Every Friday during the regular season (Thursday this week due to the holidays), Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders looks at matchups you can exploit in fantasy this week. Since most readers are likely deep into their playoffs, this will be the last edition of the NFL season. For a better understanding of the stats used by Football Outsiders, click here.
The world of fantasy football is enveloped in chaos at the worst possible time. It's Week 16. For most leagues, that's championship week. By now, fantasy owners are supposed to know who's playing at an elite level, let alone who's going to start or play a full game.
Instead, we're still hearing the echoes of owners muttering worldwide after a Week 15 that defied all reason. The week's top scorer -- and the best single-game performance by a back this year -- was posted by a guy (Jerome Harrison) whom owners started in 1.3 percent of leagues after seemingly having been benched by his coach the week before. The third-best performance by a running back came against the Minnesota Vikings -- think Williams Wall, Jared Allen, etc. -- and it wasn't even by the team's starting back; it was by Jonathan Stewart. Owners spent hours agonizing over their playoff rosters, only for DeAngelo Williams to get injured or Arian Foster to get benched after becoming roughly the 37th Houston back to fumble this year.
With that in mind, it's time for the emergency rations. We normally start the fantasy matchups column off with a statistical tidbit related to the value of using matchup data, but this is championship week, and tumult is the operative word. So we're cutting down the introduction and expanding our matchup analysis to more players. To those of you still setting your lineups for meaningful matchups, we wish you the best of luck.
Finally, please note that the unusual nature of some of this week's matchups -- namely those involving the Colts and the Cardinals -- aren't completely controlled for in our matchup analysis. In those situations, where starters might sit, we'll provide the numbers produced by our regression analysis and discuss the implications of those findings and how to apply them to this week's game in the comments related to the player(s) in question.