Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top Wide Receivers Who Are Must-Start

Stephen FenechCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 09:   Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Starting the correct wide receiver could make the difference between winning a fantasy football championship or finishing as the runner-up. 

Now that the championship round is upon us in most leagues, it's time to think outside the box. This isn't the time to rely on a fizzling-superstar who may have a tough matchup, as it may be smarter to start an under-the-radar wideout who has the potential to have a monster game. 

The following receivers are must-starts if owned, so consider yourself warned if you choose to disregard this advice. 


Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers

Steve Smith got off to a slow start this season, as he did not find the end zone until Week 9.

Since then, Smith has scored two more touchdowns, as his production has increased with Cam Newton's improved play.

In Week 16, Smith will face off against the maligned Oakland Raiders defense, which is ranked 15th in terms of fantasy points surrendered to opposing wide receivers. 

Smith has posted double-digit fantasy points in each of his last three contests and is being undervalued by fantasy experts.


Eric Decker, Denver Broncos

In Peyton Manning's first season under center for the Broncos, Decker has caught 72 passes for 923 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Decker is coming off a 19-point performance in standard ESPN leagues, as he torched the Baltimore Ravens secondary in Week 15. 

This week, the Cleveland Browns are making the trip to Denver, which has the Broncos passing attack salivating. 

The Browns are ranked 27th in fantasy points allowed to opposing wideouts, which bodes well for Decker and Demaryius Thomas.   

Cleveland employs one of the league's premier cornerbacks in Joe Haden, but he cannot cover both Decker and Thomas. 

Since Thomas is the more dangerous home-run threat, Haden will be assigned to Thomas on most snaps, which only increases Decker's fantasy value. 


T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

The Florida International alumnus is fortunate to face the Kansas City Chiefs this week, as the Colts attempt to clinch a playoff spot. 

Indy has plenty to play for, while the Chiefs are running on empty and appear ready to head home for the offseason. 

Hilton has put up double-digit fantasy points in four of his past five games and will be facing off against the No. 17 fantasy pass defense. 

Also, since Hilton returns punts, there is potential for him to add points to his total on special teams. Hilton returned a punt for a touchdown in Week 12, as he is a threat to take it all the way each time he touches the ball. 


Victor Cruz, New York Giants

Victor Cruz has only posted double-digit fantasy points twice in his last seven games, as he has crippled his owners at times. 

That being said, Cruz is still the ninth-most productive receiver in fantasy football and has a favorable matchup in Week 16. 

The Giants will be traveling to face the Baltimore Ravens, in a game that will define Big Blue's season. 

Cruz and the Giants thrive in do-or-die situations, which is why he should be trusted despite his one-point performance in Week 15.  

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