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USATSI

Fantasy Football is all about the matchups. Even though you drafted your team with certain hopes and intentions, your weekly lineup decisions shouldn't be determined by the order you picked your players. You need to check who your players play and make sure you've got the right guys in -- and the wrong guys out.

At this stage we can be confident in which matchups will be easy and which ones will be tough and we can take some educated guesses based on healthy personnel, defensive schemes, track records and key details of offenses. The things we know can help us minimize the impact of the things we don't know. This should lead to better decisions being made.

We'll go through every game and highlight the players who aren't obvious starts and sits (because you don't need to be told to start Christian McCaffrey). You should feel more comfortable starting or sitting players based on the information given, and feeling comfortable with your Fantasy lineup before the games start is the best feeling in the world.

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Thu, Dec 28 at 8:15 pm ET •
CLE -7.5, O/U 34

Surely the Jets will attempt to shorten the game and limit their pass offense exposure by leaning on their running backs, namely Breece Hall. This is a tall order for Hall -- not only might he be a little tired after a 32-touch game last Sunday, but the Browns run defense is among the toughest. That includes through the air as they don't miss a lot of tackles and have let up just 19 completions of 10-plus yards (four of 20-plus) over 60 grabs to RBs. That's pretty good. If he's stifled, the Browns won't have to stick to their recent pass-heavy ways with Joe Flacco. 

  • STARTS: David Njoku, Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson (low-end WR2), both DSTs 
  • SITS: Joe Flacco (QB2), Jerome Ford (RB3), Kareem Hunt (RB3), Tyler Conklin, Trevor Siemian
  • SLEEPERS:  Elijah Moore (WR3)
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sat, Dec 30 at 8:15 pm ET •
DAL -5.5, O/U 53.5

Dallas has tried hard to stick with the run with an over 40% rush rate in three of its past four games (abandoned early at Buffalo in Week 14). If the Cowboys stick with it too long this week it'll cost them. Detroit's run defense since its Week 9 bye has been stellar (3.2 yards per carry and top-10 in explosive runs allowed), especially since it had to overcome losing big D-tackle Alim McNeill. Besides, the Lions pass defense has been rough all year including last week when Nick Mullens threw for over 400 yards and two touchdowns despite multiple turnovers. This is a big-time get-right spot for Dak Prescott.  

  • STARTS: Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, Tony Pollard (low-end RB2), Jake Ferguson, Jared Goff (fringe QB1)
  • SITS: David Montgomery (borderline RB2 in non-PPR), Jameson Williams, both DSTs
  • SLEEPER: Brandin Cooks (boom/bust flex)
Sit Him in PPR (Lineup Decision)
Projections powered by Sportsline
DET Detroit • #5
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ DAL DAL -5.5 O/U 53.5
OPP VS RB
24th
PROJ PTS
11.2
RB RNK
22nd
YTD Stats
RUYDS
910
REC
16
REYDS
117
TD
11
FPTS/G
15.4
Montgomery is pretty much established as a touchdown-needy Fantasy running back. If you think he will score, then start him and stop reading. But the Cowboys just did a good job against Miami -- they're one of two teams who held them to 4.0 yards per carry or less with only two explosive runs and no touchdowns. This is a good run defense, which means that if Montgomery doesn't score, he'll leave you with around 80 total yards with a catch or two. That's not the worst thing in non-PPR, but in full PPR you should want more. It does not help that the Lions got the memo on Jahmyr Gibbs and have put him on the field much more than Montgomery. The veteran has played 50% of the snaps or more in just 2 of 7 games since coming back from injury, getting 15 or more touches in 4 of those 7 games. I would rather start Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ty Chandler and Zamir White (assuming Josh Jacobs is out) over Montgomery.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
BAL -3, O/U 47

Assume the Dolphins will do two things: try to get the ball to their running backs in space via edge runs and passing, and have Tua Tagovailoa throw quickly. They've done the latter all season long and especially lately because of their offensive line woes, but the former makes a lot of sense too. Baltimore is seeing a version of this Kyle Shanahan run scheme for the second week in a row and third time in four games (Rams in Week 14, 49ers on Monday). John Harbaugh's crew allowed at least 3.2 yards after contact per run to each of those prior West-Coast style rivals, particularly on edge runs. The Dolphins rank first in the league in yards after contact per rush (3.45); even in their past two games with all of their offensive line issues, they've been at a respectable 2.46. And here's a weird wrinkle: De'Von Achane has been among the league's best on edge runs this year (6.7 yards per carry on the year; 5.6 yards per carry in his past three).

  • STARTS: Lamar Jackson, Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, De'Von Achane (RB2), Zay Flowers (borderline WR2/3), Isaiah Likely, Ravens DST
  • SITS: Tua Tagovailoa, Odell Beckham, Justice Hill, Dolphins DST
  • SLEEPER: Gus Edwards (RB3)
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
BAL Baltimore • #4
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs MIA BAL -3 O/U 47
OPP VS WR
18th
PROJ PTS
14.1
WR RNK
26th
YTD Stats
REC
74
TAR
105
REYDS
752
TD
5
FPTS/G
12.5
Flowers' massive target share last week against the 49ers was partially because the Ravens run game couldn't get going. That's something I remember noticing earlier in the year, and something the Ravens have seemingly rediscovered. The Dolphins run defense has been really good this season, so I suspect we'll see Flowers used similarly this week. That means increased volume with a chance at some big plays. The Dolphins pass defense was tough against the Jets two weeks ago but struggled with the Cowboys last week, especially on shorter throws. Flowers is a low-end WR2 with large upside; I'd start him over Calvin Ridley, the Steelers WRs, Tyler Lockett and Drake London.
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIA Miami • #1
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ BAL BAL -3 O/U 47
OPP VS QB
7th
PROJ PTS
15.5
QB RNK
19th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
4214
RUYDS
53
TD
26
INT
10
FPTS/G
20
Tagovailoa will play behind a weakened offensive line and without Jaylen Waddle against a Ravens pass defense that is very good at harassing QBs and creating turnovers (just ask Brock Purdy). But just in case that's not enough for you, consider that Tagovailoa has been under 18 PPR pts in each of past three games and hasn't had a big Fantasy game since Week 8. And just how good is this Ravens defense against quarterbacks? Only two passers all season (Matthew Stafford and somehow Josh Dobbs) have had more than 18 Fantasy points against them. I'd rather start Jordan Love, Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr and Kyler Murray.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
BUF -13, O/U 40.5

Buffalo's new-found dedication to running the ball (52.4% run rate in its past five) might get tested here as the Patriots run defense has been among the toughest to crack this season. No further example is needed than New England giving up 2.5 yards per carry to enemy RBs over its past four games with one rushing touchdown and an incredibly low 2.7% explosive rush rate allowed. This stonewall defense could force the Bills to -- gasp! -- throw more. New England has been good against the pass too, but this is where Josh Allen has throttled them in the past and should come through with another big game here. 

  • STARTS: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs (WR2), James Cook, Bills DST
  • SITS: Demario Douglas (deep PPR flex at best), DeVante Parker, Bailey Zappe, Patriots DST
  • SLEEPERS: Ezekiel Elliott (RB3 in PPR), Gabe Davis (boom/bust flex), Dalton Kincaid (high-end TE2)
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
HOU Houston • #14
Age: 30 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs NE BUF -13 O/U 40
OPP VS WR
17th
PROJ PTS
16.5
WR RNK
16th
YTD Stats
REC
96
TAR
145
REYDS
1070
TD
8
FPTS/G
16.7
Joe Brady's takeover as the Bills playcaller has meant more running and less throwing. Diggs' role as the team's primary wideout remains as he has a 29.1% target share with Brady calling the shots, but all of his other metrics -- from Average Depth of Target to catch rate to yards per catch and especially explosive play rate -- have sunk. Josh Allen isn't throwing downfield to Diggs on his deeper routes as often as he did in the first 10 weeks, which is a contributing factor as well. I think it's more about defenses doing all they can to cover him tightly when he does run downfield; pair that with the lower pass volume for the Bills and it's easy to see why Diggs has underwhelmed. But if Allen is slated to throw more given the matchup for Buffalo's run game then Diggs should see more targets and potentially some chances to either break a big play or catch something in the red zone. That's worked plenty for Diggs in his four prior games against the Patriots when he caught at least six balls with a touchdown in each. Unless you believe James Cook & Co. will trample the Patriots run defense, have Diggs in lineup with WR2 expectations.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
CHI -3, O/U 38

Arthur Smith won last week leaning on his ground game and overcoming what looked like a tough matchup against the Colts. Having a healthy offensive line helped, and he figures to have it again this week as it appears Jake Matthews will play, as might right tackle Kaleb McGary. That would put the Falcons O-line at close to full strength against a Bears run defense that's been lean on rushing touchdowns allowed to RBs (one in their past three games) but among the league's worst at explosive run rate allowed (9.6% of carries, fourth-highest). After totaling 19 touches last week, it should be a heavy lift for Bijan Robinson again.

  • STARTS: Bijan Robinson, D.J. Moore, Justin Fields
  • SITS: Drake London (OK as WR3 in PPR), Kyle Pitts (TE2), all Bears RBs, Jonnu Smith, Tyler Allgeier, Taylor Heinicke, Falcons DST
  • SLEEPER: Bears DST
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
ATL Atlanta • #5
Age: 22 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CHI CHI -3 O/U 38
OPP VS WR
13th
PROJ PTS
10.5
WR RNK
33rd
YTD Stats
REC
61
TAR
90
REYDS
808
TD
2
FPTS/G
11.2
We have yet to have a game where Taylor Heinicke has connected for big gains with Drake London. Not that they've played a lot together this year, but that lack of playing time has seemingly created some synergy for others in Atlanta. In games where both Heinicke and London are on the field, the Falcons' leader in target share is Bijan Robinson, then both Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith, and only then does London check in at 14.3%. That's low and not good. The matchup on the road this week is also not good for London. Since acquiring Montez Sweat to impact the pass rush, the Bears rank Top 3 in lowest catch rate allowed and fewest yards per catch allowed to outside WRs like London with just two touchdowns in seven games. I would sit London for Adam Thielen, Tyler Lockett, Rashid Shaheed and both Steelers WRs.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
HOU -5, O/U 43.5

Tennessee's defense deserves a ton of credit for hanging tough against the Seahawks last week despite missing a bunch of starters. It'll need that kind of effort again this week against a Texans offense that ran well against them two weeks ago and will finally have C.J. Stroud back at quarterback. He didn't play in their Week 15 game, nor did Nico Collins, setting up an even tougher matchup for a Titans defense that has racked up seven sacks over its past two games, but with a 27.5% pass rush pressure rate (fifth-lowest). That lack of pressure should be enough for Stroud to slay the Titans and keep the Texans' playoff hopes alive.

  • STARTS: Derrick Henry, Devin Singletary (low-end RB2), Nico Collins (high-end WR2), DeAndre Hopkins (high-end WR3), Dalton Schultz (fringe TE1 in PPR), C.J. Stroud (high-end QB2), Texans DST
  • SITS:  Noah Brown, Chig Okonkwo, Tyjae Spears, Will Levis
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
HOU Houston • #12
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TEN HOU -5 O/U 43.5
OPP VS WR
31st
PROJ PTS
16.1
WR RNK
19th
YTD Stats
REC
64
TAR
92
REYDS
1022
TD
7
FPTS/G
16.2
I've had a change of sentiment on Collins. I was reminded by SportsLine Fantasy analyst Jacob Gibbs that when he and C.J. Stroud are on the field together without Tank Dell, Collins has landed roughly a 34% target share. The only way Collins doesn't get that kind of good target volume is if his calf injury limits him like it did last week when he played 47% of the team's snaps and ran a route on just 45.3% of his quarterbacks' dropbacks. If that happens, then he's going to struggle, but in his second week back he should play more. There's an obvious upgrade in the throws he'll get from C.J. Stroud, and the matchup is particularly good. Outside receivers against the Titans have accounted for 9 of the 17 touchdowns this season and the cornerbacks Collins will line up against have not graded out well; one specifically, Tre Avery, has allowed six touchdowns this season. I've moved Collins into WR2 range.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
IND -3.5, O/U 43.5

Would you believe that the Raiders, without Josh Jacobs, have been one of the league's most productive run offenses over the past two weeks? Zamir White has crashed through defensive fronts in those two games to the tune of 5.5 yards per rush and 4.31 yards after contact per rush, both top-5 among his peers. Indianapolis got stifled by the Falcons' running backs last week, but the team's bigger issue was a lack of offensive firepower without Michael Pittman on the field. Specifically, Gardner Minshew was pressured on over 40% of his dropbacks and sacked six times. In the seven games since Antonio Pierce took over the coaching duties for the Raiders, Las Vegas has been second-to-last in blitz rate but has still been about league average in pass rush pressure rate with a fifth-best 24 sacks. They've also allowed 3.6 yards per carry with an exceptional 2.7% explosive rush rate allowed since Pierce's takeover. This is a tough spot for the Colts against a stronger-than-expected Raiders front on both sides of the ball, which makes getting the ball out quickly (especially to Pittman) a major priority. 

  • STARTS: Michael Pittman (WR1 in PPR, WR2 in half or non-PPR), Davante Adams (WR2), Jonathan Taylor, Zamir White (borderline RB2/3), both DSTs
  • SITS: both QBs, Josh Downs
  • SLEEPER: Jakobi Meyers (WR3 in PPR)
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
JAC -6.5, O/U 38

Bryce Young made some outstanding throws in the second half last week in a come-from-behind effort against the Packers, flashing the potential of who he can be once his offensive line and playbook are better in-sync with his strengths as a quarterback. Jacksonville's pass defense has been torched since its Week 10 bye, giving up a league-worst 70.5% completion rate and second-worst 8.4 yards per attempt with 14 touchdowns given up (also second-worst). If the Jaguars can't score a bunch of points, there's room for the Panthers to steal a win. Luckily, they have Travis Etienne and perhaps a healthy offensive line to try and control the clock with. 

  • STARTS: Travis Etienne (RB1), Calvin Ridley (high-end WR3), Evan Engram, Adam Thielen (high-end WR3 in PPR only)
  • SITS: all QBs
  • SLEEPERS: Chuba Hubbard (RB3), D.J. Chark (boom/bust flex), Jaguars DST
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
NYG +5.5, O/U 44.5

The Giants have continued to blitz at the second-highest rate over the past five weeks (46.5%), but their pass rush has not been getting home (10 total sacks on a league-worst 26.7% pass rush pressure rate). That's a terrible combination to have with a rejuvenated Matthew Stafford coming to town. Now that his receiving corps is healthy (Cooper Kupp looks more like himself) and deeper than it's been (Demarcus Robinson is a speedy third receiver), Stafford is in prime position to keep up his streak of five straight games with at least 22 Fantasy points. One more perk: Stafford has been sacked just six times in those five outings, making him as dangerous as he was during his Super Bowl run in 2021. 

  • STARTS: Matthew Stafford, Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Saquon Barkley, Darren Waller, Rams DST
  • SITS: Tyrod Taylor, Wan'Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, Giants DST
  • SLEEPERS: Demarcus Robinson (boom/bust flex)
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
NYG N.Y. Giants • #12
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs LAR LAR -5.5 O/U 44.5
OPP VS TE
22nd
PROJ PTS
8.8
TE RNK
9th
YTD Stats
REC
42
TAR
62
REYDS
456
TD
1
FPTS/G
9.4
Last week was ugly for Waller -- he couldn't connect with Tommy DeVito, then Tyrod Taylor missed him on what might have been a long touchdown grab, then didn't put any numbers up until the Giants' final drive. And yet, there are positives! His route rate jumped from 48% in his first game back to 76% last week, and he continued to get attention from Taylor, who's starting for the Giants this week. On the season, no one has a higher target share from Taylor than Waller (25% of his throws). That's huge, but not as big as this: The Rams have allowed at least 13 PPR (9.5 in half-PPR) to tight ends in four of their past five games. Waller has a money matchup with the quarterback who can locate him, and he still has room to add to his route participation. I'm ready to chance it with Waller over Jake Ferguson, Dallas Goedert, Gerald Everett and Dalton Kincaid.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
PHI -10.5, O/U 48

I'm always leery of former defensive coordinators coming back to play the teams they practiced against, but for ex-Eagles defensive boss Jonathan Gannon returning as Arizona's head coach this week, the matchup isn't a fair fight. The Cardinals are pretty much terrible across the board against the run with pass defense metrics that are only marginally better. That should compel the Eagles to run the ball a ton, something they eventually got to do last week (67% run rate in the fourth quarter) to help clinch the win. Eagles running backs have had 24 and 27 carries in their past two games. 

  • STARTS: Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, James Conner, Trey McBride (low-end TE1 in non-PPR), D'Andre Swift (RB2), Dallas Goedert, Eagles DST (low-end DST)
  • SITS: Kyler Murray, Emari Demercado, Greg Dortch, Cardinals DST
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
CHI Chicago
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs ARI PHI -10.5 O/U 48
OPP VS RB
15th
PROJ PTS
13.1
RB RNK
17th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
988
REC
38
REYDS
209
TD
6
FPTS/G
12.8
Swift has exceeded 15 PPR points in six games this season, scoring in five of those six. Of his remaining nine games he has one touchdown from scrimmage. He's a borderline non-factor in the passing game and gets vultured by Jalen Hurts at the goal line consistently. If there's any reason for optimism this week, it's the matchup against Arizona, who ranks bottom-five in yards per carry allowed (4.8), defensive rush EPA allowed, yards before contact per rush allowed (1.59) and run rate of 10-plus yards (13.7%) allowed over the past seven games. More importantly, the Cardinals have been run on the most by running backs in those seven games (29.1 rush attempts per game). And of the 14 rushing touchdowns RBs have scored on Arizona this season, seven have come from five or more yards away from the goal line, which is good because it's rare to see Swift score from closer than that. Swift has 18 and 20 carries in his past two games, both with solid efficiency. He should be pretty good even if he doesn't score, but a touchdown would make him outstanding. He's a No. 2 RB I would start over Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Devin Singletary, Joe Mixon, Tony Pollard and Kenneth Walker.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
TB -2.5, O/U 42.5

If you're looking for defense, you're in the wrong place. Over their past five games both teams are allowing at least 4.3 yards per carry to running backs, both teams have seen passes of 15-plus Air Yards on one-fourth of their opponents' pass attempts, both have been in the bottom-eight in pass rush pressure rate and both are in the top-10 in points scored. If there's an edge, it's that the Saints run defense has become unglued lately, especially if you remove the Giants game where Saquon Barkley played limited snaps. Rachaad White's role has only grown as the season has rolled on and should be a key for the Bucs. 

  • STARTS: Chris Olave, Rachaad White, Mike Evans, Alvin Kamara, Chris Godwin (high-end WR3), Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr
  • SITS: Taysom Hill, both DSTs
  • SLEEPERS: Rashid Shaheed (WR3), Juwan Johnson (fringe TE1)
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
NO New Orleans • #4
Age: 33 • Experience: 11 year
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ TB TB -2.5 O/U 42.5
OPP VS QB
6th
PROJ PTS
14.7
QB RNK
14th
YTD Stats
PAYDS
3417
RUYDS
37
TD
19
INT
8
FPTS/G
15.8
There's definitely been a sense over the past two weeks that the Saints have turned the offense entirely over to Carr. Taysom Hill hasn't been playing as much (under 20% of the snaps in those past two), the Saints have averaged 17.5 RB runs per game (tied for eighth-fewest) and Carr has been lights out against bad pass defenses in the Giants and Rams. The Buccaneers remain one of the league's worst pass defenses -- they allowed over 300 total yards and two touchdowns to the Jaguars last week -- and offenses have averaged 39.0 pass attempts per game against them over the last five (fourth most). You should even excuse Carr's terrible Week 4 loss to the Bucs when he was playing with an injured shoulder and was relegated to checking down passes for four quarters. I'd start Carr over Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray and any QB who plays home games in Ohio.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 1:00 pm ET •
WAS +13, O/U 49.5

The Commanders were down 20 points when Jacoby Brissett got on the field last week -- they lost the game on a last-second field-goal. In Week 15 Brissett came in during the fourth quarter when the Commanders were down 28-7 to the Rams and rallied them to within one score (28-20). The good news is that he seems inherently better for the offense at this juncture of the season. The bad news is that he faces a ticked-off 49ers defense that was put in some tough spots on Monday because of its offense's turnovers (17 of Baltimore's 33 points came off of turnovers). It's not hard to expect a decisive 49ers win, but that doesn't mean there won't be some second-half production for the Commanders passing game. 

  • STARTS: Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin (WR3), George Kittle, 49ers DST
  • SITS: Antonio Gibson (RB3 in PPR), Brian Robinson (RB3), Curtis Samuel, Jahan Dotson, Sam Howell, Commanders DST, Logan Thomas
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 4:05 pm ET •
SEA -3.5, O/U 41

The Steelers should be encouraged by how Derrick Henry ran against the Seahawks last week (4.6 yards per carry), then be even happier to face the Seahawks with ex-Steeler Devin Bush playing at linebacker instead of Jordyn Brooks. That might mean success for their run game, but not necessarily a run-heavy approach. That's because the Steelers called pass plays 59% of the time last week until they salted the game away in the fourth quarter. That ratio could be in play for the entire game since this shouldn't be a blowout in either direction. 

  • STARTS: DK Metcalf, Kenneth Walker, Najee Harris (low-end RB2 in non-PPR)
  • SITS: Tyler Lockett (high-end WR3), Jaylen Warren (RB3 in PPR), Diontae Johnson (WR3), Zach Charbonnet, Mason Rudolph, both DSTs
  • SLEEPERS: Geno Smith (high-end QB2), Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR3), George Pickens (boom/bust flex)
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 4:25 pm ET •
DEN -3.5, O/U 37.5

Jarrett Stidham had two very different starts last year with Las Vegas -- a stunning 365-yard, three-score game (with 34 rush yards and two interceptions) against the Niners that I'll certainly remember for all the wrong reasons, and a total flame-out against the Chiefs in Week 18. The difference between last year and this year is that he won't have Davante Adams to throw to, he might not even have Courtland Sutton to throw to, and he'll work with a Broncos offense that's really tried to stay away from being pass-heavy all year. Stidham offers some rushing ability to go with a live arm, and the matchup isn't really tough considering the Chargers' recent results. 

  • STARTS: Austin Ekeler, Gerald Everett (fringe TE1)
  • SITS: Javonte Williams (RB3), Jerry Jeudy, Josh Palmer, Quentin Johnston, all QBs, both DSTs
Sit Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
DEN Denver • #33
Age: 23 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs LAC DEN -3.5 O/U 36.5
OPP VS RB
6th
PROJ PTS
10.6
RB RNK
32nd
YTD Stats
RUYDS
701
REC
37
REYDS
168
TD
4
FPTS/G
10.8
Look, the matchup is not the problem -- the Bolts have let up 12-plus PPR points to a running back in all but four games this year. But with the newfound uncertainty in the Broncos offense, I'm not sure Williams is best positioned to be the one to benefit. Williams scored last week, but he also fumbled and had his second straight game with under 15 touches and under 30 total yards. The big games for Williams have been few and far between, and last week's snap distribution between Williams, Samaje Perine and Jaleel McLaughlin was closer than it's ever been. And then there's Jarrett Stidham taking over -- he's more of a downfield thrower than a check-downer, which could cost Williams some valuable targets. He makes me nervous to the point where I'm OK starting Ty Chandler, Zamir White (assuming Josh Jacobs is out), Ezekiel Elliott and Najee Harris over Williams.
Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 4:25 pm ET •
KC -7, O/U 44

Patrick Mahomes hasn't scored more than 24.8 Fantasy points in a game since Week 7. From Week 8 on, the Chiefs offensive line has given up pass rush pressure on 37.9% of their dropbacks (worse than league average) despite getting blitzed at the lowest rate (18.4%). That's a troubling combination with the Bengals on deck. Cincy has faced Mahomes four times over the prior two seasons including the playoffs and have beaten him three times -- their only loss came when they blitzed a little too much back in late January. Mahomes has notched 20 Fantasy points or more in each of the four, but has been over 25 points in two. This might sound totally silly, but with the Bengals run defense struggling since D.J. Reader got hurt in Week 15 (4.6 yards per carry allowed with two touchdowns), the Chiefs might be smart to lean on Isiah Pacheco while focusing on Mahomes getting the ball out quickly on shorter routes.

  • STARTS: Patrick Mahomes, Rashee Rice, Travis Kelce, Tee Higgins (low-end WR2), Isiah Pacheco, Joe Mixon (RB2), Chiefs DST
  • SITS: Jake Browning, Tyler Boyd, Bengals DST

ddd

Start 'em
10.0-7.00
6.99 - 5.01
5.00 - 0
Sit 'em
Sun, Dec 31 at 8:20 pm ET •
MIN -0.5, O/U 46

The Vikings have this incredible matchup against the Packers shaky defense, but there's worry about how well they can take advantage. Nick Mullens has been hyper-aggressive in his two starts but could get benched at the first sign of trouble. That's why it would make all the sense in the world for the Vikings to pivot back to Ty Chandler and their run game. He was outstanding two games ago against Cincinnati but was largely ignored last week against the Lions. The Packers run defense looked good last week against the Panthers (2.4 yards per carry allowed) but in the six games prior to that they had given up 5.1 yards per carry and a 9.4% explosive run rate with six rushing touchdowns to running backs. 

  • STARTS: Justin Jefferson, Aaron Jones, Ty Chandler (low-end RB2), Jayden Reed (WR2), Jordan Love
  • SITS: Tucker Kraft, A.J. Dillon, Vikings QBs, both DSTs
  • SLEEPERS: Romeo Doubs (low-end WR3), K.J. Osborn (boom/bust flex)
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIN Minnesota • #33
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ MIN MIN -0.5 O/U 46
OPP VS RB
8th
PROJ PTS
11.8
RB RNK
18th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
425
REC
24
REYDS
193
TD
3
FPTS/G
11.4
Matt LaFleur unleashed Jones last week to the tune of 135 total yards on 22 touches against the Panthers. No doubt the Vikings are a step-up in competition, but the Packers should recognize that Jones brought their offense some stability. Hopefully it leads to more targets for Jones and less playing time for both Patrick Taylor (he dominated third-down snaps) and A.J. Dillon. Minnesota's run defense was spiked by the Lions RBs for 4.2 yards per carry and three total touchdowns and lost edge defender D.J. Wonnum, a speedy run-stopper who had graded out well this year. That should make edge runs from Jones all the more explosive -- he's among the top-10 running backs in those types of carries at 5.8 yards per pop. With the hope that he is used more in passing situations, I'd aggressively start Jones over Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, Tony Pollard and David Montgomery.
Start Him (Lineup Decisions)
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIN Minnesota • #32
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs GB MIN -0.5 O/U 46
OPP VS RB
21st
PROJ PTS
10.8
RB RNK
28th
YTD Stats
RUYDS
352
REC
16
REYDS
115
TD
3
FPTS/G
5.4
Chandler was basically forgotten about last week as the Vikings went pass-crazy with Nick Mullens versus a very stout Lions run defense. This week I think we'll see a switch and the Vikings try to get their ground game going against a much softer run defense. By feeding Chandler, the Vikings can sort of protect their passing game from making mistakes, especially with some key pieces either missing or playing hurt. The Packers run defense looked good last week against the Panthers (2.4 yards per carry allowed) but in the six games prior to that they had given up a 5.1-yard rushing average and a 9.4% explosive run rate with six rushing touchdowns to running backs. Chandler played 65% of the snaps for Minnesota last week including each of eight snaps inside the 10-yard line. I suspect he'll continue to lead the charge in a better matchup, hopefully with a couple of more targets. He's a low-end RB2 I would use over Tony Pollard, Ezekiel Elliott and David Montgomery, but I do like Derrick Henry, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Devin Singletary better.