Welcome to Week 16 of the NFL schedule. SB Nation Arizona is your source for all fantasy football analysis. Need some last minute predictions, help setting lineups, or info on who to sit and who to start? We're here for you. In the spirit of the holidays, this week will be a little bit different. As Week 16 traditionally marks the last week of the fantasy football season, we figured that the Cardinals/Cowboys matchup may just be a tad... irrelevant. So instead, we venture into the fabled realm of the fantasy sleepers.
Yes, there is nothing quite like the joy of winning your buddies' hard-earned cash just because Rex Grossman decided to go off. The comedic potential for a year's worth of Sexy Rexy jokes is just too great. So this week we will take a look at the guys flying under the radar. Tim Tebow, Rex Grossman, Joe Webb, Anthony Armstrong, Marshawn Lynch, and Jimmy Graham all grace our list.
QB - Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos, 17% owned - vs. Hou
True story: at the beginning of the season, I bet my buddy (a die-hard Broncos fan and a die-hard Tebow hater) that Tebow would start at least one game this season. My logic: at some point the Broncos would be so bad that they would figure, ‘hey, let's just see what we got here'. And while I may have won that bet (and thoroughly enjoyed it in the process), no one could have anticipated the kind of introduction Tebow would make upon his entrance to the fantasy world.
Really, it's incredible that we are even having this conversation. But Tebow, the man so many predicted -- rather vehemently -- to fail, showed up on Sunday and played his game. In his first start ever, Tebow became only the third quarterback in NFL history to throw a 30-yard touchdown and rush for a 40-yard touchdown in the same game. At the end of the day, Tebow came away the proud owner of an impressive (and symmetrical) 23.32 fantasy points.
While it might be valid to throw this result away as an aberration -- a case of beginner's luck, if you will -- for now, the jury is still out on the Heisman winner. It may be the case that Tebow is valuable in fantasy circles for the same reason that Mike Vick is currently carrying every owner that grabbed him to the finals -- namely, that rushing yards and rushing touchdowns are traditionally worth far more than passing yards or passing touchdowns.
It also may help that the schedule-makers are apparently big Tebow fans. His next opponent, Houston, has the worst passing defense in the league, and by a wide margin. A good trend to follow throughout the year has been to start the quarterback that is facing the Texans. In the most important game of the season, you could definitely do worse than to continue such a successful trend.
Fantasy Prediction: 12-21, 162 yards, 1 interception, 1 touchdown; 10 carries, 71 yards, 1 touchdown
QB - Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins, 5% owned - @ Jac
Who knew Sexy Rexy still had it in him? It was only a few years ago that the man threw 23 touchdowns passes on route to leading the Chicago Bears to their first Super Bowl appearance since the '85 Bears recorded the "Super Bowl Shuffle". Yet, the perception was always held (appropriately or not) that the 06' Bears made it that far despite Rex, not because of Rex.
Since then, Grossman has been cast-off like the moldy, brown fruitcake that the creepy guy across the street gave you last Christmas. The veteran quarterback, now 30 years old, hadn't really gotten a chance to prove his worth until last week.
"I think I'm definitely stereotyped as an inconsistent quarterback, and I'm doing everything possible to change that perception." said Grossman after going out last Sunday and stacking up a mighty 28.78 fantasy points in his first start of the season. Regardless of the murky nature of Mike Shanahan's well-documented switch from Donovan McNabb to Grossman, Rex is doing everything he can to reward the faith his coach has shown in him.
This week the much-maligned quarterback will square off against a feeble Jacksonville defense that ranks close to last in points per game allowed, yards per game allowed, and passing yards per game allowed. Could Sexy Rexy be making a comeback? Somehow, someway, it just might happen.
Fantasy Prediction: 27-48, 341 yards, 2 interceptions, 3 touchdowns
QB/WR - Joe Webb, Minnesota Vikings, 35% owned - @ Phi
With Brett Favre's latest injury, it seems as though the door has been opened for Webb to be the starting quarterback for the last few games of the Vikings' season.
Yet, after replacing the old man on Monday, Webb didn't really show any particular flashes that would lead you to believe that he will ever be anything more than a mediocre quarterback. So you must be asking: how exactly does this news impact fantasy owners?
Well, because for some odd reason, Webb is also listed at Wide Receiver on most fantasy formats. Basically, Joe Webb allows you to start two different quarterbacks in the championship game. Fact of the matter is, as of the past few seasons, quarterback is the highest scoring weekly position on average. The ability to have two starting quarterbacks on your lineup is a fascinating proposition and could be a bold, championship-winning move by daring owners.
If Webb even goes off for a mediocre fantasy day, say a touchdown and a couple-hundred yards, his production will most likely far eclipse that of any WR3 that you may be contemplating. The Joe Webb experiment is on; do you have the balls to go for it?
Fantasy Prediction: 16-30, 201 yards, 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown; 8 carries, 41 yards, 1 touchdown
WR - Anthony Armstrong, Washington Redskins, 12% owned - @ Jac
Stories like Armstrong's don't come around too often. A virtual anonymity coming into the season, the journeyman receiver graduated from West Texas A&M in 2005 before signing with the Odessa Roughnecks of the now-defunct Intense Football League. After a year spent in the IFL, Armstrong took his talents to the Arena Football League's Dallas Desperados. Initially a practice squad member, Armstrong eventually worked his way onto the starting roster.
After the 2008 AFL season, Armstrong finally made his entrance into the league, signing with the Miami Dolphins' practice squad. Eventually, the former LSC South Receiver of the Year found his way onto the Mike Shanahan's Redskin roster to start the 2010 season. Since recording his first catch ever in Washington's September 12th tilt against Dallas, nothing but good tidings have come the 27-year old rookie's way.
Fifteen games into the season, Armstrong has quietly become the Redskins' second leading receiver, and has posted double-digit fantasy numbers in two of the past three weeks. In his first showing with quarterback Rex Grossman, Armstrong piled up 100-yards receiving on five catches. The Jacksonville secondary has given up huge games to No. 2 receivers the entire year. If the chemistry between the rookie and Grossman continues to grow, Armstrong could find himself on the receiving end of another big day.
Fantasy Prediction: 6 catches, 83 yards, 1 touchdown
RB - Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, 42% owned - @ TB
True, Lynch has been up-and-down the entire season, but this one is all about the matchup. The Tampa Bay defense if one of the most porous in the league, allowing 136.5 rushing yards per game -- good for fourth-worst in the entire NFL.
Lynch's glory days may be long behind him, but the former star has come on strong of late, posting 48.30 combined points in his last three games. Admittedly, it is hard to trust a Seahawk in the most important week of the season, but it looks as though Lynch will but afforded an opportunity to shine. The Seattle quarterback situation is in shambles, and the only logical course of action for Pete Carroll would be to exploit the Buccaneers' primary weakness -- their injury riddled front-seven. Any faith in Lynch will definitely be rewarded on Sunday.
Fantasy Prediction: 16 carries, 74 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 catches, 23 yards
TE - Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, 5% owned - @ Atl
If you are desperately in need of a fantasy hail-mary at the tight end position, then the oft-forgotten Jimmy Graham is your man. Since Week 9, the Saints' backup has caught at least three passes in five out of six games, and has amassed 44.6 fantasy points in that span -- decent numbers for a lower-tier tight end.
If last week -- in which Graham nabbed two touchdown catches against the vaunted Ravens defense -- was any indication, the relationship between the rookie and quarterback Drew Brees is starting to come together. In the Saints' offense, anybody can go off at any given moment. Graham presents an interesting risk/reward situation for any fantasy owner willing to take the chance.
Fantasy Prediction: 5 catches, 46 yards, 1 touchdown
Note: All point totals and percentages are based off of YahooSports.com's default settings.