Who you start and who you sit in your Week 16 fantasy football playoff matchups will determine who goes on to the next round and who goes home.
These decisions are the ones that will carry you throughout the offseason as you trash talk your co-worker, relative or friend. Don't make the wrong choice.
Don't be afraid to think outside the box and make an informed decision that can change the course of your season. If you're still in it, you know how big these calls can be.
You don't want to be kicking yourself and playing for fourth place in Week 17, do you?
Read on to gain some valuable knowledge before you finalize your lineups this weekend.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (at Pittsburgh Steelers)
Win or lose, the Bengals’ playoff-like game in Pittsburgh in Week 16 is going to be Dalton’s breakout game against the Steelers. He has struggled during his career against them, but has some help this time around.
Pittsburgh’s secondary is beat up and will be without Ike Taylor again this week. Its reserves have also taken some damage and will be extremely thin against A.J. Green.
The potential for a Dalton-to-Green field day in Pittsburgh is enough to put him into your starting lineup in Week 16.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins (vs. Buffalo Bills)
Buffalo has been killed by the run at times this season, but they limited Bush to just three fantasy points in the team’s Week 11 matchup.
Not much has changed since then, but Bush will likely be receiving the majority of the team’s carries thanks to an injury that will keep Daniel Thomas out of commission for this one.
Bush certainly has the explosive potential to go nuts on a team as bad against the run as the Bills. If he can break just one big one in the pass or run game he’ll be worth the start.
Coming off of a 100-plus yard performance, he should be able to stay on track and finish strong like he did last season.
Danny Amendola/Brandon Gibson, WRs, St. Louis Rams (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
This doesn’t need much of an explanation. The Rams are fighting for playoff contention and the Bucs have been eliminated and have the worst secondary in the NFL.
Teams are absolutely shredding the Bucs, who have given up 27.6 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers.
Amendola and Gibson will have a good day but don’t count out Brian Quick or Chris Givens, who both have potential to have big games as well.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers (at Seattle Seahawks)
Cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman will likely both be missing from this crucial Week 16 matchup. Your first instincts might be to roll with Kaepernick, but the truth is this is going to be a tough matchup for the young QB.
Chances are if you have Kaepernick in your starting lineup, you had problems with another quarterback and sent him to the bench after the emergence of the 49ers’ QB.
This week, go with a veteran who has less on the line than San Francisco’s second-year QB. There is just too much on the line, and Seattle’s defense is still very tough because it can get to the QB. Seattle will definitely miss its big corners on the sides, but the rest of that stout defense hasn’t gone anywhere.
Jonathan Dwyer/Any Pittsburgh RB (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)
The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t run the ball effectively at all in 2012. With the team’s defense beginning to struggle due to injuries in the secondary, that could put more of the offensive focus on the passing game as they attempt to keep up with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincy has also been stout against the run over the last few weeks. Stout is putting it mildly—the team hasn’t surrendered more than 60 yards to a running back over the past four games.
Rashard Mendenhall is due back from a one-game suspension, as well. That will do nothing but murky the already muddy waters that is the Steelers’ backfield.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns (at Denver Broncos)
If you’re still starting Josh Gordon at this point, you either need wide receiver help or are praying for a long-ball connection between him and fellow rookie QB Brandon Weeden.
The Broncos are in the thick of the hunt for a first-round bye in the playoffs, and Cleveland has little left to play for. Sure, Gordon and Weeden have connected on a few big plays this season but Gordon is too much of a “boom or bust” option to rely upon with your championship on the line.
Denver is allowing the 9th -fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. You can do better elsewhere.