Saturday, December 22, 2018

Week 16 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks Start'em, Sit'em

Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league's settings).

As an example, Dak Prescott is listed below as a "start" for Week 16. And I'd feel comfortable going into Week 16 with him as my starting quarterback.

That said, he may be a sit for your team.

In other words, if you owned both Patrick Mahomes and Prescott, you should start Mahomes -- and in turn, bench Prescott.

So while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).

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Week 16 Fantasy Football QB Start'em


QB - Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (at NE)

The next time Allen throws for 250 yards will be his first. Yet, that doesn't really matter. With a minimum of 18.34 fantasy points in his past four games, Allen has performed as a top-four fantasy quarterback in three of those four games.

During that stretch, he has run at least nine times per game with a total of 351 rushing yards and three scores. If you think about that this way, Allen has scored an average of 13.28 fantasy points per game over that stretch by his rushing stats alone. Allen missed the first matchup against the Patriots, but in a bend-don't-break style of defense, it wouldn't be a surprise if he set a career high in passing yards while adding plenty of rushing yardage.

QB - Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (at LAC)

Like Allen, Jackson is a run-first quarterback (at least at this point in their careers). Both rookies are on the Start'em side of this post with their future Hall-of-Fame opponents -- Tom Brady and Philip Rivers -- on the Sit'em side. The Ravens are fighting for their playoff lives and could possibly win the AFC North as they continue to start Jackson over a now-healthy Joe Flacco.

Throwing for 150 yards or less in four of his five starts, Jackson's career high is currently 178 passing yards. That said, he has more than 70 rushing yards in five consecutive games with a total of 85 rushing attempts over that span. As a comparison, he has only 112 passing attempts over that stretch. Jackson has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in each of the past three weeks and his rushing production at least provides a solid floor for fantasy owners.

QB - Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (vs. TB)

Over his past eight games, Prescott has alternated between a top-eight performance and a disappointing QB17 (or worse) performance. Coincidentally, he gets a plus matchup in a playoff-clinching opportunity to bounce back with another top-eight outing.

The Bucs have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Projected to be one of the week's highest-scoring teams, the Cowboys should put up a lot of points leading to high-end production for Prescott, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott.

QB - Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (vs. CIN)

Cleveland's challenge to find a franchise (or even competent) starting quarterback has been well-documented. Perhaps too soon to make a long-term judgment either way, Mayfield, at a minimum, gives the fan base plenty of hope. In turn, he's been giving fantasy owners plenty of hope since the team made their in-season coaching changes.

Not (yet) officially eliminated from playoff contention, the Browns enter Week 16 as (nearly) double-digit favorites against their cross-state rivals. Leading the Browns to wins in four of five games, Mayfield has thrown 11 touchdowns and only four interceptions during that stretch, which includes a four-touchdown and a fantasy top-five performance against the Bengals (this week's opponent). No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing signal-callers this season than the Bengals.


Week 16 Fantasy Football QB Sit'em


QB - Tom Brady, New England Patriots (vs. BUF)

Tom (Less Than) Terrific gets the most difficult matchup on paper as no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season than the Bills. Granted, the Patriots are double-digit home favorites and projected to be a top-three scoring offense this week, but that could mean a more run-heavy approach as Brady also loses a talented weapon (Josh Gordon) in the passing game. Brady threw for 324 yards in their first matchup this season, but it was one of two games that he's finished without a passing score.

QB - Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (vs. ARI)

Relying on Goff this fantasy postseason means that you've likely been eliminated either in Week 14 or 15. While things likely won't be worse than the past few weeks, it's possible that it's more of the same (disappointing performances) for Goff.

With only one touchdown pass in the past three weeks, Goff has thrown a total of seven interceptions during that span. In those three weeks, Goff has scored 8.08, -0.3 and 10.66 fantasy points, respectively.

More than two-TD favorites, the Rams may rely on the ground game even if Todd Gurley (knee) is at less than 100 percent. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks yet the third-most to opposing running backs.

QB - Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. BAL)

Arguably the best team in the AFC, it's possible that the Chargers could have to play all of their playoff games on the road. With the Chargers and Chiefs likely to be big favorites in Week 17, their Saturday Night Football matchup takes on added importance. Except for Week 14, Rivers has thrown multiple touchdowns every week this season and he's just three touchdowns shy of his career high set a decade ago.

The challenge will be that the Ravens are anything but fantasy-friendly for Rivers and the Bolts as Baltimore has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Slowing down the pace of the game with their run-heavy attack, the Ravens may not give Rivers as many opportunities (drives) to accumulate fantasy points either. In addition, Keenan Allen (hip) remains a game-time decision and if he plays, it will be at least than 100 percent.

- Related: Consensus Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

QB - Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at DAL)

Even though Winston has finished as a top-11 fantasy quarterback in three of the past four weeks, he has now thrown for less than 250 passing yards in three consecutive games. This week, he faces a Cowboys defense that has limited opposing quarterbacks to the eighth-fewest fantasy points on the year. Over the past five weeks, all starting quarterbacks facing the Cowboys -- Matt Ryan, Colt McCoy, Drew Brees, Carson Wentz and Andrew Luck -- have finished as the QB13 or worse.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 16

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