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Start ’em/Sit ’em Week 16

We would like to start off by saying Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our SportingEdge followers. We appreciate your continued support! 

Week 16 of the NFL season marks the time of year were most fantasy leagues are in their championship weekend. For those who are hoping to cash in on some prizes, it is extremely important that they make good roster moves. The general rule to follow is to PLAY THE PLAYERS WHO GOT YOU THERE! It’s okay to mix in one or two players based on matchup or trends, but studs are studs. If you’re looking to pick up a player due to injury or a bad matchup, no worries! That’s where our fantasy writers have you covered with our Start ’em/Sit ’em for week 16. Best of luck to all of the fantasy owners out there!

STARTS OF THE WEEK

Quarterback: Nick Foles (Philadelphia Eagles) – After Carson Wentz (who was arguably the fantasy and league MVP) went down, Nick Foles stepped in and put up about as good of a fantasy performance a backup quarterback can have. Foles matched Wentz’s season high with a four-touchdown performance and looked very comfortable in the Philadelphia offense. While Foles is not Carson Wentz, he should continue to thrive in an Eagles offense that has had a ton of success passing the ball in the red zone all year-long. The Eagles take on the Raiders in Philadelphia this Monday night which should translate to another successful night for Foles. The Raiders have been in the bottom half of the league this season at stopping opposing quarterbacks, especially against high-powered offenses. Start Foles this week and have plenty of trust he puts up big numbers once again. (Brett)

Running Back: Dion Lewis (New England Patriots) – Dion Lewis has been a solid contributor for the majority of this season in deeper leagues where he can be considered mainly as an RB2 or a flex option. With the injury to fellow Patriots running back Rex Burkhead, I expect Lewis to play an even bigger role this week, especially in PPR formats. Lewis gained 92 yards on 15 carries just 3 weeks ago and has double-digit carries in 8 of his last 9 games after starting the year with 5 straight games with 7 or less. (Nick)

Wide Receiver: JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers) – After Antonio Brown went down in the second quarter last week, it immediately caused the Pittsburgh offense to lean on other options. While there is no one in the league that can replace Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster should instantly become the top option for Big Ben. In a high-powered passing attack, Smith-Schuster and Martavius Bryant will likely split the targets that went to Brown all season (11.4 per game). Smith-Schuster has a ton of upside with his big-play ability and Chemistry with Big Ben. Other than Tampa Bay, Houston has been the best matchup in fantasy for wide receivers. JuJu becomes a high-end WR2 as long as Antonio Brown is sidelined. (Brett)

Tight End: Zack Ertz (Philadelphia Eagles) – As mentioned before, the injury of Carson Wentz created questions up and down the Philadelphia roster. Many of these questions were about how the receivers would be affected with Foles now at the helm. Fortunately for fantasy owners, no one on the Eagles offense really missed a beat as a result of the quarterback change. This came as a major relief to Ertz owners, who was one of the top options all season at a position that has a very shallow talent pool. Ertz was definitely a big part of the offense against the Giants hauling in six catches along with a touchdown. There is a reason to believe that this success will continue as Ertz likely has a chemistry with Foles being that he is one of the few receivers who played with him during his first stint with the Eagles. (Brett)

Defense/Special Teams: Baltimore Ravens – The Baltimore Ravens D/ST are almost always one of the best in the league and this year hasn’t been much different. They have been one of the most reliable options and have only posted low fantasy point totals against top teams such as the Jaguars, twice against the Steelers, and against the Vikings, all of which are playoff teams. The Ravens D/ST is coming off of a great performance against the Browns and has another great matchup this week against the Colts. Start them with confidence. (Nick)

SITS OF THE WEEK

Quarterback: Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders) – Derek Carr is coming off a strong performance against the Cowboys.  With that said, Carr is still far from a consistent bet week in and week out, and he has a very tough road matchup this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles defense is coming off of a rather concerning showing against the struggling Giants, but Carr is still too much of a risk to trust, especially if you are in your championship matchup this week. Look to add Blake Bortles if he is available as an alternative to starting Carr who travels across the country to Philly. (Nick)

Running Back: Jamaal Williams (Green Bay Packers) – The Green Bay Packers backfield has been confusing all year, but it seems to be much more clear with the emergence of Jamaal Williams over the last few weeks. After scoring five touchdowns over the previous three weeks, Williams struggled mightily last week against the Panthers. While much of his ineffectiveness can be blamed on game flow, he still only averaged three yards per carry against a very stout run defense in Carolina. Unfortunately for Williams, it does not get much easier as they now welcome the Minnesota Vikings to Lambeau Field. The Vikings have been the best rushing defense all season allowing only 85 yards per game. While the Packers may lean more on Williams with Aaron Rodgers back on the bench, this matchup cannot be trusted in fantasy playoffs due to game flow once again. (Brett)

Wide Receiver: Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns) – Josh Gordon has the potential to make big plays in the Browns offense, but the struggles of starting quarterback DeShone Kizer makes Gordon a risky start each week, especially championship week of the fantasy football playoffs. The Bears have been a good defense despite the team’s struggles and could shut down the Browns offense. (Nick)

Tight End:  Jimmy Graham (Seattle Seahawks)-  Jimmy Graham has struggled the last couple of weeks, albeit against tough defenses in the Jaguars and the Rams. Before those two games, he had at least a touchdown in four consecutive games. However, a sign of concern has been Graham’s receiving yardage as he hasn’t totaled 50 or more since week 11.  If Graham isn’t scoring or moving the chains, it really limits his fantasy value. Fantasy owners more than likely will have to start him since they probably don’t have a better alternative on their roster, but for those that do have a better alternative, consider sitting him despite a good matchup against the Cowboys.  (Nick)

Defense/Special Teams: Seattle Seahawks – Although they are known to be one of the consistently best defenses in football, the Seahawks have not lived up to the hype this season for many reasons. While they had a fairly strong first half of the season, Seattle has totally collapsed and become a matchup-dependent unit in fantasy. The last two weeks have made this even more true as they have allowed a total of 70 points to the Rams and Jaguars. This week it does not get easier as they take on the Dallas Cowboys including a returning Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield. There is no reason to believe this will be the week the Seahawks bounce back on defense. (Brett)

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