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I always tell people that making the playoffs in Fantasy Football takes skill, but winning a championship takes luck. And sometimes you really do need to be more lucky than good.
We had an email from one of our podcast listeners where he won by eight points because his opponent benched Emmanuel Sanders and Amari Cooper in Week 15. If they had started either receiver he would have lost, but now he's playing for a title this week. And there are countless examples of these situations.
I had a similar scenario against our video host, Ryan Bass, in our Fantasy Football Today league. He started Aaron Rodgers over Blake Bortles in Week 15, which wasn't a mistake, but he ended up losing by six points. Bortles outscored Rodgers by 13 points, so I got lucky to advance. The irony is Bass is a University of Central Florida alumnus, which is where Bortles went to school, and that's his favorite NFL player.
This week I could get lucky again because in two of my championship games I'm facing the team with Odell Beckham. So while every owner with Beckham would love for him to be active, there are those of us who will benefit with his suspension. That's luck, especially if it pays off.
You've made it this far in the season, so kudos to you in your quest for a championship. And, as always, good luck in Week 16. You might need it to bring home that title.
It's tough for Fantasy owners to find a running back you can trust in Week 16. Amid injuries and guys with poor matchups, we're either stuck with an unproven starter in a timeshare like Cameron Artis-Payne or hoping for someone like Jeremy Hill to score a touchdown.
In some cases, you'll just settle for a running back with a pulse.
With that in mind, you should be excited about Charcandrick West this week against the Browns. He could be in a timeshare if Spencer Ware plays after he was active but kept on the bench in Week 15 with a rib injury, but that shouldn't matter for West's outlook. I would even consider Ware a sleeper in this matchup if he gets on the field.
West should get the majority of touches this week, and he's been great with an extended workload. He has four games this season with at least 16 carries, and he scored 13 Fantasy points in a standard league in each outing, including last week at Baltimore when he had 16 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 9 yards.
The Browns haven't allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in the past two games against Seattle and San Francisco, but in the previous 12 games it happened 10 times. Cleveland has allowed nine touchdowns to running backs, and the Chiefs have had a running back reach double digits in Fantasy points in 10 of 14 games this season with Jamaal Charles, West and Ware.
You'll want to keep an eye on Ware's status leading up to Sunday, and last week we got a late report prior to kickoff that he would be used only in an emergency situation. If that happens again this week then West should be a potential Top 5 Fantasy running back in Week 16.
Now, if Ware plays, you should dial back your expectations for West, but he would still be considered a must-start running back in all leagues. And Ware, if needed, could be a flex option since this matchup against the Browns at home is full of upside.
I'm starting West over: Darren McFadden (at BUF), Todd Gurley (at SEA), Chris Ivory (vs. NE), Eddie Lacy (at ARI) and Lamar Miller (vs. IND)
Bortles has been somewhat of a savior for Fantasy owners this year since he went undrafted in the majority of leagues but is now starting in many championship games. He's been excellent down the stretch and has taken advantage of several good matchups, which should also be the case this week. Bortles has scored at least 25 Fantasy points in a standard league in four games in a row, and he's facing a Saints defense that is allowing 28.6 points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Eight quarterbacks have scored at least 28 Fantasy points against New Orleans this year, and Bortles has one of the highest ceilings of any player at any position this week.
The concern for Stafford this week could be the Lions actually having the chance to run on the 49ers because their run defense is awful, especially on the road. But their pass defense isn't far behind, and Stafford has a lot going for him this week. He's been great at home all season with at least 20 Fantasy points in five games in a row in Detroit. He's also scored at least 19 Fantasy points in six games in a row overall coming into this matchup, and new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and Stafford have meshed nicely. The 49ers have only allowed five quarterbacks to score multiple touchdowns against them, but four of them have come on the road with Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning and Russell Wilson. Imagine how good Stafford could be if Calvin Johnson were making plays? He's struggled, but I'm sticking with Johnson this week at home with the chance Stafford gets him going in their final home game.
Roethlisberger missed the first game with the Ravens in Week 4 when he was dealing with a knee injury, so you know he has to be giddy about facing this secondary. The last time he played Baltimore in 2014 he dropped 340 passing yards and six touchdowns, but that was at home. He doesn't have the best history in Baltimore with just one game with multiple touchdowns in his past five meetings, but that shouldn't matter much this week. While the Ravens would love nothing more than to end Pittsburgh's playoff chances with an upset this week, Baltimore allows 23 Fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks. And eight quarterbacks have scored at least that many points against the Ravens this season. Roethlisberger is typically better at home than on the road, but he's scored at least 23 Fantasy points in five of his past six games overall and should be started in all leagues this week.
We expected Fitzpatrick to struggle last week on the road against the Cowboys, and he finished with just 16 Fantasy points in a standard league. But there are a couple of things to like this week even in a potentially tough matchup with the Patriots. Fitzpatrick had 23 Fantasy points at New England in Week 7, and he's been great at home with at least 22 points in five of his past six games in Met Life Stadium, including his "road" start against the Giants in Week 13. He's also thrown multiple touchdowns in all eight games in this building. This game could be a shootout if the Patriots put up points as expected, and Fitzpatrick at home is a safe play this week as a potential Top 10 quarterback in all leagues.
I didn't go all in on Cousins last week like I should have, and instead he was just listed as a sleeper. Even though the narrative is he's played better at home than on the road this season, you should still start him with confidence this week. He actually scored 23 Fantasy points at Chicago in his last road game in Week 14 and has now scored 20-plus points in three of his past four outings overall. He also had 23 Fantasy points against the Eagles at home in Week 4, and Philadelphia allows 22.6 points per game to opposing quarterbacks this year. This could be a big game for Cousins with Jordan Reed playing at a dominant level of late, and DeSean Jackson gets to face his former team for the first time since he missed the game earlier this year. That alone gives Cousins the chance for multiple touchdowns, and he should again have the chance for another Top 10 finish in Week 16.
Derek Carr (vs. SD): He had 29 Fantasy points vs. SD in Week 7.
Jameis Winston (vs. CHI): Quarterbacks have abused CHI lately.
Ryan Tannehill (vs. IND): IND allows big games to QBs on the road.
With Beckham not going to play there's no way you can trust Manning, especially if the Vikings start getting healthy on defense. Coach Mike Zimmer said Harrison Smith (hamstring), Anthony Barr (groin) and Linval Joseph (foot) could return for this game, and that would mean even more of a negative for Manning. The Giants could also be officially eliminated from playoff contention if the Redskins beat the Eagles, so motivation could be a factor on the road. But the biggest thing working against Manning is playing without his best receiver and having to rely on Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris, Hakeem Nicks and Will Tye. It will be tough to trust Manning even in two-quarterback leagues.
Ryan will be glad to get back home and play in Atlanta because the road wasn't kind to him over the past three games. He combined for 31 Fantasy points over the past three weeks on the road at Tampa Bay, Carolina and Jacksonville, and he actually has just two games with more than 20 Fantasy points in his past eight outings. His performance against the Panthers was the worst of the season with four Fantasy points since he passed for 224 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, and Carolina has held Ryan to four touchdowns and seven interceptions in his past five meetings with an average of 250.2 passing yards per game. This has been an ugly season for Ryan, and hopefully next year he can return as a reliable Fantasy starter in the majority of leagues.
Rivers put everything he had into that game with the Dolphins in Week 15 to make sure the Chargers fans had a memorable experience in what could be the last home game in San Diego. He finished with 26 Fantasy points, which was just the second time he's scored more than 17 points in his past six games. He could get Steve Johnson (groin) back this week, which will help his anemic receiving corps, but the Raiders could have emotion on their side if this is the last home game in Oakland. And this will be the last home game for standout Raiders safety Charles Woodson, who plans to retire after this season. It also hurts Rivers that the game is Thursday night, and he should only be started in two-quarterback leagues this week.
Osweiler will start again for the injured Peyton Manning (foot), but don't fall for last week's production and expect him to play well against the Bengals, even at home. He was great with 34 Fantasy points in a standard league at Pittsburgh, but that was a much better matchup. Prior to that, Osweiler had 14 Fantasy points or less in three games in a row. The Bengals also have allowed just one quarterback to score more than 15 Fantasy points in the past eight games, including four in a row. Our only hope for Osweiler this week is to make sure Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders play at a high level, and I would trust Thomas with full confidence and play Sanders as a low-end No. 2 receiver in most formats.
There's nothing to suggest sitting Bridgewater this week from a matchup standpoint because the Giants are terrible against opposing quarterbacks. Bridgewater can definitely play well, but he also could have a limited ceiling. He had five total touchdowns and 40 Fantasy points last week against Chicago, but that was with Adrian Peterson (ankle) banged up. Peterson should play this week, and he will likely be a focal point on offense. And with the Giants playing without Beckham you should see Minnesota sitting on a lead in the fourth quarter. Prior to his big game against the Bears, Bridgewater combined for 23 Fantasy points in his previous three outings and had just one game with more than 17 points in his past six games. He is a great option in two-quarterback leagues, but I'd be nervous starting him in most standard formats.
I've gone back and forth on Taylor all week, and I originally had Aaron Rodgers in this spot. I removed Rodgers because the Cardinals are dealing with several injuries in their secondary, including Tyrann Mathieu (torn ACL) and Rashad Johnson (ankle), which should help Rodgers' outlook. As for Taylor, the matchup will be tough with the Cowboys if they are motivated to play. Dallas was just officially eliminated from the playoffs last week, and it's a long road trip to Buffalo. The Bills also have nothing to play for, but being at home gives them an advantage. Still, looking at what Dallas has done to opposing quarterbacks this year, this could be a tough game for Taylor, so lower your expectations for him. Only one quarterback has scored more than 20 Fantasy points against the Cowboys in their past nine games, including matchups with Cam Newton, Wilson and Fitzpatrick last week. Taylor has at least 30 Fantasy points in three of his past four games, but Buffalo should have success running the ball in this matchup, which could limit Taylor's upside. I would put him around 20 Fantasy points in a standard league, which puts him as a low-end starting option at best this week.
Williams is expected to start with LeSean McCoy (knee) banged up, and that should give him the chance for a big game against the Cowboys at home. Mike Gillislee will also play a role, and Gillislee is worth using as a flex option in deeper leagues. But Williams should get the majority of touches, and we saw his upside earlier this season when he scored a touchdown in his first six NFL games. He even started a game for an injured McCoy in Week 4 against the Giants and had 18 carries for 40 yards and three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. I could see him with 13 Fantasy points in a standard league this week, and the Cowboys have allowed three running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points in the past two games. Buffalo has also had a running back score at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in 13 of 14 games, and Williams has the best chance to reach that total this week.
Murray hasn't been great lately with one game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in his past seven outings, but there are still positives during that stretch. He's had at least 20 carries in three of his past four games, so the workload has been there for him. And during those past seven outings he's scored at least seven Fantasy points five times, with two touchdowns. I expect this to be one of his better performances of the season, and he had 15 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown at San Diego in Week 7. The Chargers could be emotionally spent from Week 15 against Miami in what could be the final game in San Diego, and the short week tends to favor running backs. Murray actually had the best game of his career on a Thursday night against Kansas City last year with four carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns, so hopefully history repeats itself this week.
Robinson let us down last week against Atlanta when he started for the injured T.J. Yeldon (knee) and had 14 carries for 28 yards and eight catches for 46 yards. He was fine in PPR leagues, but owners in standard leagues need to see him get 15 carries this week against the Saints. Last year, Robinson had four games with at least 15 carries, and he scored at least 11 Fantasy points in a standard league in each outing. He's dealing with a foot injury this week, but he's expected to be fine and start again for Yeldon. And he's facing a New Orleans defense that has allowed 15 running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points, including Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell last week. We hope this is the week Robinson comes through in a big way.
I like Abdullah and Bell this week, and you should consider Abdullah as a No. 2 running back in the majority of leagues and Bell as a flex option. Last week, Abdullah had nine carries for 77 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 12 yards with a lost fumble against the Saints. Bell had eight carries for 71 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 30 yards. The 49ers have struggled in run defense all season, especially on the road. A running back has scored against San Francisco in every road game this year, with 13 total touchdowns in seven games. The 49ers have allowed 19 touchdowns to running backs and 10 have scored double digits in Fantasy points. Despite his struggles for most of the season, I expect Abdullah to play well this week, with Bell also chipping in based on the matchup.
The Colts are fighting for their playoff lives this week at Miami, and the quarterback situation is a mess for Indianapolis again with Andrew Luck (kidney) still out. The Colts would be smart to lean on Gore, who has been awful this season, but should have the chance for a big game this week. He's from Miami and went to the University of Miami, and this is most likely the last time he'll play in front of his hometown again at 32 years old. He's also facing a Dolphins defense that has allowed a running back to get at least 100 total yards in nine games in a row, including Donald Brown and Rashad Jennings over the past two weeks. For the season, Miami has allowed 18 total touchdowns to running backs and 14 to score double digits in Fantasy points. Gore has just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in his past five outings, but this is a good week to trust him as a No. 2 running back in the majority of leagues.
Bilal Powell (vs. NE): He's scored a touchdown in three games in a row.
Christine Michael (vs. STL): He's the leader of the SEA backfield for now.
Tim Hightower (vs. JAC): He's still a solid No. 2 RB as the starter for NO.
Cameron Artis-Payne (at ATL): He's a good No. 2 RB with Stewart out.
Alfred Blue (at TEN): He has 100 yards or a TD in 3 of his past 5 games.
I have no idea how the Dolphins will use Miller this week, which makes it risky to bench him. He could be great in limited touches like we saw in Week 14 against the Giants when he had 12 carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Or he could be held to 10 carries or less like we've witnessed in three of the past five games, including last week at San Diego when he had nine carries for 12 yards and two catches for 12 yards. Now, it was reported that he was dealing with an ankle injury against the Giants and a quad problem against the Chargers, so that could explain the lack of work. It could also limit his touches again this week against the Colts. We also expect Jay Ajayi to get more work this week, and the Dolphins could be looking to see if Ajayi is their future since Miller will be a free agent after this year. We'll see how Miller does and how much he plays against the Colts, but I can't trust him in a crucial week with a potential Fantasy championship on the line.
You can't trust Hillman or C.J. Anderson in this matchup with the Bengals, and Hillman has been a major letdown each of the past three weeks. He had 14 carries for 48 yards and a lost fumble in Week 15 at Pittsburgh, and he's gone three games in a row without a touchdown, leaving him with 13 combined Fantasy points in a standard league over that span. Anderson returned from his one-game absence with an ankle injury against the Steelers and was held to four carries for 14 yards and one catch for 6 yards. The Bengals have allowed six running backs to score double digits in Fantasy points this season, but only DeAngelo Williams in Week 14 has reached that mark in the past seven games. You should avoid the Denver backfield this week if possible in the majority of leagues.
I would start James White this week in all leagues, and the only reason I didn't mention him as a starter above is because I wanted to use Bolden here. He was a huge letdown in Week 15 against the Titans with 10 carries for 36 yards and two catches for 18 yards, and he was outplayed by practice squad signee Joey Iosefa, who had 14 carries for 51 yards. The last time the Patriots played the Jets in Week 7, White and LeGarrette Blount combined for five carries, as New England abandoned the run and let Tom Brady throw the ball 54 times. The same thing could happen this week, which should benefit White, who has scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in four of the past five games. The Jets also have allowed just one rushing touchdown to a running back this season, and Darren McFadden in Week 15 is the lone running back with double digits in Fantasy points against the Jets in the past four games. Bolden is even a risky flex option in deeper leagues this week.
I liked Jennings coming into the week after the way he has played the past two games, but that was before Beckham was suspended for this game against the Vikings. With the Giants passing game expected to be limited, the Vikings should be able to contain Jennings and keep him from having three games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points. He had 100 total yards against the Dolphins in Week 14 and had 107 rushing yards and a touchdown against Carolina last week. Prior to that, Jennings had 12 Fantasy points combined in his previous four games, and he only has three touchdowns on the season. It would be nice to see the Giants lean on Jennings against the Vikings, who have allowed a running back to score double digits in Fantasy points in three games in a row. But he should be considered just a flex option at best with the Giants offense lacking their best weapon now that Beckham is not allowed to play.
Allen was great for Fantasy owners when Justin Forsett first went down with a broken arm in Week 11, and he had three games in a row with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league against the Rams, Browns and Dolphins. We expected him to play well in those matchups, but the schedule was brutal after that with matchups against the Seahawks, Chiefs and Steelers this week. Predictably, he had three Fantasy points against Seattle in Week 14 and minus-1 point against Kansas City in Week 15, and he's fumbled in each of those two games. Baltimore could start giving Terrance West more work, and there's no way you can trust Allen against the Steelers, who are No. 3 in fewest Fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs this year.
Ivory has been one of the best Fantasy running backs this season, but he might be slowing down due to wear and tear. He also continues to lose work to Powell, and that could be the case again this week based on game flow if the Jets are chasing points against the Patriots. Ivory has one touchdown in his past six games, and he's scored double digits in Fantasy points twice in his past five outings. He was held to 17 carries for 41 yards at New England in Week 7, but he had two catches for 12 yards and a touchdown, which is his lone receiving touchdown of the season. Powell was out for that game, and he's been the pass-catching running back for the Jets of late, which gives him the higher ceiling in this matchup. Ivory should only be considered a low-end Fantasy starter at best, and he will likely be in single digits in Fantasy points if he fails to find the end zone this week.
Jackson has to be overly excited for this matchup with his former team. He missed the first meeting with Chip Kelly and the Eagles in Week 4 with a hamstring injury, but he has plenty of motivation for this game. He could once again show Kelly it was a mistake to let him go, and he had two games with 100 yards against the Eagles in 2014, with a touchdown at Philadelphia in his last trip there. The Redskins can also win the NFC East with a win over the Eagles, who would be knocked out of the playoffs. It helps that Jackson is playing well with double digits in Fantasy points in four of his past five games, and the Eagles are banged up in their secondary and have allowed 22 touchdowns to receivers this year. This should be a big game for Jackson this week.
Hurns has been struggling of late with one game with double digits in Fantasy points in his past four games. He's also seen a downtick in targets with five or less in his past two games, and that could coincide with Julius Thomas starting to play well. Still, in this matchup with the Saints, you should like all the Jaguars receivers, so start Hurns, Thomas and Allen Robinson with plenty of confidence. The Saints have allowed 23 touchdowns to receivers this season, and No. 2 guys have hurt them lately with a secondary receiver scoring in each of the past 11 games. Robinson should still get his, but Hurns has the chance to be a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver with Top 15 upside.
We'll see if the Colts elect to start Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst this week with Hasselbeck banged up and Luck out. But whoever starts needs to listen to Hilton, who wants more throws down the field to take advantage of his speed. We just want more targets for Hilton, who has had seven or fewer in four of his past five games. The two times he's had at least seven targets over that span he's had either a touchdown or 100 yards. Hilton, who played at Florida International University and is from Miami, would like to play well in his first trip back home in his career. He's faced the Dolphins twice in his career and has two games with at least 100 receiving yards and one touchdown. The Dolphins have allowed 19 touchdowns to opposing receivers and 13 to score double digits in Fantasy points, so we hope the targets are there for him to shine in this matchup.
I want as much of this Seahawks passing game as I can get, and Lockett and Kearse continue to benefit from how well Wilson is playing of late. Doug Baldwin is a must-start receiver in all leagues, but Lockett and Kearse have also played well coming into this matchup with the Rams. Lockett has scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in three of his past four games, and he's had seven targets in three games in a row. He's scored a touchdown in two of his past three home games, and he should be considered a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver this week. Kearse is more of a high-upside No. 3 receiver since he has eight targets in each of his past two games with at least seven catches and 74 yards, including 110 yards last week against Cleveland. He has double digits in Fantasy points in each of his past two home games, and he had eight catches for 76 yards on 10 targets at St. Louis in Week 1. The Rams have allowed seven receivers to either score or have 100 receiving yards in their past five games, which bodes well for Baldwin, Lockett and Kearse this week.
This should be a big week for Bryant, Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, so consider starting all three where needed. Brown and Bryant are must-start options, and Wheaton is a high-upside No. 3 receiver. The Ravens have a terrible secondary, and they lead the NFL in Fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers with 25 touchdowns scored by the position. A receiver has caught a touchdown in 11 of 14 games against Baltimore, and six times multiple receivers have scored in the same game, including Week 14 against Seattle when Baldwin and Lockett combined for five touchdowns. Bryant hasn't scored in the past two games, but he's been involved with 17 catches on 23 targets over that span. We expect him to find the end zone this week, and he had two touchdowns in his only meeting with the Ravens in his career last year.
DeVante Parker (vs. IND): No. 2 receivers have done well vs. IND.
Ted Ginn (at ATL): Keep starting him until he proves you wrong.
Kamar Aiken (vs. PIT): He's played well despite poor QB play.
Stefon Diggs (vs. NYG): This is a favorable matchup to trust him.
Willie Snead (vs. JAC): Keep starting him as long as Brees is healthy.
Fitzgerald has been great this season, but it's clear he's the No. 3 option when John Brown and Michael Floyd are healthy. I wanted to use Brown and Floyd as starters this week in the column, so put them in your lineup against the Packers. But it makes sense to bench Fitzgerald based on his recent level of play. He hasn't scored a touchdown in six games in a row, and he's been held to six Fantasy points or less in his past four outings. He also has just 11 targets combined in his past two games, and Brown and Floyd continue to rack up the stats that matter for Fantasy owners. Brown has scored at least nine Fantasy points in five games in a row, and Floyd has scored double digits in points in six of his past eight outings. Fitzgerald can easily find the end zone this week against the Packers, but based on his recent level of play it's risky to trust him at this point in the season.
It was great to see LaFell finally post a respectable stat line in Week 15 against the Titans with four catches for 88 yards on five targets. And he could be needed this week if Danny Amendola (knee) is out and Julian Edelman (foot) isn't able to return. But you can't start him as anything more than a low-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver against the Jets, and he will likely see a lot of Darrelle Revis in this matchup. LaFell had two catches for 25 yards on eight targets against the Jets in Week 7, and he hasn't scored a touchdown yet this year. The Patriots also could start to involve Leonard Hankerson more after he was signed prior to Week 15, and his presence could start to impact LaFell in a negative way.
Boldin played well in Week 15 against the Bengals with eight catches for 74 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets, and he's scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in three of his past five games. He should struggle this week against Detroit since the Lions will likely use Darius Slay to shadow him in this matchup. Detroit has allowed just four touchdowns to receivers in the past five games, but only Brandin Cooks and Jordan Matthews have scored double digits in Fantasy points over that span. We hope Blaine Gabbert continues to lean on Boldin, who could still be useful as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in deeper PPR leagues. But Slay should make things tough on him, and he will likely struggle to post quality production in a standard league this week.
It's difficult to bench someone like Cobb this week, and he could benefit with Mathieu out. But we'll see what the Cardinals do with Patrick Peterson, and he could also match up with James Jones, which would make him a must-sit option this week. Cobb should be considered just a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in this matchup, and the Cardinals have allowed just two touchdowns to opposing receivers in their past five games. But this is as much about Cobb as it is with the Arizona defense since he's scored eight Fantasy points or less in six games in a row and 10 of his past 11 outings. We hope he can turn things around in Week 16, but the sample size is big enough to suggest he needs a dominant outside receiver to help him produce on a high level on a consistent basis. That will happen next year when Jordy Nelson (knee) is healthy, but right now you should try to avoid Cobb in most standard leagues.
Crabtree played well against the Chargers in their first meeting in Week 7 with six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on eight targets, but he's struggled of late and has become touchdown dependent to help his Fantasy production. He does have a touchdown in two of his past four games, but he's been held to 55 yards or less in each of his past six outings. The Chargers also have allowed just three touchdowns to receivers in their past five games, and No. 1 receivers have had more success against San Diego this season than No. 2 options with Albert Wilson and Crabtree the only two secondary receivers to score against the Chargers since Week 7. Amari Cooper should get downgraded in this matchup as well, but he remains a No. 2 receiver in the majority of leagues. I would only use Crabtree as a low-end No. 3 option in most formats.
I hate saying to bench big-name stars in crucial weeks, but there are several things working against Green in this matchup with the Broncos. He's dealing with a back injury, although he's expected to play. He has a backup quarterback in AJ McCarron, who should be tested with a tough matchup for the first time in his short NFL career. And this Denver secondary and defense should be salty after what happened in Pittsburgh last week when Antonio Brown and Co. ran wild. Green will get plenty of attention from either Chris Harris or Aqib Talib, and that will be tough for him to overcome with McCarron throwing him the ball. I would still start Green in three-receiver leagues, but I would try to avoid him in two-receiver formats depending on what you have on your roster.
You'll need to keep an eye on Drew Brees (foot) and his health this week, but if he plays as expected then consider Watson a must-start option in the majority of leagues. He's been a focal point of this offense, and that should continue in a great matchup with the Jaguars. Watson has at least eight targets in each of his past four games, and he's scored a touchdown in four of his past five home games, including last week against Detroit when he had six catches for 49 yards on 12 targets. The Jaguars have allowed eight touchdowns to tight ends this year, and six tight ends have either a touchdown or 100 receiving yards against Jacksonville on the road.
Thomas just missed a couple of big plays in Week 15 against Atlanta, and he should have scored at least one touchdown. That would have given him a score in five games in a row, and he's scored at least seven Fantasy points in each of his past five outings. The nice thing has been his targets with at least seven in four of his past five games, and the Saints have struggled with tight ends all season with 10 touchdowns allowed to the position. We expect this game to be a track meet with plenty of passing, especially if Brees is healthy, and Thomas has the chance to be a Top 5 Fantasy tight end in Week 16.
Reed has been an exceptional Fantasy tight end this season, and he's benefitted from being mostly healthy and playing with a capable quarterback in Cousins. He's been unstoppable in his past two games against Chicago and Buffalo with 16 catches for 204 yards and three touchdowns on 16 targets over that span. It's nice that he hasn't dropped a pass thrown in his direction, and Cousins should continue to lean on him in this matchup. The Eagles have only allowed three touchdowns to tight ends this year, but two of them have come in the past five games. Reed was injured in the first meeting with Philadelphia when he suffered a concussion and finished with just five catches for 37 yards before getting hurt in Week 4. We expect him to do much better in the rematch now that he's healthy and playing at a dominant level.
Zach Ertz (vs. WAS): He has a TD or 78 receiving yards in three in a row.
Zach Miller (at TB): He has a touchdown in four of his past seven games.
Will Tye (at MIN): He has at least 7 Fantasy points in four games in a row.
Don't fall for Seferian-Jenkins scoring a touchdown last week at St. Louis and expect him to start playing at a high level on a consistent basis. His touchdown came in garbage time, and he still has basically the same stats over the past three games. He's been at seven targets or less, exactly three catches and 31 yards or less in his past three outings, but the only difference for his production was the touchdown against the Rams. Chicago has allowed just three touchdowns to tight ends this year, and Reed in Week 14 is the only tight end to score against the Bears in the past seven games.
Miller went from a huge part of the game plan in Week 14 at Cincinnati with 10 catches for 66 yards on 10 targets to a non-factor in Week 15 against Denver with three catches for 12 yards on five targets. He only had one catch for 1 yard on two targets against the Ravens in Week 4, but Roethlisberger didn't play in that game. Still, Miller doesn't have a great history against the Ravens with one touchdown in his past five meetings and a combined six catches for 50 yards in his past three games against Baltimore. The Ravens also have allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends all season and one in their past nine games. This is an easy week to bench Miller in the majority of leagues.
Davis looked like he was building momentum with the Broncos after he had seven catches for 74 yards on nine targets in Week 14 against Oakland, but he took a huge step back in Week 15 at Pittsburgh with one catch for 5 yards on three targets. He had a couple of key drops in each of those games, and it will be hard to trust him this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed just one touchdown to an opposing tight end this year, which was Daniel Fells in Week 11, including matchups with Travis Kelce, Jimmy Graham and Gary Barnidge twice. Davis and Owen Daniels should struggle in this matchup, and you can't feel comfortable starting Davis at this point in the year.
Antonio Gates had six catches for 76 yards against the Chiefs in Week 14 on eight targets, and that's the best game for a tight end against Kansas City this year. And that includes three tight ends scoring touchdowns, which have been from 12 yards or less. Barnidge has been amazing this season, and he's scored in consecutive games against the 49ers and Seahawks and has three touchdowns with Johnny Manziel as the starter. But this will be his toughest matchup of the season with Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry, and we'll give Berry the edge based on his play against tight ends all season. Barnidge should still be considered a low-end starter in the majority of leagues, but don't be surprised if this is one of his worst games of the year.
Broncos (vs. CIN): The Broncos defense was embarrassed last week at Pittsburgh when the Steelers scored 34 points with nearly 400 yards of total offense. If it wasn't for a stupid interception from Roethlisberger late in the fourth quarter the Broncos DST would have scored just five Fantasy points, and they have actually scored 10 points or less in a standard league in five of their past seven games. That said, this defense should be motivated coming back home against a backup quarterback in McCarron. I'd buy back into the Broncos DST this week if you benched them based on the matchup with the Steelers.
Texans (at TEN): The matchup vs. Zach Mettenberger favors HOU.
Lions (vs. SF): Blaine Gabbert is back to being Blaine Gabbert.
Steelers (at BAL): PIT should take advantage of this BAL offense.
Jets (vs. NE): The Patriots haven't been helpful to opposing DST units this season. They had the wacky game against the Eagles in Week 13 when Philadelphia had two interceptions, four sacks and scored three DST touchdowns. It's the lone game where Brady had multiple interceptions this season, and the four sacks were the second-most allowed by New England this year. In Week 7 against the Jets, the Patriots scored 30 points with no turnovers, and Brady was sacked just three times. The Jets have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but benching them this week makes sense given the matchup with the Patriots.
Cairo Santos (vs. CLE): Santos has had some big games this season with eight games with at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league, including six in his past eight outings. The Browns are a good opponent to trust Santos since Cleveland has allowed eight kickers to have multiple field goals this season. Kansas City should have plenty of success moving the ball against the Browns since this is Cleveland's second game on the road in two weeks, which should mean a tired defense at the end of the season. That should lead to plenty of scoring chances for Santos in this matchup.
Nick Novak (at TEN): TEN has allowed seven FGs in the past two games.
Jason Myers (at NO): Six kickers have multiple FGs vs. NO this year.
Adam Vinatieri (at MIA): Some of his best games have come on the road.
Josh Brown (at MIN): We've indicated quite a bit in this column our concern for the Giants offense this week without Beckham, and that should trickle down to Brown. After a hot start, he's struggled of late with eight Fantasy points or less in each of his past four games, including just three made field goals over that span. The Vikings have allowed just one kicker to make multiple field goals in the past four games, and we could see the Giants struggling on offense this week with Beckham out on the road. I'd ignore Brown in most formats.
Full Disclosure from Week 15
I was nervous watching the Monday night game last week since Drew Brees was the Start of the Week, and he struggled in the first half against the Lions. But he found a way to come through once again at home in a prime-time game, and he delivered a solid stat line as a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback.
Our other positive start suggestions, including sleepers, were Blake Bortles, Ben Roethlisberger, Tyrod Taylor, Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers, Jeremy Hill, James White, Bilal Powell, Charcandrick West, Brandin Cooks, Tyler Lockett, Jeremy Maclin, Ted Ginn, James Jones, Golden Tate and Benjamin Watson.
We missed on some start suggestions in guys like Alex Smith, Denard Robinson, Matt Jones, Allen Hurns and Richard Rodgers. And we said to sit a few guys who did well like Eli Manning, Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, Dez Bryant, Anquan Boldin and Jordan Matthews.
Of the guys we said to sit who struggled, we were right on Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Hillman and T.Y. Hilton, among many others. We hope you advanced to Week 16, and hopefully you will take home a Fantasy title this week.
| Full Disclosure from Week 15 |
| Start of the Week |
| Player || Sportsline projected Pts. || Actual Fantasy Pts. || Start % || Pos. rank |
| Drew Brees, QB, Saints || 22.0 || 32 || 70 || 5 |
| Recommended starts who made us look good |
| Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills || 21.9 || 30 || 42 || 8 |
| Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints || 10.7 || 18 || 81 || 9 |
| Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals || 10.5 || 13 || 68 || 9 |
| Recommended sits who made us look good |
| Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Jets || 20.6 || 16 || 46 || 21 |
| T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts || 9.0 || 2 || 79 || 80 |
| Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos || 7.6 || 2 || 35 || 55 |
| Recommended starts who made us look bad |
| Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs || 20.1 || 13 || 35 || 22 |
| Matt Jones, RB, Redskins || 6.7 || 2 || 24 || 54 |
| Richard Rodgers, TE, Packers || 6.7 || 0 || 51 || 40 |
| Recommended sits who made us look bad |
| Eli Manning, QB, Giants || 19.6 || 31 || 46 || 6 |
| Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles || 6.8 || 21 || 24 || 6 |
| Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers || 10.3 || 15 || 89 || 16 |