Week 16 was a reality check for a lot of fantasy players. There was not nearly as much scoring as last week, and some seemingly sure things fell through.
That didn't stop 'buffalo66' from taking home $80 and winning this week's FanDuel challenge.
Thanks to a big week from Josh Freeman (our bargain quarterback of the week), and solid performances from Arian Foster, Greg Jennings and Owen Daniels, 'buffalo66' was able to hold off the pack and pick up the win.
In second place was 'pudge', who will pocket $40. Third place, and $20, went to 'supernaut76', while 'whits23' picked up $10 for a fourth-place finish.
If you look a little further down the leader board, you find our team sitting in 6th place, our best finish yet.
After sliding down the rankings each week, we were beginning to doubt our skills as fantasy seers. This week, however, we are feeling pretty good (See bargains Freeman, Brandon Pettigrew and busts Michael Turner and Eli Manning).
Feel free to ignore our picks of Dwayne Bowe as a bust and Robbie Gould as a bargain. We did.
Despite poor performances from Wes Welker and Reggie Wayne (those sure things we mentioned earlier) we were able to grind out a respectable finish, thanks in large part to a big day from Sebastian Janikowski, the week's top kicker.
Originally, we had Aaron Hernandez slated as our starting tight end, but when he went down with an injury, we picked up Pettigrew. This was a pleasant exchange, as he finished with the fifth-most points at his position.
Hopefully we have won over some skeptics, and you will use our advice in our Week 17 philly.com FanDuel challenge. Don't forget to join, as this is your last chance to take home the title, and the cash.
Here is a look at the rest of the leader board, with our roster and the winning roster, belonging to 'buffalo66':
Week 16 Top Performers
The midwest came out in force this week, claiming nearly all the top spots.
Aaron Rodgers led all quarterbacks, racking up over 400 yards and four touchdowns, while keeping his team in playoff contention with a win over the Giants.
Rodgers' division rivals, the Bears, finished with two players on our list: Matt Forte and Johnny Knox. Coming into Week 16, they weren't popular picks since they were going up against the vaunted Jets' defense. Those who took the risk were rewarded.
The surprise of the week belongs to Jerome Simpson, who broke out for two touchdowns in Terrell Owens' absence, topping all wide receivers. You can bet we'll have more on Simpson when we break down this week's bargains.
Speaking of bargains, how about Janikowski? Seabass hit two field goals from beyond 50 yards, and just missed on a third. Not to mention that he had two other field goals and two extra points to boot. That's a sports pun. No need to thank us.
Here is a look at the rest of this week's top performers:
QB - Aaron Rodgers (GB) - 34.76 points - 404 passing yards, 4 TDs; 26 rushing yards
RB - Jamaal Charles (KC) - 23.7 points - 77 rushing yards; 40 receiving yards, 2 TDs
RB - Matt Forte (CHI) - 22.9 points - 113 rushing yards, TD; 56 receiving yards
WR - Jerome Simpson (CIN) - 24.4 points - 124 receiving yards, 2 TDs
WR - Dwayne Bowe (KC) - 21.3 points - 153 receiving yards, TD
WR - Johnny Knox (CHI) - 21.2 points - 92 receiving yards, 2 TDs
TE - Kellen Winslow (TB) - 21.8 points - 98 receiving yards, 2 TDs
K - Sebastian Janikowski (OAK) - 19 points - 4 FG (1 30-39 yards, 1 40-49 yards, 2 50+); 2 PAT
D - New England Patriots - 23 points - 3 PA, 2 sacks, 3 INTs, 4 fumble recoveries
We finally got something right, and could not be more proud.
The room got mighty dusty as we watched that young quarterback in Tampa throw five touchdown passes, each prettier than the next, only a few days after we picked him as our bargain for the week. Could it be true? Yes, yes it was: We were correct. For once. It was truly a Christmas miracle.
Now, we normally are hard on ourselves, and for good reason. Up until this week, our picks had been terrible. Fortunately, many of you did not seem to be listening, which is good for you. And better for us, given that we had less chance of getting grief over them.
So, lest we gloat too long over tabbing Freeman as a bargain (but not having the foresight to pick him for our own team), we at least did avoid Turner while selecting him as a bust. That counts for something, no?
Here is the full list of bargains and busts for Week 16:
Week 16 Bargains
QB - Josh Freeman (TB) - 31.78 points - 237 passing yards, 5 TDs; 23 rushing yards
Nailed it! Freeman had his best week as a professional, tossing five touchdown passes against the hapless and potentially NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks. The 31.78 points were good for second among all quarterbacks on the week.
RB - Danny Woodhead (NE) - 18.5 points - 93 rushing yards, 1 TD; 32 receiving yards
How long, oh Lord, how long will we have to listen to the argument for Tom Brady that he does so much with so little? Woodhead is not a gimmick or Rudy-type underdog; he is a bona fide NFL running back, and a good one at that.
WR - Jerome Simpson (CIN) - 24.4 points - 124 receiving yards, 2 TDs
If you think you have seen it all, you must have watched Carson Palmer shred the San Diego defense without Owens or Chad Ochocinco. Simpson was Palmer’s big-play threat in their upset win over the Chargers, hauling in two touchdowns and topping 100 yards to become the top point producer at receiver for the week.
TE - Jared Cook (TEN) - 15.6 points - 96 receiving yards, 1 TD
After getting the start ahead of Bo Scaife, Cook earned a top-five position in a good week for tight ends, thanks to a near-100-yard day and a touchdown reception. His production has increased in each of the last three weeks, and he has at the very least earned Kerry Collins’ attention for another week.
K - Shayne Graham (NE) - 10 points - 2 FGs 0-39 yds; 4 PATs
Graham is consistently a solid bargain option despite kicking in the Patriots’ offense. Cold weather has failed to slow him down too much, as he provided the extra point on four New England touchdowns and added two short field goals on his own.
DEF - New England Patriots - 23 points - 3 PA; 4 fumble recoveries, 3 INTs, 2 sacks
The Patriots came out prepared to take care of business to clinch the top seed in the AFC, and they did exactly that in dismantling the Bills. New England forced a pair of fumbles each from C.J. Spiller and Ryan Fitzpatrick, totaling seven turnovers on the day.
Week 16 Busts
QB - Matt Ryan (ATL) - 12.52 points - 148 passing yards, 1 TD; 26 rushing yards
Many were expecting a shootout in the Georgia Dome on Monday Night Football. Ryan failed to do his part, however, as the Falcons' offense could not get in sync in a loss to the rival New Orleans Saints. Ryan threw a touchdown pass to Roddy White and did not turn the ball over, but did little else.
RB - Michael Turner (ATL) - 2.8 points - 48 rushing yards, 1 fumble
Turner did turn the ball over, and likely cost his or Ryan’s owners a touchdown, as he fumbled near the goal line. That was Turner’s last chance to score on the day. He wound up with only 48 rushing yards and zero catches.
WR - Wes Welker (NE) - 1.9 points - 19 receiving yards
Welker was surprisingly quiet for the second straight week. He did drop a couple of passes, but Brady threw all three of his touchdown passes to tight ends. Neither Welker nor Deion Branch did much as the Patriots got up early and stayed there.
TE - Tony Gonzalez (ATL) - 1.2 points - 12 receiving yards
Gonzo completes the trio of underachieving Falcons, catching two passes from Ryan for only 12 yards. Unfortunately, he was caught up in the wave of ineffectiveness that plagued the Atlanta offense Monday.
K - Matt Bryant (ATL) - 2 points - 2 PATs
Bryant’s production was also affected by the stagnant offense. He did not attempt a single field goal in the loss, with his two points coming only on two point-after tries. It goes without saying that it is difficult for a kicker to rack up points if he’s only hitting chip shots after scores.
DEF - San Diego Chargers - 1 point - 34 PA; 1 fumble recovery
With their season on the line, the Chargers imploded in Cincinnati, allowing four touchdown passes to the Bengals. To make matters worse, they forced only one turnover from a team that practically gives them away as charity and failed to sack the statuesque Palmer even once. A terrible effort that cost them a chance to make the playoffs and likely you a chance to win this week.
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Matt Mullin is a sports producer at philly.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_mullin.
Andrew O'Brien works on the sports desk at philly.com and can be reached at email@example.com.