Start’em Sitem Week 16
Well folks, for a large majority of leagues, Week 16 marks the end to a long and winding road. The funny thing is that while the road was long, and it was winding, it feels like just yesterday we were arguing over average draft positions. If you’re one of the fortunate teams that has made it to finals, I would like to congratulate you. Selfishly, my hope is that this column and the rest of the awesome writers at Gridiron Experts have somehow helped you along the way. I think I might have mentioned this in last week’s article but we still aren’t done yet. So with that, let’s forgo the Week 15 recap. No, it wasn’t that bad. Let’s skip the reminder that these stats are based on half-point scoring. Lastly, let’s cut the foreplay as we jump into Start’em Sit’em Week 16 fantasy football championship week!
Start’em Sit’em Quarterbacks
Cowboys vs. Buccaneers
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 29.4%
Those of you who listen to me on the FF Faceoff Podcast know that I can be pretty hard on Dak Prescott. While the Cowboys very well be on their way to a division title, I feel like when the Cowboys do meet their demise this year, it’ll be with Prescott shouldering the blame. That is more of a big picture outlook on the Cowboys, but for now, I like Prescott to have a solid outing in Week 16. When assessing Prescott, the immediate thing that jumps out at me is his play at home. Headed into this weekend, 13 of Prescott’s 17 touchdown passes have come at home. On top of touchdowns, the Cowboys signal caller also has more rushing and passing yards when playing in Dallas. This all seems too good to be true as Prescott and the Cowboys welcome in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Most recently, the Buccaneers defense has had solid outings against both Cam Newton and Drew Brees. This may seem odd but both of those quarterbacks and their offenses have been struggling as of late and outside of those matchups, the Buccaneers have consistently finished in the top half in points allowed to the quarterback position. They are one of just three defenses to allow 30 or more touchdown passes, and are one of just nine teams to have fewer than 10 interceptions. All of these numbers and trends have the Buccaneers allowing the fourth most points to the position this season. Make no mistake, the Cowboys will have a bounce-back week.
Rams at Cardinals
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 63.4%
Have you ever heard the song ‘Something is not right with me’ by the Cold War Kids? Well, it is a good tune but more importantly, that seems like one of the best ways to sum up Jared Goff’s play as of late. Since Sean McVay became head coach of the Rams, the last two games would mark the first time in which Jared Goff has had consecutive games with no touchdowns and multiple interceptions. Outside of the Rams game against the Chiefs, I’m attributing Goff’s downward spiral to the loss of Cooper Kupp. Somehow, before the Rams start postseason play, Jared Goff will need to find his way. In the meantime though, I do not think he will get his groove back in Week 16 against the Arizona Cardinals. While the Cardinals may very well be the worst team in football, in fantasy, they have created problems for opposing quarterbacks. While the Cardinals are punching bags to the running back position, they are allowing the sixth-fewest points to oppose quarterbacks. That ranking also includes the Cardinals being one of just nine teams to allow less than 20 touchdown passes. I’m not saying that Jared Goff is a lost cause. If you frequently read this column, you will know that I liked his matchup last week. This week though is not the week to buy back in.
Start’em Sit’em Running Backs
Colts vs. Giants
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 54.6%
After finishing outside of the top 20 over his last three games, Week 15 would mark the return of the Mack. Against the Dallas Cowboys last week, Marlon Mack would finish as the sixth-best running back in football as he rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Mack will now look to replicate that performance as he takes on a Giants team that is allowing the seventh most points to the running back position. Most recently, the Giants have finished two out of their last three games in the top three in points allowed, including a dominant performance by Derrick Henry this past Sunday. While the Colts running back position seemed like a merry-go-round of mediocrity in the preseason, Mack has emerged a more than a capable asset. In 10 games this season, Mack has doubled his rushing yards and touchdowns from last season. Sitting as the twenty-fourth best running back in fantasy this season, I like Mack to consistently play well in his final two games.
Chiefs at Seahawks
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 25.6%
Following the fallout from the Kareem Hunt incident, some folks in the fantasy community pointed towards Spencer Ware as the guiding light to a fantasy football title. Following some nagging injuries, and a short week, the Chiefs left Ware inactive as it was Damian Williams who grab that proverbial brass ring. In Week 15, against the Chargers on Thursday Night Football, Williams would wind up being the fourth best back in fantasy. He would rush for two touchdowns and added six receptions for 74 yards. I want to make it clear, just because Damian Williams is filling a role within an offense, it doesn’t automatically mean that he will be a major producer. Despite that though, for Week 16 at least, I like for Williams to have another solid outing. On paper, the Seahawks are outside the top 10 in most points allowed to opposing running backs. Looking closer though, over their last four games, three of which have been played in Seattle, the Seahawks have allowed running backs to finish the week inside the top 10. It is also important to note, the Chiefs tendency to throw to running backs will also be beneficial as the Seahawks are one of just four team to allow over 800 yards receiving to running backs.
*Honorable mention: Kallen Ballage – Dolphins vs. Jaguars
49ers vs. Bears
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 18.9%
Without a doubt, it has been see-saw type of season for Matt Breida. He has dealt with injury after injury but is still the twenty-second best running back in fantasy this year. This week though will be a down week for Breida as the 49ers welcome in the Chicago Bears. To be fair, despite the fact that the Bears are allowing the fewest points to running backs this season, they have ranked outside the top ten in fewest points allowed in three out of their last six games. Also, the 49ers have been known to be a tough play at home. What scares me though, as always with Breida is the likelihood of an injury. After being held out with an ankle injury in Week 14, Breida would aggravate that same ankle injury late in the 49ers Week 15 win against the Seahawks. To me, it is hard to rely on Breida to stay on the field. If you have a better option in the finals, I think you have enough to worry in your championship matchup than Matt Breida.
Start’em Sit’em Wide Receivers
Eagles vs Texans
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 43.0%
Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles shocked the world, again. With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, and with Carson Wentz out, the Eagles would head into Los Angeles and beat the heavily favored Rams. Within the shock of an Eagles victory came an additional shock for the fantasy football community – Alston Jeffery had a terrific game. In his first top 10 finish since Week 7, Jeffery would catch all eight of his targets for 160 yards. It would be his most receiving yards in a game since 2013, and his most as a member of the Eagles. That sort of performance with Nick Foles under center brings back memories of last year’s postseason when Jeffery had 12 receptions for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Bringing it back to the present time though, in Week 16, the Eagles will take on the Houston Texans who are allowing the twelfth fewest points to wide receivers. As you may have noticed throughout this column, I’m focusing on recent trends. So despite the Texans playing well throughout the season, their last few games have painted a different picture. In each of the Texans last three games, they have been in the top of most points allowed to the position. While I do not think the Eagles have enough magic to replicate their 2017 run, for fantasy owners, I do think Jeffery can make a bit of magic of his own.
Vikings vs. Lions
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 45.4%
The Lions offense is flat, averaging just 15.5 points per game over the last four weeks. The Lions face off against a Vikings secondary that ranks fourth in the league for passing yards, and has held it’s last four opponents to under 220 yards passing. Kenny Golladay is the focal point for the Lions passing game, but without a supportive cast, teams have been blanketing him in coverages. It’s the fantasy football championship weekend so if you don’t have a better option start him, but I wouldn’t expect more than 50 yards in this contest.
If you have better options, sit Golladay.
Start’em Sit’em Tight Ends
Giants at Colts
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 32.3%
Back in the preseason, I thought Evan Engram would be in line for an underwhelming season. Injuries and a lack of targets have made that prediction become a reality but over his last two games, Engram has been able to put together two straight games of 70 yards or more, something he never did in his rookie season. The biggest thing that jumped out to me in Week 15 was Eli Manning targeting the second-year tight end 12 times. I’ll grant you, those 12 targets probably have more to do with the Giants being without Odell Beckham, but with their next opponent in mind, I like for Engram to produce on the road. This is a Colts defense that is allowing the tenth most points to the position. With a full understanding that the Colts have allowed just three touchdowns to tight ends this season, they are also allowing a league-high 1,030 yards receiving. Even if Beckham is able to suit up, I feel as if he may be more of a decoy than anything. Don’t be afraid to buy into Engram this week.
Packers at Jets
- ESPN Starting Percentage: 39.6%
Last week, I had suggested that you sit Jimmy Graham against the Chicago Bears. That worked out to be a good call as Graham would wind up with just three receptions for 32 yards. While his starting percentage has dropped 10 points between last week and this week, I still feel compelled to spread the word that you should sit Graham. This week the Packers will take on the Jets who are allowing the fifth fewest points to the position. That ranking includes a league-low in both receptions (39) and yards (452). On top of all of this, Graham hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 9, and since Week 10, he has had just three games with more than twenty yards receiving. One has to wonder, why are people still starting this man.
Start’em Sit’em Defense
Falcons at Panthers
If you watched Monday Night Football this past week, it was evident just how much Cam Newton was hurting. All of that came to a head this Wednesday as the Panthers announced that they were shutting down Newton for the last two games of the season. In steps Taylor Heinicke who has just five passing attempts in his two-year career. So, feel free to follow the buzzards, or the Falcons for that matter, as they are set to take on Heinicke and the Panthers. Listen, I totally get it, this looks like the Panthers are starting a backup quarterback and I’m telling you to start a defense that has not done well against quarterbacks. You know what, yes, that is exactly what I’m telling.
Seahawks vs. Chiefs
Make no mistake, from the preseason negativity, the Seahawks have made some major strides. I would also like to make it abundantly clear that by suggesting that you sit the Seahawks, I’m by no means suggesting that losing to the 49ers is going to have a lingering effect on this team. The Seattle Seahawks will be just fine and will likely make some noise in the playoffs. That being said though, they are playing the Kansas City Chiefs and the likely NFL MVP, Pat Mahomes. It also doesn’t help the Seahawks cause to note that in three out of the last four Seahawks games, the Seattle’s franchise has been in the top 10 of most fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses.