It's Week 16, which means it's the fantasy Super Bowl, and for those that are still playing, the most important week of the season. This week, more than ever, putting together the best team is key. While this season has been hard to predict at times, by Week 16, we have plenty of data. We know how players are performing and we know which defenses to exploit (and which to try to avoid). Fantasy football is far from a perfect science, but we try our best. Hopefully it will win plenty of our readers a championship.
At the end is the full disclosure, listing how well my Week 15 picks performed. (Spoiler alert: I basically went 50-50). Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Where's the love for Bortles this year? He’s 13th in fantasy points among quarterbacks so far on the season and has actually been pretty consistent. Except for the Week 5 game against Pittsburgh, Bortles has thrown at least one touchdown (or run for one) in every game. He has seven touchdowns in the last three games and he faces the 49ers in Week 16. He's ranked No. 11 but could sneak into the top 10.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions
While Ameer Abdullah has been complaining, this is not likely a case of a squeaky wheel getting the grease. Abdullah hasn't been playing well and the Lions have been giving the ball to Riddick. He was typically a pass-catching back, but he has been getting some carries as well. He has three touchdowns in the past three weeks, and the Lions are facing a Bengals team that looks like they've phoned in the season. While Riddick isn't a must-start, he should perform better than his No. 32 ranking.
Mike Wallace, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Jeremy Maclin is doubtful for Week 16, leaving Wallace to be Joe Flacco’s top target yet again. He took advantage of Maclin leaving last week’s game early. Wallace had six receptions for 89 yards on a whopping 10 targets. Flacco will continue to look for Wallace, and he should have a good game in Week 16. He's ranked No. 28 with a matchup against the Colts, who have allowed four touchdowns in the past three weeks to opposing wide receivers.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Last week, many experts predicted Westbrook would have a big game. He caught both of his targets for 21 yards while Keelan Cole caught seven passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. Marqise Lee will be out for this game, which means someone needs to step up. While it might be Cole again, odds are more likely that Westbrook will get a chance. He's ranked No. 27 and he is in the flex category for Week 16. The Jaguars face the 49ers, who have allowed a wide receiver to score in each of the past three games.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of these days Brate will return to the tight end that he was during the first third of the season. He was in the "5 Up" section last week, but was injured in the game. However, now that O.J. Howard has been placed on injured reserve, Brate will be the only tight end in town. The Bucs play the Panthers, who have allowed touchdowns to tight ends in the past two games. Brate is ranked No. 18, but may creep in to TE1 territory.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
It's hard to imagine benching Brady. He's ranked No. 3 and is clearly a QB1. However, odds are if you're still in the fantasy playoffs, it's in spite of Brady, not because of him. Over the past three weeks, he's thrown for two touchdowns and four interceptions. He hasn't had more than 300 yards in that stretch either. It's been a rough patch, and facing Buffalo in Week 16, it may not get any easier. Granted, he's at home (compared to when he played at Buffalo and didn't score a touchdown), but Brady hasn't been the Brady that fantasy owners drafted.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
With one touchdown in the past eight games (and only five on the season), Hyde is becoming less and less of a RB2 and more of a flex option. He's ranked No. 20 for Week 16, but facing a tough Jacksonville defense, he could easily fall below that. Last week, Lamar Miller had 32 rushing yards on nine carries. He had two receptions for one yard. While fantasy owners don’t want to see those kinds of numbers, that may be what Hyde is in line for as well.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
After a great first half against Pittsburgh in Week 13, Green has essentially disappeared. He had five receptions for 64 yards against the Bears in Week 14 and then saw Xavier Rhodes in Week 15 and finished with just two catches for 30 yards. While Green does face the Lions in Week 16, the Bengals are not playing like a team interested in winning. Andy Dalton has been benched for AJ McCarron in each of the past two games and it's likely McCarron sees the field again in Week 16. None of this bodes well for Green's outlook. He's ranked No. 8, but should finish outside the top 10.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Drafted as a WR1, Jones is 10th in points scored this season. He has three touchdowns on the season and just three games with more than 100 yards. He faces the New Orleans Saints again. When he played the Saints in Week 14, he had five receptions for 98 yards. While all signs point to this game being high scoring and Jones putting up decent numbers, he's been a disappointment this year. In the fantasy Super Bowl, you're going to start him, but even though he's ranked No. 5, he might not finish in there.
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
Ranked No. 4 this week, Olsen has been a disappointment all year. He had a slow start, was injured, came back from injury and didn't help fantasy owners, and then when few trusted him in Week 15, he had nine receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. Is he trustworthy in Week 16? The Panthers face the Buccaneers, who give up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. They haven't allowed a tight end to score a touchdown since Week 7, and have only allowed three tight ends to score this year. Olsen may be back, but he's hard to trust.
Full Disclosure for Week 15:
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (Ranked: 14, Actual: 5)
Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons (Ranked: 9, Actual: 4)
Mike Davis, RB, Seattle Seahawks (Ranked: 28, Actual: 47)
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (Ranked: 15, Actual: not in top 50)
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Ranked: 15, Actual: 19)
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints (Ranked: 2, Actual: 17)
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans (Ranked: 19, Actual: not in top 50)
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Ranked: 17, Actual: 12)
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (Ranked: 31, Actual: not in top 50)
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers (Ranked: 12, Actual: 2)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.