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Start’Em Sit’Em Week 16

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Start’Em Sit’Em Week 16

Start'em Sit'em week 4If your team is competing in the fantasy playoffs, then you should allow yourself a sizable degree of satisfaction in your accomplishment. You have already been rewarded for the draft preparation that you did throughout the spring and summer, along with the meticulous management of your roster during both the regular season, and your first postseason matchups. Now… the goal that was once so distant when the season began is tantalizingly close. As your team has advanced to the threshold of the fantasy championship that you have pursued so diligently.

But even as you permit yourself to feel a certain degree of gratification, one last week of lineup management still awaits you. This playoff edition of Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em for Week 16 will help you, by carefully examining this week’s recommended Start and Sits. As always, no space will be devoted to elite players that you should already be planning to deploy. Instead, the focus will remain on the Start and Sit options that are more uncertain. Good luck to everyone this week.

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Start QB Philip Rivers at Browns

In a week during which obvious starters like Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees will anchor various lineups, we progress to Rivers, whose enticing matchup propels him into a slot among the must starts at his position. Through his first seven games, Rivers had constructed a favorable 13:4 touchdown to interception ratio, while impressively overcoming a conga line of injuries to valuable offensive weaponry. From that point forward, the 35-year old has continued to accumulate touchdowns, as he has manufactured multiple scores in seven straight games. Unfortunately, a highly disturbing escalation in turnovers has resulted in 14 interceptions also being generated during that span. However, the results should be very favorable on Saturday, when he dissects a deficient Cleveland pass defense that has only manufactured eight interceptions all season. The Browns have also been shredded for a league-worst 31 touchdowns, as 11 different signal callers have stockpiled multiple touchdowns during their matchups. With Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady, Marcus Mariota, Dak Prescott, Joe Flacco and Eli Manning all producing three scores through the air against this vulnerable unit. Cleveland has also allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (23 PPG), which should supply even more incentive for owners to start Rivers this week.

Sit QB Carson Palmer at Seahawks

The soon to be 37-year old Palmer constructed a stellar 35:11 touchdown to interception ratio in 2015. But he has labored during much of his uneven 2016 season, resulting in a significantly less attractive 22:13 ratio. The process of Palmer mixing productive outings with poor performances has often left owners in a quandary. He has thrown for multiple scores in six of his last seven games, after accomplishing that just twice during Arizona’s first six contests. However, he has also thrown seven interceptions in the Cardinals last six games. Palmer didn’t throw a touchdown or an interception when he faced Seattle during their initial encounter in Week 7, although he did accumulate 342 yards. But it is highly unlikely that he will replicate that feat on Saturday, as the Seahawks seventh-ranked pass defense is yielding 225 YPG, and has only surrendered 14 touchdowns during their 14 games. This unit has also permitted the fifth fewest fantasy points to opposing signal-callers (18.3 PPG) and provides a massive obstacle for Palmer to contend with. Owners should avoid the potentially distressing experience that will ensue if they start him.

Start RB Todd Gurley vs. 49ers

Gurley owners are acutely aware that they have been forced to persevere through his substandard production throughout the season, along with weekly assessments concerning whether he should remain in their lineups. He currently resides a mere 18th among all rushers with 778 yards for the season, is averaging 3.2 YPC, and has managed just five touchdowns. All of which makes It understandable for anyone who has gone through this disheartening experience, for their reluctance to trust him. Nevertheless, it is advisable that you strongly consider the fact that he will be facing the NFL’s most generous run defense, when determining whether to start him this week. San Francisco is allowing a massive 176 YPG, and has surrendered a league-worst 22 touchdowns on the ground. Which is five more than any other defense. The 49ers have also allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs (29.4 PPG), and have been gashed for 100+ yards by 11 different rushers – Fozzy Whittaker (16-100), Christine Michael (20-106-2, Ezekial Elliott (23-138-1), David Johnson (27-157-2), LeSean McCoy (19-140-3), Jacquizz Rodgers (26-154), Mark Ingram (15-158-1), Tim Hightower (23-87-1), LeGarrette Blount (19-124), Jordan Howard (32-117-3), Bilal Powell (29-145-2), Devante Freeman (20-139-3). Despite the season that Gurley owners have endured, this opportunity to receive the level of production that had originally been envisioned is very real. Overcome any lingering concerns, and start him.

Start RB Melvin Gordon at Browns

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Gordon owners were benefitting significantly from Gordon’s production, before his hip and knee issues. As he entered Week 14 with 992 rushing yards, which was fourth among all backs. His ten touchdowns also placed him fifth, and he appeared primed to bolster his total in both categories before he suffered the unfortunate injuries. While his status should be monitored as the week progresses, it seems that he will return to the field at an ideal time for those who could not deploy him in Week 15. As he should accumulate significant numbers against Cleveland’s highly deficient run defense. The shortcomings within this 31st ranked unit have been exploited with frequency this season, as the Browns have been gashed for 155.7 YPG, and have surrendered 17 touchdowns. This unit has also yielded 24.8 fantasy points per game to opposing rushers, which is the second-most among all teams. Since Week 4, the Browns have allowed sizable rushing output to Matt Jones (22-117-1), Matt Forte (25-82-2), Ezekial Elliott (18-92-2), Le’Veon Bell (28-146-1), Giovani Bernard (17-80-1), and twice by Jeremy Hill (9-168-1), (25-111-1). Not to mention being steamrolled by LeSean McCoy for 153 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday. Owners could not ask for a better situation and should be counting the milliseconds until Sunday’s kickoff.

Sit RB Jay Ajayi at Bills

Since Ajayi exploded into legitimate fantasy relevance by rumbling for astronomical 529 yards and four touchdowns in Weeks 6-9, he has averaged only 60 YPG in his last six games, and a mere 51 YPG since Week 12. One contributing factor to the significant decline in his productivity has been the well-chronicled injuries to his offensive line, particularly the season-ending hip issue for Mike Pouncey. He has also been forced to contend with three top 10 run defenses (Baltimore, San Diego, Arizona), along with a Ram unit that was reasonably effective against opposing rushers at the time.  However, Ajayi also averaged just 2.5 YPC when facing San Francisco’s league-worst run defense, only 2.7 YPC against a Jet unit that had been shredded for 193 yards by Carlos Hyde just six days earlier, and has been held to 2.7 YPC or worse in three of Miami’s last four games. The second-year back simply has been unable to get untracked in recent weeks, often being confronted by a cluster of defenders immediately after he secures the handoff. Plus, Damien Williams continues to pilfer red zone opportunities, which further increases the risk for anyone who continues to utilize him. Even though Ajayi generated a season-high 214 yards when he faced Buffalo in Week 7, he had also produced 111 yards during his first encounter with the Jets, before being thoroughly stifled during their Week 15 rematch. He is not operating within the same favorable situation, nor generating the same level of production that he provided earlier this season. Making the risk of another substandard outing too high for owners to depend on him this week.

Sit RB Thomas Rawls vs. Cardinals

Rawls owners witnessed an unexpected but unquestioned horror show in Week 15, when he manufactured anemic 34 yards despite 21 attempts, as he was routinely smothered by a Los Angeles run defense that entered the contest ranked 20th, while allowing 110 YPG. Rawls had been averaging 5.0 YPC since returning to Seattle’s lineup in Week 11, but manufactured an unsightly 1.6 YPC during his worst outing since missing seven games with a broken fibula. His overall production would have been more acceptable if Rawls had been able to generate a touchdown, but the Seahawks largely eschewed the opportunity to employ their ground game in the red zone. Those who survived their playoff matchup in spite of his dreadful production can elude a similar calamity by keeping him affixed to the bench during Saturday’s difficult matchup. Arizona had allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season (14.1 PPG), and had yielded the third fewest since Week 10 (13.7 PPG), prior to facing New Orleans in Week 15.  Mark Ingram became the first opposing runner to eclipse 63 yards since Week 8 during that matchup, and just the fourth to surpass 70 yards against the Cardinals all season. This unit should perform proficiently this week, and owners should abstain from starting Rawls.

Start WR Julian Edelman vs. Jets

After attaining modest results throughout the first eight games of the season (45 YPG), Edelman has been far more productive in his last six contests (85 YPG). He has also taken advantage of the double-digit targets that he has garnered in five consecutive games (averaging 13 per contest). That includes the team high 11 that he received during New England’s initial matchup with the Jets in Week 12, when Edelman collected eight receptions and amassed 83 yards. That was the contest in which Rob Gronkowski’s season-ending back injury sidelined him in the first quarter, which insured that Edelman would become the most pivotal option within the Patriots’ passing attack. There is no discernible reason to expect his opportunities to subside during this rematch, versus a Jet pass defense that has surrendered 27 touchdowns, and has yielded over 100 yards to eight different wide receivers – A.J Green (180), Marquis Goodwin (112) Sammie Coates (139), Mike Wallace (120), Terrelle Pryor (101), Kenny Britt (109) T.Y. Hilton (146) and Jarvis Landry (108). Matching up with Edelman remains problematic for Gang Green, and his owners will reap the benefits this week.

Start WR Kenny Britt vs. 49ers

Amid one of the most unfathomably poor performances by an NFL team in recent memory, Britt managed to overcome the many shortcomings of an unprepared, poorly coached Ram team, to produce 67 yards with his four receptions when these teams met in Week 1. Since that time, he has attained his highest YPG average since 2011 (70.5), produced the most touchdowns since 2010 (5), and resides on the brink of his first 1000-yard season (987). Which is a feat he should accomplish with ease this week, when he lines up against an overmatched opponent. The 49ers are permitting the second most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (27 PPG), while being scorched by a list of wideouts that rivals the length of most movie credits – Kelvin Benjamin (7-108-2), Doug Baldwin (8-164-1), Mike Evans (8-96-2), Michael Floyd (5-101), Julian Edelman (8-77-1), Kenny Stills 3-72-1, Josh Bellamy (4-93), and Robby Anderson (6-99), Aldrick Robinson (4-111). and twice by Larry Fitzgerald (6-81-2), (12-133). Chip Kelly has also made enough questionable decisions during San Francisco’s last three contests, to bring his dedication toward winning any more games this season into serious question. That bodes well for the Rams ability to sustain drives offensively, regardless of which quarterback in under center. It also increases the likelihood that Britt will achieve favorable production this week.

Sit WR Terrelle Pryor vs. Chargers

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The reemergence of Robert Griffin III as Cleveland’s starting signal caller has contained Pryor’s output with far more effectiveness than any opposing secondary has accomplished this season. Since Week 14, RGIII has targeted him 11 times, after Pryor had averaged nine per game during Cleveland’s initial 12 contests. As a result, he has only collected five receptions for paltry 22 yards, after he had been averaging 71 YPG, and just over five receptions per contest before Griffin’s return to the lineup. The undesirable impact of having Griffin under center has created disastrous consequences for many owners. Even if Hue Jackson chooses to make yet another change at the quarterback position during this week’s matchup, Pryor will be performing with ligament damage in his finger, which counteracts any potential upgrade that might occur with another signal caller on the field. You should also consider this your Casey Hayward alert. Because his presumed presence in debilitating shadow coverage on Pryor provides yet another genuine concern that should preclude you from employing Pryor as your starter. Those of you who have successfully navigated through numerous obstacles to reach the fantasy championship game should find a more feasible option this week.

Sit WR J.J. Nelson at Seahawks

After he had generated two touchdowns in Week 14 (one rushing, one receiving), the 5’ 10” Nelson emerged as a popular topic within the fantasy community, and a subsequent roster addition for some owners heading into Week 15. He ultimately led the Cardinals in targets during last Sunday’s matchup with New Orleans (11), and also produced another score. However, he only assembled 38 yards with those opportunities (7.6 YPC) and dropped what would have been another touchdown catch of 50+ yards. If this somewhat disappointing scenario sounds familiar, it is because there was similar attention directed toward the speedy second-year receiver after he exploded for 163 yards and two touchdowns in Weeks 7-8, followed by the declaration from Bruce Arians that he was considered a starter. He then proceeded to manufacture mere 29 yards on two receptions against San Francisco’s burnable secondary in Week 10 and has failed to exceed 42 receiving yards in any game since. With Michael Floyd’s departure, and John Brown’s season-long inconsistency, Nelson will continue to be targeted by Palmer. But he has not demonstrated the level of dependability that is needed, for him to be entrusted in your lineup. Especially when he faces a Seattle defense, whose ability to contain opposing passing attacks was discussed earlier. Even though he did accumulate 84 yards in their first matchup, it is unwise to rely upon Nelson to deliver a productive outing this week.

Start TE Jason Witten vs. Lions

In Week 15, unexpected developments regarding production at the tight end position were once again in abundance. As Dion Sims, Charles Clay, and Erik Swoope were among the weekly scoring leaders, while Travis Kelce, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Eifert, and Eric Ebron were among those who disappointed. Which is why this week’s recommended tight end starter for owners facing uncertainty with their Week 16 options, is not a name that suddenly emerged. Instead, it is a frequent performer that owners without an unquestioned starter can rely upon during his appealing matchup. The 14-year veteran just collected all 10 of his targets against the Buccaneers to establish a new season high and has now averaged five receptions per game since Week 9. This week, he will face a Detroit defense that has performed more effectively in recent weeks. Yet has frequently displayed its vulnerabilities when attempting to contain opposing tight ends. The Lions have yielded the fourth-most fantasy points to the position this season (10.1 PPG), while also surrendering nine touchdowns. Even though they have not allowed a tight end to locate the end zone during their last five contests, they were torched by Kyle Rudolph (9-64), and Coby Fleener (5-86) in Weeks 12-13, and even allowed 42 yards on six receptions to Daniel Brown in Week 14. Witten’s ownership level is at 75%, but his percentage as a starter plunges to 35%. However, this is an excellent week to utilize him.

Sit TE Jimmy Graham vs. Cardinals

Yes, he is Jimmy Graham and the concept of sitting him during your fantasy championship game may initially be difficult to comprehend. However, owners should be realistic about the likelihood that he will supply only modest production during your critical Week 16 matchups. Not only did he receive just three targets in Week 15 against the Rams, but he has now been targeted a grand total of six times during Seattle’s last two games. While the low volume is destined to rise, that may not occur this week. As he will also be contending with the most unfavorable matchup that a performer at his position can encounter this year. As Graham will be confronted by an Arizona pass defense that ranks fifth, and has been the league’s best at neutralizing opposing tight ends. The Cardinals continue to yield the fewest fantasy points to the position (3.0 PPG), and have permitting a league-low best one touchdown all season. They have also surrendered the fewest yards to the position (363), and can clearly create problems for Graham despite his immense talent. It is understandable if you choose to keep him in your lineups. But you will need other players on your roster to provide your desperately needed scoring this week.

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Good Luck this Week!



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About the author

Phil Clark

Phil is a proud Hoosier, who relocated in Nebraska, and began playing fantasy football nearly 20 years ago. In his first ever draft, he had the third overall pick and selected Barry Sanders. That choice was instantly mocked by several other owners, but Sanders ultimately scored 14 touchdowns and generated 2,358 total yards during an exceptional season. That instantly taught Phil a very important lesson – even though none of us will forecast with 100% accuracy, you should follow your gut instincts whenever you truly believe in a player. Phil began his writing career with RotoWire, later joined Fanball, and has since returned home to the Gridiron Experts. He remains firmly convinced that the key to happiness can be found through a subscription to the Sunday Ticket.

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