Start/Sit Week 16
December 20, 2013 | Mike Braude
QB: Kirk Cousins vs. DAL – Kirk Cousins was impressive in his first start of the season, netting 381 passing yards and three touchdowns. Despite two interceptions, he showed a great grasp of the offense and solid touch. This week he faces a Cowboys defense that has been dreadful against backup quarterbacks. Over the last three weeks, Dallas has allowed Matt McGloin, Josh McCown, and Matt Flynn to pass for 902 yards with an 8-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio. The Cowboys are giving up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. This means good things for Cousins and Pierre Garcon.
RB: LeSean McCoy vs. CHI – Arguably the most talented runner in the NFL, it’s obvious that LeSean “Shady” McCoy shouldn’t be benched in the championship week. This pick is for the daily players, as I believe Shady is the premier Week 16 play. Not only has Chip Kelly showed an ability to get Shady in space, but his opponent is the worst at defending the run in the NFL. Before facing the hopeless Browns running game last week, the Bears had given up at least 123 rushing yards to opposing running backs for EIGHT straight weeks. The average rushing numbers for opposing running backs during that stretch: 29.3 carries for 169.9 yards and 1.4 rushing touchdowns. That’s 5.81 yards per carry… Yeah, Shady is going to win some fantasy championships next week.
Alfred Morris vs. DAL – Despite not finding the end zone last week, Alfred “The Butler” Morris had an encouraging performance. Kirk Cousins showed an ability to sustain drives, which will add a little more stability to their offense. I’m confident that this Redskins offense will be able to exploit the Cowboys’ defensive liabilities. Not only have the Cowboys struggled to stop the pass, they’ve also allowed the most rushing touchdowns (19) to opposing running backs. They’ve allowed two rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in five of their last six games. Fire up the Butler.
Jordan Todman vs. TEN – With a full workload against the Jaguars, Todman looked good, rushing 25 times for 109 yards and catching four passes for 44 yards. He exhibited speed on the edges and reliable hands in the passing game. This week he faces a Titans defense that has been shredded by the run. Over their past nine games, the Titans have allowed 15 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. They’re allowing the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Bobby Rainey at STL – The Buccaneers have shown a commitment to using Rainey as their lead-back and since he’s got a good matchup on the horizon that could reap some benefits. He’ll be a high-end flex against a defense that is allowing the 5th most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
WR: A.J. Green vs. MIN – Like LeSean McCoy, owners know that A.J. Green is a must-start. The reason I put him on here is because I believe Green and Brandon Marshall are the premier receiver plays this week. We’ll talk about Marshall’s matchup in a minute (see Alshon Jeffery) but Green faces a Vikings defense giving up the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. He’s a top notch WR1 this week.
Alshon Jeffery at PHI – Alshon Jeffery has at least five catches and a touchdown in each of the last three games – including a 249-yard two-touchdown explosion against the Vikings (see A.J. Green). This week Alshon and Brandon Marshall face the secondary giving up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Expect an explosion from the Chicago receiving core.
Mike Wallace at BUF – Wallace is coming on of late with at least five catches, 82 yards, and a touchdown in three of his last four games. The Bills are giving up the 4th most points against opposing wide receivers so this should be an exploitable matchup for Wallace. Let it be known that the Bills secondary has improved recently but red-hot Wallace can capitalize.
Rueben Randle at DET – Despite struggling to show up in the box score over recent weeks, Randle is a sleeper during the fantasy championship. The Giants are likely to be without Victor Cruz, leaving them extremely short-handed. They’ll need to include Randle in the passing game to move the ball down the field and at Ford Field, there’s always shootout potential.
TE: Delanie Walker at JAC – Continuing to be one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite targets, Walker had a bounce-back performance against the Cardinals. Yes, the Cardinals are awful at defending tight ends – but hey the Jaguars are the 2nd worst. If you’re extremely desperate Ryan Griffin and Zach Miller are also options.
QB: Matt Ryan at SF – Struggling to keep the ball moving against the Redskins is not a good precursor to playing the 49ers. While the Redskins rank 21st against the pass, the 49ers rank 4th. Without Julio Jones, I’m not relying on Matt Ryan in the biggest week of the season.
RB: Andre Brown at DET – After a dud against the Seahawks, I wouldn’t feel good about trusting Brown against Detroit. With the exception of LeSean McCoy in the snow, the Lions haven’t given up 100 rushing yards to any opposing running back corps for eight games – they also haven’t allowed any rushing touchdowns during that stretch.
Pierre Thomas at CAR – The Panthers are another team that have stifled opposing running backs. Over the last 12 games, the Panthers have allowed over 100 yards just twice. They’ve also allowed just two rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs during that stretch. This isn’t an ideal game to rely on Thomas or Darren Sproles.
Rashard Mendenhall at SEA – Mendenhall is a touchdown dependent player, when he doesn’t find the end zone he’s going burn a hole in your lineup. Since he hasn’t topped 76 yards on the ground and 28 yards through the air, he needs a touchdown to be worth starting. Since he’s facing the Seahawks who have allowed just four rushing touchdowns all year, he’s not a great bet to score. It doesn’t help that the Seahawks have allowed a total of 78 rush yards in their last two games and are allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.
WR: Larry Fitzgerald at SEA – There’s no doubt Fitzgerald has improved in the second half and is playing his best football of the year. This week, coming off a concussion, he’s playing Seattle. The Seahawks limited Fitz to just two catches for 17 yards in their first meeting and have given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. I’d bench him if possible.
Harry Douglas at SF – Despite having a nice breakout season, Douglas has cooled off of late, catching seven passes for just 57 yards over his last two games. While both of the teams he faced have subpar pass defenses, the 49ers do everything well defensively. They’re currently allowing the 4th fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Steve Smith vs. NO – Still yet to have 70 receiving yards in a single game this year, it’s been a season of decline for Steve Smith. Of course this is the same Smith who had at least five 100-yard receiving games in each of the last two seasons. It doesn’t help that the Saints have done a great job against opposing No. 1 receivers. The Saints are allowing the 5th fewest points to opposing wide receivers.
TE: Coby Fleener at KC – Despite the hole left in the Colts lineup with Reggie Wayne getting hurt, Fleener hasn’t been able to take advantage. Last week, he had his first zero point performance of the season. Now he takes on Eric Berry who guards tight ends as well as anyone in the league. The Chiefs are giving up the fewest points to opposing tight ends.
Thanks for reading, good luck this week. Hit me up on Twitter @BraudeM or post below for any lineup questions you guys have!