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Five must-read fantasy football stats for Week 16

Happy Holidays! I'm going to keep this short and sweet this week (or try) as a gift to my awesome editor, Alex Gelhar. Thank you all for an awesome season so far!

1) Projections

Note: These projections are based on my stat-line projection for each player translated into standard fantasy scoring. These are the median values.

Tip: Use the order and points as a way to compare ... e.g. if a running back is projected to earn 1.5 points more than the guy behind him, but only 0.15 points less than the guy in front of him, take the magnitude into consideration. Also, asterisks (*) mean watch out for injury report changes, but always do that anyway, even if there doesn't happen to be an asterisk.

Matt Ryan, Falcons (19.6)
Tom Brady, Patriots (19.2)
Kirk Cousins, Redskins (18.5)
Drew Brees, Saints (18.4)
Cam Newton, Panthers (18.1)
Andrew Luck, Colts (17.8)
Aaron Rodgers, Packers (17.7)

Wide Receivers:
Mike Evans, Buccaneers (13.7)
Julio Jones, Falcons (13.0)
Antonio Brown, Steelers (12.9)
T.Y. Hilton, Colts (12.1)
Jordy Nelson, Packers (11.5)
A.J. Green, Bengals (11.4)
Dez Bryant, Cowboys (10.8)

2) Since week 11, Rob Kelley is averaging the second-most yards after contact per rush ... but this is misleading.

Kelley has only averaged 15.4 rushes for 61.1 rushing yards per game over the past five. If you take his longest two rushes in this time period out of his yards after contact total, he falls from an average of 2.8 yards after contact per carry to 1.9 yards after contact per carry, which puts him in the mid- to high-20s in terms of running back YAC rankings.

Fantasy Impact:Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman is returning this week and that is likely bad news for Rob Kelley. Every source I trust (former players, scouts, personnel evaluators, current coaches, PFF) list him no less than a top seven linebacker this season. My point in writing this is to factor the decrease in recent volume of carries and the impact of Freeman's return into your decision to start, flex or keep Kelley on your bench.

3) Everybody likes lists:

4) Two snacks

4a)Joe Staley likely being out for the 49ers could mean a tough day for Carlos Hyde. The Rams' defense is in the top 10 against the rush and Staley is close to the top of the league in run-blocking.

4b) No T.J. Ward for the Broncos makes a plus matchup for Spencer Ware potentially even plusser (that's a word, right?). If you are playing in formats like Perfect Challenge make sure to factor in the increased ceiling, BUT also remember that it's likely this won't be a high-scoring game overall, so touchdown opportunities might be limited.

5) Three If/Thens: Injuries

If the Steelers' Ladarius Green doesn't play, then look to the waiver wire for TEs like Eric Ebron (OK, that one isn't likely), C.J. Fiedorowicz, Hunter Henry and Charles Clay. Due to the presence of Ravens safety Eric Weddle, my projection for Jesse James (Green's replacement) is too risky if you're looking to win your championship.

If Matt Forte AND the Patriots' Dont'a Hightower don't play, then the Bilal Powell's floor becomes a whole lot safer. As it stands today, Powell has a boom-or-bust projection. Not only are the Jets likely to be playing from behind, meaning an unfavorable game script, but head coach Todd Bowles is likely not going to be able to attend the game.

If the Rams cornerback Lamarcus Joyner doesn't play, then you could consider 49ers wide receiver Jeremy Kerley as a very, very deep sleeper. Kerley only averages 3.8 receptions off 7.1 targets for 38.9 yards per game. You saw my note above in regards to the ground game, and factor in that this is a potentially chaotic game (new head coach for Rams, neither team in contention, division rivals). This is way more of a this-week-only suggestion and not really one to target for the future.

-- Cynthia Frelund is an analytics expert who appears regularly on NFL Fantasy LIVE and GameDay Morning. Follow her on Twitter @cfrelund

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