This is what it's all about. The blood, sweat, tears, the time squirreled away in your basement, the time you shunned your friends to do just a little bit more research – it's time for all of that to payoff. It's Week 16, Championship Week for so many in the Fantasy Football world, the most important time of the year. Should you play that guy who disappeared last week? Is it time to trust that new guy who came out of nowhere to make an impact the last two weeks. These are the questions you are left to incessantly roll over in your mind leading up to game time. To help you get some certainty about your decisions this week, here are some helpful tidbits about how players are performing, how they have historically performed against the competition, and what their matchup might be saying about the confidence level you should have in starting them in Week 16.
In three career games against the Jaguars Tom Brady has only thrown for seven scores but he hasn't thrown an interception and has posted a 118.4 QB Rating.
Jay Cutler has averaged 315 yards and 2.5 scores in his last two starts against the Cardinals. He's a bit banged up though so you should temper expectations this weekend.
Surprisingly, Chad Henne likes to see the Patriots on the schedule. In three of his four matchups against them Henne has thrown for 300 yards including the last matchup in which he went off for 416 yards and two scores. By the by, the Pats allow the 5th most points to the QB of any team in football this year.
Cam Newton has 10 passing scored and three rushing scores his last five games. He's also gone 152 passes without an interception, the longest current streak in the NFL.
Peyton Manning won't be rested the final two weeks according to the coaching staff. Whew. At home this season he has tossed 16 scores against only two interceptions. The Browns have allowed 21 scoring passes while being picked off 16 times this season.
Mark Sanchez is awful. I could go through the numbers, but I'm thinking you are smart enough to know he is pathetic without me having to prove it. Finally deciding to remove him from the starting lineup, about five weeks too late for me, the Jets will be starting Tim... Greg McElroy. If you're a fan of the Jets, how could you be? Clearly the only reason the Jets brought Tim Tebow into town was to get you excited and make you want to buy jerseys and tickets. They never had any intention of playing him. Too bad too. They have nothing to loose, no one thinks that McElroy will ever be anything other than a career backup, and Tebow could have been a dynamite plug n' play option in the fantasy championship.
Russell Wilson was amazing in Week 14 throwing for a score and running for three others. Since Week 10 of the NFL season he has been the #8 QB in fantasy football – and he had a bye in Week 11 (think about that for a moment). Still, a word of caution if you are considering starting him in Week 16. Wilson has completed 21 passes the past two weeks while throwing for two touchdowns (he's also thrown for a total of 353 yards). Heck, Kirk Cousins has more 300 yard passing games this season that Russell Wilson. Are you sure you want to start that guy in Fantasy Championship week?
Vick Ballard is averaging 99.5 yards a game the past two weeks against the Titans and the Texans. This week he gets to try his luck against the Chiefs who are allowing 136.4 yards a game on the ground, the 6th worst mark in football.
Ronnie Brown has a career best 46 receptions. I know, how shocking is that?
Michael Bush's first season in Chicago is over, and what a disappointment. Drafted with the hope that he might be a 10 touchdown vulture type with the hopes of an even better fantasy season if Matt Forte went down with injury, Bush has been sent to the IR with a rib injury. He'll finish the year averaging 31.6 yards a game on the ground with only five rushing scores. This is one handcuff situation that didn't come close to paying off.
Reggie Bush is averaging 121.3 yards from scrimmage over his last seven games in December. He needs 105 yards for a second straight 1,000 yard effort and this week he faces a Bills team that has allowed an NFL worst 22 rushing scores this season.
Jamaal Charles is averaging 91.4 yards a game on the ground this season at home. The Colts are allowing 124.7 yards a game on the ground and have permitted 11 rushing scores on the year.
Jonathan Dwyer will get another week as the Steelers lead runner. I don't know if that is a good thing or not. Over the last three games he has barely averaged 3.1 yards a carry and this week the Steelers take on the Bengals who are allowing just 101 yards on the ground per game this season, the 9th best mark in football.
Frank Gore has run for more than 200 yards twice in his career, and both times it's been against the Seahawks. However, Seattle is allowing only 106.3 yards a game this season on the ground while permitting eight rushing scores in 14 games. It's a tough matchup.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has run for an average of 108.6 yards a game over the past five contests. The Steelers allow the fourth fewest yards of any team in the league on the ground this season at 92.7 yards per contest.
Shonn Greene has run for 240 yards an a TD in two matchups with the Chargers (including the playoffs). He needs 49 yards to hit 1,000 for the second straight year. Running mate Bilal Powell, playing through a toe injury, has scored four times in his last five games. The Chargers allow the 14th most points to runners in PPR setups.
Steven Jackson has run for 225 yards the last two times he has faced the Bucs. Will he get to that average this week given that the Bucs are allowing an NLF low 83.3 rushing yards a game? At least they've allowed 11 rushing scores.
Marshawn Lynch's matchup with the Niners is brutal on paper, the Niners are allowing just 91.1 yards a game on the ground, but the last two times Lynch has faced the Niners he has run for triple-digits. He's also averaging 104 yards and a touchdown over his last eight games this season.
Doug Martin is averaging 62.5 yards a carry, an average of 3.3 yards a tote, over his last four contests. On the year he is doing substantially better averaging 89.3 yards a game and 4.6 yards a carry. This week he faces the Rams middle of the pack run defense.
LeSean McCoy has been cleared to return to action and will start in Week 16. It's certainly a risk to play a guy who has missed weeks, but he's pretty much still a must start. Bryce Brown figures to spell McCoy, but this isn't shaping up as a shared backfield situation. There is also this. In his last 15 home games McCoy has scored 17 touchdowns. Some food for thought.
Alfred Morris has run for four scores while averaging 113.3 yards a game on the ground the last four weeks. He's matchup proof at this point. Start him against the Eagles.
DeMarco Murray scored three times in his first 18 NFL games. He's now scored in his last three games since returning from injury. The Saints have allowed 13 scores to RBs this season and they are the worst defense in points allowed to RBs in a PPR.
Mikel Leshoure isn't posting yardage totals anymore that makes anyone smile, but he's scored in 6-straight games.
Adrian Peterson has run for 1,313 yards over his last eight games. That is the greatest 8-game stretch in NFL history. To compare how amazing that number is note that Arian Foster has run for 1,313 yards in 14 games this season.
Marcel Reece has basically vanished from the Raiders offense with the return of DMC, but did you know that Reece's total of 478 receiving yards is the most of any RB in the AFC?
Trent Richardson is averaging just 3.25 yards a carry over the last six games but he will not have his touches reduced the final two games according to HC Pat Shurmer. It's impossible to sit him in Week 16, but he does have a very difficult matchup with the Broncos who are the 6th best team at holding RBs fantasy points down in a PPR.
Michael Turner isn't posting yardage totals anymore that makes anyone smile, but he's scored in 5-straight games.
Denario Alexander vanished in Week 14 better than a Chris Angel demonstration, but he has averaged 106 yards while scoring five times in his last three games on the road. The Jets though represent a tough matchup if Alexander sees a lot of Antonio Cromartie.
Antonio Brown has never been known as a touchdown maker (Brown scored only two times in 16 games last season). This season he's only scored three times in 11 games but he has hit pay dirt in each of his last two games.
Dez Bryant isn't at 100 percent with that finger injury, but he scored last week for as sixth straight games (eight total). The Saints have allowed 18 receiving scores this season to the tight end.
Marques Colston has eight scores in his last 11 games and the last time he faced the Cowboys he caught six balls for 105 yards.
Michael Crabtree is not, nor will he ever be, an elite option. Still, it's time to give the guy some respect. Crabtree has the 8th most points in a PPR setup the past six weeks at 100.8 which is more than Julio Jones (99.1) and Wes Welker (95.6) to name just two. Over the last three games Crabtree has had at least 11 targets, seven receptions and 93 yards in each game. He's also scored two times as he and Colin Kaepernick continue to see their chemistry grow. Crabtree's also gone for 90 yards or a touchdown in six of his last seven games.
Pierre Garcon has scored three times in his last four games and he had a season best 12 targets in Kirk Cousins first NFL start. The Eagles have allowed 18 passing scores to wide receivers this season, one off the league worst total of 19.
Andre Johnson is averaging 119.6 yards and 8.4 receptions a game over his last eight contests – the best eight game stretch of his career. During that time he has 68 receptions for 1,0002 yards. Through 14 games on the season Marques Colston has 68 receptions for 949 yards.
James Jones scored three times last week and that means he leads the NFL with 12 receiving scores. That's more than the combined total of Calvin Johnson (five), Andre Johnson (four) and Brian Hartline (one).
Jeremy Maclin has caught 13 balls for 177 yards in his last two games. The last time he faced the Redskins at home he caught eight balls for 105 yards.
Steve Smith has caught 18 balls for an average of 95 yards a game, while scoring twice, in his last three games. The Raiders are middle of the pack, right in the middle, in terms of points allowed to wideouts.
Demaryius Thomas disappeared in Week 14 (see Wk.15 - Studs vs. Duds). He's had an awful lot of success this season at home though with five scores in six games.
Wes Welker became the first player in NFL history to catch 100 balls in five seasons. The last time he faced the Jaguars he lit them up for 13 catches and 138 yards.
Aaron Hernandez has caught at least eight passes in each of his last three games including a career best 10 in Week 15.
Martellus Bennett has scored in two of his last three games. The Ravens are the 8th best defense against tight ends and they have allowed only two receiving scores to the position this year.
Brandon Myers leads AFC tight ends with 72 receptions even though he has completely vanished from the scene the past two weeks with three catches for 22 yards (that after 14 receptions for 130 yards in Week 13). He faces a Panthers club that is allowing the 10th most fantasy points to tight ends in PPR setups this season.
Kyle Rudolph is all over the place from week to week, but he has scored in three of his last five games. The Texans have allowed nine scores to the tight end this season.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT and Friday's at 9p-12a EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.