Your guide to Week 16 Start ’ems and Sit ’ems
RotoExperts.com Special for the Associated Press
Week 16 will decide most Fantasy Football championships. The hot summer hours of preparation come down to the chill of pre-Christmas, where owners will either feel the elation of a mission accomplished or a long offseason of brooding over what might have been.
The week has one potential must-stack affair (Steelers-Saints) and won’t be too impacted by the weather. If there is a theme to this week, it’s that several of the league’s top defenses collide with high-end offensive attacks, a scenario that could offer some pause. At this point, though, all bets are off.
START: Drew Brees, QB, Saints: It’s Fantasy blasphemy to consider sitting Brees, but he has been in a skid that has seen him average 175.5 yards in his last four games with a 6:4 TD:INT ratio. Brees has gone three straight games without throwing multiple touchdown passes but should return to his MVP-caliber self against a Steelers defense that is 21st in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks and has allowed more than 900 passing yards in their last three games. He’s too good to remain this bad, and with the Saints’ offense usually lethal at home, Brees has a great chance for redemption at the biggest moment of the Fantasy season.
SIT: Phillip Rivers, QB, Chargers: The Ravens’ pass defense has been in lockdown mode all season, allowing just three quarterbacks to eclipse the 20 Fantasy point barrier. Rivers can’t be the fourth, as he will be without receiver Keenan Allen (hip pointer) in a high-stakes matchup against a Baltimore defense that is third in fewest net passing yards allowed and first in fewest yards per attempt. It’s hard to envision Rivers finishing Saturday night with more than 220 yards and a touchdown pass, numbers that won’t win many Fantasy titles.
START: Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Eagles: He’s been targeted 17 times in the last two games and comes off his best outing of the season, an eight-catch, 160-yard performance in the win at the Rams. Nick Foles was able to get Jeffery involved downfield in a manner that Carson Wentz couldn’t, a fact that should pay off handsomely against a Texans defense that has been lit up by T.Y. Hilton (Colts) and Robby Anderson (Jets) in the last two games. Houston is 27th in receiving yards allowed and has given up 24 touchdown passes and if Foles gets Jeffery in sync from the outset, starting Jeffery as a WR2 will lend to totals more suited for a WR1.
SIT: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals: Johnson scored his first rushing touchdown in more than a month but managed just 33 yards on 11 carries in the loss to the Falcons. He’ll have little value in non-PPR formats even though the Rams are 21st against the run and are one of three teams (Patriots, Chiefs) that allow at least five yards per carry. Even in a PPR league, Johnson’s production will be limited as Los Angeles allows an average of just 30.4 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs, fifth-fewest overall. If there are better options on the roster, there’s no shame in sitting Johnson down.
START: Marlon Mack, RB, Colts: Perhaps the biggest surprise of Week 15, Mack tore through the vaunted Cowboys run defense for 139 yards with a pair of scores and gets a great follow-up against the Giants, who are 28th against the run. Mack has three touchdowns in his last two games, and even if he’s not much of a factor in the passing game, he should be good for his fourth game this season of at least 20 touches. If so, look for Mack to put up RB1-level numbers.
SIT: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: The Bills allow the fewest Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and have held passers to less than 180 yards in eight of their last 10 games. Brady did throw for 324 yards against Buffalo in a Week Eight win, but did not throw a touchdown pass. He has attempted at least 31 passes in all but one game this season, so the opportunities will be there for Brady, yet it’s tough to envision him doing much damage to a Bills team that leads the league in fewest net passing yards allowed.
START: Evan Engram, TE, Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. is likely done for the season, so Engram stands a great chance to at least approach the season-best 12 targets he had in last week’s loss to the Titans. He’s had three straight games of at least 66 receiving yards, and while he hasn’t scored since Week Eight, the high volume of opportunities works well in Engram’s favor when he squares up against a Colts defense that leads the league in receiving yards per game allowed to opposing tight ends (72.6).
SIT: Jaylen Samuels, RB/TE, Steelers: James Connor is expected to return to the lineup, but Samuels will still have a significant role in the offense. Either way, Samuels and Pittsburgh’s ground attack gets a bad draw against the Saints and their league-best run defense.
START: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: With running back Lamar Miller’s status in question, Watson won’t have a problem putting the ball up frequently against the Eagles and their 31st-ranked pass defense. Watson hasn’t eclipsed the 300-yard mark since Week Five, but he’s completed better than 70 percent of his attempts in four straight games and his running skills brings an added element to a formula that should result in a huge afternoon.
SIT: D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers: Taylor Heinicke makes his first career start, dropping the value of Moore, who comes off a Week 15 loss to the Saints that saw him manage only four touches. This shapes up for Christian McCaffrey to experience a heavy workload, as Heinicke won’t be expected to produce much against a Falcons defense that has allowed 28 touchdown passes and is 31st in Fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks.