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Week 16 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Advice on Fantasy Football Stars to Play or Bench

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 19, 2019

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) passes against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Images/Rick Osentoski)
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

You've sacrificed countless hours and maybe some combination of blood, sweat and tears to reach the championship round of your fantasy football playoffs.

Well, that or you just had an incredible run of good fortune.

Either way, you're here now—on the brink of championship bliss or a soul-crushing collapse.

Don't let a bad smart-or-sit decision send you to a woeful winter. Instead, use this guide to help you get through the critical gauntlet that is Week 16.

                 

Start 'Em

QB: Jameis Winston vs. Houston Texans

RB: Joe Mixon at Miami Dolphins

WR: DeVante Parker vs. Cincinnati Bengals

TE: Jacob Hollister vs. Arizona Cardinals

DEF: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets

K: Robbie Gould vs. Los Angeles Rams

                   

Sit 'Em

QB: Tom Brady vs. Buffalo Bills

RB: Carlos Hyde at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WR: Robby Anderson vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

TE: Jimmy Graham at Minnesota Vikings

DEF: Chicago Bears vs. Kansas City Chiefs

K: Nick Folk vs. Buffalo Bills

                   

Start: Jameis Winston vs. Houston Texans

Jameis Winston isn't simply on a roll, the guy is making history. He just became the first quarterback to pass for at least 450 yards in consecutive regular-season games ever.

Oh, and while this isn't quite as exclusive, he joined Lamar Jackson and Matt Ryan as the only players to finish among the top-two fantasy scoring quarterbacks in consecutive weeks this season.

This isn't a hot streak, it's water boiling over. His last two trips to the gridiron have yielded 914 passing yards and eight touchdown passes. The only way those are even video-game numbers is if some kind of cheat code has been enabled.

Winston has a tendency to run hot and cold (sometimes in the same game), but it's hard to see the Texans being the defense that cools him off. Houston ranks among the six worst defenses in passing touchdowns (30, tied for fourth-worst) and quarterback rating (100.8, sixth-worst) allowed.

                   

Sit: Tom Brady vs. Buffalo Bills

If you didn't know Tom Brady's history, you wouldn't even give starting him a second thought at this point.

He has topped 14 fantasy points once in his last six games. He most recently drew the Chiefs and Bengals in back-to-back weeks and didn't even throw for 300 yards combined in the contests. Six of his last nine outings have featured one or fewer touchdown passes.

We're 15 weeks into the season. This isn't a slow start. It's not an overreaction to raise the red flags.

Maybe it's the inevitable aging process of a 42-year-old professional athlete. Perhaps this is what happens when Rob Gronkowski is never really replaced, and the rushing attack struggles to get going. This offense and this quarterback have changed for the worse, at least in statistical terms.

Oh, and if you can't get Brady's past out of your head, we'd just point you to the part of it that involves this stingy Buffalo defense. Going back to 2017, he has just three touchdown passes against four interceptions over his last five games against the Bills.

                  

Start: Joe Mixon at Miami Dolphins

It's been a tale of three seasons for Joe Mixon.

Early on, it seemed his year would be wasted on an abysmal Bengals team with a shaky offensive line. Closer to the campaign's midpoint, Mixon showed just enough signs of life you wondered if he could snap out of his funk. And now, he's suddenly sprinting toward the finish line with enough burst to make Usain Bolt jealous.

Granted, this late surge of absurdity is only two games long, but we're buying for a few reasons.

For starters, the numbers are too extreme to ignore. He's touched the ball 54 times the last two weeks. That's enough volume to make him a star on its own. He's turned those chances into 342 scrimmage yards. For those who don't feel like doing any math, that's a whopping 6.3 yards per touch.

So, he's getting a bell cow's workload and electrifying with his touches like a change-of-pace spark. This might just be a special talent doing special things.

Finally, the matchup alone might make Mixon elite. The Dolphins allow the NFL's second-most rushing yards and third-most fantasy points to the position, per Yahoo Sports. If he can put 156 scrimmage yards on the Patriots, his ceiling against the Dolphins reaches the penthouse floor.