Week 16 booms, busts, breakouts: Bold fantasy predictions

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Will <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/24793/" data-ylk="slk:Julio Jones">Julio Jones</a> be running free in New Orleans? (AP/Danny Karnik)
Will Julio Jones be running free in New Orleans? (AP/Danny Karnik)

Each week our gaggle of Yahoo analysts show their hands and reveal their top booms, busts and breakouts. Gaze into the crystal ball and list your picks, using the strict rules set, in the comment section below.

Among players under 50 percent started in Yahoo leagues, the loudest BOOM from Week 16 comes from ________.

Andy – I can’t promise that NICK FOLES will duplicate his four-touchdown performance, but I’d have no hesitation starting him in title week, at home against the Oakland Raiders. It’s nice to have that Monday night hammer, too. Foles is a competent quarterback at the controls of an excellent offense, surrounded by high-end weapons. Oakland has allowed 7.7 Y/A and an opponent’s passer-rating of 102.6 this season while picking off just four passes. The matchup is a layup.

Brad – JAMES WHITE. Yes, it’s Bill Belichick, one of fantasy’s most untrustworthy Grinches, but with Rex Burkhead sidelined by a knee injury it’s only sensible a White Christmas coats Foxboro. Last year’s Super Bowl hero is an upside RB2 in 12-team leagues. His matchup is beyond favorable. Buffalo has surrendered THE most fantasy points to RBs this season giving up a league-high 16 total touchdowns, 4.9 yards per touch and 145.8 total yards per game. Dion Lewis should earn his usual 14-16 touches and Mike Gilislee is expected to return from a Belichick-imposed hiatus, but on roughly 11-13 grips, White is a strong candidate to top 60 combined yards with a score. Get him in your lineup, crooner.

Scott — ERIC EBRON has finally made it to the Circle of Trust. The former Scissorhands bust has a 29-287-2 line over the last six weeks, checking in as the No. 7 tight end. And the Week 16 draw is juicy, up against a slumping Bengals defense that’s missing chunks of key personnel. The Lions don’t have an obvious focal point at the goal line; the surging Ebron is as likely to see red-zone looks as anyone on the roster. Don’t let past transgressions throw you off. It’s time to rebuy.

Conversely, among players started in over 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, the biggest Week 16 BUST will be ______.

Brad – JULIO JONES. Ardent supporters of the wide receiver continue to manufacture excuses for why he must be started no matter how dire the circumstances. Frankly, it’s a silly and lazy exercise. When examining his recent performance, the supposed “stud” has finished WR2 or better in standard leagues three times since Week 8. Uneventful. Missed TD opportunities and occasional vanishing acts explain the lackluster execution. Julio did post a 5-98-0 line in his first battle against New Orleans, but Marshon Lattimore wasn’t operating at full strength. Recovered and fresh off holding Jet assignments in check (10.7 passer rating allowed), the Defensive ROY frontrunner whistles “Silent Night” in Jones’ ear. Playing JuJu Smith-Schuster (at Hou), Robert Woods (at Ten) or even his teammate, Mohamed Sanu, over Julio isn’t an idiotic move.

Andy – Would I actually have the courage to bench TOM BRADY in championship week? Well, it’s a purely hypothetical question, because my Brady-led playoff roster was knocked out two weeks ago when he was flummoxed by Miami (233-1-2). This week, Brady is facing a Buffalo Bills defense that’s allowed the fewest passing touchdowns so far this year (11), shutting out Brady only three weeks ago (258-0-1). Buffalo has given up 122.0 rushing yards per week this season and a league-high 19 rushing scores. I fully expect the Patriots to take the path of least resistance. Obviously I’m not saying Tom [expletive] Brady is a must-sit, but I also don’t view him as a top-five option at the position.

Scott — Touchdowns are the ultimate fantasy deodorant, and we know MICHAEL CRABTREE is a nifty receiver on the boundaries. But last week’s two-spike game against Dallas masked a historically-inefficient line — seven catches for 39 piddly yards on 17 targets. Crabtree didn’t have a TD in his five previous games (one of them the early ejection against Denver), and this week he draws a Philadelphia secondary that’s fourth-stingiest in YPA allowed (6.6). Crabtree regression could hit hard on Christmas night.

Chuck a Hail Mary, the one deep player (under 15% started) you believe BREAKS OUT in Week 16 is ______.

Scott – I can understand why KENDALL WRIGHT is merely owned in eight percent of Yahoo leagues; who wants to ride shotgun with that messy Chicago passing game? But when the Bears do look to chuck it, Wright is the guy they’re focusing on (17-188-0 the last two weeks, on 24 targets). Wright has just one touchdown on the year and I’m not sure Mitch Trubisky is progressing, even with the recent boost in yardage (all sorts of garbage time last week in Detroit). But the Browns struggle to cover the slot, so Wright’s in play as a PPR WR3.

Brad — ELIJHAA PENNY — Much like his brother who topped 2,000 rushing yards this season at San Diego St., the elder Penny is being overlooked. With Kerwynn Williams, who missed practice Wednesday due to a quad injury, very iffy for Week 16, the former Idaho standout could deliver an out-of-nowhere top-20 RB line. At 6-foot-1, 244 pounds, Penny isn’t a sack of potatoes. He’s powerful, surprisingly elusive and serviceable as a receiver. If Williams sits, he’ll work in tandem with D.J. Foster, but will likely shoulder the lion’s share, operating as the “big back” behind an undervalued Arizona offensive line. Best of all, he draws the Giants, a run defense that’s allowed 4.31 yards per carry and the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs this season. On 15-plus touches, ‘Zona’s Polar Express is sure to plow through the competition en route to 80-plus yards with a score.

Andy – WAYNE GALLMAN should really be owned in every full-PPR format at this point, and he’s entirely startable in Week 16 in deep-ish leagues. Gallman has gained 178 scrimmage yards over the past two weeks while catching 13 balls. It’s perfectly clear that he’s the best and most versatile option in New York’s backfield. He’s about to face an Arizona defense that’s allowed the tenth most receptions (82) to running backs this year. I’m plenty interested.

Crash the pocket on Brad (@YahooNoise), Scott (@Scott_Pianowski) and Andy (@AndyBehrens) on Twitter

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