Fantasy Football Week 16's Things to Know: Melvin Gordon's return, Cam Newton's absence, and more

Need Fantasy Football lineup advice? Talk to CBS Sports on your Google Assistant to get insights on the best sleepers and to help decide between players. Just start with, "Hey Google, talk to CBS Sports." 

Melvin Gordon comes back — to a tough matchup.

All indication are that Gordon will return for Saturday's game against the Ravens (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, available on fuboTV) . but we may not get the full Gordon experience. This Ravens defense has allowed the fewest Fantasy points to opposing running backs and there is at least a small risk of re-injury. Still, you can't sit Melvin Gordon.

Baltimore did give up 169 yards and two touchdowns to Chiefs running backs in Week 14 and Peyton Barber had success against them in Week 15. The bigger concern might be the Chargers passing game.

It's easy to see a game script where Gordon has great success. It's harder with Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen. The Ravens have been awesome against the pass as well, and if the Chargers defense shuts Baltimore down, it's not hard to imagine Los Angeles going to a run-heavy attack.

I'm sitting Rivers if I have another decent option, but I'll stick with Allen as long as he's 100 percent. You'd rather attack the interior of this pass defense than try to beat them outside.

The Browns and Falcons defenses could win you a title.

That is certainly not a sentence I expected to write. But it's absolutely true.

  • The Browns face a Bengals team with Jeff Driskel at quarterback and zero competent wide receivers. Considering Cleveland's success against decent offenses they should be a no-doubter at home.
  • The Falcons are on the road, but they're coming off a great defensive performance against Josh Rosen and now face a Panthers offense that will be lead by Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke has virtually no NFL experience, but he's been on four teams in four years and went undrafted out of Old Dominion. This is an even better spot than the Falcons found themselves in last week.

The Panthers will be without Cam Newton.

The flip side of Newton sitting out is this Panthers offense is likely a Fantasy disaster. The only Panther I want to start is Christian McCaffrey. D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Ian Thomas are desperation plays at best.

The Patriots will be without Josh Gordon.

Chris Towers wrote about this more here. From my perspective, the cliff notes version is:

  • Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are the only must-starts in this passing game.
  • James White is a low-end No. 2 in PPR leagues, but I'm not sure Gordon's absence has a huge impact on him.
  • Chris Hogan becomes a low-end flex with upside.
  • Tom Brady was already facing one of the toughest matchups in Fantasy. He's not a must-sit, but I'd prefer to start someone else.

New Orleans plays host to all of the quarterback narratives.

Okay, not all of the narratives. But two of the most prominent: Drew Brees at home vs. Ben Roethlisberger on the road.

Brees, in particular has been awful in Fantasy the past three weeks. But now he's at home and it seems we're all expecting he'll turn back into his awesome self. In six home starts this season he's averaged 320 yards and more than three touchdowns. I'm starting him.

Roethlisberger has actually thrown for more yards in road games than he has home games this season. But the touchdowns (12 in seven games) and interceptions have kept him from being great in Fantasy. The bigger issue here is the Saints defense. Four of the last six quarterbacks they've faced have scored 19 or fewer Fantasy points.  Roethlisberger is a top-10 quarterback for me, but I'd rather start Baker Mayfield.

The Vikings want to be a running team. Can they do it against Detroit?

I speculated last week that the Vikings were going to morph into a running team, and boy did they ever. In Week 15 they ran the ball 41 times and threw it just 21. But that was against the Dolphins. The Lions, surprisingly, have been a much more difficult team to run against. 

Over the last six weeks, Todd Gurley is the only running back to top 100 yards against this defense. Gurley and Tarik Cohen are the only backs to score on the ground. David Johnson, Christian McCaffrey, and Jordan Howard (twice) have all been held below 60 yards rushing.

So, while I am excited by Dalvin Cook's performance in Week15, I can't quite put him in my top-12 running backs. He's a good start, but I still prefer Jaylen Samuels, Chris Carson and Tevin Coleman. It could be tough sledding on Sunday.

We need to closely watch the status of injured running backs.

It's not just Gordon and Todd Gurley, who we fully expect to play. There are multiple running back situations to keep tabs on heading into this week.

  • Spence Ware and Lamar Miller have been practicing in a limited fashion. If Miller plays, you start him.
  • Ware is more difficult. Damien Williams is a must-start without Ware; both are high-end flexes if Ware plays.
  • It's looking more and more like James Conner is going to miss another week. Assuming he does, Samuels is close to a must-start against New Orleans. They have a very good run defense, but Samuels does enough in the pass game to mitigate the matchup concern.
  • Matt Breida has been limited ... again. Generally, I expect Breida to play until he's ruled out. He's a low-end No. 2 if he goes, but there is always the risk (likelihood) he leaves early. If Breida doesn't go, Jeff Wilson becomes a great flex option.

The Broncos offense should bounce back on Monday Night Football.

The Raiders are terrible on both sides of the ball and I'd expect the Broncos will take their frustrations out on them. Phillip Lindsay is a must-start running back, but there are other options to consider: DaeSean Hamilton is a solid No. 3 in PPR and Tim Patrick is as well in non-PPR; Courtland Sutton is still the most talented receiver on this team, but it's so hard to trust him right now.

So who should you sit and start? And what shocking running back could win you Week 16? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy football rankings for every single position, and see which shocking RB finishes in the top 15 this week, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Heath Cummings is a Senior Fantasy Writer that covers Daily Fantasy Sports of all types. Before coming to CBS Sports he was a staff writer for Footballguys and the host of The Fantasy Football Show on... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories