Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 16: Smart Sleepers to Exploit and Lineup Advice

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2017

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 17: Martavis Bryant #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a pass in front of Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots for a 4 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game at Heinz Field on December 17, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Justin Berl/Getty Images

Only a select few advance to the championship round in fantasy football, and you never know when you'll return to compete for the ultimate prize whether it's a computer trophy, cash or bragging rights. Don't screw this up now. You're almost there. What's cooking on the start 'em, sit 'em radar in Week 16?

Fringe playoff teams have cranked up their competitive juices in an effort to finish well and clinch postseason berths. Playmakers for those clubs deserve your attention at a crucial time in reality and fantasyland.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't a lock to finish the season. Head coach Mike McCarthy says the team will monitor the starting quarterback leading up to Saturday's game.

For those who picked up Rodgers hoping he'd give you an extra boost, please consider a backup plan if the Packers signal-caller returns to clipboard-holding duties.

Dot your i's and cross your t's with some championship-level fantasy advice on matchups to exploit and sleeper picks below.


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QB Advice

1. Matthew Stafford vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Start 'Em 

2. Blake Bortles vs. San Francisco 49ers: Start 'Em

3. Philip Rivers vs. New York Jets: Start 'Em

4. Derek Carr vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Sit 'Em 

5. Marcus Mariota vs. Los Angeles Rams: Sit 'Em 


Smart Sleeper: Joe Flacco vs. Indianapolis Colts

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Owners left Joe Flacco on the bench through the first 12 weeks of the season. However, he's resurfaced as a QB2 over the past three games scoring at least 17 fantasy points in each of his last three outings.

The Baltimore Ravens have another fantasy-friendly matchup for quarterbacks in Week 16. Flacco should feast on the Indianapolis Colts pass defense, which allowed three scores, two through the air and one on the ground to Brock Osweiler in the previous week.

At 3-11, the Colts won't play with the same intensity as the Ravens (8-6) on the road. Typically, you can see the effects on the defense right away. Expect Flacco to extend his streak throwing for 250-plus yards to four games Saturday. Tack on at least two touchdown passes and he's a perfect sleeper pick.


RB Advice

1. Alex Collins vs. Indianapolis Colts: Start 'Em 

2. Kareem Hunt vs. Miami Dolphins: Start 'Em

3. Kenyan Drake vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Start 'Em

4. Samaje Perine vs. Denver Broncos: Sit 'Em 

5. Lamar Miller vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sit 'Em 


Smart Sleeper: Marshawn Lynch vs. Philadelphia Eagles

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17:  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during their NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 17, 2017 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)
Don Feria/Getty Images

In recent outings, the Oakland Raiders have fed Beast Mode. He's logged 16-plus carries in three of the last four games and scored a touchdown between Weeks 12-14. It's possible wideout Amari Cooper misses consecutive contests with an ankle injury, which likely means more carries for the team's featured back. 

Beware, Lynch lists as the riskiest choice among these sleeper picks because the Philadelphia Eagles field the No. 1 rushing defense in the league. However, with the Raiders leaning on the run more so than earlier in the season, Lynch should have a few shots to score at the goal line against a defense that allowed 29 points to the New York Giants in Week 15. 

Start Lynch as a touchdown-dependent RB2 or flex position player. He could potentially bring a high reward for those fantasy owners willing to roll the dice on him.


WR Advice

1. Devin Funchess vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Start 'Em 

2. Doug Baldwin vs. Dallas Cowboys: Start 'Em

3. Robert Woods vs. Tennessee Titans: Start 'Em 

4. Robby Anderson vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Sit 'Em 

5. Marquise Goodwin vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sit 'Em


Smart Sleeper: Martavis Bryant vs. Houston Texans

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 17: Martavis Bryant #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a pass in front of Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots for a 4 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game at Heinz Field on December 17, 2017 in Pit
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Antonio Brown owners watched in horror as he hobbled off the field into the blue tent then off to the locker room Sunday. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, he suffered a partially torn calf muscle, which likely ends his regular season. Though, he could return for the playoffs, which does nothing for fantasy teams.

For those looking for a quality replacement, look no further than Brown's teammates JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant. We'll focus on the latter since he's owned in fewer leagues 56 percent to Smith-Schuster's 86 percent.

Bryant registered four catches for 59 yards and scored against the New England Patriots defense in Week 15. He's going to see a favorable matchup with the Houston Texans, who allowed three touchdowns through the air in their previous outing with the Jacksonville Jaguars.


TE Advice

1. Jack Doyle vs. Baltimore Ravens: Start 'Em

2. Jared Cook vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Start 'Em 

3. Vernon Davis vs. Denver Broncos: Start 'Em

4. Evan Engram vs. Arizona Cardinals: Sit 'Em 

5. Delanie Walker vs. Los Angeles Rams: Sit 'Em 


Smart Sleeper: Eric Ebron vs. Cincinnati Bengals 

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 16: Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron #85 catches a touchdown pass over Chicago Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan #59 during the third quarter at Ford Field on December 16, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has targeted Eric Ebron 18 times in the last two contests. The fourth-year tight end has converted those opportunities into 15 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown.

Through four seasons, Ebron hasn't earned a reputation for reeling in touchdowns at a high rate, but he's seeing enough targets in the passing attack to warrant consideration in starting lineups.

According to Football Outsiders, the Cincinnati Bengals allow an average 7.4 catches for 60.2 yards to tight ends per contest, which bodes well for Ebron Sunday. He doesn't have the hottest name at his position but looks like a viable alternative if Jack Doyle isn't available in your league.


DEF Advice

1. Los Angeles Rams vs. Tennessee Titans: Start 'Em 

2. Los Angeles Chargers vs. New York Jets: Start 'Em

3. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans: Start 'Em

4. Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants: Sit 'Em 

5. New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons: Sit 'Em 


Smart Sleeper: Washington Redskins vs. Denver Broncos

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 17: Cornerback Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at FedEx Field on December 17, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph hasn't named a starter for Week 16, per Troy Renck of Denver 7 ABC:

Quarterback Trevor Siemian dislocated his shoulder in Week 15. Osweiler relived him and put together a productive performance, but the team may want to take a look at Paxton Lynch with the playoffs out of reach.

Lynch suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Raiders in Week 12. Pending his availability, the matchup for the Washington Redskins defense goes from good to must-start territory with the second-year signal-caller at the helm.

The Broncos struggled to move the ball before Osweiler took over, but he carved up a hapless Colts defense. Expect the Redskins to force turnovers and surrender few points regardless of who starts under center for Denver.


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