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

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 21, 2019

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks to pass in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Gary Landers/Associated Press

Fantasy football decisions aren't made in a vacuum.

Even if Player A is a superior talent to Player B, there might be a litany of reasons why Player B is the better fantasy option any given week. Matchup strength—for both players—is chief among those reasons.

Tricky matchups have our focus this week, as we'll break down two players we're sitting in tough matchups and one we're starting anyway after laying out our top start-or-sit calls at each spot.

                    

Week 16 Top Starts

QB: Jameis Winston vs. Houston Texans

RB: Joe Mixon at Miami Dolphins

WR: Terry McLaurin vs. Washington Redskins

TE: Hunter Henry at Los Angeles Chargers

K: Jason Sanders vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Defense: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets

                       

Week 16 Top Sits

QB: Tom Brady vs. Buffalo Bills

RB: Carlos Hyde at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WR: John Brown at New England Patriots

TE: Jason Witten at Philadelphia Eagles

K: Jake Elliott vs. Dallas Cowboys

Defense: Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints

                     

Advice for Unfavorable Week 16 Matchups

Sit Tom Brady vs. Buffalo

Save for the jersey, nothing is the same with Tom Brady this season. Not the receiving core, not the efficiency, not the volume production.

If someone could wipe your mind clean of all Brady memories, you wouldn't give starting him a second thought. He has topped 15 fantasy points once in his last six starts. Seven of his last nine outings have featured one or no touchdown passes. His 60.1 completion percentage is tied for the lowest among the 14 players to attempt 445-plus throws.

Even remembering some of Brady's history doesn't really help here. For instance, you probably aren't pinning your hopes on the fact he typically motors down in the final stretch.

"He has traditionally been a worse fantasy QB in the fantasy playoffs than he was during the regular season," ESPN's Matthew Berry noted. "Case in point: Four of Brady's past five games with fewer than 7.5 fantasy points came in Weeks 15-17."

Also, this matchup does Brady zero favors. In his last five games against the Bills, he has only three touchdown passes against four interceptions. And this might be the stingiest Buffalo defense of the bunch, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to the position, per Yahoo Sports.

                    

Start Kirk Cousins vs. Green Bay

There have been plenty of weeks this season where the best way to handle Kirk Cousins is staying away, and on paper, this seems like another one. The Green Bay Packers allow the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers, and back in Week 2, they held Cousins to his second-worst fantasy performance of the season (14-of-32 for 230 yards with one touchdown and two interception).

And yet, when we look at this matchup, all we see is green. (We know what you're thinking, and no, that green isn't from the Packers' uniforms.)

The Vikings need this game. They haven't clinched a playoff spot yet, and if they catch a couple of breaks, they could still snag a high seed in the NFC playoffs. They might not have Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison, but they will have Adam Thielen. Will they really let Mike Boone run wild in such a high-stakes situation? It seems more likely they'll let it ride on Cousins' throwing arm.

Plus, some of Cousins' best performances as a Viking have come against the Packers. In last season's two tilts, he totaled 767 passing yards and seven touchdowns against only one interception.

                  

Sit Carlos Hyde at Tampa Bay

If you're still standing and have Carlos Hyde on your roster, those things are probably related. He had a monstrous Week 15 effort, matching a season-high with 26 carries that he converted into 104 yards and a score.

It was kind of the quintessential Carlos Hyde game. With zero involvement in the passing game (not even a target), he had to have rushing volume and a score to post a good fantasy number.

Neither will be easy to find against the Buccaneers.

They have the NFL's best rushing defense. They allow just 73.3 rushing yards per game; the New York Jets are the only other team surrendering less than 90 (88.8). They also give up just 3.4 yards per carry, which is second-best. Only two teams allow fewer fantasy points to the position.

None of this bodes well for Hyde. Six backs have scored 13-plus fantasy points on this defense. They averaged 6.3 receptions in those games. Hyde has nine catches on the season and only four since the start of October. This is not the matchup for him.