It’s time for your fantasy football championship game, and possibly some late-season redemption for a few highly drafted players. We don’t like to overuse the phrase “This is the week!” around here, but in a few cases, it really might be.
Remember that you’ll rarely see suggestions here to start studs like Le’Veon Bell and Odell Beckham Jr. The recommendations below generally aren’t for must-start or must-sit types – they’re borderline players in most cases. Also, note that most Week 16 games will be played on SATURDAY.
Note: The fantasy points per game allowed (FPPG) referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues.
Palmer has been productive lately, throwing for multiple touchdowns in five consecutive games and averaging 24.7 fantasy points over his past seven. However, he’s facing a Seahawks defense that is notoriously tough at home, and ranks fourth with 14.4 FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Nah.
Newton was fantasy’s top QB during draft season, but ranks as QB15 in what’s been a very disappointing 2016. He bounced back a bit with 300 yards and two touchdown passes at Washington on Monday night, and has a home matchup with a Falcons team that ranks dead last versus opposing quarterbacks with 19.6 FPPG allowed. Let’s hope that Newton continues his late-season rebound, and remembers how much fantasy owners like it when he runs the ball.
The perennially borderline Philip Rivers has a matchup with the 31st-ranked Browns (19.3 FPPG allowed to opposing QBs). He’s not a great play, but he’s in play … Blake Bortles faces a Titans D that ranks 29th versus opposing quarterbacks (17.9 FPPG). He’s not a QB1 in most formats, but can be used in two-QB leagues.
Stay away: Rob Kelley, Redskins (at Bears)
Kelley isn’t a must-bench here, but he’s the closest thing to a back we should avoid due to a matchup with the Bears defense, which ranks fourth with 14.3 FPPG allowed to opposing running backs. Yes, I know that Ty Montgomery shredded the Bears last week, and Carlos Hyde played well at Chicago in Week 13. There aren’t any obvious “sit ’em” options based on the FPPG numbers, and Kelley is the closest. He starts the week at RB20.
Is “Don’t play the Jags’ backfield duo against the Titans” obvious, as Tennessee ranks fifth with 14.5 FPPG allowed to opposing backs? I hope so.
Play, play, play: Todd Gurley, Rams (vs. 49ers)
THIS IS THE WEEK! OK, maybe. As noted here just about every week, the 49ers are the league’s worst team against opposing running backs by a lot (27.4 FPPG, 176.3 rushing yards per game). Gurley has disappointed his fantasy owners all year long, failing to surpass 100 rushing yards in any game and ranking as RB19 for the season. If Gurley hasn’t torpedoed your fantasy season yet, get him back in the lineup for Week 16.
(Note: Lest you think this is a hot take, I’ve got Gurley at RB15 in my ranks to begin the week. His consensus ranking at FantasyPros.com is RB9.)
Melvin Gordon didn’t practice Tuesday for the Chargers, and if he’s not ready to go, it will leave Kenneth Farrow in line for a big workload against the Browns (24.5 FPPG to opposing RBs). Again: The Browns.
Stay away: Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (vs. Broncos)
Hill emerged as a fantasy force to be reckoned with during a three-touchdown performance against the Broncos in Week 12. However, if we look a little closer, Hill’s receiving line was 9-52-1 that night — solid, but not spectacular. Also, Hill didn’t have a catch among his three targets in Week 15, when Jeremy Maclin had his first big game since a groin injury.
The Broncos routinely shut down opposing wideouts, allowing just 13.4 FPPG against them. Hill is explosive, and a threat to score anytime. He’s also a risky play in Week 16.
The Steelers rank third with 18.3 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers. Let’s agree to avoid the Ravens’ mediocre, unclear fantasy receiving corps.
Play, play, play: Allen Robinson, Jaguars (vs. Titans)
Robinson’s disappointing season is due more to his horrible quarterback than his own sub-par play. This week, he’s got a date with a generous Titans’= defense that ranks 31st with 26.6 FPPG allowed to opposing wide receivers. Robinson has been overshadowed at times by teammate Marqise Lee and has just 101 receiving yards over his past five games. Still, he looks flexy in this spot.
Stay away: Jimmy Graham, Seahawks (vs. Cardinals)
As with Kelley at running back, there’s not an OMG WE NEED TO BENCH THIS STARTER candidate at tight end. Graham is in a tough spot against a Cardinals D that has allowed a miniscule 2.9 FPPG to opposing TEs. I’ve got Graham at TE8, and could see benching him for Cameron Brate, one of the Chargers or maybe even …
Play, play, play: Ryan Griffin, Texans (vs. Bengals)
If C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussion) remains sidelined, Griffin will be a solid streaming option against a Bengals defense that ranks 29th with 9.7 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. With Tom Savage under center for the Texans’ final two-and-a-half quarters against the Jags in Week 15, Griffin caught all six of his targets for 69 yards.
Chargers tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry face the Browns, who rank last with 11.2 FPPG allowed to the position. Gates has seen more targets over the past few weeks, but Henry is getting the red-zone love (TDs in four of his past five games). Both are streaming options, despite the apparent timeshare (which isn’t really a thing with tight ends, anyway).