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Fantasy Football Week 16: Players to start or sit

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Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

Good luck with your Week 16 lineups.

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints

Start: Kirk Cousins, Emmanuel Sanders

Cousins has performed better at home this season, but it’s safe to expect more volume than usual while facing a Saints team sure to put up points in Drew Brees’ second start back. It’s also a New Orleans defense that’s tough against the run, leading to one of the higher neutral pass rates in the league, so Cousins is a Superflex option this week.

[Week 16 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Sanders is New Orleans’ clear No. 1 WR with Michael Thomas out, and Tre’Quan Smith is also banged up. Brees should be much better during his second game back, and the Vikings have yielded the sixth-most fantasy points to outside receivers this season, making Sanders a top-25 fantasy WR in Week 16.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions

Start: Leonard Fournette, Matthew Stafford

With Ronald Jones expected to miss another game, Fournette becomes a legit top-12 fantasy RB against a Lions defense that’s been gashed for the most fantasy points by running backs this season. Fournette is a must-start as the lead back on a team with one of this week’s highest implied totals. He’ll improbably help many fantasy teams to a championship that likely didn’t draft him.

Even during a disappointing year featuring injuries to Detroit’s offense, Stafford has averaged 275+ yards and 2.0 passing touchdowns at home (after averaging 310 and 3.0 last season), and this game has one of the week’s highest over/unders. The Bucs have also produced the pass-heaviest offenses against them over the last 10 weeks, so expect Stafford to throw frequently Saturday (the team will be without play caller Darrell Bevell).

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

Start: Jeff Wilson, Cardinals D/ST

With Raheem Mostert out, Wilson takes over as San Francisco’s lead back (with some Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon mixed in), and the Niners’ offense could get a boost with George Kittle’s return (the team’s YPC typically improves when he plays too). Wilson is a hard runner who’s always a threat at the goal line, and while his upside is capped some given Arizona’s underrated defense and SF starting a third-string quarterback, Wilson should still be considered a top-20 fantasy back this week.

The Cardinals have the #9 ranked defense in DVOA and sport the seventh-best pressure rate (25.3%) this season. Saturday they get SF’s third-string quarterback who ranked last by a mile in CPAE when we last saw him starting in 2018 and this year was lower on the depth chart than the now-injured Nick Mullens, who committed 15 turnovers over eight starts.

Miami Dolphins @ Las Vegas Raiders

Start: Tua Tagovailoa, Nelson Agholor

Tagovailoa hasn’t jumped out like the other rookie quarterbacks (including Jalen Hurts recently), but he quietly has a better CPAE than Tom Brady this season while ranking #1 in Aggressiveness (he’s also suffered from bad drops and a bunch of injuries to his receivers). Tagovailoa gets a Las Vegas defense that’s been shredded for the most yards per play at home (6.4) this season, so he’s worth starting in Week 16.

Agholor has the fourth-most air yards per game over the last month, and it’s safe to project more volume with the Raiders likely to give up plenty of points and the Dolphins absolutely shutting down opposing backs.

Cleveland Browns @ New York Jets

Start in DFS: Jarvis Landry ($20)

Sit: All Jets

Adjusted for schedule, the Jets have been one of the toughest opponents for fantasy backs, and Landry ranks top-10 in target share (28%) since Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury, and that included a three-game stretch in which wind ruined passing attacks. Landry is a must-start in season-long and under-salaried in DFS as a clear alpha in arguably the most improved offense in football.

The Jets are coming off the worst win in NFL history and enter Sunday with a big disadvantage against a strong Cleveland front. Ty Johnson has flashed and looks interesting, but Frank Gore remains entrenched as New York’s feature back. No Jets can be trusted in fantasy lineups right now.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans

Start: Giovani Bernard, Keke Coutee

Bernard dominated snap share and touches in the Bengals’ backfield last week, and Sunday he gets a Texans defense that’s allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Bernard is just $13 in Yahoo DFS, and he may be extra busy this week if Tyler Boyd (concussion) is unavailable.

Coutee continues to act as Houston’s full-time slot receiver, and Sunday sets up well against a weak Bengals defense and with the possibility of seeing added targets if Duke Johnson is out.

Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sit: T.Y. Hilton, Steelers D/ST

Hilton historically is quieter outdoors, and he gets a fired-up Pittsburgh team on a three-game losing streak. The Steelers’ D has allowed the third-fewest yards per play (4.5) over that three-game span, so they remain an incredibly tough matchup, especially for receivers. Hilton is preferred on fantasy benches this week.

Pittsburgh’s defense has played well enough throughout the team’s losing streak, but they have benefitted from an incredibly favorable schedule of weak opposing quarterbacks. Sunday they get Philip Rivers (who’s gotten 7.8 YPA while taking just eight sacks over seven road games this season) and also one of football’s hottest running backs. Pittsburgh has been one of the best fantasy defenses this season, but you can do better in Week 16.

Chicago Bears @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Start: Mitch Trubisky

Sit: DJ Chark

Trubisky has been much better than expected since reclaiming Chicago’s QB duties (and surprisingly ranks #2 in Aggressiveness this season), and this week he gets a Jacksonville secondary that’s been shredded for the most passing touchdowns (31), the highest YPA (8.3) and the second-most fantasy points to QBs this season. The Jaguars’ defense is IR filled, and the focus of the organization is now on keeping the #1 pick in the 2021 draft.

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10)
Mitchell Trubisky has — to the surprise of many — been playing great the last few weeks. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Chark had a top-55 ADP in Yahoo, but he enters Sunday having reached 100 yards just once all season and having not scored since Week 9. Jacksonville continues to get shaky QB play no matter who starts (something that may not be said again for a decade), and Chicago has ceded the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts this season.

Carolina Panthers @ Washington Football Team

Sit: Curtis Samuel

Start: Logan Thomas

Samuel remained plenty involved last week but has to contend for targets with both DJ Moore and Robby Anderson and gets a tough Washington defense that’s yielded the second-fewest fantasy points to the slot this season.

Thomas is coming off a huge PPR game (13-101) and has been valuable for a month now in fantasy leagues. He’s a must-start at an extremely thin TE position regardless of who starts at quarterback for Washington this week.

New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens

Sit: Evan Engram, Marquise Brown

Engram has impressive workout metrics and continues to see good volume, but he ranks #38 in fantasy points per target, so he’s somehow been a disappointment (if not bust) despite overcoming the odds by staying healthy. He’s not a great fantasy option this week on the road against a Ravens secondary allowing just 6.6 YPA and with either Colt McCoy or an immobile Daniel Jones throwing to him.

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Brown has been productive over the last month, but he’s experienced some TD luck, and he’ll be mostly shadowed by James Bradberry on Sunday. More worrisome is the likelihood the Ravens run away with this one with their defense and rushing attack, so Brown is worth considering for a benching during championship week.

Atlanta Falcons @ Kansas City Chiefs

Start: Russell Gage, Mecole Hardman

Gage will either continue to see more action outside if Julio Jones sits, or he’ll move back to the slot, where KC has been gashed for the second-most fantasy points over the last month. The Falcons are going to be throwing a ton given the situation (don’t start new lead back Ito Smith here), and Gage should benefit.

Hardman is more of a flier (or DFS tournament play), but he saw nine targets and ranked third in air yards (152) last week, and Sunday he gets an Atlanta defense that’s allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Kansas City has the highest implied total this week, and Tyreek Hill has been missing practice while dealing with a hamstring injury (and Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out), so Hardman is a sleeper.

Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers

Start in DFS: Drew Lock ($25), Austin Ekeler ($28)

Lock has proven he’s not Denver’s future at quarterback this season, but he’s a Superflex and/or cheap DFS ($25) option this week in a game that should be fast-paced. Lock has seen his YPA increase while putting up 10 touchdowns over six road games this season, and the Chargers have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.

It seems like a fluke Ekeler saw just four targets last week after totaling 34 the previous three games. While it would be better if LA could run block more effectively (and had a different head coach), he’s still a strong DFS start against a crumbling Broncos defense that’s quietly ceded the most yards per play in the NFL over the last three weeks.

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks

Start: Darrell Henderson

Sit: Russell Wilson

Henderson is a gamble after not playing a snap after halftime last week, but he has upside with Cam Akers out. Malcolm Brown could be a problem, but Henderson is the more explosive back, and the Rams could easily hide Jared Goff lean heavily on their rushing attack versus a Seattle defense that’s been playing far better against the pass lately. Henderson is risky but a definite flier possibility during a week filled with question marks at running back.

After throwing 14 touchdowns over the first three games of the season, Wilson has been held to one TD toss in three of his past four games. Seattle has also stopped letting him cook and inexplicably gone more ground-heavy, and this week they get a Rams defense that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and the fewest yards per play this season (and a full half yard fewer than any other team over the last three weeks). It obviously would take the right alternative here, but Wilson deserves bench consideration in this slow-paced matchup.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Start in DFS: Jalen Hurts ($28)

Start: Michael Gallup

I put Hurts in the DFS category because it would be too obvious otherwise, as I rank him as a top-five fantasy QB this week. He’s impressed both as a passer and runner over his first two starts, which included him finishing as fantasy’s #1 QB last week. Hurts gets a friendly Dallas defense in championship week, and he might be this year’s biggest difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs.

Gallup was on his way to a nice game last week before leaving with a hip injury, and he’s expected to return Sunday in a favorable setup facing an Eagles defense that’s allowed the most fantasy points to his primary side over the last month.

Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers

Start in DFS: Corey Davis ($20), Aaron Jones ($32)

Weather could be an issue here, but the total (56.5) suggests a bunch of points should be scored. Davis is healthier than the more expensive A.J. Brown ($27), and he’s a top-20 fantasy WR in Week 16.

Jones has a case to be the #1 fantasy RB this week with Jamaal Williams possibly out, Green Bay sporting one of this week’s highest implied totals, and facing a generous Tennessee defense that’s allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Jones is $7 cheaper than Derrick Henry, and he’s seen his YPC jump from 3.9 on the road to 6.6 in Green Bay this year.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Start: Bills D/ST

Sit: Cam Newton

Buffalo’s defense hasn’t been as good as expected, but the team’s terrific offense should provide a favorable game script Monday night. That should be meaningful against Cam Newton, who sports a 2:8 TD:INT ratio with 13 sacks (and two fumbles) at home this season. The QB has produced zero touchdowns with 3+ sacks in three of his past four games, and NE enters Monday night as touchdown underdogs.

How bad must Jarrett Stidham be?

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