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Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 16 (2020)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Dec 23, 2020

Can fantasy managers trust Russell Wilson in an unenviable Week 16 matchup with the Rams?

The holidays may not feel as bright as usual, but maybe capturing first place with a Week 16 triumph will help raise your spirits.

Like the holidays, all of the traditions, rituals, and comradery we build around fantasy football fill it with personal meaning. Accruing more fake points than your opponent can thus bring joy to many good girls and boys while things are at their darkest.

Or maybe you just want the prize money. Either way, let’s bring home that championship.

Football will emanate from televisions (and Amazon Prime streaming) from Friday through Monday, so don’t wait until Sunday morning to update your lineups. Also, move those playing Friday and Saturday from your flex spots wherever possible to create more flexibility in case any last-minute injuries require late lineup alterations.

The Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) cited below were taken on Tuesday evening and apply to half-PPR formats.

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Quarterback

Start: Jalen Hurts (PHI) at DAL: QB6 ECR
Sometimes I’m too afraid to take chances. It’s my biggest weakness as a fantasy player and a human being. Last week, I didn’t trust Hurts as a QB1 despite a sensational debut. He undeniably changed the course of the fantasy playoffs by procuring 338 passing yards, 63 rushing yards, and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in a 33-26 loss to Arizona. He’ll go for an encore against the Cowboys, who have coughed up 31 passing touchdowns and a 102.6 opposing quarterback rating. Hurts has looked far better as a passer than anticipated, but his rushing prowess cements a steady floor to trust as a top-10 option.

Start: Ryan Tannehill (TEN) at GB: QB10 ECR
Although Tannehill’s ECR may position him as a low-end starter, he’s a comfortable choice for anyone not rostering a top-tier stud. Having reached 15 fantasy points all but twice this season, he’s a safer option than Hurts, Justin Herbert, and Tom Brady. Yet you’re not sacrificing any upside; he’s offered at least 27 fantasy points five times, including twice in the last three weeks. Worried about the Packers permitting a paltry 17.0 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks? Don’t be. They haven’t faced a legitimate QB1 since Deshaun Watson in Week 7. This contest has Week 16’s highest over-under line at 56, per BettingPros, and the Titans should pull their weight in a high-powered shootout. (Note: His outlook could change for the worse if there’s notably inclement weather at Lambeau Field.)

Sit: Russell Wilson (SEA) vs. LAR: QB11 ECR
Sitting Wilson would have been heresy earlier in what looked like an MVP campaign. The QB2 (points per game) through Week 9 is the QB 19 — averaging fewer points per game than Andy Dalton — ever since a subpar Week 10 against the Rams. The division rival is the only team to hold Wilson without a touchdown this season. The Rams have also relinquished the fewest passing yards and fantasy points to quarterbacks, so this is a brutal rematch for a quarterback averaging just 210.8 passing yards on just 32.2 attempts over his last six games. There’s some real validity to dropping Wilson in favor of Baker Mayfield (QB13 ECR), who gets a much easier adversary in the Jets.

Sit: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. IND: QB20 ECR
If you can’t trust him at Cincinnati, how can you rely on Roethlisberger anywhere? A hurried timer to get the ball out of the veteran’s hands has led to a putrid 5.3 yards per pass attempt over the last five games. He has six interceptions and no weekly finish higher than QB15 during that time frame. The Colts have proven beatable by capable offenses, but the Steelers may no longer qualify after falling short of 20 points in four straight games.

Running Back

Start: D’Andre Swift (DET) vs. TB: RB13 ECR
The Buccaneers have permitted an NFL-low 77.8 rushing yards per game, 16.3 yards better than the runner-up Rams. Swift, meanwhile, is averaging 38.1 rushing yards per contest, exceeding 70 just twice. Given the way he’s performed lately, he’s earned your trust anyway. Swift has scored three touchdowns in two games since returning from a concussion and has compiled 67 touches over his last four games. Having drawn five targets in each of those contests, Swift can still generate value as a pass-catcher against a defense also ceding an NFL-high 90 receptions to running backs.

Start: Le’Veon Bell (KC) vs. ATL: RB20 ECR
Nobody has been able to utilize Bell with any shred of confidence this season, but now he warrants a spot in Week 16 lineups. clyde edwards-Helire left last Sunday’s potential Super Bowl preview against the Saints with a high ankle sprain that will cost him at least the final two regular-season games. In his place, the former Steelers star found the end zone with a season-high 15 carries and 62 rushing yards. The Falcons rank ninth against the run, but Bell just turned in a solid fantasy line against the fourth-best unit. Atlanta has also allowed far more receiving yards to running backs (562) than New Orleans (340), so expect Bell to play more of a multi-dimensional role for the NFL’s scariest offense.

Start: Leonard Fournette (TB) at DET: RB24 ECR
I swore weeks ago that I was done tormenting myself by trying to handicap Tampa Bay’s backfield. The task became easier, however, when Ronald Jones Jr. sat out Week 15 after landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Fournette handled 14 of the team’s 16 handoffs, turning two into goal-line touchdowns. Jones is unlikely to get cleared in time for Saturday’s showcase against the Lions, who have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards and an NFL-high 24 rushing touchdowns. Fire up Fournette as a relatively sturdy RB2/high-end flex play if Jones is out again.

Sit: Wayne Gallman Jr. (NYG) at BAL: RB25 ECR
Gallman’s snaps and carries have dipped in each of the last three games, respectively slipping to 23 and nine in Week 15’s 20-6 loss to the Rams. In eight games losing Devonta Freeman, who initially replaced Saquon Barkley, Gallman has registered 363 total yards in four wins and 218 yards in four losses. The Giants are double-digit underdogs at Baltimore. With Colt McCoy dragging down an already desolate offense, Gallman is a touchdown-needy flex option against a defense that has served up 12 touchdowns to running backs all year.

Sit: Darrell Henderson (LAR) at SEA: RB28 ECR
A high-ankle sprain will sideline yet another rookie running back on a contender. Akers will also miss Week 16 and 17 for the Rams, who will vie for control of the NFC West after an embarrassing loss to the Jets. Henderson should see the bulk of the work in his place. When Akers was a complete non-factor in Weeks 6 and 7, Henderson compiled 168 total yards on 31 touches. Keep in mind, however, that the Seahawks rank third against the run and last versus the pass. Henderson, meanwhile, has 20 catches in 27 career games. He’s playable, as the Rams punched in three rushing scores against Seattle in Week 10, but a potential workload split with Malcolm Brown and/or a far busier passing day could lead to an underwhelming line.

Sit: Giovani Bernard (CIN) at HOU: RB38 ECR
Given the best matchup a running back could ask for in Week 14, Bernard recorded 23 yards on six touches against the Cowboys. It marked the fifth straight game in which he failed to reach double-digit fantasy points (half-PPR), and perhaps the end of his tenure as Cincinnati’s primary replacement for Joe Mixon. Of course, he then registered 97 yards and two touchdowns on 26 touches for the Bengals, who improved to 3-10-1 with Monday night’s win over the 11-3 Steelers. Fantasy football is simply unpredictable chaos at times. The big day could bring Bernard back into the circle of trust against the Texans, who garner the second-worst rushing defense and match the Cowboys’ 5.0 yards allowed per carry. Perhaps playing the matchup works this time, but we just recently received a harsh lesson about playing the running back attached to this listless offense. His ECR, though, should rise a few spots closer to the RB30 range.

Wide Receiver

Start: Brandin Cooks (HOU) vs. CIN: WR22 ECR
Even when returning in Week 15, Cook extended his touchdown drought to five games while Texans teammates Keke Coutee and Chad Hansen each found the end zone. Although he’s not winning fantasy matchups, Cooks has at least provided a consistent floor since failing to corral a catch in Week 4. He’s averaging 8.0 targets and 75.0 yards in those last nine games, only once sinking lower than last Sunday’s 59 yards (39 in a Week 10 game played in gusting winds). Cincinnati’s defense showed spunk in Monday night’s upset over Pittsburgh, but this remains an exploitable unit that can lead Cooks to his first standout performance in a while.

Start: Emmanuel Sanders (NO) vs. MIN: WR31 ECR
In five games without Michael Thomas (and all with Drew Brees), Sanders has stockpiled 27 catches for 365 receiving yards. Last week’s 76 yards remains a reachable target without his star teammate, who will sit out the rest of the regular season. He could inflict even more damage against the Vikings, who are responsible for the third-most fantasy points from opposing wide receivers. Sanders is a solid WR3 who could unlock an elevated ceiling inside the Superdome.

Start: Rashard Higgins (CLE) at NYJ: WR35 ECR
With the weather cooperating and Cleveland’s offense clicking, Higgins has emerged as Mayfield’s go-to receiver. He’s tallied 98, 68, and 76 yards in the last three games, respectively, with a pair of touchdowns on 24 total targets. After avoiding Giants Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry, he’ll face an anemic Jets secondary ranked 30th against the pass and last in opposing completion rate (70.6%). Averaging 15.5 yards per receptions, Higgins could strike with a big play versus an opponent that has struggled mightily defending the deep ball.

Sit: Tyler Lockett (SEA) vs. LAR: WR29 ECR
Like his quarterback, Lockett is far from a must-sit, but it definitely merits a discussion. Since torching the Cardinals to 200 yards and three touchdowns in Week 7, Lockett has recorded just 378 receiving yards and one touchdown. The week-winning playmaker hasn’t cleared 67 yards in any of those eight contests. The brutal matchup relegates him to risky (and benchable) WR3 status.

Sit: Chase Claypool (PIT) vs. IND: WR33 ECR
Claypool is also coasting on a reputation earned from past breakout outings without helping any managers in recent weeks. Since scoring eight touchdowns in his first 10 career games, he’s gone four consecutive bouts without gaining end-zone clearance. It’s difficult to endure that natural regression when the rookie has also mustered just 159 combined yards on an offense failing to make anything happen downfield. Don’t be afraid to swap him out for Higgins, Coutee, or Russell Gage.

Sit: D.J. Chark Jr. (JAC) vs. CHI: WR39 ECR
I realize I’m a broken record on Chark by now, but last week’s WR50 finish was his highest placement since finishing as the WR37 in Week 10. He’s now delivered double-digit fantasy points once in his last eight outings heading into a tough matchup against the Bears. Dig deeper down the ECR to start Jakobi Meyers (WR48), Hansen (WR50), or Darnell Mooney (WR54) instead.

Tight End

Start: Logan Thomas (WAS) vs. CAR: TE8 ECR
No matter who’s starting under center for Washington, Thomas merits a spot in fantasy lineups. Two weeks after securing all nine of Alex Smith‘s targets for 98 yards and a touchdown, he hauled in a gargantuan 13 of 15 targets from Dwayne Haskins for 101 yards last Sunday. For all his ups and downs this season, Thomas’ 62 catches are good for a very, very distant third at the position behind Travis Kelce (98) and Darren Waller (93). Only four teams have ceded more receptions to tight ends than Carolina (78).

Start: Austin Hooper (CLE) at BYJ: TE17 ECR
If scouring the waiver wire for a passable tight end, you might as well tap the one facing the Jets. No other team has surrendered more receiving yards (932) or touchdowns (13) to the position. An opposing tight end has scored in each of the last five games, so those ghastly numbers can’t all be pinned on getting gashed by Kelce and Waller. Hooper has struggled in his first season with the Browns, but he fared well at the Meadowlands (five catches, 41 yards, TD) last Sunday night.

Sit: Jared Cook (NO) vs. MIN: TE15 ECR
Cook is a bit more playable with Brees back in the captain’s chair, but that certainly doesn’t heal all of his wounds. Even when removing a pair of goose-eggs logged with Taysom Hill at quarterback, Cook is averaging just 38.5 yards in eight full games with Brees. He’s exceeded three catches and five targets just twice, both lines of five catches on seven targets. You’re still just hoping for a touchdown, which keeps Cook firmly in TE2 territory.

Sit: Tyler Higbee (LAR) at SEA: TE19 ECR
Congrats to those who used the same rationale from the Hooper section to deploy Higbee last week. He cashed in a season-high 67 receiving yards and a touchdown against the Jets, but the popular 2020 breakout pick has still caught 38 of just 50 targets this season. It takes the perfect spot such as the one he saw last Sunday to approach TE1 territory.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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