin Jackson (LAC vsOAK) all may have points to prove. There are others, but this is not an easy week for matchups.
Deandre Hopkins/Will Fuller (HOU @TB)
Again, this game will be fire and if both of these guys play, one or both are going to come up big. If they don’t then the Titans and steelers may just drag them out of the playoffs. The Pressure is on.
Tyler Lockett/DK Metcalf (SEA vsARI)
These two might both have big days as the Seahawks try and firm up a wildcard spot and take aim at the 49ers and a first round bye. Carson won’t be able to do all the work, and with how poorly the Cardinals secondary has played this year, Wilson will be out to exploit it as he does.
Darius Slayton (NYG @WAS)
Going a bit deeper, Slayton has been a great find for the Giants and against the Redskins he can keep that run going. Shepard, Tate and Engram would be the usual top 3 targets, but Slayton is making the most of each of them missing time and has solidified a position on the team going forwards. Slayton is fast becoming owned so those needing to dig deeper have: Chris Conley (JAX @ATL), Dionte Johnson (PIT @NYJ), Miles Boykin (BAL @CLE) and Scott Miller (TB vsHOU).
Jameis Winston/DeSean Watson (TB vsHOU)
This may be a shootout even though only one team really has something to play for. Winston is a low end league winner and Watson, a high end one. Both have back secondary’s and have been leaking points, which makes it very eye catching for the neutral and for fantasy.
Russell Wilson (SEA vsARI)
I’ve put a lot of Seattle players in here and Wilson is an obvious addition. Obviously throughout this article I’ve picked players who are going to be owned so this is aimed at DFS or those teams with line-up decisions in the final, hence why the next option is much more left field…
Drew Lock (DEN vsDET)
Lock has been having a ball since becoming the starter and against a weak Detroit defence, he can continue that trend. In a slightly similar situation (two teams out of contention) I like Gardner Minshew (JAX @ATL) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA vsCIN) if you need deeper options.
Zach Ertz/Dallas Goedert (PHI vsDAL)
I’ve been avoiding the huge NFC East game as it’s hard to call, but the one thing I feel comfortable saying, is that the Eagles passing offence will be largely centred around their Tight Ends. Injuries have hurt the Eagles and they should use a lot of two TE sets to allow Goedert and Ertz to receive looks. Jason Witten may also have relevance, but Ertz may be the #1.
OJ Howard/Cameron Brate (TB vsHOU)
Evans and Godwin are OUT. The load has to go somewhere and we know Jameis will pass the ball a lot.
Jacob Hollister (SEA vsARI)
Play your TE against Arizona, especially when your QB is Russel Wilson and you have everything on the line as I’ve probably said 4 times already. He may even be on the wire in a few places. If not but you are in need you could look for: Darren Fells (HOU @TB), Jack Doyle (IND vsCAR), Noah Fant (DEN vsDET), Jonnu Smith (TEN vsNO) and Hayden Hurst (BAL @CLE).
Steelers (PIT @NYJ)
Again, I have to back my team in defence. They are doing the work to allow the offence to do just enough. Pittsburgh have a great shot at the last Wildcard which would potentially put them up against the NFC South victor which is gives them a genuine opportunity to rematch against the Patriots once more. The Jets wont offer much, even with Lev Bell playing his former employers.
Ravens (BAL @CLE)
The Ravens should be able to pick off Baker and the Browns and will be using this as a warmup fore tougher tests to come. They are improving and beginning to peak at the right moment.
49ers (SF vsLAR)
This is a difficult one, but Jared Goff still gives the ball away too often and I think the 49ers defence will be the difference. The Patriots have a similar scenario against the Bills and both these games see teams who are a win apart and will be scrapping to make the playoffs. It may be too little too late for the Rams though and the 49ers should show their playoff intentions.
Chiefs (KC @CHI)
Those needing to dig deeper may be able to use the Chiefs against the Bears since it is still Mitchell Trubisky and his inconsistency is his downfall. The Chiefs could still get a first round bye so they will be fighting hard, while the Bears are eliminated.
So, there you go. My last ramblings for this season and big thanks to the Full10Yards guys for their support this season and I look forward to working with them and improving over the coming years. Listen out for the podcasts, keep your eyes peeled on twitter and the fantasy sector will see you next season, but for now:
“We have arrived at week 16, where this Hype Train terminates. Please gather all your belongings, Check for trophies, belts and prize money before leaving the train. We thank you for using the Hype Train this season and we hope to see you again soon.”