Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 16: Advice for Unfavorable Fantasy Football Matchups

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2018

Philadelphia Eagles' Alshon Jeffery reacts to a play during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Los Angeles . (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Quality matchups arguably have a bigger role than ever in fantasy football outcomes as the NFL heads into Week 16. 

With fantasy owners either in title games or runner-up brackets, those who lean into the matchups game will typically come out ahead. A week ago, Andrew Luck struggling to 9.68 points in a bad matchup against a strong Dallas Cowboys defense, for example, likely ruined a few seasons when owners could have picked up a streamer in a good situation. 

These tough decisions aren't going anywhere. Before the pair of Saturday games kicks off, let's compare the value of notable matchups and weigh start-sit decisions for some of the tougher situations around the league. 

      

QB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Russell Wilson (vs. KC) vs. Ben Roethlisberger (at NO)Russell Wilson
Aaron Rodgers (at NYJ) vs. Deshaun Watson (at PHI)Aaron Rodgers
Patrick Mahomes (at SEA) vs. Andrew Luck (vs. NYG)Andrew Luck
Matt Ryan (at CAR) vs. Baker Mayfield (vs. CIN)Baker Mayfield
Philip Rivers (vs. BAL) vs. Marcus Mariota (vs. WAS)Philip Rivers
Author's opinion

Start: Philip Rivers, LAC (vs. BAL)

It looks bad, but don't give up on Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers because of a bad matchup. 

Yes, Rivers has to deal with a Baltimore Ravens defense allowing the fourth-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks on average this season. But the borderline MVP candidate has put up 20 or more points in four of his last five outings and thrown multiple touchdowns in all but one appearance this season. 

Owners who give Baltimore's numbers some scrutiny will come out happy, too. The Ravens have held three of their last four quarterbacks faced to single-digit performances...but those quarterbacks are Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan and Derek Carr. Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton and Patrick Mahomes have all hit on 19 or more points against the unit, dating back to Week 8. 

Rivers is at home, meaning he should still produce. 

      

Sit: Jared Goff, LAR (at ARI) 

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The Jared Goff slump should continue in Week 16 as he hits the road for a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. 

The Cardinals aren't a good team, but they quietly surrender the sixth-fewest points to quarterbacks. 

Goff is having a hard time even without bad matchups, as he hasn't reached the 12-point mark in three consecutive weeksa far cry from his six trips above the 20-point mark this season. 

The Cardinals have held Russell Wilson under 10 points while also struggling against Rivers and Patrick Mahomes. Goff reached 19.36 points against the unit in the teams' previous matchup, but that was in Week 2, and Goff hasn't looked close to that level of play of late. 

       

RB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Todd Gurley (at ARI) vs. Nick Chubb (vs. CIN)Todd Gurley
Joe Mixon (at CLE) vs. Chris Carson (vs. KC)Joe Mixon
Derrick Henry (vs. WAS) vs. Saquon Barkley (at IND)Derrick Henry
Christian McCaffrey (vs. ATL) vs. Ezekiel Elliott (vs. TB)Christian McCaffrey
Alvin Kamara (vs. PIT) vs. Dalvin Cook (at DET)Alvin Kamara
Author's opinion

Start: Derrick Henry, TEN (vs. WAS) 

Derrick Henry bullying defenses in December is what most fantasy owners dream of during initial drafts. 

The Tennessee Titans running back has outings of 47.8 and 29.74 points over his last two appearances, with the expected dip in production after going for 40-plus not nearly as bad as it could have been. 

On paper, one might think Henry takes another big dip against a Washington Redskins defense allowing the 13th-fewest points to the position. But the Redskins are spiraling out of control and are just two weeks removed from letting Saquon Barkley run wild for 27.7 points. 

Henry isn't Barkley, but one of the league's hottest hands should cruise against a fading team. 

       

Sit: Matt Breida, SF (vs. CHI) 

The good news? The San Francisco 49ers' final injury report indicates Breida will play after he practiced in a limited capacity all week. 

The bad news, of course, is a matchup against the Chicago Bears. 

Breida has been a fun story this year for fantasy owners. A bright spot on a bad team, he has 12 or more points in three of his last four appearances. But he also missed Week 14 through injury, and an upcoming matchup with the Bears means staring down the defense allowing the third-fewest points to his position. 

In fact, the Bears have only allowed double-digit points to backs seven times this year. So while game flow might give Breida plenty of looks if he stays healthy, he might find more room running at a brick wall. 

                         

WR

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Mike Evans (at DAL) vs. T.Y. Hilton (vs. NYG)Mike Evans
DeAndre Hopkins (at PHI) vs. Davante Adams (at NYJ)DeAndre Hopkins
Julio Jones (at CAR) vs. Tyler Lockett (vs. KC)Julio Jones
Jarvis Landry (vs. CIN) vs. Michael Thomas (vs. PIT)Michael Thomas
JuJu Smith-Schuster (at NO) vs. Stefon Diggs (at DET)JuJu Smith-Schuster
Author's opinion

Start: Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs. HOU)

Things aren't what they seem for Alshon Jeffery as the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Houston Texans. 

He looks to be in a bad matchup, considering the Texans allow the ninth-fewest points to wideouts. But keep in mind Jeffery will once again get to play with Nick Foles

Weird as it is, fantasy owners shouldn't complain. 

With 14- and 20-point performances over his last two outings, Jeffery should keep hovering around the same number in Week 16 thanks to the circumstances above, as well as the fact that this one could turn into a shootout.

        

Sit: Jordy Nelson, OAK (vs. DEN) 

Oakland Raiders wideout Jordy Nelson predictably did well for a favorable stretch of matchups, scoring 7.8 or more points in three consecutive outings in good situations. 

That ends in Week 16. 

Now Nelson has to deal with the Denver Broncos again, a team that held him to four points in Week 2. While a long time ago, little has changed, with Oakland still struggling offensively and Denver allowing the 15th-fewest points to wideouts. 

Nelson remains a matchup-based play, hence three-single digit outings in a row starting in Week 6, not to mention a negative performance in Week 12. He won't be that bad against the Broncos, but he won't be very helpful, either. 

      

TE

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
George Kittle (vs. CHI) vs. Nick Vannett (vs. KC)Nick Vannett
Evan Engram (at IND) vs. Jared Cook (vs. DEN)Jared Cook
Travis Kelce (at SEA) vs. David Njoku (vs. CIN)Travis Kelce
Eric Ebron (vs. NYG) vs. Zach Ertz (vs. HOU)Zach Ertz
Trey Burton (at SF) vs. Jaylen Samuels (at NO)Trey Burton
Author's opinion

Start: Trey Burton, CHI (at SF) 

Trey Burton went missing for weeks on fantasy owners, scoring single digits in every game from Week 8 until an 11.6-point showing in his last time out. 

Owners shouldn't have any hard feelings for the Bears tight end though, as the seven targets and his sixth touchdown of the year could be a good sign going into a game against a 49ers defense allowing the seventh-fewest points to tight ends. 

The 49ers are a few weeks removed from allowing Cameron Brate to hit double digits and score a touchdown, and they only have strong numbers over the past few weeks because they played Brian Parker and Ed Dickson. Burton, on the other hand, should produce. 

      

Sit: George Kittle, SF (vs. CHI)

Clearly, the 49ers are a no-fly zone in Week 16 against the Bears. 

George Kittle has to get a mention here because he is one of this year's biggest breakout stars at any position, hitting double digits nine times with a high of 30.5 points in Week 14. 

Problem is, Kittle melted away in a tough matchup against Seattle in Week 15, scoring 6.6 points. He's due for a repeat against a defense allowing the 10th-fewest points to his position. 

Opposing tight ends haven't reached double-digit production against the Bears since Week 6, nor have they scored a touchdown since Week 8. 

        

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues (half-PPR).     

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