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Like/Dislike: Week 16 fantasy championship edition

What we are talking about:

  • Carlos Hyde

Ready to roll vs. Rams

  • Rogue One!

Let's discuss ...

  • Marcus Mariota

Can he be trusted?


I used to have this coach who had a funny saying. He'd go, "Rank, you don't look good in a uniform." Actually, that wasn't my coach. It was former Major League manager Del Crandall. I was working for the Dodgers minor league affiliate in San Bernardino, Calif. at the time. And we had this one team in the league, Bakersfield, that was a co-op, which meant it had no Major League-affiliate and all of the players were free agents.

Well, one time the Bakersfield club was down a bunch of dudes and needed some players to suit up against us stat. My boss offered up my buddy co-worker Steve and me. Steve was really good. He played catcher at UC Santa Barbara. I didn't play in college, but my boss told him that I played at Cal State Fullerton.

Right then, Del turned to me and said, "Rank, you don't look good in a uniform."

And I was all, "How dare you, Skip. I was recruited to Puget Sound (go Loggers!) and I even tried to walk on to Cal State Fullerton, sir!"

"How far did you get?"

"Augie Garrido told me to get into the press box where I might actually do some good."


Long story short (as if), I didn't get a chance to play that night. Which is just as well. Because one of the pitchers on the team (not one of the ones who made it to the Majors) told me that he would have beaned me just for the fun of it. Which is hilarious. But it would have been worth it because I would have competed against Adrian Beltre, who was on our club at the time.

I should point out I was clearly not good enough to make the team (any team, really). I know I should front and tell everybody I had a shoulder injury and that's what derailed me. Anytime I talk to some dude and he's all, "Oh man, I was going to play hoops at UCLA, but I got a toe injury" or some (expletive), I don't buy it. Just the jump from high school to the college is huge. I was the same size and handedness of former Major Leaguer Mark Kotsay. That dude raked all over the field. I liked Jaeger Bombs. I mean, it wasn't even the same.

But back to my high school coach, he had this saying. He'd be like, "If I put a 2x4 on the ground, you guys would have no problem walking over it. But if I put it 30 stories in the air, you'd all be scared."

And I would always say, "No (expletive), because if I fell off the 2x4 on the ground, nothing would happen. I fall off from 30 stories up, I would be (expletive) dead."

You know what, I'm really starting to figure out why I wasn't very good in sports. I was very quick with the quips. Not so much with the step to first. Actually, I take that back. Running was never my problem. Especially in baseball. I just had a hard time putting the bat on the ball. Yeah, that was probably my biggest problem.

But what I think my coach was trying to say was don't try to put extra pressure on yourself. If you're headed into fantasy championship week, don't freak out. If you have a matchup where, let's say, you'd stream Matt Barkley if it was Week 7, then do that stuff this weekend. People all get too scared with the notion of, "I don't want to lose my championship with Matt Barkley." So you're good losing during the regular season? I mean, you're not really physically choosing Barkley to be your starting quarterback for eternity. You're playing a game of math and probability based on a set of variables. Just do what you got to do. Don't fret too much over your decisions. And just make an informed choice.

Unless it's Barkley. He doesn't look good in a uniform. (Kidding. Trust your instincts, set your roster and enjoy the games.)

And without further ado ...

Like Matthew Stafford with his middle finger, Derek Carr has struggled to overcome his pinky injury in his last two games. His passer rating fell from 100.3 in his first 12 games, to 62.5. The Colts defense is 27th against the pass.

Matt Ryan had 503 passing yards against the Panthers last time (trends!). He's probably not going to do that, but he's got a great matchup.

I really want to say something (expletive) about Aaron Rodgers. But my main man who edits this (Alex Gelhar) is a Packers fan. And I put him through enough. Just play him this week.

I'll be nice, though. Aaron Rodgers is 15-1 in December home games with 39 touchdowns and five interceptions. His lone loss came in 2008. It's weird he has more January home losses.

Russell Wilson has averaged more than 21 fantasy points in his last four home games.

Dak Prescott is going to be able to move the sticks to give us enough of a return yardage wise. But he does need to crack the end zone a few times to make it really worthwhile.

Image Congratulations on The New Day for being the longest-running WWE tag teams in history. (Stop it, I know what you're going to say. But this is what the WWE is officially recognizing, so I'm going to do the same.) I thought the New Day was booked really well over the past few weeks. As mentioned in this space previously (and by Brandon Stroud), The New Day would be the biggest thing ever if they were booked like this during their entire run.

Image Congratulations to Sting on his new job with the Dallas Cowboys. (Too bad they couldn't have Tony Romo sitting in the rafters looking down on Dak Prescott.)

My conjecture is the Steelers will try to run the ball a lot against the Ravens. But I'd still be comfortable with Big Ben. And please don't talk about the home/road (expletive).

The Ravens are the only team to hold Le'Veon Bell under 100 scrimmage yards in a game this season. He had 70 in Week 9. But you're insane if you don't play him in traditional leagues.

This would be the ultimate Montgomery Burns in the "Springfield 9" moment to sit Bell because you are beholden to the numbers.

David Johnson is the first player in NFL history with 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first 14 games of the season. My man Tokyo Rose has him started against me, so can we stop that?

I know I get a little grief for people being all, "you talk about big names." But really, you all ask your individual questions on Twitter and Facebook. This is about info and entertainment.

Le'Veon Bell has 620 rushing yards since Week 11, including 236 last week. Which was great when I was on a bye in the playoffs. So I'm going to need you to do that again.

Carlos Hyde scored 21.30 fantasy points against the Rams in Week 1. Los Angeles has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs over the last four weeks.

LeSean McCoy has four games with at least 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns. How is my one team with him not in the finals? Damn it.

LeGarrette Blount is the first player with 1,000 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in a season since Arian Foster in 2012. And this guy couldn't get a Pro Bowl bid. Nice.

Ty Montgomery is averaging 6.5 yards per carry this season, the highest average in the NFL (minimum 60 carries). It's the highest average in the NFL by a non-QB since Darren Sproles in 2011.

Image As you probably know, I'm a huge fan of The Waitresses' classic "Christmas Wrapping" and big thank you to Richard Blade who rocked that one on Sirius the other day when it was most-needed as I was stuck in holiday traffic on the 405. That's right, I live in California so I put "the" in front of freeway names. However, I recently discovered this Straight No Chaser classic mashup of the "12 Days of Christmas." This might be the GOAT. I will give my final verdict next year.

Julio Jones probably is the most stressful this week. I doubt the Falcons would put him out there as a decoy. So if he's playing for the Falcons, he's playing for you. Besides, the Falcons have scored more than 40 points in back-to-back games, something they have done twice this season and no other team has done once.

Antonio Brown needs four receptions to reach 100 for the fourth consecutive season. He's probably not going to get 20 touchdowns which means I'm going to need to get my green-and-gold tie to wear as a punishment.

Doug Baldwin has averaged 11.46 fantasy points at home this year. Tyler Lockett has at least 19 fantasy points in two of his last three games. The Cardinals have allowed 947 receiving yards to receivers over the last month, worst in the NFL.

Michael Crabtree has 20 red-zone targets this year. That's third most in the NFL.

T.Y. Hilton has accounted for 23.5 percent of the team's offense this year (second in the league). The Raiders allow 6.1 yards-per-play this year (second-most in the NFL).

Dontrelle Inman has a touchdown reception in three of his last four games. I'm expecting Joe Haden to lock down Tyrell Williams.

Dez Bryant has just one touchdown in his last four games. But I just can't stomach the thought of leaving him on the bench.

I really believe Rodgers wants Davante Adams' head in the game and he's going to pepper him a lot to get him back into the mix.

Martellus Bennett has scored at least 10 fantasy points in two of his last three home games. The Jets have allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends over the last month.

I wish I had the guts to start the Cleveland Browns defense this week. The San Diego Chargers pose the fourth-most favorable matchup. But I will probably chicken out and try to play it safe with the Dallas Cowboys. The Falcons are interesting, too.

Image "Rogue One" is currently my No. 2 Star Wars film of all-time, nestled right behind "Empire" but above "Force Awakens" from last year. I know, "New Hope" is a great movie. It's not a knock against the film at all. But it's like the Dan Marino of the Star Wars films. There will be some who contend it is the best. But there are some that are better. I guess if we're doing this, Joe Montana is "Empire," Tom Brady is "Rogue One" and Troy Aikman is "Force Awakens."

Image You are getting spoiled for "Rogue One" so please skip to the other side if you want to avoid any such things. Because it's really happening. SPOILER. SPOILER. SPOILER. So I loved it. My favorite thing was obviously the end. Darth Vader being the RBA we all knew he was. (Resident Bad Ass.) You know the Rebels are going to get away with the plans of the Death Star, and yet I was at the edge of my seat ready to burst. So freaking good. I was exhausted after that scene. I also didn't mind the CGI (this is why I don't watch in 3D) and loved that everybody lost their lives on Scarif. No need to force explanations why they are not there (unlike some of the things in "New Hope" that will bother you). And really, it shows the gritty side of the rebellion you don't really see in the other movies.

Image So for the record, all of you hand wringers worried about this movie can rest easy now. Oh, and this for days.

Matthew Stafford had a passer rating of 100.5 for the season (21 touchdowns, five interceptions) before his finger injury. His rating is 64.6 since.

Stafford is 1-22 in his career on the road against teams to finish the season with a winning record, and he's 3-11 in primetime and playoff games.

It's also fair to point out Stafford grew up with Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

I just provide the information for you. What you do with that information is completely up to you. I'm just pointing out Stafford grew up with Kershaw. There was no editorial comment added to it.

Bryce Petty will start against the Patriots. Good for him. No matter how his NFL career turns out. He can tell his grandkids that he once squared off against the GOAT Tom Brady. And then his grandkids can be all, "Who is that?" and do whatever grandkids will be doing in the next 50 years.

You might be surprised to find this out, but the Patriots have the NFL's top scoring defense (16.6 PPG) this season. New England has only had the No. 1 scoring defense under Bill Belichick (2003) one other time. Oh and spoiler alert, they won the Super Bowl.

Tom Savage will make his first career start on Saturday night. He will be the Texans' ninth-different starting quarterback since 2013. How Cleveland Browns of them.

Can somebody explain why the Texans even signed Brock Osweiler when they had basically the same dude? Obviously it was the GM. But what exactly did you think was going to happen? The Texans are that kind of team you can build through the defense. There are already some nice pieces there. I would rather spend the money that put in Osweiler and build up the offensive line. Look at what the Titans are doing. Of course, the Titans have a better chance of getting away with that because they have a much better quarterback. But still.

Marcus Mariota has given me the most fits this week. He was great during the early part of the season. And his playoff schedule indicated he would be the kind of guy who could get you to the playoffs, but the matchups were brutal. He's had Denver, Kansas City and now Jacksonville. And that's the thing. What are we going to get out of the Jags? A team that is upset Gus Bradley was let go (remember, he's a defensive guy) and is going to play with fire. Or will they make like Allan B. Calhamer and mail it in? (Good lord people, read a book.)

Where do the Vikings go from here? Sam Bradford is not going to be the quarterback of the future. But would their season have gone any different with Teddy Bridgewater? But then again, it's the Vikings so who cares.

BTW, I hope we can really stir up these Philip Rivers to the Cardinals rumors during the offseason. That needs to happen, especially if the team moves to Los Angeles and wants to start over. Think of all of the picks the Chargers could land in a Rivers deal. This really needs to happen.

I've also heard the Chargers would think about rebranding if the team moved to Los Angeles. This is a great idea. The fans in San Diego are getting robbed here, and they should be able to hold on to the Chargers name and marks. And most of those San Diego fans will probably be done with them anyway. But a brand new team name (probably colors, too, since you won't want to match the Rams color scheme) is a great move. At the risk of having too many bird mascots in the NFL, I would say the California Condors would be a pretty dope name. Shoot, I might even be a fan of the team. Well, if they had a new owner maybe. But let's go 'Dors!

Obviously I left Melvin Gordon off this space last week because he was nursing an injury. But I did want to give him a little recognition.

Jay Ajayi had 214 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Bills in Week 7. But the Dolphins offensive line is much different. Ajayi has had fewer than 80 rushing yards in six straight.

That was pretty cool of Adrian Peterson to return to the NFL in Week 15 and let us all see he wasn't going to be very effective. So great that we aren't starting him in Week 16. By the way, the Vikings aren't either because they've officially ruled him out.

Going back to the Vikings. You have to move on from AD, too, right? I'm not sure what the market for a running back over 30 is, but the Vikings have to move on from him.

Image I will give credit to Duke as it acted quickly against Grayson Allen. I don't want to indict every player who has ever played for Duke, but this is a renegade team and has been for years. I always found it laughable Duke was considered the "good guys" against my boyhood team, the UNLV Runnin' Rebels.

Stefon Diggs has battled some injuries lately and it's up to Adam Thielen. Seriously Vikings, how were you going to win with this team? You need to move on.

Brandon Marshall has had 70 or fewer receiving yards in nine consecutive games. Robby Anderson is the dude now, but he's likely the one the Patriots take away.

Alshon Jeffery has at least eight targets in five consecutive games. He's had a receiving touchdown in two of his last three. But Josh Norman.

A.J. Green is back! Oh man, first off, why? I love that he still wants to play. A.J. is one of my favorite dudes, but come on. Take the rest of the year off and relax.

I had a dude on Twitter hit me up about playing Alshon, A.J. and Inman. We ended up settling on Inman. Or at least he told me he was going to do that.

Rishard Matthews scares me a lot this week, too. He's played great. But the Jags D ranks fourth against the pass. I could see a win ugly scenario, too. Where the Titans run the ball a ton. And really, I'm just going to end up talking around in circles with all of those guys. Because it's what I do.

Image Congratulations to Pearl Jam, Tupac, Journey and the others who made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That was well deserved. Much to my chagrin, I just realized Sublime is not in the Hall. I have to imagine it isn't eligible yet. But Sublime had albums out before Pearl Jam I think, so that can't be right. Well, we can talk about them another day. I'm shocked Depeche Mode didn't get in. Are you kidding me? One of the most influential bands out there. Anybody who traces their roots in symph-pop will no doubt be in line with D Mode. I mean, from Van Halen to Daft Punk, all of them can thank Depeche Mode for being trailblazers. This is wrong.

Image Oh (expletive)! Bad Brains didn't get in either? I can't even.

Image Some more "Rogue One" spoilers for you. And I promise you, I will keep them brief. I'm the most disappointed that one of my favorite standup bits is now gone forever. I always liked to joke that the demise of the Death Star was really due to some contractor who was too lazy to worry about the old service elevator that now doubles as an exhaust port. "Hey, do you think we should put a cover over that thing?" "Yeah, right. Like some X-Wing pilot is just going to come along with the perfect shot to take the whole thing down." But it's worth it, though. I should sneak it in a few more times before everybody sees it and while we still have a chance. But dang, how great was that movie?

Be sure to watch "Fantasy and Friends" at 6 p.m. ET on NFL Network, Monday-Wednesday and Friday. (Sorry, the Thursday night game preempts us. But you can be a part of the show by going to Also follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

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