It’s time for our Week 16 Starts and Sits! Remember, we’ll do our best to predict outcomes based on what’s given to us. That’s diving into the numbers, digging through the juicy matchups, examining trends, watching the film, and collecting data that should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week we try to make some of your decision-making easier with what we’ve collected, but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team. I’ll try to avoid the slam-dunk stud plays and focus more on players you’re teetering with putting in your starting lineups. We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, let’s keep riding high for the fantasy playoffs.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Joe Burrow | Cincinnati Bengals: It’s definitely been a roller-coaster season for those that have rostered Joe Burrow. While he is QB10 this season, he scored 20 or more fantasy points from Weeks 4 through 8, only to follow that up with one game reaching that threshold Weeks 9 through 15. Since Week 9, Burrow is the QB22 compared to after Week 8 where he was QB9. Coming off his 12.8 point fantasy day against the Denver Broncos, I expect much more this week.
Burrow faces the beat-up Ravens defense who have lost many significant starters and are a shell of what team took the field in Week 1. The last time Burrow faced this team, he tore them up to season highs of 416 yards, three touchdowns, and 27.6 fantasy points. Play Burrow this week and you won’t be disappointed.
Jared Goff | Detroit Lions: Keep in mind Goff is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list as of this writing and will need to be cleared to play to be started. It’s not too often I’ll recommend Lions players outside of D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, and T.J. Hockenson. All three are out and other players have stepped up, which is headlined by Goff. While he may only be QB30 on the season, he’s actually QB11 since Week 12, and in two of those games, he’s eclipsed 20+ fantasy points. With nine touchdowns and two interceptions over his last four games, Goff has played better and it’s coincided with two Lions wins.
The Lions face the Atlanta Falcons this week and it’s a juicy matchup for Goff as the Falcons have given up the second-most amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Looking at just the last four weeks of games, it hasn’t faired much better as the Falcons have given up the fourth-most over that span. With the way Goff is playing and Atlanta’s defense in play, I like Goff here if he plays.
Russell Wilson | Seattle Seahawks: It’s been quite a weird season for Wilson managers. After starting the year with 22 or more fantasy points in three of his first four games, Wilson had his finger injury and put many managers in panic scrambling to find a replacement quarterback. Since Wilson has returned, we’re still waiting for what we saw those first four games, as he’s only scored 20 or more fantasy points just one time since Week 10.
I think the matchup this week against the Bears could be just what he needs. The Seahawks have scored 18.8 points per game on the road compared to 21.8 points per game at home. The bears also allowed the sixth-most fantasy points by opposing quarterbacks this season and only the Packers have allowed more to quarterbacks over the last four games. Wilson should cook in Week 16.
Quarterback to Sit:
Jimmy Garoppolo | San Francisco 49ers: You might find many articles this week that tell you to play Jimmy Garoppolo and I get why. While he may only be QB18 on the season, Garoppolo has actually been the QB3 since Week 8. That is not a misprint. He also gets a Titans defense that ranks ninth-worst against opposing quarterbacks at over 19 per game. Let’s take a look at a more micro approach since it’s win or go home at this point in the fantasy season.
Garoppolo has only topped 20 fantasy points just once since Week 10. He’s been largely an average quarterback scoring anywhere from 12-18 fantasy points most weeks. The Titans are also a completely different defense than they were earlier this season. In the last four weeks, the Titans are allowing only 11.5 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and allowed just two passing touchdowns in the last four games. This should be an ugly game and I don’t want any part of Jimmy G in my lineup.
Running Backs to Start:
Ronald Jones | Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones as a MUST START in Week 16. That’s what seems to be the 2021 football season in a nutshell. Leonard Fournette suffered a hamstring injury and will be placed on IR, which means he will miss the rest of the regular season. That means 20 touches per week and goal-line work have now just opened up for one of the best offenses in football. According to data from Rotoviz, Jones has averaged 18.5 fantasy points with three receptions per game in the four games without Leonard Fournette since he joined the team.
While the Panthers matchup isn’t a great one at first glance, the Panthers have given up nearly 24 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the last month and four touchdowns over the last three weeks on the ground. Jones had 192 yards the last time he was the feature back against this team in 2020 and could do damage once again this Sunday.
Justin Jackson | Los Angeles Chargers: As of this writing, Austin Ekeler is currently in question for this game with the potential of him going on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. If he misses the game, Justin Jackson figures to be the top play for this Chargers backfield. Last week while splitting time with Ekeler, Jackson had 14 carries for 84 yards and one catch for 13 more yards.
The lead back in this offense should have a monster game in store this week as the Chargers go against the Houston Texans. The Texans are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and have allowed running backs to score 20 or more fantasy points in three of the last four weeks. Jackson should be a great low-end RB2/high-end flex play this week.
Craig Reynolds | Detroit Lions: Is there a better first name that exists than Craig? I doubt it. We went from not having any idea who this gentleman was to having him post 216 total yards over the last two games. Reynolds has recorded 37 carries over that time and truly seems to be the workhorse in this backfield without the presence of D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. Reynolds is the RB20 over the last two weeks in PPR scoring and that’s with only one catch.
Reynolds gets to face the Atlanta Falcons who are allowing over 26 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and just were lit up by the 49ers backfield in Week 15. I’m riding Reynolds another week and using him as a nice flex play.
Running Back to Sit:
Duke Johnson | Miami Dolphins: Mr. Johnson was in this article last week and made this writer feel extremely smart having him as a start. Unfortunately, we need to flip the narrative this week and he’s in the sit section. Johnson burst on the scene last week where he carried the ball 22 times for 107 yards and two scores while adding one catch for 20 yards. This was an awesome full-good game as Johnson had spent most of the season on the practice squad. Let’s face the facts: Between Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, Phillip Lindsay, and even Malcolm Brown should be healthy going into Week 16. That’s a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, even if one is inactive. Even though Johnson is now signed to the active roster, I’m worried about the number of touches he can realistically receive with this many players in the backfield for the Dolphins.
The Dolphins also face the Saints in Week 16, the team that just held Tom Brady’s Buccaneers scoreless and allowing the least amount of fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Look elsewhere for your running back in this round of the fantasy playoffs.
Wide Receivers to Start:
Michael Gallup | Dallas Cowboys: While the fifth receiving option in an offense according to target share is almost never appealing to have, Gallup, remains an exception. He’s received at least five targets in every game he’s played since he returned from IR, with eight targets in four of those six games. Gallup also has scored double-digit PPR points in three of his last four games.
Gallup plays Washington who he just played a few weeks ago to the tune of five receptions on nine targets for 60 yards. He also nearly had a TD in that game. For a team in Washington that gives up the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, I think Gallup could be a nice play here.
Amon-Ra St. Brown | Detroit Lions: A few weeks ago I did an overreactions piece about none of the Detroit Lions wide receivers setting themselves apart from one another, let alone becoming fantasy relevant. Boy was I wrong as St. Brown has 46 targets over his last four games and became the first rookie in Lions history to catch at least eight passes in three consecutive games. St. Brown is currently the WR7 from Weeks 12-15 and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
That should line up well against the Falcons who have given up over 41 points per game to opposing wide receivers and allowed the fourth-most to the position all season. Start St. Brown as a WR2 this week with confidence.
Gabriel Davis | Buffalo Bills: Gabe Davis has taken his play to another level over the last few weeks, as he ranks as the WR9 since Week 13 and scored double-digit fantasy points in three straight games. Over that time, Davis has caught 12 of 19 targets for 158 yards and four touchdowns. Davis seems to have truly taken over the Emmanual Sanders role in this offense and has become a dependable target for Josh Allen, particularly in the red zone.
Davis faces the Patriots defense this week, and while they’re only allowing 28 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, I expect most of the defensive attention to be paid to Stefon Diggs. That should allow Davis to be single covered and potentially score. Start him as a flex play if Sanders remains out.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
Michael Pittman Jr. | Indianapolis Colts: How the mighty have fallen. While Pittman Jr. is WR21 on the season, he’s WR49 since Week 10 averaging 8.9 fantasy points per game. This offense has seemingly taken shape over the second half of the season as it’s become a run-first team. The Colts are currently in the top three in terms of percentage of running plays called this season and now use the team’s biggest weapon in Jonathan Taylor, having him touch the ball 20+ times per week.
Pittman Jr. is now set to face the Arizona Cardinals, who outside Cooper Kupp this season, have locked down number one wide receivers on opposing teams. If Pittman’s one catch last week wasn’t enough to scare you off using him this week, then let this be your final warning.
Tight End to Start:
Zach Ertz| Arizona Cardinals: Despite a hamstring issue, Ertz saw 11 targets and caught four of them for 74 yards. Ertz has in fact actually seen six or more targets in four of his last five games. Ertz also has at least nine fantasy points in three of his last four games. With DeAndre Hopkins now done for the regular season, I would expect his team-high target share to be evenly distributed between the three of Ertz, A.J. Green, and Christian Kirk. With a shallow target tree, Ertz should get a nice bump in targets.
The Cardinals face the Colts in Week 16, who have allowed nearly 20 points per game to opposing tight ends over the last month (second-most) and allowed to touchdowns to Hunter Henry in Week 15. Ertz is a top-seven play for me this week.
Tight End to Sit:
Dawson Knox | Buffalo Bills: Knox has been absolutely awesome for the Bills this season. He’s currently the TE7 in points and TE6 in points per game at this position this season. Knox is usually a must-play and still will most likely be in your lineup, but be careful.
Knox faces the New England Patriots who allow the least amount of fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. Knox and the Bills offense have also struggled recently against this Patriots team. I would start another tight end if you roster another top 10 option on your team.