We've reached the second-to-last week of the 2019 NFL season. Fantasy managers who have made it this far are most likely in the playoffs and quite possibly in their championship games. This means the margin for error is completely nonexistent.
For most managers, getting to this point means they have a strong roster in place, but injuries and poor matchups could see them turning to the bench for the most critical game of the year. For example, Mike Evans is expected to miss the rest of the regular season, and Dalvin Cook could as well.
Here, we'll examine some of the top fringe starters and determine who is worth relying on and who should be avoided. We'll also dig deeper into some of the best matchups of Week 16.
Week 16 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Start 'Em: Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Start 'Em: Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Start 'Em: Breshad Perriman, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Start 'Em: Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Start 'Em: Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Start 'Em: Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins
Sit 'Em: Carlos Hyde, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sit 'Em: David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Sit 'Em: Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets
Sit 'Em: Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills
Sit 'Em: David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
Sit 'Em: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota Vikings
Matchup Spotlight: Marlon Mack vs. Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack had a pitiful outing against the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. He finished with just 19 rushing yards and a 1.7 yards-per-carry average. However, he should be in store for a bounce-back performance this week against the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers have been in a downward spiral, losing six in a row and parting with head coach Ron Rivera. More importantly, they've struggled against the run, allowing an average of 140.2 rushing yards per game. Only two teams have allowed more.
Meanwhile, the Colts have struggled to maintain a healthy receiving corps—Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, Eric Ebron and Chester Rogers are all on injured reserve. Indianapolis should lean on the run early and often, unless they get blown out early as they did against New Orleans.
Matchup Spotlight: Breshad Perriman vs. Houston Texans
With Evans out, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers relied on third wideout Breshad Perriman last week against the Detroit Lions. He responded by catching five passes for 113 yards and three touchdowns.
Perriman might not repeat his touchdown trifecta this week against the Houston Texans, but he should be in line for a strong performance. Houston ranks just 28th against the pass (266.1 yards per game allowed) and has surrendered 30 touchdown passes on the season.
In addition, the Buccaneers may be without fantasy superstar Chris Godwin. The third-year wide receiver is dealing with a hamstring injury and may join Evans on the sideline for the rest of the year.
"It doesn't look good," head coach Bruce Arians said, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times.
If Evans and Godwin are both out, Perriman should be Jameis Winston's top target at the wide receiver position.
Matchup Spotlight: Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins
Managers who don't own one of the elite tight ends—Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, George Kittle, Darren Waller—are likely streaming at the position even in the postseason. For those managers, Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki should be a viable option this week.
Geskcki hasn't yet graduated to the level of reliable fantasy starter. However, he has started to develop a rapport with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and has had the occasional big outing. Against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13, for example, he caught five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Last week, he caught four for 47 yards.
This week, Gesicki and the Dolphins have a favorable matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. While the Bengals have been a tougher challenge since the return of Andy Dalton to the starting lineup, their defense remains a liability.
Cincinnati ranks 15th in passing yards allowed per game (233.7). However, that number is misleading. Only the Oakland Raiders have allowed more yards per pass play (8.2) than the Bengals.