Fantasy football championships hang in the balance heading into Week 16. Every lineup decision is important for titles games, whether it is key positions like quarterback and running back or lineup fillers such as kickers and defenses.
No stone should be left unturned because there will be countless matchups decided by a handful of points. Often, it's making those right calls on fringe players that ends up being the difference in putting a team over the top when the dust settles.
Knowing that, let's check out where a group of fringe fantasy players belongs for title week in a vast majority of leagues. The lists are followed by a breakdown of some of the toughest calls fantasy owners are likely facing in Week 16.
Start 'Em or Sit 'Em?
|Position||Start 'Em||Sit 'Em|
|QB||Jay Cutler (CHI)||Andrew Luck (IND)|
|RB||Bobby Rainey (TB)||Rashard Mendenhall (ARZ)|
|WR||Julian Edelman (NE)||Steve Smith (CAR)|
|TE||Charles Clay (MIA)||Coby Fleener (IND)|
|K||Alex Henery (PHI)||Sebastian Janikowski (OAK)|
|D||Miami Dolphins||Green Bay Packers|
Fantasy Week 16
Examining Tough Calls
Start: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler's return from injury was successful as he threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns against a very solid Cleveland Browns defense. The performance should have been enough to eliminate any lingering worries his fantasy owners had following the layoff.
Being a successful quarterback is certainly a lot easier when Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are on the outside. The emergence of Jeffery as a serious threat in particular has allowed the Bears offense to take the next step.
This week, the high-powered Chicago passing attack goes up against the Philadelphia Eagles, which rank 31st against the pass, yielding 292 yards per game. They are going to have a very difficult time slowing down Marshall and Jeffery, leading to a big game for Cutler.
Sit: Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Rashard Mendenhall has returned to the fantasy radar after a very sluggish first half of the season. He's scored three touchdowns over the past two weeks, racking up 28 fantasy points over that span. Despite that recent success, he's still a matchup play.
Where does Mendenhall belong for Week 16?
In Week 16, the Cardinals go up against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense that ranks No. 1 overall and No. 10 against the run. The veteran back gained just 22 yards on 13 carries when the division rivals faced off earlier in the season.
While there's always a chance a short touchdown or two could allow him to post a solid score, fantasy owners cannot afford to rely on that because TDs are fleeting. Since the Seahawks are stout on defense, the downside outweighs the upside for Mendenhall this week.
Sit: Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers
After scoring 11 points in Week 1, Steve Smith has only cracked the double-digit barrier twice more despite playing every game. Furthermore, he hasn't scored more than 12 points all season, illustrating a lack of the big-play potential he had earlier in his career.
That lack of downfield ability, paired with a Panthers offense that leans heavily on its rushing attack, has made Smith a very risky fantasy play. That's further illustrated by the fact he hasn't even reached 70 receiving yards in a game this season.
If his lack of production wasn't enough for him to land on the fantasy bench, a matchup with the third-ranked New Orleans Saints pass defense should be. All signs point to another lackluster game in what's been a disappointing fantasy season for Smith.