Patrick Daugherty

Goal Line Stand

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Week 16 Rankings

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Updated 12/24 at 12:00 PM ET. Added Samaje Perine. Moved Kapri Bibbs down. Moved Kerwynn Williams down. I had him too high. Removed James White. Moved Mike Gillislee up. Left Dion Lewis steady. Flipped Jared Goff and Jameis Winston. 

How good is Ezekiel Elliott? He’s missed six games and is still the RB10 by total points. He’s the RB2 by average points, and was playing his best football of the season before his six-game ban took effect in Week 10. In three games between the Cowboys’ bye and the beginning of Elliott’s suspension — all wins — he averaged 130 rushing yards and 4.53 yards per carry.

He returns against a Seahawks defense that just got stampeded by Todd Gurley. Conditioning can be a concern for players coming off suspension. Elliott? He apparently spent 42 days of his ban training furiously in Mexico. He received raves from his teammates upon his return. Maybe you’re not surprised by that. After all, what else would they say? That’s fair. You also shouldn’t be surprised when the Cowboys recommit to Elliott as the centerpiece of their offense as they desperately try to win their final two games and sneak into the NFC playoffs. As he’s been every game of his young NFL career, Elliott is an elite play for Week 16.     

Week 16 Quarterbacks

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Cam Newton vs. TB Questionable (shoulder)
2 Russell Wilson at DAL -
3 Tom Brady vs. BUF -
4 Alex Smith vs. MIA -
5 Ben Roethlisberger at HOU -
6 Drew Brees vs. ATL -
7 Matthew Stafford at CIN -
8 Philip Rivers at NYJ -
9 Dak Prescott vs. SEA -
10 Case Keenum at GB -
11 Nick Foles vs. OAK -
12 Blake Bortles at SF -
13 Jared Goff at TEN -
14 Jameis Winston at CAR -
15 Matt Ryan at NO -
16 Joe Flacco vs. IND -
17 Kirk Cousins vs. DEN -
18 Jimmy Garoppolo vs. JAC -
19 Eli Manning at ARZ -
20 Marcus Mariota vs. LAR -
21 Tyrod Taylor at NE -
22 Mitchell Trubisky vs. CLE -
23 Derek Carr at PHI -
24 Andy Dalton vs. DET -
25 Drew Stanton vs. NYG -
26 Jay Cutler at KC -
27 DeShone Kizer at CHI -
28 Brett Hundley vs. MIN -
29 Brock Osweiler at WAS -
30 Bryce Petty vs. LAC -
31 Jacoby Brissett at BAL -
32 T.J. Yates vs. PIT -

QB Notes: For all his peaks and seeming valleys, Cam Newton enters the fantasy finals as the QB4 by average points. His (home) matchup is smashable in a Bucs defense allowing the 10th-most quarterback fantasy points and 4.74 yards per QB rush. … Russell Wilson finally met a matchup he couldn’t Houdini. Wilson has had just two one-touchdown performances over his past 12 starts. Both came against the Rams. The Cowboys will be far more forgiving for finals week. … Tom Brady has been held to two touchdowns over his past three games. That includes a zero-score day against the Bills in Week 13. Finally back home after three straight weeks on the road, Brady should close out the fantasy season in style, especially since the Bills seemed to have no concept of how to defend Rob Gronkowski in meeting one. … #BenchAlex. I won’t back down. Alas, the world is not perfect. Alex Smith has not only maintained his starting job, he’s shaken off his mid-season malaise. The Dolphins have been a bit unpredictable on defense, but it’s hard to see them slowing a Chiefs team that needs to win at home.

Ben Roethlisberger will be missing Antonio Brown for the fantasy finals. Thankfully, he will still have big-play threats JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant against a Texans defense that just can’t stop serving up big plays. Only the Giants have allowed more fantasy points to rival quarterbacks. … No longer a ceiling play, Drew Brees has hit his floor each of the past two weeks. The Falcons, who are allowing opposing QBs to complete 66.6 percent of their passes, will offer excellent odds of Brees going 3-for-3 for the fantasy playoffs. … With Vontaze Burfict (concussion) still not cleared and coach Marvin Lewis dreaming of greener pastures, the Bengals have well and truly collapsed. The QB8 by average points, Matthew Stafford should close the fantasy season strong. … Philip Rivers laid an egg in his biggest game of the year. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before. Now, the Bolts’ backs are against the wall, a situation Rivers seems most comfortable in. Whatever his comfort level, his matchup is pristine in a Jets defense permitting the third-most quarterback fantasy points.       

Editor's note: DFS experts share their favorite Week 16 RBs. Find out who here!


How did Dak Prescott fare during Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game absence? He averaged 191 passing yards, posted a 6.86 YPA and totaled seven touchdowns. Zeke will finally be back against the Seahawks. Although injuries have hollowed out the core of the Seahawks’ defense, it still managed to dominate Jared Goff even while getting blown out 42-7 in Week 15. Prescott has risk to go along with the potential reward. … Case Keenum has subdued the Teddy Bridgewater chatter with multiple scores in six of his past seven starts. There’s every reason to believe the nearly defenseless Packers will make it 7-of-8. … Making his first start of 2017, Nick Foles ripped the Giants for four scores in a plus matchup. Although they have stiffened a bit of late, the Raiders are another “soft landing” opponent. … The QB3 over the past three weeks, Blake Bortles has a matchup to stay hot in the 49ers. Although Jimmy Garoppolo’s strong play has injected life into the entire team, the Niners are still coughing up the fourth-most QB fantasy points.    

Jared Goff is averaging two touchdowns and 180 yards over his past three games. That will be his over/under against the Titans’ middle-of-the-road pass defense. … Better in fantasy than “real life” since his Week 13 return, Jameis Winston is the QB4 over the past three weeks. He’s averaging 285 yards to go along with seven touchdowns during that time span. The Panthers’ pass defense won’t break, but should bend enough for Winston to have a QB2 outing. … The QB19 by average points, Matt Ryan has three touchdowns over his past four starts. He’s completing 55.2 percent of his passes over his past three games, which included a Week 14 home matchup in the Saints. He’s headed to New Orleans for the fantasy finals. … Playing something resembling good football over his past three games, Joe Flacco is averaging 275 yards. That will be attainable in a home matchup with a Colts defense that just got sonned by Brock Osweiler. … Kirk Cousins was averaging 280 yards before the Redskins lost Chris Thompson. In the four games since, that number has plunged to 210. He might be lucky to hit 210 against the Broncos’ stout pass defense.   


Jimmy Garoppolo is averaging 336 yards as 49ers starter. For Week 16, he gets a Jags defense allowing a microscopic 169 weekly yards through the air. Garoppolo has been playing so well that I would have a tough time benching him in two-quarterback leagues, but fantasy owners obviously need to have tempered expectations. … Fresh off a surprising 434-yard, three-score performance against the Eagles, Eli Manning gets a Cardinals defense that’s been quietly leaky (ninth-most QB fantasy points). … Marcus Mariota spent his college career as a blur for Oregon’s breakneck attack. Mike Mularkey has apparently decided those skills are best utilized by running the league’s fifth-slowest offense. Pray for a better scheme in 2018. ... Tyrod Taylor always offers theoretical upside, but his road struggles have continued this season, while he’s had little success against Bill Belichick’s defense. … Averaging 293 yards passing over his past two starts, Mitchell Trubisky has a “maybe, just maybe” case to be made against the 0-14 Browns’ “defense.” … Derek Carr turned three straight plus matchups (vs. NYG, @KC, vs. DAL) into QB17 numbers. Smarting from last week’s Eli Manning debacle, Week 16 opponent Philadelphia will be looking for revenge.

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Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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