Fantasy Football Week 16 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: DeSean Jackson and More

Eric StashinSenior Writer IDecember 23, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 15:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Georgia Dome on December 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:

Start – Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons – at New Orleans
When Ryan squared off with the Saints earlier this season he went off for 351 yards, two TD and one INT.  That type of performance against New Orleans hasn’t been an aberration in ’12 as they are allowing 256.1 passing yards per game as well as 22 TD and eight INT. 

In his last two games he has seven TD against zero INT.  Before we think either team could take their foot off the gas pedal, the Falcons need one more win to clinch a playoff berth and the Saints need to keep winning in order to secure a first-round bye. 

We all know what the Saints offense is capable of and the Falcons have the passing offense to keep up.  The points could be plentiful and, with the way Ryan has been playing, it’s impossible to have him on your bench.

Sit – Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Cleveland
The Browns are among the best passing defenses in the league, both by yards (188.4, third fewest in the league) and TD (14, tied for third fewest in the league).  In his last performance against Cleveland Flacco, who has been inconsistent all season, threw for 158 yards, 0 TD and 0 INT (his second straight start against them of fewer than 160 yards). 

Throw in the fact that he has thrown for fewer than 227 yards in each of his past four games and how can you trust him with your fantasy season on the line?

Running Backs
Start – Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. St. Louis
There has been talk that Ben Roethlisberger could be given the week off to rest his ailing ankle, which makes perfect sense.  The Rams are the worst rushing defense in the league, allowing 153.4 rushing yards per game. 

Given that matchup you have to think that the Steelers are going to look to focus on the run, whether Roethlisberger is playing or not.  I know Mendenhall hasn’t been as good as we hoped, but now is not the time to shy away from him.

Start – Shonn Greene – New York Jets – vs. New York Giants
He rushed for 73 yards in Week 15 against Philadelphia, but we all know how that story played out.  The Jets went down big early and had to try and catch up.  We also know that the Jets offense works better when they are focusing on the run. 

Greene has gotten between 18 and 24 touches the past three games and is averaging 92.0 yards per game in his past four.  With the playoffs on the line, look for the Jets to try and get there by running the ball and with their defense. 

Sit – Peyton Hillis – Cleveland Browns – at Baltimore
He was supposed to be one of the better running backs in the league this season, but injuries ended those hopes.  Even now that he’s back on the field he has been less than stellar.  Sure, he rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown in Week 15, but that was against the Arizona Cardinals. 

The matchup this week is incomparable, as in four career games against the Ravens Hillis is averaging just 56.0 yards per game with one TD scored (he also has just 11 receptions and 0 receiving TD). 

Sit – Ryan Grant – Green Bay Packers – vs. Chicago
He has had a renaissance the past few weeks, but the matchup with the Bears alone would make Grant a risk (98.7 rushing yards per game and nine total TD allowed).  Throw in the fact that both James Starks and Brandon Saine are back practicing and could return this week and you realize just how much risk there is in trusting Grant.  You should be able to find a better option.

Wide Receivers (Two Receiver Formats)
Start – Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos – at Buffalo
Is there a little bit of risk involved in starting him?  Given the run-oriented attack the Broncos employ, it is pretty obvious there is.  But, does that mean we simply ignore his recent performance?  Over the past three games he has 18 receptions for 338 yards and 3 TD.  The reward outweighs the risk, especially when you consider that Buffalo has allowed 26 passing TD on the season.

Sit – DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles – at Dallas
As much as we want to trust him, how can we?  Since Week 5 he has scored one TD and has more games of fewer than 35 yards (four) than above 70 (two).  He also has failed to exceed 88 yards over these eight games. 

How did he do against the Cowboys in his Week 8 matchup?  He produced to the tune of three receptions and 31 yards.  In this case there is far too much risk to trust him in shallower formats.

Wide Receivers (Three Receiver Formats)
Start – Santana Moss – Washington Redskins – vs. Minnesota
He’s been streaking of late, having scored in back-to-back games.  Against a Vikings defense that has allowed 31 passing TD, you have to think that there is a good chance that he makes it three in a row.  Jabar Gaffney, who also has been playing well of late, can also be considered a good play in deeper formats.

Sit – Golden Tate – Seattle Seahawks – vs. San Francisco
He is emerging as the best receiver option in Seattle, but that doesn’t make him a good play against a tough 49ers’ defense.  Even during his “breakout” he has just 11 receptions for 147 yards and one TD.  Clearly there isn’t enough there to get excited about. 

Make sure to check out all of our Week 16 articles: