The Fantasy Hipsters are here to save you from being duped into starting these mainstream "must-starts" of Week 16. These players are sprinkled around the top of the consensus rankings for the week, but Matt Harmon and Matt Franciscovich (Franchise) have some underground knowledge to get you in the know and make you think twice before locking them into your starting lineups. So make sure your ripped skinny jeans are cuffed, because you're about to tread some contrarian waters. Dude, is that coffee you're drinking even coffee locally sourced? Folgers!? Are you kidding me? Ugh, whatever.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Editor's Note: Peterson has been ruled OUT since the publication of this column. But we're leaving this in simply for fun, since that is what this column, and fantasy football as a whole, is all about.
Please tell me you weren't one of those fantasy owners who drafted Adrian Peterson this year like it was 2012 all over again. You know, the year that "Gangnam Style" went mainstream, Linsanity took over the NBA and Peterson led the NFL in rushing. This year, in the same way in which that god-awful song and flash-in-the-pan basketball player are distant memories, Peterson is irrelevant in fantasy football. Please excuse me while I cleanse myself of these sheep-like trends with some hand-crafted soap.
I bet some of you stashed Peterson on your bench when he got hurt, hoping for a triumphant December return to glory. Sorry to burst your bubble kiddies, but it ain't happening for AP this season.
At age 31, Peterson has clearly lost a step. And it doesn't help that his team is dead last in rushing this season. They're the only team in the league with fewer than 1,000 combined rush yards through 15 weeks. Heck, Jay Ajayi has 1,007 rush yards by himself.
What's worse, the Vikings fared better on the ground without Peterson this year. Without the veteran runner, they averaged 78.1 rush yards per game. In the three games he has started, they average 43. Peterson's 2.0 yards per carry is the lowest mark in the NFL among running backs with at least 30 carries this season.
If that's not a sign that All Day needs to say good night, I don't know what is.
Plus, since Norv Turner bounced and Pat Shurmur took over as offensive coordinator, Minnesota's rush percentage is 33.6 compared to 42.6 under Turner. They don't run because they suck at it, and are usually losing. Just like your fantasy team will suck and probably lose if you start Peterson this week. -Franchise
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens
I get it, the underground band you've been supporting since Day 1 finally shows some signs of making it on the big stage and you get excited. Trust me, I've been there. But here's the thing; sometimes you're trying too hard to make it happen. As hard as it is for me to admit, I've been there too. Some artists need to cut their teeth a little longer than others at the speakeasy bars before going on stadium tours.
Sure, Kenneth Dixon has the talent to one day make noise on the big stages week-in and week-out. But for now, he's still a rookie back in a committee, no matter how great his YouTube highlights from college were. And have no doubt about it, this is still a committee. The victory laps got off the block when Dixon out-snapped West 42 to 14 in Week 14, but just because a younger player grabs more playing time one week doesn't mean he's all of a sudden the lead back. That's a sheep's way of thinking, and if you're reading the column, you're a wolf not a sheep. Oh, and what do you know? Terrance West came back and took 45 percent of the snaps to 26 percent for Dixon in their last game, just like West led the committee with 51 percent to 33 percent in Week 13.
Dixon is not suddenly "taking over this backfield," just because you want him to. Maybe he becomes a star in 2017, you know, when he's a bit more seasoned. And yet, I've already seen some rankings with Dixon as a Top-30 back this week because the Steelers allow the third-most receiving yards to running backs this season. That's fine, but that doesn't mean Dixon has to be the one who benefits. The rookie back caught as many passes in an NFL game as Dave Dad-e-shek did last week. Terrance West, meanwhile, caught four for 45 yards.
Frankly, both running backs are solid dart throw flex plays against a Steelers defense that is without Cameron Heyward for the rest of the season and saw Stephon Tuitt get hurt last week. That may actually help the interior runner in West even more, who has four more red zone touches than Dixon the last month anyways. With Baltimore carrying the lowest run play percentage (29.7 percent) it's unlikely either of these backs hits 20 touches in this committee, either way. Just don't follow the herd and assume Kenneth Dixon is a thing yet. - Harmon
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Erroneous, misguided and false.
Don't conform to the hype of what's happened in the past, and try to visualize the future, man.
First, Hill isn't playing enough to feel confident about as a starting fantasy option. He's played fewer than 53 percent of the Chiefs' offense snaps in three straight games. There's a lot of risk involved in playing a guy who's on the field for such a low percentage of snaps. He had zero receptions last week and just a single touch, a rushing attempt that he took to the house. But ignore that, it's not important. He didn't touch the ball once in the entire second half last week. Leave it to the Chiefs to ignore an extremely talented, explosive player with game-changing abilities. Wouldn't be the first time it's happened.
And after what Hill did to Denver in Week 12, you'd have to imagine that they studied this cat on film obsessively and are on to his shifty ways. Tyreek, who will basically be Antonio Brown in two years (you heard it here first), should be benched in the fantasy championship. -Franchise
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
I was re-reading George Orwell's "1984" for like the 10th time this weekend just to remind myself of the impending doom that will soon enough befall our modern society. Make no mistake, our overreliance on widespread institutional functions and lack of individualism brought on by threats of the ever-present eye of the mass herds will without question bring about the end to our all-too-cushy lives someday. But that's the key: someday. It dawned on me in this revisit that the narrative Orwell constructed, while perhaps just a great metaphor, did not come to pass in 1984. 32 years later and the full realization of Orwell's dystopian warning vision is not yet a reality.
Much in the same way, people have been trying to construct the narrative that the Chargers will pull tooth and nail to assure that Antonio Gates breaks Tony Gonzalez's record for career touchdowns by a tight end. Here we are with just two games left and he still needs three scores to get it. He hasn't found the end zone since Week 10.
The masses are back to licking their chops thinking this is the week the Chargers will suddenly force the issue. I get it, they are playing the Browns who allow the most fantasy points to tight ends on the season. Fantasy points allowed? Who even uses that as a stat anymore? Although, if we're being real, the Browns gave up four touchdowns to Tyler Eifert and Charles Clay in back-to-back weeks.
However, it could just as easily be Hunter Henry that comes away with the touchdown. He's the future, after all. Gates is the past.
And if you're going to make the case that the team will suddenly start forcing it to Gates for the record, why haven't they been doing for over a month now? From Weeks 12 to 15 Hunter Henry leads the team with five red zone targets. Gates, meanwhile, has exactly zero. Henry is also much more a pass-catching tight end exclusively than Gates. According to the underground team over at the Next Gen Stats department, Henry stayed in to block on just 7.1 percent of his pass plays last week against the Raiders, whereas Gates stayed in for 14.3 percent. Henry's pass play participation is up from 37.5 percent in Week 12 to 43.8 percent in Week 15 as he gets further away from a midseason injury.
The Gates narrative is fun to dream about, but it was also fun to dream about back in Week 1 and it still has not happened yet. Someday, Gates may reach that tight end touchdown record, just like the impending dystopia foretold in "1984" will come to pass someday. However, for now, we should not just assume that the Chargers will push Gates to that record when they've shown no interest in doing so as the season winds down.- Harmon
Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks
It feels decent to be correct. Not good, just decent. And I was correct about Jimmy Graham last week. I told you to bench him and he had one catch. So I'm going to sip some organic green tea and double down on Graham here. In the last two games, the Seahawks' tight end has seen just six total targets, and has two catches for just 47 yards. WOOF. He must be hanging out at Starbucks or something because he's been abysmal lately. Those over-roasted coffee beans will bring you down, man.
I mean, even the uber-underground tight end in Seattle, Luke Willson, scored last week. With Tyler Lockett emerging as a downfield threat late in the season and Doug Baldwin still absorbing targets from Russell Wilson, the chances are growing fewer for Graham. And this week, he faces the Arizona Cardinals who have negated tight ends all season. Arizona allows 25.9 receiving yards per game to tight ends, and have surrendered just a single touchdown to the position all season. And since Russell Wilson has just one game since Week 10 with multiple touchdown passes, it's not likely that he finds Graham in the end zone this week. -Franchise