Week 16 of the fantasy football season features the championship game in most leagues, and owners are desperate to sift through the start 'em, sit 'em for this crucial portion of the season to find the duds that will cost them a title.
There is nothing worse than starting the wrong player in such a key moment.
All of the following fantasy superstars will be classified as busts this week and will ruin your championship dreams if you start them.
*Based on standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats via Yahoo! Sports.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald has been one of the most exciting players in the NFL and one of the most consistent players in fantasy football for almost a decade. Despite a budding rapport with quarterback Carson Palmer, owners should think twice about starting Fitzgerald this week.
Not only are the Arizona Cardinals playing a Seattle Seahawks defensive unit that allows the second-fewest points per game to opposing wide receivers (14.89), but Fitzgerald is also coming off a concussion suffered at the end of last week’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
According to Kent Somers of Arizona Central, the veteran wide receiver did not practice Wednesday but is expected to play in Week 16. While he may get the start for Arizona, fantasy owners shouldn’t make the same mistake.
After watching Fitzgerald held to just six receptions for 49 yards and zero touchdowns against Tennessee, hearing that he is missing practice time this week and understanding the dominance of the Seahawks secondary, owners must take the educated risk and sit him on the bench.
Predicted Week 16 Stat Line: Five receptions for 50 yards and zero touchdowns.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Fantasy owners have been discouraged by the performance of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan all season, and the same should be expected this week in a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
Add in the fact that the game is in San Francisco, and Ryan owners are cringing.
Ryan’s offensive woes in 2013 are nothing new, which means the owners who have made it this far in the playoffs likely have a feasible backup option. Whether it’s Matt Flynn, Kirk Cousins or even Jason Campbell, there are players on the bench or the waiver wire worthier of a start than Ryan.
The Falcons have been futile offensively. While all the blame doesn’t belong on the shoulders of Ryan, he threw for just 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the burnable Washington Redskins in Week 15.
If Ryan can’t beat Washington’s secondary, fantasy owners shouldn’t believe he’ll bounce back against a San Francisco defense giving up just 13.34 points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Predicted Week 16 Stat Line: 250 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants
The New York Giants have been terrible this season, but running back Andre Brown has been a bright spot since returning from a broken leg in Week 10. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, the futility of the passing attack will hamper Brown’s numbers.
Brown was a workhorse upon his return, amassing over 100 yards in two of his first three games back as the team’s starter. As Eli Manning continued turning the ball over at will (including five interceptions against Seattle last Sunday), defenses began to stack the box against Brown.
After racking up just 17 yards on 11 carries against the Seahawks, fantasy owners have reason to be concerned.
New York goes up against the Detroit Lions in Week 16. On the surface, this is a winnable matchup for the Giants, but Brown owners hate to see Detroit on the schedule. The Lions are giving up a stingy 16.72 points per game to opposing running backs.
Brown’s lack of success in Week 15 and the tough matchup against Detroit make for the perfect dud storm. Bench him this week and find a player with a more favorable matchup.
Predicted Week 16 Stat Line: 14 carries for 40 yards and zero touchdowns, three receptions for 15 yards and zero touchdowns.