Week 16: Start or Sit
Posted by CEO | 12 weeks ago
It's fantasy football Super Bowl time and the entire season comes down to just one game. There may or may not be money at stake in your league, but more importantly bragging rights are on the line.
Some normally reliable players are in nightmare scenarios this week, whether it's a result of injury or a bad matchup. Whatever the case may be, you'll have to navigate these issues to make the best lineup decisions possible. It's not different than any other week really, except for what's at stake.
So, let's take a look around the league one last time as we decide who to start or sit for your fantasy football championship.
Quarterbacks to Start
Blake Bortles - It’s hard to trust Blake Bortles anymore, especially in such an important game as the one fantasy owners have to play in Week 16. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars now have a new head coach at the helm in Doug Marrone, so there’s hope things can change. Bortles also draws a favorable matchup against the Tennessee Titans, a team allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to signal-callers and an average of 266.6 passing yards per game, bad enough for 29th in the NFL. In his last game against the Titans, Bortles threw for 337 yards and three scores and barely missed scoring 30 fantasy points.
Cam Newton - The Carolina Panthers saw a spirited effort all around last week in their win over the Washington Redskins. Cam Newton in particular woke up and threw for 300 yards for only the third time this season, while also throwing for a pair of touchdowns. In Week 16, Newton is safe to roll out there once again as he faces an Atlanta Falcons defense that is allowing the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Furthermore, Atlanta has been torched for the second-most touchdown passes in the league and gives up an average of 267.4 yards through the air per game, which ranks them 30th in football.
Quarterbacks to Sit
Carson Palmer - In his last game against the Seattle Seahawks, Carson Palmer threw up a stinker with 14.48 fantasy points against his division rival. There’s no reason to believe that will change this week, especially considering the fact that Palmer has only mustered up 33 fantasy points the last two weeks in favorable matchups against the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks have allowed the fifth-fewest points to the position, also. You might not have a better option at this point, but Palmer going into CenturyLink Field in Seattle has bad news written all over it.
Andy Dalton - After being red-hot from weeks five to eight, Andy Dalton has cooled off considerably to the tune of 15.52 fantasy points per game over his last six, including a combined total of 28.28 in his last two contests. This week things won’t get any easier for the Red Rifle, as he faces the Houston Texans and their elite pass defense that is ceding the fourth-fewest points and second-fewest passing yards per game to quarterbacks. He might be getting A.J. Green back this week, but the stud receiver will have to deal with coverage by one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL, A.J. Bouye.
Running Backs to Start
Todd Gurley - If Todd Gurley doesn’t get it done this week, just drop him. Granted, you may not even have a Week 17 in your league, but just drop him anyway to show your frustration with his garbage season. Gurley’s best game saw him score 14.8 points, but he should be able to get things going against a San Francisco 49ers defense that is giving up a ridiculous 176.3 yards on the ground per game and the most fantasy points to running backs this season. Starting running backs against the 49ers has been a lock for backs to have a great game, as San Fran’s defense has allowed 11 backs to go for over 100 yards this season.
Kenneth Farrow - Starting Kenneth Farrow is only viable if Melvin Gordon is out, which looks likely at this point, according to reports. Farrow has let us down the last two weeks, but he still has 31 carries in that time and should be able to do damage against the Cleveland Browns, who own the second-worst run defense in the NFL and are giving up the second-most points to running backs this season. Even if Farrow doesn’t somehow pile up the yards, he is still likely to score with Cleveland ceding the third-most rushing touchdowns in 2016.
Running Backs to Sit
Adrian Peterson - As if shaking off rust and a horrible offensive line wasn’t bad enough for the veteran back, Adrian Peterson is now dealing with a groin and knee issue that has kept him sidelined at practice this week. If that isn’t enough to deter you, Peterson has yet to get into the end zone or rush for 100 yards in his limited playing time. His Week 16 opponent, the Green Bay Packers, have allowed the 11th-fewest points to backs and are a top-10 run defense in terms of rushing yards allowed per game. Even if he plays, Peterson is not a viable option for fantasy owners the rest of the way.
Matt Forte - Another major question mark for this week, Matt Forte was unable to get it done even though he was active last week. He was dealing with a knee injury - and still is - that led to him carrying the rock just four times for 21 yards. Now he’s got an injury to his shoulder that has him listed as a game-time decision and he’s going up against a Patriots defense that he scored just five points against in Week 12 and has given up the sixth-fewest points to backs overall. As good as Bilal Powell has played in recent weeks, he is even a risky play regardless of whether Forte plays or not.
Wide Receivers to Start
Allen Robinson - We’re going to roll the dice and tell you to start Allen Robinson in Week 16, as he squares off with a Titans defense that has given up the second-most receiving yards and fourth-most fantasy points to receivers this season. Robinson caught six for 70 in his last outing against Tennessee and doesn’t have to deal with anything remotely close to a solid corner this week. Despite his struggles this season, Robinson has still seen a steady dose of targets with six or more in every game with the exception of three.
DeAndre Hopkins - No longer is DeAndre Hopkins a must-start, but now that Brock Osweiler is out and Tom Savage is in, Hopkins has hope. Savage, who looks like the better quarterback, finally got Hopkins going last week as he caught eight balls for 87 yards. More importantly, Hopkins was targeted a whopping 17 times and that kind of volume alone makes him a guy you need to start in Week 16. Sure, the Cincinnati Bengals are tough on opposing receivers, but Hopkins has always been a matchup-proof wideout as long as he has a competent quarterback throwing to him.
Wide Receivers to Sit
Davante Adams - The Green Bay Packers wide receiver has gone back to his inconsistent ways, as he’s had good games in every other week, with horrific showings in between. While he should be on track to bounce back this week, Adams draws a tough matchup against a Minnesota Vikings defense that is giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to the position this season. Adams has also struggled with drops, so that may be hurting Aaron Rodgers’ confidence in him, which could lead to Rodgers going back to old reliables in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb early and often.
Brandon Marshall - While he’s been bad the entire year, Brandon Marshall has been particularly absent since Bryce Petty took over for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Despite being targeted 24 times in his last three games, Marshall has just eight catches for 92 yards and no touchdowns. More notably, Marshall looked like a man who had given up last week as he totaled just one catch on 11 targets. There’s no reason to trust him in Week 16 with a matchup against a Patriots defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.
Tight Ends to Start
Vernon Davis - Jordan Reed’s status is up in the air, but even if he plays we’d feel confident in starting Vernon Davis this week. More on Reed in a moment. Davis saw nine targets last week and while it only turned into four catches for 23 yards, that’s still TE1 volume. The Chicago Bears have actually been good against tight ends with the ninth-fewest points allowed, however the lineup of tight ends they’ve faced hasn’t exactly been star-studded. Davis is actually one of the better tight ends they’ll face all year, and guys like Cameron Brate, Delanie Walker and Jared Cook have all had solid games against the Bears in the last six weeks.
Ryan Griffin - If you’re in dart-throw territory at tight end this week, consider Ryan Griffin against a Bengals defense giving up the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. We choose Griffin over C.J. Fiedorowicz because it’s likely Savage and Griffin have a better relationship having worked together as backups in practice. To prove that further, Griffin outgained Fiedorwicz last week 85-32, while also bringing in five more receptions and seeing one more target. You can start either this week, but Griffin appears to have a better chance of contributing as a result of his familiarity with Savage.
Tight Ends to Sit
Jimmy Graham - Yes, we’re suggesting you sit Jimmy Graham in the championship game. The Arizona Cardinals are the best of the best at stopping tight ends and their defense NEVER fails to do so. From Martellus Bennett to Cameron Brate to Greg Olsen to Graham himself, none of those tight ends listed have scored more than 5.3 fantasy points in a game. In fact, no tight end has scored seven points in a contest against the Cardinals in 2016. You may roll Graham out there because, hey, he’s Jimmy Graham, but doing so on name value alone could be a huge mistake. Consider your options and go from there.
Jordan Reed - As we mentioned above, Reed may not even suit up this week as he continues to deal with a shoulder injury. Even if he does, you can’t trust him after he’s posted 1.6 fantasy points over the last two games while dealing with the injury. And, it’s clear he’s really in there as more of a decoy than anything else, as he has seen just two targets in that span. Keep Reed on the bench this week no matter what his status ends up being and roll with Vernon Davis instead if he’s still available.