Winston to satisfy trophy seekers with top-five total
Jameis Winston, TB, QB (53 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $37)
Matchup: vs. Hou
Vegas Line/Total: Hou -1.5, 53
Fruitcake isn’t for everyone. It’s a strange concoction. A popular Christmas tradition in various world regions, it’s a baked good usually embedded with colorful dried or candied fruits and nuts. Some people find it tasty. Others think it’s utterly revolting. Yours truly isn’t fond of the traditional offering, but the Bahamas version, traditionally drenched in dark rum, is quite divine.
Much like the celebratory dish, Winston isn’t for everyone. Though he’s immersed in a pass-happy offense and surrounded with suitable weapons, his boneheaded mistakes always make his weekly outputs adventurous. Currently No. 20 or lower in myriad completion percentage categories, Winston isn’t particularly efficient or even good. But his attacking, loose-cannon style elevates the profile. He ranks No. 1 in pass attempt distance and No. 2 in completed air yards. If you can stomach the mind-numbing turnovers, he typically rewards managers with frequent 20-25 point production.
Last week, Winston, sans Mike Evans and battling through a fractured thumb, unleashed on the Lions to the tune of 458 yards and four touchdowns, his second 400-yard eruption. Again faced with a cakewalk matchup, home against Houston, he could come close to replicating Week 15’s numbers. Yes, even possibly without Chris Godwin. The Texans, burned through the air repeatedly this year, have yielded 7.6 pass yards per attempt, 281.1 pass yards per game, 2.1 passing touchdowns per contest and the third-most fantasy points to QBs. Also inside the top-10 in highest average depth of target (8.4) and total air yards allowed, Houston has its hands full trying to ground Bruce Arians’ airborne offense.
Winston won’t whiff.
Fearless Forecast: 384 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 3 turnovers, 24.4 fantasy points
Motivated Kerryon roars in return
Kerryon Johnson, Det, RB (8% started; Yahoo DFS: $15)
Matchup: at Den
Vegas Line/Total: Den -6.5, 37.5
A ghost of fantasy games past, Johnson, recuperating from knee surgery, hasn’t recorded a snap since October 20. Detroit’s playoff hopes are dashed, but the RB is determined to return to his workhorse role this Sunday, telling the Detroit Free Press he simply “likes to play, man.” He added that a positive response over the Lions’ final two games would jumpstart his offseason.
At the time of this writing, it’s undetermined whether Matt Patricia will green-light Kerryon for a road matchup with Denver, but if the rusher is indeed thrust back into the lineup, he’s worth strong consideration as a FLEX, at a minimum, in 12-team and deeper formats. It’s plausible he and Bo Scarbrough, assuming the rusher returns from injury, will work in tandem, but 13-15 touches feels right.
When on the field this season, Kerryon’s advanced numbers have slipped. Netting a bland 53% success rate on his runs according to Sharp Football, he also registered significant declines in yards after contact per attempt (‘18: 3.32; ‘19: 2.60) and missed tackle percentage (‘18: 17.7; ‘19: 16.6). Still, antsy to finish 2019 on a high note, he’s plenty motivated to maximize his opportunities in the Mile High City, a place RBs have reached heights this season. The Broncos rank middle of the pack in adjusted line yards and fantasy points allowed to RBs, but 12 rushers eclipsed 11 fantasy points in a game against them.
For people who love chasing rivers in poker, Kerryon could be the card to complete the pot-taking flush.
Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 48 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 16 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.9 fantasy points
Sanders, titles, go together like chicken, waffles
Miles Sanders, Phi, RB (58% started; Yahoo DFS: $21)
Matchup: vs. Dal
Vegas Line/Total: Dal -2.5, 47.5
On the Island of Misfit Toys, Sanders, at least earlier this season, was a Charlie-in-the-box. Collecting dust on managers’ shelves in shallow leagues, he was only employed as a sporadic FLEX option or bye-week filler. But now promoted into a starring role, he’s the shiny toy all little fantasy girls and boys want to play with. Yukon Cornelius, Hermey, and Rudolph most definitely approve.
As predicted weeks ago, Sanders is in the midst of a breakout month. His December schedule was a treasure trove of soft matchups. Given his terrific three-down skill set and Jordan Howard’s prolonged absence, he, to no one’s shock, is taking advantage of the ratcheted opportunity. So far this month, he’s totaled 115.3 yards per contest on 22.0 touches per game, hitting the pylons three times while forcing a missed tackle on 18.5% of his grips. As with most talented rookies late in the season, he’s peaking at the perfect time.
Sanders is sure to play a pivotal role for managers desiring a trophy under the tree. His Week 16 matchup, a home tilt versus Dallas, is a somewhat favorable one. This season, the Cowboys have conceded 4.0 yards per carry, 125.1 total yards per game and 12 combined touchdowns to RBs. They also rank dead last in power-run success rate allowed. Overly generous to pass-catching backs — they’ve given up 5.8 receptions per game to the position — Sanders should chew up real estate especially as a short-field receiver.
Ride the rook.
Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 70 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 23 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.8 fantasy points
Fuller to reward fantasy’s ‘filthy animals’
Will Fuller, Hou, WR (20% started; Yahoo DFS: $21)
Matchup: at TB
Vegas Line/Total: Hou -1.5, 53
In the timeless holiday classic, Home Alone, Kevin McAllister is forced to confront multiple fears — slapstick burglars, eluding law enforcement post-toothbrush shoplifting, Old Man Marley, “Angels with Filthy Souls.” His biggest solicitude, however, is the overactive bladder of his cousin Fuller. Too much Pepsi and he, notoriously, wetted the bed.
With trophy aspirations on the line, Houston’s Fuller won’t leave his bedfellows smelling like ammonia.
Bothered by a nagging hamstring injury, the receiver has logged another uneven year. Missing a handful of games and limited in others, he’s averaged 10.7 fantasy points per game in .5 PPR, but crossed the 10-fantasy-point line in a game just twice. His 14-217-3 outburst against Atlanta cooks the books. When on the field, he’s still one of the game’s most electric field stretchers. His 2.07 yards per route run (WR16) and 14.9 average depth of target (WR14) rank inside the top-20 among qualifying wideouts. Totaling nine touchdowns in the last 17 games with Deshaun Watson under center, he and his QB usually work in harmony.
If his hamstring doesn’t randomly explode, Fuller is a very attractive WR2/WR3 in 12-team formats. His opponent, Tampa, has allowed the eighth-highest aDOT (8.6) and second-most total air yards this season. Whether lining up in the slot (30.9 slot%) or outside, Fuller and his jet-fueled wheels should catch, sprint, and score at least once. DBs Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis have given up a combined 11 touchdowns to assignments this year.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 91 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.6 fantasy points
New York’s Slay to deliver presents in Washington
Darius Slayton, NYG, WR (37% started; Yahoo DFS: $19)
Matchup: at Was
Vegas Line/Total: Was -2.5, 42
Fee. Fi. Fo. Fum. This Giant won’t be a fantasy bum. Blossoming at the most opportune time, Slayton and Eli Manning have established an unbreakable on-field bond. New York’s downfield specialist has looked the part of an emerging No. 1. Since Week 10, he’s enticed 41 total targets, catching 27 balls for 417 yards while crossing the chalk five times. Tallying a fantastic 15.7 yards per catch and 10.2 yards per target over that span, he’s officially entered the WR2 discussion. Those savvy fantasy managers who can look past the name, appropriately weigh the opportunity, and properly gauge recent production could employ a receiver seemingly destined for another double-digit output.
This week, Slayton and the Giants square off with Washington, a franchise in its usual late-season disarray. With Quentin Dunbar, Josh Norman and Fabian Moreau banged up in the secondary, the matchup is even more inspiring. On the year, Washington has surrendered a modest 7.7 aDOT and ranks inside the top-seven in fewest air yards allowed, but its possible motley crew at DB boosts Slayton’s top-20 appeal. Placing your fantasy season in Eli’s hands is akin to trusting the Grinch with the last can of Who-hash, but it’s all about maximizing the matchup and the upstart is thrust into an advantageous one.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 55 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.5 fantasy points
SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10% started in Yahoo leagues)
Chris Conley, Jax, WR (1% started; Yahoo DFS: $12)
Matchup: at Atl
Vegas Line/Total: Atl -7, 45.5
Glancing back at the Week 16 wide receiver leaderboard in 2018, several unsung waiver wire heroes are listed. Chester Rogers, Dontrelle Inman, Zay Jones, Jake Kumerow, Nelson Agholor, and Rashard Higgins all penetrated the upper echelon, scrawling top-20 lines in the greatest time of need. In a one-and-done scenario, it’s all about employing players thrust into opportunistic situations. “Always Start Your Stud” theorists can take their lazy adherence elsewhere.
There’s much to admire about Conley’s Week 16 upside. Since DJ Chark is no lock to suit up, the nicely sized (6-foot-2, 216-pounds), field-stretching wideout blessed with 4.35 40-yard speed should generate a noteworthy target share for the second straight week. Last Sunday against Oakland, he lured eight targets, catching four passes for 49 yards and two scores.
Sporting a 15.1 aDOT (WR11) and averaging 16.6 yards per catch (WR9), the Jags’ racecar could drive supporters to the winner’s circle. When it comes to bottling up receivers, his opponent, Atlanta, has performed like your over-served uncle after a half-gallon of eggnog. On the year, the erratic Falcons have allowed 7.8 yards per target and the 14th-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Whether exchanging holiday greetings with Isaiah Oliver (110.7 passer rating allowed) or Trent Sheffield (100.5), Conley rewards backers with a gift basket of points for the second-straight week.
Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 52 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12.7 fantasy points
BONUS FLAMES (Under 60% started)
QB: Mitchell Trubisky, Chi (KC -5; $24) — “Evans, lay off the peppermint schnapps. You’re drunk. It’s time for night-night.” This is what you’re thinking, right? Hey, your thoughts aren’t farfetched. Many disparaging remarks have been written/spoken about the much-maligned quarterback by yours truly. The beneficiary of well-masked schemes in 2018, Trubisky has struggled mightily to adjust in Year 3. However, completing 66.4% of his attempts over the past three weeks, he’s exhibited more efficiency and, finally, utilized his legs. If his recent competency carries over into Week 15, Trubisky, unbelievably, should be viewed as a borderline QB1 in 12-team leagues. Kansas City is rather Scrooge-like versus QBs. On the year, it’s allowed an 8.2 aDOT, 243.4 pass yards per game and 1.4 pass touchdowns per game to signal-callers. Still, in what could be a high-volume affair, he’s a passer to debate. Yes, really. (FF: 272-2-2-29, 19.8 fpts)
RB: Raheem Mostert, SF (SF -6.5; $21) — Colonel Mostert in your championship game with a leg lamp. It’s no game. The fast-rising rusher has practically entered must-start territory. Presently No. 3 in yards after contact per attempt (3.62), he’s pushed piles, caught nearly everything in sight and converted on red-zone opportunities. His stellar play is why Kyle Shanahan recently anointed him the starter, stating Mostert had earned the opportunity. This week, the rusher swaps holiday cards with Golden State rival, the LA Rams. Aaron Donald and friends have yielded 4.1 yards per carry, 136.1 total yards per game, 14 total touchdowns and the 14th-most fantasy points to RBs. Even behind the Niners’ No. 6 run-blocking front, their rushers managed a pathetic 2.7 yards per carry in the first matchup. The second time around, Mostert, on another 15-plus touches, should easily outpace the prior output. (FF: 15-61-1, 2-14-0, 14.5 fpts)
WR: A.J. Brown, Ten (NO -1.5; $26) — December to remember? Joining the likes of Robby Anderson, Tim Hightower, Pierre Thomas, and Ron Dayne, the Titans wide receiver has played his way into the collective memories of victors and victims alike. Ranking top-three in every meaningful advanced analytic tracked — yards/route run, RAC/reception, missed tackles/reception, yards per target, etc. — the rookie has morphed into a modern-day Anquan Boldin. He’s big, physical, versatile and explosive after the catch. In other words, he’s everything Corey Davis was supposed to be. Come August, he’s sure to be a Round 4-5 staple in 12-team leagues. Elevated by Tennessee’s recent string of unresisting opponents, the ascending wideout faces a more daunting matchup in Week 16: New Orleans. Overcoming his early season struggles, DB Marshon Lattimore has tallied a 61.5 passer rating allowed since Week 5. Still, it will be difficult to extinguish arguably the hottest receiver in the league. (FF: 5-79-1, 16.4 fpts)
TE: Noah Fant, Den (Den -6.5; $15) — Through three starts, Drew Lock is resembling the feast-on-the-meek-fold-against-the-mighty quarterback witnessed at Missouri. He has impressed at times, but only against feckless competition. Week 16 presents another golden opportunity to over-inflate the ego of John Elway and the Broncos fanbase. Detroit, which has allowed the most total air yards and highest aDOT (10.1) of any team in the league, is an ideal matchup for Lock, Courtland Sutton, and Fant. The tight end, hindered by a bothersome shoulder, has fought through the pain, eclipsing 55 yards in four of his past six contests. Similar to Zach Ertz, Evan Engram, and Kyle Rudolph before him, Fant guides the sleigh en route to a top-five week. (FF: 5-62-1, 14.7 fpts)
DST: Seattle Seahawks (Sea -9.5; $18) — For all intents and purposes, Kyler Murray has delivered on the top-10 hype. Currently No. 7 in overall scoring, he’s developed into one of the virtual game’s premier dual threats. Seven times he’s surpassed the 18.0 fantasy point mark in Yahoo leagues. Still, his recent uptick in turnovers (5 INTs in his last three games) and high sack rate (29.0 sack% the fifth-highest) makes streaming against Arizona generally fruitful. Seattle’s Legion of Gloom is a far cry from the “Boom” days of yesteryear, but the ‘Hawks have forced 32 turnovers in 14 games and rank No. 7 in total fantasy scoring. Plug them in and you could fly high this holiday season. (FF: 20 PA, 389 YDSA, 3 TO, 5 SCK, 12.0 fpts)
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?