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10 Best Games of 2016 NFL Season

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Surprisingly, the parameters of what makes an NFL game good are almost universally agreed upon. In a world where people are divided on everything, no one will fight you when you say this year’s playoffs have sucked. We’ve all noticed the absence of close games, incompetent play on both sides of the ball, and a complete lack of tension in the fourth quarter. Nobody is clamoring for more of it.

The hope is that, this weekend, Super Bowl LI will give the fans what they want: high drama, interesting storylines, and highlight reel plays. But these playoffs have left me jaded. With such rock-bottom expectations for the big game, I decided to go back and relive some of the great games this season did provide. For now, here are the top ten games of the 2016 season. Perhaps Atlanta-New England can earn its spot here?

Best Games of 2016 Season

10. Week 1: Panthers at Broncos

After 267 games, it’s easy to forget that the very first one was pretty special. The culmination of over seven months of waiting ended with a memorable debut for Trevor Siemian, as the Broncos proved last season’s Super Bowl was no fluke, beating the Panthers again to open the 2016 season.

Cam Newton and Carolina were better equipped for Denver this time around, out-gaining the Broncos on offense and winning the turnover battle. But the Panthers couldn’t get revenge for their Super Bowl 50 loss, after (coincidentally) Graham Gano shanked a 50-yard field goal to win it.

There were a lot of close games this season that ended with field goals made or missed, but Denver’s 21-20 win gets preference. Not just because it was the first game, but because it featured a lengthy touchdown run by a fullback.

9. Week 9: Bills at Seahawks

This game gets remembered most for the completely botched handling of Dan Carpenter’s field goal attempt to end the first half, but don’t let that brief moment of incompetence cloud what was otherwise an insane 30 minutes of football. The Bills and Seahawks combined for 45 first-half points, punctuated by a pair of one-handed grabs by Jimmy Graham.

Defense dominated the second half, as the teams combined for nine sacks in the game. But the Bills, who were basically playing for their season, wouldn’t go away until the final seconds. Tyrod Taylor led his team down to the red zone, but his fourth-down pass fell incomplete, and Seattle won 31-25. Perhaps if he completes that comeback, the Bills brass enters the offseason a lot higher on Taylor?

8. Week 1: Raiders at Saints

We were supposed to see a different Raiders team this season, and 59 minutes into the year, Oakland rewarded those who believed they were ready to make the jump. After trading touchdowns with the red hot Saints offense all day, head coach Jack Del Rio knew he didn’t want to take his chances with an overtime coin toss. So after Seth Roberts scored a touchdown late to pull the Raiders within one, ol “Black Jack” decided to go for two and the win.

Derek Carr’s fade to Michael Crabtree for the game-deciding points capped off an incredible offensive day in which New Orleans and Oakland combined for 993 total yards. While this game left something to be desired for fans of defense, it signified that the Raiders would be one of the most fun teams to watch this season. (But not enough to crack this list again.)

7. Week 13: Chiefs at Falcons

The only thing more exciting than seeing an offense win on a two-point conversion is seeing the defense do the same. That was how Eric Berry put a stamp on this surprisingly thrilling interconference game.

After Matt Ryan led the Falcons to a 28-27 lead in the fourth quarter, Atlanta opted to go for two. Just a few years ago, this would’ve been a zero-risk play. But a rule change in 2015 (allowing the defense to score on a two-point conversion attempt) meant that, when Berry intercepted the ball, he could take it 98 yards the other way and give Kansas City the lead back. The Chiefs managed to run out the clock from there and win 29-28.

Winning the game in such an absurd way seemed normal for Kansas City on that particular day. Berry had already scored on a pick six, and the Chiefs added a touchdown on a 55-yard fake punt by Albert Wilson.

6. Week 14: Cowboys at Giants

Anytime a rivalry takes center stage, it always helps a game feel better than the score may indicate. So while the Giants 10-7 win over Dallas may not look like much, it was a heated affair featuring some of the best defensive football played all season. The Cowboys offense had been nearly unstoppable to that point, leading the team on an 11-game win streak. But on a chilly night in East Rutherford, both offenses were downright offensive, as Steve Spagnuolo and Rod Marinelli’s units stole the Sunday Night spotlight.

Both teams mustered just 260 yards and had three turnovers. The difference-maker was Odell Beckham Jr. making something out of nothing, while Dez Bryant made a crucial mistake.

That game helped the Giants stake a claim to the title of best defense in football, as well as “team no one wanted to play in the playoffs.” Of course, after one little detour to Miami, New York ended the season with a very different narrative.

5. Week 12: Chiefs at Broncos

Unlike the Giants-Cowboys, no one would have batted an eye if this rivalry game ended 10-7. Instead, the Chiefs and Broncos finished 30-27, and truly was a four-quarter thriller. (The first quarter sucked, but a wacky overtime more than made up for it.)

Tyreek Hill had a hat trick with a rushing, receiving, and return TD, while Von Miller and Justin Houston both notched a trio of sacks. In a game that sent Denver on a spiral out of a playoff spot, coach Gary Kubiak wasted Siemian’s best day as a pro ultimately with a poor coaching decision late. Instead of taking the tie, Kubiak elected to go for a 62-yard game-winning field goal late in OT. Brandon McManus missed the kick, and Kansas City turned the short field into a bank shot walk-off.

4. Week 10: Cowboys at Steelers

Call it skepticism or just being a curmudgeon, but it took me longer than most to buy into the Cowboys’ dynamic rookies. This was the game that buried any and all doubt surrounding the abilities of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. A pair of good rookies don’t win this game. Heck, a lot of veterans wouldn’t have been able to drive the field for a late field goal. Prescott and Elliott showed their greatness by doing one better.

In a see-saw affair, the Steelers offense couldn’t be stopped, except when it came to two-point conversions. Pittsburgh went 0 for 4 on the day, meaning when Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown on a fake spike with 42 seconds left, it only put the Steelers up 30-29. With all three timeouts, Prescott responded and got Dallas in field-goal range, before Elliott said “screw it, this is easier.”

It was an unbelievable game that could go right alongside those classic Cowboys-Steelers battles from the 70s.

3. Week 10: Seahawks at Patriots

It’s no coincidence that Week 10 saw the NFL’s ratings shoot back up to normal, considering two of the four best games of the year happened that weekend. The night cap edges out Cowboys-Steelers just slightly, because it concluded with a hilarious reversal of the now infamous Super Bowl XLIV ending.

Seattle and New England traded scores throughout, with no team holding more than a seven point-lead all night. LeGarrette Blount thumped his way to three touchdowns, but the Patriots pass rush made the Seahawks’ futile offensive line look like “the Hogs” reincarnate.

Late in the fourth, New England was down 31-24 but had the ball at Seattle’s one-yard line with three tries to get in. The Pats helped Pete Carroll get off the hook (slightly) for his play-calling two years ago, as two straight runs couldn’t break the plane. On fourth down, a fade to Gronk sailed long, and the Seahawks had exacted some measure of revenge.

2. Week 16: Ravens at Steelers

You can always reserve a spot on a games-of-the-year list for Baltimore and Pittsburgh, since it’s so rare for this rivalry to disappoint. But this year’s Week 16 game was like ordering the Kobe beef and getting a side of lobster for free. (I would assume, anyways; I can’t afford either.)

The Ravens visited the Steelers with the AFC North title on the line, on Christmas no less, and jumped out to a 20-10 second-half lead. Then, with the season on the line, the Triple Bs were at their absolute best. Pittsburgh finished the game with three-straight touchdown drives, claiming the lead on an Antonio Brown touchdown with nine seconds left.

Adding to the drama was the fact that the Steelers were out of timeouts. Had Brown not broken the plane, the game was likely over.

1. Divisional Playoffs: Packers at Cowboys

All you need to do is watch the final two minutes of this game to see why it was the year’s best. With 1:38 left in the game, Mason Crosby knuckled through what seemed like a game-winning field goal from 56 yards. But just 90 seconds later, he’d be called upon to make another kick of over 50, and this time it did decide who moved on. It was a truly remarkable end to a game that is sure to go down as one of the best in NFL playoff history.

Not to sell the first 58 minutes short, because they were pretty great, too. Green Bay raced out to 21-3 lead, and just as the calls for Tony Romo started coming, Prescott led Dallas on a furious comeback. Aided by a defense that intercepted Aaron Rodgers for the first time in two months, the Cowboys tied the game at 28, before things got really wild.

The play everyone will remember from this game was Rodgers’ almost nonchalant 36-yard bomb to Jared Cook to put the Packers in range for the winning field goal. The great thing about the game being decided on this play was that nobody screwed up. It wasn’t a big error on the Cowboys end. It was simply an incredible throw that few who have ever played the game could make.

And when you stack it up against the rest of a disappointing postseason, it only helps this game stand out even more.

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FantasyRankings

Daily Fantasy Plays: Wild Card Weekend

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Wild Card Weekend and what to do? Arguably, three of the four games on tap belong on an “Undesirables” poster. Do you need a way to spice up an otherwise unwatchable Houston/Oakland game? Solution! Play daily fantasy! Whether you are a first-time, small-stakes player or an experienced high-roller, you will find a contest to suit your needs.

Heading into the weekend, Oakland, Houston, and Miami are all starting QBs whom they would rather see on the bench. With the dearth of talent at quarterback, offense will be at a premium, and you can bet tickets will be filled with Pittsburgh Steelers as they look to have drawn the match-up of the week.

Daily fantasy players will pay dearly for the likes of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, forcing them to sacrifice elsewhere on the roster.

Is that the best play, nonetheless? Time will tell, definitively, but here’s how I’m setting my DraftKings lineup for Wild Card Weekend. (Point per reception scoring is in effect. Lineups consist of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 DST. You have $50,000 to spend on those nine roster spots.)

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 17

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Welcome to FY’s top-50 flex plays for the week (standard scoring). Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. Below, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.


Week 17 is upon us. Most of us watched another chance at a season-long league championship slip by us in the last few weeks. If you’re one of the lucky few that captured a fantasy title, then I offer my congratulations! If you’re one of the outliers who plays in a 17-week league, then I offer you this paraphrase of Voltaire/Evelyn Beatrice Hall: I disapprove of how you play, but I will rank to the death your options for playing it.

Beyond season-long leagues, daily fantasy games are still on the docket for Week 17. Now is the perfect time to give those a go. With teams sitting starters and limiting reps, and players nursing injuries, we’re going to see a lot of guys in unfamiliar roles. That makes the coming week arguably the most unpredictable of the year. The randomness in fantasy scoring will turn the daily fantasy scene into Friday night at the local Bingo hall, giving less experienced players a little better shot.

Whether you are into daily fantasy or are in one of those absurd 17-week leagues, let me try to make some sense of the chaos that promises to be Week 17.


Top 50 Flex Players Week 17

Tier 1

Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent

1. D. Johnson/ARI RB(1) @LA

With different situations impacting many fantasy stars, David Johnson is the lone inhabitant of Tier 1. With 20 total touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, he’s the top non-QB on the year and has a 30-point lead over second-place Ezekiel Elliott. DJ should finish the season strong as he looks to put the finishing touches on an epic fantasy year. The Cardinals are out of the playoffs and have no real reason to underwork their bellcow.

Tier 2

2. J. Nelson/GB WR(1) @DET

3. M. Evans/TB WR(2) CAR

4. J. Jones/ATL WR(3) NO

5. T. Hilton/IND WR(4) JAX

Trust is the name of the game this week. Jordy Nelson visits division rival Detroit  in a game that just happens to be for the NFC North title. Jordy has been on a tear the last four weeks with five TDs and 437 yards. With the division title on the line, the run should continue.

Tampa Bay still has a shot at the playoffs but needs some help. Mike Evans enters the week as the third-ranked receiver in standard scoring even though he hasn’t cracked 100 yards since week 12. He has over 1,200 yards and 11 TDs on the year.

Julio Jones played just over 60-percent of the Falcons’ offensive snaps last week. He only managed four catches for 60 yards, but more importantly, he finished the game unscathed. With a first-round bye on the line, and possibly a receiving yardage crown as well, I expect Julio’s playing time and production to see an uptick this week.

The Colts’ season is done, but T.Y. Hilton has a receiving yardage lead to hold onto. You can bet Hilton and QB Andrew Luck are aware of that.

Tier 3

6. L. McCoy/BUF RB(2) @NYJ

7. D. Murray/TEN RB(3) HOU

8. J. Howard/CHI RB(4) @MIN

9. D. Freeman/ATL RB(5) NO

10. B. Cooks/NO WR(5) @ATL

11. M. Thomas/NO WR(6) @ATL

12. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(7) @SF

At this point, the Bills have nothing but pride to play for. After firing head coach Rex Ryan, the reins get turned over to former OC Anthony Lynn. Lynn, who’s rumored to have a great shot at winning the gig for next year, will be looking to show the powers-that-be that he is capable of running the show. If he wants to put his best foot forward, LeSean McCoy will be busy. Shady is easily the Bills’ best foot on offense. With EJ Manuel slated to start at QB, Lynn has all the more reason to go run-heavy.

DeMarco Murray should finish a stellar season strong. He has lost some red zone carries to teammate Derrick Henry the last few weeks, but with starting quarterback Marcus Mariota out with a broken leg, look for the league’s third-best rushing attack to be heavily utilized.

Jordan Howard continues his run up 2017 draft boards. He’s posted five straight weeks of over 100 yards from scrimmage and is as trustworthy as any, even on a three-win team.

As mentioned, Atlanta has a first-round bye on the line this week, meaning Devonta Freeman should continue to be busy as long as the score doesn’t get out of hand. Thankfully, the Falcons play the Saints, who can put up points and should be able to keep the outcome in doubt for all four quarters.

Speaking of the Saint/Falcon match-up, I expect that Drew Brees will be chucking the rock all over the field in an attempt to play spoiler against his longtime rivals. Brandin Cooks and Michael Thomas should benefit as Brees carves up a brutal Falcon pass defense (26th).

Seattle needs to win to have any hope at a first-round bye. Doug Baldwin has scored a touchdown the last two weeks and should see that streak continue against the league’s worst defense.

Tier 4

13. J. Edelman/NE WR(8) @MIA

14. G. Tate/DET WR(9) GB

15. A. Jeffery/CHI WR(10) @MIN

16. D. Hopkins/HOU WR(11) @TEN

17. A. Robinson/JAX WR(12) @IND

18. D. Adams/GB WR(13) @DET

19. L. Blount/NE RB(6) @MIA

20. L. Murray/OAK RB(7) @DEN

21. M. Ingram/NO RB(8) @ATL

22. S. Ware/KC RB(9) @SD

23. T. Montgomery/GB RB(10) @DET

24. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(11) NE

25. R. Kelley/WAS RB(12) NYG

26. B. Powell/JETS RB(13) BUF

27. J. Stewart/CAR RB(14) @TB

28. T. Gurley/LA RB(15) ARI

The uncertainty is growing. Julian Edelman is Tom Brady’s favorite target with Gronk done, but with the Raiders (the only team that can catch New England for first in the AFC) losing Derek Carr, the Pats may feel inclined to rest some starters. The importance of the no. 1 seed was drastically reduced with Carr going down. Bill Belichick won’t fear facing a Matt McGloin-led Oakland team, regardless of location.

With his team in a match-up for the division title, Golden Tate will be busy against Green Bay’s 29th-ranked pass defense. Tate has had a great second half of the season, putting up 54 catches his last eight games. He gets a boost in any PPR leagues/formats.

Alshon Jeffery is playing for a contract. He has an 11-181-1 line in two games with quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley may not know which team he is throwing to, but he offers lots of opportunity for big plays and Jeffery will continue to take advantage.

Okay, so clearly Houston QB Tom Savage wasn’t as ready for the starting role as I hoped. After a horrible first half against Cincinnati, the Texan offense showed a bit of life in the second half with another come from behind win. DeAndre Hopkins finished his day with three catches for 43 yards on six targets. Even though the Texans have the division locked up, the chemistry between the QB and his no. 1 target needs work before the playoffs.

I’m not sure what interim head coach Doug Marrone said to the Jaguar players last week, but whatever it was, it worked. Allen Robinson benefited from the Jags’ new-found competence and finished the week with 147 yards receiving. Does the competence continue against the 24th-ranked Indy pass defense?

Davante Adams’ last seven weeks have been the epitome of boom or bust with four games over 10 points and three games under four points. I don’t trust him, but with the Packers in a title match-up and the uncertainty that surrounds Week 17, Adams is more playable than most weeks.

LeGarrette Blount keeps scoring touchdowns. The Patriots are playing for something this week (kind of). Even if he sits, he’ll probably still find a way to add to his league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns.

The Oakland Raiders received a lump of coal for Christmas and now Matt McGloin is taking over starting quarterback duties. In a game the Raiders desperately need to win, expect McGloin to get a lot of practice handing the ball off to Latavius Murray.

Mark Ingram is New Orleans’ best running back and is capable of busting big plays. The Saints will be looking to upset rival Atlanta, which owns the 23rd-ranked defense. Ingram should have an impactful day after going for over 100 total yards and a TD in these teams’ first meeting of the year.

Spencer Ware is 79 yards short of his first 1,000-yard rushing season. The Chiefs draw the oh-so-sad San Diego Chargers who just awarded the Cleveland Browns their first win. With the Chargers in such a giving mood this holiday season, Ware is next in line to receive a gift in a game the Chiefs need to win.

Ty Montgomery is a tough call. Two weeks ago, he looked like a star. Last week, he received nine carries. With the Pack in a meaningful game, Montgomery is more attractive this week than most.

In Week 16, Jay Ajayi hit Buffalo for 200 rushing yards for the second time this year. But he may see a reduction in snaps this week as the Dolphins have a playoff spot locked up and may want to keep Ajayi fresh.

The team with the offensive nickname that resides in Washington still has a chance to sneak into the playoffs, which keeps Rob Kelley an intriguing option. Facing a New York Giant team expected to rest starters, Washington’s offense may be in for a prolific day.

With backfield mates Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson out, Bilal Powell is the last man standing at running back in what has been a lost season for the Jets. Powell has the ability to pile up yardage and against the same Bills team Ajayi just steam rolled.

The defending NFC champion Panthers will not have a chance to defend their crown. In a meaningless game, they may be wise to sit their oft-injured franchise players. The unpredictability of Carolina’s game-plan keeps Stewart low in the ranks this week.

I ranked Todd Gurley RB(8) last week because he had the softest possible match-up (49ers). Shame on me. He did finish 15th among running backs, but the inability of the Rams offense to do anything was on full display in a loss to the worst defense in football. The only reason Gurley remains this high is potential usage in an offense with no passing game.

Tier 5

29. T. Kelce/KC TE(1) @SD

30. D. McFadden/DAL RB(16) @PHI

31. A. Blue/HOU RB(17) @TEN

32. D. Williams/PIT RB(18) CLE

33. A. Collins/SEA RB(19) @SF

34. T. Coleman/ATL RB(20) NO

35. J. Hill/CIN BAL RB(21) BAL

36. F. Gore/IND RB(22) JAX

37. K. Dixon/BAL RB(23) @CIN

38. D. Lewis/NE RB(24) @MIA

39. S. Smith/BAL WR(14) @CIN

40. S. Watkins/BUF WR(15) @NYJ

41. J.J. Nelson/ARI WR(16) @LA

42. A. Thielen/MIN WR(17) CHI

43. D. Inman/SD WR(18) KC

44. T. Williams/SD WR(19) KC

45. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(20) @LA

46. T. Hill/KC WR(21) @SD

47. E. Sanders/DEN WR(22) OAK

48. D. Thomas/DEN WR(23) OAK

49. J. Landry/MIA WR(24) NE

50. D. Parker/MIA WR(25) NE

And Bingo begins. With the unpredictability Week 17 brings, Tier 5 could easily be 20 players longer. Even teams with nothing to play for could choose to sit franchise players for fear of injury. Week 17 offers very little predictability. For Tier 5, I offer this: each player in the NFL has enough talent that it could be his day and, in Week 17, the sun will shine on players who have had minimal relevance up to this point. Get in on the exciting Bingo action by building your team with players in good situations.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the Bingo hall that promises to be Week 17.

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 16

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Welcome to FY’s top-50 flex plays for the week (standard scoring). Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. Below, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.


Championship week is here! Congratulations to all the season-long finalists! After a chaotic Week 15 with some unbelievable finishes, Week 16 will again see games on four separate days. The majority will be played on Saturday (Dec. 24) so check those line ups Friday night well before the rum and eggnog starts to flow.

Week 15 deviated from the status quo to some extent; a wide receiver (Brandin Cooks) tied a running back (Devonta Freeman) for top honors with 30 points a piece.To put some perspective on the significance of a 30 burger, only seven non-quarterbacks had more than 20 points this week. If you had either in your line up, you are more then likely in your league’s finals.

There was also more of the same in Week 15, though, as running backs dominated the top 10, taking eight of the spots. Fantasy disappointment Tyler Lockett was the only other receiver besides Cooks to break into the top 10.

Week 16 could see a few other fantasy disappointments finish among the leaders. A soft match-up could help Todd Gurley remind owners why everyone was so high on him, while DeAndre Hopkins is breathing new life (17 targets in Week 15) thanks to the Texans finally benching Brock Osweiler. At the end of the day, the team with the best running backs will win the majority of the championships, but either of those former fantasy stars could pay big dividends in the finals.

Good luck with the chaotic mess ahead this weekend. Let’s get to the good stuff.


Top 50 Flex Players Week 16

Tier 1

Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent

1. L. Bell/PIT RB(1) BAL

2. E. Elliott/DAL RB(2) DET

3. D. Johnson/ARI RB(3) @SEA

4. A. Brown/PIT WR(1) BAL

Not much changes among the elite. Some may question Le’Veon Bell in the number one position in a terrible match-up with the vaunted Ravens defense. But the elite players in fantasy are match-up proof; Lev in-particular can dominate the game on the ground or catching balls out of the backfield … or lining up as a receiver. The Steelers offense is operating at a higher level right now than both the Cowboys and Cardinals (neither of whom have soft match-ups, themselves). The Pittsburgh/Baltimore game will likely decide the AFC North and, in such an important game, the Steelers will feed their “Bell-cow.” He may or may not finish with the most points this week, but I love the potential 30 touches brings.

Tier 2

5. L. McCoy/BUF RB(4) MIA

6. D. Murray/TEN RB(5) @JAX

7. J. Howard/CHI RB(6) WAS

8. O. Beckham/GIA WR(2) @PHI

9. M. Evans/TB WR(3) @NO

10. J. Jones/ATL WR(4) @CAR

11. T. Hilton/IND WR(5) @OAK

Jordan Howard’s consistent production has made him a solid RB1. In his last seven games, Howard has been held under 100 yards from scrimmage only once. He had 99. Given his consistency, touchdown upside (seven total TDs), and great match-up against the 23rd-rated Washington run defense, expect Howard to be a part of many championship teams.

Mike Evans has slowed down the last three weeks, averaging about 46 yards a game. With the Bucs clinging to the playoff ledge, it’s time to see what these kids in Tampa are made of. In a rematch from Week 14, which saw the Bucs squeak out a 16-11 win on a gutsy defensive effort, I’m expecting the offense to return the favor against the Saints in the Superdome. Evans should produce much better than the 4-46-0 line he put up in the teams’ first meeting.

T.Y. Hilton burned owners last week with his 3-45-0 performance against the Vikings, despite his Colts putting up 34 points. After minimal usage, Hilton will be ready to eat up the 30th-ranked Raiders defense.

Tier 3

12. L. Murray/OAK RB(7) IND

13. T. Gurley/LA RB(8) SF

14. S. Ware/KC RB(9) DEN

15. D. Martin/TB RB(10) @NO

16. J. Nelson/GB WR(6) MIN

17. D. Bryant/DAL WR(7) DET

18. A. Green/CIN WR(8) @HOU

19. A. Cooper/OAK WR(9) IND

Todd Gurley is the first former fantasy star to appear on my list. Gurley has had a bum year. Back-end RB2 numbers are not acceptable from a player who was going as high as first-overall in fantasy drafts. If you’re a Gurley owner and you have made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back because the rest of your draft must have been amazing. And now you might get a little early Christmas present with the Rams facing the Niners. Gurley said last week that LA had a junior-high offense. The LA/SF match-up could be an intrasquad game, in that case, since the Niners boast a JV defense (last in the league in both yards and scoring). With the high-school sweethearts uniting, Gurley will be king of the prom.

After accumulating 105 total yards on 21 touches in Week 15, Spencer Ware has now posted 16-plus touches in five straight. He faces a Denver team that ranks 29th stopping the run. The last time they faced off (November 27th) Ware had 96 total yards from scrimmage. He provides a safe floor play this week with upside to finish as a top-five RB if he can find pay-dirt.

A.J. Green was not ready to go last week and I have to wonder if the Bengals would rather just sit their superstar for the remainder of a lost season. A.J. is just 36 yards shy of his sixth straight 1000-yard season, though, and wants to play. He would be just the second receiver to ever accomplish the feat (Randy Moss). His upside is undeniable, even in a tough match-up with Houston’s second-ranked pass defense. If you own him, you have to play him if he’s in the Cincy lineup.

Tier 4

20. C. Hyde/SF RB(11) @LA

21. L. Miller/HOU RB(12) CIN

22. R. Kelley/WAS RB(13) @CHI

23. D. Freeman/ATL RB(14) @CAR

24. L. Blount/NE RB(15) NYJ

25. F. Gore/IND RB(16) @OAK

26. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(17) @BUF

27. T. Rawls/SEA RB(18) @ARI

28. J. Hill/CIN RB(19) @HOU

29. D. Hopkins/HOU WR(10) CIN

30. A. Jeffery/CHI WR(11) WAS

31. B. Cooks/NO WR(12) TB

32. D. Inman/SD WR(13) @CLE

33. M. Thomas/NO WR(14) TB

34. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(15) IND

Robert Kelley is a no-nonsense, straight ahead running back set to face a Chicago defense which let the NFL’s 29th and 30th-ranked rushing attacks hit the century mark in recent weeks. To top it, Chicago gave up a huge day to Packer “running back” Ty Montgomery (a converted receiver) last week (16-162-2). Kelley’s rank is more an indictment of the Bears’ run defense than his talent. Feel comfortable with him in your line up, nonetheless.

After a hot three-game stretch, Jay Ajayi has now gone six weeks without cracking the century mark on the ground. Fortunately for owners, the Dolphins happen to be facing one of the teams Ajayi ate up earlier in the year. The Buffalo Bills got embarrassed by Ajayi the first time around, surrendering 214 yards. I’m sure they will not take him lightly this time around, but will that matter? The Bills rank 27th against the run. In the end, Ajayi’s floor is pretty safe, despite his recent lack of production.

The Texans finally got smart and put Brock Osweilier on the bench last week after his second interception of the day (which briefly gave him the league-lead over Blake Bortles). All backup Tom Savage did was rally the team from 13 points down to a huge victory over Jacksonville, making the Texan offense look like a legitimate NFL unit for the first time all year. As mentioned, Savage went back to Houston’s tried-and-true game plan from last season: throw it to D-Hop (8-87-0 on 17 targets).

Alshon Jeffery is in a somewhat similar situation to Hopkins, now working with third-string quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley is keeping the Bears competitive and, although he’s turnover prone, he has shown he’s not afraid to air it out with two 300-yard games in his four starts. In his first game with Barkley (after serving a four-game suspension), Jeffrey went for 89 yards and a touch. Given the volatility of the wide receiver position, I feel comfortable betting on him and Hopkins, despite their miserable seasons to-date.

Dontrelle Inman has been held under five catches just once in the last five weeks. Travis Benjamin has only had more than five catches once this year, and Tyrell Williams hasn’t had five catches since he hurt his shoulder four games ago. With the San Diego Chargers heading to Cleveland to face the win-less Browns, I want Philip Rivers’ busiest receiver in my lineup.

Tier 5

35. J. Stewart/CAR RB(20) ATL

36. T. Montgomery/GB RB(21) MIN

37. K. Farrow/SD RB(22) @CLE

38. M. Ingram/NO RB(23) TB

39. A. Peterson/MIN RB(24) @GB

40. D. Lewis/NE RB(25) NYJ

41. T. Kelce/KC TE(1) DEN

42. G. Olsen/CAR TE(2) ATL

43. J. Landry/MIA WR(16) @BUF

44. M. Mitchell/NE WR(17) NYJ

45. T. Hill/KC WR(18) DEN

46. E. Sanders/DEN WR(20) @KC

47. D. Thomas/DEN WR(21) @KC

48. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(22) ARI

49. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(23) @SEA

50. T. Williams/SD WR(24) @CLE

After his massive breakout performance last week, is Ty Montgomery suddenly a legit running back? I’m not buying it. This week should prove a little tougher as the Packers play host to division rival Minnesota, which boasts the third-ranked defense. Montgomery is ranked this high only because of his potential upside and the fact that I don’t trust any of the players below him very much.

Kenneth Farrow bombed in his first crack as a starting running back. With teammate Melvin Gordon likely missing another week, Farrow should get a second shot. Facing the second-worst run defense in the league (Cleveland), he is worth a shot if you’re in need of potentially a huge fantasy day. Keep in mind, Farrow also represents the lowest floor of any player making the top 50. Squeeze the ball, kid!

Farrow is joined in the low-floor chamber by another former fantasy star, Adrian Peterson. AP has an enormous ceiling but a very slim chance of reaching it. The Vikings have the worst rushing attack in the NFL; it was awful even when Peterson was healthy. (He hasn’t cleared 31 yards from scrimmage all year.) Even in a tough match-up in Green Bay, Peterson possesses championship-winning upside. It’s just really unlikely he will reach it. Depending on what other options you have, put him in a flex spot and pray.

Yet another season-long disappointment, Jarvis Landry is coming off his highest scoring game of the year (3-108-1). That gives him back to back 100 yard games. With injury replacement Matt Moore playing efficient football last week, hopes are up that Landry can provide owners with a third straight 100-yard performance in the not-so-friendly confines of Orchard Park in December.

I’m going out this year by slamming on a player I love in real-life football. Many “expert” lists have Larry Fitzgerald well inside their top 20 wide receivers. I have some numbers in reply: five, one, seven, five, six.  That’s Fitz’s fantasy output his last five games. With Carson Palmer struggling, Fitzgerald’s upside is limited in a tough match-up with Seattle, and I’m not even sure how safe I feel with his floor.

Merry Christmas to all! Now go win yourself a championship!

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 15

Welcome to FY’s top-50 flex plays for the week. Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. Below, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.


Semi-finals, one step away from bringing home a glorious, much deserved fantasy championship and, even better, the bragging rights that go along with it. Week 15 is make it or break it for everyone left in season-long leagues. Once again excluding leagues that go to Week 17 because well, they should be excluded.

Week 14 didn’t offer the same surprises as Week 13; Dwayne Allen and Dennis Pitta didn’t steal the spotlight at tight end again (thank God). Instead, the running backs and wide receivers stole the show. RBs accounted for the top-four scorers, but the two positions split the top-ten. As you all know by now, Le’Veon Bell had the performance of the year.

Week 15 should hold status quo with the running backs leading the way. The position may take a bit of a hit as top-five runner Melvin Gordon is unlikely to play (as of now). But even with Gordon, the down the depth of the position remains strong. After the “Big 3” (LeVeon Bell, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott) there are multiple runners whose sheer volume potential puts them near the top of my list.

Wide receivers dominate the bottom of the top-50; unpredictability and bad quarterback play has made selecting a wide receiver outside the top-ten a complete crapshoot.

I could wax poetic all day about talented wide receivers being non-factors (cough cough DeAndre Hopkins) because teams hand the reins to untested pivots (cough cough Brock Osweiler). But I won’t bore you. Let’s get to the good stuff.


Top 50 Flex Players Week 15

TIER 1

Player/Team Position (Rank) Opponent

1. L. Bell/PIT RB(1) @CIN

2. D. Johnson/ARI RB(2) NO

3. E. Elliott/DAL RB(3) TB

4. A. Brown/PIT WR(1) @CIN

At this point in the season there is no need to be cute. Tier 1 belongs to the elite. Currently there is no one doing it better then these four superstars. Whether you’re riding them into the semis or building your daily lineup, each player has a chance to win you a week. Exhibit A: Bell’s 47 points in the snow in Buffalo last Sunday (298 total yards and three touchdowns). Elite.

Tier 2

5. L. McCoy/BUF RB(4) CLE

6. D. Murray/TEN RB(5) @KC

7. J. Jones/ATL WR(2) SF

8. M. Evans/TB WR(3) @DAL

9. O. Beckham/GIA WR(4) DET

10. A. Green/CIN WR(5) @PIT

11. J. Nelson/GB WR(6) @CHI

The 0-13 Cleveland Browns bring their 31st-ranked run defense into Buffalo. The Bills have the league’s best rushing attack and LeSean McCoy leads the charge. A December game in Buffalo and a favorable matchup have McCoy looking very attractive this week.

It sounds like Julio Jones will once again be a game-time decision (turf toe). Monitor this situation until game time; you don’t want to miss out if he decides to play against the anemic 49ers defense. Just make sure you have an alternate option ready.

A.J. Green’s 964 yards and four touchdowns through ten games had him hanging with the fantasy elite before getting injured. He’s back at practice and may be ready to return against division rival Pittsburgh. The Bengals will need all hands on deck versus the Steelers and their suddenly surging defense. Green has massive upside if he’s healthy.

Tier 3

12. L. Blount/NE RB(6) @DEN

13. J. Howard/CHI RB(7) GB

14. S. Ware/KC RB(8) TEN

15. L. Murray/OAK RB(9) @SD

16. C. Hyde/SF RB(10) @ATL

17. J. Hill/CIN RB(11) PIT

18. L. Miller/HOU RB(12) JAX

19. T. Rawls/SEA RB(13) LA

20. J. Ajayi/MIA RB(14) @JETS

21. D. Martin/TB RB(15) @DAL

22. R. Kelley/WAS RB(16) CAR

23. T.Y. Hilton/INDY WR(7) @MIN

24. D. Bryant/DAL WR(8) TB

25. A. Cooper/OAK WR(9) @SD

Okay, so I can admit defeat. If you have been reading previous weeks you have probably learned I’m not a big fan of LeGarrette Blount. Last week, I ranked him the RB(20) in a horrible matchup with the Ravens’ top-ranked defense. I thought that may even be a little high. Oops. He finished 14th, proving capable even against the toughest defense. Against a much softer Broncos front in Week 15, Blount may visit pay-dirt multiple times and add to his league-leading 14 rushing touchdowns.

Carlos Hyde hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since Week 4. He has, however, caught two touchdowns over his last three games. Coming off a season-best 193 yards rushing against the Jets, expect the 49ers to continue to ride Hyde against the Atlanta Falcons as he is their only consistent offensive threat.

Thomas Rawls drops from 13th overall to 20th this week, but that’s no fault of his own. He looks great, finishing runs like few others in the league, but an inconsistent Seattle offense has me worried. Seattle hosts division rival Los Angeles on Thursday night. The Rams are reeling and just made a coaching change, but they always play their divisional opponents tough, especially Seattle. While I want to give Rawls more love, the Seattle o-line and the Rams defense both worry me.

Another running back I want to like more is Doug Martin. Last week, he was my RB(7). I felt his usage would finally lead to a big day. What we got was more heavy usage/average results; he finished as the RB13 despite 25 touches. These type of results are becoming par for the course for Martin and should continue this week as the Bucs visit Dallas’ second-rated run defense.

Dez Bryant let owners down in Week 14 as he was out played by Giants corner Janoris Jenkins. The two other times Bryant has had poor outputs this year have been followed up by solid games. I’m expecting more of the same this week as the Cowboy offense looks to right the ship against a Tampa squad that’s been on fire. Bring the big hose, Dak!

TIER 4

26. D. Freeman/ATL RB(17) SF

27. M. Forte/JETS RB(18) MIA

28. J. Stewart/CAR RB(19) @WAS

29. F. Gore/IND RB(20) @MIN

30. T. Gurley/LA RB(21) @SEA

31. S. Watkins/BUF WR(10) CLE

Devonta Freeman killed owners in Week 14 with his Falcons getting out to a big lead early against the over-matched Rams. They face the one-win 49ers at home this week and the game script may turn out similar. With a healthy Tevin Coleman sharing the workload once again, the Falcons backfield has reverted to a coin flip.

I was confident ranking Todd Gurley as my RB(16) last week as I felt the Falcons presented a good opportunity. Gurley capitalized on the matchup to some extent, scoring his fifth rushing touchdown of the year. But this week, he travels to Seattle to face a Seahawks team ready to unleash some frustration. Even with Jeff Fisher finally being let go, the Rams will be hard-pressed to move the ball against the league’s number eight defense.

TIER 5

32. A. Jeffery/CHI WR(11) GB

33. D. Inman/SD WR(12) OAK

34. M. Crabtree/OAK WR(13) @SD

35. B. Cooks/NO WR(14) @ARI

36. J. Edelman/NE WR(15) @DEN

37. J. Crowder/WAS WR(16) CAR

38. M. Thomas/NO WR(17) @ARI

39. T. Hill/KC WR(18) TEN

40. D. Baldwin/SEA WR(19) LA

41. T. Kelce/KC TE(1) TEN

42. J. Reed/WAS TE(2) CAR

43. S. Diggs/MIN WR(20) INDY

44. E. Sanders/DEN WR(21) NE

45. D. Thomas/DEN WR(22) NE

46. G. Tate/DET WR(23) @GIA

47. L. Fitzgerald/ARI WR(24) NO

48. J. Matthews/PHIL WR(25) @BALT

49. I. Crowell/CLE RB(22) @BUF

50. K. Dixon/BALT RB(23) PHIL

Alshon Jeffery returns from a four-game suspension eager to show teams he is worth a fat new contract. Jeffery wasn’t lighting the world up before the suspension, but Matt Barkley has looked serviceable at QB and is in dire need of a receiver who can actually catch a ball.

Dontrelle Inman moves all the way up from WR(19) last week to WR(12) this week. Inman has scored a touchdown in three straight games and, with running back Melvin Gordon potentially missing this week, Inman and the rest of the receivers should be in for lots of work against a 27th-rated Oakland pass defense.

Realized upside wins weeks. Kansas City playmaker Tyreek Hill has upside to the moon and he’s been soaring of late. With multiple touchdowns in two out of his last three games, Hill can and will score from anywhere on the field, be it as a runner, receiver, or return man. With nine total touchdowns on the year, his upside is much higher than most of his Tier 5 cohort.

Travis Kelce enters the top-50 for the first time this year thanks to four straight 100-yard receiving games. The Chiefs’ offense has started to funnel through the talented tight end. Only time will tell if it continues; for now, Kelce looks to be the best option at the beleaguered position.

Stefon Diggs is averaging a solid 78.3 yards per game. He doesn’t offer much touchdown upside with only two scores on the year, however, with games of 182 yards and 164 yards under his belt, his yardage ceiling is as high as any. Against a 26th-ranked Indy pass defense, the Vikings only reliable receiver should be busy.

Just when we all forgot about Isaiah Crowell, he hits the Cincinnati Bengals for 113 yards on just ten carries. With the Browns trying to avoid the embarrassment of an 0-16 season, expect him to get more touches and decent yardage against the Bills, who rank seventh against the pass but 28th against the run.

With no fewer than 77 total yards over his last three games, Kenneth Dixon is becoming a bigger part of the Baltimore offense. He’s the most dynamic back the team has. Even though the Ravens go pass-heavy every week, Dixon should continue to get opportunities as the team tries to keep its playoff hopes alive against a struggling Philadelphia squad. His talent will shine.

Thanks for the read. God luck in your matchups and may the injury bug miss us all!

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Rankings

NFL Power Rankings: Separating Contenders and Pretenders

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After debating who the top four teams in the NFL were in Monday’s round-up, the rankings have already been shaken up by Kansas City’s enormous win on Thursday night. So it seemed time to revisit not only the top of the rankings, but where every NFL team stacks up as the final quarter of the season ticks down. There have been a few big movers since the last rankings, with Tampa and Baltimore shooting up and the Eagles tumbling hard. But don’t let me spoil everything in the intro. Scroll! See where your team is now!

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 14

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Welcome to FY’s top-50 flex plays for the week. Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. In these ranks you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.


It’s playoff time! In the fantasy world anyway. Week 14 puts us just two weeks away from the fantasy Super Bowl, unless you’re in a league that goes to Week 17, which case, get out. Most owners who are still alive are pretty set on which players they like. But as the end of the season approaches, new challenges creep up that, for the unaware fantasy owner, can be the difference between winning and losing. The biggest issue is the resting of star players to get them fresh for the “real life” playoffs.

That could become an issue for Ezekiel Elliott owners as early as this week. The Cowboys have a playoff spot locked up and their rookie running back, who’s never played more than a 13-game season, already has 291 touches under his belt. One has to wonder if a lighter workload is in store. It may not happen this week, but with a loss ending your season, make sure you take all scenarios into consideration when setting your lineup.

Week 13 was fairly status quo when it came to the leaders. Running backs once again took top honors: David Johnson and Jordan Howard each had 29 points to pace the field, and RBs held seven of the top ten spots. The biggest surprises of the week were at tight end. Two heretofore disappointing TEs, Dwayne Allen and Dennis Pitta, both had monster games. But those were anomalies; don’t expect to see either in the top ten again.

Week 14 should be much of the same. The running back position will continue to be strong, while peaks and valleys make all but the top eight receivers hard to rely on.

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 13

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Welcome to the Week 13 edition of FY’s top-50 flex plays. Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. In these ranks you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play this week.

Thanksgiving weekend was full of excitement with a great slate of primetime games. Unfortunately some of our fantasy players enjoyed too much turkey and took a weekend-long nap. With numerous fantasy studs looking a little lethargic, it opened the door for a few secondary players to fill the top 10. Some of the usual suspects managed to shake the weariness and provided owners with their usual output. Antonio Brown, Ezekiel Elliott, and Mike Evans still handed in top-10 performances. But for the second straight week, a surprise leader emerged. Mark Ingram popped off big play after big play, turning in a stellar 28 fantasy points to pace the field. The top 10 also included names such as Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Emmanuel Sanders, Michael Thomas, and Jonathan Stewart.

Week 13 ends the NFL bye weeks. Owners who are unfortunate enough to be relying on Titans or Browns will need to search a thin waiver wire for replacements.

Another thing hindering fantasy owners is the inability of the top two fantasy tight ends to stay on the field. With a wide receiver group that thins out considerably after the top 10, owners are searching for ways to fill out their line ups. My advice: rely on the guys that have been balling, not the ones you drafted high. The likes of Davante Adams or Jamison Crowder have provided owners with better options than bigger names like Allen Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, and DeAndre Hopkins. Come crunch time, don’t be afraid to sit a big name for someone who is producing.

Week 13 marks the end of the regular season for many fantasy leagues. Whether you are fighting for first or just trying to crush someone’s playoff dreams, I hope you have enjoyed your season and learned a thing or two along the way. For those season-long owners missing the playoffs, check out daily fantasy and start feeling better about your General Manager abilities.

Without further ado, I present my top-50 for Week 13.

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Rankings

Ranking the Dumbest NFL Fines of 2016

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Venting about terrible calls has been a theme here – as it is with every football website – pretty much since the season started. But I don’t think we always give enough credit to how many terrible calls are made behind the scenes. Each week, the NFL rolls out ridiculous fines and suspensions for stuff fans largely don’t even care about.

This week’s cash grab included fines for both Doug Baldwin and Vontaze Burfict for flipping the bird. Both players paid $12,154, providing yet another example of how bonkers the system is. If the league wants to be hyper-sensitive about middle fingers, it shouldn’t treat the two incidents the same. For one, Burfict fired off a double-barreled salute; it would stand to reason his fine should be twice as severe. Second, Baldwin’s bird was intended for Darrell Bevell, while Burfict’s was flown directly at fans. It seems like one was far worse than the other, but the NFL has continually proven it’s not into investigating things very closely. Well … most things.

Anyways, I’m not here to tell Roger Goodell how to do his job (better, is the answer), I’m just here to highlight some of the stupidest fines the NFL has levied this season. Enjoy!

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FantasyRankings

Top 50 Flex Rankings: Week 12

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Welcome to the Week 12 edition of FY’s top-50 flex plays. Rankings represent the order I would be most comfortable inserting each player into my lineup; tiers further separate our fantasy assets to help establish the probability of fantasy dominance. Keep player availability in mind as the week progresses. In these ranks, you will only find players I feel have a good chance to play Sunday.

Week 11 saw workhorse running backs dominate the scoreboard once again. However, there was a surprise at the top with an emerging Robert Kelley pacing the field with a week-leading 31 points. The running back position seems to be getting deeper as we enter Week 12 with at least 20 teams sporting a back who should see a lot of usage.

The bye weeks are on bye for a week so talent is plentiful for the Thanksgiving schedule. Unfortunately, the late game has lost some pizzazz as the Indianapolis Colts sound like they will be Andrew Luck-less when they host Pittsburgh. The first two games on tap – Minnesota at Detroit and Washington at Dallas – should more than make up for it, though; they’re both crucial matchups between division rivals that have huge playoff implications.

Who should you be starting in the Turkey Day football feast and the Sunday slate that follows? I present to you my top 50 flex plays for Week 12.

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