The Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings: Fever, the Only Prescription for it is Alfred Morris, Bell Cow

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Midway through the season, I decided to formalize the process through which I determine my weekly rankings. Further, I figured that since I was going to be taking the time to create full rankings anyway I might as well post them on the site, so here they are. If you want more information as to what goes into these rankings, see my Week 10 fantasy football rankings. Also, please note that I’m still adjusting my process on an onging basis. Some weeks I’m a top-30 ranker. Other weeks I’m definitely not. Recently, I haven’t been, and I have some thoughts on why.

In the last few weeks, I haven’t been great at ranking weekly performances. I haven’t been awful (out of all the rankers at FantasyPros, I’ve been about average, which for a guy who has been doing this a relatively short time, probably isn’t too bad), but I wish I were having better results. But here’s the thing: I’m not convinced that the way in which many people think about rankings is beneficial. I’m not convinced that the way in which many people use rankings helps them win fantasy contests. For instance, all things being equal, if Player A outproduces Player B 60 percent of the time, then the rational, percentage play (again, all things being equal) would be to rank Player A ahead of Player B all the time . . . that is, if all you cared about were being accurate as often as possible on relative ranking. But that’s not what fantasy players care about. Rather, we care about scoring points.

As Frank DuPont articulated in the preseason, a lot of factors go into the calculation of value. In creating these rankings, I don’t think about only the odds of one player doing better than another. I also think about the extent to which one player could outperform another. If Player B outproduces Player A only 40 percent of the time, but if when he outperforms Player A he does so by 10 points, and when he underperforms Player A he does so by only 2 points, then the odds don’t matter. You go with Player B. That might not be the decision that results in the most points for the most weeks, but it’s the decision that results in the most points over the course of the season and also probably the most wins.

Clearly, I’ve skirted over other important factors in this admittedly simplistic illustration, and I concede that all things are hardly ever equal, but what I wish to impart to those who use these rankings is that I’m trying to create rankings that above all else help people win their fantasy matchups. Obviously, if someone were 100 percent accurate, then those rankings actually would help people win and they would also make one either the most accurate prognosticator of all time or alternate-1985 Biff Tannen from Back to the Future Part II.1 In the absence, however, of a DeLorean time machine, and until I get good enough at ranking to be both highly accurate and moderately useful, I’m prioritizing projected utility (or points) over expected accuracy (or ranking).

So, in summation, I admit that I’m growing into my process and as that growth occurs I’m not as accurate as I’d like. At the same time, I’m aware that I am intentionally making some decisions in these rankings that on average will be inaccurate but overall (hopefully) more beneficial. At least that’s what I tell myself every time I rank Jordan Matthews and Charles Johnson higher than the other rankers at FantasyPros.

This week, I’ve continued to adjust and streamline my process in an attempt to cut out noise and also cut down on the amount of time I devote to this endeavor. I still used the GLSP Apps, just not as much. For the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end rankings, I use these apps in particular:

For the kickers and defenses/special teams, I use the Streaming Kicker App and Streaming D App. Because I’m creating these rankings through the FantasyPros Expert Platform, I’m using the standard scoring system by which the FantasyPros rankers are judged for accuracy. If you want to adjust these ranking to points-per-reception (PPR) or half-PPR scoring formats, I suggest that you move guys who typically catch lots of passes up three to five spots in full-PPR and up two to three spots in half-PPR leagues.

The Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings

For your viewing pleasure . . .

Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

Quarterbacks

There’s not much to talk about in the first four tiers, although I am marginally lower on Andrew Luck than most rankers. He’s the No. 1 fantasy QB on the season, and he’ll probably still have a great week, but Drew Brees is going against a Falcons pass defense allowing by far the most yards passing in the NFL and Luck’s best receiver, T. Y. Hilton, is likely to be limited with a hamstring injury. I prefer Brees. I’m probably wrong.

I’m comparatively high on Jimmy Clausen. On the one hand, Josh McCown did well last year an injury fill-in, and even with his struggles Jay Cutler was still the No. 9 fantasy QB through 14 games. This offense can facilitate QB production. I have some hope for Clausen this week. On the other hand, he’s playing against the Lions, which allow the fifth-fewest points in the league to the QB position, and I ranked Clausen No. 25. I don’t have that much hope for him.

Geno Smith has been better than horrible his previous two games, and when he last played against the Patriots he was also almost watchable, playing turnover-free football on his way to 226 yards passing, 37 yards rushing, and a touchdown. I have him ranked at No. 27, and compared to the other rankers that’s very high. I guess I’m an optimist.

Running Backs

For the first two tiers, I went with the crowd. I’m fine with that, because in Tier 3 I deviate substantially. I’m high on Alfred Morris, because he’s the No. 10 fantasy RB on the season, the Eagles aren’t entirely imposing and can be thrown on which means that ALF  playing at home has a shot at some goal-line touches, and he’ll be playing once again with Robert Griffin III, whose presence often correlates with ALF’s better performances. I’m high on Lamar Miller because he’s a weekly lock for 15 touches and is going against a Vikings defense at home that is in the top third of the NFL at allowing points to RBs. I’m relatively low on LeSean McCoy because he’s on the road against a tough run defense, has been uninspiring so far this season, and is losing touches to Chris Polk and Darren Sproles. I honestly feel that I’m still too high on him. At the same time, I just couldn’t drop him lower, because despite his good matchup I don’t have faith that Fred Jackson will be unleashed; Jeremy Hill could easily be taken out of his contest against Denver because of game flow; and Tre Mason has habitually underperformed against almost every team he has played.

I’m also relatively high on Andre Williams. He has a tough matchup against the Rams, but I expect that Rashad Jennings will ultimately miss the game, leaving all of the touches for Williams. One of those touches I bet Williams will turn into a TD.

Wide Receivers

I’m probably too low on Calvin Johnson, but as I’ve mentioned in the latest Wideout Report when Megatron fails to score a TD he hasn’t made up for it with lots of yards. Johnson has a good chance to score this weekend, but I just think that Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham, Jr., have slightly better chances, and whether they score or don’t they still get decent yardage each game. And on the topic of a Lions WR, I’m also low on Golden Tate. Last week, Tate scored a TD, and it was his first all season in a game in which Megatron was healthy. When he’s his team’s No. 2 WR, Tate simply cannot be counted on for the production his total seasonal might lead us to expect.

Yes, I’m high on Jordan Matthews and Charles Johnson. They’ve both been startable over very definable time periods and both have good matchups, as Washington’s pass defense has been bad all season and Miami’s has struggled lately. I’m putting my money where my mouth is. This week, in my favorite dynasty league, in a game that certainly matters, I’m starting Matthews in my second flex spot and I might even start Minitron over an injured Hilton, depending on what news we hear about him. Both of these guys have significant chances of providing low-end WR1 production in Week 16.

Over the last 10 weeks, Jarvis Landry and Mike Wallace have accumulated almost identical statistics, but Landry’s floor over that time has been sturdier.

Even if Julio Jones plays, I think he’ll be limited. And even though I’m high on ALF, I’m low on Desean Jackson. He’s still dealing with injuries. I am, though, relatively high on Donte Moncrief, who has a strong matchup and is likely to see extra snaps and targets.

Tight Ends

I don’t have much to say about the TEs except that Rob Gronkowski is truly in a tier of his own. Over the season, while returning from an ACL tear, his production as the No. 1 fantasy TE has dwarfed the production of his peers, and now he gets to play against a Jets defense allowing 12 TDs and the fourth-most fantasy pts. to the TE position on the season. Hence, a Week 16 tier of his own.

Also, I’m relatively down on Julius Thomas. He’s injured, the Broncos are now a run-heavy team and are unlikely to target him as relentlessly in the red zone as they used to, he’s a TD-dependent producer, and he’s playing on the road against a Bengals defense that has allowed only five TDs to TEs all season. The more I think about Thomas, the more I think I’m still too high on him.

Kickers

Matt Prater has been a little bit of a forgotten kicking option this season because of his suspension, his departure from Denver, and then the struggles the Lions experienced with kickers before he signed and the weak production he managed in his first two games in Detroit. Nevertheless, in his last seven games Prater has averaged just over 10 pts/g and scored between eight and 12 fantasy pts. in each contest. Now, he gets to play against a Bears team allowing the most pts. in the league to kickers. I’m probably too low on him.

Shaun Suisham is the No. 10 fantasy kicker on the season, and Kansas City allows the seventh-most pts. in the NFL to kickers. The No. 9 ranking seems appropriate.

Defense & Special Teams

I was too high on the Titans. I guess that their defense isn’t really any less bad than is the Jaguars offense.

I’m high on the Ravens. They’re vulnerable to the pass . . . but maybe not when that passer is Case Keenum.

The Flex

As is always the case, these flex rankings have been automatically compiled by FantasyPros from my individual positional rankings. I haven’t touched these flex rankings at all, so even though they’re based on my positional rankings, these flex rankings really aren’t mine. Still, I thought that you at least might want to see what FantasyPros says my flex rankings are.

The Update

Throughout the next couple of days I might make regular updates to the rankings, and on Sunday morning I’ll do a quick update of the rankings in a separate post. Be sure to keep an eye out for them.

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Matthew Freedman is a writer for RotoViz and is (not) the inspiration for the character in The League who shares his name. He serves as RotoViz’s (un)official ombudsman in the series The Dissenting Costanzan, and he also co-hosts the RotoViz Radio Football Podcast and writes The Backfield Report and The Wideout Report. He is the creator of the Workhorse Metric and the No. 1 fan of John Brown, the Desert Lilliputian.

  1. What are you looking at, butthead?  (back)