It’s fantasy championship week for most of you, so congratulations if you’ve gotten this far. With one more weekend between you and eight months of bragging rights, there’s no room for slacking. If you haven’t bought gifts by the time you read this, just tell your family that you’ll give them half your fantasy winnings instead. OK, maybe a quarter of the winnings. They’ll understand.
Remember that both this column and the accompanying weekly video are posted on Thursdays, so please make sure to check your players’ status as close to kickoff as possible. My final morning blog of the week will be published on Thursday, but I’ll tweet lineup-related news all weekend as I hear it. The last thing you want is to set your lineups with dated information, especially on Christmas, right?
Read on for your Week 16 fantasy football recommendations. If you have any questions, comments or insults, send them to email@example.com. Also, don’t forget that there’s a Friday game this week, with the Chargers and Titans playing on Christmas night. Make sure to set your lineups accordingly
As always, all this week’s recommendations aren’t included below. There will always be a few more players you need to know about, and to find out who they are, you’ll need to watch the weekly Wide Writevideo blog.
Start him: Joe Flacco, Ravens
After a midseason slump, Flacco has bounced back recently, averaging 229 yards over his last five games, and throwinf four touchdown passes last week against the Bears. The Ravens head to Pittsburgh this week, and Aaron Rodgers’ big day in Week 15 showed that the Steeler D hasn’t been the same since Troy Polamalu got hurt. Flacco isn’t a must-start, but if you have doubts about your other QB, you have my permission to start him in your fantasy title game.
Sit him: Brett Favre, Vikings
I’ve been burned by Favre more than once this season, but I don’t like what I’ve seen from him lately: He has three touchdowns and four interceptions over his last three games. He’s averaging 230 yards in that span, so it’s not like he’s Kellen Clemens or anything, but I think we’re seeing another late-season fade.
In case you forgot, from 2005-2008, Favre threw 13 touchdowns and 31 interceptions in December/January games. I’m just saying …
Pick him up: Vince Young, Titans
If you can’t get Alex Smith anymore, Young might be the best remaining free-agent QB. If you throw out his injury-shortened Week 14 game against the Rams, he’s averaged 288 yards over his last three outings, with six touchdowns and two interceptions. If you can’t grab Young, you should probably stick with what you have. I’d have to turn in my fantasy analyst license if I recommended someone like Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman, or Craig Null of the Rams.
Start him: Jerome Harrison, Browns
In Week 14, Chris Jennings carried 20 times for 73 yards, and it seemed like head coach Eric Mangini had settled the running back debate. Then everyone either benched or waived Harrison, who started in less than 10 percent of FOXSports.com leagues in Week 15 when he exploded for 286 rushing yards and three touchdowns. On behalf of fantasy owners everywhere, I’d like to wish Mangini a miserable Christmas.
Looking ahead, in the Fantasy Football Rulebook, Rule 426B says: “Anytime a guy rushes for 286 yards in a game, you have to start him the following week, even if Mangini might screw him again, and especially if he’s playing at home against the Raiders.” So there you go. This one was obvious, right?
Sit him: Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers
I’m not sure what head coach Raheem Morris is doing with this backfield, but last week he gave Derrick Ward more carries than Williams for only the second time this season. Also, Williams is too inconsistent – it seems like his yards-per-carry average from week to week varies from 5.0 to 1.0. On the road this week against the Saints, I’d pass on Caddy.
Pick him up: Michael Bush, Raiders
Starter Justin Fargas apparently “tweaked” his knee against the Broncos last week, and Bush made the most of his opportunity, running 18 times for 133 yards and a touchdown. Bush’s role hasn’t been clearly defined for the titanic Week 16 battle against the Browns, but if you were the Raiders, wouldn’t you spend the final two weeks of the season seeing if Bush can be a productive lead back? If you need to gamble at this position right now, Bush is a good option.
Start him: John Carlson, Seahawks (TE)
Finally! Carlson was a popular choice in 2009 drafts after his strong rookie season, but was a disappointment with 40 receptions, 450 yards and four touchdowns over the first 13 games. Last week, he finally broke out with seven receptions, 86 yards and a touchdown. With wide receiver Nate Burleson done for the season with a sprained ankle, QB Matt Hasselbeck needed another option, and Carlson was it.
Tight end is probably the biggest mix and match position in fantasy, and if you can’t plug in Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley right now, Carlson is a decent option to pick up and/or start. He’s got a tough matchup in Green Bay against the Packers, but if the Packers go up big early, the Seahawks will need to start throwing. That’s bad in real life, but great for fantasy owners of the losing team.
Sit him: Roy E. Williams, Cowboys
Williams’ receiving yardage totals over the last four weeks: 15-60-74-14. I know wide receivers can be inconsistent, but there’s no way you can trust this guy enough to start him. He teased you with three touchdowns in Weeks 12 and 13, and I know you’re tempted to play him, but you probably have better options on your bench.
Pick him up: Josh Morgan, 49ers
Morgan has emerged as a legitimate, if tertiary, receiving option for the Niners. He’s caught 22 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns over the last four games, and been targeted 29 times in that span. Also, the Niners host the Lions this week, so your fantasy slogan should be “All Niners on Deck!”
Seriously, while Morgan has to wait in line for catches behind Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, in a PPR league he’s a legitimate free-agent target, and this week would be as good a time to start him as any. If you’re in a deep league and owned Burleson, or Devin Hester, or the questionable Jeremy Maclin, Morgan is a good fill-in.
Pick him up (BONUS): David Thomas, Saints (TE)
If you can’t get Finley OR Carlson, Thomas filled in well in Jeremy Shockey’s absence last week, catching eight passes for 77 yards and a score. We don’t yet know if Shockey will miss another game, but it seems logical with the Saints having wrapped up home-field advantage. That makes Thomas a nice option.
Also: RB Brian Westbrook is due back this week for the Eagles. Now there are three backs fighting for carries there … Brian Brohm starts at QB for the Bills, replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick. If you can pick up the Falcons’ defense, do it … Speaking of the Falcons, they’re saying they want RB Michael Turner to play in the last two games. He’s now come back twice, and re-injured his ankle in the first game both times, including on the first play from scrimmage against the Jets. Keep Turner on your bench whether the Falcons start him or not.
Thanks for reading, and once again, make sure to watch this week’s edition of the Wide Write video blog by clicking here. Share it with your friends, post it on your Facebook page – really, I’d like to be just about everywhere if it’s OK with you.
John Halpin writes Wide Write and hosts an accompanying video blog every week throughout the NFL season. He also writes fantasy columns and early-morning blogs four days a week at FOXSports.com/fantasy. You can receive more fantasy news and contact John by following him on Twitter (@jhalpin37).