Week 16 Start Em Sit Em: Smart Matchup Plays, Sleepers and More
You made your fantasy championship. Nice work. You probably did so with a combination of decent drafting and savvy in-season waiver-wire pickups.
But enough patting yourself on the back.
It's time to take home the title.
The year-long bragging rights.
Here's the Week 16 fantasy advice that just might get you all of that.
START: Julian Edelman vs. Baltimore Ravens
Julian Edelman has become one of the offensive focal points for the New England Patriots.
We aren't sure if wideouts Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins will be able to go against the Ravens at home, and even if they are active, will they be 100 percent?
Actually, even if they're close to 100 percent, how many targets will they take away from the reliable Edelman?
He's fresh off a 13-catch, 139-yard, one-touchdown masterpiece against the Miami Dolphins in Week 15, a game in which he was targeted 19 times.
While we can't expect that type of performance again, there's a good chance Baltimore's best cornerback, Lardarius Webb, will match up primarily with Danny Amendola.
If you're in a PPR league and own Edelman, he's been one of your steadiest players this season. Don't get cute. Start him this week.
SIT: Steven Jackson at San Francisco 49ers
Steven Jackson averaged just a shade above 2.5 yards per carry in Week 15 against the Washington Redskins, but he did score two touchdowns which salvaged his day in the fantasy realm.
The former St. Louis Rams great hasn't run with the same burst he has in the past, and an early season leg injury certainly didn't help in 2013.
The San Francisco 49ers allow 3.9 yards per carry and have surrendered a total of just 125 rushing yards the past two games.
Unless you truly believe Jackson will find the end zone in a short yardage situation, stay away from the Atlanta Falcons running back on the road this week.
The matchup isn't good, and there are plenty of other running backs who'll probably see more carries and have more PPR upside than Jackson.
START: Heath Miller at Green Bay Packers
If you go to a Pittsburgh Steelers game, home or away, you're bound to hear that at least a few times.
The dependable veteran tight end has at least three catches and 35 yards in each of his last five games and has averaged 6.6 targets per outing over that stretch.
You know what you're going to get with Miller.
His stat line won't single-handedly win you your matchup, but in a game in which Ben Roethlisberger will likely have to throw often, Miller is basically a lock to amass around 10 points.
The Green Bay Packers allow an average quarterback rating of 96.0, and only six teams surrender a higher yards-per-attempt average.
If tight end is your roster's weak spot, don't be afraid to click and drag Miller off the bench this week.
SIT: Larry Fitzgerald at Seattle Seahawks
As we all expected, Larry Fitzgerald has produced much better in 2013—thanks in large part to an upgrade at the quarterback position.
However, he suffered a concussion late in Week 15's thrilling win over the Tennessee Titans.
According to Pro Football Talk, Fitzgerald said he "passed first test of concussion protocol," meaning he could be on the field in Seattle on Sunday.
Then again, he couldn't draw a less appealing matchup, as he'll square off against the lanky and aggressive Richard Sherman.
Fitzgerald was held to two catches for 17 yards when the Cardinals lost to the Seahawks earlier in the season.
He'll be lucky to see more than five targets with the way Seattle's defensive front should handle Arizona's porous pass-blocking offensive line.
START: Pierre Thomas at Carolina Panthers
Pierre Thomas has been atrocious on the ground as of late.
His last 19 carries have gone for a mere 35 yards.
In fairness, a string of games against the Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams are not exactly dream matchups for any running back.
But don't get caught up with Thomas' rushing woes.
During that same stretch, the veteran has racked up 15 catches for 97 yards.
Playing the Panthers on their home turf won't be easy, and the Saints offensive line will be tested on every Drew Brees dropback.
That means Thomas, a screen-game extraordinaire, could be utilized on a variety of quick passes.
If he breaks one moderately long run, this underrated Saints backs should get you double-digit points as a RB No. 2 or in the flex position.
SIT: Golden Tate vs. Arizona Cardinals
Golden Tate is on pace to set career highs across the board in 2013, but keep him on your bench for your championship matchup.
Because he works on the outside much more than Doug Baldwin, there's a good chance he'll draw sound cornerback Patrick Peterson on most of the Seahawks' passing plays.
While he's out-targeted Baldwin over the past month, Baldwin has proven to be the more dynamic wideout in terms of yards-per-catch average (15.7 to 13.6).
It's difficult to predict who'll be Russell Wilson's go-to target week to week, but you might as well take your chances with Baldwin, a guy who gets more out of his receptions and will operate against one of Arizona's lesser cornerbacks out of the slot this week.
He's a decent WR No. 3 or flex option.
Remember, Wilson threw three touchdowns against the Cardinals earlier this year.
START: Eric Decker at Houston Texans
Eric Decker hasn't had the most consistent fantasy season, but don't give up on him now.
After two monster performances against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 13 and the Tennessee Titans in 14, he laid an ugly egg—two receptions for 42 yards—against the San Diego Chargers in Week 15.
A matchup against the 2-12 Houston Texans may look like one bound for plenty of running from Denver, but there's a chance the Broncos will have to throw it often.
Houston allows the second-fewest passing yards per game yet the 11th-highest quarterback rating.
Following their first sub-300-yard offensive performance of the season, we should expect the Denver Broncos to come out firing on all cylinders against the Texans.
SIT: Bobby Rainey at St. Louis Rams
Bobby Rainey was a trendy waiver-wire pickup late in the regular season of most fantasy leagues.
While he may have helped you to get to this point, stay away from him this week.
Take away his 80-yard touchdown scamper against the Buffalo Bills in Week 14, and Rainey's only accumulated 172 yards on his last 67 carries.
He's only caught six passes for seven yards in his last four outings.
The St. Louis Rams defense allows 3.9 yards per carry, and it's allowed only 82.75 yards on the ground in the last month.
With a menacing line and a nice stable of active linebackers, the Rams front is not going to leave many lanes for Rainey.
START: DeAngelo Williams vs. New Orleans Saints
DeAngelo Williams has pieced together a respectable season despite mustering only one 100-yard game in 2013.
He averages 4.2 yards per carry and averages more than 11 yards per catch.
In Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints, he averaged 4 yards per carry, but received the ball only 13 times and caught one pass for 11 yards.
Against the Saints at home, where his yards-per-carry average is .3 yards higher than it is on the road, Williams should have a big afternoon.
New Orleans has surrendered 133 yards on the ground per game in its last three games and have allowed 4.6 yards per carry this season.
Had enough with all the statistics?
Just start DeAngelo this week.
He'll be featured prominently.
SIT: Charles Clay at Buffalo Bills
The Miami Dolphins have found themselves a versatile H-back/tight end hybrid in Charles Clay.
He's made 61 catches for 684 yards with six receiving touchdowns in 2013.
Strangely, Clay was only targeted twice in the Dolphins win over the New England Patriots a week ago. He was held to one catch for six yards.
In Week 7's loss to the Buffalo Bills, Clay had one catch for seven yards but that catch was a touchdown.
The weather will likely play a factor in Orchard Park, New York on Sunday, and with the amount of nickel coverage the Bills play, Clay won't be as big of a matchup problem as he normally is.
While he may have been a nice flex option for you up until this point, sit him this week.