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Fantasy Football Week 16 Start 'Em And Sit 'Em

A look at suggested starts and sits for week 16 of the fantasy football season

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For most of you, this is it. This is what it all comes down to – championship week. After a long and sometimes arduous four-plus months, you’ve reached the gates of the Promised Land and it’s finally time to open them up, step inside and celebrate your superiority over the rest of those chumps in your league. But before you do, obviously, there’s one more step you have to take to reach that brass ring. It’s time to set your lineup.

Now the good thing about this week is that every team has something to play for, regardless of the outcomes of other games. Sure, a loss by one team could guarantee another a playoff spot without that team actually winning their game, but that team heading towards the playoffs still needs a win to solidify their seeding or even get a better seeding. Clear as mud? I thought so. Bottom line is that everyone needs a win this week to improve their potential playoff standing, and if they aren’t headed to the playoffs, they sure as hell would love to play spoiler. So everyone is in play and there shouldn’t be any need to worry about a coach holding out his starters because the game doesn’t mean anything. That’s only a concern if your playoffs run through Week 17.

So with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at some potential starts and sits for you this week…

Quarterbacks

Start ‘Em

Colin Kaepernick, SF – Over the last four weeks, Kaepernick has averaged 222 passing yards per game with seven touchdowns and just one interception. With his new corps of receivers in place, he is having a much easier time of connecting downfield and is primed for a big game this week against a Falcons team whose pass defense ranks 31st in the league. Atlanta is giving up an average of 255 passing yards per game with 28 touchdowns through the air and opposing quarterbacks have a cumulative 103.4 passer rating against them this season.  While we’d love to see him rush for a touchdown or two, passing the ball this week might come so easy that he may not have to do much running at all.

Philip Rivers, SD – While so many seem so concerned with Rivers’ supposedly poor track record against the Raiders, allow us to dispel that myth and tell you that over his last three games against Oakland, he has thrown for a total of 793 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Obviously the picks are no good, but they all came in his last game against them which just wasn’t a good game for any of the Chargers, not just him. In the two games prior, he tossed zero interceptions and played very efficient games. San Diego still has an outside shot at the playoffs with a win this week and the Raiders have given up an average of 41.3 points per game over their last three. With the Raiders pass defense ranking 30th in the league, giving up 254 yards per game with 28 passing touchdowns, you can easily put your trust in Rivers this week.  

Andy Dalton, CIN – He’s obviously looking to finish the season strong and potentially improve the Bengals’ seeding in the playoffs so it shouldn’t come as any surprise to see him averaging 252.5 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions over his last two games. Though he’s had a few stumbles during the season, he’s also had some incredibly bright-shining moments as well. This week against Minnesota should prove to be one of those bright-shining moments. The Vikings pass defense ranks 25th in the league and they are giving up and average of 291 yards per game with a whopping 32 touchdowns through the air. With a win virtually locking them into the No. 3 seed and putting the onus on New England to win as well, you can expect Dalton to attack early and often here.

Honorary Mention: Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick

Sit ‘Em

Carson Palmer, ARI – It’s been quite the ride for Palmer owners as, over the last five weeks, he has averaged 307 passing yards per game with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. But that all stops now as he heads up to Seattle to face the NFL’s top-ranked defense. The Seahawks have given up an average of just 174 passing yards per game with just 14 passing touchdowns all year, while amassing 22 interceptions and 40 sacks for a total loss of 276 yards this season. Add to that the unfriendly, deafening confines of CenturyLink Field and the possibility of a concussed Larry Fitzgerald either sitting out or remaining limited, and that spells disaster. This is not a match-up you want here during championship week.

Matt Ryan, ATL – I’ve endorsed Ryan over the last couple of weeks, and while he hasn’t been terrible, he hasn’t been much of a fantasy asset either. With soft match-ups against Green Bay and Washington these last two weeks, Ryan has only averaged 208 passing yards per game with three touchdowns and two interceptions. If he’s offering up lackluster performances against those teams, how’s he going to fare against the 49ers’ sixth-ranked pass defense this week? The 49ers are limiting the opposition to 200 passing yards per game, have given up 15 touchdowns through the air and are holding opposing quarterbacks to a cumulative 73.5 passer rating. With a fierce pass rush in his face and blanket coverage on his receivers downfield, this could be a tough one for Ryan to escape.

Ryan Tannehill, MIA – The second-year starter has been playing some real good ball as of late, averaging  288.3 yards per game with nine touchdowns and three interceptions over his last four starts. However, not only did Buffalo limit him to 194 yards with three touchdowns and two picks, but their pass defense has vastly improved over the course of the season. The Bills pass defense actually ranks second in the league right now, limiting the opposition to just 219 yards per game and quarterbacks to a 78.5 passer rating. Add in the fact that the Dolphins have given up the most sacks in the league while the Bills lead the league with 49 and you’ve got a potential disaster on your hands. And we haven’t even gotten into the fact that it’s supposed to snow for this one.

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Running Backs

Start ‘Em

Alfred Morris, WAS – Especially with the switch to the less-experienced Kirk Cousins, it’s hard not to consider Morris a must-start back regardless of the match-up. But with a game against Dallas and their 30th-ranked run defense, his must-start status needs to be reiterated here. He’s had some ups and downs over the last few weeks, but this game should be big for his fantasy owners as the Cowboys are giving up an average of 129.9 rushing yards per game and have coughed up 15 touchdowns on the ground this season. While Cousins would love to air it out against Dallas’ feeble secondary, the Skins will work hard to establish the run from the onset.

Jordan Todman, JAC – He’s been a waiver darling over the last two weeks with Maurice Jones-Drew banged up and with MJD still not having practiced Thursday, all signs are pointing towards Todman not only starting, but getting all the touches out of the backfield. Quarterback Chad Henne usually likes to air it out, but with both his top receivers out, he could lean on the ground game a little more this week. The Titans run defense ranks 25th in the league right now and is giving up an average of 119.1 yards per game. But even better is that they have allowed 20roushing touchdowns this season, second-worst in the league. Look for Todman to try and put himself on the map this week.

Le’Veon Bell, PIT – While he has yet to crack the century mark this season, Bell has six rushing touchdowns over his 11 games played this year and actually has two in his last three. Games against Green Bay tend to turn into shootouts, but with the Packers giving up an average of 123.4 yards per game with 12 rushing touchdowns this season, it’s going to be tough keeping the ball out of Bell’s hands. Green Bay has actually given up over 200 rushing yards three times in their last six games and an average of 162 yards per game in that span. With potential like this, how could you not start him?

Sit ‘Em

Adrian Peterson, MIN – First of all, there’s still no guarantee that he starts, let alone plays in this game. But if he does, between the bum foot and the fact that the Bengals are limiting the opposition to 98.7 rushing yards per game with just five rushing touchdowns allowed all year, Peterson just might be worth keeping on the bench for what is likely your final fantasy game of the season. Obviously, if he’s playing you’re going to want to start him due to his overall ability and track record, but you’ll have to keep your expectations in check and hope that the rest of your team picks up the potential slack.

Andre Brown, NYG – While a concussed Peyton Hillis means good things for Brown’s potential goal-line work, his match-up this week against the Lions tells a bit of a different story. Brown has had a tough run over these last two weeks and matching-up with the Lions’ third-ranked run defense doesn’t exactly instill confidence in a breakout. Detroit is giving up just 98.6 rushing yards per game and they’ve allowed just nine touchdowns this season. While Brown may be a very competent back, the likelihood of him doing much for you this week is pretty slim.

Steven Jackson, ATL – With five touchdowns over his last four games, Jackson has been doing a solid for his fantasy owners at the most crucial time of the year. But it looks like it’s all going to come to a screeching halt this week with a match-up against the 49ers whose run defense gives up just 99.4 yards per game with 10 rushing touchdowns all year. But while those numbers don’t exactly seem daunting for opposing running backs, keep in mind that they’ve given up an average of just 79.3 rushing yards over their last three games and have given up just one rushing touchdown over that span.

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Wide Receivers

Start ‘Em

Michael Crabtree, SF – Since returning from a torn Achilles tendon, Crabtree has played in three games and averaged six targets and 51 yards per game with one touchdown. With a match-up against the 31st-ranked Falcons pass defense this week, it would appear that a potential breakout game is an extremely strong possibility. He’s obviously sharing targets with Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, but with Atlanta giving up an average of 255 yards per game with 28 passing touchdowns this season, it’s easy to see that there is plenty to go around.

Rueben Randle, NYG – With Victor Cruz sidelined with a concussion and Hakeem Nicks already with one foot out the door, the Giants are likely to show just how fine they’ll be with Randle taking over as the top dog in the receiving corps this week. Obviously, it helps that they will be facing a Lions pass defense that ranks 20th in the league and gives up an average of 253 passing yards per game with 13 touchdowns through the air, but Randle has been high on may people’s lists anyway. He’ll slot right in to Cruz’ No. 1 receiver slot against whom the Lions rank 26th and give up an average of 80.8 yards per game to them.

Mike Wallace, MIA – With the exception of his Week 14 bust of a game against the Steelers, Wallace has turned up the heat here at the tail-end of the season and three touchdowns in his last four games and two 100-yard performances in that span. Provided that Mother Nature doesn’t put too much of a damper on this game (supposed to snow in Buffalo; go figure), Wallace stands an excellent chance of maintaining this excellent level of play. The Bills pass defense may rank well right now, but they are still giving up an average of 85.6 yards per game to opposing No. 1 wideouts and with Wallace’s vertical game, he should be able to continue his hot trend.

Sit ‘Em

Golden Tate, SEA – Seriously, he’s become one of the least-usable No. 1 receivers in fantasy football recently and has been barely usable even in PPR formats. Over the last four games, the glorified possession receiver has seen just under six targets per game and come away with 13 catches for 161 yards in total – an average of just 40.3 yards per game. And things don’t seem to be looking up for him here in Week 16 as he faces a tough divisional battle against Arizona, whose pass defense ranks fourth in the league. To make matters worse, the Cardinals actually rank second in the league against No. 1 receivers, holding them to an average of just 64 yards per game.

Brian Hartline, MIA – While Wallace may be considered a good start if the weather holds up, Hartline comes in as a probable sit, regardless of the weather. If there’s a blizzard, it’s an easy sit, but if it stays relatively clear, the decision might be a bit tougher. If it is tough, then allow me to sway you a bit more. The Bills pass defense ranks second overall right now, but more specifically, the Bills rank first in the league against opposing No. 2 wideouts and are limiting them to just 40.2 yards per game. Normally, Hartline is a reliable start, particularly in PPR leagues, but with so much stacked against him this week, he’s a tough one to endorse.

Ace Sanders, JAC – With Cecil Shorts hitting injured reserve and the Jaguars in dire need of a standout No. 1 receiver, many fantasy owners are running to the waiver wire to grab Sanders. He’s proven capable at times, but with just five catches for 43 yards over his last two games, the numbers haven’t exactly been eye-popping. Now add in the fact that he’s facing a Titans defense that ranks eighth against opposing No. 1 wideouts and is limiting them to just 51.1 yards per game and suddenly things aren’t looking so hot. Maybe his match-up in Week 17 looks a little better but for this week, he’ll look just fine on your bench.

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Tight Ends

Start ‘Em

Zach Miller, SEA – It’s always tough to endorse Miller as a fantasy starter given his spotty track record this season, but while the Seahawks are facing Arizona’s fourth-ranked pass defense this week, the Cardinals continue to struggle against the tight end position. Arizona ranks 19th in the league against tight ends and are giving up a league-worst 82.1 yards to them. Miller burned them for 40 yards and a touchdown back in Week 7 and the Cards have done little to show that he won’t be able to do that again. If you lost someone like Rob Gronkowski and are still in the playoff mix, Miller would be a nice short-term add for you.

Delanie Walker, TEN – He’s truly blossomed with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, and though he had some trouble with a concussion during Weeks 13 and 14, he proved to be healthy last week with eight catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. In fact, he’s got three touchdowns over his last five games and has seen a solid increase in red zone looks. A match-up with Jacksonville this week has fantasy owners champing at the bit as the Jags rank 31st against the tight end and are allowing an average of 71.1 yards per game to them. Considering the recent state of the position, he should be considered a must-start at this point.

Zach Ertz, PHI – Sure, he went practically unused two games ago against Detroit, a team that ranks third in the league against the tight end, but that game was bookended by a combined 11 catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns. With a match-up against the Bears this week, Ertz, who has clearly taken a step passed Brent Celek for the top-spot on the Eagles depth chart, should post his third strong game in his last four starts. The Bears rank 24th against tight ends this season and are allowing an average of 73.6 yards per game to them. Should Ertz get his five or six targets in this one, he should be able to find the end zone once again.

Sit ‘Em

Tim Wright, TB – The rookie tight end has been a major asset to fantasy owners over these last two weeks, recording a touchdown in each game despite facing some tough match-ups. But it ends here as the Rams mean business when it comes to defending against the position. Not that the others didn’t mean business, but the Rams rank first overall against the position and are limiting them to an average of just 44 yards per game. They clamp down so hard that opposing teams throw an average of just 5.9 passes per game to the tight end, the lowest in the league. The temptation to start him might be too great, given his recent level of play, but don’t be too surprised when he comes up short for you.

Coby Fleener, IND – With just one touchdown over his last seven games and being held to zero catches last week against the Texans, Fleener has been hurting fantasy owners a lot more than he’s been helping them lately. Things don’t get any easier this week as, not only is Andrew Luck auditioning his young wide receivers to see what he’s got, but the Chiefs rank second in the league against tight ends and are holding them to an average of just 43.6 yards per game. Here’s hoping you’re not relying on him this week and that your impending championship squad has something better to offer here.

Greg Olsen, CAR – He’s always a target monster and usually a solid play for fantasy owners, but this week’s match-up with the Saints isn’t looking too good. New Orleans’ pass defense ranks seventh in the league overall, an ninth specifically against the tight end. They’re allowing just 46 yards per game to the position and even though Cam Newton may be looking for him often, he could very well have a tough time coming down with catches with such strong coverage binding him up.


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