Ranking the Week 16 defensive matchups
In most leagues, Week 16 will determine your Fantasy Football Super Bowl. If you’re playing, best of luck, as always. If you’re not, here’s to hoping this column will help you anyway. Perhaps you’re looking for a streaming DST this week. Your best bets would seem to be the Titans facing offensively-challenged Washington on Saturday. Perhaps the Colts could be an option coming off a shutout of the Cowboys. They are playing at home against a Giants team that may be without Odell Beckham once again. I can’t normally start the Dolphins, but maybe you can against a Jaguars offense that just doesn’t have anyone and for some reason only gave Leonard Fournette one touch in the second half last Sunday. There are always streamers out there. Once again, here’s to you bringing home a championship and Happy Holidays.
As always, the top of this list are teams to make sure you start players against, while the bottom are defenses you want to start.
- Arizona Cardinals (against Rams): The Rams’ offense hasn’t been clicking of late, but the Cardinals may just be the cure for what ails them. Should you be worried about Todd Gurley? Yes, but you have to start him should he start for the Rams. You may want to claim John Kelly though, just in case they figure they can beat the Cardinals with or without Gurley.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (against Dallas): It’s just so hard to trust the Cowboys’ coaching staff and their quarterback, Dak Prescott. He may end up being the long-term QB for the Cowboys, but he’s not a franchise QB. He’s just not someone that can win a game for you. Prescott aims his passes, especially on throws where the receiver is wide open; he is afraid to just let it go. Perhaps he overcomes this in time, but I’m not betting that it will be this week in what’s a very good matchup for the Cowboys. The Bucs have a weak defense, the Cowboys are at home and with a win they clinch the NFC East. Still, it’s just Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper for me.
- San Francisco 49ers (against Chicago): I’m starting Mitch Trubisky this week over the likes of a Phillip Rivers; it’s just a better matchup. My only worry is that the Bears don’t have a whole bunch to play for, as they are all but locked into the third-seed in the NFC. I prefer Tarik Cohen over Jordan Howard, but Howard is still a flex play. Allen Robinson goes for me, as well.
- Cincinnati Bengals (against Cleveland): Good for the Brownies, as they look to be on their way towards being a respectable NFL team for years to come. Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry always start for me, and I don’t see how you can sit David Njoku. Antonio Callaway is a gamble. If he hits the big play, you win, if not, oh well. Do you want to risk that in the Fantasy Super Bowl? I like Baker Mayfield this week also, but you likely can do better with what you have on your roster.
- Oakland Raiders (against Denver): Even in a good matchup, the only Bronco I can start here with confidence is Phillip Lindsay. Maybe I can go Courtland Sutton, if you’re desperate.
- New York Jets (against Green Bay): You’re starting Aaron Rodgers if he plays, but it’s still fair to wonder if the Packers will sit him for the final two games. He is not the same QB he used to be; injuries have robbed him this season. Randall Cobb and Jimmy Graham are iffy starts at best. You likely have to go with Graham with him being a tight end and all, but let’s hope you can do better than Cobb, even if he does pass the concussion protocol. As for the run game, Jamaal Williams was likely the number one waiver wire claim this week and should be started in this game. Williams comes in as no worse than a mid-range RB2.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (against New Orleans): This is still an important game for the Saints, as one more win would clinch home field advantage in the NFC. Drew Brees has looked mortal of late, but you’re still starting him along with Michael Thomas. You’re starting Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram also.
- Seattle Seahawks (against Kansas City): As of this writing, it’s unknown if Spencer Ware or Damien Williams will start for KC. They also could split the role. If you own both players, you would much prefer Ware to be inactive; it would just make you decision and playing time easier to figure out. As it is, you’re starting Ware over Williams should he be active, but we will all be listening to updates regarding playing time here. As for the receivers, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill go and that’s it. If Sammy Watkins is active, he would be to big a gamble for me to start.
- Kansas City Chiefs (against Seattle): The Seahawks are a run team now but will likely have to throw a bunch in this game. I’m starting Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and possibly even Tyler Lockett. You could even talk me into David Moore in a deeper league.
- New Orleans Saints (against Pittsburgh): James Conner looks like he will miss this game once again. This is not a surprise, as high-ankle sprains generally take three to four weeks to heal. It will be the Jaylen Samuels show once again. Vance McDonald could be in play here again as a low-end TE1.
- New York Giants (against Indianapolis): Yeah, Andrew Luck hasn’t been throwing TD passes of late, but you’re still starting him, T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. It was a surprise that Marlon Mack had such a big game last week versus the Cowboys. We will see if he can do it again Sunday.
- Carolina Panthers (against New Atlanta): Did Tevin Coleman help anyone with his big Fantasy day last week? I mean, anyone? Fantasy Football can be so frustrating. Neither team has anything to play for here. The only definite starts are Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and probably Austin Hooper. You can start Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu and Coleman at your own risk.
- Detroit Lions (against Minnesota): I know we all like to hate on Kirk Cousins, but he’s been a solid Fantasy QB this season and sure, Adam Thielen has slumped of late, but you have to start both. Kyle Rudolph, however, will depend upon what else you have going for you at TE; I would hope you can do better.
- Green Bay Packers (against Jets): You have to start Elijah McGuire this week, but keep your expectations in check. You can make a big argument that his TD shouldn’t have counted as he was carried into the end zone by the OL. That would be a no-no. That being said, he has a much better matchup this week. Robby Anderson is also in play here.
- Indianapolis Colts (against Giants): You have to start Odell Beckham if he plays, but that’s a pretty big question mark right now. The Giants should also be lessening the workload on Saquon Barkley, but likely won’t. Evan Engram is back in play as a low-end TE1, but this is not a great matchup for him.
- Atlanta Falcons (against Carolina): Cam Newton is done for the season with that shoulder injury and that’s probably good for Fantasy owners as it forced you to look in another direction. Let’s face it, if you’ve gotten this far, it’s in spite of Cam, not because of him, as he has been awful for the past few games. His absence, however, does mean that the only Panther I trust in this game is Christian McCaffrey.
- Philadelphia Eagles (against Houston): The Eagles’ defense showed up Sunday night against the Rams, will they do so again? I’m still starting Deshaun Watson here, and really the only questions are about the health of Lamar Miller and whether you should start Demaryius Thomas. Miller is trending towards playing this week and will be a high-risk, low-end RB2. You should pick up Alfred Blue just in case he can’t go. Thomas has a great matchup here and he’s been trending up, albeit only slightly of late. He’s a Flex play, should you need one.
- Cleveland Browns (against Cincinnati): John Ross is the last man standing in the receiving corps, as A.J. Green is out and Tyler Boyd likely is also. Ross should see the volume, and I’ll go with the high-upside play this week. C.J. Uzomah should also see an uptick in targets should you need a TE.
- Houston Texans (against Philadelphia): This is a nice matchup for Nick Foles against a secondary that has struggled lately. The Eagles still have something to play for here. Foles doesn’t come in as a Top 12 Fantasy QB, but he isn’t that far off, either. It’s hard to trust anyone in the Eagles’ run game as Josh Adams, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood all will play, and if they don’t get a TD, they don’t have much value. Alshon Jeffery was another player that was left for dead weeks ago that had a big game last week; he seems to have quite the chemistry with Foles.
- Buffalo Bills (against New England): While the Pats are likely to win this game, they aren’t likely to light up the scoreboard. The only player I may trust here is Julian Edelman, everyone else is start at your own risk. The run game had done little Fantasy wise since Rex Burkhead has returned. James White is on the back of a milk carton. Rob Gronkowski just can’t do it on a consistent basis anymore. As for Tom Brady, well, he may be the GOAT, but he’s not bringing you a championship in Week 16.
- New England Patriots (against Buffalo): I love watching Josh Allen run and seeing how athletic he is, but I can’t start him here. The same goes for LeSean McCoy and Robert Foster. Just too much of a gamble.
- Washington Redskins (against Tennessee): Derrick Henry, you have to be kidding me. Don’t ask: you have no choice but to start him, and that’s it here.
- Dallas Cowboys (against Tampa Bay): The Cowboys laid an egg last week but still clinch a playoff spot with a win here. Jameis Winston is not a Top 12 QB this week, but you’re starting Mike Evans and Cameron Brate. Adam Humphries would be next up as a WR3. Chris Godwin likely remains on my bench and DeSean Jackson is on track to play in this game, but he shouldn’t be playing for your Fantasy team. As for Peyton Barber, I wouldn’t expect big things here; he’s a Flex play at best.
- Miami Dolphins (against Jacksonville): You’re starting Leonard Fournette, but at this point no one really knows what to expect. It seems a foot injury was the reason why he only had one touch in the second-half last week. Dede Westbrook could be a sneaky play also, but he needs a TD to truly pay off.
- Denver Broncos (against Oakland): It’s not the greatest matchup in the world, but if you’re desperate enough, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and even Jordy Nelson (remember him?) can play this week. The problem is the upside is fairly limited for all three.
- Los Angeles Rams (against Arizona): You’re always starting David Johnson. Sure, he hasn’t returned first-round value this season, but he’s been far from terrible, also. As for Larry Fitzgerald, he’d be a risky start but is not out of consideration.
- Baltimore Ravens (against Chargers): As of now, it looks like Melvin Gordon will play Saturday and Keenan Allen might play. You’re forced to start them both if they go for the Chargers, but there is obvious risk of re-injury and the matchup is a bad one. I know Mike Williams had a big game against the Chiefs, but he won’t be anywhere near as successful this game. He’s on my bench.
- Chicago Bears (against San Francisco): I’ll start George Kittle and always will, and likely Matt Breida also, but that’s it against a Bears’ defense that may be the best in the NFL.
- Los Angeles Chargers (against Baltimore): There really isn’t much to like here on the Ravens’ offense. The activation of Kenneth Dixon has hurt the value of Gus Edwards, although he is still a low-end RB2 and Lamar Jackson isn’t a play in a 1QB league this week.
- Minnesota Vikings (against Detroit): The Kerryon Johnson watch is over, as he was placed on IR on Wednesday. It’s Kenny Golladay or bust this week and I’d prefer to go in another direction. The upside is just to limited against a good Vikings’ defense.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (against Miami): I have no idea why the Dolphins won’t give the ball to Kenyan Drake. They just don’t seem to trust him in the run game. This could lead to Kalen Ballage getting plenty of touches Sunday, but this is far from a good matchup. Ballage is a Flex play, but you’re not likely to hit the lottery by starting him.
- Tennessee Titans (against Washington): Does this team have an offense? There is no one I’m interested in starting here, not unless I just don’t have literally any other options.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.