Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 16: Smart Sleepers to Exploit and Lineup Advice

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 21, 2021

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 16: Smart Sleepers to Exploit and Lineup Advice

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Deep breath, folks.

    Week 1 of the 2021 fantasy football playoffs are in the books—in standard leagues, anyway—and the fact you're still coming here for lineup advice should be good news. You likely either won your first matchup or are locked into a two-week battle.

    Either way, though, your work is far from finished.

    There's still a fantasy title to go get, of course, which should shift your attention to Week 16 of the NFL campaign. That's where we're looking to tackle a few early start-or-sit debates.

Start: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers (at Tennessee Titans)

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Jimmy Garoppolo is rolling through the second half of the schedule, and the only barrier between him and solid fantasy numbers at this point is usage. If the 49ers don't need him to force the issue, they won't ask him to do it.

    They might not have that luxury in a tricky Thursday night tilt with Tennessee. The Titans boast one of the NFL's stingiest run defenses, and the 49ers just played their second consecutive game without leading rusher Elijah Mitchell (knee).

    The more San Francisco asks Garoppolo to pass against Tennessee's defense, the better. He has been extra efficient of late—10 touchdown passes against three interceptions over his last six games—and the Titans have been generous to quarterbacks, allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to the position, per Yahoo.

Sit: Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots (vs. Buffalo Bills)

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    As a real-life rookie quarterback, Mac Jones has been phenomenal. Saturday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts was his first defeat since mid-October, and he has only once thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes.

    As a fantasy option, though, Jones has fought the inconsistencies expected of a freshman. He's had the same number of touchdowns and picks in five of his last seven outings. He's had a sub-60 completion percentage three different times, a sub-200 yardage total in four contests (including just 19 (on three attempts) in a wildly windy affair in Buffalo two weeks back) and a single outing with more than two touchdown throws.

    The Bills are, statistically speaking at least, the toughest defense a fantasy quarterback can face. No one has thrown even three touchdown passes against them all season, and just three quarterbacks managed two: Tom Brady (Week 14), Patrick Mahomes (Week 5) and Taylor Heinicke (Week 3).

Start: James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (at New York Jets)

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    While the Jaguars' first game without former coach Urban Meyer didn't look all the different from the ones he coached—a 30-16 loss to the lowly Houston Texans—there were some welcome changes for running back James Robinson.

    His 18 carries and six targets both matched season-highs, his 75 rushing yards were his most in three weeks, and his rushing score was his first touchdown since Nov. 21. If the Jags weren't playing from behind the entire game, they could have leaned even heavier on Robinson.

    It's perhaps worth noting that Houston was a favorable fantasy matchup for the running back, but guess what? This week's is even better. No defense has allowed more fantasy points to running backs than the Jets—nor has anyone even come close.

Sit: Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins (at New Orleans Saints)

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Remember what we just said about the Jets being a great matchup for running backs? Well, that's who Myles Gaskin just went against, and he never answered opportunity's knock. Instead, he finished with fewer than 60 scrimmage yards for the third consecutive contest and went scoreless for the second straight week.

    Granted, he was only recently removed from the COVID-19 list, so perhaps that played into it, but the underwhelming numbers weren't the only issue. The Dolphins opted to lean more heavily on Duke Johnson, and the veteran responded by turning his 23 touches into 127 scrimmage yards and two scores.

    Miami won't forget the game Johnson just played, so that's threat No. 1 for Gaskin. Threat No. 2 is a New Orleans Saints defense that allows fewer fantasy points to running backs than anyone. You shouldn't need a third threat to know it's best to stay away if you have reasonable alternatives.