By Ted Rossman
In this section, we examine five strong but unheralded performances from the previous week and determine whether these players are likely to remain hot.
- Gaines Adams (DE, TB): Adams made four tackles (three solo) and forced a fumble in Sunday's win over the Falcons. All six of his sacks have come in the last nine weeks, and he will face a weak offensive line in Week 16 at San Francisco. Get him in your lineup.
- Brent Hawkins (DE, JAC): He broke out with two sacks in Week 15 at Pittsburgh. The Steelers, though, have allowed the sixth-most sacks in the league, and Hawkins is still a backup. You're really throwing a dart if you plan on deploying him in Week 16.
- Gerald Alexander (S, DET): Alexander racked up 15 tackles (13 solo) in Sunday's embarrassing loss at San Diego. The Lions defense was on the field for nearly 42 minutes, which goes a long way toward explaining this tackling outburst.
- Charles Tillman (CB, CHI): He had a big game on Monday night, recording a game-high 12 tackles (11 solo) and adding a pass defense. Tillman, however, has recorded six or fewer tackles in 10 of his 13 games. While his three best tackling games of the season have come since Week 10, he has also mixed in some very quiet games and shouldn't be relied upon in this crucial week.
- Bradie James (LB, DAL): James made seven tackles (six solo) in Week 15 and notched his first sack since Week 7. We like him better than Tillman, especially against a weak Carolina offense in Week 16, but he's also inconsistent, with five games of four or fewer tackles and seven of seven or more.
Here, we look at trends and matchups that savvy owners can exploit in the upcoming week.
- The 49ers (vs. Tampa Bay), Bears (vs. Green Bay), Dolphins (at New England), Falcons (at Arizona), Panthers (vs. Dallas), Raiders (at Jacksonville), Ravens (at Seattle), Jets (at Tennessee) and Redskins (at Minnesota) all harbor uncertain or undesirable quarterback situations in Week 16 because of injuries, ineffectiveness or both. Those opposing defenses warrant an upgrade.
- The league's worst offenses (in terms of points per game) are Atlanta, San Francisco and Kansas City. Those teams, respectively, visit Arizona, play host to Tampa Bay and visit Kansas City in Week 16.
- Now that Thursday games have begun, it's time to point out the teams that have unusually short weeks. This week, those teams are Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
- Looking for sacks in Week 16? Try the Chiefs (at Detroit, which allows a league-high 3.7 sacks per game), Lions (vs. Kansas City, which allows 3.4 sacks per game) and Buccaneers (at San Francisco, which also allows 3.4 sacks per contest). Teams to avoid are Philadelphia (at New Orleans, the toughest team to sack), Miami (at New England, tied for the second-toughest team to sack), Chicago (vs. Green Bay, tied for the second-toughest team to sack), Cleveland (at Cincinnati, tied for the second-toughest team to sack) and Cincinnati (vs. Cleveland, tied for the second-toughest team to sack).
- Wondering who is toughest to intercept? Tampa Bay (at San Francisco) has only been intercepted six times, while New England (vs. Miami) and Jacksonville (vs. Oakland) have thrown seven picks apiece. The easiest teams to pick off? St. Louis (vs. Pittsburgh), Arizona (vs. Atlanta) and Chicago (vs. Green Bay).
- Slippery fingers, anyone? The Ravens (at Seattle) lead the league with 22 fumbles lost. Houston (17, at Indianapolis), San Francisco (16, vs. Tampa Bay) and Washington (16, at Minnesota) also have trouble holding onto the football. The Colts (vs. Houston) have lost three fumbles, the fewest in the NFL. The Patriots (four lost, vs. Miami) and Cowboys (five lost, at Carolina) have also been stingy in this category.
Whither the weather
Because bad weather usually means fewer points and more turnovers, you need to know where IDPs could benefit from the elements. Here are some sites where the weather could be a significant factor. Keep in mind that the forecasts can change leading up to game day.
After wild weather wreaked havoc on several NFL games in Week 15, things are expected to calm down in Week 16. The best chance for precipitation is in Foxboro, where moderate rain is expected to fall on the Patriots and Dolphins. Intermittent rain showers are forecast in Nashville (Jets at Titans), Seattle (Ravens at Seahawks), Jacksonville (Raiders at Jaguars) and Charlotte (Cowboys at Panthers). A light mix may fall in Buffalo (Giants at Bills), Chicago (Packers at Bears) and Cincinnati (Browns at Bengals).