Week 16: Start 'em, Sit 'em picks

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Week 16: Start 'em, Sit 'em picks

If you have made it to the fantasy football championship, congratulations and you're welcome for the free advice. If you're out and have come to see us mess up again, our bad and we'll try and do better next year. It's finally Week 16, which means the final week of the fantasy football year. Injuries continue to bite teams, and others are fighting for playoff position and will be using their stars accordingly. Take that into account when you set your rosters, and take these options into account, too.
Just a reminder for those keeping score at home (though we'll do it for you), for players who each analyst starts, these are the points they will receive:
Start 'em
5 points if a player scores 25 points4: 20-243: 15-192: 10-141: 5-90: negative-4
Sit 'em
5 points if a player scores negative points to 5 points4: 5-93: 10-142: 15-191: 20-240: 25
Without further adieu, here are our picks for Week 16. Good luck!
Mark Strotman (Week 15: 19 points; Season total: 195 points)
With just one week to play, it feels good knowing I can take home the crown with just a marginal week. But we're here to help, and that means making the right picks that will help win you your fantasy league championship. If you're reading this and aren't in the fantasy championship, we appreciate the clicks. As always, I'm looking for high-upside guys in the playoffs. You need your rock-solid starters, but if you have a toss-up you had better play the guy who can explode for 20 instead of the one who will for sure get you 9-10. Just go with it.
Start 'em
DeAngelo Williams, RB -- CAR (vs. OAK)
How about this? Williams has scored 16 and 18 points the last two weeks, respectively, yet hasn't found the end zone. Ever since Jonathan Stewart's ankle injury sidelined him, Williams has been the guy the Panthers were hoping he would be all year. I like him to find the end zone at home this week, as the Panthers' offense has rolled the last few weeks.
T.Y. Hilton, WR -- IND (@ KC)
Welcome to your boom-or-bust play of the week. Hilton is quickly becoming Andrew Luck's favorite receiver and, while his receptions don't do him justice, he's got deep-ball threat written all over him and should get behind the Chiefs' secondary multiple times this week. If Hilton is somehow on the waiver wire or on your bench, change that.
Jermichael Finley, TE -- GB (vs. TEN)
Rare to see a tight end in here, but Finley is really starting to turn it around and probably not in your starting lineup. With two regular season games left to prove his worth (either for the Packers or another team), you can bet Finley is going to "magically" pick up his production. He showed a bit of it last week, and with Jordy Nelson questionable again he'll have some targets come his way. I like him as a TE1 with, yes, high upside.
Sit 'em
Andy Dalton, QB -- CIN (@ PIT)
Dalton has thrown for four touchdown passes in three career games against the Steelers, and I don't see those numbers getting much better this week. It isn't a great matchup, but Dalton is also playing below-average for a QB1. Furthermore, BenJarvus Green-Ellis looks fantastic as of late. If there's a Matthew StaffordRussell WilsonColin Kaepernick on your bench, Dalton may have to ride the pine in a tough road contest.
LeSean McCoy, RB -- PHI (vs. WAS)
I really have no idea why the Eagles, playing for nothing, are risking the only player on their roster with real All-Star potential for the future. That being said, it looks like he'll play but will be splitting time with Bryce Brown, who hopefully you handcuffed. Owners will be excited to plug McCoy into lineups, but don't expect a big game from him.
Jeremy Maclin -- WR -- PHI (vs. WAS)
Outside of a fluky 104-yard, touchdown-receiving performance against the Bucaneers, Maclin can't seem to produce with Nick Foles. It's hard to blame anyone for the Eagles' woes at this point, but I'm staying away from Maclin, even against an average Redskins' secondary. Find a better upside player like, oh, I don't know, T.Y. Hilton.
Scott Krinch (Week 15: 15 points; Season total: 183 points)
Well things haven't gone according to plans for me. I dropped even further behind Mark and after a first-round bye in one of my fantasy leagues, I was ousted in the semifinals. Oh and the Packers celebrated once again at Soldier Field. With Christmas less than a week away, hopefully Santy Clause will help me turn my luck around.
With all of that being said, -- I know you could care less about my misfortunes -- I think I have a good sense of who to startsit this week. I've done my research and hopefully my picks will lead you to fantasy glory...that's if you decide to listen to me.
Start 'em
Russell Wilson, QB -- SEA (vs. SF)
Week after week, Wilson is proving he belongs in the same category as his rookie counterparts Andrew Luck and RGIII. Lately, the former minor league baseball player has been doing it in the air and on the ground, scoring a career-high three rushing touchdowns against the Bills. Normally I'd be against starting a QB against the 49ers defense, but after Tom Brady torched them, they're starting to look vulnerable. The Seahawks NEED this game and expect Wilson to play a large role in a Seattle upset.
Matt Forte, RB -- CHI (@ ARI)
I was wrong about Forte last week. Sorry if you listened to me. But this week, I have faith in Forte's matchup against a Cardinals defense who are allowing 136.5 rushing yards per game. That's not the only factor in No. 22's favor. Michael Bush was just placed on the IR and it looks like all those goal-line touches -- that's if the Bears offense finds the red zone -- will belong to Forte. The Bears are in a must-win situation and will need a monster day from their lead back. Start him with confidence and you will be reaping the rewards.
Danny Amendola, WR -- STL (@ TB)
Amendola showed no signs of a foot injury after catching six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. This week he will get the opportunity to feast on a Brutal (emphasis on a capital B) Tampa Bay secondary. Opposing wide receivers have totaled 3,059 yards and reeled in 16 touchdowns against the Buccaneers. I see Amendola as a must-start this week. I'm thinking at least 10 catches, 100 yards and a score for the rich man's Dane Sanzenbacher.
Sit 'em
Matthew Stafford, QB -- DET (vs. ATL)
What has happened to Stafford this season? You're probably regretting taking him in the first-round in your fantasy drafts by now. He's still putting up the yards, but the touchdowns just haven't been there. After seeing the Falcons dominate Eli Manning and the Giants, I don't have any faith in Stafford putting up a stellar game. Search your waiver-wire, there are much better options still out there. HINT HINT...Russell Wilson.
Knowshon Moreno, RB -- DEN (vs. CLE)
Moreno has come out of the doghouse (no pun intended for the former Georgia Bulldog) and has been running with a purpose the last two games with Willis McGahee out. With that said, I still don't trust Moreno in a fantasy championship matchup. The Browns have been playing better lately and I see this being a low-scoring game. I could be completely wrong on this one, but I just have a hunch that Moreno won't have another double-digit performance.
Mike Wallace, WR -- PIT (vs. CIN)
My first sit of the year was Wallace and I find it only fitting that I end our startsit with the disappointing Steelers wideout. You probably think I hate Wallace and you may be right. The last few seasons he had been my favorite wide receiver in the league, I drafted him on all my fantasy teams and I was furious the Bears didn't draft him back in '09 out of Mississippi. I really soured on him after his holdout in the offseason and it looks it's hampered his play in 2012. Only two 100 receiving games, not something you want out of a No. 1 wide receiver. This week he'll go up against a Bengals defense that's been dominate as of late. If you want to start a Steeler, go with Andre Brown or Heath Miller.
Tony Andracki (Week 15: 15points; Season total: 175)
It's championship week. Do or die. If you're still reading this, hopefully it means you're going for it all, and not just some consoltion prize. Though, I'm a big fan of leagues having some sort of reward (or punishment) for such spots as third place, winner of the consolation bracket, or loser of the dreaded Sacko Bowl.
At this point in the season, you probably don't need much prodding on who to play. It's obvious Michael Turner's value relies solely on touchdowns and Randall Cobb has become a bonafide option as a receiver. You don't need us to tell you that. But we all know that second-guessing that goes on before your biggest matchup of the season. So we're just here as another voice, telling you which guys might be the best plays...and which are not.
Eli Manning, QB -- NYG (@ BAL)
Eli has been the ultimate hit-or-miss fantasy quarterback thsi year -- he's scored five or less in four games, and 20 or more in four games. The Ravens have not been playing well lately and the Giants need to win out to get into the playoffs. It's make-or-break time for the New York Football Giants, too, so they're in the same boat as you. They need Eli as much as you do. Trust him this week.
Stevan Ridley, RB -- NE (@ JAC)
We've all seen what this Patriots' offense can do, even against the league's best defense. So how will they handle one of the league's worst Ds? New England figures to be up by a lot in this game, and fast, so Tom Brady won't have to throw so much. Or, at least that's what I'm hoping since I'm playing Brady for the 'ship. Ridley had scored in six straight games before that Sunday night game, and expect him to get back into that rhythm this week.
Cecil Shorts, WR -- JAC (vs. NE)
Shorts has emerged as a must-start wide receiver, which he proved by catching six balls for 101 yards in Week 15, which came after he missed a game with a concussion. The Patriots certainly give up points in the passing game, and the Jags will definitely have to throw. Start Shorts with confidence, and keep an eye on him next year, especially if Jacksonville figures out its quarterback situation.
Sit 'em
Ben Roethlisberger, QB -- PIT (vs. CIN)
Roethlisberger has been on fire since he returned to the field, with at least 285 yards and 2 TDs in both games. Couple that with the fact it's a must-win game for the Steelers and you'd think Big Ben would be a must-start. But he hasn't played the Bengals well the past couple of years and Cincy needs to win, too, so they'll be focusing on slowing down Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh passing game.
Chris Johnson, RB -- TEN (@ GB)
It's a lost season for the Titans, and they have nothing to gain by giving Johnson 25 touches in each of the final two games. Plus, his fantasy value is almost exclusively tied up in whether he can break a long run or not. The Packers will probably score early and often, which could see the Tennessee gameplan stray away from the run, as well. Start somebody else if you have a better option.
Torrey Smith, WR -- BAL (vs. NYG)
Two catches in the last two weeks? That's ridiculous. Smith has just three games this year with more than four catches and the Ravens offense has been horrible, especially lately. Don't worry about starting Smith. There are better options.

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

From the high ground of hindsight, what unfolded in the Metrodome that day in 1995 was actually quite a big deal. But not for reasons that you could have really understood at the time watching the Bears stun the Minnesota Vikings 35-18 in the wild card round of the 1994 playoffs.

It was not so much the game alone. It was the overall context of the time for the Bears, before and after.

Though the 1995 season would get off to a 6-2 start for the Bears before their near-historic collapse, the Minnesota game would prove to be the high-water mark for the coaching tenure of Dave Wannstedt. This was the postseason, and the Bears looked to be going where then-president Mike McCaskey envisioned when he made the play to beat the New York Giants in securing Wannstedt, who was unquestionably the hot coaching prospect coming out of the Dallas Super Bowl pantheon after the 1992 season.

To fully grasp the situation, you need to understand the undercurrent of venom that had developed between the Bears and Vikings. Bears-Packers might have been the glitzy rivalry, but what had grown between the Bears and Vikings was true hostility, with little of the respect that the Bears and Packers had managed. The Vikings carried grudges for Pro Bowl slights going back almost to the Bears' Super Bowl win. One Bears defensive lineman remarked that his most hated opponent was Minnesota right tackle Tim Irwin, adding, "He's a guy that, if I ran over him with a car, I'd back up over him to make sure I got him." Dwayne Rudd's backpedaling taunt after an interception came a couple years later, but you get the idea.

What's easily forgotten looking back through the mists of time was the epic decision made by Wannstedt to make a quarterback change, from a quarterback he wanted in free agency to one he knew well from their time together at the University of Miami. That was every bit the turning point of the season and the real reason the playoff trip and win ever happened.

The Bears had been annihilated in their first game against the Vikings in the 1994 season — 42-14 — and something was really, really wrong, which become glaringly more evident just a few weeks later, even though the Bears were reaching a 4-2 mark under quarterback Erik Kramer, the centerpiece of an aggressive offseason foray into free agency. But the Bears then lost — badly — to the Lions and Packers, with Kramer throwing three interceptions against Detroit and two against Green Bay, the latter in only 10 pass attempts.

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

I talked privately to Kramer after the Green Bay game, specifically about why it was that he was playing his absolute worst against Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota, all teams with which he was intimately familiar. My thought: You know those defenses and where their people are going to be.

Kramer shook his head: "The 'other guys' I know. It's my own guys. I don't know where they're supposed to be."

It wasn't a comment on his receivers whatsoever. It was Kramer admitting bluntly that he was not getting the West Coast scheme of coordinator Ron Turner and its timing element.

Wannstedt knew it wasn't working and made the change to Steve Walsh, who'd been the Hurricanes' quarterback under Jimmy Johnson when Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator.

That was the tipping point, and Walsh and Wannstedt are among the principals of "Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon," airing on Monday at 8 p.m. on CSN.

Anyone with any time spent in or around the NFL knows that beating a team three times in a season is incredibly difficult. The Bears had been blown out in the first Minnesota game but had pushed the Vikings to overtime in the second and would have won had Kevin Butler not missed a 40-yard field goal try.

The playoff meeting was No. 3, and after the Vikings put up a field goal in the first quarter, the Bears scored with a Lewis Tillman touchdown in the second and just pulled steadily away from the winner of the only NFL division that produced four teams with winning records.

From there it would be another decade-plus — 2006 season — before the Bears would win a playoff game.

New Fire acquisition Dax McCarty tweets thank you to Red Bull fans

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USA TODAY

New Fire acquisition Dax McCarty tweets thank you to Red Bull fans

When the Chicago Fire traded for midfielder Dax McCarty it surprised many around Major League Soccer.

McCarty had been with the New York Red Bulls for five and a half seasons and served as the team's captain in recent years. He was a central figure in the club's identity and success (2013 and 2015 Supporters' Shield winners). His departure was devastating to many fans and came at a busy time in McCarty's life.

He got married two days before the trade and had just arrived with the U.S. national team for the annual January camp that takes place during the MLS offseason and largely features domestically based players.

On Sunday McCarty took to Twitter to thank Red Bulls fans in a lengthy note.

McCarty says he was blindsided by the trade.

"I have been in the league long enough to know how things work, yet somehow I was still surprised," McCarty said in the note. "I've been sitting here for a week trying to process everything, and I still can't quite come up with the words to describe how I'm feeling."

McCarty then thanked his teammates, the support staff with the Red Bulls, Red Bulls fans and his wife.

"To the fans: Thank you for giving me 5 1/2 of the best years of my life," he wrote.

The note is similar to what Harry Shipp tweeted after the Fire traded the Lake Forest native to the Montreal Impact. Shipp was again traded this offseason, to reigning MLS Cup champion Seattle.

One difference between the two is that Shipp mentioned being excited to join Montreal. McCarty made no mention of Chicago or the Fire.

"It will be weird stepping onto the field at Red Bull Arena as an opponent, but I'll always cherish the memories we made together, as a family," McCarty wrote. "If you could do me one huge favor and not chant "metro reject" when I come back, I would greatly appreciate it."

Metro reject is an old chant for former players in reference the club's previous name, New York/New Jersey Metrostars. The Fire visit Red Bull Arena on April 29.

The Fire open preseason training on Monday, although McCarty won't be there because he is still in camp with the national team.