The Week 16 start/sit suggestions for running backs and wide receivers arrive with many of us needing a Christmas miracle (or whatever denomination you prefer).
For many, it is unfortunately too late, as this devastating season took its toll last week. I've heard all kinds of horror stories. Perhaps one of the worst I heard was one owner who had Kyler Murray, Alvin Kamara, Najee Harris, Deebo Samuel, Diontae Johnson, and George Kittle. After going 13-1, he lost in the first round. That's painful!
And I say it every year. And I say it multiple times a year: Fantasy football is a cruel, cruel mistress.
Meanwhile, COVID and other malignancies continue to infect rosters, even those at the top of the standings. Therefore, I am going to go a little deeper with my start/sit recommendations this week, as who knows which other players will fall by the wayside between now and kickoffs.
So no usual weekly note. However, instead of making it "easier" on myself, I will be making it harder. I still won't be suggesting to start anyone in the top dozen for this week, and they might not even be in the top three dozen. Nor will I be recommending you to "sit" any player outside of the top two dozen for this week. However, depending on where and when you look, who knows where some rankings will have some players.
What I do know is that I wish all of you a Happy Holidays. Let's see if I can unwrap some surprise gifts for you.
START These RBs
Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Singletary is coming off his best game of the season, having run for 86 yards and a score last week. He has also finally taken hold of the Buffalo backfield, registering 93 percent of the team's snaps last week.
And Carolina is not an easy team on which to run. Yet Singletary made it look easy here:
I can hear you whining, "but Mark, the Patriots are a good defense." I'm not saying they're bad. But they aren't as good as you think either. Don't let this matchup scare you. They've given up the seventh-most rushing yards to RBs this season and the fourth most receiving yards.
Put it this way: in one of my leagues where I lost Leonard Fournette, Singletary is already locked into my lineup this week.
Jordan Howard, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
Despite playing second fiddle to Miles Sanders last week, Howard still managed to notch 15 carries for 69 yards. He was also Philly's choice to run the clock out, running the ball on six of the Eagles' final seven plays. He's averaging 5.2 yards a carry and is clearly the most valued RB behind Sanders.
That is a particularly important fact because Sanders did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Sanders could not practice all week and still get the majority of the carries against the Giants this week. But Howard has carved out enough of a role for himself that if you are scrambling for a RB, you could do a lot worse than Howard.
Related: Fantasy Football 5 Up, 5 Down for Week 16
SIT These RBs
Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
Let's start with the health concerns. Stevenson did not practice on Wednesday while Damien Harris did get in limited work. But it's not as if Stevenson is matching the hype right now either. He averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last week and an even lower 3.3 ypc in his previous game.
The latter is particularly relevant given that it was against the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots' opponent this weekend. The Bills have been stout against the run all season and will likely make Mac Jones try to beat them.
Plus, we could see Harris back in the lead role this week. Just too many signs saying stay away.
Melvin Gordon III, Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders
Gordon has had a pretty good season, having scored nine times already this season. Despite the constant calling for Javonte Williams from fantasy owners, Gordon has been able to keep those to a dull roar.
But my sit recommendation is far less about what Gordon has or hasn't done. The game script, however, is very foreboding. Teddy Bridgewater was released from the hospital and should make the trip with the team to Las Vegas. However, every indication is that Drew Lock will start on Sunday. There are still lots of questions about whether Bridgewater will be Denver's starting QB next year, but it's clear that Lock won't be. The Raiders will likely stack the box and invite Lock to beat them. That's bad news for Gordon.
Also, unless Lock can find a way to beat them, the probability is that Denver will be playing from behind. And if they're forced to go pass-heavy, that does not bode well for Gordon.
START These WRs
DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
Smith is typically listed this week in the WR4 range, i.e. outside the top 36 WRs. That's a little low, even if I don't think he's going to break into the top 20 this week. I just think Smith is too talented to have four weeks in a row below 60 receiving yards.
I also think he scores this week. That's not exactly a bold prediction, either, as only four teams have allowed more receiving TDs than the 16 the Giants have.
Josh Reynolds, Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons
And you know who one of those teams are? Yup, the Falcons. They are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs as well. Atlanta is also allowing 27.4 points per game, second most in the league. And Detroit has been scoring more lately as well. The Lions have put up a better-than-average 23 points per game over their last three outings.
And I'm not so sure it's a coincidence given that Reynolds was picked up off of waivers around Week 11. He has 259 yards and two touchdowns in his last four games, including a nice-looking touchdown grab last week.
SIT These WRs
DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears
I don't know, something just doesn't smell right in Seattle, and its not the fish in Fulton Market. Metcalf was targeted a dozen times with Tyler Lockett out but managed to haul in just half of them for a measly 52 yards.
And this wasn't an aberration. He hasn't scored since Halloween. He last topped 100 receiving yards over a month before then. On top of all that, he was limited in practice on Wednesday.
The news gets worse. The matchup is far from ideal, as Chicago has allowed the fourth-fewest targets and eleventh-fewest catches. I think, sooner or later, Metcalf will get back on track, but if you wait until he actually does to start him, I would.
DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This might be the easiest call of all suggestions this week. Moore hasn't scored since Week 11 and hasn't caught more than half a dozen passes since the first week in October. As bad as his production has been, I don't blame Moore.
The Carolina quarterback situation has been an absolute mess. Cam Newton is still a weapon with his legs but is not even completing 55 percent of his passes. He has yet to notch even a single game with 200 passing yards. And the news that Sam Darnold will see some snaps as well is far from refreshing.
Throw in the fact that Tampa Bay has allowed just a dozen WR TDs, and I'd have curdled egg nog before I start Moore.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.