Despite a disappointing season, Todd Gurley has a great matchup to help his owners win a fantasy championship
Welcome to Week 16, most likely the fantasy championship game. This is the week fantasy owners have been playing for, have been preparing for. At this point, you're starting the players that have gotten you this far.
Week 15 was tough in terms of matchups, and some of the so-called studs didn't produce enough to help their teams/owners. However, if studs got you to Week 16, odds are you should start them... with some exceptions.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens (Sun.)
After two road games where Roethlisberger failed to throw for 300 yards in either and had more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (one), he returns home. The Steelers throw the ball more at home and Roethlisberger is significantly better at home than on the road. This season, he has 17 TD passes at Heinz Field compared to nine on the road.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (Mon.)
It doesn't seem that the finger injury is hindering him, although Stafford did not throw a touchdown in Week 15. However, he now faces the Cowboys. In the past three weeks, Dallas’ defense has not allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 250 yards, and has given up a total of four TD passes. The Cowboys try to win the time of possession each week, and that hurts Stafford.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers (Sat.)
We know. Trust me, we know. Gurley has been a giant disappointment. But, if for some reason, you made it to the fantasy championship in spite of him, he has a great matchup against the defense allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Devonta Freeman had 139 yards and three touchdowns just last week against the 49ers. This is Gurley's chance to finally help his fantasy owners.
Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. Indianapolis Colts (Sat.)
Murray has four touchdowns in the past four weeks. He's had more than 80 rushing yards in each of the past three games, and now he faces the Colts, who can be beat on the ground. He's lost some work to DeAndre Washington, but Murray should still have a good outing in Week 16.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans (Sat.)
On the season, the Tennessee Titans have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs. Chris Ivory is back and will likely have a bigger workload than he did in Week 15. Even though Yeldon has been a factor in the passing game, he's a risky start in Week 16.
Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets at New England Patriots and Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (Sat.)
These two running backs have been lumped together because they have so much in common. Both are 31. Both are banged up and dealing with multiple injuries (Forte has a knee issue and shoulder; Peterson has knee and groin injuries). Both may not even play in Week 16. If either is active, they are a huge risk.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sat.)
Two words: Tom Savage. Who would have thought Savage would provide Hopkins with fantasy value? The 17 targets in Week 15 speak for themselves. Savage knows the best offensive weapon on the team is Hopkins and he'll force the ball to him. With Lamar Miller banged up, Hopkins will be the focal point of the Texans’ offense in Week 16.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears (Sat.)
D-Jax was the best offensive player on the field on Monday night for the Redskins. He had seven receptions for 111 yards, his third 100-yard game in the past four weeks. The Bears just allowed Jordy Nelson to go for 124 on seven catches. While Jackson is boom or bust, he should continue the former in Week 16.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears vs. Washington Redskins (Sat.)
Fantasy owners that started Jeffery after his four-game suspension were getting nervous in Week 15 as he didn't have a catch until the third quarter. He dropped a pass earlier in the game and Matt Barkley didn't target him again until after the half. He'll likely see a lot of Josh Norman, and if he and Barkley aren't on the same page, it will affect his targets, and ultimately receptions as well as fantasy points.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers and A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (Sat.)
Two elite No. 1 wide receivers each with injuries that caused them to miss multiple weeks. Green has been out since injuring his hamstring in Week 11. Jones has been out with a toe sprain he suffered in Week 13. Both players are vowing to play this week and both are at risk to re-injure themselves. They certainly have potential to score a touchdown, but they also could just as easily serve as a decoy. Both are high-risk receivers coming off of injury in a week where everything is on the line.
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns (Sat.)
Coming off a one-catch, 11-yard game in Week 15, Gates is hard to trust. However, with two touchdowns, he ties Tony Gonzalez's record for a tight end. This may be Gates' last season, and Philip Rivers knows he wants that record. Want to bet he forces Gates the ball in the red zone?
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears (Sat.)
It's not clear if Reed is going to play, but if he is active, he should be on fantasy benches. He's dealing with a painful shoulder injury (as evident by him grimacing) that is affecting his performance. After treating fantasy owners to back-to-back one-reception games, he should not be in starting lineups for Week 16.
Defense/Special Teams (DST)
San Diego Chargers (vs. Cleveland Browns, Sat.)
Cleveland has phoned in the season at this point and is just trying to get through the last two games with as little pain as possible. Robert Griffin III has struggled and no one is replacing him. While the Chargers’ defense isn't amazing, it should still put up points against the Browns, who allow the third-most fantasy points to opposing DSTs.
Baltimore Ravens (at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sun.)
The Steelers at home are better than the Steelers on the road, and the Ravens at home are better than the Ravens on the road. Ben Roethlisberger also doesn't turn the ball over as much at home, only throwing three interceptions at Heinz Field this season. The Ravens’ defense has been struggling lately and is not one you want to trust to help you win a fantasy championship.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.