Championship Week: Who to Start, Who to Sit
This is it. After 15 weeks of battling it, you have one more chance to make the correct lineup decisions to cap your season off the right way. Just one slip-up in setting your roster and those title hopes could be derailed. No pressure, right?
This will also be the last edition of “Featured Pros” advice for the NFL season. We’ll still have Consensus Rankings and our Who Should I Start tool next week. However, we’re pretty sure you want some tips right now.
With this in mind, we’re calling on this season’s 2 most accurate experts – Jody Smith (Gridiron Experts) and the Sablich Brothers (The New York Times) – to give us their thoughts heading into week 16. Read on to see who these top experts like as sleepers & duds along with their thoughts on a trio of highly-debated players.
Q1. Give us your quick take on a few players that are making their owners nervous this week:
Coming off of a layoff (4 weeks) & with Bryce Brown still in the mix, what do you expect out of LeSean McCoy this week?
It doesn’t make much sense for the Eagles to play McCoy in this lost season, so you should probably avoid playing him in your championship lineup, He might be well-rested and cleared to play, but he will likely be in a firm committee with Bryce Brown, with neither seeing enough touches to be difference makers. – Jody Smith
With nothing to play for other than pride, the Eagles have no reason to push McCoy too hard. Meanwhile, the Redskins, who allow the eighth fewest fantasy points to running backs, have plenty to play for and I wouldn’t be surprised if RGIII puts this one out of reach early. He’s still worth a flex start if you don’t have better options. – Sablich Brothers
After playing in just 19 of 96 snaps last week, how confident should owners be in Stevan Ridley with a great matchup (@JAC) on tap?
He had some ball-security issues, but the low snap count was more of a “game flow” issue. The Patriots fell behind early in that game, causing them to abandon the run and go to a pass-heavy offensive set. They’ll likely have no such issues this week playing the lowly Jaguars. Ridley has been an excellent scorer this year and that high-octane offense assures he will have plenty of opportunities to get short yardage touchdowns. The Jaguars have given up the second most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, so Ridley is a must-start RB1/2. – Jody Smith
We expect Ridley to bounce back. The Patriots should be able to build a sizable lead against Jacksonville, & that would mean plenty of carries against a unit surrendering the 2nd most fantasy points on the ground this season. – Sablich Brothers
If Roddy White plays against Detroit, do you see him as a rebound candidate after a sub-par week 15 or do you expect another disappointing performance?
Since Roddy White has never missed a game, there’s little chance he’ll sit this one out either. However, he isn’t likely to be fully healthy and that troublesome knee limited his playing time and production last week against a far-worse pass defense. He’s hard to sit in a PPR format, but with one touchdown since Week 6, his owners in standard leagues may be tempted to look for other options. – Jody Smith
We like White less than most experts this week. His injured knee is still limiting him at practice and Matt Ryan has a clear favorite red zone target in Julio Jones, who is tied for 3rd in the league in red zone targets. – Sablich Brothers
Q2. Name one “sleeper start” for Week 16 and tell us why the gamble to start him over one of the consensus top players could pay off.
Vick Ballard isn’t a household name, but he’s about all the Colts have left in their decimated backfield. Ballard has quietly delivered 199 rushing yards in Indy’s last two contests and has a nice matchup this week against a Kansas City squad that ranks 25th in the NFL, giving up 19.6 points per game to opposing runners over their last three games. – Jody Smith
Miles Austin has been far from elite this season, but Dez Bryant’s broken finger made him a lot more popular with Tony Romo last week, drawing a team high 10 looks. He’ll be heavily involved again in Week 16, and that could mean big numbers against a terrible Saints secondary that has given up the third-most fantasy points to the position. – Sablich Brothers
Q3. Name one “dud” for Week 16 and tell us why you think this is one player owners should strongly consider benching in the championship.
Andy Dalton has a brutal history against the Steelers. In three career starts, Dalton has completed under 49% of his passes for only 137 yards per game, with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Also, Cecil Shorts has been huge, but he could put up disappointing numbers this week. If there’s one thing that Bill Belichick coached teams are good at, it’s attempting to shut down what the opposition does best. Belichick also reportedly spent extra time watching film on Shorts, so he could be the primary focus of an improved New England pass defense. – Jody Smith
We’d stay away from Matthew Stafford against the Falcons, who have allowed just 15 fantasy points per game to the position this season and have held the likes of Drew Brees and Eli Manning to just five total fantasy points in three games. – Sablich Brothers
Thanks to Jody & the Sablich Bros for taking time during the busy Holiday period to contribute this week. You can get more of their advice by following them on Twitter: @JodySmith_ and @5thDownFantasy.
Best of luck to everyone with your week 16 matchups and happy holidays from all of us at FantasyPros!