Start’em Sit’em Week 16
Start’em Sit’em is back for Week 16 of the NFL season and most importantly, we are here to help you finish the job. If you’re reading this, you are likely in the finals of your league and are on the threshold of fantasy football glory. I genuinely hope that this column this year has been a part of your success and I look forward to finishing what we started. Along with the other fine tools provided by Gridiron Experts, this article is here to help guide you on who to start and who to sit as you head towards victory in your Week 16 Fantasy Football matchups. There are several matchups worth discussing and we will go through those matchups now. One friendly reminder heading into this Week 16 Start Sit article is that this is the NFL will have three games taking place on Saturday and none on Thursday.
Recapping Last Week
While this might have sounded odd over the summer, suggesting to start Ryan Tannehill and to sit Aaron Rodgers proved to be good calls this past week. While some of my start calls at running back and wide receiver didn’t prove to be as fruitful as I had hoped, many of my sit suggestions, if you followed them, turned out to be good calls. Among those names that I had mentioned as sit suggestions were Alvin Kamara, Devonta Freeman, and Odell Beckham Jr. As previously mentioned, with this being the last week of the season that I will be writing this column, I’m determined to deliver this week, help bring you a fantasy football championship and give this column the grand finale it deserves. As always, if you any other start or sit questions that are not answered here, please feel free to reach me on Twitter.
- Scoring and stats are based on half-point per reception scoring and come from FantasyData.com
- Start percentages originate from ESPN.com
- Start options range from 0-60%
- Sit options range from 50-100%
The following are my Start’em Sit’em Week 16 recommendations:
Start’em Sit’em Week 16 Quarterbacks
Titans vs. Saints
ESPN Starting Percentage: 44.3%
Like most fantasy football seasons, there is always that player that unexpectedly swoops in and carries you to a championship. In 2019, that man is Ryan Tannehill. This past week against the Houston Texans, Tannehill would once again deliver through the air and on the ground. On his way to finishing the week as a top-5 quarterback, The Titans signal-caller would have 279-yards passing with two passing and one rushing touchdown. This would mark the sixth time in the last seven weeks that Tannehill has finished a week as a QB1. Now, Tannehill and the Titans will turn their attention to a Saints defense that despite allowing the second-fewest points to quarterbacks this past week, has been vulnerable at times. On the season, the Saints are allowing the twelfth-most points to opposing quarterbacks and up until last week had five straight weeks of being in the top half in most points allowed. In conclusion, don’t let the Saints strong play from Monday Night Football scare you away from starting Tannehill. While once-prominent names like Aaron Rodgers are failing you, Ryan Tannehill has all the makings of a league winner in 2019.
Buccaneers vs. Texans
ESPN Starting Percentage: 51.2%
Leading up to this past week, there was a legitimate concern with Jameis Winston and the hairline fracture on his thumb. On top of that, the Buccaneers would also be without Mike Evans who was ruled out for the rest of the season with an injured hamstring. Despite the odds that were up against Winston, the Buccaneers signal-caller still went on to have a great game this past week. Against the Lions this past week, following an early and almost expected turnover, Winston would carve up the Lions secondary for 458-yards and four passing touchdowns. With that performance, Winston, the league leader in passing yards, and interceptions would wind up finishing the week as a top-3 quarterback. Almost impervious to turnovers, this past week would be the third time in the last four weeks that Winston has been a top-5 scoring quarterback.
As if Winston isn’t playing well enough as is, he and the Buccaneers will now welcome in the Houston Texans for a Saturday matinee. After getting thrashed by Ryan Tannehill this past week, the Texans are allowing the third-most points to the quarterback position. More recently, this past week serves as the fourth time in the last five weeks that the Texans have finished a week inside the top-10 in most points allowed to the quarterback position. All of that aside, what would the NFL season be without a new obstacle presenting itself as it has already been announced by Bruce Arians that Chris Godwin will not be available in Week 16 with a hamstring injury. While that is a blow to some fantasy football rosters this weekend, with the way in which Breshad Perriman was able to play in Mike Evans’ absence this past week, I have little to no doubt that Winston will be able to produce for fantasy this Saturday.
Falcons vs. Jaguars
ESPN Starting Percentage: 40.8%
As I have mentioned numerous times in this column, Matt Ryan started this season on fire. In five of his first six weeks, Ryan was a top-10 quarterback and averaged 335 passing yards per game in the process. Then came an ankle injury and a bye a week as Ryan had cooled off significantly. More recently though, things have been looking up for Ryan and his fantasy owners as the Falcons quarterback has been a QB1 in each of the last two weeks. What is even more impressive is that those games against the Panthers and 49ers who both are in the top-12 in fewest points allowed to the quarterback position. Up next for Ryan will be a Jaguars defense that is tenth in most points allowed to the position. While the Jaguars were able to contain Derek Carr and the Raiders this past week, the Jaguars have been in the top-5 in most points allowed to the position in two out of the last four weeks. In two out of his three starts against the AFC South this season, Ryan has been a top-10 quarterback. In those three games, Ryan has thrown for 1,031 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. While Ryan had trouble producing for fantasy in the middle part of this season, he certainly seems to be bookending the year with strong play. In a fantasy world with Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill playing strong, Ryan is the slow-evolving hot hand that no one is talking about.
Packers @ Vikings
ESPN Starting Percentage: 60.6%
While Aaron Rodgers is a repeat sit suggestion in this column, it is with good reason. Much like you should ride the hot hand in fantasy, you should also know to sit those who are cold, even when their elite names. In Rodgers’ last six games played, he has finished as a QB1 only once. During that six-game stretch, including his QB1 performance against the Giants, Rodgers has only averaged 189.8 passing yards per game. Week 16 could serve as yet another week of Rodgers falling short when he goes up against a Vikings team that is allowing the tenth fewest points to the position. That is a consistent ranking too as the Vikings have only allowed one top-10 quarterback performance in the last seven weeks. In Rodgers’ previous matchup against the Vikings back in Week 2, Rodgers would finish as the nineteenth best quarterback with just 203 passing yards and two touchdowns. Lastly, in regards to Rodgers’ games on the road, in six road games this season, Rodgers has 10 passing touchdowns. Those 10 touchdowns have not been evenly distributed as seven of those touchdowns came in just two games. In fantasy circles, I think it is time that we get to a point where we stop waiting for the Rodgers of old. This is who Aaron Rodgers is now.
Start’em Sit’em Week 16 Running Backs
Falcons vs. Jaguars
ESPN Starting Percentage: 58.6%
Despite the Falcons shocking the NFL world by defeating the 49ers, for fantasy purposes, Devonta Freeman was still a letdown. Coming off of a top-12 performance against the Panthers in Week 14, this past week against the 49ers, Freeman would have just 55 total yards and would finish outside the top-30 running backs. If you started Freeman this past week and still advanced to the finals, I think Week 16 is safe for you to keep Freeman in your starting lineups. While the previously mentioned Panthers have been a great matchup for running backs, so to have been the Jaguars. In four out of the last six weeks, the Jaguars have been in the top-5 in points allowed to the position. On top of that, in the three road games since the Jaguars bye, they have been in the top-12 in most points allowed to running backs. While Freeman is a far cry from his days as a week-to-week RB, considering his Week 16 opponent, Freeman deserves flex consideration.
Colts vs. Panthers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 44.6%
Since returning from his hand injury, Marlon Mack hasn’t been as nearly as productive for fantasy. In the last two weeks, while Mack has scored a combined 11.7 fantasy points, it is important to remember that those games came against teams that are in the top-5 in fewest points allowed to opposing running backs. The schedule will get a lot better for Mack and the Colts as they will take on the Carolina Panthers. Since their Week 7 bye, this is a Panthers team that has completely fallen off of the rails. Since that bye, in seven out of the Panthers last eight games, they have been in the top-10 in most points allowed to opposing running backs. On the season, this Panthers defense has allowed 23 rushing touchdowns. Not only is that the most rushing touchdowns allowed by any team in football, but it is also more than the Panthers had allowed in the previous two seasons combined. With all of this in mind, Week 16 is a great opportunity for Mack to get back on track.
Jets vs. Steelers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 65.2%
With the way in which some people are enamored with the revenge game narrative, this is probably going to be one of my more unpopular picks this week. That being said so, I do not love the matchup that awaits Le’Veon Bell in Week 16. More so than anything, this has to do with Bell’s opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers. As we head towards the final weeks of the season, the Steelers are allowing the fourth-fewest points to the running back position. More specifically, in the Steelers four road games since Week 6, their defense has allowed just one touchdown to an opposing running back. I don’t believe that this bodes well for Bell who has been outside of the top-20 scoring running backs in each of the last three weeks. While Bell was able to produce during the Jets soft spot of their schedule, in two games against teams in the top-10 in fewest points allowed, Bell had finished no better than the eighteenth best back on the week. I understand that some folks want to try and cash in on the revenge game narrative and to me, in what is now your championship week, I need a little bit more of a reason to start a player than that. I mean, look how well it worked out for Tevin Coleman this past week against the Falcons.
Start’em Sit’em Week 16 Wide Receivers
Bengals @ Dolphins
ESPN Starting Percentage: 37.3%
In the last two weeks, Tyler Boyd would finish outside the top-20 in wide receiver scoring, While this is due in large part to the Bengals going up against teams in the top-12 in points allowed to opposing wide receivers, better days are ahead for Boyd in Week 16. This coming Sunday we will see the Bengals go up against a Dolphins defense that is allowing the fourth-most points to the wide receiver position. That ranking would also include the Dolphins being in the top-10 in points allowed for the last five weeks. During those last five weeks, the Dolphins have also allowed the opposing team’s number one wide receiver to finish with a 100-yards or more receiving. On top of this, the other encouraging thing is Andy Dalton remaining under center. In the 2019 season, the three touchdowns that Boyd has scored this season have come from the arm of Dalton. Coupling Boyd’s chemistry with Dalton and the Dolphins allowed a league-high 24 touchdowns to the position, I feel like there is no better week to start Tyler Boyd than in Week 16.
Titans vs. Saints
ESPN Starting Percentage: 44.3%
Much like his quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown represents yet another player whose late-season heroics are helping carry fantasy football teams. After being pretty inconsistent during his rookie campaign, Brown has managed to score four of his seven touchdowns in the last four weeks. In those last four weeks, Brown has averaged 111.7 receiving yards per game and has been a top-10 receiver in three of those weeks. Opposing Brown and the Titans this week will be the New Orleans Saints. As previously mentioned, the Saints looked strong against the Colts on Monday Night Football. Much like the Saints against the quarterback position, with the exception of this past week, the Saints have not done well against opposing wide receivers. In each of the four weeks prior to Week 15, the Saints have been in the top-10 in most points allowed to the position. With Brown having more receiving yards and touchdowns in December than any other month of the season, much like his quarterback, I suggest that you continue to ride the hot hand that is A.J. Brown.
Browns vs. Ravens
ESPN Starting Percentage: 74.5%
Excuse me for being repetitive but this is now the third straight week in which I have listed Odell Beckham as a player that you should be sitting. As much as I would love to select someone else besides Beckham, 74.5% of you really aren’t giving me much of a choice. With last week’s lackluster performance against the Cardinals, we now stand at 11 weeks of Beckham finishing outside the top-20 among wide receivers. Other than name recognition, there are zero reasons why someone with the production of Beckham should be starting in as many leagues as he is. If you really think about it though, the Week 16 opponent for Beckham isn’t totally relative. Walking into last week’s game, the Cardinals were fifth in points allowed to opposing wide receivers. While that would generally look like a scintillating matchup for Beckham, the former LSU product would finish the game with just 66 yards receiving. The way in which Freddie Kitchens is calling plays is making it close to impossible to start Beckham. Not like we need to get into his opponent, the Ravens have only had six weeks in which they have finished inside the top-10 in points allowed to the position. Digging a little deeper, just two of those six games have come in the last seven weeks. I have said this multiple times in regards to numerous players over the last few weeks. If you are still alive in the playoffs, it isn’t because of Odell Beckham, it is in spite of him.
Start’em Sit’em Week 16 Tight Ends
Seahawks vs. Cardinals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 20.8%
If you have listened to me at all on the FFfaceoff Podcast, you should be well aware of this matchup as I have been mentioning it for weeks. On top of that, it is also one of the worst kept secrets in fantasy football that the Cardinals are a matchup dream for opposing tight ends. In 10 out of the 14 games that the Cardinals have played in this season, they have been in the top-10 in points allowed to the position. Needless to say, the Cardinals are allowing more fantasy points to tight ends than any other team in football and it really isn’t close. Currently, the Cardinals have allowed 55.7 more fantasy points to tight ends than any other team in football. Back in Week 4, the Cardinals had gone up against Will Dissly and the Seahawks and in that matchup, Dissly would finish the week as the third-best tight in fantasy. With Dissly heading to the injured reserve shortly after that matchup, the Seahawks have now turned to Jacob Hollister who I believe has just as good of a shot to replicate Dissly’s Week 4 performance. As for Hollister himself, after two straight weeks of being a top-5 tight end, the Seahawks tight end has now had four straight weeks in which he has finished outside of the top-12 at his position. It is worth noting though that the four-game stretch in which Hollister has underperformed has come against teams in the top-12 in fewest points allowed to the position. Chances are when you picked up Hollister, you noticed this juicy Week 16 matchup. Don’t let the last four weeks deter you from utilizing Hollister.
The 15 TDs the Cardinals have allowed to TEs this year is the most since 2013.
💥 10 weeks in the top-10 in points allowed to TEs.
Up next for the Cardinals is Jacob Hollister.
— Michael Hauff (@TheFFRealist) December 17, 2019
Rams @ 49ers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 29.9%
Sticking in the NFC West, I would also like to nominate Tyler Higbee as a player you might want to look to start in Week 16. The injuries in the secondary are looming large for the 49ers. While the 49ers were twenty-first in points allowed to tight ends this past week, in the two weeks prior, the 49ers were no worse than sixth in most points allowed to the position. On top of the 49ers dealing with injuries in the secondary, there is also the inescapable fact that for the past few weeks, Higbee has been a vital part of the Rams offense. In each of the last three games, Higbee has finished no worse than the fifth-best tight end. In those three games, he has also been the most targeted tight end with 34. Add in the fact that Higbee has turned those targets into three straight games of 100-yards or more receiving and you are looking at a diamond in the rough in fantasy football championship this week. The only thing you would need to concern yourself with in regards to Tyler Higbee is the availability of Gerald Everett. If Everett is still out, the sky is the limit for Higbee.
**If you’re looking for a sit tight end this week, I do not have any recommendations this week. Everyone remotely near the required percentage is players that I would start, not sit.**
Start’em Sit’em Week 16 D/STs
Chiefs @ Bears
ESPN Starting Percentage: 20.3%
If you are one of those teams in the finals that does not have a top-notch D/ST at your disposal, I would suggest utilizing the Kansas City Chiefs. In the first 10 weeks of the season, the Chiefs hadn’t had consecutive weeks as a top-12 D/ST. In the last four weeks, however, that has changed. To be exact, in three out of the last four weeks, the Chiefs have managed to finish as a top-12 D/ST. Up next for the Chiefs will be the Chicago Bears who have allowed opposing teams to finish inside the top-12 in D/ST scoring in three out of the last five weeks. Again, if you own some of the top defenses in fantasy, stick with what you got you there. If you happened to be looking for a suitable play, the Chiefs might be one of the quietest hot hands among D/ST options.
Bears vs. Chiefs
ESPN Starting Percentage: 50.7%
When looking over some of the D/ST start and sit options, it was surprising to me that the Bears are still being started in 50.7% of ESPN leagues. The main reason is the fact that the Bears have not finished inside the top-12 in D/ST scoring in the last 10 weeks. On top of that, they also have the seventh-fewest takeaways in the NFL and will now welcome in the Kansas City Chiefs. In the last four games that the Chiefs have played, the opposing D/ST has failed to finish inside the top-12. This seems like an obvious pick for a sit but with 50% of you currently starting the Bears, I feel compelled to state the obvious.