Observations About Week 16 in Fantasy Football
Big Games from the Least Expected
What do Rex Burkhead, Justin Jackson, Rashaad Penny, Byron Pringle, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Johnson, Isaiah McKenzie, and Davis Mills have in common? We didn’t draft any of them in August, yet all finished in the top 30 in fantasy scoring through the Thursday – Sunday night games of week 16 with at least 18 fantasy points. And there’s a terrific chance that you didn’t play them this week, either. In ESPN leagues, their starting percentages are as follows:
- Burkhead 9.3
- Penny 14.5
- Pringle .4
- St. Brown 34.8
- Johnson 2.7
- McKenzie .1
- Mills .7
Be sure to notice the . in front of the single digits – yes that is less than 1% started. A couple of surprises are on this list. One is St. Brown who put up very solid to great fantasy numbers over his previous 3 games – 19.5, 11.3, and 19.8 on a total of 35 targets, and this week he had the Falcons. Why was he only started in 1/3 of ESPN leagues?
But maybe the most surprising is Justin Jackson, who started for the injured Austin Ekeler. Only 36% of ESPN fantasy managers started Jackson who popped for 30.2 points. And he is only rostered in 48.1% of the leagues. WTH are the Ekeler owners thinking? In my home league, Kendall picked up Jackson last Thursday night after it was announced the day before that Ekeler was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He snagged Jackson to at least prevent his opponent from grabbing him, and Kendall ultimately started Jackson over Zeke. That was a tough call, but Kendall is advancing to the championship round. No guts, no glory.
I did have Mills as a potential streamer in my QB streamer article, but I’m not sure I would’ve had the guts to make that call. But Jackson and St. Brown? Come on, man!
Speaking of Quarterbacks
Last week I posted an article about Josh Allen’s struggles with the Patriots and he must have read it. Angry Allen torched the Pats on their home grounds for 3 touchdowns and 317 passing yards and 64 rushing yards. He didn’t take a sack, turn the ball over, and the Bills punter never touched the field. Quite simply, Allen played like a man, not allowing the bigness of the game to overwhelm him. Since week 9, the Bills have played 500 ball, dropping 4/8 games, which included a thorough out-coaching by Belichick in the week 13 Buffalo blizzard. However, Allen rose to the occasion this week on the way to a 33-21 victory that put the Bills on top of the AFC East at 9-6 – which is what great quarterbacks do – they overcome adversity and win the big games.
Are All Great Fantasy QBs Great Real-life QBs?
And that leads me to Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray. He’s great for fantasy football, but is he great in real football? Can he rise to the occasion and win the big games? Since drafted by the Cardinals as the number one overall pick in 2019, Murray’s record is 21-22-1, and he has yet to play in a playoff game. By contrast, Allen’s record is 37-21, winning 64% of his games, compared to less than 50% for Kyler, and Allen . has 4 playoff appearances with a 2-2 record. And Murray has led the Cardinals on a 3-game losing skid, for 5 total losses on the season, with 4 of the losses occurring at home.
It’s getting tougher to classify Murray as elite. His speed and ability to run make him special, but what happens if an injury, or age, slows him down? We all remember Cam Newton when he could run. And Murray arguably has more talent around him than Newton ever did with Hopkins, Ertz, Green, Moore, Kirk, Conner, and Edmonds. Other quarterbacks manage to do much more with far less. You can probably fill a hand with Super Bowl rings that Brady has won with drastically less talent – not bad for a 6th round, 199th pick who came off the bench to start his NFL career.
I expect more from a number one pick.
Good luck in week 17. If you’re still here, you’re playing for a fantasy championship. Congrats!
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