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Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Marlon Mack, Philip Lindsay, John Brown

It all comes down to this for millions of fantasy football players, well, unless your league thinks having its Super Bowl on Week 17 when half the league rests its star players is a good idea.

If you are still alive in your fantasy league and on the verge of winning a championship, congratulations to you! If you are in desperate need of cold hard cash to cover your holiday present expenses, then this is the last week you have to bring home enough bacon to pay for the clothes, flat-screen televisions and Star Wars paraphernalia you are gifting your friends and families. I will do my very best to give you my takes on who will be great and who will be terrible in fantasy football this week so you can play the booms and sidestep the busts.

Here are my under-the-radar booms and busts for Week 16!  Good luck, RotoBallers!

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!


Week 16 Lineup Booms

Marlon Mack (IND, RB) vs. CAR

Mack has been a shell of his former fantasy self in the two games since returning from injury, carrying the ball 24 times for a paltry 57 yards, and scoring just one touchdown with no receptions. Unfortunately, he has run smack into two of the top four run defenses in the NFL (Tampa Bay and New Orleans) in those games, and both were on the road. Mack will now face Carolina’s 30th-ranked run defense in Indianapolis’ final home game of the season, and he might be able to singlehandedly win fantasy titles for his owners. I expect 100-plus rushing yards and multiple touchdowns for Mack against a Panthers Defense that has not met a running back it liked enough to stop this season.

O.J. Howard (TB, TE) vs. HOU (SAT)

Pity poor Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers had arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and unfortunately, both have been lost to hamstring injuries in back-to-back weeks. While reclamation project Breshad Perriman has filled the receiver void as much as one humanly can (four TD in the last two weeks), Howard is in the midst of his most productive stretch of the season with 13 receptions for 180 yards over his last three games. Tampa’s talented tight end will have a ton of targets this Saturday against Houston’s 28th-ranked pass defense, a unit that allowed Tennessee’s Jonnu Smith to have the longest run by a tight end in over 40 years last week and Denver rookie Noah Fant to rack up 113 yards and a touchdown the week before that.

Phillip Lindsay (DEN, RB) vs. DET

Lindsay’s fantasy stock is falling faster than a skydiver whose parachute doesn’t deploy. Denver’s top tailback has failed to crack the 60-rushing-yard barrier in his last four games and has delivered very little touchdown-wise (one) or reception-wise (six for 19 yards) during this month-long span. I know Detroit’s run defense (18th in NFL) is much, MUCH better than its pass defense (31st), but I think this will be a game where Denver gets on top early and relies on the run during the second half. I also see Denver’s passing attack setting up scoring opportunities for Lindsay in the red zone. Look for Lindsay to atone for how lackluster he has been in recent weeks with a huge game when his fantasy owners need him the most.

Mike Williams (LAC, WR) vs. OAK

Williams had been one of the bigger disappointments in fantasy football this year until the past three weeks where he has put his big-play ability to good use, piling up 251 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. The buck is not stopping this weekend. Oakland’s playoff hopes are dashed after a four-game losing streak, so the Raiders are now playing out the string. Their 27th-ranked pass defense is going to have a hard time matching up with Williams and fellow wideout Keenan Allen. Do not be surprised to see Williams build on his fantasy momentum with another sparkling game as long as he can find the field as he deals with another nagging injury.


Week 16 Lineup Busts

Ronald Jones II (TB, RB) vs. HOU (SAT)

Everything lines up for Jones to have a decent game, right? Tampa Bay is without its top two wideouts and could be inclined to run the ball more often than usual, and Houston’s Swiss cheese run defense has allowed an average of 166 yards per game on the ground over its past five contests. The problem is Jones evenly split the touches with veteran plodder Peyton Barber last week, and only had two more touches than Barber the game prior. While Tampa Bay has been one of the hottest teams in the NFL, this game means more to Houston, and Deshaun Watson and Co. seem to bring their “A” games when the games are more important. Jones has a better chance of finishing with less than 40 yards than gaining more than 75.

John Brown (BUF, WR) at NE (SAT)

Brown has stayed healthy and made many of his fantasy owners wealthy this season. He has already set career-highs in receptions, targets and receiving yards and has a chance to top his personal best in touchdowns as well. But how is Brown going to evade the clutches of the top cornerback in the NFL, Stephen Gilmore? The man might be the Defensive Player of the Year, and he has helped hold Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, and Dallas’ Amari Cooper all below the 70-yard mark in recent weeks. In Cooper’s case, he did not even catch a pass. It is hard to see Brown making much headway against Gilmore and New England’s tight pass defense when those stalwarts could not dent it.

Sam Darnold (NYJ, QB) vs. PIT

Darnold is on a bit of a hot streak, with a 10-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his past five games and has averaged 267 passing yards per game during that span. He has been fortunate schedule-wise, however. Miami, Washington, and Oakland do not have pass defenses that challenge quarterbacks, that’s for sure. Darnold will be throwing into a buzzsaw this Sunday, when the Steelers Defense comes to town. Remember when we all questioned why Pittsburgh would trade a first-round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick? I personally thought they went after the wrong Fitzpatrick at the time and should have traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick instead since Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow was torn up. We were all wrong. Pittsburgh has the fifth-best pass defense in the NFL thanks in large part to the Fitzpatrick they traded for, and he and the Steelers are going to keep Darnold from doing any favors for his fantasy owners.

Greg Olsen (CAR, TE) at IND

Olsen missed the last two games due to a concussion, and while he was gone Ian Thomas filled in nicely at tight end (7-80-1). Carolina has also decided it might be time to hand the offense over to unproven rookie Will Grier. While Grier has not been officially anointed as the starting signal caller this Sunday as of the writing of this column, chances are he will be the one doing the passing, which does not help Olsen’s fantasy value. Carolina might not even play Olsen for the entire game considering the jury is out on whether he is part of their future plans. He may split the snaps 50-50 with Thomas while Grier is throwing passes at his feet. Stay away from Olsen in your league championship or million-dollar DFS contest.

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