Welcome to your Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Week 16!
With the tallies in, all heads accounted for, and the final votes cast, the Pro Bowl picks for the 2019 season have arrived. Familiar faces like Russell Wilson, Aaron Donald, and DeAndre Hopkins are joined by first-timers Chris Godwin, Nick Chubb, and of course, Lamar Jackson.
I’m curious though. Who are YOUR Pro Bowl Fantasy players? Tweet me @ZachFFDrummer and let me know.
With a Saturday triple-header ahead of us (check it out here), we’re free of football until the weekend. Plenty of Sunday games culminate in a terrific Sunday night matchup that will pit Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs against Mitch Trubisky and the Bears at home in Soldier Field, followed by a Monday Night Football divisional battle between the Packers and the Vikings.
As always, here’s my master key to better give you a sense of how I break these players down:
Start: These are players who have an enticing matchup, and could prove a massive asset to your fantasy team due to a vulnerability by an opposing defense or a breakout performance.
Flex Start: Players in a flex position are also usually controlled by a game script, but this opportunity benefits them (such as a WR2 receiving less attention than the WR1, thus increasing odds for a good performance).
Sit: Players in this category have a poor matchup and could be rendered completely useless by game script or a digression in opportunities.
Sleeper: For players that fly under the radar, the sleepers are potential breakouts for this particular matchup. Players that are not considered as big of a threat but have an increase in things such as targets or snap counts are ideal for this category. They could surprise you for the week with a big game.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Atlanta Falcons
Must Start: Leonard Fournette (RB)
Fournette’s decline over the past month is mostly attributed to the tough run defenses he’s had to face, and it doesn’t get much easier this week. The Falcons allow 23.2 points per game to running backs (13th-fewest), but that’s still pretty. middling. Fournette is the backfield, so rolling him out should be without question.
Minshew and Chark are currently practicing in a limited fashion, but all signs point to them being available to play Sunday (Minshew the more sure one). The Falcons can be beaten through the air, but so can the Jaguars. I’m expecting Minshew and his wideouts to be playing keep-up, so plenty of airing it out to his top options is almost guaranteed. Dede gets a bump up if Chark is ultimately unready to play.
Flex Start: Chris Conley (WR)
Conley enters as a solid flex if Chark is out. If he’s in, Conley shouldn’t be considered for your lineup.
Sit: Keelan Cole (WR)
High snap counts and limited production make Cole a dull boy. Don’t touch him.
The Jaguars are leaky on defense, and by leaky, I mean you could drive a Semi through the middle. They’re dead last against the run (mostly thanks to that Chargers game) and bottom-half against quarterbacks. They’re still decent in pass protection (11th-fewest points per game to wideouts), but it’s Julio Jones. Come on.
These guys are all must-plays.
Start: Austin Hooper (TE)
Hooper’s been slow on his return, but he’s seen 6 targets in each of his last two games. He’s getting the looks, now it’s just up to him to do something with it. The Jags are middle of the road in tight end defense, and Hooper has been a better-than-average tight end this year. He’s a great play and a terrific bounce-back candidate.
Flex Start: N/A
Young wideouts can be taken advantage of by this Jaguars secondary. They’re vulnerable to Julio Jones. Not much else.
New Orleans Saints @ Tennessee Titans
Did you start these guys last week? Did you enjoy winning? Do you want to win again?
Rinse and repeat.
Kamara’s frustrating fantasy season continues this week in the Music City. Maybe he can forgive you for all his discrepancies with a big game? Not likely. He’s more of an RB2, and has really fallen out of favor with lots of fantasy managers (myself included). Downgrade him and expect RB2 results.
Cook, on the other hand, has been as reliable as they come. Last week was tough, but it was his first kind of dud came in awhile. He’s a terrific option opposite of M.T. and should be looked at as a great player to plug in your lineup.
Flex Start: N/A
These guys aren’t used nearly enough. If Kamara doesn’t play next week and the Saints decide to rest their starters, he’s a must-play against Carolina. Until then, let these guys sit out.
Must Start: Derrick Henry (RB)
The Saints are not an easy team to run on. Then again, Henry is detrimental to your health if you try to block him. He’s a bell-cow that should be afforded plenty of opportunities, and he can break a runoff anywhere on the field. I’m a Jaguars fan, so I’m not going to link that video.
You know the one I’m talking about.
Tannehill and Brown have been on fire this year. This game will be one of Brown’s biggest tests, as he’ll draw coverage from Lattimore over the top. This Saints team can be thrown on regardless, so keep these guys locked in on your roster.
Flex Start: N/A
With great power comes the need for less reliance on your secondary options, or whatever Uncle Ben said.
New York Giants @ Washington Redskins
Must Start: Saquon Barkley (RB)
The 2018 OROY decided to remind us last week why he was so good. Of course, it was against Miami, so take that as you will. Still, the Redskins aren’t much better, so expect similar results.
I’m seeing this trio as equals, as they have all had their time to shine and up and down production between the lot. Tate and Slayton scored last week while Shepard led them both in fantasy points, so it’s really a pick-up and plug.
Sit: Daniel Jones (QB)
He’s been cleared to start on Sunday. He shouldn’t be cleared to start in your lineup, though. First games back from injuries that cost you multiple weeks is always risky.
** Wide Receiver Start of the Week **: Terry McLaurin (WR)
The Giants are hard at stopping the run, and McLaurin’s re-introduction to fantasy relevance is hard to bench. New York’s secondary is the 5th-friendliest against wideouts, allowing 39.9 points per game to the position.
Start: Adrian Peterson (RB)
This is as good as it can get for this struggling Washington offense. With Guice gone, AP is primed to deliver against a lackluster Giants defense that’s 17th against the run (23.6 ppg). All Day’s volume is enough to garner RB2 and up numbers.
Flex Start: N/A
Thompson’s declining role and Haskins rollercoaster production are hard to trust.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Jets
Start: James Conner (RB)
Conner’s workload in his return was light, but it was nice to see him hold up under pressure and to recover from big hits. He gets a more forgiving defense this week, albeit still a tough matchup. Expect a big uptick in his carries this week as the Steelers aim to reach the playoffs.
Flex Start: N/A
This offense is a mess. Juju has been a fantasy bust this season, and that’s largely due to no Big Ben. Conner should be the only option from this team you consider.
Flex Start: Le’Veon Bell (RB)
Did I throw you off with the picture of Bell? I’m not sure who is going to have more of a revenge game; Bell or the Steelers. Either way, the Steelers boast a number of Pro Bowlers on defense, so temper expectations from the former All-Pro.
Hopefully, you’re not relying on any of these guys. I had to leave Crowder in my lineup last week due to slim pickings on the waiver last week, and he helped me reach my championship. I’m not betting on a twofer.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins
Must Start: Joe Mixon (RB)
Mixon has been a monster this season after a terrible start. Saquon just shellacked this team and took their lunch money, now it’s Mixon’s turn.
Everyone not named Joe Mixon on the Bengals had a bad game last week. That being said, they couldn’t ask for a bigger turnaround than to play the Dolphins, a team with an opposite record than the Pats. Dalton and Boyd enter second-tier status this week against a terrible defense.
Flex Start: N/A
These guys aren’t used enough to be considered viable in any sense.
** Quarterback Start of the Week **: Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB)
Fitzmagic has been the QB No. 5 since he earned the starting role back in Week 7. He’s a smash play this week (and every week that Parker is available).
Start: DeVante Parker (WR)
Fitz to Parker has been a staple of the Dolphins season. I like that trend to continue swimmingly this week.
Flex Start: Patrick Laird (RB)
Patrick Laird (or Plop, as I like to call him) is as ineffective on the ground as they come. His volume and pass-catching work are what keeps him afloat, making him a nice flex option against a Cincinnati rush defense that gives up the 4th-most points to backfields, a cool 28.7 points a game.
The Bengals are somehow able to stop tight ends. That, coupled with a lack of interest in throwing their ball to Wilson, makes these two strong bench candidates.
Carolina Panthers @ Indianapolis Colts
Must Start: Christian McCaffrey (RB)
Something about being really good at football, I don’t know.
Start: D.J. Moore (WR)
A quarterback change is never a good sign for wide receiver production, but Moore’s reliability and filtration of air targets mean he’s a safe bet for another solid outing.
Flex Start: Greg Olsen (TE)
Safe targets also mean Olsen. I expect these three guys to be the only beneficiaries of Will Grier‘s passing work.
This is Grier’s first start…so don’t play him.
Samuel’s limited practice and knee injury and the return of Greg Olsen also mean to avoid Samuel and Thomas.
** Running Back Start of the Week **: Marlon Mack (RB)
Carolina has struggled mightily on defense and is the bottom 6 in both pass and rush defense. Mack isn’t a pass-catcher, so his reliance will come on the goal line. Fortunately for him, that’s a high probability. He’s a nice RB2 with big upside this week.
Start: T.Y. Hilton (WR)
Mack and Hilton should get their numbers called plenty in this one. Hilton’s upside is certainly there, despite lack of recent production. This is a nice rebound for him as he takes on defensive backs that are 39.8 points a game to receivers, the 6th-most in the league.
Flex Start: Zach Pascal (WR)
Pascal should see plenty of looks as there No. 2 behind Hilton in a game where Brissett can easily air it out.
A couple of games in with returning vets Mack and Hilton mean a down count for those relying on reduction in their absence. Brissett and Doyle have also struggled as of late, so you shouldn’t let your fantasy championship rest in their hands.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
Must Start: Lamar Jackson (QB)
Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
You play him weekly and thank God that you have him this year because you probably won’t have him next year.
These two are the centerpieces of the offense, spearheaded by Lamar Jackson. They’re weekly starters with Sistine Chapel ceiling upside and all the talent in the world.
Flex Start: Marquise Brown (WR)
Brown’s upside against a middling defense puts him in for flex consideration, especially if he’s on waivers and you need a plug and play.
Keep these tight ends out of sight and out of mind.
Chubb and Landry will have to move this stagnant offense against a Ravens team that carries more Pro Bowlers than the rest of their division combined. That’s no small task, but expect plenty of looks their way as Chubb’s volume carries RB1 consistency and Landry makes another bid at WR1 numbers.
Flex Start: Kareem Hunt (RB)
Hunt has been very consistent and very good in his return, and I expect him to continue that. Whether it’s in garbage time or not is beyond me, but he’ll produce numbers nonetheless.
This defense is as shutdown and turnover-prone as they come. Don’t bet on this group.
Oakland Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers
Waller’s volume might take a hit with Renfrow rejoining the ranks this week, but I expect him to be eased back into game action. That sets up Waller for another fine outing as a big target with playmaking capabilities. He’s a top TE option.
Washington gets the nod as the starter, with Jacobs ruled out for this contest. he filled in admirably in Week 14 and I’m expecting similar results. He’s a nice RB2.
Flex Start: N/A
The Chargers are among the top teams in defense against wideouts and signal callers, which is a significant downgrade for this team. Richard also shouldn’t see a huge role this week, seeing as Washington out-carried him 14 t0 7 a couple of weeks ago. Stay away from these Raiders this week.
Ekeler and Allen are some of the biggest playmakers in the NFL, and the chance to do that against one of the worst defenses in the league is a recipe for fantasy goodness. Set it and forget it.
Gordon’s fumbling is a rare occurrence and should stay in last week. He’s a great player (as is Henry), and should be left in against a Chargers team that looks lost. Henry should also see a rebirth in fantasy this week, as Oakland is allowing the 8th-most points to his position (14.1).
Flex Start: Mike Williams (WR)
Williams was limited early in the week during practice, but his full-participation log and his past three games have shown him to be a fine flex play for fantasy. This game script works well in favor, so expect him to produce.
Sit: Philip Rivers (QB)
He’s nearing the end of his tenure. I can feel it.
Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos
Flex Start: Kenny Golladay (WR)
Golladay is the only weapon left on this team, and he’s going to be triple-covered. I’m not expecting much from him this week, so lower your initial thoughts on him.
Blough is one of the worst-rated quarterbacks in the league, and that directly affects his ability to get the ball to his targets. Kerryon is also attempting to get back on the field this season; I advise against plugging him in.
Start: Courtland Sutton (WR)
Sutton’s strong season has veered to the side of the road and is halfway in the ditch. He’s still driving, but it’s hard to see and the road is bumpy. He’s a WR2 this week only because of Detroit’s terrible defense.
Lindsay is frustrating, and his lack of consistency or ability to make big plays for fantasy has kept him benched (yet rostered) in many, many leagues. Once again, an opportunity for him to have a big game has presented itself. He and Fant are both okay flex options but look elsewhere before settling on them.
These guys are Locked and Loaded and ready to not play for my team, like at all.
Danger. Danger. Warning. Warning.
Avoid at all costs.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
Dak doesn’t carry an injury designation heading into the weekend, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be monitoring his status regardless. He’s a great option against an Eagles secondary that is allowing 18.0 points a game to quarterbacks. That being said, Dak can definitely hit the over with the No. 1 Offense in football.
Cooper will be his go-to man. While Cooper has been game-scripted out as of late (i.e. Stephon Gilmore, enter Stage Left), the Eagles boast no such defensive back on their team. His floor is safe and his ceiling is high.
Start: Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
What the Eagles lack in pass defense, they make up for in smash-mouth football defense. Zeke is a monster though, and shouldn’t find it too difficult to reach a high carry count or see some errant passes thrown his way. He’s a weekly RB1.
Flex Start: Michael Gallup (WR)
What coverage the Eagles can provide will go towards containing Cooper, meaning Gallup is a sneaky receiver to lead the team in yardage. He’s a fine flex.
This team hates tight ends like Jason Witten hates to be a great commentator.
Sleeper: Randall Cobb (WR)
Cobb could be a great plug-and-play this week, and isn’t a bad option if you’re looking at this core and Gallup isn’t available. Don’t be afraid to slot him in.
Must Start: Zach Ertz (TE)
He’s one of the best tight ends in football.
Start: Miles Sanders (RB)
Sanders has been relied on quite a bit as of late and is Carson Wentz‘s go-to check down option. He should see plenty of looks in this decisive divisional showdown. He’s a high-end RB2 with ridiculous upside.
Flex Start: N/A
If this is your supporting cast pitch for a new show, I don’t think you’ll be getting a callback. Bench ’em.
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
Start: Kenyan Drake (RB)
I’m sad that I get to finally write about starting Kenyan Drake because it comes at the expense of the once-mighty David Johnson. Drake’s ridiculous 4-touchdown game is about as much of an outlier as you can get, and there’s no reason to expect a repeat of that. He is the RB1 for this team though and should be started against a Seahawks defense that’ll probably be without Jadeveon Clowney on Sunday.
Kirk is listed as questionable and is most likely a game-time decision before kickoff. Monitor his status beforehand. If he’s ultimately held out, Fitz gets a huge bump up. Kirk’s best games have come on the road though, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he toughed it out.
** Tight End Start of the Week **: Jacob Hollister (TE)
The Cardinals are the only team worse than the Seahawks in points allowed to the tight end position (18.8 ppg). He’s in a great position, especially with Gordon no longer on the field.
Russ and Carson are weekly winners at the position. Though Russ has been quiet for fantasy, he gets the No. 1 matchup for quarterbacks at home against a weakened Arizona defense. Carson also has the backfield to himself now and should be able to feast.
Start: Tyler Lockett (WR)
Lockett appears to be healthy and back to his old self. Russ’s favorite receiver is a great play.
Flex Start: D.K. Metcalf (WR)
Just like with Hollister, Metcalf should see an uptick in targets with Gordon suspended. Whether by land or air, this Cardinals team can be beaten.
If, for some reason, Gordon is still in your lineup…take him out and drop him.
These other guys don’t see enough work or attention, especially this week. With a tight end weakness, expect Hollister to be targeted more, not any of these guys.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears
Flex Start: N/A
This backfield is a mess, as are the other receiving option for this team. The Bears are still fairly lockdown through the air, so don’t expect big numbers. It’s hard to know who’s going to be the beneficiary (I can’t quit using that word) of the targets.
Must Start: Allen Robinson II (WR)
Mitch’s go-to will have a hard time this week against a shutdown Kansas City secondary. He’ll get his targets and his looks, just temper expectations for him.
Start: Mitchell Trubisky (QB)
This is a really low-end option and I advise looking elsewhere before settling on Trubisky. His hot and cold season could take another snag in a Kansas City game where he could perform ideally or very poorly. It’s hard to pinpoint what Nagy’s quarterback is going to do.
Flex Start: Anthony Miller (WR)
Miller’s late-season surge is hard to ignore, and the young wideout is a nice flex option despite a tough matchup. He could actually draw some coverage away from Robinson, which could aid Robinson upside.
Sit: David Montgomery (RB)
Surprise. The only Bear I’m completely out on this week could potentially come back to bite me in the ass for benching him. I don’t care, though. Montgomery has been highly inefficient over the past month and a half and has seen passing-down work siphoned way by Cohen. I’m steering clear, and I’ve actually dropped him as waiver bait for my opponents.
Sleeper: Tarik Cohen (RB)
Cohen’s PPR-upside and his joystick-like ability on the field can only aid him in a game script that has him favored quite a bit. He’s a fine sleeper-flex against a Chiefs defense that’s allowing 29.2 points a game to opposing backfields, the 3rd-most in the league.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
Must Start: Davante Adams (QB)
Adams is so good at being a receiver. He gets to his bragging rights this week against a Minnesota secondary that’s allowing 38.9 points a game to recovers, the 9th-most in the NFL. Fortunately for Adams owners, he is the receiver for Green Bay. Enjoy.
Start: Aaron Jones (RB)
Jones was the biggest Pro Bowl snub in recent memory. He’s tied with CMC with the most rushing touchdowns in the league (14), and has another 3 through the air. He’s a weapon that can be utilized in your playoffs.
Flex Start: N/A
Rodgers and his merry band of men should stay hiding in the trees for this one. Rodger’s quality of fantasy production has dipped this year to record lows, and every wideout not named Davante Adams has suffered for it. Also, Jimmy Graham is super old. Keep away from this group for your own sake.
Be wary of Boone. If you picked him up to keep him away from the Dalvin Cook owner (like I did), that’s probably your best move you’ve made all year. Boone’s workload and production is not a guaranteed smash-play (remember Ty Johnson?). He gets a nice matchup with a weak Green Bay pass rush, but view him as more of an RB2. That’s not to say he doesn’t;t have upside though, because he does.
Thielen held up last week and did nothing with his limited looks, but he and Diggs should be plenty busy this week. Thielen’s been sidelined with a lingering hamstring injury, and the confidence this regime has in rolling him out now shows that they think he can handle the workload as they work towards a playoff berth. Thielen and Diggs are WR2, but their upside is capped due to a tough Packers secondary.
Flex Start: N/A
Cousins hasn’t had a great December for fantasy. His tight ends and his RB3 shouldn’t be expected to make much a difference this week, either.
Zach Hargis is a writer for Dynasty Football Digest. He enjoys playing the drums, Modern Warfare, and quoting The Office. If any of those things interest you, he welcomes you to follow him on Twitter @ZachFFDrummer and to check out his personal interests on Instagram @zakktastic.