Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 16
It’s finally upon us – championship week. We’ve now crossed over into all-or-nothing territory and will need to make every decision be the right one. With key injuries, some breakout performances, and disappointing outings, we’ll weave through the entire field to find the best starts and sits for this week. Let’s look at Week 16.
Recapping last week
It was a solid week overall for our start/sit picks. Ryan Tannehill had a top-three finish, Philip Rivers was a mid-tier QB2 but Matt Ryan had a top-eight week. Both J.K. Dobbins and Jeff Wilson finished inside the top-30 while Todd Gurley predictably struggled with only three offensive touches. While T.Y. Hilton finished outside the top-40, Brandon Aiyuk had another top-10 week and Chase Claypool struggled once more, along with the entire Steelers offense. Unfortunately, Jared Cook finished outside the top-30 while Hayden Hurst finished as a top-12 tight end. With that, it’s on the championship week.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 16 QB’s
Browns vs Jets
ESPN Starting Percentage: 8.7%
Mayfield has been playing like a QB1 over his last four games with at least 250 yards passing and two touchdowns in each of them. Maybe, more importantly, he has only one interception during that time as well. He faces a Jets defense that has allowed 14 passing touchdowns over the five games with only three interceptions forced. Mayfield and the Browns are suddenly fighting for the AFC North title and will pull out all the stops to have a shot at the division. He’ll be a top-12 option in Week 16.
Eagles vs Cowboys
ESPN Starting Percentage: 15.9%
Hurts has been playing on fire in his first two starts of his young career. After running for over 100 yards against the Saints, Hurts would garner over 400 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns against the Cardinals in Week 15. He has lit a fire underneath this Eagles offense. The Eagles now face the Cowboys in a suddenly crucial matchup with both teams still in the mix for the NFC East. The Cowboys defense has shown to be susceptible to mobile quarterbacks as they’ve given up 70+ rushing yards and a touchdown to Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray this season. Hurts is a top-10 QB in Week 16.
Steelers vs Colts
ESPN Starting Percentage: 40.4%
Big Ben hasn’t played well of late, especially in his last two games. He’s completed less than 57% of his passes and thrown for less than 190 yards in each of them, even with him attempting at least 37 passes in each game. Roethlisberger also has at least one interception thrown in each of his last five games. A once-strong Steelers offense has sputtered to less than 20 points scored in each of their last four games. The Colts have actually given up some big games lately to opposing quarterbacks but this has more to do with not being able to trust Roethlisberger. He won’t be more than a mid-tier QB2 in Week 16.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 16 RB’s
Chiefs vs Falcons
ESPN Starting Percentage: 11.4%
Bell suddenly finds himself the starter for the Chiefs following Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s injury. There’s no denying that Bell still has some juice and is positioned to be the undisputed starter on arguably the best offense in the league. He’s facing a Falcons defense that has given up at least 85 scrimmage yards to an opposing running back in three of their last four games. They also just gave up two rushing touchdowns to Leonard Fournette in Week 15 as well. Bell will be a top 15-20 option in Week 16.
Dolphins vs Raiders
ESPN Starting Percentage: 5.8%
In his first game back after an extended absence, Ahmed ran all over the Patriots for 122 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He was the undoubted lead back for the team. Myles Gaskin’s status for Week 16 is still up in the air with him being on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Even if he is cleared and can play, it’s fair to question what type of workload Gaskin would receive after a multi-game absence due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Ahmed should still be a strong bet for double-digit touches against a Raiders defense that has given up eight rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in their last five games. If Gaskin is inactive, Ahmed is a solid RB2 and would still be a decent RB3/FLEX option even if Gaskin suits up.
Any Patriots RB
Patriots vs Bills
ESPN Starting Percentage: N/A
The Patriots’ run offense was one of the best in the league for the majority of the season but has since sputtered recently. While Sony Michel played well in Damien Harris’ absence, Harris could be back next week and lead the team into a full-blown three-man committee between him, Michel, and James White. While the Bills have struggled overall against the run this season, they’ve played better as of late against opposing running backs in fantasy football. They’ve only allowed one running back to go for 50 or more rushing yards over their last four games and only given up rushing touchdowns in two of their last four. It’s best to avoid any Patriots’ running back in Week 16.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 16 WR’s
Buccaneers vs Lions
ESPN Starting Percentage: 18.2%
Since joining the Buccaneers, Brown has seen five or more targets in all but one of his six games. Despite being on a team with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, Brown hasn’t struggled to catch Tom Brady’s eye. Brown had a season-high 94 receiving yards and his first touchdown of the season in Week 15. He now faces a hilariously-bad Lions’ secondary which has given up four receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over the past two weeks and two 100+ yard performances during that time as well. Even as the number two/three option in the passing game, Brown is putting up solid numbers. He’ll be a low-end WR2 in Week 16.
Saints vs Vikings
ESPN Starting Percentage: 13.8%
With Michael Thomas on I.R., Sanders has become the Saints’ de facto number one wide receiver (again). He has at least five targets in five of his last seven games and has either a touchdown or 76 yards receiving in each of his last two games. Sanders now faces a Vikings’ secondary that has given up 50+ receiving yards to seven different opposing wide receivers over their last five games. They’ve also given up a receiving touchdown in five straight games to an opposing wide receiver. With the Saints fighting for the number one seed in the NFC, don’t expect them to take this game lightly. Sanders will be a high-end WR3/FLEX this weekend.
Rams vs Seahawks
ESPN Starting Percentage: 79.2%
It’s tough to be in the championships and sit someone like Kupp, I understand that. However, there is a lot going against Kupp this weekend. After seeing a combined 50 targets in Weeks 8-11 (three games), he has only 24 targets over his last four games. He has one touchdown and only one 50+ yard performance during that time as well. Plus, the Seahawks have suddenly been a tough matchup for wide receivers in fantasy. Over their first eight games of the season, they gave up 13 receiving touchdowns and nine different 100+ yard performances to opposing wide receivers. Since then, they have only given up one 80+ yard performance and zero touchdowns. It’s really hard to trust Kupp, especially in this matchup.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 16 TE’s
Broncos vs Chargers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 38.5%
Over Fant’s last two games that he played the entirety of (he left Week 14 early because of an illness), Fant has a combined 12 receptions, 125 yards, and a touchdown on 18 targets. His 11 targets in Week 15 was more than double the next receiver (Jerry Jeudy). His dynamic playmaking ability has never been a question but rather, it’s been the consistency of their offense. He luckily faces a Chargers defense that has given up 10 receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends in nine separate games. They also were just shredded for 150 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions by Darren Waller in Week 15. Fant will be a top 10-12 play at the very least.
Giants vs Ravens
ESPN Starting Percentage: 51.0%
Like with Kupp, it’s tough to be sitting someone like Engram if you’re in the championship. That’s especially considering the lack of viable options at tight end this season. However, Engram has been extremely inefficient this season despite seeing seven or more targets in nine of his 14 games played this season. He only has three 50+ yard performances and one touchdown this season. Engram now faces a Ravens’ defense that has only given up 50 or more yards to opposing tight ends twice in their last seven games. That also includes only one touchdown allowed during that time as well. Engram will be a fringe top-12 play but is likely to be more of a top-15 player this week.
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL