By Stephen Johnson–
(670 The Score) “Sit ‘Em, Start ‘Em” is a breakdown of some of the best and worst fantasy football matchups to help you navigate setting your lineups for the week.
Championship week has arrived with many teams carried on the backs of Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt in Week 15. No matter how your team advanced, the return of injured players and late breakout studs has plenty of championship games and toilet bowls in a scramble to finish out the year. Week 16 welcomes the return of Ezekiel Elliott, the quick second exit of Aaron Rodgers and the chance for JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant to make their mark in the Pittsburgh offense. No matter who you are starting this week – good luck in your quest for fantasy gridiron glory.
START – Case Keenum, Vikings (at Packers) If you had to guess which quarterback has provided the most value per play this season, chances are you wouldn’t say Keenum, who would be the correct answer according to Football Outsiders’ quarterback DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average QB). Leading the Vikings toward a first-round playoff bye as one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season, Keenum now faces off against a Packers defense that has continued its downward spiral the past four weeks, allowing an average of three passing touchdowns and 24.5 points per game.
SIT – Kirk Cousins, Redskins (vs. Broncos) He may become one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in this league this offseason, but his value for Week 16 isn’t looking pretty. The Broncos have faced a rather significant amount of difficulty containing opposing signal callers at home, but it’s been a different story on the road, allowing an average of just 200 yards passing per game. Since Chris Thompson went down with a season-ending injury, Cousins’ average yards per game has dropped from 280 to 210 with five turnovers in his last four games.
START – Dion Lewis, Patriots (vs. Bills) With Rex Burkhead on the shelf, the Patriots’ backfield should be the Dion Lewis show. Taking the field on 89 percent of New England’s snaps after Burkhead went down last week, Lewis eclipsed double-digits in PPR fantasy points for the fifth time in six games. New England now welcomes Buffalo to town with one of the best matchups of Week 16. The Bills defense has allowed the most rushing touchdowns and second-most rushing yards to running backs this season.
SIT – Jamaal Williams, Packers (vs. Vikings) No matter who takes the touches in the Packers’ backfield, chances are success will be few and far between against the Vikings, the top-ranked fantasy defense against running backs. The question also remains whether Williams will start losing carries to fellow rookie Aaron Jones this week in a now-meaningless game with Green Bay missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Williams is one of the least elusive backs in the game, ranking 46th in yards after contact and 56th in yards gained after close, which measures yards after a defender gets within a yard of a ball-carrier.
START – Robert Woods, Rams (at Titans) It didn’t take long for Woods to reclaim his spot as the top option for Jared Goff after missing three games with a shoulder injury. You’ll have to go all the way back to Week 4 to find the last time Woods put up single-digit points in PPR leagues. In his last four games, he’s averaged 23 points. The Titans have been susceptible to major games from opposing wideouts, allowing 220 yards or more in three of their past six contests. To put into perspective how efficient the Goff-to-Woods connection has been this season, Goff has an elite 121.5 passer rating when targeting Woods.
SIT – Marquise Goodwin, 49ers (vs. Jaguars) Few expected as solid of a fantasy option to come from San Francisco as Goodwin has been since Week 12, ranking 11th in PPR points per game. Jimmy Garoppolo has plenty to do with the newfound success for the speedy Goodwin, but Week 16 provides the most difficult of matchups in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ top-rated pass defense. Ranked first overall against the pass and against opponents’ WR1, the Jaguars may push double coverage on Goodwin, who’s collecting nearly 30 percent of Garoppolo’s targets over the last three games.
START – Cameron Brate, Buccaneers (at Panthers) Addition by subtraction is the name of the game for Brate this week as teammate O.J. Howard was placed on injured reserve, leaving the tight end target share wide open. After starting the season as one of the best defenses against the position, Carolina has regressed, allowing scores in back-to-back games and an average of 13 standard fantasy points per game.
SIT – Jared Cook, Raiders (at Eagles) Cook’s season has been the definition of fantasy feast or famine with four games of double-digit fantasy points and seven games of three points or fewer. While the Eagles rank among the middle of the pack in touchdowns allowed to tight ends, they’ve only allowed one score from the position in their last seven games, over which they’ve surrendered just 35 yards per game to opponents.
Stephen Johnson is 670 The Score’s 2017 Fantasy Football Expert winner. He’s a weekly guest on “Chicago’s Fantasy Football Today,” every Sunday morning during football season from 8.a.m.-9 a.m. CT on WSCR-670 and 670thescore.com/listen. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen_Roto.