Welcome to Week 16. I hope your team has made it to the finals.
Quick brag: I managed to make it to the championship game in two of my leagues, winning one game by 1.5 points and the other by more than 100 points. It feels good to still be playing.
For those of you in the finals, I know I mentioned this two weeks ago, but it bears repeating: Do NOT get cute. Look at your lineup right now. Unless you have an RB2, WR3, tight end or kicker who is struggling, stay with your current lineup. Sure, if you have two guys producing about the same points it wouldn’t hurt to look at matchups and past history of the players, but bringing in a free agent and plugging him into your lineup, in most cases, would be folly.
In addition, watch the weather. A snowstorm or even a heavy rain can hinder a player’s performance, particularly kickers. Google “NFL weather” and you will see lots of forecasts for the Week 16 slate.
Good luck, everyone!
On the surface, Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry has an attractive showdown with a Kansas City defense that has allowed a gargantuan 23.7 fantasy points per game to team wideouts on the season. However, a closer look reveals an improvement in the Chiefs secondary over its last three contests, allowing a much-reduced 17.0 fantasy points per game. I am not necessarily recommending benching Landry, as he’s been a top-15 receiver all year, but examine other options first.
With Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown (calf) on the shelf for a while, other Steelers receivers should become more fantasy relevant. With them facing a Houston defense that has struggled mightily versus the position, Steelers wideouts Martavis Bryant and even JuJu Smith-Schuster could be attractive starts in Week 16. I like Bryant as a serviceable WR3 and Smith-Schuster should be a quality flex or even a WR3.
Coming off a monster Week 15 that saw him rack up 326 passing yards and three touchdowns against Houston, Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles has another outstanding matchup against San Francisco in Week 16. The 49ers have been horrid versus quarterbacks this season, hemorrhaging 22.4 fantasy points per game. Bortles is a dyed-in-the-wool QB1 this time around.
New England running back Rex Burkhead (knee) will likely be out in Week 16. This will create opportunities for other Patriots backs such as Dion Lewis, James White and even Mike Gillislee. Of the three, I like Lewis to receive the highest statistical bump from Burkhead’s absence. His matchup versus Buffalo’s league-worst fantasy defense versus running backs is exceptional. He already leads the team in rushing and posted 92 rushing yards versus Buffalo in Week 13. Consider Lewis a mid-range RB2 and White as a decent flex option as a solid receiving back.
Often we depend on team matchups to determine whether to start or bench a player. Here’s a case in which you should totally ignore the matchup. While he’ll tangle with a Tennessee defense that has allowed a mere 15.5 fantasy points per game to team running backs, Rams running back Todd Gurley should not be benched right now in any circumstance. Gurley might have posted 100 points last week versus Seattle if the Rams didn’t mercifully bench him in the second half. Look, he’s one of the best backs in the league right now. Start Gurley and leave him in your lineup until … April. This matchup is meaningless.
Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt is back on a roll after faltering a bit in mid-season. This week he’ll bump heads with a Miami defense ranked eighth in fantasy points allowed to team running backs, permitting 20.4 fantasy points per game. This is a no-brainer matchup that should make Hunt a bonafide RB1 in Week 16.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had a less-than-spectacular outing versus the Chiefs in Week 15, but his numbers should improve this week. Rivers will face a Jets defense yielding 26.3 fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last three weeks and 23.0 points on the season. Rivers should be a nice QB1.