With the holidays happening this last week, this article is delayed by a day. Good news though is that I am now finally able to include performances from the Monday night game. Because some of you reading this may be out of the playoffs now, I will write about my thoughts on the top performers as to where they stand going into 2017. With only one week left, and not any weeks left for many fantasy players, I feel as though that could be the most beneficial for all of the readers. Now onto the top performers from week 16.
QB - Aaron Rodgers 347 Passing Yards, 4 TD’s, 2 Rushes for 13 Yards and 1 TD, 36 Fantasy Points
I wrote about Rodgers back in week 14, so I am going to keep this brief. Even with him playing hurt, he is putting up some of the best numbers of his career. This is the top QB in drafts for next season with the consistency he brings you.
QB - Russell Wilson 350 Passing Yards, 4 TD’s, 10 Rushes for 36 Yards, 1 Two Points Conversion, 1 Fumble Lost, 33 Fantasy Points
This has been a disappointing year for Wilson. Many fantasy writers, myself included, had Wilson as at least a top 5 QB this preseason. What has happened though was an injury early in the season and some real inconsistent play that has him all the way down in 18th before this week. There have been stretches where we think we are seeing the Wilson of last season, but something just isn’t right. As of right now he is behind at least Rodgers, Brees, Luck, Cousins, Newton, Brady, Roethlisberger, and possibly Carr depending on his health. That already is 8 guys, and I am not inlcuding the likes of Mariota, Matt Ryan, Prescott, Stafford in the mix yet. The QB position will have a top tier with the consistent guys in Rodgers, Brady, and Brees, but after that it will be a big mess with guys full of potential to be top 5 contributors, but are lacking in consistency. Currently I would have Wilson as a borderline top 10 guy going into next season.
QB - Tyrod Taylor 329 Passing Yards, 3 TD’s, 12 Rushes for 60 Yards, 31 Fantasy Points
Taylor just isn’t asked to do as much as the other top QB’s in this league. While his rushing provides a nice floor, the ceiling isn’t there to his game. We saw what could have been a glimpse of what that ceiling is this week, but this feels more like an outlier than the norm. As I mentioned with Wilson, there are so many good QB’s that have top 5 potential, yet Taylor isn’t one of those guys. This will push him further down the draft boards, making him a top 15 QB on draft day.
RB - David Johnson 28 Carries for 95 Yards and 3 TD’s, 4 Receptions for 41 Yards, 1 Fumble Lost, 29 Fantasy Points
He is the top scoring back for the season and has locked himself into that title for the season with this game. Going into next season he has to be the front runner for the number one pick. The only two players who have a case to come in front of him are Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. I still lean towards Johnson who is more of a threat in the receiving game than Elliott, and has been healthier in his career than Bell.
RB - Jay Ajayi 32 Carries for 206 Yards and 1 TD, 26 Fantasy Points
This is now the third time that Ajayi has ran for over 200 yards in a game. The problem is what he has done in those other games though. Only one other time has Ajayi ran for over even 80 yards in a game this season not including the three 200 yards games. This is a guy I don’t think we can trust going into next season. Like I did for Wilson, here is a list of players I like more than him for next season. That list is: David Johnson, Elliott, Bell, Murray, McCoy, Gordon, Howard, Ingram, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette depending on where they are drafted. That is 10 guys who are already ahead of Ajayi, and I am not including comeback candidates like AP, Gurley, Charles, or scoring machine LeGarrette Blount. I can easily see Ajayi flaming out next season as it appears defenses had him figured out after week 9.
RB - Le’Veon Bell 20 Carries for 122 yards and 1 TD, 3 Receptions for 15 Yards and 1 TD, 25 Fantasy Points
Again I will keep this one short. He is in the conversation for the first pick, but the bigger conversation probably comes to between him and Elliott for the second pick. I have said in the past that I need to know where Bell is playing first before making that decision as there is a chance, albeit a small one, the Steelers don’t sign him to a big contract this offseason.
WR - Adam Thielen 15 Targets, 12 Receptions for 202 yards and 2 TD’s, 32 Fantasy Points
Well someone is going to be getting paid this offseason. Whether that team is the Vikings or not has yet to be seen. This is the type of guy that I think needs to stay with the Vikings in order to retain his value. And no I am not just saying this because I am a Vikings fan and would love to have him back, but because of the connection he seems to have built with the coaching staff over the years, and the relationship with Bradford has grown over the season. In Minnesota I could see Thielen finding himself in my top 35 next season. If he does leave though, I need to see his QB situation along with other receivers before making any assessment.
WR - Jordy Nelson 11 Targets, 9 Receptions for 154 Yards and 2 TD’s, 27 Fantasy Points
This game moved Nelson all the way up to the highest scoring receiver so far this season. This isn’t just the Jordy Nelson of old we are seeing, but it is also the Nelson of the future. Every receiver has a few off weeks, but with Nelson you only had two weeks this season of less than 8 fantasy points, and only 6 weeks of less than 12 fantasy points. He has put himself into the conversation as being a top 3 WR in drafts next season. I still have him behind Brown, but he has been healthier over a longer period than Jones when you consider the nagging injuries Jones has had compared to just the one fluke injury that kept Nelson out for a season. Then with Odell you have to think Nelson due to his consistency every week compared to the up and down nature of Beckham’s play.
TE - Travis Kelce 12 Targets, 11 Receptions for 160 Yards and 1 TD, 22 Fantasy Points
This now marks the 5th 100 plus yards receiving game in his last 6 games. It took us a long time, but we finally got to see the Kelce breakout we have been expecting for the last two years. It appears that the Chiefs offense has found a winning formula, so there is no reason to think this can’t carryover into next season. This makes Kelce a top 3 TE, and possibly the number 2 guy depending on how you feel about the health of Jordan Reed. He is still behind Gronk because there is truly nobody that plays like Gronk when he is out on the field.
TE - Charles Clay 10 Targets, 8 Receptions for 85 Yards and 2 TD’s, 20 Fantasy Points
I wrote about Clay last week and will say the same thing again. He has the talent of a top 10 guy, but the offense wasn’t suited for a TE early this season. A new coach next year could make Clay the top 10 guy I have been waiting for.
TE - Antonio Gates 13 Targets, 8 Receptions for 94 Yards and 1 TD, 15 Fantasy Points
If this had happened in week 17 this would have been the perfect send off game for Gates. He scores a TD and makes the most of his day. The question with Gates is we don’t know his future though. I have a feeling this is his last season, but if it isn’t, he is not so much a guy you want next season as more of a nuisance to the emergence of Hunter Henry. While I said I would provide values for 2017, if you are playing still in week 17 I want you to remember that Gates is one TD behind Tony Gonzalez for the tie in most TD receptions by a Tight End. I have a feeling that with the Chargers out of the playoffs that we could see his friend Rivers force Gates the ball for two TD’s to end his career next week as the Tight End with the most TD receptions.