Jesse Pantuosco

Power Rankings

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Week 16 Power Rankings

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Oh, ye of little faith. Let’s hear it from Bodio Kozak in Chicago: Yeah, that fantasy team is absolutely awful. Might be the worst I've ever seen.”


Tom Kelleher from ... well I don’t know where he’s from: “That team is pretty bad. Well below average QB and absolutely brutal RBs. It does offer the ‘if’ dream. If Rawls plays like 2015, if Martin comes back and plays well, if Reed stays healthy. If Palmer stays healthy and performs well, this could be a good team. That's a lot of ifs.”


What about you, Jonathan Mata? Any thoughts? “Crash and burn with that team .... You’re looking at a long season ahead .... Won't see you in the postseason.”


For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me fill you in. If you recall, when I wrote my first Power Rankings back in Week 1, I spent a good chunk of the article describing what may have been the worst draft experience of my life. A massive thunderstorm hit my area (power outages, trees and telephone poles down, you name it), forcing me to miss the first half of my draft before desperately trying to salvage my team at a near-empty Panera Bread. The result was this auto-drafted monstrosity:


QB: Carson Palmer

RB1: Danny Woodhead

RB2: Jacquizz Rodgers

WR1: Antonio Brown

WR2: Michael Thomas

TE: Jordan Reed

FLEX: Doug Baldwin

OP: Sam Bradford

D/ST: Cardinals

K: Mason Crosby

BENCH: Michael Crabtree

BENCH: Doug Martin

BENCH: Theo Riddick

BENCH: Thomas Rawls

BENCH: Eric Ebron


Even in a 12-team, two-quarterback setup (the second QB spot is technically a super-flex, but that’s splitting hairs), that’s not exactly a top-shelf fantasy lineup. And predictably, readers gave me crap for it.


Three months later, I’m here to say that team will be competing for a championship this week. I realize fully that A) bragging about my fantasy accomplishments is loathsome, borderline sociopathic behavior, B) bragging about said accomplishments is even less acceptable when knowing and writing about fantasy football is literally my entire job and C) on top of all that, I’m probably going to lose this week! My best player, Antonio Brown, is hurt, while my opponent is coming off a 170-point week in the semifinals (yes, he has Todd Gurley). But hey, I’m here and I’m going to enjoy the view a little.


As you’d expect, the current incarnation of my team looks much different than the one I (aka the computer) drafted for me in early September. Thirty acquisitions later, this is what I’m working with:


QB: Tyrod Taylor

RB1: Marshawn Lynch

RB2: Alex Collins

WR1: Michael Thomas

WR2: Michael Crabtree

TE: Vernon Davis

FLEX: Latavius Murray

OP: Case Keenum

D/ST: Cardinals

K: Chris Boswell

BENCH: Antonio Brown

BENCH: Martavis Bryant

BENCH: Jamison Crowder

BENCH: Doug Martin

BENCH: Kerwynn Williams


You’ll notice only four players (five if you include the Cardinals, who I’ve added and dropped a number of times) remain from my original lineup. Needless to say, I’ve hit the waiver wire hard this year. They weren’t all winners—Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Mike Glennon and Jay Cutler all enjoyed forgettable tenures with my team—but at least a few of my waiver experiments (see Alex Collins and Case Keenum) worked. It’s not a masterpiece by any stretch, but after a long period of trial and error, I think my team is at least competitive, which is more than I could say three months ago at Panera Bread.


Maybe it’s destiny for Case Keenum to lead my team to the Promised Land. Or maybe the clock will finally strike midnight for my scrappy band of overachievers. Either way, it’s been a fun ride. Thanks for doubting me, Bodio. Now for the Power Rankings, where the Patriots are No. 1 for the second time in three weeks.


1. New England Patriots


Record: 11-3


Last Week: 2


Duron Harmon pulled a Malcolm Butler with his game-ending interception in Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh. Harmon sealed the deal but it was Rob Gronkowski’s outrageous second half that really buried the Steelers. Gronkowski has gone for an insane 315 receiving yards over his last two games. Rex Burkhead (six touchdowns over his last four games) sprained his knee against Pittsburgh but should be ready come playoff time.


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2. Philadelphia Eagles


Record: 12-2


Last Week: 3


What rust? Making his first start for the Eagles since 2014 and his first start anywhere in over a year, Nick Foles was unstoppable in Week 15, torching the Giants for 237 yards and four touchdowns. Alshon Jeffery couldn’t buy a touchdown last year. This year he has nine including seven in his last seven games. The Eagles have kept Nelson Agholor busy. He’s drawn 32 targets over his last three games including nine Sunday at MetLife Stadium.


3. Pittsburgh Steelers


Record: 11-3


Last Week: 1


It wasn’t the Jesse James non-touchdown or even Ben Roethlisberger’s ill-advised pass to Eli Rogers that did the Steelers in against New England. It was Sean Davis, who struggled mightily against Rob Gronkowski (check out his PFF grade) and dropped what should have been a sure interception on the Patriots’ final drive. Last year it was Le’Veon Bell’s groin, this year it was Antonio Brown’s calf—the Steelers just can’t catch a break against New England.


4. Minnesota Vikings


Record: 11-3


Last Week: 4


Here’s the saga of Kyle Rudolph’s Week 15: first he was ruled out with an ankle injury, next he was upgraded to doubtful, then questionable, then somehow was able to play against the Bengals. Later he aggravated his injury, only to score a touchdown upon his return. Teddy Bridgewater received a thunderous ovation in his first game in almost two years, then proceeded to immediately throw the ball to the other team. Either way, it’s good to have Teddy back.


5. Los Angeles Rams


Record: 10-4


Last Week: 5


Todd Gurley hit the jackpot in Week 15, lighting up the Seahawks for a career-high four touchdowns in the Rams’ blowout victory. Gurley has scored as many touchdowns the last two weeks (six) as he did all of last season. Robert Woods didn’t miss a beat in his return from a three-week shoulder injury, capturing six-of-seven targets for 45 yards and a touchdown. The Rams can clinch their first division title in 14 years with a win Sunday at Tennessee. 


6. New Orleans Saints


Record: 10-4


Last Week: 6


What a week for Mark Ingram. The former Heisman Trophy winner hammered the Jets for 151 yards (74 rushing, 77 receiving) and two touchdowns while going over 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight year. His 11 touchdowns are a career-high. Michael Thomas recently joined Odell Beckham as the second player to begin his career with two straight 90-catch seasons. He’s averaged 93.3 yards over his three-game touchdown streak.


7. Jacksonville Jaguars


Record: 10-4


Last Week: 8


Chris Ivory and Dede Westbrook were the chalk in DFS last week. But because fantasy football is a bleak hell-scape of endless disappointment, both of them did squat while the unlikely trio of Tommy Bohanon (two touchdowns on two carries), Keelan Cole (career-high 186 yards) and Jaydon Mickens (two touchdowns) were busy ripping the Texans to shreds. Blake Bortles this month: 65-for-91 (71.4 completion percentage), seven touchdowns, no interceptions with a 128.6 QB rating. Not bad for a guy who barely beat out Chad Henne in training camp.


8. Carolina Panthers


Record: 10-4


Last Week: 7


First there was the Butt Fumble. Now we have the Butt Touchdown thanks to Damiere Byrd. Greg Olsen broke out in a big way in Week 15, destroying the Packers for 116 yards on nine catches. Both were season-highs. I’d love to see Diddy buy the Panthers from Jerry Richardson, but is someone going to tell him they’re not actually called the “North Carolina” Panthers?


9. Atlanta Falcons


Record: 9-5


Last Week: 9


Devonta Freeman stayed hot in Week 15, demolishing the Bucs for 204 yards from scrimmage, his most since Week 3 of 2016. He’s followed up a six-game touchdown drought by scoring in back-to-back weeks. Julio Jones blew the roof off when he faced Tampa Bay in Week 12 (12-253-2) but struggled in the rematch, producing just three catches for 54 yards on eight targets. Julio ranks third in the league in receiving yards (1,215) but is tied for 63rd in touchdowns with just three.


10. Kansas City Chiefs


Record: 8-6


Last Week: 14


Kareem Hunt chewed the Chargers up and spit them out in Week 15, delivering 206 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 31 touches. The rookie trails only Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott in rushing yards per game. Marcus Peters looked motivated in his return from a one-game suspension, intercepting Philip Rivers twice while holding Keenan Allen to his fewest yards since Week 10. 


11. Dallas Cowboys


Record: 8-6


Last Week: 13


The Cowboys were saved by the grace of an index card in Sunday’s win over Oakland. Gene Steratore owed the Cowboys one after what happened the last time he officiated one of their games. Sunday marked Dak Prescott’s fourth multi-interception game of the season. He only had one such game in 2016. Ezekiel Elliott will be ready to rock Sunday against Seattle. The Cowboys went 3-3 during his six-game suspension.


12. Baltimore Ravens


Record: 8-6


Last Week: 12


After snoozing through the first three months of the year, Mike Wallace has come to life with 92.3 yards per game over his last three contests. With Jeremy Maclin (knee) a long shot to play Saturday against the Colts, Wallace should be in for another big week. Ben Watson has averaged 82.5 yards in two games against the Browns this year. Against the rest of the league, he’s averaged just 21.3.


13. Los Angeles Chargers


Record: 7-7


Last Week: 10


Philip Rivers finally cooled off, tossing three picks as the Chargers watched their four-game winning streak come to an end Saturday at Kansas City. That loss put a major dent in L.A.'s playoff hopes. The Chargers finish the regular season with winnable games versus the Jets and Raiders but will have to do it without Hunter Henry, who is done for the year with a lacerated kidney. If Joey Bosa practicing technique with Tamba Hali doesn’t restore your faith in humanity, I don’t know what will.


14. Detroit Lions


Record: 8-6


Last Week: 16


Even with Theo Riddick battling a wrist injury, Ameer Abdullah only logged eight snaps in Week 15. That makes him droppable in redraft leagues. Darius Slay starred with two interceptions in Saturday’s win, giving him a league-high seven for the year. That’s more picks than he had in his previous four years combined. Marvin Jones is closing in on his first 1,000-yard season and now ranks second in the league in yards per catch behind only Jacksonville’s Keelan Cole.


15. Seattle Seahawks


Record: 8-6


Last Week: 11


Russell Wilson didn’t have it on Sunday, completing just 14-of-30 passes for 142 yards with two fumbles (he lost one) in a loss to the Rams. Plagued by injuries and in-fighting, the Seahawks are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Jimmy Graham’s recent disappearance hasn’t helped. The veteran has caught just one-of-three targets for -1 yards over his last two games.


16. Buffalo Bills


Record: 8-6


Last Week: 18


Tyrod Taylor kept the Bills’ playoff hopes alive with a pair of touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) Sunday against Miami. LeSean McCoy did his part with two touchdowns of his own (one rushing, one receiving), giving him five in his last five games. Sunday all eyes will be on Tre’Davious White, who is facing New England for the first time since Rob Gronkowski laid this brutal hit on him in Week 13.


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Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco

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