Happy holidays everyone! We got the gift of another crazy week that was filled with a record setting comeback, game winning field goals, and plenty of major shakeups to the playoff bracket. We'll review all of that and more as the season starts to wind down.
Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Week 16 Power Rankings
Teams to Note
Los Angeles Chargers (Rose 4 spots)
The Chargers find themselves in great playoff position after a key win against the Titans. Herbert continues to make impressive throws, the defense is getting healthier and back up to speed, and the offensive core is back together. Expect them to keep surging as the playoff hunt races on.
New England Patriots (Dropped 3 spots)
The Pats are in a really tough spot, and most of it is on the coaching/playcalling. This past week, the Pats ran the ball 22 out of 23 times from under center, and then passed the ball 85% of the time from shotgun...this is non-conducive to running an above average offense. With no real playmakers besides Rhamondre Stevenson, the Pats need to move away from being vanilla instead of moving closer to it.
Arizona Cardinals (Dropped 5 spots)
Kyler is out for the year, multiple key players have been ruled out week after week, and Kliff and Keim are on their way out the door. It's time for a major personnel rebuild in Arizona, as the Super Bowl window is rapidly closing in Pheonix.
Week 15 Awards
AFC Offensive MVP: Josh Allen - Buffalo Bills
AFC Defensive MVP: Justin Simmons - Denver Broncos
AFC Trench Tyrant: Michael Onwenu - New England Patriots
AFC Special Teams MVP: Ryan Stonehouse - Tennessee Titans
NFC Offensive MVP: George Kittle - San Francisco 49ers
NFC Defensive MVP: Micah Parsons - Dallas Cowboys
NFC Trench Tyrant: Ryan Ramczyk - New Orleans Saints
NFC Special Teams MVP: Kalif Raymond - Detroit Lions
Award Winners to Note
George Kittle - Some heads may be turned since I didn't pick Kirk Cousins, especially since his 2 INTs were his receiver's fault, but he didn't have a truly good game. On the other hand, Kittle has his best game of the season in all phases, as he posted the 5th highest offensive grade in the entire league in Week 15. Putting up a 4 catch, 93 yard and 2 TD statline, paired with an 87+ run blocking grade in a must win game, is much more impactful than Kirk's comeback performance.
Ryan Ramczyk - Ramcyzk had a great game in pass protection, as he allowed 0 pressures on 21 pass block attempts. Although this doesn't seem that great, he posted the 4th highest offensive grade among all offensive linemen at 80.9. The Saints offense also put up 134 yards rushing, with 114 of those yards coming to Ryan's side.
Micah Parsons - What a day for the DPOY candidate. He put up a career high 12 pressures which resulted in 1 sack and a QB hit. He also recovered a fumble and posted a TFL, while putting up a pass rush win rate of 31.7%. Add in a batted pass, Parsons had a stellar performance during the Cowboys loss this week.
Photo: Steph Chambers/Getty Images
Key Fantasy Players Recap (Week 15)
QB: Andy Dalton vs Atlanta Falcons
Projected - 14.5
Actual - 14.14
Results - Pushed
RB: Dare Ogunbowale vs Kansas City Chiefs
Projected - 6.8
Actual - 1.4
Results - Busted
WR: Elijah Moore vs Detroit Lions
Projected - 10.5
Actual - 9.4
Results - Busted
TE: Chigoziem Okonkwo vs Los Angeles Chargers
Projected - 8.9
Actual - 10.0
Results - Pushed
D/ST: Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns
Projected - 7.5
Actual - 8.0
Results - Pushed
K: Brandon McManus vs Arizona Cardinals
Projected - 6.6
Actual - 7.0
Results - Pushed
Week 15 Total: 0 Boomed, 4 Pushed, 2 Busted
Yearly Total: 22 Boomed, 12 Pushed, 20 Busted
Key Fantasy Players for Week 16
QB: Davis Mills vs Tennessee Titans (proj. 10.2)
There's a good chance Tannehill is out for the year, and the Titans offense has been abysmal when Malik Willis plays. This should give Davis Mills more chances than normal to put up points.
RB: Deon Jackson vs Los Angeles Chargers (proj. 7.9)
Even with Zack Moss sharing the backfield, Deon thrives when he plays in place of JT. Expect big receiving numbers from him this week.
WR: Rashid Shaheed vs Cleveland Browns (proj. 7.4)
Rashid has been a major playmaker when called upon, and with the Saints top 3 receivers out, he'll be leaned on again as they make a final playoff push.
TE: Daniel Bellinger vs Minnesota Vikings (proj. 8.1)
TE has been the hardest position to predict, therefore I'm picking Bellinger solely based on gut feeling.
D/ST: Detroit Lions vs Carolina Panthers (proj. 5.5)
The Lions have played some very strong defense as of late, and should continue to do so against a hapless Panthers squad.
K: Jake Elliot vs Dallas Cowboys (proj. 6.2)
Elliott currently ranks outside the top 20 for kicking, but expect him to have a big night in a potential division clinching game.
Photo: Brett Duke/The Times-Picayune
Pro Bowl Roster/Selection Process
Figured I'd highlight the Pro Bowl in this blog since the rosters just dropped, and boy is the selection process flawed. I'll be going over which players made the cut that probably shouldn't have, which players were snubbed that were more than deserving of making the roster, and discussing how players are selected and the issues with it.
Pro Bowl Reaches
TJ Watt (replacement: Jaelan Phillips)
Orlando Brown Jr (replacement: Kolton Miller)
Xavien Howard (replacement: Tyson Campbell)
Quandre Diggs (replacement: Ryan Neal)
Kirk Cousins (replacement: Justin Fields)
Pro Bowl Snubs
Matt Milano (replace: CJ Mosley)
Christian McCaffrey (replace: Miles Sanders)
Jaycee Horn (replace: Jaire Alexander)
Amon-Ra St. Brown (replace: Terry McLaurin)
Jaylen Waddle (replace: Ja'Marr Chase)
Pro Bowl Selection Process
For those that don't know, the Pro Bowl is selected by a three way split between the fan vote, the player vote, and the coach vote. For example, if someone wins the popular vote for their position (i.e Tua Tagovailoa), that doesn't necessarily mean they automatically get into the Pro Bowl. After all of the vote rankings are done for the fans, players, and coaches, the final overall ranking determines who makes the Pro Bowl. While there isn't anything necessarily wrong with this process, the way positions are determined is what causes a major issue in the results.
Currently, the positions are selected based on old position categories. The main one's where this becomes a problem are the front-seven players on defense, as the positions are currently listed as defensive tackle, defensive end, middle linebacker, and outside linebacker. While this seems like a solid system, this only makes sense if every defense ran the same scheme, which is not the case in the NFL. Teams run a mix of 4-3, 3-4, and nickel as their base packages, which makes it difficult to determine everyone's true position with the Pro Bowl classifications. Based on voting, there were a total of 12 edge rushers, 6 interior defensive linemen, and 4 off ball linebackers selected to the Pro Bowl.
What would make more sense is using the classifications I listed above - edge rushers, interior defensive linemen, and off ball linebackers (or just linebackers). Assign 6 players for each position, and then you can add 2 more Pro Bowl spots to another position or set it as a flex option for voters to pick whoever they want. From here, you can then set sub-position classifications to each, most notably the interior defensive lineman position. If we look at nose tackles and pass rushing 3-techs, both have two completely different roles, but are both monumental for setting the tone up front. This way, guys like Derrick Brown and DJ Reader wouldn't get snubbed for guys who put up more stats based on their alignment (3-techs get more one-on-one opportunities than nose tackles, which leads to more sacks, TFLs, and pressure rates). You can do this for linebackers as well, since middle linebackers are prone to get more tackles than strongside/weakside linebackers. With this, guys like Dre Greenlaw or TJ Edwards could actually make the Pro Bowl since there isn't as small of a position threshold.
End of Year Awards Tracker
* - denotes any changes from the previous week to this week
Comeback Player of the Year
Most Improved Player
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Kenneth Walker III
Trench Tyrant of the Year
Special Teams Player of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
Offensive Player of the Year
Coach of the Year
Most Valuable Player
Photo: Derek Gee/Buffalo News
I hope every stays safe and enjoys time with family, friends, and football this weekend!