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

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2021

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

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    During the fantasy football playoffs, most managers spend a lot of time weighing up decisions concerning top players in unfavorable matchups.

    For the most part, you should start players who helped you advance to the postseason, but that's not always the case. A hot waiver-wire or free-agent pickup may be the better option.

    For Week 16, we'll take a look at notable names across all positions and make the call on whether to start or sit them.

    The recommended starters could provide high fantasy rewards but also possess low floors that may leave a void in the scoring column. On the flip side, the players who should sit present far more risk than upside.

Week 16 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

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    Start 'Em

    QB: Josh Allen at New England Patriots

    RB: Saquon Barkley at Philadelphia Eagles

    WR: Darnell Mooney at Seattle Seahawks

    TE: Rob Gronkowski at Carolina Panthers

    Flex: Allen Lazard vs. Green Bay Packers 

    K: Matt Prater vs. Indianapolis Colts 

    DEF: Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings


    Sit 'Em

    QB: Kirk Cousins vs. Los Angeles Rams

    RB: Josh Jacobs vs. Denver Broncos

    WR: Chase Claypool at Kansas City Chiefs

    TE: Mike Gesicki at New Orleans Saints

    Flex: Chuba Hubbard vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    K: Nick Folk vs. Buffalo Bills

    DEF: Indianapolis Colts vs. Arizona Cardinals

Start: Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

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    Managers may feel a little nervous about Josh Allen for multiple reasons.

    Allen will go into Sunday's matchup against the New England Patriots without wideouts Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis (reserve/COVID-19 list). His top playmaker, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, will probably draw a tough matchup with cornerback J.C. Jackson, who's recorded seven interceptions and a league-leading 20 pass breakups. And the Patriots allow the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks.

    With a pass-heavy offense (ranked fifth in pass attempts), the Buffalo Bills will continue to rely on Allen's arm, and he still has enough weapons to take advantage of individual matchups if Jackson limits Diggs' production.

    Allen may have Emmanuel Sanders back on the field after he missed the previous game with a knee injury. The 12th-year wideout returned to practice this week.

    This season, tight end Dawson Knox has become a consistent contributor in the Bills passing game, logging 44 receptions for 527 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 outings.

    If necessary, Allen can also dump off short passes to running backs Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and Matt Breida, who have recorded a combined 60 receptions for 415 yards and three touchdowns.

Start: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    Managers who selected Saquon Barkley in the first or second round of the draft probably feel extremely disappointed in the return value.

    Appearing in 10 out of 14 contests this season, Barkley has racked up 677 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage. He's nowhere near the player we saw win 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year with a league-leading 2,028 scrimmage yards and 15 total touchdowns.

    Despite a tough matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, who field the 10th-ranked run defense, Barkley could redeem himself during the fantasy playoffs with a strong outing in Week 16.

    Barkley has logged at least 74 scrimmage yards in each of his past three games with 13 receptions in that stretch. For points-per-reception leagues, he's a high-end flex option.

    Managers in non-PPR leagues should consider Barkley as an RB2 with upside. He's logged at least 11 carries in four consecutive games. With that workload, the fourth-year tailback could reach paydirt against an Eagles defense that's allowed 15 rushing touchdowns (ranked 21st).

Sit: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos

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    The Denver Broncos will turn to their backup quarterback Sunday. Head coach Vic Fangio ruled out Teddy Bridgewater, which means Drew Lock will start against the Las Vegas Raiders.

    While Lock may have a solid outing because of his plethora of weapons, managers shouldn't gamble on any Broncos pass-catchers besides Courtland Sutton, who leads the team in targets (85), receptions (50) and yards (670).

    Earlier in the season, Jerry Jeudy missed six games because of a sprained ankle, and he's posted modest receiving numbers since his return. Over the past seven outings, the second-year wideout hasn't eclipsed 77 receiving yards. He's yet to score a touchdown this season.

    The Raiders field the 13th-ranked pass defense, so the Broncos may choose to attack their AFC West rival's 25th-ranked run defense. Running backs Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams could see a lot more action than Jeudy, who has to share targets with Sutton, Tim Patrick and Noah Fant on the perimeter.

Sit: Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Assuming Miami Dolphins wideout Jaylen Waddle returns to action after he missed one game on the reserve/COVID-19 list, tight end Mike Gesicki could fall to the third receiving option in the team's aerial attack. 

    In Week 15, the New Orleans Saints defense picked up some momentum after shutting out quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Yes, Brady lost wideouts Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (torn ACL) along with running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) in that contest, but the Saints pass defense has allowed only 18 touchdowns this season—the fifth-fewest leaguewide.

    Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa may not throw for multiple touchdowns in Monday's contest. Even if he does, Waddle and fellow wideout DeVante Parker are more likely to reach paydirt than Gesicki. New Orleans gives up the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers and ranks 22nd along with the Dallas Cowboys in fantasy points allowed to tight ends.

    Even though New Orleans has placed several players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, safety Malcolm Jenkins and linebacker Demario Davis are the only key starters on defense who might miss the game. Tagovailoa could still struggle with a Saints pass rush that sacked Brady four times last week.


    Fantasy scoring and points allowed provided by FantasyPros.

    Maurice Moton is an NFL and Fantasy Football columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.