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Working the Wire: Week 16 Waiver Tips

Mark Stopa

Mark Stopa

Mark Stopa has been sharing his fantasy insights for Rotowire since 2007. Mark is the 2010 and 2012 Staff Picks champion (eat your heart out, Chris Liss) and won Rotowire's 14-team Staff League II in consecutive seasons. He roots for the Bills and has season tickets on the second row, press level to the Rays.

Random thoughts:

The four best teams, in my eyes, are the Patriots, Packers, Chargers, and Eagles, in that order. (Before you disagree, note that the Patriots, Packers, and Chargers are the only three teams with a point differential above 100.) As things now stand, though, the Packers and Chargers would be home for the playoffs. Usually those things work themselves out, i.e. the best teams make the playoffs, but I'm not so sure this year. The Jets win against the Steelers really hurt the Chargers, who need to win out and hope one of the 10-4 teams totally collapses or the Chiefs lose a home game to the Raiders or Titans. The Packers are in better shape, but they must win against the Giants and Bears (though both are at home).

I can't believe Jamaal Charles got caught from behind.

The Saints will have to go on the road in the wild card round of the playoffs, but they'll be a double-digit favorite in Seattle or St. Louis, who will make the playoffs as a losing team while the loser of this weekend's Giants/Packers game likely watches the playoffs at home. If the Giants finish 10-6 but miss the playoffs while a 7-9 NFC West team hosts a playoff game (and gets blasted 31-10), expect Roger Goodell to implement a rule excluding division winners unless they finish 8-8 or better. The outcry for such a rule will be huge if a big-market, popular team like the Giants miss the playoffs at 10-6.

Did you know the Eagles have allowed 30 passing TDs, a figure exceeded only by the lowly Texans, yet they lead the NFL with 23 INTs?

Brett Favre is more over-exposed right now than Britney Spears, but I have to give him some credit. He didn't have to play on Monday night. He could have faded into retirement and nobody would have criticized it. Instead, he sucked it up and played in miserably cold weather in a meaningless game. Personally, I like that passion - at the end of the day (or in his case, career), that's what it's all about.

I feel no sympathy for Giants' fans. They say that's the worst defeat in the history of the franchise? Try being a Bills fan - four straight Super Bowl defeats (including one on the last-second FG miss) and the Music City miracle - or a Browns backer - the Fumble, the Drive, waking up and finding out Art Modell took your team to Baltimore overnight. As bad as that defeat was, I'd argue it pales in comparison to the Giants' loss to the 49ers in that playoff game (the one where they blew a 24-point lead and botched the snap on the last-second FG attempt).

I liked the Broncos game-plan for Tebow - emphasize the run, mix in some QB draws, play to his strengths. It's not Tebow's fault the Broncos defense is among the league's worst. The problem with that approach is that Tebow has to develop, as it's really hard to win consistently with that offensive scheme.

It's crazy how good the Packers looked against the Patriots, on the road, when you consider they were missing Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, Mark Tauscher, and Nick Barnett. No matter how this season plays out, a team with Rodgers, Clay Mathews, Charles Woodson, and terrific skill guys on offense will be my pre-season favorite from the NFC next year. If things break right, they could go 14-2.

Austin Collie is at a crossroads in his life. After his third concussion this year, there's a strong argument to be made for retiring. What would you do - would you risk permanent brain damage by playing? I hate to say it, but at this point would it shock you to see Collie (dare I say) die on the field? This would be an easier decision for a ten-year veteran who's made 20 million over the course of his career, but that's not Collie. At what point is your brain not worth the money? This is really a shame, too, because the Colts look like a Super Bowl offense (not team, offense) when he's healthy, but without him, they aren't a playoff-caliber team. He's the most important offensive player on the Colts not named Manning.

I'm watching the Monday night game as I write this, and I hear the ESPN announcers praising Pat Williams for playing at a high level. Forgive me if I'm bitter, as my Bills didn't re-sign him because they thought he was washed up - six years ago. In the ensuing years, the Vikings have consistently had one of the league's best run defenses while the Bills have had one of the worst.

Apparently, Rex Grossman is an upgrade over Donovan McNabb. The Cowboys defense deserves a lot of credit (or blame) for that performance, though. It could be a circus in Dallas next year for fantasy purposes - studs at every position on offense and a sieve for a defense.

Calvin Johnson has 900-something yards and 12 TDs despite spending most of the season catching passes from Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton on a team with no other receiving threats and no running game. Get him a QB and an offense and he could become one of the best five receivers of all time.

My MVP ballot: Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Michael Vick. Nobody else makes the ballot.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills: The Bills won't slow down Brady and the Pats offense, so expect Fitzpatrick to throw often against a Patriots defense allowing 263 yards/game and 24 passing TDs.

Rex Grossman, QB, Redskins: Other than Mike Shanahan, who knew that Grossman was an upgrade over Donovan McNabb? I think Grossman's performance had as much to do with the Cowboys defense than Grossman himself, but there's another good matchup in store this week - the Jaguars and their league-worst 8.4 YPA allowed.

Josh Freeman, QB, Bucs: The Seahawks are terrible, especially on the road. Freeman's floor is higher than a lot of similar options, and weather won't be a factor in Tampa.

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins: Torain has returned to his role as the Redskins' feature back, making him a fantasy starter in most formats. The Week 16 matchup against the Jaguars is neutral at worst.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: Did you know the Bucs, Seattle's opponent this week, allows a league-worst 4.9 YPC? The Bucs run defense has been especially bad in recent weeks, allowing 100(+) yards in consecutive weeks to Maurice Morris and Ryan Torain. With Matt Hasselbeck struggling mightily with turnovers, expect the Seahawks to have a run-oriented gameplan early on. Lynch owners just have to hope they can keep the score close enough to keep running in the second half.

Donald Brown, RB, Colts: Obviously I'm profiling Brown here, as he merits a mention coming off a big game, but I'm not terribly excited about him. It's hard to like him too much when he doesn't get more than 15 or so carries and loses the goal-line touches to Javarris James. I'd prefer Ryan Torain, among others.

Derrick Ward, RB, Texans: You probably don't need a deep flyer if you're playing in Week 16, but I have a strong suspicion Ward will do something relevant this week against a Broncos team that's been getting run on by everyone.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers: Last week's performance was no fluke. We all know he's an elite talent, but Jackson's breakout was even less surprising when you consider that Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd were inactive. Remember, Gates and Floyd (and, for that matter, Seyi Ajirotutu) all had huge games when they were the only healthy target for Philip Rivers. Jackson is a must-start in virtually all formats if Gates and Floyd are inactive again.

Santana Moss, WR, Redskins: Moss is a nice option this week for the same reasons as Grossman - the Jaguars pass defense isn't very good.

Blair White, WR, Colts: Peyton Manning loves slot receivers. To illustrate, White and Austin Collie have 12 combined TDs (despite essentially splitting time all year), while Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, who have each played the whole year on the outside, have just 9.

Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Boss has played like an every-week starter at tight end since Steve Smith got hurt, yet Boss isn't owned like a weekly starter.

Chargers D/ST: The Bengals will be without Terrell Owens, and Carson Palmer is as good a bet as anyone to throw a pick-six. Meanwhile, the Chargers are in a must-win game and should bring an "A" effort.

Eagles D/ST: The Eagles defense hasn't played well lately, but in prime time against a Vikings team that may be starting Joe Webb at quarterback, expect them to round into form.