Week 16 Fantasy Football Busts: List of potential title game Scrooges

Each week the Noise highlights 10 somewhat un-obvious names whom he believes will leave egg on his face. To qualify, each player must be started in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here (Thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts, TE: 10 fpts). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 16 Lames in the comments section below.

Philip Rivers, LAC, QB (68 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $32)

Matchup: vs. Bal
Vegas line/total: LAC -4.5, 44.5

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This holiday season Rivers is sure to ask Santa for a Mercedes Sprinter, an extended vehicle with enough passenger space to accommodate a dozen human beings. The man’s productivity off the field is Travis Henry- or Evander Holyfield-legendary. Soon his number of offspring will equal New England Patriots consecutive AFC East titles. Prolific.

In passing yards and touchdowns, he’s on pace for one of his finest seasons to date. His masterful execution last week in Kansas City was Exhibit A. Without question, he’s strung together an MVP-caliber campaign; at least in reality. He’s tallied 13 multi-TD games in 14 contests this year, but, for fantasy purposes, he’s a borderline QB1 in 12-team leagues (QB10 in fantasy points/game). This week, he should land outside the position’s top-12.

[Play in our Week 16 DFS contest: $1M prize pool. $100K to first. Join now!]

On the year, the Ravens have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points, 6.2 pass yards per attempt, 58.7 completion percentage, 221.0 passing yards per game and 1.3 passing touchdowns to passers. Only four QBs have scored 20 points in a game against them. For all of the adoration Jimmy Smith receives, fellow DBs Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr deserve equal praise. The coverage duo has posted a combined 59.6 passer rating and 0.75 yards per snap. Even with Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen possibly back, he’s someone to potentially demote. This week Dak Prescott (vs. TB), Josh Allen (at NE) and Baker Mayfield (vs. Cin) are stronger plays.

Fearless Forecast: 243 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 16.7 fantasy points 

Philip Rivers has had a great season, but could disappoint fantasy owners in the most important week of the year. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Philip Rivers has had a great season, but could disappoint fantasy owners in the most important week of the year. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

James Conner, Pit, RB (51 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $22)

Matchup: at NO
Vegas line/total: NO -5.5, 53.5

If Le’Veon Bell attends the Pittsburgh Steelers end of the year banquet, the organization should recognize his 2018 “efforts” with this very fitting trophy. He grossly miscalculated. No different than DeAngelo Williams before them, Conner and Jaylen Samuels continue to prove that no matter who carries the rock for Pittsburgh, a flood of numbers follow. It’s the system. Versatile, powerful running backs thrive within it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise.

When you have a Hall of Fame quarterback, premier field stretchers in Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster and a top-notch offensive line (No. 12 in run-blocking per Pro Football Focus), exploitable running lanes are frequently created. Conner’s status is admittedly up in the air as he tries to return from a high-ankle sprain in Week 16. Based on precedent, Mike Tomlin is sure to hand him the keys if active. Still, the accumulated rust and unpalatable matchup arrow to uncharacteristic mediocrity. His sliding advanced analytics do as well.

In his past six games, Conner has netted a meager 2.76 yards per carry and ranks No. 39 in elusive rating. New Orleans, which has routinely stamped out the run, ranks No. 4 in fewest fantasy points allowed to the position, surrendering 3.23 yards per carry, 96.4 total yards per game and nine touchdowns. Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott are the only rushers to total 100 yards against the Saints. A trepidatious approach is warranted.

Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 52 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 27 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 10.4 fantasy points

(UPDATE: With Conner trending toward OUT, Samuels steps in to shoulder the load. The same reasons mentioned above apply to Samuels. He’s a top-five tight end based on volume along, but more of a borderline RB2 in 12-team and deeper formats. I prefer Elijah McGuire (vs. GB), Marlon Mack (vs. NYG) and Tarik Cohen (at SF).)

Tevin Coleman, Atl, RB (51 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $14)

Matchup: at Car
Vegas line/total: Car -2.5, 47

For children growing up in Germanic areas, one could only imagine holiday seasons were often filled with irrational fear. Folklore, which spread stories of demonic-looking monsters who would prey on mischievous little girls and boys, spurred such feelings. Take, for example, tales of the Belsnickel. The creepy legend describes a man dressed in a fur-adorned costume, often ragged in appearance, who would visit children, beating the naughty ones with a switch while rewarding the well-behaved with cakes, candles and nuts. Not frightening at all. Coleman is the Week 16 version.

Instead of gifting owners a shiny new trophy, the Falcon is sure to inflict nothing but pain and misery. Last week, after a string of uneventful performances, Coleman deep-fried the Cardinals to the tune of 145 yards and a touchdown, his first top-20 RB finish in six weeks. Though in line to shoulder at least 70 percent of the opportunity share with Ito Smith on injured reserve, he’s still largely unreliable. In Week 2, he did tally 125 yards versus Carolina, but since then, the Panthers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points, 3.89 yards per carry and 103.5 to running backs. Adding to the argument, Luke Kuechly and Kawaan Short rank No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, in run-stop percentage according to Pro Football Focus. Chase last week’s numbers and the Belsnickel is sure to grace your presence.

Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 42 yards, 1 reception, 9 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 5.6 fantasy points

Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman was great last week, but that’s unlikely to continue in title games. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman was great last week, but that’s unlikely to continue in title games. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Josh Gordon, NE, WR (69 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $14)

Matchup: vs. Buf
Vegas line/total: NE -13, 44.5

It’s only appropriate somehow, someway, Gordon is mentioned in one of my yearend columns. For those familiar with my poetic waxes about the enigmatic receiver, seeing his name in this space may come as a surprise. If ever presented with an opportunity to greet the man, I would shamelessly gift him a floral bouquet and chocolates. The infatuation runs deep. Still, as an objective fanalyst, it’s vital to suppress such subjectivity.

This week, Gordon is far from the WR2 we’ve grown to appreciate. He faced the Bills last in Week 8. At that time, he was still acclimating to the still-fresh environment around him. However, in that contest he went toe-to-toe with Tre’Davious White. Playing on 91.4 percent of New England’s snaps, he lured six targets, catching four for an unprofitable 42 yards. White, who’s given up a 85.9 passer rating, 59.6 catch percentage and 0.68 yards per snap, is sure to get the better of No. 10 once again. Keep in mind Gordon has found the end zone only once in his past five games. Apologies, my sweet, sweet Josh. A holiday card is in the mail.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 64 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.9 fantasy points

(UPDATE #2: As reported by the man himself, Gordon is stepping away once again to fine tune his mind. With a suspension reportedly looming, he’s obviously expendable with title on the line. I fully expect James White and Sony Michel to be emphasized in Gordon’s absence.)

Robert Woods, LAR, WR (73 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $25)

Matchup: at Ari
Vegas line/total: LAR -13.5, 46.5

Over the past three weeks, a foul order has wafted from the Rams passing attack. The (expletive) is indeed full, Cousin Eddie. Once a fast-speeding comet, Los Angeles has suddenly and dramatically lost its luminescence. Maybe it emptied the tank against KC. Starting with Detroit in Week 13, Jared Goff has morphed into a Jeff Fisher-era quarterback.

In his past three efforts, he’s totaled a disgusting 5.5 pass yards per attempt, 55.0 completion percentage, 242 passing yards and one touchdown. Defenses have figured out the formula: increase pressure and the QB crumbles. Woods has maintained top-20 production during the drought, but this week could lead his investors to an unwanted result. His opponent, Arizona, is terrible at most football things, but it excels at pass defense.

This season, the Cardinals have allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. In fact, only seven WRs crossed the 80-yard mark against them. More discouraging, all-world corner Patrick Peterson, Woods’ likely assignment, has surrendered an 81.0 passer rating and 0.67 yards per snap this year. The wideout totaled six catches for 81 yards in the first matchup back in Week 2, but given the current discombobulated state of the Rams, matching that output is probably a reach.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.2 fantasy points 

BONUS WEEK 16 LAMES (Over 50 percent started)

QB: Jamies Winston, TB ($28; at Dal) – It’s abundantly clear: Winston is a matchup-based play only. In his past two games against the suddenly stifling Saints and Ravens, he completed a yack-inducing 49.2 percent of his attempts for 374 yards and two touchdowns. Tossing a pair of INTs in those contests, he checked in at QB23 in fantasy points per game. Bottomed out much like the Buccaneers as a whole, the likely soon-to-exit quarterback will only slip owners another lump of coal. Dallas, led by WR-blanket Byron Jones, has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points, 7.4 pass yards per attempt, 239.1 pass yards per game and 1.4 passing touchdowns per game to QBs. Kick Winston to the curb. (FF: 238 yds, 1 td, 2 ints, 22 yds, 13.7 fpts)

RB: Mark Ingram, NO ($16; vs. Pit) – New Orleans is in the midst of a metamorphosis. Highly reliant on Drew Brees over the season’s first half, the Saints have become more ball-control oriented. The one-two punch of Alvin Kamara and Ingram combined with a much improved pass defense has Sean Payton’s club scoring an uncharacteristically low amount of points. The rusher has flashed sporadically during the evolution, but with only one touchdown and zero 75 total yard games to his name since Week 11, he’s the definition of “TD or bust.” This week, matching wits with Pittsburgh, he’s a FLEX option at best. The Steelers have surrendered 80.9 rush yards per game, 3.92 yards per carry and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to RBs this year. (FF: 11 atts, 38 yds, 2 recs, 9 yds, 0 tds, 5.7 fpts)

WR: Kenny Golladay, Det ($16; vs. Min) – Over the season’s second half, Golladay has become a swindler. When you need him most, he leaves you penniless and destitute. When you bench him, he goes ballistic. Recall last week’s game in Buffalo. In an unattractive matchup against one of the league’s top cover corners, White, he unpredictably grabbed seven passes for a season-high 146 yards. This week he’s slated to exchange holiday cards with Minnesota, a team that limited him to 3-46-0 Week 9. He’s a fringe WR3 in 12-team leagues. His most likely dance partner, Xavier Rhodes, has given up a 91.1 passer rating and 1.05 yards per snap to his assignments. (FF: 4 recs, 56 yds, 0 tds, 7.6 fpts)

TE: Rob Gronkowski, NE ($18; vs. Buf) – The Buffalo product has owned his hometown team during his illustrious nine-year NFL career, posting a very apropos 69 receptions for 1,070 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 games. However, heavy-footed and at times uninvolved in the Pats current scheme, the future Hall of Fame tight end is no longer must-start material. The Bills have contained TEs beautifully this season, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to the position, including holding Gronk to 3-43-0 in Week 8. In a contest best suited for spoonfuls of Sony Michel, Gronk won’t party. (FF: 4 recs, 50 yds, 0 tds, 7.0 fpts)

DST: Denver Broncos ($16; at Oak) – On the surface, a matchup against the lowly Raiders seems appealing. Unmistakably, it’s a franchise going through the motions. Seven fantasy D/STs have scored at least 10 fantasy points against them. But with Denver’s secondary battered by injuries, Vance Joseph clearly on the chopping block and Oakland presumably playing its final game at the Coliseum, the Broncos should be avoided. Cleveland (vs. Cin) or Miami (vs. Jax) are stronger streams. (FF: 20 PA, 358 YDSA, 3 SCKs, 1 TO, 5.0 fpts)

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?

Reader record: 43-58

Brad record: 87-56 (WK15: 6-4; W – Cam Newton, Aaron Jones, Tyreek Hill, Sony Michel, Mark Ingram, Rams D/ST; L – Mike Evans, David Johnson, T.Y. Hilton, Trey Burton)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”

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