SEC in Fantasy, Week 16: How many Auburn players can make the NFL playoffs?
Four former Tigers are already postseason-bound. Nine more are still in the hunt as we approach the final week of a wild NFL season.
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Here we are, heading into the final week of the NFL season with so much still to be decided. There are 35 (!!!) potential Wild Card matchups, which will be decided in Week 17. Auburn has 13 players from 10 different teams that have either already clinched playoff berth or are still alive in the postseason race, hoping the right combination of outcomes puts them into Wild Card weekend.
First, let’s take a look at those who have already punched their ticket to the playoffs. Though three teams with Auburn alum have clinched, only two former Tigers are currently active and available to play beyond Week 17. The remaining two hope to be activated from the IR in time for postseason play.
Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Tampa Bay clinches the top NFC Wild Card spot (5th seed) with a win over Atlanta, which would have them visiting the NFC East champion in the first round. That game could still take place in Dallas, New York, or Washington D.C. More on that later.
If the Bucs lose to Atlanta but the Arizona Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Rams, the same scenario applies.
However, if the Bucs lose and the Rams win on Sunday, Tampa Bay will be the 6th seed and may have to visit Green Bay, New Orleans, or Seattle.
Montravius Adams (Green Bay Packers)
Adams is currently on the Injured Reserve for a toe injury he suffered in Week 11.
Neiko Thorpe (Seattle Seahawks)
The Seahawks special teams captain is currently on the Injured Reserve for a groin injury he has been battling all season.
Here is where it gets crazy: Peyton Barber, Daren Bates, Angelo Blackson, Chandler Cox, Javaris Davis, Noah Igbinoghene, Cody Parkey, Darius Slayton, and Braden Smith all have paths to the postseason — and each of their teams could be eliminated with a single twist of fate on Sunday. Let’s break it down:
Peyton Barber (Washington Football Team)
Win and get in — Washington will win the NFC East championship with a win over the Eagles on Sunday Night Football and host a first-round playoff game against the Buccaneers or Rams.
Lose and go home — if Washington loses in Philadelphia, the NFC East crown will go to whoever won the matchup hours before, the Cowboys or the Giants, and Washington will be eliminated.
Darius Slayton (New York Giants)
The Giants must beat the Cowboys and have Washington lose to the Eagles on Sunday night to win the NFC East title. Any other combination of outcomes results in Slayton watching the playoffs on TV.
Angelo Blackson (Arizona Cardinals)
If the Cardinals beat the Rams, they will move on to the postseason as either the 6th or 7th seed. That would mean they could have to play the Packers, Saints, or Seahawks in the first round.
The only other scenario that would result in Arizona moving on hinges on the almighty, improbable tie. If the Cardinals and Rams tie AND the Bears lose to Green Bay — Arizona is in.
Daren Bates (Tennessee Titans)
If the Titans beat the Texans or the Colts lose to the Jaguars, the Titans will win the AFC South and host a first-round playoff game.
If the Titans lose in Houston on Sunday and the Colts win, the Titans would still clinch Wild Card berth with a loss by either the Dolphins (at Buffalo) or the Ravens (at Cincinnati).
The only way for the Titans to miss out on the playoffs is this exact scenario: A loss to the Texans, the Dolphins beat the Bills, the Colts beat the Jaguars, AND the Ravens beat the Bengals.
Braden Smith (Indianapolis Colts)
Smith is currently on the COVID-RESERVE list.
The Colts can win the AFC South title and be the conference’s 4th seed or it could miss out on the playoffs altogether.
If the Colts beat the Jaguars and the Titans lose/tie to the Texans, the Colts are AFC South division champs.
If the Colts tie the Jaguars and the Titans lose to the Texans, the Colts are AFC South division champs
So regardless of what happens before their late afternoon kickoff against the Jags, the Colts could be playing for a division title — depending on what takes place in Houston.
If the Colts hope to get into the Wild Card round and not rely on a Titans’ loss, Indy will need one of the Browns, Dolphins, or Ravens to lose/tie before their game for a win-and-in scenario.
If the Browns, Dolphins, Ravens, and Titans each win, the Colts will be the third 11-win team in NFL history to miss out on the playoffs.
Cody Parkey (Cleveland Browns)
If the Browns beat the (likely resting) Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17, they are in the playoffs.
If the Colts lose to the Jaguars, the Browns are in the playoffs.
If the Titans lose, the Dolphins win/tie, and the Ravens win/tie, the Browns are in the playoffs.
If the Browns tie the Steelers, the Browns get in with a loss from the Titans, Ravens, or Dolphins OR a loss/tie from the Colts.
If the Browns lose and the Titans, Colts, Ravens, and Dolphins win — the Browns will not make the postseason.
Chandler Cox, Javaris Davis and Noah Igbinoghene (Miami Dolphins)
If the Dolphins beat the Bills, they are in the playoffs as the No. 5 seed.
If the Browns, Ravens, or Colts lose, the Dolphins are in regardless of what they do in Week 17.
If the Dolphins tie the Bills, they need a tie from that same group of teams OR a Titans loss to move on to the postseason.
If the Dolphins lose, and the Browns, Colts, and Ravens all win — the NFL team with the most active Auburn Tigers will not be playing another game this season.
After that thorough review of the NFL Playoff Picture, let’s take a look at how we got to this point in Week 16 with our weekly fantasy football rundown:
QB: Jalen Hurts (Eagles) - 20.6
RB: Kenyan Drake (Cardinals) - 12
RB: Derrick Henry (Titans) - 9.8
WR: Calvin Ridley (Falcons) - 14.8
WR: Amari Cooper (Cowboys) - 14.1
TE: Irv Smith Jr. (Vikings) – 20.3
FLEX: Cam Sims (Football Team) - 7.8
TOTAL = 99.4
With their playoff hopes officially dashed after a blowout loss in Dallas, the Eagles will soon be entering into a very interesting offseason. Jalen Hurts has been doing his part in making the decision a bit foggier for the Philly front office, flashing a mix of impressiveness and disappointment in every performance thus far. On Sunday, the good consisted of touchdowns on each of the first two drives of the game, over 400 yards of total offense, and a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. The bad? Only scoring a field goal in the remaining three quarters and every Eagles’ possession of the fourth resulting in a Hurts turnover. One more showcase opportunity remains: trying to spoil Washington’s season on national TV Sunday night.
Irv Smith Jr. had a very merry Christmas Day, hitting career highs in offensive snap share (88%), targets (nine), and catches (six). He turned all that volume into 53 yards and two touchdowns in Friday afternoon’s fantasy carnival in New Orleans. You know where you are, you know what to do, Swervin Irvin.
Thanks to his fourth triple-digit receiving yardage performance in a row, Calvin Ridley led all Tide receivers yet again in Week 16. Just five catches netted him 130 yards in the surprisingly slow-paced 17-14 loss to the Chiefs. A similar low-volume, high-output day was had by Amari Cooper, who averaged 30.25 yards a reception (4/121) and also did not score a touchdown. Cam Sims had nine passes thrown his way but could only secure three of them for 63 yards.
The ground game was not the Tide’s strong suit this week. Kenyan Drake was able to break into the end zone for the sixth time in six weeks, though, which helped boost his 18-carry, 45-yard and two-catch, five-yard performance. Henry fell two yards short of the century mark in the blizzard in Green Bay on Sunday night and did not score, holding him to single digits in fantasy for just the fourth time this season.
QB: Brandon Allen (Bengals) - 23.1
TE: Hunter Henry (Chargers) – CV19
FLEX: Jeremy Sprinkle (Football Team) – 0
TOTAL = 23.1
Even without the services of the Cincinnati’s top wideout, Tyler Boyd, Brandon Allen looked really sharp on Sunday. He shredded the Texans secondary for 371 passing yards on 29-of-37 and spun two touchdown passes in the 37-31 road win. Allen has been quite serviceable in the last two weeks; turnover free and completing over 75% of his passes in both games. The Bengals may very well choose to keep the former Razorback at the helm until Joe Burrow is fit to return from his gruesome knee injury sometime next season.
QB: Cam Newton (Patriots) – 9.8
RB: Kerryon Johnson (Lions) - 2.7
RB: Peyton Barber (Football Team) – 1.0
WR: Darius Slayton (Giants) – 3.6
TE: C.J. Uzomah (Bengals) - IR
FLEX: Chandler Cox (Dolphins) - OUT
K: Daniel Carlson (Raiders) – 13
TOTAL = 30.1
Newton got a highlight in before conceding the quarterback duties to Jarrett Stidham, who did little to impress in his own right on Monday night. Just 5-of-10 for 34 yards through the air for Newton, who ran for this touchdown as part of his four carries for 24 yards.
The AU backs are just not getting opportunities. Peyton Barber took his lone touch 10 yards and barely got back on the field again. Kerryon Johnson caught two passes for 17 yards.
Darius Slayton is still getting targeted at every point and turn of the game and just seemingly can’t manage to get on the same page with his quarterback, no matter who it is. Eight targets yielded just two catches for 26 yards.
Everyone likes watching Daniel Carlson kick field goals and Jon Gruden is no different. Instead of doing the logical thing and scoring a very late touchdown, which would force the Dolphins to drive the entire field AND SCORE A TOUCHDOWN with no timeouts, he told his running back to slide at the one-yard line, and knelt the next play so that Carlson’s 22-yarder could put the team up by just two points.
The Dolphins got in field goal range in one play, and a 44-yard field goal eliminated the Raiders from playoff contention. Jon Gruden, clearly a Daniel Carlson fantasy owner.
QB: Jeff Driskel (Broncos) - OUT
RB: La’Mical Perine (Jets) – 4.9
WR: Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) - 9.9
WR: Freddie Swain (Seahawks) - 0
TE: Trey Burton (Colts) - 3.3
FLEX: Jordan Reed (49ers) - 0
TOTAL = 18.1
Bud Robinson caught what would ultimately be the game-deciding touchdown, a 25-yard strike from Patrick Mahomes. Those 9.9 fantasy points are his second-most for a single game this season.
Trey Burton got his most work in a month: three catches for 18 yards.
QB: Matthew Stafford (Lions) – 0.7
RB: Nick Chubb (Browns) - 15.1
RB: D’Andre Swift (Lions) - 7
WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) - 8.4
WR: Mecole Hardman (Chiefs) - 5.9
TE: Charlie Woerner (49ers) - 0
FLEX: Sony Michel (Patriots) - 6.9
K: Rodrigo Blankenship (Colts) - 6
TOTAL = 50
Stafford sprained his ankle on the first drive of the Lions’ Boxing Day matchup against Tampa Bay. He completed two of his three passes on the drive for 17 yards. His running back managed to stay healthy throughout the game, finishing with 45 rushing yards on 10 carries and four catches for 25 yards.
Nick Chubb’s day started very slow for the decimated Browns, the latest victims of the scorching hot New York Jets. But Chubb scored a late third quarter touchdown from a yard out to add six points to what ended up being a decent fantasy day: 11 carries for 28 yards rushing and five catches for 38 yards. Last night, Sony Michel was probably the most impressive Patriot: 10 totes for 69 yards.
The Dawg receivers had a modest day, led by A.J. Green. Green caught six Brandon Allen passes for 64 yards, his highest yardage output since Week 7. As for Mecole Hardman, it was three catches for 24 yards and a 20-yard carry.
Hot Rod worked exclusively from close range, as the Steelers erased a 17-point second half deficit against his Colts. He hit all three extra points and his only field goal attempt, a 28-yarder in the third quarter.
RB: Benny Snell Jr. (Steelers) – 0
RB/WR: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Dolphins) - 2.6
WR: Randall Cobb (Texans) – IR
TOTAL = 2.6
Benny Snell had six carries but lost as much yardage as he gained, so he contributed an egg.
Lynn Bowden Jr. had a disappointing Saturday night, getting just three touches — the least amount of action he has seen since seeing his role increase in Week 13. He took his pair of catches and single carry the same distance: eight yards.
QB: Joe Burrow (Bengals) – IR
RB: Leonard Fournette (Buccaneers) - 14.1
RB: Darrel Williams (Chiefs) - 9.3
WR: D.J. Chark (Jaguars) - 14.2
WR: Justin Jefferson (Vikings) - 11.5
TE: Foster Moreau (Raiders) - 0
FLEX: Russell Gage (Falcons) - 4.3
TOTAL = 53.4
For the second week in a row, Leonard Fournette was the lead Buccaneer ballcarrier. He had to do his work quickly to make an impact before getting the hook due to the nature of a 47-7 blowout game script. Luckily for his fantasy owners, his final carry of the game was a four-yard scamper that found pay dirt with 11:55 to go in the SECOND (2nd) quarter. He was busy prior to that though, totaling nine carries for 34 yards, including the touchdown, and adding three catches for 32 yards.
Darrel Williams was the other Bayou back getting an increased workload due to injury in Week 16. He easily set season highs in every general counting stat in existence: carries (10), rushing yards (46), targets (six, career-high), catches (four), receiving yards (27), and offensive snap share (70%, career-high).
Darrell Chark Jr.’s team may not be any good right now, but help should be arriving soon for the 2018 second-rounder. His four catches for 62 yards and this score put more momentum behind Chark being the top target for Trevor Lawrence in his rookie 2021 rookie campaign down in Duval.
The rookie Pro-Bowler and should-be Offensive Rookie of the Year, Justin Jefferson, continued to add to an incredible freshman campaign on Christmas Day. Six catches on a game-leading 10 targets for 85 yards. Additionally, Russell Gage caught four balls for 23 yards.
QB: Dak Prescott (Cowboys) – IR
TE: Jordan Thomas (Patriots) - CV19
TOTAL = 0
Nothing to see here. Keep it moving.
QB: Drew Lock (Broncos) – 16.1
TE: Albert Okwuegbunam (Broncos) - IR
TOTAL = 16.1
The rumor mill in Denver has smoke overhead again after Drew Lock had a very disappointing performance and loss on Sunday afternoon to the Chargers. After throwing for five touchdowns and no interceptions in the previous two weeks, Lock was back to his old tricks: turning the ball over twice through the air, now bringing his season total to an NFL co-leading 15. Overall, it was 24-for-47 for 264 yards, the two picks, and five rushes for 15 yards and the ever-valuable rushing touchdown. He will get another go at it next weekend against the Raiders, but John Elway may have seen enough already. Expect names and rumors to pop-up extensively in the weeks ahead.
RB: Jordan Wilkins (Colts) – 0
WR: D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks) – 8.9
WR: Laquon Treadwell (Falcons) - 8.1
TE: Evan Engram (Giants) - 10.5
FLEX: Dawson Knox (Bills) - 6.6
TOTAL = 34.1
For the second time in three weeks, Laquon Treadwell scored a touchdown. The former Minnesota Vikings’ first-rounder is making the most of his limited run after being elevated from the practice squad at the start of the month. After logging his first multi-catch game since Week 14 of last season (two catches for 11 yards and the TD), Treadwell now has touchdowns on half of his receptions this season and has not missed a target.
D.K. Metcalf had six catches for 59 yards, Evan Engram had seven catches for 65 yards and a rush for five more, and Dawson Knox closed the scoring on Monday Night Football with three catches for 51 yards.
RB: Mike Davis (Panthers) – 8.8
RB: Rico Dowdle (Cowboys) – 0
WR: Alshon Jeffery (Eagles) - 2.7
WR: Bryan Edwards (Raiders) - 1.6
TE: Hayden Hurst (Falcons) - 13.2
FLEX: Jared Cook (Saints) - 9.7
K: Ryan Succop (Buccaneers) - 5
TOTAL = 41
For the second consecutive weeks, tight ends led the way for the Gamecocks. Hayden Hurst caught all five of his targets for 47 yards and a touchdown, which opened up the game’s scoring with 3:35 left in the first half. In the Big Easy, Jared Cook caught a pair of 19-yard catches before ending his fantasy day with a 44-yard catch-and-run.
Mike Davis had his seventh single-digit performance in his last nine. His first-half touchdown wound up being huge, saving him from certain fantasy doom. Mike D ended with 14 carries for just 28 yards and, for the first time this season, received zero targets.
Ryan Succop may have been the single low-light in a huge day for the Bucs. He missed his only field goal try (42 yards out) and two of his seven extra point attempts.
QB: Joshua Dobbs (Steelers) - OUT
RB: Alvin Kamara (Saints) – 54.7
RB: Jakob Johnson (Patriots) – 0
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson (Bears) – 0
WR: Marquez Callaway (Saints) - 4.1
TE: Luke Stocker (Falcons) - 1.4
FLEX: Jason Witten (Raiders) - 2.2
TOTAL = 62.4
And now we’re here, looking back at an all-time Christmas Day. What did Alvin Kamara bring for fantasy managers on the nice list? A fantasy football championship. AK received the most hand-offs in his entire career, 22, and subsequently tallied the most rushing yards he has ever put up — 155. He added three catches for 17 yards. Oh yeah, and he also tied an all-time NFL record with SIX rushing touchdowns.
QB: Ryan Tannehill (Titans) – 18.3
RB: Trayveon Williams (Bengals) - 0.6
RB: Cullen Gillaspia (Texans) - IR
WR: Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – 35.1
WR: Christian Kirk (Cardinals) - 11.1
TE: Ricky Seals-Jones (Chiefs) - 0
FLEX: Josh Reynolds (Rams) – 10
K: Randy Bullock (Bengals) - OUT
TOTAL = 75.1
If you were lucky enough to face Alvin Kamara in the fantasy championship and had Mike Evans, you may have at least had a fighting chance to climb out of the Friday afternoon crater he left. The Bucs clearly had a point to prove by keeping Evans in the melee. The former Aggie great caught 10 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns — his second coming when the scoreboard read 40-7 in the second half.
To say Tannehill had a tough time in the Green Bay frost would be an understatement. His uncharacteristic line read: 11-of-24 (season-low completion percentage) for 121 passing yards (season-low) for one touchdown and two interceptions (season-high). However, he did find success on the ground — three carries for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds broke into double digits in their respective games before squaring off for a potential Wild Card berth in Week 17. Kirk totaled season-highs with 10 targets and seven receptions but all 76 yards were gained between the goal lines. Josh Reynolds was also targeted 10 times and turned that into six catches for 65 yards and also ran the ball for five yards. The most important news for both of these A&M alums is that they may not have the services of their starting quarterback with everything on the line this coming weekend.
RB: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Buccaneers) - 7.4
RB: Khari Blasingame (Titans) – 0
WR: Trent Sherfield (Cardinals) - 0
TOTAL = 7.4
VANDY ON THE BOARD
FANTASY STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK 16
1. Alabama: 1558.6 (last week - 1)
2. Georgia: 1185 (2)
3. LSU: 1112.4 (3)
4. Texas A&M: 896.5 (4)
5. South Carolina: 713.6 (5)
6. Auburn: 649.7 (6)
7. Ole Miss: 634 (7)
8. Tennessee: 477.8 (8)
9. Florida: 373.7 (9)
10. Missouri: 195.7 (10)
11. Kentucky: 178.8 (11)
12. Arkansas: 174.2 (13)
13. Mississippi State: 151.9 (12)
14. Vanderbilt: 27.8 (14)
WEEK 16 ALL-SEC FANTASY TEAM
QB: Brandon Allen (Arkansas/Bengals) - 23.1
RB: Alvin Kamara (Tennessee/Saints) - 54.7
RB: Nick Chubb (Georgia/Browns) - 15.1
WR: Mike Evans (Texas A&M/Buccaneers) - 35.1
WR: Calvin Ridley (Alabama/Falcons) - 14.8
TE: Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama/Vikings) - 20.3
FLEX: D.J. Chark Jr. (LSU/Jaguars) - 14.2
K: Daniel Carlson (Auburn/Raiders) - 13
TOTAL = 190.3
Brandon Allen is our lone first-timer, surprisingly leading all former SEC gunslingers in Week 16.
Alvin Kamara returned to the All-SEC squad with authority, and now leads the conference in total fantasy points by 13.9 over Ryan Tannehill. Barring any Kamara-like performances in the season’s final week, AK will be the conference’s top running back.
After a brief time away, Chubb is back for the fourth time in five weeks.
Mike Evans broke his own franchise record for touchdowns in a season, though this performance is just his third time as an all-conference player.
Calvin Ridley is an honoree for the third week in a row and the sixth time this season, and has jumped ahead of D.K. Metcalf by a VERY slim margin. Wide Receiver of the Year will go down to the final weekend.
Irv Smith Jr.’s third trip to the All-SEC list comes after a two-touchdown Christmas Day.
D.J. Chark is also back for his third time, after just edging out Leonard Fournette who finished 0.1 point shy of making the team.
Daniel Carlson had not been the top kicker in the conference since the season’s very first week, but gets this week’s spot as the only boot in double figures. After coming into the week tied with Blankenship for Kicker of the Year, Carlson will take a seven-point lead into the final game.
What an ending we have in store! Several award races are very much up for grabs in the final week of the season: Player of the Year (Tannehill vs. Kamara), Wide Receiver of the Year (Ridley vs. Metcalf vs. Jefferson), Tight End of the Year (Henry vs. Hurst vs. Engram), Kicker of the Year (Carlson vs. Blankenship).
Be sure to join us next week for our SEC in NFL EXTRAVAGANZA as we put the finishing touches on our season, hand out our hotly contested season-long awards, and look forward to watching several Auburn Tigers make a run in the playoffs.
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