Week 16. Title time in so many fantasy leagues. By late Sunday night, countless leagues will have crowned a champion.
Here's to hoping you are among the winners. PFW's "Fantasy Ticker" aims to help you in this quest. In this week's Ticker, I've ranked useful and widely available players at these positions: QB, RB, WR, TE and D/ST. I've also included a few general strategy tips about the PK position.
Players are in order of how I would prioritize them on the waiver wire, and they are ranked by position, not relative to all players on the list. The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors.
As a general rule, I focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
They are also ranked on the basis of how I believe they can help you this week, not in any other week. You don't need me to tell you about the urgency of the moment.
Good luck to all in Week 16. Let us begin:
1. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (owned in 35 percent of Yahoo! leagues) — He has the toughest matchup of the quarterbacks listed, and he didn't fare well in his first meeting with San Francisco, but if I had to pick a QB of this group with my season on the line, I would trust him the most. Wilson has thrown multiple TD passes in half of his starts, and he rushed for three scores vs. Buffalo on Sunday.
2. Rams QB Sam Bradford (22 percent) — Has a great matchup against Tampa Bay, which is No. 32 in passing yards per game and per play allowed. Threw for a season-high 377 yards in Sunday's loss to Minnesota, but his 55 passing attempts came with St. Louis facing a deficit most of the game.
3. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (40 percent) — Twelve TD passes in his first four starts, 10 in 10 games since. If you must start him, note that Miami is No. 26 vs. the pass.
4. Eagles QB Nick Foles (nine percent) — Faces the Redskins' 30th-ranked pass defense.
1. Colts RB Vick Ballard (49 percent) — The best of the plug-and-play RB options available in a majority of leagues as of this writing. The Chiefs are allowing the sixth-most rushing yards per game, and Ballard's last two games have been his most productive of the season.
2. Packers RB Alex Green (28 percent) — The Packers' RBs have made me look like Rob Deer all season — plenty of strikeouts. But I'm taking another home-run cut in Week 16. The Titans are weak vs. the run and could be vulnerable traveling to Green Bay off a Monday-night win vs. the Jets. Green's a solid flex option on Sunday.
3. Saints RB Mark Ingram (28 percent) — Rushed for a season-high 90 yards and a TD in the Week 15 win vs. Tampa Bay. Has led the Saints in carries in five of the last six games.
4. Cardinals RB Beanie Wells (43 percent) — Gets goal-line carries, and the Bears aren't as strong vs. the run as they were earlier in the season.
5. Lions RB Joique Bell (43 percent) — Draws an Atlanta defense that's 30th in yards per carry surrendered.
6. Chargers starting running back (TBA) — With Ryan Mathews (clavicle) out for the season, the Chargers are unsettled at running back. If Ronnie Brown returns from his hamstring injury, he figures to get some work, as will Jackie Battle. I'd prefer Battle to Brown, and I would rank Curtis Brinkley third among the Chargers' backs from a fantasy perspective. According to the team's website, head coach Norv Turner indicated that Brinkley isn't likely to be an option on third downs.
7. Patriots RB Danny Woodhead (34 percent) — Could score you 20 points, could score you two points. You know the drill.
One final note: Owners playing through Week 17 who could be affected by teams clinching playoff positions this weekend should begin to adjust their rosters as necessary. This process is especially important at running back. Owners need to familiarize themselves with the playoff scenarios.
1. Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (10 percent) — Watch: the Cardinals are going to do whatever they can to make QB Jay Cutler throw the ball to anyone but Brandon Marshall. This is a roll of the dice, but I really like the setup for Jeffery. I'm throwing out his no-catch output in Week 15 and looking forward; he's better than that, and I think he's going to get some playmaking chances on Sunday. I'd prefer him in three-WR formats over two-WR formats to reduce some of the risk.
2. Saints WR Joseph Morgan (one percent) — If you start him, you are hoping for a long TD catch. And guess what? It's not a bad strategy. Morgan hauled in catches of 34 and 27 yards in Sunday's win vs. Tampa Bay. On the season, he has caught nine passes for 371 yards and three TDs. All told, he's gaining 41.2 yards per catch. The other interesting thing about Morgan? He played half of the Saints' offensive snaps on Sunday, and he played 56 percent of the snaps in Week 14. Like Jeffery, Morgan is best utilized in three-WR lineups.
3. Colts WR Donnie Avery (29 percent) — Tied for No. 17 in targets (114, as many as the Steelers' Mike Wallace, for a reference point). Also, the Chiefs are 30th in yards per pass play allowed.
4. Eagles WR Riley Cooper (one percent) — Caught a TD in the Week 15 loss to Cincinnati. Most importantly, he played 55-of-56 snaps.
5. Seahawks WR Golden Tate (42 percent) — Seven TD catches this season.
6. Rams WR Brandon Gibson (15 percent) — Has caught 12-176-1 in 17 targets in the last two games and now faces a shaky Tampa Bay defense.
7. Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins (18 percent) — The Bengals need to get more pass catchers involved. Hawkins is interesting in bigger PPR leagues.
8. Raiders WR Rod Streater (four percent) — Caught five passes for 62 yards (six targets) in the Week 15 vs. Kansas City and played 52 percent of the offensive snaps.
Others worth considering (in order of preference): Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson (four percent), Rams WR Chris Givens (28 percent).
1. Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (25 percent) — Draws a Giants defense that's 28th in passing yards per game allowed and 29th in yards per pass play surrendered. Targeted 10 times in Week 15, most since Week Two, catching seven passes for 125 yards and a pair of TDs.
2. Buccaneers TE Dallas Clark (25 percent) — Targeted a season-high 12 times in Week 15.
3. Lions TE Tony Scheffler (10 percent) — Has received a lot of targets in the last two games (17) but has just six catches for 56 yards and a TD in that span. Scheffler is startable, however, if Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) misses another game.
4. Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis (16 percent) — The Patriots are 29th vs. the pass, and the Jaguars could be in pass-first mode for much of Sunday's game vs. New England.
5. Bills TE Scott Chandler (35 percent) — Equaled season-bests in targets (eight) and catches (five) in Sunday's loss to Seattle.
Others worth considering (in order of preference): Broncos TE Joel Dreessen (19 percent), Browns TE Benjamin Watson (four percent), Broncos TE Jacob Tamme (35 percent), Colts TE Dwayne Allen (11 percent), Colts TE Coby Fleener (11 percent).
1. San Diego (35 percent) — The Jets' offense is a favorable matchup. Yes, you could say that.
2. Miami (34 percent) — When the Dolphins and Bills played in Week 11, Miami held Buffalo without an offensive TD. What's more, Dolphins RS Marcus Thigpen took a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.
3. Arizona (45 percent) — Two defensive TDs in Week 15 were a reminder of Arizona's playmaking punch. Now, Cardinals draw sliding Chicago.
4. Washington (13 percent) — Have to like the potential for takeaways against the Eagles' offense, but be careful in leagues that penalize for yards surrendered.
5. Indianapolis (six percent) — The allure is the matchup with Kansas City. The downside is the question of whether the Colts can capitalize. It's easier to roll with a defense like this when the stakes are lower than in Week 16.
Others worth considering (in order of preference): Carolina (10 percent), St. Louis (31 percent).
Use your best judgment at this position. Check the weather. Prefer kickers in good form over kickers with shaky form. Do some research, make a common-sense call and go with it. Your skill-position players and your defensive decisions are the vital ones.
Reasonable PK pickups for Week 16 include the Vikings' Blair Walsh (owned in 39 percent of leagues, kicking indoors at Houston), the Rams' Greg Zuerlein (owned in 30 percent of leagues, kicking at Tampa Bay) and the Saints' Garrett Hartley (owned in 26 percent of leagues, kicking indoors at Dallas).