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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fantasy football: Week 16 waiver-wire picks

It's championship week in fantasy.

If you have made it this far, you likely need a waiver-wire acquisition as much as Brandon Weeden needs another two-interception game.

If you play in a 16-team league and are hoping to find a flex starter -- which is one of the few scenarios I can imagine in which a league finalist would be searching for a starter at this point in the season -- there could be an intriguing choice at running back in Week 16.

It's a risky move -- Curtis Brinkley, anyone? -- but running back has been such a crapshoot this season (see Brown, Bryce; Mathews, Ryan and countless other examples) that nothing would surprise me.

Mathews' season ended the way it started -- with a broken clavicle -- which will sideline the Chargers running back and one of the season's biggest busts for the final two games.

Enter Brinkley, who had six carries for 42 yards and caught three passes for 14 yards last week.

Don't get too excited. Brinkley has averaged 3.2 yards per carry and has 214 yards rushing in his three-year career.

The matchup, however, is favorable -- at the Jets -- as is the fact Ronnie Brown (hamstring) is also injured.

If Brown returns this week, he is the best play among San Diego's running backs, but the guess here is he won't be a factor because of his injury.

Jackie Battle, who has four TDs this season and would have seemed to be the choice to replace Mathews, had only three carries for 2 yards last week.

Norv Turner appears to favor Brinkley. Or maybe the soon-to-be-fired coach was confused and thought Battle was in the game the entire time.

Regardless, Brinkley is our top-ranked running back this week, thanks in part to the Jets ranking 29th against the run. New York is allowing 138.7 rushing yards per contest, 4.5 yards per carry and has given up the fifth-most TDs on the ground (15).

Again, Brinkley is no more than a desperation flex play in a deep league. If that describes your team, I'd go with him unless Brown is said to be healthy heading into Sunday's game.

On to our rankings for the week.

As always, we rank players who are available in more than half of the leagues on, and we usually aim for 40 percent ownership or lower.

1. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (owned in 27.3 percent of the ESPN leagues)
2. Sam Bradford, Rams (38.2)
3. Kirk Cousins, Redskins (2.2)
4. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (9.5)
5. Nick Foles, Eagles (4.9)
Dropped out: Brandon Weeden, Browns
Just missed the cut: Jake Locker, Titans (7.4 percent); Chad Henne, Jaguars (5.8)

1. Curtis Brinkley, Chargers (0.3 percent)
2. Montell Owens, Jaguars (11.0)
3. Jackie Battle, Chargers (12.8)
4. Joique Bell, Lions (33.8)
5. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons (25.8)
Dropped out: David Wilson, Giants (now owned in 74.5 percent of the ESPN leagues, which is too obvious); Marcel Reece, Raiders; Alex Green, Packers
Just missed the cut: Danny Woodhead, Patriots (28.2 percent); Green (29.5); Bilal Powell, Jets (7.2); Mike Goodson, Raiders (2.7)

1. Brandon Gibson, Rams (13.2 percent)
2. Leonard Hankerson, Redskins (38.9)
3. Rod Streater, Raiders (2.0)
4. Golden Tate, Seahawks (17.8)
5. Santana Moss, Redskins (38.2) 
Dropped out: Danario Alexander, Chargers (now owned in 53.3 percent of the ESPN leagues); Josh Gordon, Browns (46.2 percent, also too obvious); Jason Avant, Eagles; Kendall Wright, Titans
Just missed the cut: Greg Little, Browns (14.0 percent); Avant (1.3)

1. Dennis Pitta, Ravens (29.8)
2. Brandon Myers, Raiders (32.3)
3. Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (25.3)
4. Dwayne Allen, Colts (2.2)
5. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins (2.5)
Dropped out: Joel Dreessen, Broncos; Clay Harbor, Eagles
Just missed the cut: None

Past waiver-wire picks: Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12, Week 13, Week 14, Week 15

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