So ... the power went off at work today, which kind of sounds fun but mostly means a lot of logistical hassles. As such, this is going to be shorter today. On a happy note, the Fantasy team has our holiday party tonight so there should be some ugly holiday outfit fun later on. I am sure our gracious hosts, Alex Gelhar and Matt Harmon would love it if you tweeted them pictures in your ugly holiday sweaters, maybe even do it and don't tell them I sent you -- I know that would make me happy! I am going to try to focus the bullets on players not in the top seven (per usual).
Note: These projections are based on my stat-line projection for each player translated into standard fantasy scoring. These are the median values.
Tip: Use the order and points as a way to compare ... e.g. if a running back is projected to earn 1.5 points more than the guy behind him, but only 0.15 points less than the guy in front of him, take the magnitude into consideration. Also, asterisks (*) mean watch out for injury report changes, but always do that anyway, even if there doesn't happen to be an asterisk.
Matt Ryan, Falcons (21.5)
Aaron Rodgers, Packers (19.3)
Kirk Cousins, Redskins (18.8)
Cam Newton, Panthers (18.0)
Drew Brees, Saints (17.7)
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (17.2)
Tyrod Taylor, Bills (17.1)
Le'Veon Bell, Steelers (20.7)
David Johnson, Cardinals (19.3)
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (18.0)
LeSean McCoy, Bills (16.9)
Devonta Freeman, Falcons (16.8)
DeMarco Murray, Titans (14.3)
Lamar Miller, Texans (12.5)
Antonio Brown, Steelers (13.1)
Mike Evans, Buccaneers (12.8)
Odell Beckham Jr., Giants (12.3)
T.Y. Hilton, Colts (11.2)
Jordy Nelson, Packers (11.0)
Amari Cooper, Raiders (10.5)
Julio Jones, Falcons (10.3)
Greg Olsen, Panthers (9.3)
Tyler Eifert, Bengals (8.3)
Travis Kelce, Chiefs (7.7)
Delanie Walker, Titans (7.3)
Jordan Reed, Redskins (7.1)
Zach Ertz, Eagles (7.0)
Antonio Gates, Chargers (6.9)
Dan Bailey, Cowboys (9.44)
Kai Forbath, Vikings (9.11)
Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots (8.23)
Matt Prater, Lions (8.09)
Matt Bryant, Falcons (7.98)
Josh Lambo, Chargers (7.92)
Justin Tucker, Ravens (7.63)
Philadelphia Eagles (9.97)
Baltimore Ravens (9.73)
Houston Texans (9.69)
Minnesota Vikings (9.35)
New England Patriots (9.32)
New Orleans Saints (8.48)
Dallas Cowboys (8.06)
2) The weather is supposed to be in the single digits in Chicago this weekend when the Packers come to town. Aaron Rodgers is 0-2 in two career games this cold ...
They were both in 2008 and he averaged 277.5 yards per game with four total touchdowns and two picks. One was at home in Lambeau Field against the Texans and the other was at Solider Field. In all 19 games he's played where the temperature was below freezing, Rodgers is 15-4. These are more fun facts than predictive stats, but definitely good trivia.
Fantasy Impact: The Chicago Bears offense averages 17 points per game on the season (third-worst) while their defense gives up 22.3 points per game this season (15th). That is before the extreme cold factor. My projections reflect a low-scoring game and a game script that matches. Jordan Howard just snuck into my top-10 median projections. Wideouts like Cameron Meredith also took a big value hit given that Alshon Jeffery is returning, even with Marquess Wilson out. There isn't a lot of data on Matt Barkley's performance in the cold so factor that into your decisions.
WRs ranked 13-20 (median projections with Seattle/Los Angeles players omitted):Demaryius Thomas, Michael Crabtree, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson, Emmanuel Sanders, Sammy Watkins, Golden Tate, Davante Adams.
RBs ranked 8-15 (median projections with Seattle/Los Angeles players omitted):Spencer Ware (yuck floor), Jeremy Hill (meh ceiling), Jordan Howard, Jay Ajayi, Carlos Hyde (great ceiling), Tevin Coleman (best ceiling in this group), Rob Kelley (good floor).
4) Two snacks
4a)J.J. Nelson has a top-eight ceiling projection, despite just a top-16 median projection. I know everyone is all over this because with Michael Floyd out and the pitch count John Brown is on the volume will belong to the 5-foot-11, 161-pound blazer. However, the median projection didn't rise as much as it might seem because the New Orleans defense is about average against WR1s and more vulnerable other places (passing to RBs or TEs). Yes the upside is there, but keep in mind Larry Fitzgerald is still fourth in the NFL in terms of targets (130) and Carson Palmer has had some struggles this year.
4b)Sam Bradford leads the league in completion percentage (71.2) but is last in the league in average yards per pass attempt (6.4). I just threw this in here because I want to say that Adrian Peterson returning is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward play. As of today (Friday) we have no idea how much or little he'll play. I'll tweet any and all clues when I get them.
5) Four If/Thens: Injuries
If you had the Texans' C.J. Fiedorowicz (out) or you have the Lions' Eric Ebron (questionable), then go get insurance with the Steelers' Ladarius Green.
If the Bengals' A.J. Green (doubtful) does play, then I would consider him a high-risk, high-reward option against the Steelers' defense which rates near the bottom of the league against WR1s. If he returns, adjust your expectations of Tyler Boyd, Brandon LaFell and even Tyler Eifert accordingly.
If the Chiefs OLB Justin Houston doesn't play, then give a bit of a bump to Marcus Mariota (I see this as more of a floor raising bump). Houston changes the pressure on opposing QBs so to me this means less of a chance for Mariota to make a mistake.
If the Theo Riddick (questionable) doesn't play, then you could, if absolutely necessary (this is very risky and only about volume, not opponent opportunity), consider Dwayne Washington. Washington had 74 scrimmage yards last week against the Saints, but only has a 3.1 YPC average on the season (and only 212 total rushing yards). The Giants defense is in the top five against running backs (and passes to RBs).