Week 16’s Toughest Start/Sit Decisions: Kareem Hunt, Salvon Ahmed, Tyler Lockett
Every week fantasy football owners are confronted with difficult lineup questions. Who should you start, and who should you sit? That’s what many are left asking, often with little help. It’s good you landed here, as we can help each week using our Who Should I Start tool. Simply type in several players that you are deciding between per position or for your flex and we will let you know who the experts would start and who they would sit.
Here’s a look at the toughest start and sit decisions of the week along with our expert’s advice.
Start Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE) or Mitch Trubisky (QB – CHI)?
51% of Experts Would Start Trubisky
There have now been five games that Mayfield has played without Odell Beckham that didn’t involve 40-plus MPH winds and massive rainfall. His finishes in those four games were QB6, QB12, QB4, QB2, and QB12. Look, this isn’t me saying he’s better without Beckham, but rather he may not be trying to force the ball anywhere. Now you get a red-hot Mayfield against the Jets, a defense that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game (103.1) to their opponents. While the Falcons are the only team in the league who allows more fantasy points to quarterbacks than running backs, the Jets are extremely close, allowing running backs just 0.88 more PPR points per game. This is known as a funnel defense. It’s also good to know their opponents run a massive 67.4 plays per game, as we know the Browns are one of the highest run-percentage teams. Despite Jared Goff’s lackluster performance last week, the Jets are still allowing the third-most fantasy points per game (21.8) to the quarterback position. The 30 passing scores they’ve allowed ranks second to only the Jaguars. We know Mayfield isn’t someone to rely on for production on the ground, so when you see that the Jets have allowed the second-most fantasy points through the air alone to quarterbacks, it carries weight with him. They’ve allowed a league-high 70.6 percent completion-rate, so even if Mayfield doesn’t rack up tons of pass attempts, they should count when he does. Here are the last seven quarterback finishes against the Jets (most recent first): QB23 (ugh, Goff), QB8, QB1, QB6, QB2, QB8, and QB1. Mayfield can be started as a low-end QB1 this week who’s been on fire.
He continued playing efficient football in Week 15, though we saw something we haven’t really seen all year against the Vikings, and that was the Bears going run-heavy. On the year, the Bears have thrown the ball 63.4 percent of the time, which is the third-highest mark in the league. In last week’s game, they threw the ball just 34.4 percent of the time. Are they doing this to preserve their chances of making the playoffs and limit the mistakes? The answer is probably yes, but if they want a chance against the Packers in Week 17 (or the playoffs), they can’t continue to hide Trubisky. The Jaguars have allowed 104.7 PPR points per game to their opponents overall, which ranks second to only the Lions. Even when you break it down with efficiency, they’ve allowed the third-most fantasy points per offensive snap. The Jaguars are horrible against the run, but they’ve also struggled a ton trying to slow down quarterbacks, allowing 22.3 fantasy points per game to them, which ranks behind only the Falcons. It’s not just one thing they struggle against, either. They’ve allowed a 70 percent completion-rate (2nd), 8.28 yards per attempt (1st), 6.60 percent touchdown-rate (2nd), and have generated a sack on just 3.49 percent of dropbacks (4th-fewest). The 31 touchdown passes they’ve allowed is the most in the league. We haven’t seen Trubisky use his legs a whole lot this year, but that hasn’t mattered against the Jaguars. When you look at strictly passing numbers, the Jaguars have allowed a league-leading 0.574 fantasy points per actual pass attempt. Think about that for a minute. If an average quarterback threw the ball just 35 times, they’d score 20.1 fantasy points. That’s where the lone concern lies with Trubisky this week, as the Jaguars opponents have thrown the ball on just 52.1 percent of dropbacks this year, which is the third-lowest mark in the league. Still, the Jaguars are one of the four teams in the NFL who’ve allowed 30-plus points per game to their opponents, while the Bears offense has generated at least 30 points in each of their last three games. He comes with the possibility of limited pass attempts, but in this matchup, we should see Matt Nagy try to shift some confidence to his young quarterback. He should be considered a mid-to-high-end QB2 for this contest.
Start Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE) or J.D. McKissic (RB – WAS)?
55% of Experts Would Start McKissic
Despite seeing eight-plus defenders in the box 34.7 percent of the time (eighth-most in the NFL), Chubb has overcome that, ripping off 5.87 yards per carry. When you factor in the defenders in the box, his yards before contact, and how close defenders have been to him, Chubb has averaged 1.71 yards over expected… per carry. There’s no other running back in the NFL who has a mark higher than 1.13 yards over expected. Based on what NextGenStats tells us, Chubb has totaled 276 yards over expectations, which is second behind only Derrick Henry. Chubb is coming off his lowest rushing output of the season (not counting the game he left injured), where he finished with just 50 yards on 15 carries against the Giants, though he did find the end zone, making it 8-of-9 games where he’s finished as a top-22 running back, including six top-10 performances. Not bad for a guy who’s barely involved in the passing game. I’ve continually tried to remind everyone that the Jets are an above-average run defense, and that shows when you see that running backs have accounted for just 28.0 percent of the production they’ve allowed to skill-position players, which is the fifth-lowest mark in football. I mentioned it last week with Cam Akers, but it needs to be repeated. The Jets are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to limiting running backs’ efficiency. The only teams who’ve allowed fewer fantasy points per weighted opportunity than them are the Saints, Steelers, and Rams. Volume is what carries most running backs to their fantasy totals against them. They’ve faced a massive 28.6 running back touches per game, and they haven’t played the Browns yet, who average 31.0 running back touches per game. You can be inefficient and still be productive in a matchup with that many touches available, though we know Chubb is extremely efficient. In the end, running backs have averaged 0.3 fewer PPR points per game against the Jets than they have in non-Jets games, so the volume doesn’t make you move your players too much. Chubb should still be played as a low-end RB1 this week. Hunt is a bit more difficult to project, as he’s only received 13 carries over the last two games combined. Did you know Hunt hasn’t finished better than the RB29 in four of the last five games? Naturally, there’d be an RB4 finish in-between, which lures us back in, but in the end, what’s the most likely? The Jets have only allowed 10 running backs to finish as top-24 options through 14 games, so Hunt probably belongs in the high-end RB3 conversation rather than the must-play top-24 option.
I’ll be honest; I downgraded McKissic with Haskins under center, as he hadn’t checked down to running backs nearly as much as Alex Smith did, but that turned out to be a mistake. McKissic saw a massive 10 targets and finished with 107 total yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. It surely didn’t hurt that Haskins threw the ball 55 times, but still. Barber scored a touchdown but did absolutely nothing outside of that. Heck, you can’t even get excited about Barber in a good matchup because when he comes on the field, opponents know they’re running the ball. He’s seen eight-plus defenders in the box on a league-high 44.9 percent of the time. The Panthers have certainly improved as a run defense as the year has gone on, but they’re still allowing the eight-most fantasy points per weighted opportunity to the position. The best news for McKissic is that running backs have seen a 20 percent target share against the Panthers, and that’s led to them seeing 101 targets on the season (9th-most). The 82 receptions they’ve allowed is the fourth-most in football, including nine running backs who’ve caught four-plus balls against them, which should provide McKissic with the floor we love. We also watched him get a season-high 13 carries with Antonio Gibson out of the lineup, which came after he totaled 11 carries the previous week. It’s clear that McKissic is going to get more than a dozen touches one way or another, and with Smith under center, there’s 18-plus potential against the defense that allows the eighth-most points per weighted opportunity. The downside is that he loses goal-line carries, but he’s still playing enough to net a solid RB2 start in this game.
Start Salvon Ahmed (RB – MIA) or Darrell Henderson (RB – LAR)?
58% of Experts Would Start Henderson
We have a real conundrum here with the Dolphins running backs, as Gaskin is expected back with the team this week, but Ahmed played well enough to raise questions about who should receive more work. The Dolphins gave him 26 opportunities against the Patriots and he made them count, racking up 127 total yards and a touchdown on them. We’ve still yet to see a game with both Ahmed and Gaskin on the field at the same time, so it could turn into somewhat of a timeshare. The Raiders have allowed 1.53 PPR points per offensive snap to their opponents, which ranks as the sixth-highest number in the league. They’ve also allowed eight rushing touchdowns to running backs over their last five games, and that’s not even counting the two rushing touchdowns they allowed to quarterbacks. That hasn’t just started happening, but it’s only been getting worse. On the year, they’ve allowed a rushing touchdown every 18.1 carries, which is more often than any other team. Prior to limiting the Chargers rushing attack to 79 yards on 23 carries, the Raiders had allowed at least 124 rushing yards in each of their last three games, allowing the Falcons, Jets, and Colts running backs combine for 470 yards on 87 carries (5.40 yards per carry). Despite running backs seeing plenty of volume through the air (107 targets) while accounting for a massive 21.3 percent target share, they’ve only amounted them to 1.36 PPR points per target, which is bottom-10 in the league. Still, looking at efficiency against weighted volume, the Raiders are the fourth-worst team in the league against running backs on a per opportunity basis. If Gaskin returns, this backfield is really messy, as it might be a 50/50 timeshare. If forced to pick one, I suppose it’s Gaskin because he’s done it for most of the season, but we must pay attention to the coachspeak this week to try and learn anything we can about Gaskin potentially being eased back in (he’s played just one game since Week 8), or that Ahmed has earned more work moving forward. For now, we’ll consider Gaskin a high-end RB3 while Ahmed is a low-end RB3, as they might cannibalize each other. If Gaskin is held out again, Ahmed would be a high-end RB2.
In case you haven’t heard, Cam Akers is out for this week with a high-ankle sprain. That means we’re back to the split we saw earlier in the year when Henderson was the team’s clear-cut lead back. There were five times he totaled more than 10 touches this season. In those games, he’s totaled at least 68 total yards in every one while producing 19-plus PPR points in three of them. The matchup this week has been somewhat of a mixed bag, as the Seahawks have allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points on the ground to running backs but have also allowed a massive 11.8 PPR points per game through the air alone to running backs, which ranks as the fifth-highest number in the league. There have been just two games this season where an opposing team of running backs has rushed for 100-plus yards against the Seahawks, and while the Rams were not one of them, the three running backs did combine for 99 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. This seems to be a trend for Sean McVay running backs against Pete Carroll’s defense. It doesn’t hurt to know the Seahawks are coming off a game where they allowed 112 total yards and two touchdowns to the combination of J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber. Henderson should be fresh with just nine touches over the last three games, so feel free to start him as a solid low-end RB2 in this game. Brown hasn’t touched the ball more than eight times since way back in Week 8, though the loss of Akers is surely going to present more opportunities. Oddly enough, Brown scored two of the touchdowns against the Seahawks back in Week 10. He should net 10-plus opportunities in this game, which puts him in the RB4 conversation.
Start Marvin Jones Jr. (WR – DET) or Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR)?
58% of Experts Would Start Jones Jr.
Marvin Jones Jr.
Did we get one last hurrah with the Jones-Stafford connection last week? He was targeted a team-high 12 times that netted 10 receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. He’s now seen a Davante Adams-like 44 targets over the last four games, which is volume you must play, though you do have to pay attention to whether or not Stafford is starting. With Kenny Golladay being out, Jones will receive the No. 1 wide receiver treatment from the Bucs. While Carlton Davis is a very good up-and-coming cornerback, he’s not someone you need to absolutely avoid, as evidenced by the fact that he’s allowed 783 yards in his coverage, the second-most in the NFL. There have been 11 wide receivers who’ve seen double-digit targets against the Bucs, and every one of them finished as a top-30 wide receiver. While that’s certainly not guaranteed for Jones, he has hit that mark in four of his last six games. As long as Stafford is under center, Jones should be played as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 who comes with a stable floor in a game they should throw the ball 40-plus times.
It’s been a rough season for Kupp, as he’s now finished as a top-24 wide receiver twice over his last 10 games. In the two games where he did, he saw 20 and 13 targets, both numbers that are typically not going to happen. He’s actually seen just five targets in three of his last four games, which will certainly limit his potential. The matchup with the Seahawks used to be one we looked forward to, but not so much anymore. Wide receivers have seen 62.1 percent of the pass attempts against the Seahawks, which ranks behind only the Titans. That hasn’t allowed to many touchdowns, though. They’re allowing a receiver touchdown once every 28.4 targets, which ranks as the fifth-least often. In fact, they’ve gone six straight games without allowing a wide receiver touchdown. Kupp’s matchup in the slot isn’t a good one, as it appears the Seahawks have found their solution there with Ugo Amadi. He was their fourth-round pick last year who’s stepped into a full-time role this year and has allowed just 35-of-48 passing for 322 scoreless yards in his slot coverage this year. The two biggest games the Seahawks allowed to slot-heavy wide receivers were back in Weeks 1 and 2 to Russell Gage and Julian Edelman. Since that time, the biggest performance was Larry Fitzgerald’s eight catches for 62 yards. Kupp looks a bit more like a high-end WR3 than the WR2 you thought you were drafting.
Start Robby Anderson (WR – CAR) or Tyler Lockett (WR – SEA)?
59% of Experts Would Start Anderson
He tied season-lows in both targets (5) and yardage (21) last week, while catching a season-low two receptions. It came at the wrong time for fantasy managers, but we’ve been trending in the wrong direction with Anderson over the last two months, as he’s finished with fewer than 50 yards in four of his last seven games. The lone piece of good news is that he’s still seen at least five targets in every game. Now onto a matchup with Washington, who has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game (31.9) to wide receivers. Volume hasn’t even helped all that much, as the 1.58 PPR points per target ranks second behind only the Rams. Teams of wide receivers have averaged just 148.4 yards per game against Washington, including just 90 yards to the Seahawks receivers last week. There have been just 13 wide receivers this year who’ve finished with 60-plus yards against them, while nine of those receivers saw seven-plus targets. If there’s one bit of hope for Anderson, it’s that his primary matchup will be with Ronald Darby, who’s allowed a massive 14.8 yards per reception in his coverage. The downside is that Anderson and Bridgewater haven’t connected much on the deep ball, as he’s caught just 6-of-19 passes that have traveled over 20 yards in the air. Considering there have been just 13 wide receivers who’ve finished top-36 against Washington, it’s certainly going to be an uphill battle, making Anderson a somewhat-iffy WR3 this week.
The nightmare season for Lockett continued last week, as he finished outside the top 40 wide receivers for the eighth time in the last 11 games, including each of the last four games. He hasn’t topped 67 yards since Week 7, while scoring just one touchdown in that time. He did see nine targets the last time they played the Rams, which led to him finishing with five catches for 66 scoreless yards, which was his fifth-best game of the year. Teams have targeted their wide receivers on just 54.2 percent of pass attempts against the Rams this year, the third-lowest mark in all of football. Even when targeted, the Rams have allowed a league-low 1.52 PPR points per target to wide receivers. The lack of efficiency hasn’t come from competition, either. Wide receivers have averaged 0.21 fewer fantasy points per target against the Rams than they have in non-Rams games, which still makes it the worst schedule-adjusted matchup. If there’s one positive for Lockett, it’s that the weakest link in the Rams secondary is Troy Hill, which is the one he’ll see most of the time. Hill has allowed 57-of-83 passing for 545 yards and one touchdown, which is good for an 80.6 QB Rating. Again, it’s not great, but it’s better than going against Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams. Of the 14 wide receivers who’ve posted double-digit PPR points against the Rams, five of them were slot-heavy receivers, which puts Lockett in the WR3 territory. He does have a better matchup than Metcalf, so if you’re looking for a reason to play Lockett in a DFS tournament lineup, that’s it.
Start Austin Hooper (TE – CLE) or Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL)?
68% of Experts Would Start Hooper
It was very good to see Hooper targeted six times last week, as it would’ve been rough trusting him in Week 16 if he’d seen the two targets he had the previous two weeks. He caught five of them for 41 yards and a touchdown, so though he’s failed to top 41 yards since the return from his appendectomy, he has scored in two of the last three games. We have to find the positive signs in his performances because the matchup doesn’t get any better than his in Week 16. We know Baker Mayfield is on fire, right? Well, of the production the Jets have allowed to skill-position players (it’s a lot), tight ends have accounted for 21.7 percent of it, which is the second-highest number in the league. That’s led to a league-leading 17.7 PPR points per game to the tight end position, a full 1.7 points per game more than any other team. They’re allowing a ridiculous 8.88 yards per target (league-high), as well as a touchdown every 8.1 targets to them, which amounts to a historically-bad 2.35 PPR points per target to the position. Remember the Cardinals last year? Seemed like the worst defense ever against the position, right? Well, they allowed 2.32 PPR points per target, so the Jets are even worse. Even when you look at the competition they’ve played and break it down by targets, the Jets have allowed 0.45 more PPR points per target than what their opponents have averaged in non-Jets matchups, which is more than any other team in the league. The lack of consistent targets keeps him out of the elite TE1 territory, but Hooper can be played as a mid-to-low-end TE1.
It’s been pretty systematic with Schultz ever since Dak Prescott went down for the year, as he’s finished with 22-53 yards in all but one game, which was last week in a tough matchup against the 49ers, though he did sneak out of that game with a touchdown. He hasn’t finished better than the TE10 in any of those games, but also hasn’t finished outside the top-25 tight ends since Week 7. He’s the definition of a high-floor/limited-ceiling streamer. The matchup with the Eagles treated him well back in Week 8 when he caught 6-of-8 targets for 53 yards with Ben DiNucci under center. Extremely similar to Schultz himself, the Eagles matchup has been a high-floor/limited-ceiling matchup (for the most part), as there have been just four tight ends who’ve failed to total at least 33 yards, while just one tight end (George Kittle) has topped 54 yards. When you look at the schedule they’ve played, tight ends are averaging 0.20 more PPR points per target against the Eagles than they are in non-Eagles matchups, making it the seventh-best schedule-adjusted matchup for efficiency. Schultz can be considered a decent high-end TE2 this week.