It’s almost Christmas, season-long fantasy football are in championship mode and the NFL regular season is almost over.

While I love Christmas and playoff football, it’s always a bit disappointing to realize how fast the NFL season goes by.

With the end of the regular season, comes different ways we should be looking at roster construction.

My strategy for all formats is to really try to avoid landmines from teams that really have nothing to play for as a collective unit.

A.J. Green won’t make any rosters the rest of the year, neither will any stars from the Broncos, Redskins, Cardinals or Giants.

These teams really don’t have anything to play for, have some older players on their team and could easily sub in younger guys to see what they have on their roster they want to get a good look at. You kind of have to treat this time of year like the preseason. Week 16 is still fairly normal, but Week 17 will be the week we have to really be careful and stay abreast of news up until lock.

I just don’t like to roster guys who might want to keep themselves healthy and avoid a substantial injury in a game that is meaningless. Some players want to play all out because they want to win or are playing for contracts next year. I get that, but I believe injury risk outweighs all of that, so does draft position in 2018.

There are some exceptions to my rule though. The Dolphins/Chiefs feels sneaky and Kenyan Drake is a guy that is really playing for a job next year and beyond. The Browns are another team I will be targeting until they get a win, or at least try to get a win. The 49ers will want to continue getting reps with Jimmy G, but I won’t roster a single 49er this week due to their matchup against the Jags.

All some things to keep in mind the next couple of weeks.

Rankings for this week, factoring in teams vying for playoffs.

Quarterbacks

  1. Cam Newton
  2. Russell Wilson
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Blake Bortles
  5. Dak Prescott

Running Backs

  1. Ezekiel Elliott
  2. Todd Gurley
  3. Alvin Kamara
  4. Kareem Hunt
  5. Mark Ingram/Melvin Gordon

Wide Receivers

  1. Josh Gordon
  2. Keenan Allen
  3. MIchael Thomas
  4. Dez Bryant
  5. Robert Woods

Tight Ends

  1. Travis Kelce
  2. Rob Gronkowski
  3. Delanie Walker
  4. Jimmy Graham
  5. Ricky Seals-Jones

Defense/Special Teams

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars
  2. Los Angeles Chargers
  3. Los Angeles Rams
  4. Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Arizona Cardinals

One last thing before we get to today’s picks. If Kerwynn Williams sits this week, D.J. Foster and Elijaah Penny might make my main cash lineup this week, just FYI. Penny will definitely be there, Foster may move to my tournament teams, but for $6,400 I would absorb all the catches and carries for that backfield against the Giants. That’s cheaper than Gurley, Zeke, the Saints RBs, Kareem Hunt, McCoy, Fournette, Gordon and Kenyan Drake, all guys that get the rushes and passing game work.

Just wanted to throw that out there, but we don’t know of Williams status as of Wednesday night. As for this week’s picks, value is tough to come by, so Arizona’s backfield could help us with salary restrictions if Williams is out. With that said, this week’s picks are going to feature guys I am building around in cash and tournaments this week. I wish I could play them all in one lineup, but these are the guys I will have to make decisions on in Week 16.

Cam Newton – QB – Carolina Panthers – $6,800


Analysis: Well, well, well, Cam was one of the top scoring QBs in Week 15 and we go right back to the well this week against the porous Tampa Bay defense with nothing to play for. That would be my one qualm with Carolina’s offense this week – blowout factor and TB’s effort. But even with Devin Funchess questionable, Cam just has a high, safe floor week in and week out due to his rushing ability. Christian McCaffrey has started running pass plays out of the slot (more on him later) and Cam is always a threat to score a redzone TD.

Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Dallas Cowboys – $8,000


Analysis: If you made it this far in your season-long leagues with Zeke on the shelf, you get a huge Christmas present this week as he returns against the Seattle Seahawks. This is one of the cheapest prices for Zeke this season. Even though he’s been off, he’s been working day and night in Mexico during his suspension to improve his conditioning and strength. I loved this play earlier in the week much more than I do now because I was hopeful K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner would sit. The Jags and Todd Gurley all smashed this team without those guys. They are the Seahawks lifeforce against the run, but this is the Cowboys at full strength and I love this game overall. Should one of those guys sit, Zeke is almost a lock. I think Zeke will be hungry after his ridiculous suspension and Dallas will feed the beast.

Melvin Gordon – RB – Los Angeles Chargers – $7,200


Analysis: Melvin Gordon on the Index? Ugh. It looks ugly for sure. But hear me out. The Chargers are in a must-win game against the Jets and when they are on the road, they lean on Gordon heavily. In all of his road games this season, Gordon is averaging 23.7 DK points compared to 12.6 at home. Gordon has 35 catches on 47 targets in road games compared to 14 catches on 26 targets at home. The Jets have had leaks against the run at times this season. I like the defense to create turnovers against Bryce Petty and Gordon to mop up in the red zone. Hunter Henry is out for the season, opening more potential targets for Gordon. I understand running back is loaded this week, but Gordon is underpriced in a matchup where the Chargers are favored and have to win.

Josh Gordon – WR – Cleveland Browns – $6,300

Analysis: Give up on Josh Gordon? NEVER! With targets of 11, 6 and 11, Gordon is going to get the lion’s share of looks in the passing game until the end of the season. We only have to worry about QB play here, and just hope that Kizer or whoever the Browns QB gets lucky and drops in a few deep balls where Gordon can go up for them. He burned us last week, but his price is reduced and he’s facing a much more palatable matchup against the Bears secondary that has allowed 6 TD receptions to WRs in the past 6 weeks and fantasy totals to the position of 34, 41.4, 44.6, 35.7, 25.2 and 36.3. Gordon is probably only a tournament flyer for me because RB is so loaded, but he will most definitely be in my GPPs.

Dez Bryant – WR – Dallas Cowboys – $6,000

Analysis: If I have more concerns about Zeke and his matchup leading up to Sunday, there is another route to pivot to – Dez Bryant. I know, I have been kind of chasing a blow up spot all year long, but he keeps getting priced very reasonably in soft matchups (coming off bad games). Yes, this is a soft matchup against the Seahawks who have given up 6 TD receptions to wideouts in their past 5 games. Dez is still a deep threat and that’s where the Seahawks have struggled. I like this game to go over the total in a must win for both teams. I like Dez as a red zone threat who should be getting up even more for this game, not only because of the stakes, but because he had a low target and catch rate last game. If you remember from the other 30 times I’ve recommended Dez, he always sees a boost in usage and target share in games after he isn’t utilized as much.

Russell Wilson – QB – Seattle Seahawks – $7,000

Analysis: I may actually go Russell Wilson in cash games this week and play him naked. Coming off a dud in a tough matchup against the Rams, a team he’s consistently struggled with over his career, this is a premiere bounce back spot for Danger-Russ. I am not going to pretend to guess which pass catcher I should stack him with, so I will get all of that exposure playing Russ, who has accounted for all of Seattle’s touchdowns this season except for 1. The Cowboys have been shredded by opposing passing attacks all year and that’s what the Seahawks do best. I will predict that Russ is the highest scoring quarterback on the slate this week, too. That’s how much I like him.

Christian McCaffrey – RB – Carolina Panthers – $6,400

Analysis: Getting work out of the slot, a banged up Devin Funchess, a premiere defensive spot against Tampa Bay, who struggles against the run, pass catching backs and players lined up at receiver. He had a big game last week, receives the bulk of the red zone target share and this is a must-win game for Carolina’s playoff hopes. I think we are starting to see how the Panthers would like to operate in the postseason as well. McCaffrey’s price is fair and I am expecting another 7-8 targets in this week’s game. We just have to hope Jonathan Stewart doesn’t vulture any scores because he doesn’t have much positive correlation with McCaffrey when he does.

Robert Woods – WR – Los Angeles Rams – $6,500

Analysis: Man I think it’s going to be hard to play Todd Gurley this week. The value isn’t there, but I might be OK with that. While I’ll have some shares (because I didn’t last week), I think this is an excellent and fadable spot for Gurley in tournies. Tennessee is one of the best teams against the run this season and have accepted their role as a pass-funnel offense. That’s where Robert Woods comes in who nearly had double-digit targets in two quarters against the Seahawks. Now he will be on the road in a game that I could see the Rams having a little let down in early, meaning more work for Woods in the passing game. He’s the No. 1 receiver and the Titans are 9th overall in fantasy points allowed to wideouts this season.

 

Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/y8qmjzjn