Week 16 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Top Players to Bench and Ideal Replacement Options

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Running back Rashard Mendenhall #28 of the Arizona Cardinals  carries the ball prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Heading into the fantasy football championship in most leagues, you have to make sure to get the best lineup out there, even if that removes some obvious names.

No matter how well you have done to this point, fantasy football is a week-to-week operation. Players who have helped you in the past might not do the same in the future. For this reason, it is important to give yourself other options, with players who can carry your team to a title.

Here is a look at fantasy stars to avoid in Week 16 and targets you can possibly find off waivers to replace them. 



Sit: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 15:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the NFL game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Those who waited to draft a quarterback had to be thrilled with the production of Andrew Luck this season. The second-year player has scored the fourth-most fantasy points at the position this year and is productive in virtually every game. 

However, he has slowed down tremendously in recent weeks, passing for 200 yards or fewer in three of the last four games. 

This week, he faces a Kansas City Chiefs defense that has been tough on opposing quarterbacks all season. Things could be even tougher if Justin Houston returns to action after missing the past few weeks. According to Adam Teicher of ESPN, the linebacker is "preparing to play" on Sunday.

On the road in a hostile environment, Luck could struggle to post big numbers.


Start: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 8:  Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick #4 of the Tennessee Titans in action against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on December 8, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

There is certainly risk associated with starting Ryan Fitzpatrick in a championship game, but he showed last week that he is capable of a big game.

The veteran threw for over 400 yards with four touchdowns against a quality Arizona Cardinals defense in Week 15. This marked the fifth time he totaled at least 14 fantasy points in his six starts since taking over for the injured Jake Locker. He has averaged 18.7 points per game in this stretch.

Fitzpatrick should be able to keep this up against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

The unit has allowed 20-point games to Carson Palmer, EJ Manuel and Brandon Weeden, and Fitzpatrick should be able to earn his second such game against this squad in Week 16. 


Running Back

Sit: Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals

After a rough stretch in the middle of the season, Rashard Mendenhall has fared well in recent weeks, averaging 12 fantasy points in the past four games. This includes a season-high 18 points against the Tennessee Titans in Week 15.

Unfortunately, that is where the strong play should end with a road game against the Seattle Seahawks upcoming.

There are certainly teams that have found a way to run against this stout defense this year. However, few have been able to crack the end zone, as the Seahawks are tied for the league lead with only four rushing touchdowns allowed.

Considering how touchdown-dependent Mendenhall has been this season, he is not worth the start.


Start: Dennis Johnson, Houston Texans

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 10:  Running back Dennis Johnson #28 of the Houston Texans carries the ball against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

With Ben Tate officially out for the year, Dennis Johnson will get a chance to start for the Houston Texans, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

The young running back already has a fan in offensive tackle Duane Brown, who said:

He has some talent. He has a low center of gravity. He runs very hard. He plays with a lot of intensity. In our scheme, he makes that one cut, and he’s going downhill. I think he’s really going to help us.

Johnson has fared well when given the chance this season. He had one big game against the Jacksonville Jaguars when he totaled 74 rushing yards on 13 carries. The rest of the year has been little more than a few random plays behind Arian Foster and Tate. 

Still, the running back has the talent and now the opportunity to shine. Against a Denver Broncos defense that is no longer scary against the run, he should have a fine game.


Wide Receiver

Sit: Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 30: Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons runs with a catch against Leonard Johnson #29 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome on December 30, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

In Week 13, it finally appeared that Roddy White was "back" with a 10-catch, 143-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills. He followed that up with a solid showing of eight catches for 74 receiving yards.

Unfortunately, he continued his decline with only 53 receiving yards on five receptions in Week 15. This negative trend is likely to keep going against the San Francisco 49ers defense, a unit that has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points at the position this year.

White has still only scored one touchdown while moving in and out of the lineup due to various injuries this season. Unless he breaks one long play, it is unlikely he provides fantasy owners with a useful performance for this important week.


Start: Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

When people think about the Seahawks offense, most of them picture a strong rushing attack led by Marshawn Lynch. Although this is not wrong, it is also important to note that the team can pass the ball when it wants to, as RJ Bell of Grantland points out:

It might be necessary to throw the ball a lot against the Arizona Cardinals and the No. 1 run defense in the NFL.

Doug Baldwin will be the biggest beneficiary of this strategy after averaging a solid 66.3 receiving yards over the past six games. He also had four touchdowns in this time as he has been one of the more consistent fantasy options in football.

If you need help at receiver this week, Baldwin is as good of an option you will find available.


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