Fantasy owners in Week 16 should start the guys that got them to a championship – for the most part. With injuries and tough matchups, trying to decide who to start and who to sit sometimes gets difficult. Look at the data, look at the stats, and above all, trust your gut. You’ve managed your team well enough to get to the championship game. Don’t get cute now and trust what has worked so far.
START These Running Backs
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Freeman returned from injury and has seen a regular workload. However, he's faced some tough matchups. In Week 16, the Falcons face a Jaguars run defense that has just gotten worse over recent weeks. The Jags' defense was never stout, but after allowing multiple rushing touchdowns in Week 14 and more than 100 yards from scrimmage to a banged-up Josh Jacobs in Week 15, the Jags seemingly don’t care. Both teams are out of the playoff hunt, so count on Freeman to just wild and be an RB2 this week.
Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts vs. Carolina Panthers
Even though Mack has probably not led your team to the fantasy championships, if you got there in spite of him, he has a great matchup in Week 16. The Panthers are allowing the most fantasy points to running backs. He’s getting the touches and the team is going to continue to play him even though they have no hope of getting in the playoffs. Mack is a solid RB2 this week.
SIT These Running Backs
Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
While Hunt has had some good games alongside Nick Chubb, the matchup in Week 16 is daunting. The Ravens have a very good defense, especially against pass-catching running backs. They’ve allowed just two running backs all season to have five or more receptions. No running back has more than 50 receiving yards, and Baltimore has surrendered just one TD catch to the position (LeSean McCoy, Week 3). While Hunt will still be involved, he’s merely a flex at best for Week 16.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers (Mon.)
Here’s the problem with Cook: he doesn’t play until Monday night. Fantasy owners are going to have to make start/sit decisions early, especially with three games on Saturday. Since they don’t play until Monday, the Vikings didn’t issue practice reports for Wednesday, although it seems likely that Cook may miss practice on Thursday. Even if he does play, the Vikings may choose to let Cook rest this week to save him for the playoffs. Fantasy owners are going to struggle with this one, but remember it’s also likely he re-injures himself during the game.
START These Wide Receivers
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals
It was tough to trust Lockett after his calf injury, but he returned in Week 15 looking as healthy as ever. He had eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. Josh Gordon is no longer in the picture, and the Seahawks have a nice matchup in Week 16 against the Cardinals. For those holding onto Lockett, this is a good week to start him.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sat.)
Start your wide receivers against the Buccaneers. While Hopkins' fantasy owners are likely starting him anyway, he is a no-brainer WR1 this week. He was sidelined for Wednesday's practice due to illness, but he should play in Week 16. He has had back-to-back 100-yard games in the past two weeks and just may finish this week as the top wide receiver. Will Fuller gets a bump as a solid flex play as well.
SIT These Wide Receivers
Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
Williams started the season strong, with a touchdown in the first five games. However, that streak ended and he didn’t score again until Week 15. He has plantar fasciitis, which clearly is hampering him. The Raiders face the Chargers this week, which is a tough matchup. Considering how he’s fared in other tough matchups, sit Williams if possible (he posted a 3/25/0 stat line the last time these two teams met).
John Brown, Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
The problem with Brown is that he doesn’t fare well in tough match-ups. The Bills don’t have a strong enough second receiver to allow Brown to escape the best cornerback on the opposing team, and Brown just isn’t able to work around that kind of coverage. When the Bills faced the Patriots in Week 4, he had five receptions for 69 yards. A similar stat line can be expected in Week 16.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.