Here we are. This is our final fantasy football watch list of the season. Those reading this likely made the playoffs. After enduring draft busts, injuries, and probably a few tough losses here and there, the end is in sight, with a championship within reach. Teams are focusing on putting together the perfect lineup for this week. However, they should also be thinking about moves to make for the championship next week. This week’s watch list focuses on players whose roles are growing in offenses, who are likely to be free agents, and who have great matchups in week 16. They might just get some players the trophy.
NFL Fantasy Football Watch List: Championship Edition
Back from the Graveyard
Our top guy to watch this week is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. It’s been a weird ride for Foles, who took over for an injured Michael Vick back in November of 2013. Foles went on to have a historic season, throwing 27 touchdowns to only two interceptions. He was never able to duplicate anything close to those numbers though. In 2015 he was traded to the then St. Louis Rams. He then spent a season as the backup quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Well, it has all come full circle for Foles, who once again enters the fray for the Eagles in relief of star-in-the-making Carson Wentz. Although we probably will not get the version of Foles we got when he first made his debut, he is in an excellent position to run the Philadelphia offense and put up some fantasy points. He did eke out a win last week against the Los Angeles Rams.
Foles gets great matchups the next two weeks, and this week can be used to test the waters on how effective he will be. This week he goes up against the New York Giants, who have given up the most points in fantasy against quarterbacks. While that may not seem like an accurate gauge, the week after, he gets the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football, who are susceptible to the deep ball. It’s also the team he tore up for seven touchdowns and threw him into his temporary stardom.
Teams who lost Wentz, or don’t like their quarterback’s matchup in the finals next week, should pay close attention to how Foles performs this week, and consider adding him for their championship match.
Taking Advantage of His Opportunities
Our next player to keep an eye on during this week’s games is Peyton Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Barber is still only 34 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. He got one start when incumbent, ineffective starter Doug Martin missed a game with injury, but was relegated back to backup last week. Still, Martin looks to literally be fumbling away the job to Barber, setting up a rare opportunity to get a high output running back for week 16.
At first glance Barber’s role and stats do not look good. He rushed only 12 times for 58 yards last game. This doesn’t tell the whole story. Martin got the start, plodded to a measly 26 yards on his ten carries. Then, he coughed up the ball in the second half. He never saw the field again, and Barber took over, getting 10 of his 12 total carries from that point forward. He was much more effective, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. If the coaching staff is smart, they will give him the start moving forward.
The one knock on Barber is that compared to other players on the list this week, his matchups aren’t quite as good. Barber gets the Carolina Panthers in week 16, who are giving up the fourth fewest rushing yards this season. The interesting thing about that stat though, is that they are giving up 4.1 yards per attempt, meaning that if the Buccaneers just stick to the run, Barber could have some success.
This week, Tampa Bay plays the Atlanta Falcons, who are ranked 12th against the run. If he gets the start and delivers a decent fantasy day, it should make teams comfortable enough to pick him up and insert him right into their starting lineup for the fantasy championship.
Long Shot of the Week
This week’s wild card player to watch is Tyrell Williams, wide receiver for the Los Angeles Chargers. Williams was a fantasy hero last season, coming out of nowhere to gain 1,000 yards and score seven touchdowns. This season, he’s stayed mostly in the shadows, playing second fiddle to Keenan Allen, who is in the thick of a ridiculous stretch of 100 yards receiving games. This could be a benefit to Williams though.
Allen has four straight games of over 100 yards receiving, and has over 10 receptions in three of the last four. He’s on fire right now, but teams are definitely starting to take notice, and will game plan to shut him down. This is only going to help Williams, who should see himself getting into wide open spaces more than usual as coverages shift over to Allen.
Last week could have been the beginning of this, with Williams having his best game of the year, making four catches for 132 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown. This week, Williams will see the Chiefs, who are awful in the secondary, and then he gets the hapless New York Jets in the finals. In these great matchups, Williams has a good shot at starting his own streak of games over 100 yards.
It may be scary to start a player who hasn’t done much of anything all season in the fantasy finals, but fortune favors the bold, and teams that make it all the way to the championship didn’t do so by playing it safe. Keep an eye on Williams this weekend and then make the decision on if he is worthy for a shot to help bring home a title.
Our final redux spot of the season goes to Ricky Seals-Jones, tight end for the Arizona Cardinals. After making his first redux appearance, Seals-Jones has dropped off a bit – well a lot actually – in terms of his production. But in a thin tight end landscape, he is still in a great position to be a top streaming option for the fantasy finals.
We know what kind of potential Seals-Jones has. His first two games culminated in 126 yards and three touchdowns. We also know his floor, as last game he only managed one catch for 20 yards. Seals-Jones’ floor is not going to win anyone a championship, but we are unlikely to see that again due to his juicy matchups to end the season. He gets the Washington Redskins this week, who give up the third most points to tight ends on the season.
Then, week 16, Arizona goes up against the Giants, who are absolutely horrible against tight ends. They are giving up an average of 16.9 points against tight ends in PPR, and over 10 points a game in standard leagues. They’ve also given up 11 touchdowns to tight ends in just 13 games, making Seals-Jones a good bet to score.
If Seals-Jones can get back to the type of numbers he had the first few two games he started, he will make people who start him very happy. This week’s matchup will be a great gauge to see if he can do so. Teams need to monitor his stat line very closely and swipe him up if he does well this week.