Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 16: Advice for Fringe Flex Fantasy Football Starters
There may still be two weeks left in the NFL's regular season, but for most fantasy football managers, it all comes down to Week 16—championship week.
You've crunched the numbers all season, second-guessed yourself at every turn and held back on numerous last-minute roster swaps. If you've made it this far, congratulations and welcome to the most agonizing week of fantasy football.
There's no margin for error left, which makes every roster decision pivotal from this point forward. You thought the last 16 weeks were tough? Nothing hurts more than making it to the final round only to go home empty-handed.
Here's a look at some flex players who can help bring home a title and, perhaps more importantly, those who should be avoided at all costs.
Start: Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Giants
For most of the season, Marquise Brown has not looked like the fantasy star his rookie year made him out to be. But that's started to turn back around recently and should have fantasy managers giving plenty of thought to starting him in Week 16.
Rostered in just 67 percent of ESPN leagues and 81 percent of Yahoo leagues, per FantasyPros, the upside for the 23-year-old is notable this week. He's been targeted at least six times in each of the past four games and scored in three of them.
Meanwhile, the New York Giants defense has been average at best against wideouts, giving up 244.6 yards per game passing. A deep threat like Brown could exploit that secondary rather well come Sunday.
The Giants have also lost two straight, and their grip on the NFC East title is slipping. Baltimore can take itself one large step closer to the postseason with a home win.
Go with the team that has more to lose. Start Brown.
Sit: Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
The Buffalo Bills have clinched their first AFC East title since 1995 and punched their ticket to the postseason.
They proved they are the team to beat in a division previously owned by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. So, with the Bills heading to Foxborough, Massachusetts on Monday night, there’s little upside for Buffalo here.
That means even less reason to trust Cole Beasley.
After going off for more than 110 yards and eight catches in two of his last three contests, the 31-year-old is due to take a step back and going up against a Patriots defense that has been one of the stiffest in the league against the pass seems like the right time to do it.
It also doesn’t seem wise to bet on a Bill Belichick-coached team falling twice to the same opponent in one season. The Bills already took down New England once at home this season, with Beasley catching just two passes for 24 yards in the process.
Buffalo’s aim for the next two weeks is to make sure no one gets hurt and the team is rested for the playoffs. That’s far from an ideal setup for a pivotal fantasy week.
Start: James White, RB, New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
The shaky status of Damien Harris aside, James White could be a sneaky great play here against a Buffalo Bills defense that's just about average against the run.
When the two teams faced off in early November, New England rushed for 188 yards (5.5 yards per attempt). That could become even more exploitable at Gillette Stadium on Monday.
As far as White is concerned, the veteran tailback has long been a trusted option for head coach Bill Belichick—especially in the passing game (42 catches on 52 targets).
Here's where it gets tricky, though.
If Harris (ankle) is able to go on Monday, White isn't worth the risk. He'll be relegated to third on the depth chart' and even his prowess as a receiver won't help.
If Harris is out, White should be a no-brainer.
Sit: Hayden Hurst, TE, Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs
Hopefully you have better flex options than Hayden Hurst, but if you're considering using him to bring home a title on Sunday, don't do it.
Save for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, the 27-year-old has been trending down for a few games now. Week 15 was the fourth time in the last five games in which the tight end was held under 25 yards, and the Falcons lost each of those contests.
With a trip to Kansas City ahead, now isn't the time to see if Hurst will continue to sneak in points.
The Chiefs defense ranks 21st in the league against tight ends in ESPN's standard scoring. As enticing as that seems, it's not worth the risk. Certainly not at Arrowhead Stadium and definitely not if you're playing for a championship this week.
Find a better option.