Week 16 Fantasy Lames: Fournette, Moore, Brees to play Scrooge in title games

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.

Average road production to continue for Brees

Drew Brees, NO, QB (79 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $34)
Matchup: at Ten
Vegas Line/Total: NO -1.5, 51

“Look what you did, you little jerk!” Yes, it’s entirely my fault. Buzz obnoxiously pretended to barf up a piece of cheese pizza so I shoved his no good, yella keister all the way to France ... err ... I talked negatively about Julio Jones’ matchup in San Francisco which, predictably, inspired the receiver to post his finest fantasy performance of the season, on a ridiculous 51.3 percent target share no less. #FadeTheNoise

This week, I’m waging war against another highly productive fantasy asset, off a history-making primetime performance no less, placed in a somewhat unappealing situation. Laying out the facts, the Titans have allowed a charitable 8.5 average depth of target, fourth-most total air yards, 273.7 pass yards per game and nine multi-TD quarterbacks this year. However, only three passers in 14 games have scored 20-plus fantasy points against them. Tye Smith, who’s tallied an admirable 81.7 pass D grade, has executed well filling in for Malcolm Butler.

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Brees, even at his advanced age, continues to operate at peak efficiency. He’s No. 1 in adjusted completion percentage, No. 6 in air yards per attempt and No. 5 in fantasy points per dropback. Unlike fellow forty-something, Tom Brady, he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Still, the TD king’s sketchy track-record on the road — he’s averaged a lowly 12.5 fantasy points per game in his past five full away contests — and with the Titans’ backs pressed against the wall, he could squander title dreams.

Fearless Forecast: 279 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 1 turnover, 14.2 fantasy points

Jags’ Fournette won’t score you the scratch

Leonard Fournette, Jax, RB (95% started; Yahoo DFS: $27)
Matchup: at Atl
Vegas Line/Total: Atl -7.5, 45.5

Visit Costco on a Saturday before the holiday and your life is instantly endangered. A sea of humanity clogs the main aisles with patrons thirsty to stock up on an unnecessary amount of guacamole and mozzarella sticks. The abundant free samples aren’t enough to replace calories lost. If your elusive rating emulates Kalen Ballage’s, your odds of surviving the throng are minimal. Good luck adventurer, good luck.

Placing your championship hopes on the shoulders of Fournette is equally risky. Crumbling under the pressure of Jacksonville’s sputtering offense and overly forgiving defense, he’s stumbled down the final stretch. Despite receiving his usual 15-20 touches per game, the rusher has averaged a mundane 75.7 total yards per game over his past three contests. More alarming, he’s crossed the chalk just twice since Week 6. The Jags’ easily penetrable offensive line, which ranks No. 27 in run-blocking, has not helped. Fournette has stunningly remained healthy this year and has proven impactful in areas he can control (e.g. 3.28 YAC/att, 78.2 catch%), but ungovernable factors have dragged him down.

What version of Atlanta’s defense shows up is anyone’s best guess. If its brilliant, energetic side takes the field Sunday, Fournette is sure to suffer. The Falcons have allowed a modest 4.0 yards per carry to rushers and rank No. 6 in run-stuff percentage according to Football Outsiders. Also inside the top-10 in fewest fantasy points surrendered to the position over the past five weeks, they’re a tougher customer than you might suspect.

Fearless Forecast: 16 attempts, 51 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 26 receiving yards, 10.2 fantasy points

New York’s ‘Jingle Bell’ won’t rock

Le’Veon Bell, NYJ, RB (63% started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: vs. Pit
Vegas Line/Total: Pit -3, 38.5

Revenge is a dish best served cold. But in the case of languishing Le’Veon, his vengefulness is sure to be delivered perfectly warm with a side of hot sauce. Before mono overtook Sam Darnold’s system and the Jets crashed into the mountainside, expectations for the RB were fairly high. He was an unrivaled backfield anchor, a player destined to reprise a workhorse role.

(GIF by Michael Wagstaffe/ Yahoo Sports)
(GIF by Michael Wagstaffe/ Yahoo Sports)

Bell has recorded 20.1 touches per game and logged 75.8% of the opportunity share, but about as ineffective as a one-legged reindeer, he’s underachieved terribly. Among rushers with at least 20% of his team’s attempts, he’s No. 34 in yards after contact per attempt (2.71). The veteran has forced a defender whiff 20.3% of the time, but often gang-tackled behind an offensive line No. 30 in run-blocking efficiency according to Pro Football Focus, he’s rarely moved the needle for fantasy purposes.

This week, it’s guaranteed he’ll be motivated to perform against his former employer, but he’s still unreliable with the whole enchilada on the line. Pittsburgh is No. 4 in fewest fantasy points allowed to rushers, yielding 3.8 yards per carry, 125.6 total yards per game and six total touchdowns. T.J. Watt and Co. also rank inside the top-12 in adjusted line yards surrendered.

Drive down narrative street and you’ll wind up in the nearest, deepest ditch.

Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 49 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 25 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.9 fantasy points

QB switch untimely for Moore

DJ Moore, Car, WR (85% started; Yahoo DFS: $25)
Matchup: at Ind
Vegas Line/Total: Ind -7, 46.5

For Moore zealots, Krampus has arrived in the form of Will Grier. Equipped with a heaping bag of coal, an insatiable thirst for schnapps and an abundant array of inaccurate passes, the rookie passer, announced as the starter by Carolina’s interim coaching staff Monday, isn’t scaring anyone. He was a prolific dual-threat during his collegiate days in Morgantown, but netting 6.3 yards per attempt and completing just 55.7% of his attempts on 61 Preseason chucks, he was rough-edged, to say the least. To be fair, weeks of practice reps and observational learning may have smoothed the outer lines, but several unknowns still exist. If blessed with viable alternatives (e.g. A.J. Brown vs. NO, DeVante Parker vs. Cin, or Breshad Perriman at Hou), reducing the concern is advisable.

Despite the upheaval at QB, it’s been a banner sophomore campaign for Moore. The fourth-most targeted wideout in the pro game, he’s finally filled the massive WR1 void left when Steve Smith departed the franchise in 2013. Difficult to wrangle in the open field, the former Terp ranks appreciably in YAC per reception (4.51), total yards after the catch (WR7) and contest catch rate (WR5). Next draft season, he’s easily in the WR top-12 conversation.

Still, this week, Moore could fall flat. Indy is an accommodating pass defense ranking No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. The receiver’s projected assignment, Pierre Desir, has also given up a 125.4 passer rating and the third-most yards per snap (2.17) of any DB. But Grier is a hindrance. Putting your faith behind a wildcard QB with bragging rights on the mind is a bold strategy.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 64 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 9.4 fantasy points

Kenny G’s forecasted line not so soothing

Kenny Golladay, Det, WR (90% started; Yahoo DFS: $25)
Matchup: at Den
Vegas Line/Total: Den -6.5, 38

Among the holiday song hierarchy, the classics will forever reign supreme. Forget modern pop artists who skewer timeless cuts with their trivial melodies. Give me Elvis’ “Blue Christmas,” Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” Wham!’s “Last Christmas” and, all-time fave, Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” EVERY TIME! There’s nothing better than smashing añejos while belting out “I want to wish you a Merry Christmas” on repeat.

If you’re into Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande or whatever garbage Pentatonix is selling this holiday, by all means, start Golladay with the chips stacked. The receiver, in a road matchup against Denver and with inaccurate David Blough at the controls, is a play for the tasteless.

For starters, his QB ranks No. 31 in adjusted completion percentage, No. 20 in deep-ball passer rating (97.9) and No. 18 in average depth of target (8.3). To be fair, Golladay is WR22 in fantasy points per snap and has netted a 16.2 aDOT since the former third-stringer seized the starting reins, but his 3-44-0 line last week at home versus Tampa was deflating. Denver, a far stiffer opponent, could be equally unkind. The Broncos have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points wideouts. They’ve also given up a 7.5 aDOT this season and seventh-fewest total air yards on the year.

Chris Harris Jr., Golladay’s likely assignment, has conceded an uncharacteristic 113.5 passer rating, but it’s difficult looking past a rookie QB on the road who’s matched up against an aggressive pass rush.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 8.6 fantasy points

BONUS LAMES (Over 50% started)

RB: Todd Gurley, LAR (SF -6.5; $23) — If not for the icing on top — the touchdowns — Gurley wouldn’t be consumable for fantasy devices. Full disclosure, he’s defied my “ARTHRITIC KNEE!” rants and climbed into the RB1 class in 12-team leagues, scrawling the position’s 12th-most valuable fantasy total. His efforts, though, seem hollow. For example, his fantasy efforts last week, 38 total yards at Dallas, were rescued by a pair of touchdowns — one in garbage time. It all counts the same, but it’s clear Gurley isn’t the same. His yards after contact per attempt (‘18: 3.21; ‘19: 2.78) is one area he’s experienced a dramatic decline. Other categories (e.g. yards created, total evaded tackles, etc.) have also slipped from last season. Still, the end-zone appearances have masked the stench. This week, Gurley faces a weakened Niners defense. Hurting on the back end, it’s proven more vulnerable of late. On the year, though, San Francisco has allowed 4.2 yards per carry, four total touchdowns and the third-fewest fantasy points to RBs. “TD or bust” is the rusher’s Week 16 motto. Count me in for the latter. (FF: 15-62-0, 3-15-0, 9.2 fpts)

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WR: John Brown, Buf (NE -6.5; $16) — Over Buffalo’s brutal late-season stretch, “Smoke” has resembled the sickly Charlie Brown Christmas tree. He snapped back with a surprising 7-99-0 output in Pittsburgh, but don’t be seduced by recency. Outplayed by teammate Cole Beasley since Week 12, Brown’s amassed just 0.12 fantasy points per snap. Once again thrust into an undesirable situation, a road matchup with division rival New England, Brown is completely untrustworthy. As discussed ad nauseam, the Pats’ secondary has done a masterful job blanketing top receivers. Brown did register a respectable 5-69-0 versus New England in Week 4, but odds are strong he won’t meet or exceed that production. Blanket corner Stephon Gilmore has allowed a 46.3 catch percentage, 32.8 passer rating and 0.89 yards per snap to his assignments. Bank on Sean McDermott to lean heavily on Devin Singletary. (FF: 4-48-0, 6.8 fpts)

WR: Odell Beckham Jr., Cle (Bal -10; $19) — Channeling the inner thoughts of an OBJ enthusiast, chances are you’re reading this blurb because A) You’re putting time and energy into only DFS this week or B) You, undoubtedly the luckiest son of a gun, earned a Super Bowl berth even with the deadweight on your roster. Over the season’s second half, Beckham has moved with the “grace” of the overdressed little brother in A Christmas Story. The reported sports hernia is responsible for his swoon, but even when at 100%, he’s been a LAMES fixture. Unless a full offseason mutiny occurs in Cleveland, he’ll be a discounted star to target in 2020 drafts. This week, however, he needs to ride the pine. Beckham swaps salutations with Baltimore. The Ravens rank middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to WRs and have yielded an 8.7 aDOT, but likely draped by Marcus Peters (67.4 passer rating, 0.89 yds/snap allowed) another insufferable line should be expected. (FF: 4-59-0, 7.9 fpts)

TE: Hunter Henry, LAC (LAC -6; $19) — When he returned from injury Week 6, Henry was the huggable, playable Baby Yoda of tight ends. Everyone loved him. But resembling Salacious B. Crumb, AKA Jabba the Hutt’s scrawny sidekick from Return of the Jedi in two of his past three contests, the fantasy community wants to toss him into the Sarlacc pit. With only nine targets and six catches to his name since Week 13, Henry, even when presented with a sensational matchup against Oakland (in Week 10 he logged 4-30-1 against them), is worth bypassing. The volume just isn’t there. Plus, it’s plausible Tyrod Taylor sees significant action. The backup might be an upgrade over Philip Rivers, but his insertion would raise unpredictability. Playing an O.J. Howard (vs. Hou) or Tyler Higbee (at SF) over him is recommended. (FF: 3-34-0, 4.9 fpts)

DST: Los Angeles Rams (SF -6.5; $17) – The stain of last week’s betting/fantasy bad beats associated with Atlanta’s final garbage TD still hasn’t washed away. So many title bids spoiled. So much money flushed. A similar sentiment could be felt if you place confidence behind the Rams in Week 16. San Francisco is in an ideal rebound spot, though significant defensive injuries increase concern. The combination of Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s been kept clean on 70.5% of his dropbacks (QB4), and Raheem Mostert should give the Rams fits. With only 13 forced turnovers in 14 games, LA largely relies on its ability to disrupt the pocket (43 total sacks). If San Francisco’s offensive line bullies Aaron Donald up front, an underwhelming Week 16 is in store. (FF: 24 PA, 402 YDSA, 3 SCK, 0 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 “Lames” (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: 43-53

Brad’s record: 89-63

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

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