Ryans, who was named to his first Pro Bowl this week as AFC's starting middle linebacker, has signed a Texans mini-helmet that will go to the winner this week in the Texans' free fantasy football challenge.
The NFL season is winding down, and so are your chances to win a great prize in the free HoustonTexans.com Home Team Challenge. The Texans fan with the highest point total in Week 16* *will receive a Texans mini-helmet autographed by 2008 Pro Bowler DeMeco Ryans.
Remember to set your roster by the Thursday lineup deadline at 6:00 p.m. CST.
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QB Drew Brees, NO, 71 points (vs. PHI):In three games in the month of December, Brees has completed 75.5 percent of his passes for 822 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. With nasty weather threatening the fantasy hopes of many elite passers this week, perhaps more important is that Brees' Week 16 game is within the weather-proof confines of the SuperDome. In his last five games at home, Brees has racked up 1,430 passing yards, 11 TDs and three INTs, including last week when he carved up the Cardinals for 315 yards and two TDs on 26-of-30 passing. The Eagles have the NFL's fifth-best rushing defense and 16th-ranked pass defense, so expect the Saints to be airing it out on Sunday, which should lead to another huge day for Brees.
RB Earnest Graham, TB, 45 (@ SF):In six games since Week 9, Graham has averaged 17.7 fantasy points per game. He has at least one rushing TD in each of those six games, along with 547 rushing yards and 23 catches for 150 yards. The 49ers give up 119 rushing yards per game (23rd in the league) and have allowed nine rushing TDs this season. Graham had 22 carries for 79 yards and a TD last week, plus 40 yards on five catches. RB Michael Pittmanreturned from an ankle injury and had 15 carries, but he is clearly entrenched as Graham's backup now. Graham should continue to put the finishing touches on one of the best second halves in all of football this season.
NO THANKS QB Derek Anderson, 73, CLE (@ CIN):This might have had all the makings of a monster fantasy performance. Anderson was slighted by Pro Bowl voters this week and should take the field with something to prove. The Browns are in the thick of the AFC playoff race and could win their division with wins in the last two games. The Bengals have allowed 228.1 passing yards per game (25th in the NFL) and a whopping 25 passing TDs. Five of those TDs came from the right hand of none other than Anderson, who torched Cincinnati in a Week 2 shootout. But all of that is nullified by this Sunday's weather forecast for Cincinnati: windy, with a 40 percent chance of snow. In a snow-white home game against Buffalo in Week 15, Anderson completed only 9-of-24 passes for 137 yards and no TDs and was most effective handing the ball off to RB Jamal Lewis. Buffalo's passing defense is actually statistically worse than Cincinnati's, even factoring in last week's game, so I would avoid this one at all costs.
Alternatives: QB Drew Brees, NO, 71 (vs. PHI); QB Matt Hasselbeck, SEA, 70 (vs. BAL)
QB Brett Favre, 71, GB (@ CHI):Another great QB who I'm passing on because of inclement weather. With a 50 percent chance of snow in Chicago on Sunday, it's hard to imagine Favre having an elite fantasy day. Snow certainly wouldn't help Favre's chances against the Bears' defense, which he has struggled against since 2005. In five games against the Bears since then, Favre has thrown just two TDs and 11 INTs. Even though the Bears' defense is not its dominant self this season, ranking 26th in the NFL in pass defense (232.6 yards per game), Favre still had limited success in their earlier matchup, throwing for 322 yards but only one TD and two INTs. The Packers have been handing the ball off a lot to RB Ryan Grantin recent weeks, and if it does snow as expected on Sunday, that trend should not only continue but get worse if you're a Favre fantasy owner.
Alternatives: Brees, HasselbeckHaven't signed up yet? It's not too late to *register for the Home Team Challenge. Make sure to set your lineups by Thurs., Dec. 20 at 5:00 p.m. CST.*