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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 16: Examining Fringe Fantasy Decisions for Title Games

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 15: Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bears defeated the Browns 38-31. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2013

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?

Week 16 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
PositionStart 'EmSit 'Em
QBJay Cutler (CHI)Andrew Luck (IND)
RBBobby Rainey (TB)Rashard Mendenhall (ARZ)
WRJulian Edelman (NE)Steve Smith (CAR)
TECharles Clay (MIA)Coby Fleener (IND)
KAlex Henery (PHI)Sebastian Janikowski (OAK)
DMiami DolphinsGreen Bay Packers
Fantasy Week 16

 

Examining Tough Calls

Start: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 10: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears scrambles against the New York Giants during the first quarter on October 10, 2013 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

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

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Running back Rashard Mendenhall #28 of the Arizona Cardinals  runs upfield against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers September 29, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  Arizona won 13 - 10. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Im
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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.

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

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 03:  Joplo Bartu #59 and William Moore #25 of the Atlanta Falcons tackle Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers after a first down reception during play at Bank of America Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

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.

 

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