Fantasy Ins and Outs: Week 16

Congratulations if you’re playing in your fantasy league’s championship this week.  Here are some start and sit suggestions to help you out. Good luck, we’re all counting on you.

Quarterbacks

IN: Matt Ryan, Falcons
Matty Ice is back to putting up big numbers and at just the right time. Fantasy owners may have been a little miffed when Ryan got the hook after just three quarters last week, but by then he’d already thrown 224 yards and three touchdowns and the Falcons were in control. But that won’t be the case this week against the Saints. This NFC South tilt has shootout written all over it and Ryan will be able to do some serious damage against a New Orleans pass D that ranks near the bottom of the league.

OUT: Eli Manning, Giants
To say Manning had a disappointing game last week would be an understatement. In most standard leagues, Eli finished with less than five points and he’s got another tough assignment in Week 16. Yes, the Jets just got beat up by the Eagles last week, but the team has still allowed only 13 passing touchdowns this season and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and company will be out to prove something on Saturday.

Running backs 

IN: DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
After a slow start (a very slow start) to the season, Williams is rewarding fantasy owners for their patience. He’s put up double-digit points in four of the last five games and has found the end zone four times in as many contests. And Williams has a juicy game coming up against the Bucs, a team that is giving up the most fantasy points to backs this season. Don’t let the fact that Williams splits carries with Jonathan Stewart scare you off –- there should be plenty of rushing opportunities to go around.

OUT: Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Wells hasn’t looked like the same rusher we saw at the beginning of the season — he’s been slowed by knee troubles and is always just a hit away from leaving the game. In his last three matches, Wells has just 145 yards rushing combined and is averaging less than three yards per carry. The only saving grace for Wells is the fact he has scored three times in the last four games. But the Bengals are a good run stopping team, allowing less than 100 yards per game, so look for Wells to struggle again.

Wide Receivers

IN: Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
Thomas has become Tim Tebow’s go-to guy over the last few weeks (338 yards and three touchdowns in the last three games). Even though he didn’t find the end zone last week, the wideout still finished with seven catches (great for PPR leagues) and 116 yards. Thomas is a big red-zone target and he will be able to take advantage against a Bills squad that has been struggling on both sides of the ball.

OUT: Laurent Robinson, Cowboys
Robinson has been a touchdown machine this season (he’s scored in seven of the last eight games and leads the Cowboys with nine), but his role in the Dallas offense has change dramatically. Now that Miles Austin is back, Robinson has been reduced to a bench role and only sees action in three wide receiver sets. He was only targeted three times last week against Tampa but caught all three balls and scored another touchdown. With so many options, Robinson is too much of a question mark to start with any confidence.

Tight Ends

IN: Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Gresham has had more misses than hits this year and is coming off a 16-yard performance last week against the Rams, his lowest total since Week 2. Having said all that, the Bengals tight end is worth a start this week. Stud receiver A.J. Green might be limited because of a sprained shoulder, which means Andy Dalton could look Gresham’s way more often on Saturday. This is a big game for Cincinnati as the team fights for a playoff spot, and Gresham should be given the opportunity to produce.

OUT: Heath Miller, Steelers
With Ben Roethlisberger hobbling, Miller became the quarterback’s security blanket last week against the 49ers, finishing with 82 yards. Big Ben’s status for this week is very much up in the air, which isn’t good news for anyone on the Steelers offense. The Rams may have a horrible D, but the team has been very effective against tight ends — the unit has allowed less than 400 yards total and just one touchdown to the position this year. Miller should stay on your bench.

Kickers

IN: Neil Rackers, Texans
Rookie T.J. Yates had major issues moving the football last week and if that continues Thursday against the Colts, Rackers could have a field day. The Texans kicker has missed a field goal in each of his last three games, but don’t let that stop you from starting him. Andre Johnson will not play, but Houston still has plenty of options on offense and the Colts D isn’t putting a scare in anyone these days. Rackers could hit double-digit fantasy points for the first time since Week 7.

OUT: Adam Vinatieri, Colts
How inconsistent has the Colts offense been this season? Vinatieri had two field goals last week against the Titans (just the fourth time he’s done that all season) and three extra points (just the third time he’s done that all season) but don’t expect that kind of production on Thursday from the veteran. Despite a brief hiccup last week, the Houston defense is still very, very good and points will be hard to come by for Indy.

Defenses

IN: Redskins
Washington’s D has been up and down all year but this week the unit is facing Minnesota, a team that is giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this season. The pass rush has been a major strength for the Redskins and that means trouble for the Vikings, who have allowed three or more sacks in seven straight games. Washington is coming off a terrific outing against the Giants (four turnovers, just 10 points allowed) and the unit will be safe to use in Week 16.

OUT: Bears
The Bears D, on the other hand, did not play well against the Seahawks last week but the unit saved its fantasy worth thanks to a fumble recovery in the end zone. Prior to Week 15, Chicago’s defense was the definition of consistent, surpassing double-digit fantasy points in each of the last three games. But this is the week to keep one of the top-ranked scoring defenses on your bench. The Packers are coming off their first loss of the season and you don’t want to be the next team facing that offense.

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