Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 16
When setting a lineup for a Week 16 championship, it’s easy to fall for the “play your studs” trap. Although applicable in some cases, loyalty can blind managers from submitting a winning lineup.
Breshad Perriman certainly didn’t lead anyone to victory before December. He is, however, the reason many recent investors won in Week 15. Kenyan Drake, Ryan Tannehill, and Tyler Higbee came through big in the semifinals. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, Kenny Golladay, and Robert Woods can’t say the same.
It’s foolish to bench a superstar for a streamer, but don’t let name value and preseason expectations steer your lineup decisions. Just go with the guys most likely to score the most amount of points in their Week 16 matchup. Much like that meant benching Brady last (and this) week, it could mean sitting Rodgers for Tannehill. However, I chickened out at labeling the two-time MVP as Week 16’s sit since it’s difficult to find 12 better options.
As usual, the following Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR), taken on Tuesday night, apply to half-PPR leagues.
Start: Kyler Murray (ARI) at SEA: QB10 ECR
Murray has faltered in recent weeks, totaling 726 passing yards in four games since a stellar Week 10 outing at Tampa Bay. He’s thrown five interceptions in the last three, a stretch in which he mounted as many touchdowns as Drake offered last Sunday alone.
Some won’t want to lay it all on the line with a quarterback averaging a middling 234.2 passing yards per game. He’s still, however, a low-end QB1 in a week where few fringe options have standout matchups. Murray should enjoy one of the best situations; FanDuel Sportsbook ascribes the highest over-under line (51) to Arizona vs. Seattle. Along with Carson Wentz, Murray is actually one of just two quarterbacks not to register at least 16 fantasy points against the Seahawks this season. Even so, he salvaged what could have been a week-crushing performance with 27 rushing yards and a score. He may not need heavy legwork this time. After facing four straight top-10 passing defenses, the No. 1 pick gets the NFL’s 29th-ranked unit in a potential shootout.
Sit: Josh Allen (BUF) at NE: QB18 ECR
Like Murray, Allen has constantly elevated his floor with big running returns. Nine rushing touchdowns have elevated him to this season’s QB6, a distinction that would seemingly make him a set-and-forget stud. Well, not when he goes to New England in a December game with AFC East implications. The Patriots have allowed the NFL’s lowest completion percentage and quarterback rating while also ranking first in passing touchdowns, yards per pass attempt, and fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
Not even a rushing score could save Allen in Week 4, when he went a putrid 13-of-28 for 153 yards and three picks. He has recently shown his basement aerial floor in tough matchups by compiling 285 combined yards against Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Put aside his 2019 production and sit Allen for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Start: Raheem Mostert (SF) vs. LAR: RB22 ECR
Even a letdown game from Mostert still helped. After compiling 154 yards in Week 13 and 109 in Week 15, he settled for 59 in last Sunday’s surprising loss to Atlanta. He still, however, crossed the pylons for the fourth straight game. Per Pro Football Focus, he also attained 51 of 54 rushing yards after contact. While not a workhorse, the late-season breakout led the way with 15 touches and far more snaps (34) than Tevin Coleman (19) and Matt Breida (12). These are all encouraging signs for anyone wavering on keeping the wavier-wire gem in their starting lineup.
Mostert has cemented his role as San Francisco’s leading back and a viable RB2 with upside. There will be plenty of big-play opportunities against the Rams, who rank 23rd in rushing defense Though the Ravens and Ezekiel Elliott inflicted most of the damage, they’ve gotten gashed for 728 rushing yards in their last four games. Not that the 49ers ever abandon the run, but the game script should be favorable in a home game that could determine the difference between controlling the NFC and opening the first round on the road.
Sit: David Montgomery (CHI) vs. KC: RB23 ECR
The Chiefs have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs and 5.0 yards per carry, so the matchup could steer some gamers toward Montgomery. Due to his inefficiency, he’s still merely a dicey flex play. Despite receiving at least 15 touches in each of the last seven games, the rookie is averaging just 62.7 total yards with a single touchdown. A meandering 3.5 yards per carry could finally cost Montgomery work. In last week’s 21-13 loss at Green Bay, he registered his lowest snap rate (43%) since Week 1.
Kansas City’s shortcomings against the run may not matter. Montgomery has exceeded 50 total yards in two of Chicago’s seven shortcomings. The Chiefs enter Soldier Field night with a four-game winning streak and five-point cushion as favorites. They’ve also stuffed New England and Denver to 94 and 52 rushing yards, respectively, in the last two weeks. Dalvin Cook, Melvin Gordon, and Josh Jacobs also all failed to produce a touchdown at the AFC West champion’s expense. With 24 catches all season, Montgomery is a touchdown-dependent option who may not get any red-zone chances in a pass-heavy game script.
Start: Tyler Boyd (CIN) at MIA: WR29 ECR
Boyd last appeared in this column as a Week 12 sit before posting 101 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh. He’s since welcomed back Andy Dalton, who has targeted Cincinnati’s top (healthy) receiver 23 times in three games. That’s despite running into the brick wall that is New England’s secondary in Week 15. In 11 games with the Red Rifle, a sample which cuts out a catchless outing alongside Ryan Finley, Boyd is averaging 9.6 targets and 63.3 yards.
The volume has only yielded three touchdowns, a problem shared by both receivers in this section. Boyd, however, draws a Dolphins defense that has permitted an NFL-high 25 touchdowns to the position. They’ve also acquiesced the most fantasy points to wideouts over the last few weeks. At least one receiver has burned them for over 110 yards each time, and another found the end zone in all four matchups. Boyd stands out as Cincinnati’s only startable pass-catcher, so give him a mulligan for last Sunday’s 26 yards against the Pats.
Sit: Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE) vs. BAL: WR31 ECR
A rough schedule has certainly contributed to Beckham’s disappointing campaign in Cleveland. Yet it shouldn’t matter this much for a player of his caliber. Stars will occasionally shine regardless the opposition, but OBJ has averaged just 47.4 yards in seven games against current top-10 defenses. Neither of his two touchdowns occurred in those bouts, during which he never offered more than five catches. Even when the schedule finally loosened, he mustered just 39 yards against Cincinnati and 66 on 13 targets versus Arizona’s NFL-worst passing defense.
The scheduling gods smite Beckham with another showdown against the Ravens, who have acquired Marcus Peters since stifling him to 20 yards in Week 4. The talent and targets (121) remain bountiful, so don’t go overboard and bench the polarizing wideout for Greg Ward or Danny Amendola. However, Anthony Miller and Darius Slayton are among a handful of more productive WR3 types worth using instead. This isn’t to say anyone needs to sit Beckham as much as assuring everyone that it’s a perfectly justifiable decision in most situations.
Start: Jacob Hollister (SEA) vs. ARI: TE10 ECR
Remember all the pessimism directed toward Hollister last week? He recorded 23 yards, giving him 123 on 15 catches over Seattle’s last four games. Take all of that information, and toss it aside like a textbook in Dead Poets Society. Why? He faces the Cardinals. After allowing two touchdowns to Ricky Seals-Jones, they’ve now permitted 15 scores to tight ends this season. No other team has permitted 10. Before Hollister took the starting mantle, Will Dissly produced one of those touchdowns in Week 4’s 27-10 win over the NFC West adversary. Ignore the downward trends in favor of a golden matchup.
Sit: Jack Doyle (IND) vs. CAR: TE11 ECR
Doyle seemed on the verge of a massive volume uptick when endorsed here two weeks ago. He managed two catches for 27 yards against a toothless Tampa Bay defense before adding a measly 21 more Monday night. Eric Ebron is out for the season, but Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton returned to Indianapolis’ offense. Zach Pascal has certainly jumped ahead of Doyle on the hierarchy, and Jacoby Brissett may not be able to support multiple fantasy-relevant options as the Colts free-fall down the AFC South standings. The Panthers, who were the ones to bottle up Hollister last Sunday, have surrendered an NFL-low 47 catches (tied with the Ravens) and 69 targets to tight ends. Doyle’s TE1 window has abruptly slammed shut.