Vick regains fantasy relevance
Week 16 typically plays the championship in most leagues. The week helped paint a better picture for most teams as far as what has to happen for the playoff picture. As in Week 15, there were a variety of disappointing fantasy players, including the collective Giants, Aaron Hernandez, Arian Foster, Mike Wallace and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, to name a few. The Green Bay Packers are your fantasy darlings; it’s hard to be unhappy if you started anyone on their team outside of John Kuhn. Week 17 will be a tough chore if you’re still playing, but there are some players to consider. This week, we'll focus on long shots so take that into consideration.
Good luck, and I hope you’ve had a fun fantasy season.
Michael Vick, PHI – It would have been hard to believe at the beginning of the season that Vick would be on your waiver wire after Week 16. The broken hand suffered by Nick Foles opens the door for Vick, who Andy Reid has hinted will start for the Eagles this week. He gets a Giants team that looked lost the last two games and is still last in the league in yards per attempt against at 8.2. While the Eagles have nothing to play for outside of draft position, Vick will be auditioning for a starting role on a new team next season, giving him every motivation to play well.
Montario Hardesty, CLE – It’s a shame to see high-profile players in a game where the outcome is already decided. This was the case with Trent Richardson as he sustained a lower leg/knee injury blocking late in Sunday's game after Brandon Weeden left injured. Hardesty likely will be the top running back in Week 17 with Chris Ogbonnaya getting work as the third-down back. With both Weeden and Richardson probably out this week, look for Hardesty to be used a lot.
Ryan Grant, GB – I’m as shocked as anyone that I’m talking about Grant, who couldn’t stick with the Redskins earlier this season. Grant was one of the beneficiaries of the Packers’ blowout win Sunday, finishing with 114 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Grant had significantly more touches than DuJuan Harris, meaning he’ll likely be the workhorse against Minnesota this week. Just make sure and check on the status of Alex Green before plugging Grant into your lineup.
Cedric Peerman, CIN – Seemingly an odd choice considering Peerman didn’t get a single touch against the Steelers. The Bengals said they’re not resting their starters, but the game situation and common sense could change Marvin Lewis’ mind. Enter Peerman, who was active for last Sunday’s game and boasts one of the best yards per carry averages, 7.9, in the league. Peerman could surprise Sunday in a relief role should the Bengals ease up on BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ workload.
Rashard Mendenhall, PIT – It appears that Mendenhall has crept out of Mike Tomlin’s doghouse as he was the primary ball carrier for the Steelers in the second half of Sunday’s loss. Mendenhall’s 11 carries for 50 yards led the team and could put him in line to have a bigger role this week against Cleveland. Mendenhall should have plenty to prove given his fumbling issues earlier this season and is heading into free agency. Keep an eye on the Steelers this week to see if they tip their hand as to who their starting running back will be Sunday.
Jordan Shipley, JAX – Cecil Shorts will not suit up this week, landing on IR after suffering another concussion. Shorts' absence likely will give Shipley more targets . Shipley finished 10 targets against the Patriots that he turned into five catches for 82 yards. Shipley and the Jaguars have a good matchup this week against the Titans, a team that just gave up 55 points.
Harry Douglas, ATL – With the Falcons locking up the top seed in the NFC last Saturday night, it doesn’t look like we’ll see a full dose of Roddy White and Julio Jones this week. As a result, Douglas should play more snaps and see more targets. It’s a great matchup for Douglas, too, as he gets the Tampa Bay defense (which allows a league-high 303 passing yards per game) at home in the Georgia Dome.
Clyde Gates, NYJ – OK, you have to be a big gambler if you’re looking at Gates. And while there is nothing to get excited about with the Jets passing game, Clyde has some upside. The Jets's play-action “Pound and Ground” game should give Gates one-on-one coverage. Gates finished Sunday’s game with three catches for 65 yards, the most for any Jets receiver. The matchup against Buffalo is favorable, though obviously he's a long shot.
Lance Kendricks, STL – Kendricks is finally delivering on his second-round pedigree, as the Rams viewed him as a solid pass-catching tight end. Kendricks showed that potential Sunday with a long touchdown catch and finished the game with four catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. Kendricks has come recently as a fantasy producer, scoring touchdowns in his last two games and three of his last five.
Delanie Walker, SF – Walker caught a garbage-time touchdown Sunday night and has scored in consecutive games. He’s seen a bigger role in the offense since Colin Kaepernick took over as the starting quarterback, and with Vernon Davis dealing with a concussion Walker could find himself starting this week against Arizona.
Buffalo Bills D – This might sound like a crazy recommendation given that the Bills defense has vastly underachieved any sort of fantasy expectations this season. That said, the Greg McElroy era has started in New York, and the one-week sample size doesn’t look good. McElroy was sacked a whopping 11 times Sunday, threw an interception and now has to go on the road.
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