It becomes increasingly difficult to predict which NFL players will flourish this late in the season. After all, the playoffs are nearing and in-game intensity is dramatically increased. Weather also begins to come into play, as some games will be played in brutal conditions.
Week 16 will bring with it some outstanding performances—that much is certain. By looking at different players who will be in certain situations we can begin to determine who is most likely to break out late in the season.
Whether the end result of these performances are to propel your favorite team to victory or win a fantasy football championship, these five players will get it done this Sunday.
LeSean McCoy vs. Chicago Bears
This may be the most obvious choice this week. LeSean McCoy is the NFL’s current rushing leader with 1,343 yards on the ground this season. However, he is coming off of a lackluster performance in which he produced just 38 yards on the ground against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15.
That will certainly change this week.
McCoy and the Philadelphia Eagles offense will be going up against a Bears run defense that ranks dead last in the NFL. Chicago is currently giving up an average of 152.4 rush yards per game to opposing teams.
LeSean McCoy wants the Eagles offense on his back when Philly takes on the Bears & their 32nd ranked rushing defense http://t.co/YHnj8YGoqc
— Eye on Football (@EyeOnNFL) December 19, 2013
He may not be able to create his 29-carry, 217-yard performance in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions, but given the state of the Bears defense, he may get close.
Projection: 152 rush yards, 58 receiving yards, two total touchdowns
Keenan Allen vs. Oakland Raiders
Keenan Allen burst on to the scene as a rookie this season. The talented wide receiver rewarded the San Diego Chargers with some stellar performances in 2013 after they selected him in the third round of last year’s NFL draft.
This week, Allen goes up against a Raiders pass defense that is allowing an average of 254.4 yards per game—good enough for the league’s 24th overall ranking.
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) December 20, 2013
The resurgent Philip Rivers has quickly built a solid rapport with the rookie and will continue to heavily utilize him.
Allen is coming off of two straight two-touchdown performances, and he will get another against a hapless Oakland secondary—especially if he happens to find himself covered by a struggling Mike Jenkins. This rookie will continue to shine in Week 16.
Projection: 117 receiving yards, two touchdowns
Marvin Jones vs. Minnesota Vikings
This one may come as a bit of a surprise. Marvin Jones isn’t exactly a household name just yet. However, he may be after facing the Vikings in Week 16.
The Bengals find themselves at home where they have flourished all year. Quarterback Andy Dalton has been able to find success at Paul Brown Stadium this season. When Dalton is on point, all of his receivers become breakout candidates.
Dalton has been favoring Jones of late, as the duo have been able to connect for a touchdown in each of their past two games.
Marvin Jones played on a season-high 71.8% of the snaps last week. Now has dream matchup vs. MIN: http://t.co/jqMbbrnK9D
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) December 17, 2013
This week, Jones will go up against a porous Vikings secondary that is ranked 30th in the league, as they have been allowing an average of 290.6 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. Because of their shaky defense, they will have to roll extra coverage in the direction of A.J. Green.
That adjustment will leave Jones in one-on-one coverage. This is where Jones is able to flourish. He is a big target and has the speed to get down the field in a hurry. Expect him to burn the Vikings secondary a couple of times for big gains on Sunday.
Projection: 128 receiving yards, one touchdown
Kirk Cousins vs. Dallas Cowboys
Kirk Cousins certainly seems like the real deal. In his first start of the season in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons, Cousins was able to complete 29 of his 45 passing attempts for 381 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 94.8.
In Wk 15, Kirk Cousins had 248 pass yards in the 1st half.
RGIII averaged 246.4 yards per entire game this season. pic.twitter.com/6sDQ8vGICA
— NFL (@nfl) December 21, 2013
Granted, Atlanta has the NFL’s 25th-ranked pass defense, but Cousins will have the pleasure of teeing off on the Cowboys’ 32nd-ranked pass defense this week.
Dallas’ secondary has been abysmal this year, allowing an average of 297.4 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
With a recent game now under his belt, Cousins has certainly shaken off whatever rust remained after backing up Robert Griffin III for most of the season. He is more than capable of putting up some big numbers against such a bad defense. This week, he will do just that.
Projection: 377 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception
Chris Johnson vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
He may not be CJ2K anymore, but Chris Johnson is still a very talented runner. This week, he will get to show what he can do against a Jaguars run defense that is ranked 30th in the NFL and allowing an average of 131.9 yards per game to opposing ball-carriers.
Johnson has received at least 12 carries in each of his past seven games. Against such a horrid run defense, expect his workload to be increased in Week 16.
The last time Johnson faced off against the Jaguars, he slumped and only recorded 30 yards on 12 carries. However, it is now late in the season, and Johnson is the subject of many trade rumors.
Titans have made no decisions, had no discussions about Chris Johnson’s future http://t.co/i2xdmjSf5t
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) December 15, 2013
If these rumors are true, both the Tennessee Titans and Johnson will want to put on a show for any teams that may be interested. A solid performance from the running back late in the season will boost his value significantly.
With a lot on the line, Johnson will not disappoint this week.
Projection: 113 rushing yards, 42 receiving yards, one total touchdown