Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 16: Final Verdict on Risky Stars

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2016

Dec 15, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) throws a touchdown pass to tight end Fred Davis (83) (not shown) against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Now more than ever, fantasy owners cannot afford a mistake when it comes to their risky stars that have helped them to this point.

With the fantasy playoffs winding to their conclusion, each remaining lineup surely has stars who have experienced up-and-down seasons. The owner who can properly predict which stars will shine and falter in Week 16 will come away with a surefire win.

Through careful analysis of matchups, trends and other factors, this feat is rather easily accomplished for those willing to invest the time in the research. That, or suave enough to find a trustworthy source.


Note: All fantasy scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues. Points-against info courtesy of ESPN.



Start 'Em: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (vs. DAL)

Oct 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

What, too early to call Kirk Cousins a star?

Sure, Cousins is only owned in 6.9 percent of leagues, but he is a legitimate starter in all formats. But as head coach Mike Shanahan told the media, via's Gregg Rosenthal, the offense hardly changed with Cousins under center:

You have the same dropback, you have the same ability to run quarterback keeps or half-rolls or bootlegs, waggles, different types of screens depending what the defense is giving you, so that's part of our offensive scheme.

Shanahan is referring to his team's Week 15 contest against Atlanta, where Cousins threw for 381 yards and three scores—good for 21 fantasy points.

Now Cousins gets a shot at Dallas, a defense that has allowed backups Matt McGloin, Josh McCown and Matt Flynn to combine for 902 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions the last three weeks. The Dallas defense allows a league-worst 21.4 points on average to quarterbacks.

Cousins is hitting his stride in a favorable matchup just in time for owners.


Sit 'Em: Eli Manning, New York Giants (at DET)

Dec 15, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) sits on the ground after being sacked by the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Week 15 was special for Eli Manning—he threw for 156 yards and five interceptions.

Manning has now failed to surpass 20 fantasy points since Week 1, and to make matters worse, he will be without star wideout Victor Cruz in Week 16, per ESPN:

Detroit only allows an average of 15.3 points to quarterbacks. Manning may hit that number, but it is wise to bet on the under.


Running Backs

Start 'Em: Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (vs. OAK)

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 12:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers runs for a 23-yard touchdown during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on December 12, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Ryan Mathews has gone from a seemingly perennial fantasy wasteland to one of the most reliable backs the league has to offer in recent weeks.

Such is life for fantasy owners.

Mathews has scored 11 or more points in five of his last six games. As NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano points out, he is in some exclusive company this year:

Expect a sixth for Mathews against Oakland, a team that ranks in the top 10 in terms of points allowed to running backs with an average of 19.1 per game. Mathews is in for a huge day.


Sit 'Em: Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens (vs. NE)

Dec 16, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) runs the ball during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Rice has been mostly nonexistent this year thanks to nagging injuries and a woeful offensive line. Things are set to get worse in Week 16 against New England as ESPN illustrates:

Rice has scored 10 or more points in just four games this year, has rushed for over 100 yards once and has a 3.1 yards-per-carry average.

Rice has hurt owners all year long, and there is simply no reason to believe he will turn things around in Week 16. Oh, and he is listed as questionable on the injury report. Stay away.


Wide Receivers

Start 'Em: Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (at BUF)

Dec 15, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) celebrates his touchdown against the New England Patriots in the first half of the game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Wallace is another big name who simply underperformed for the first half of the season and change but is now putting it all together when fantasy owners need him most.

Wallace has scored 14 or more points in three of his past four weeks, with his single-point outing coming in Week 14 against Pittsburgh—a matchup smart owners should have passed on anyway.

But Week 16 the forecast is beautiful with a trip to Buffalo on the menu. The Bills allow the fourth-most points to the position at 24.9 on average. A minimum of 14 for Wallace yet again is not out of the question.


Sit 'Em: Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (at SF)

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 01:   Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a catch against the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre on December 1, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario.Atlanta won 34-31 in overtime.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Speaking of that Buffalo defense, the Bills made it seem like Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White was back to his elite fantasy form in Week 13 as he caught 10 balls for 143 yards for 14 points.

So much for that.

Recent weeks have not been kind to White. He has scored less than 10 in two straight, and his 14-point outing in Buffalo remains his only journey over 10 this year.

It gets worse. White is not breaking the 10-point barrier for the second time this year in Week 16 when the Falcons travel to San Francisco to fight a 49ers defense that ranks fourth-best against wide receivers with an average of 15.4 points allowed.


Tight Ends

Start 'Em: Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins (at BUF)

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08:  Charles Clay #42 of the Miami Dolphins scores on a 12 yards touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 8, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Imag
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Everyone expected Charles Clay to be a top-10 scorer at tight end by this point in the season, right?

No? Well, he is. Clay failed to record a point in Week 15 against New England, but that was his first time doing so all year.

Clay has scored more than 10 points in five games this year, including one foray over 20. Week 16 is a matchup with Buffalo, a team he scored six on earlier in the year courtesy of one reception that went for a touchdown. 

At a miserable position, Clay is a must-start despite a bad outing a week ago.


Sit 'Em: Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (at PHI)

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Martellus Bennett #83 of the Chicago Bears rushes after a catch against the St. Louis Rams in the second quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 24, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Michael Thomas/Getty Images

Martellus Bennett is the inverse of most on this list. He started the year strong but has fallen off a fantasy cliff in recent weeks with the postseason underway. 

Bennett has scored a combined 10 points in his last three outings and has hit double-digit production once since Week 2.

To make matters worse, Philadelphia allows the third-fewest points to tight ends with an average of 5.2 allowed per game. Bennett may not even reach that with most of the touches going to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in recent weeks.


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