Week 16 Start/Sit PLUS: Dak Prescott, AJ Brown, Elijah Mitchell, and Playoff Kickers and DST! (2021 Fantasy Football)
What a chaotic week to start the fantasy playoffs! If you made it through last week, we’ve got a heap more great options for your penultimate matchup. If you’re out of contention, though, we’ve got you covered for your keeper/dynasty options looking forward to next year as well. Let’s get into some Start/Sit PLUS. We’ll be looking at six categories (which are described in detail here in our Week 1 article). And to ensure total transparency, I’ll also note at the bottom of each section how I went in last week’s article (I’ve logged it as 40 hits and 18 misses, meaning a 68% success rate, but you be the judge). If you disagree or have start/sit questions, hit me up on Instagram or Twitter.
Every-week starters, regardless of matchup
Russell Wilson (QB – SEA)
I predicted in last week’s article that Russ would struggle against the Rams, but I was also clear that you could hold him for this week and if you did, I expect him to reward you against a Bears’ defense that has given the vast majority of opposing quarterbacks at least two touchdowns this season.
Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)
It’s really scary starting Dak after three consecutive clangers, but Washington is still a get-right spot, even if he couldn’t take advantage of it two weeks ago. If it’s the Cowboy or a streamer, I’d prefer Prescott.
Ronald Jones (RB – TB)
This is an easy one. Leonard Fournette is expected to be out for a couple of weeks meaning RoJo is the league winner that pops up every year. Well, that’s the plan I’ve been hearing a lot of, anyway. Keep your expectations in check. He’s more of an RB2, and you should still be flooding your roster with upside backups (check out the list in the “stash” section).
Sony Michel (RB – LAR)
The return of Darrell Henderson led to the closest thing this Rams backfield has gotten to a committee all season. But it was Michel who was clearly the more effective runner and pass catcher as he received triple the snaps and carries and outgained Henderson in yardage 115-27. I would expect this to remain some sort of split backfield but Michel is the guy to play at this stage.
Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA)
He had a tough game against the Rams, but Penny is still the lead guy for Seattle, playing on early downs and getting valuable goal-line work. Now, I realize DeeJay Dallas got the goal line touchdown this week, but that’s because Penny was getting an injury looked at. When healthy, it’ll be Penny. He’s still more of a flex option in general, but it’s entirely possible you’ll have no better options this week.
Antonio Brown (WR – TB)
He’s back, and he’s got the whole field to himself. We saw Tom Brady force-feeding AB even when Chris Godwin and Mike Evans were on the field, so don’t think a whole heap of double coverage is going to stop him. Brown may lack a little game-readiness, but he’s still a solid WR2 for your fantasy playoffs.
Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – DET)
I must admit the timing of his explosion surprised me a little, and I do wonder why a team essentially tanking would wait until Week 13 to unleash their rookie and see what they had in him. Regardless, he’s here and he’s smashing it. Enjoy.
A.J. Brown (WR – TEN)
Brown has been out for some time, and it’s mighty risky starting him, despite the kind matchup against the 49ers. I’m using him regardless, though, you’d need to be pretty loaded to have better options.
Noah Fant (TE – DEN)
I haven’t been high on Fant for most of the season, but he ends the year with two perfect fantasy matchups. Given the dearth of reliable tight ends at this stage of the season, Fant becomes an immediate golden option if you’ve been riding the stream train for the last few weeks.
Jake Elliott (K – PHI)
It’s rare I put kickers in the start section (always stream kickers), but Elliott has been sensational the last few weeks, and he’s a great option for the fantasy playoffs. I’m starting him from now on.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DST – TB)
Carolina, Jets, Carolina. What a great run home for the Buccs. Despite their injury and COVID worries at the moment, they’re locked-in starts in every league.
- Joe Burrow (QB – CIN)
- Melvin Gordon (RB – DEN)
- Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)
- Adam Thielen (WR – MIN)
- Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA) – Yep, again now that he’s healthy.
- Zach Ertz (TE – ARI)
- Matt Gay (K – LAR)
- Philadelphia Eagles (DST – PHI)
Consider benching if you have a viable alternative
Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN)
The Vikings have been winning ugly of late and face their toughest test and first top-eight passing defense since Week 6. Cousins has been getting two TDs every week for two months, but his play has been getting pretty messy with a lot more turnovers coming into his game. I’d avoid him in the playoffs if you can.
Elijah Mitchell (RB – SF) and Jeff Wilson (RB – SF)
This is a backfield to avoid for a multitude of reasons, none of which is related to the efficiency of the 49ers’ run game nor the talent of these two excellent runners. My concern is over the workload of both men if Mitchell returns and over the matchup against the excellent Titans’ run defense. It’s a situation to fade if you can.
Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA) and Duke Johnson (RB – MIA)
I could essentially copy-paste the last paragraph in here as it’s the same situation, except the Dolphins’ run game has been putrid at times this year and neither of these runners has quite the same talent level. That being said, if given the reigns and in the right matchup, both can be effective. The problem is that neither will be given the reigns. Gaskin should on paper have the lead role, but Johnson may have earned a whole lot more touches after last week’s boom game. Add in Salvon Ahmed, the likely return of Phillip Lindsay, and maybe even Malcolm Brown, and this could be a total mess. Did I mention they face the league’s best run defense in New Orleans? No, thank you!
Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI)
Mooney had a couple of boom weeks earlier this season and I made him a sit the next week. I did not receive kind messages. This is just a reminder that he had 27 yards that next week. He has another sneaky-tough matchup this week against the Seahawks, and I’m avoiding him again.
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE)
I don’t know whether Juice will be available, I don’t know who his QB will be, and I don’t know what his O-line will look like. I do, however, know that he’ll see a whole lot of Jaire Alexander and the Packers’ secondary. The only hope is that the Browns are forced to desperately chase and that’s possible, but I’m not relying on that in my fantasy playoffs.
Ricky Seals-Jones (TE – WAS)
Sadly, it seems the WFT has finally moved to a committee approach with their tight ends. RSJ was a good option when he was playing every down, but that hasn’t been the case since Logan Thomas’s last injury and the emergence of John Bates. He just can’t be relied on anymore.
- Carson Wentz (QB – IND)
- Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
- Devonta Freeman (RB – BAL)
- Chase Edmonds (RB – ARI)
- D’Onta Foreman (RB – TEN)
- Kendrick Bourne (WR – NE)
- Jakobi Meyers (WR – NE)
- Foster Moreau (TE – LV)
Players you wouldn’t normally start who should have a good week
Jimmy Garoppolo (QB – SF)
Jimmy G has been very efficient over the 49ers’ 6-2 run with consistently solid fantasy finishes over the last two months. With George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk all in fine form, my only concern is the dominance of the run game. Either the 49ers’ backs have excellent games or Garoppolo is a solid fantasy start against the Titans. Given the Titans have one of the best run defenses in the league, I know which outcome I’d back.
Devin Singletary (RB – BUF)
The Bills have finally handed the reigns over to one man. And bizarrely, it’s not the 223- pound Zack Moss, he’s been inactive. It’s the league’s shortest runner (while Tarik Cohen is inactive) in Devin Singletary. I have no idea what Sean McDermott is doing here, but he’s doing it, so we just have to go along with it. The Bills face the solid Pats’ run defense, but I’d expect Big Bill to try to take away their best asset, their passing game, and force Buffalo to run. Hence it’s Singletary SZN.
Russell Gage (WR – ATL)
Many expected Gage to boom after Calvin Ridley took his break, but it didn’t happen. Well, not immediately anyway. Gage is making some amazing plays and against the Lions, they might not need him, but I expect he’ll get plenty of TD opportunities.
Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF)
Last week’s dud seems to have a lot of people freaked out. Don’t panic, though, Aiyuk is still a good option against the generous Titans who will likely shut down the run forcing Jimmy G to get busy with his receivers. Let’s just hope it’s not Jauan Jennings again.
Cole Kmet (TE – CHI)
The matchup is fantastic and the volume is growing for the second-year man out of Notre Dame. I’m starting him ahead of every other streamer, and I think a top-10 finish is possible even without a touchdown. That’s rare for tight ends.
- Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA) – I’ve covered this before but this is just a reminder.
- Craig Reynolds (RB – DET) – If Williams is out, or in deep leagues, if Williams plays.
- Gabriel Davis (WR – BUF) – I don’t like this but it is what it is.
- Josh Reynolds (WR – DET) – In deeper leagues
- James O’Shaughnessy (TE – JAC)
- Cameron Brate (TE – TB) – In very deep leagues.
- Younghoe Koo (K – ATL)
- Brett Maher (K – NO)
- Dallas Cowboys (DST – DAL)
- Green Bay Packers (DST – GB)
Pick up and bench this week
Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA)
If you’re not playing Tua this week, I’d still suggest stashing him as he has great matchups down the stretch and in dynasty/keeper leagues provides strong long-term value.
Backup Running Backs
With only a couple of weeks left, there’s little need for depth at other positions. Obviously, a little cover for COVID cases helps but otherwise, you should know who your QB, WR, and TE starters are. Hence you can afford to gamble on some running back dart throws, just like Ronald Jones who I suggested last week. Here’s my updated list, outside the obvious guys already starting, in order, I’d stash: Tony Pollard, AJ Dillon, Alexander Mattison, Mark Ingram, Darrell Henderson, Chase Edmonds, Devontae Booker, Darrel Williams, Peyton Barber, Jeff Wilson, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Howard, Mike Davis, Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
Justin Jackson (RB – LAC)
I’m giving JJ his own section because it’s more likely Austin Ekeler is out than most other runners. Ekeler may or may not be on the COVID list (which yes, is a bizarre statement) and it’s become clear Jackson has emerged (finally) as the clear backup in LA. That makes him one of the better stashes out there.
Samaje Perine (RB – CIN)
Another back at some risk of missing Week 16 is Joe Mixon after he suffered an ankle sprain against the Broncos. Perine seems to be the obvious back up, so he’s worth rostering if you need an RB2 with upside should things fall right.
Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ)
The breakout rookie is expected to return for Week 17, and that makes him worth stashing. Though you’d need to be a little desperate as he’ll be a risky start next week.
Albert Okwuegbunam (TE – DEN)
Albert O has 99 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks combined and that was while Noah Fant was playing. If Fant gets injured (or sick), he’ll be a clear top-10 option. It’s not impossible he even takes over that role and is a deep streamer in the fantasy playoffs with two excellent matchups coming up. He needs to be on benches in every league.
- Tyler Huntley (QB – BAL) – In case Lamar Jackson can’t go this week.
- Allen Lazard (WR – GB)
- Foster Moreau (TE – LV) – As a Waller handcuff/upside gamble.
- Ryan Succop (K – TB) – For his Week 17 matchup
- San Francisco 49ers (DST – SF) – For their Week 17 matchup
Sell In Dynasty
Players who are likely to lose value in the future and could be sold now for a better player. This is primarily advice for dynasty teams who are out of the playoffs and looking to rebuild.
Matthew Stafford (QB – LAR)
He’s been sensational this season (he’s currently the QB5), but I don’t expect Stafford to maintain this level of fantasy production moving into next year. If you can sell him for some high picks or upside options, I’d get out now.
James Robinson (RB – JAC)
With JRob now the clear lead back in Jacksonville, it’s time to sell. With Travis Etienne returning next year and Urban Meyer thankfully out of town (and hopefully out of football) there’s no chance Robinson has a workhorse role by April. Find someone challenging right now and cash in.
Davante Adams (WR – GB)
Adams is on the old side even for a receiver and is a free agent next season. I’m not risking waiting to see where he ends up. I’d rather have some more certainty with my studs.
Antonio Brown (WR – TB)
If you don’t need AB now, your window for using him has likely closed. He’s a prime sell-high candidate in dynasty.
Noah Fant (TE – DEN)
It’s starting to look like Albert O may be taking over the receiving role in Denver or at least turning it into a committee. But Fant has fantastic matchups coming up, so that may be enough to sell him to a contender that lost TJ Hockenson or is scared about Travis Kelce.
Every kicker and DST
No kicker or DST is more valuable than any roster-worthy positional player or pick.
- Taylor Heinicke (QB – WAS)
- Davis Mills (QB – HOU)
- D’Onta Foreman (RB – TEN)
- Aaron Jones (RB – GB)
- DeAndre Hopkins (WR – ARI)
- Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA)
Misses: Travis Kelce
Drop, assuming a viable alternative is available
Carson Wentz (QB – IND)
The Colts have no more streamable matchups so there’s no point in rostering Wentz, despite his good efforts this season.
Chuba Hubbard (RB – CAR)
If you’re not starting the rookie this week, you’re definitely not starting him against the Saints next week. Use the space for someone with more upside.
Le’Veon Bell (RB – TB)
You heard he was going to the Buccaneers so you picked him up? That was a mistake. He’s never having a fantasy-relevant role there. Don’t compound your error by keeping him.
Jerry Jeudy (WR – DEN)
Well, this has been disappointing. Jeudy has been a victim of some poor strategy and quarterback play and has two very tough matchups remaining this season. He’s a buy for me in dynasty, but in redraft I want him gone, along with all Broncos’ receivers.
David Njoku (TE – CLE)
Well, that was a fail. He seemed like a great streamer last week and was fractions of an inch from a spectacular touchdown, but he’s now back in a committee with Austin Hooper and has middling matchups at best. It’s time to let go.
- Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN)
- David Johnson (RB – HOU)
- Royce Freeman (RB – HOU)
- Tre’Quan Smith (WR – NO)
- Jack Doyle (TE – IND)
- Tyler Bass (K – BUF)
- Matt Prater (K – ARI)
- Cleveland Browns (DST – CLE)
- Carolina Panthers (DST – CAR)
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.