Fantasy football: Christmas miracle or meltdown?

Ladd Biro
Special to Packer Plus
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Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole has taken advantage of increased playing time due to injuries. He had over 100 yards Sunday.

I don’t know if the NFL intentionally plans it this way, but scheduling Week 16 on Christmas weekend seems especially cruel. Who wants to spoil their merriment by losing a fantasy championship on Christmas? Sure, a victory is an extra sweet gift, but half of us are now licking our wounds, and the vast majority of fantasy owners weren’t even in the game.

I’ve already made one New Year’s resolution: to never draft Cam Newton again. That way I won’t have to labor over the start/bench decision on him, even in very favorable matchups. I trusted him in Week 15 against the Packers, and he came through with flying colors. So why not one more time against a sorry Bucs secondary?

Yep, he Scrooged me.

Benching Jared Goff was the right call last week, but the same decision nearly spoiled my Christmas Eve.

At least I didn’t have to face Todd Gurley, who has apparently been doubling up on his Wheaties. Gurley not only led countless fantasy teams to glory, but he cemented his status as the consensus first pick in next year’s draft.

For that matter, for the first time since the Kurt Warner era, everyone is going to want a stake in the Rams next season. Gurley and Goff, the defense and Greg Zuerlein and at least two wideouts will be in high demand.

I should have known the weekend wouldn’t go my way after Adam Thielen turned in his worst performance of the season on Saturday. To underscore his poor timing, my opponent was treated to one of Stefon Diggs’ best days of an otherwise disappointing 2017.

Oh well, there’s always next year. Congrats to everyone hoisting a trophy today. And to those who save their championship matchups for Week 17, prepare to play with some of your top talents – including Gurley, Kareem Hunt and others – either sitting out or exiting early.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling gaps in your roster with the occasional waiver-wire acquisition is also important. At this point in the season, the pickings are slim and your best bet is to stick with your regular starters. But here's a look at some players worth considering for one last week.

Derrick Henry, RB, Titans: Still available in roughly four out of 10 leagues, Henry should shoulder the load against the Jaguars in the finale with DeMarco Murray likely sitting out after sustaining a knee injury. It’s a tough matchup, but the 49ers just exposed some serious cracks.

Kapri Bibbs, RB, Redskins: Samaje Perine left Sunday’s contest with an Achilles injury, opening the door for Bibbs to lead Washington’s depleted backfield against the vulnerable Giants run defense. The Redskins will go scrounging for another back, but Bibbs is the next man up and he could offer solid returns for those playing one more game.

Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers: Barber had more than twice as many carries as Doug Martin against the Panthers, which confirms that Tampa Bay’s coaches have accepted what we already knew: Martin’s days as a workhorse are long gone. Barber should again get the majority of the touches against the Saints in Week 17.

Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: Just when we thought Cincinnati’s backfield would return to Joe Mixon’s hands, the rookie exited with an ankle injury. Bernard exploited the Lions as both a high-volume rusher and receiver, and he should get a similar workload in a tough contest with the Ravens next weekend.

Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars: With both Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee missing time, Cole has been a target magnet. He found the end zone in three straight weeks before the 49ers game, but still breached the 100-receiving-yard mark on Sunday. He’ll be in position for another stellar outing against the Titans.

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and five-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow advice at Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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