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Starts and Sits Championship Weekend – Week 16

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By Jordan Vander Ploeg (@ff_jvp), Joey DeFeo (@jdefeo91), Matt Spencer (@Maatspencer) and Brian Mackowick (@BMaaaaac)

Week 15 Results

Week 16 is finally upon us – the season flew by! Let’s start off with a recap of last week’s picks:

QB Starts: Josh Allen (QB4); Dak Prescott (QB25)

RB Starts: Tevin Coleman (RB10); Derrick Henry (RB3)

WR Starts: Curtis Samuel (WR79); Tyler Lockett (WR50)

TE Starts: Ian Thomas (TE40); David Njoku (TE20)

 

QB Sits: Matt Ryan (QB1); Aaron Rodgers (QB13)

RB Sits: Aaron Jones (T-RB76); James White (RB37)

WR Sits: Kenny Golloday (WR7); Calvin Ridley (WR38)

TE Sits: Kyle Rudolph (TE22); Evan Engram (TE1)

Another goofy week for Fantasy in week 15. Guys like Sam Darnold (QB3), Wendell Smallwood (RB12) and Mike Williams (WR2) all significantly outperformed expectations. We also saw names like Robert Foster (WR8), Garrett Celek (TE2), Chris Manhertz (TE5) and Jeremy Sprinkle (TE6) cracking the top-tier of their respective positions; some names you may have not even heard before! Conversely, we had a long list of top-tier performers from this season disappoint in the Fantasy Semifinals including the following, just to name a few:

  • Jared Goff (QB20), Andrew Luck (QB24), Drew Brees (QB26) and Cam Newton (QB29)
  • Nick Chubb (RB30), Saquon Barkley (RB31), Leonard Fournette (RB33) and Phillip Lindsay (RB38)
  • Michael Thomas (WR28), Amari Cooper (WR45), Tyreek Hill (WR48) and Juju Smith-Schuster (WR49)
  • Zach Ertz (TE24), Eric Ebron (TE47)

That’s a heck of a list. If you’ve made it to the week 16 Championship having started any of those players last week, we hope they come back strong for you when it matters most! Let’s get into our final week of starts and sits. We have a new addition this week as Matt Spencer (@Maatspencer) joins us to give his recommendations at the QB position for the Fantasy Championship week. Matt Spencer is the owner/developer of an amazing analytical tool/website SportsSabermetrics.net (@Sports_Saber). Be sure to check out his site for in-depth analytics. Good luck to everyone this week!

 

Quarterbacks – by Matt Spencer

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Ben Roethlisberger– This one may seem a little bit odd given that it has been a pretty well observed trend that Big Ben under performs when playing away from Pittsburgh. I pulled some career split data to see if my suspicions were correct and they were! Big Ben historically turns it on when December rolls around.

 Games PlayedWinsLossesWin %
Career2141446967.3%
Home106792774.5%
Road108654260.2%
December59421771.2%

Given that the PIT @ NOS game this week has an over-under of 53 and an implied game total of 24-29 I think he is an excellent start. With the anticipated loss by Vegas and injuries to the running back corp I think we should see a lot of passing. Per my metrics on SportsSabermetrics.net the Steelers also have the best passing match up score of the week.

Andrew Luck– I am going straight back to Andrew Luck this week after a disappointing fantasy week against the Cowboys. I think many people will be tempted to look for another option off of the waiver wire this week after they felt let down in week 15. The thing is, Luck didn’t have a bad game. In fact, he picked the cowboys defense apart! Marlon Mack had a career game and took away Luck’s opportunities for passing touchdowns. This week the Colts are home against the Giants, and Vegas has the Colts winning this one 28-19. The Colts have a strong passing match up score per my metrics as well. We should see a repeat of last week with a couple of passing touchdowns added to the box score.

SIT

Tom Brady – There are several factors leading to this call. First, if you have not already heard Josh Gordon is dealing with mental illness again and is stepping away from football, while also having been indefinitely suspended once again. This news broke on Thursday morning leaving little time for the Patriots to plan for this. They may have known about it for some time, but it still gives me pause. If you look at the match up with my start-sit app the game has a relatively low game total at 44.5 with an implied outcome from Vegas of 16-29. With the Patriots expected to win by two touchdowns I think the game script will shift to a lot more running and short passing plays to Chris Hogan out of the slot. See the Colts game last week where Andrew Luck led the team to a 23-0 victory and scored under 10 fantasy points.

Baker Mayfield – This one is a bit painful to write because I love Mayfield and wanted to see the Browns sneak into the playoffs. The Browns are going the crush the Bengals this week who are limping into the off season with injuries. Vegas has the implied game total at 26-19. With how well the Browns defense has been playing I think it is fair to assume that we will see another Nick Chubb game with minimal passing. My match up metrics line up with this theory as well.

 

Running Backs – by Joey DeFeo

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Derrick Henry – Henry has exploded to end the season and may have even been the main contributor for why you are in the championship game. You must ride the hot hand at this point and Henry is seeing an insane amount of work as it seems the Titans have found their identity on offense. That identity is to hand the ball to their massive bulldozer and let him break off chunk gain after chunk gain. After being dropped in a lot of leagues he has rattled off 408 rushing yards and six touchdowns over the last two weeks and it likely isn’t going to end there. The Titans won convincingly during those two games with the formula of Henry and a stout defense. Look for that game plan to continue against the banged-up Washington Redskins this week. Role Henry out this week with confidence on your way to a title.

Marlon Mack – After a little bit of a down stretch of the season Mack returned in a blowout win against the Cowboys. He seems to perform best when given close to twenty carries as he has exceeded 100 yards and at least one touchdown the three games he was given 19+ carries. In every single one of those games the Colts won in convincing fashion, so just like the Titans with Derrick Henry the Colts know the winning formula which is to feed Marlon Mack and play stellar defense. The Colts are fighting for a playoff spot and should not stray from the winning formula this week against a soft Giants run defense. Playoff football consisting of running the ball and playing great defense is starting to overtake the earlier fad of airing it out so look for Mack to flirt with RB1 numbers this week.

 

SIT

Dalvin Cook – I know this one will surprise some folks but hear me out. The Lions run defense has gone from one of the worst to one of the best over the past month and it is in large part to “Snacks” Harrison. The addition of one of the best interior run stuffers has turned the run defense completely around and The Vikings will not have as much room to run as they did in Week 9. Although the Vikings have committed to running the ball after firing their offensive coordinator they likely won’t find much room. They will likely need to utilize the passing game a bit more than last week so don’t expect another explosive game from Cook.

James White – If you are a James White owner and somehow limped your way into the championship game then lucky for you. It was in no part thanks to White though, so you likely had a lot of help at other positions. Since Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead have returned to the lineup James White has suffered greatly. It is extremely stressful to have to debate sitting a player who helped you get to the playoffs to begin with, but this is it and you need to play it smart. The numbers just haven’t been there with the offense struggling and Belichick being normal Belichick with his running back group. It isn’t safe to trust any of the running backs for such a crucial week, so I wouldn’t feel confident starting White, Michel, of Burkhead.

 

Wide Receivers – by Jordan Vander Ploeg

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Robby Anderson – Robby Anderson has been a solid fantasy play the last two weeks. In week 14, he was the overall WR13 and in week 15 he was the overall WR5. Over that two game period he has 18 targets, 11 receptions, 172 receiving yards, and two receiving touchdowns. This week he plays the Green Bay Packers who have been allowing 225.5 passing yards per game (9th most in the league) and have allowed 19 receiving touchdowns to the wide receiver position. The Jets will rely on Robby Anderson this week to make big plays and he should be able to find the end zone. If you have been plagued with injury and are looking for a solid flex or wide-receiver player, Robby Anderson can be trusted this week against the Packers!

Robert Foster – If there is one thing I learned from watching the Lions vs. Bills game, it’s that Josh Allen can throw the ball deep and Robert Foster has the speed to break away from a defender and get to the ball. In week 14, he was the overall WR19 and in week 15 he was the overall WR6. In four of his last five games, he’s gotten at least 94 receiving yards and has two touchdowns over those five games. Robert Foster is a very safe play with the potential upside of finding the end zone. In week 16, the Bills play the Patriots. The Patriots on average are allowing 36.4 fantasy points every game to the wide receiver position. The Patriots should be able to get ahead early and the Bills will need to throw the deep ball to catch up. Robert Foster should be heavily utilized to make big plays for his team. Robert Foster has been a solid fantasy play over his last few games and can be trusted in your line up this week.

 

SIT

Golden Tate – Golden Tate has been a huge disappointment to fantasy owners since his trade to the Eagles. The best part of drafting Tate was knowing that he would see 8-10 targets a game and was very safe week-in and week-out. In his last nine games, he’s averaged 7.4 fantasy points per game, and has only one game over nine fantasy points duringthat span. The Eagles aren’t utilizing Tate the same way the Lions were and it has removed Tate’s safe floor. Tate was hardly targeted last week against the Rams while Foles was QB. This week, the Eagles play the Texans who have been a strong defense against wide receivers. They have allowed only 11 touchdowns to the wide receiver position this season (6th fewest in the league). Tate’s minimum amount of targets, no deep ball threat, and low percentage chance to find the end zone are the reasons why he should sit on you bench this week.

Brandin Cooks – Cooks has let a lot of people down during the fantasy football playoffs and that won’t change this week against the Cardinals. Over his last three games, he averages only 6.9 fantasy points and hasn’t been utilized as the deep ball threat like he was at the start of the season. The Rams offense has come to a sudden halt, partly due to defenses knowing how to defend but mostly due to the inaccuracy of Jared Goff. This week, the Rams should destroy the Cardinals defense and won’t need Goff to throw the ball deep to Cooks. Gurley and John Kelly (Gurley’s back up) will be the primary benefactors of the game script. Cooks needs to sit on your bench this week due to a negative game script, and Goff’s recent accuracy struggles.

 

Tight Ends – by Brian Mackowick

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Eric Ebron – If you started Ebron last week and are still alive, congratulations to you! Ebron’s 1/8/0 line left much to be desired by his fantasy owners; his worst output of the season. This week, we’re expecting Luck and the Colts to get back on track at home against the Giants. The Giants can be beat by the tight-end position, as they showed against Zach Ertz in week 12 (10/124/1). In the Fantasy Finals, you’ve got to trust a guy who helped get you there with Ebron, who currently sits as the TE4 on the season. Fire him up!

David Njoku – Njoku has been relatively cold the last three weeks with just nine total catches for 73 yards. But, prior to that stretch, Njoku put up a 5/63/1 line against Cincinnati, a game in which fellow tight end Darren Fells also found the end zone. Well, guess who the browns are facing this week at home? The Bengals just allowed another decent tight-end output as the Oakland Raiders tight ends combined for 4/68/1. Keep David in your lineup this weekend and feel confident in what’s to come.

 

SIT

Rob Gronkowski – See: Tom Brady. As @Maatspencer mentions, the Patriots are expected to put a beating on the Bills this coming Sunday, and with that we can expect a heavy dose of running and short passes. In addition to potential game-script woes, Buffalo has given up an average stat line of just 3.2/34/0.3 to the tight-end position this season. Moreover, Buffalo has allowed an average of just 2/17/0 over their last four games to the position. Now, I understand that if you have Gronkowski as your only tight end option, you’re not running to the waiver wire to find someone to replace him with. You’re starting him. That being said, remember Gronk posted just 3/43/0 back in week 8 at home against the Bills. So, if you do have other options, they’re potentially worth a look here in the Fantasy Championship.

Ian Thomas – Thomas has come on relatively strong the past few weeks, save for a stinker last week in which he posted just a 2/14/0 line. Atlanta isn’t a terrible matchup for Thomas, but with no Cam Newton this week I’m not putting my Championship game on the line with Taylor Heinicke at the helm for the Panthers. It’s that simple for me. Find a better option, but best of luck if you must start Thomas.

 

With this being our last Start/Sit article of the season, we wanted to express our appreciation for all of you who follow us. Thanks for your support, and we look forward to providing more analysis next season and helping you to another championship! Follow us on Twitter @jdefeo91, @ff_jvp, @Maatspencer, and @BMaaaaac, follow our podcast @F3Pod, and look out for more articles in the future on www.TheFFFranchise.com!

Brian Mackowick