Posted: Wednesday, December 23, 2015
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 16 of the 2015 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, or Antonio Brown. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Blake Bortles (JAC, QB)
Ranked 4th this week among QB's, Blake Bortles has a tasty matchup with the Jaguars to finish your fantasy season on a high note. New Orleans gives up the 7th-most yards per game and the most touchdowns per game to quarterbacks.
Start 'em Kirk Cousins (WAS, QB)
If you got Andy Dalton'd or Matt Ryan'd this year, Kirk Cousins could be your answer this week. He's ranked 11th against a Philly defense that gives up the 8th-most yards per game. Only 1 QB (Eli) has failed to reach double digits this year against them.
Start 'em David Johnson (ARI, RB)
Move over and make room for David Johnson on this week's rankings. After a monstrous game last week, Johnson finds himself ranked #1 among RB's this week with a home game against Green Bay on Sunday. This is a late-season waiver wire gem that's going to help you land a championship.
Start 'em Latavius Murray (OAK, RB)
Ranked 8th this week is Latavius Murray who will face a San Diego team that has given up the 9th-most rushing yards to fantasy backs this year. When Murray faced them in Week 7, he put up 14.6 points (15.6 PPR). He should up similar numbers again.
Start 'em DeSean Jackson (WAS, WR)
One thing we love to see in fantasy is a revenge game. Brett Favre playing the Packers. Steve Smith playing Carolina. It just tends to bring out the best production in a guy, and with a #9 ranking this week, the industry thinks DJax will bring home the points.
Start 'em Brandin Cooks (NO, WR)
Brandin Cooks lit up the Lions on Monday night and his #5 ranking this week is indicative of what the industry thinks he's capable of against Jacksonville. Start Cooks but if Drew Brees doesn't play, Cooks' value goes down with Matt Flynn under center.
Start 'em Julius Thomas (JAC, TE)
Ranked 3rd this week is Julius Thomas who has finally emerged the second half of this season. He'll face a Saints defense that has given up the 3rd-most yards through the air this year. Every big-name TE has put up decent numbers on them and we expect Julius to do the same.
Start 'em Antonio Gates (SD, TE)
Emotions are running high in San Diego right now and we think the Chargers really want to go out with a bang. Antonio Gates leads the team in targets and receptions over the last four games. Expect Rivers to look his way early and often.
Start 'em Houston Texans (HOU, DEF)
The Texans haven't been the fantasy defense juggernaut that many thought they would be, but perhaps they saved the best for last. With Marcus Mariota out, it will be the Zach Mettenberger show this week. With the Titans already giving up major fantasy points every week, that only makes Houston's odds even better.
Start 'em Cairo Santos (KC, K)
If there's a fantasy kicker that you want on your team this week, it's Cairo Santos against the Browns. Santos put up 12 points last week against Baltimore. He could repeat that performance against Cleveland who is giving up almost 11 fantasy points per game.
Sit 'em Matt Ryan (ATL, QB)
Matty Ice has been ice cold in the fantasy world this year. A matchup with Carolina isn't going to make that situation any better. Two weeks ago, the Panthers held Ryan to under 5 points. Ouch.
Sit 'em Brock Osweiler (DEN, QB)
It's official. Peyton Manning will not be starting on Monday night and that means that Brock Osweiler will be. He has shown flashes of solid play in recent weeks, but the Bengals give up the 3rd-fewest fantasy points to QB's this year.
Sit 'em Frank Gore (IND, RB)
On paper this is a matchup that Frank Gore should completely dominate, but the 2015 version of Frank Gore has let fantasy owners down all year. There's no reason to think that he won't let us down again. The rankings have him at #12, but he has failed in every favorable matchup this year. His 3.6 yards per carry is terrible and he hasn't had a rushing TD in 6 weeks. It's time for Frank Gore to retire.
Sit 'em Eddie Lacy (GB, RB)
Eddie Lacy has been a waste of a fantasy pick this year. His #21 ranking this week is optimistic given his poor play and tough matchup. The Cardinals give up the 4th-fewest rushing yards per game, and with James Starks outplaying him at every turn, Lacy is too risky to start.
Sit 'em Randall Cobb (GB, WR)
We might as well put another Packer on Santa's naughty list. Randall Cobb has failed to live up to his WR1 tier and a matchup against Arizona's secondary isn't going to be pretty even without Tyrann Mathieu. Cobb hasn't hit double digits in six games. He always has the chance to do it, but the odds aren't so good.
Sit 'em A.J. Green (CIN, WR)
It's not often you see two normally elite wide receivers on this side of the list, but can you really trust AJ Green this week without Andy Dalton in the championship? He's ranked 22nd against a Broncos secondary that (other than Antonio Brown last week) has shut down virtually every WR they've faced.
Sit 'em Jason Witten (DAL, TE)
Without Tony Romo, Jason Witten is just not the same tight end. He has always been a great blocker, but blocking appears to be his full-time job now. His #16 ranking this week makes him more of a mid-level TE2 - not what you want in your championship lineup.
Sit 'em St. Louis Rams (STL, DEF)
The Rams have not been as effective defensively this year as many had hoped. This unit is going to have a tough go against a Seattle offense that has really hit its stride. Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin have serious chemistry going on that St Louis will be unable to stop.
Sit 'em Dan Bailey (DAL, K)
The Cowboys are sputtering to a close this year and a matchup with the Bills isn't going to help make the situation much better. Buffalo has allowed an average of just six points per game to opposing fantasy kickers. There are better options this week.