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Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 16: The Little Guys to Play and Big Names to Avoid

Jeremy AlpertSenior Analyst IIDecember 23, 2010

Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 16: The Little Guys to Play and Big Names to Avoid

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    Every week there are certain fantasy studs that you simply have to start no matter what, such as Peyton Manning, Chris Johnson, and Roddy White. 

    There are also a good number of players you know you should sit each week, such as a fringe player going up against a tough rush D like Brandon Jackson this Sunday against the New York Giants.  

    And then there are those players with whom you have no idea whether you should Start 'Em or Sit 'Em.

    Here are a few not so obvious guys at each major fantasy position that you might not know what to do with, but the stats and information we’ve found say otherwise.

Quarterbacks that Could Make or Break Your Week

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    Josh Freeman (vs Sea)

    The only game Freeman didn’t throw for a touchdown pass in this year was against the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Week 3.  That said, he also hasn’t thrown for three TDs on the year either.  If you start him you’re taking a bit of a gamble, but playing down south in Tampa against the Seahawks' awful pass D, you might do well in taking a chance on him.


    Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs NE)

    Ryan’s first game of the year was against these Patriots in Week 3 and after he put up 247 yards and two TDs against them, he hasn’t slowed down since.  I expect those same numbers to be right around what he puts up in this game as well.


    Chad Henne (vs Det)

    Henne won’t be too bad of a play this weekend against an average Lions pass defense if you’re looking for a QB2 to round out your squad.  Chad has always put up much better stats in the comfort of his own home than on the road and with Brandon Marshall healthy and playing better lately, he might be worth a look.



the Unforeseen Running Backs that Could Put You Over the Top

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    Ryan Torain (@ Jax)

    After his 172 yard outburst in Week 14, Torain came out to put up 101 total yards and a TD last weekend against the Cowboys.  The Jaguars have about as bad of a defense as Dallas does, so to expect any less would be uncivilized.


    Fred Jackson (vs NE)

    The Bills will need Freddy to perform well in this one if they expect to keep the game close.  He’s not a special back by any means, but he is the type who can do it all and will be asked to do so this Sunday.  100 total yards and a TD isn’t out of the question.


    Danny Woodhead (@ Buf)

    Danny Woodhead needs to be a household name.  The records this kid set at his High School in North Platte, Wisconsin, and at his D-II school at Chadron State College are simply staggering.  I mean Madden 2011-style staggering. 

    The kid averaged 183 rushing yards/game over FOUR YEARS at Chadron State (212.0 was his highest average—junior Year) and had 109 total TDs during that time (38 was his most—junior year). 

    He rushed for more than 200 yards in 19 of his 39 appearances and scored in 37 straight contests, both NCAA records. 

    Just to top it all off, Woodhead also ran track in high school for one year and broke his school’s 100-meter record with a time of 10.5 seconds.  Undrafted or not, this kid is special.

    Beyond that, watch Brady use him extensively out of the backfield this week against a Buffalo defense that covers receivers fairly well—but not so much the quick little running backs.


    Ryan Mathews (@ Cin)

    I can actually see the rookie getting 20 touches this weekend against a Bengals team that won’t be able to put up much of a fight.  How much that produces from a fantasy aspect, I’m not sure, but he’s definitely worth playing as a flex this Sunday.



Wide Receivers Who Will Go Above and Beyond this Week

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Brandon Marshall (vs Det)

    Marshall’s yearly end of the season roll is in full effect right now after catching 11 balls for 106 yards and a touchdown last weekend.  Have faith in his ego and start him confidently against the Lions this weekend.


    Anquan Boldin (@ Cle)

    Boldin’s play has been erratic this season, but his finest game of the year by far came against Cleveland when he went off for 142 yards and three touchdowns back in the beginning of the season.  Expect some solid play from ‘Quan this Sunday.


    Lance Moore (@ Atl)

    Moore had the game of his life in their first meeting, putting up 149 yards and two TDs on six catches.  It won’t happen again, but he should still have a nice game against this very beatable pass D.


    Kevin Walter (@ Den)

    Houston is passing the ball a ton right now as Matt Schaub has 116 pass attempts in the last two weeks combined.  Besides that, the Texans happen to be facing the Broncos which might be the worst all-around defensive squad in the league.  Champ Bailey will likely be shadowing Andre Johnson all day and if he does, look for Walter to get another 10 targets or so like he has in each of the last two games.  He could be a real nice sleeper here.



You Have to Understand the Patriots to Know When to Play Him

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Rob Gronkowski (@ Buf)

    Aaron Hernandez has been ruled out, so Big Rob could have the game of his life today.  Both tight ends did well in the last match-up (combined for nine catches, 108 yards and a TD), with Gronkowski walking away with the second TD of his career.  The Bills don’t have enough of a pass rush for the Pats to have to keep the big fella in to block, so I expect he’ll be out there hauling in passes with one of them going for another TD in this one.



Normally these Quarterbacks are Worth Playing But Not this Week

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Eli Manning (@ GB)

    Coming off of a four TD performance, I’d love to rank him higher but I can’t.  The Packers held Brady to his worst week in half a season last Sunday night, so you really can’t expect Eli to do much better, can you?  The ceiling is around 200 yards and two TDs, so if you’re willing to take a chance on that being your QB output, go right ahead.


    Jay Cutler (vs NYJ)

    This game has the looks of coming down to the better harsh condition field goal kicker, which doesn’t bode well for fantasy production.  Rex Ryan knows how Cutler freaks out when pressured, so I expect a ton of various blitz packages being thrown at him all game long.  The Jets’ cover corners are good enough to keep a short passing game in check, so temper your expectations of Jay this weekend.


    Carson Palmer (vs SD)

    While passing through Cincinnati this weekend, I stopped by the local Wendy’s and was greeted by none other than the store manager himself, Carson Palmer!  I congratulated him on his new job as he handed me my Baconator Triple.  Best handoff I’ve ever had...

    Which is exactly what he'll be doing with Terrell Owens out for the year and Chad Ochocinco likely to play just half the snaps this game.  This guy's career is done.  Don't let him ruin your Fantasy team in the process.



these RBs Have Given You Some Fine Production Lately But it Won't Continue

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Matt Forte (vs NYJ)

    Forte looks as good as he has in his entire career right now, and he’ll be counted on to produce some tough yards this Sunday.  He’s had a lot of trouble in the past against crushing rush defenses like the Jets have, but with enough touches, he could put up low-end RB2 fantasy numbers by the end of the game.  Don't count on it though.


    Jonathan Stewart (@ Pit)

    A lot of people gave up on Stewart earlier in the year, and if you’re one of them, you’re likely pretty bummed you did.  Over his last four games, Stewart has averaged 115 yards on 5.9 yards per carry and though he won’t come close to these numbers against the Steelers,  he might be able to take one into the endzone; that is if the Panthers ever cross the 50 yard line.


    Brandon Jacobs (@ GB)

    Jacobs won’t be able to do much against the Packers' front seven, so temper your expectations in this one.  Ten carries might be his max in this one as you can expect the Giants to roll with the dynamic Ahmad Bradshaw more often than not.


    Thomas Jones (vs Ten)

    Jones just isn’t getting enough touches anymore to do the type of fantasy damage you’re looking for at this point in the season.  With the Titans only giving up seven rushing TDs on the year (the reason you’d be playing TJ anyway), you can’t very well depend on him this fantasy playoff week.



Tough to Sit these Big Name Players But You'll Be Glad You Did

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Sidney Rice (@ Phi)

    Rice is a superior talent but so is Asante Samuel.  If Samuel sticks with Sidney all game long, your best hope at production is if Webb (or Favre) tosses a jump ball up in the endzone so Rice can use his 6’4” height to snag it.  Otherwise, he’s a long shot for good numbers in this one.


    Braylon Edwards (@ Chi)

    Mark Sanchez’s arm is too weak to heave it down field to Braylon in this weather, so unless a lucky pass falls into his lap, don’t expect a whole hell of a lot in Chicago on Sunday.  Besides, the Bears have only allowed 12 passing TDs this season, good for second in the league.


    Chad Ochocinco (vs SD)

    Ochocinco is dealing with bone spurs in his ankle and might not even play in this game.  If he does, he’ll be limited to half the snaps he normally would take and won’t be worth your time.  The Chargers defense is just too good to take a chance.


    Johnny Knox (vs NYJ)

    Knox is still the biggest threat in the Bears’ offense, even if Bennett is now a bit of a safer play.  Is it possible he gets behind Darrelle Revis and company for a long one?  Yeah it’s possible, but hardly worth risking your fantasy Super Bowl on it.




He Was Great All Year But You Have to Follow His Recent Trend

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Brandon Pettigrew (@ Mia)

    Pettigrew has been exactly what the Lions drafted in the first round last year.  A big body who has the ability to catch and run with the ball like a giant wide receiver.  However, the last few weeks have been fantasy duds.  Shaun Hill might be able to turn that around, but he also has the fourth ranked Miami defense against tight ends working against him.



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