Although some fantasy football leagues will continue through next week, a vast majority of the championships will be decided in Week 16. Four months of hard work comes down to one matchup for all the marbles.
Fantasy owners who have made it this far understand the importance of making smart lineup decisions on a weekly basis. The choices of which players to start and which to sit have altered the outcome of countless matchups over the past few months.
That certainly doesn't change in the finals. With that in mind, let's take a look at where some borderline fantasy players fall for the all-important Week 16. The lists are followed by a breakdown of some tricky calls that will need to be made this weekend.
Start 'Em or Sit 'Em?
|Week 16 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em|
|Position||Start 'Em||Sit 'Em|
|QB||Andy Dalton (CIN)||Matt Ryan (ATL)|
|RB||Rashad Jennings (OAK)||Ray Rice (BAL)|
|WR||Michael Crabtree (SF)||Michael Floyd (ARZ)|
|TE||Delanie Walker (TEN)||Antonio Gates (SD)|
|K||Mason Crosby (GB)||Matt Bryant (ATL)|
|D||Cleveland Browns||Houston Texans|
|Fantasy Week 16|
Analyzing Toughest Decisions
Start: Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)
Coming into the season, Dalton was viewed mostly as a backup fantasy quarterback. He's exceeded those expectations and ranks 10th among quarterbacks in standard scoring, ahead of Tom Brady. That's certainly starter-level play from the Bengals star.
He's played especially well over the past couple weeks, racking up 49 points against the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers. With the rushing attack struggling to pick up any steam, Cincinnati has asked Dalton to take on a bigger role leading the offense, and he's responded.
The strong stretch should continue in Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings, who rank 30th in the league against the pass. Given his recent success, there's no reason to believe Dalton won't be able to put up over 20 points in a key game for Cincinnati.
Sit: Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens)
Fantasy owners who have reached the finals with Rice on their roster did a great job of building a strong squad around him because the Ravens running back didn't live up to his top billing. He's cracked the double-digit scoring mark just four times all season.
As Gerry Callahan of WEEI points out, the entire Baltimore offense has struggled this season. When a unit is that out of sync, it's tough for a ground-and-pound player like Rice to break out of his slump because defenses are packing the box.
So after another frustrating performance against the Detroit Lions on Monday night, it's best to leave Rice on the bench despite a favorable matchup with the New England Patriots. The Ravens back simply hasn't given any indication he's ready to break out.
Sit: Michael Floyd (Arizona Cardinals)
Just when it seemed like Floyd was on his way to becoming a fantasy force with three straight games of at least 99 yards, he's returned to the fantasy fringe. He's tallied just four catches for 59 yards over the past two weeks.
With Larry Fitzgerald being forced to go through league protocol after suffering a concussion, fantasy owners might be thinking about giving Floyd another chance. After all, if Arizona's top target ends up being unavailable, Floyd steps into the coveted No. 1 role.
There are two things working against Floyd, though. Most importantly, he's facing a terrific Seattle Seahawks defense that leads the league in pass defense. Then there's his ankle injury, which has limited his separation ability. Given those concerns, he's best left on the bench for Week 16.