Week 16 NFL Matchup Preview Part One
Be sure to check out Part Two of our Week 16 NFL Matchup Previews.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – December 22, 2016
8:25 PM EST
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
QB Eli Manning: Manning has thrown for multiple TDs in 6 of his last 7 games, and faces a defense he threw 4 TDs on in Week 6. Yes, it’s a short week but the Giants can still technically win the division, so Eli will be highly motivated in this game. Consider him a lower QB1 this week against the Eagles.
RB Rashad Jennings/Paul Perkins: Jennings has not been consistent enough to trust him in your lineup during championship week. Paul Perkins has seen an increase in carries (26 in the past 2 games) but it’s too little too late to jump on his production. The Eagles have given up the 11th fewest fantasy points to RBs this season. I would advise you look elsewhere this week as the Eagles would love to play spoiler to a division foe so don’t expect them to let up on the Giants run game.
WR Odell Beckham Jr/Sterling Shepard: As good as the Eagles have been against the run, they have been horrific against WRs, giving up the 3rd most fantasy points to the position. This is such a tasty matchup for your stud WR1 OBJ. Another guy I like in this game is Sterling Shepard. He hasn’t put up a ton of yards this year but he has found the end zone 7 times, 5 of those coming in the past 7 games. Look for Shepard to get open and have plenty of opportunities in this game to increase his TD total on the season.
QB Carson Wentz: Completely untrustworthy against a very hot Giants defense that has allowed the 2nd fewest points from opposing QBs. Leave Wentz alone.
RB Ryan Mathews/Darren Sproles: A terrible matchup and situation for Ryan Mathews this week. Yes, Mathews is coming off a hot week (128 rushing yards and a TD) against the stout Ravens defense but his carries will take a hit with Sproles back this week. Mathews is nothing more than a risky low-end RB2/flex consideration. Sproles is expected to return and you can expect a heavy dose of him in the pass game. If you are looking for a desperate flex to stream in PPR, Sproles is not a terrible option.
WR Jordan Matthews: The Giants are much tougher against the run than they are against WRs which is lovely for Jordan Matthews owners. I am not crazy about the matchup but his target volume makes him a weekly WR2. Start him if you have him.
TE Zach Ertz: Zach Ertz has been a target and production monster out of the tight end position for the last 3 weeks. You have to stick with him this week, especially when there is such a low ceiling in production from the TE position league-wide this year.
SATURDAY – December 24, 2016
1:00 PM EST
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
QB Matt Moore: Lit up the New York Jets defense last week but who hasn’t? Matt Moore is a decent backup QB but should not be in your lineups this week. Do not get trapped chasing his production from last week. The Bills defense is much tougher on QBs and the Bills will be home in Buffalo looking to put a stop to the success of the Miami Dolphins.
RB Jay Ajayi: Disappointed his owners last week, Ajayi will have a more productive game against the Bills defense that has given up the 11th most points to RBs this season. Stick with Ajayi this week and he will give you high-end RB2 production.
WR Jarvis Landry/Kenny Stills: Both WRs have been very good for fantasy purposes. Most of their production has come on 1 big play so their numbers are a little inflated for what the reality is. Their targets have not been great compared to other top WRs in the game. Receptions have been even worse as far as quantity goes. If you have Landry, you’re playing him but do not expect more than lower WR2 production. Stills can’t be trusted in the fantasy playoffs.
QB Tyrod Taylor: The fantasy football magic is finally wearing off of Tyrod Taylor. He has never been a good real-life QB but has always seemed to find a way to give you more than decent fantasy production. In recent weeks, however, Taylor’s fantasy stats are looking more and more like his true self. I would not trust Tyrod this week and I do not believe the Bills front office have much trust in him either.
RB LeSean McCoy/Mike Gillislee: RB1. Start him against a mediocre Dolphins run defense. He could easily win you your championship week as long as the Bills don’t end up on the 1-yard line and Mike Gillislee vultures 6 points here and there from Shady.
WR Sammy Watkins: Watkins is a frustrating WR to own right now. He simply does not give you the confidence you should have with him. Watkins has been held to under 5 receptions a game all season. I would find a better WR to play instead of Watkins this week. Just too risky.
Charles Clay: On fire the last 2 weeks with 10 receptions on 13 targets for 124 yards and 2 TDs. I do like Clay again this week as the Dolphins are not the greatest at stopping the TEs. Play him as a TE1. It sounds crazy but let’s face it, there aren’t many of them this year.
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers
QB Matt Ryan: Had his best game of the season against this surprisingly awful Panthers defense back in week 4 when he threw for over 500 yards and 4 TDs. He may not have another game like that but it does appear he will have Julio Jones back this week and that puts Ryan as a QB1 this week against the Panthers.
RB Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman: When these 2 backs are healthy, you just never know which one will have the bigger fantasy day. Devonta Freeman has been the most consistent of the two and should be in your lineups this week, especially after the monster game he had against the 49ers last week. Coleman is a decent flex option this week if you need it. He doesn’t have the best matchup but Coleman will get his opportunities in the pass game.
WR Julio Jones/Taylor Gabriel: Both WRs are must starts against the Panthers who have given up the 5th most fantasy points to WRs this year. Julio Jones is practicing early in the week which is a great sign for him to be a go on Christmas Eve, and Gabriel has been fantastic- scoring 6 TDs in the last 7 games for the Falcons.
QB Cam Newton: A great matchup for Cam this week as the Falcons have given up the 2nd most points to QBs this year. Coming off a 300 yard, 2 TD performance against the Redskins, Newton will look to have an even better statistical game vs this vulnerable defense.
RB Jonathan Stewart: He has been a back that you can rely on in 3 of the past 4 weeks and his only stinker was against the Seahawks. Stewart has a great matchup against a defense that gives up points to RBs. Play him as a high-end RB2 with upside this week.
WR Kelvin Benjamin: The Falcons are better against WRs than they are RBs. Benjamin has been pretty disappointing for owners in the past 5 weeks, especially in the past 3 weeks where he has a total of 5 catches for 49 yards. He simply should not be in your lineup this week. They are better streaming plays here.
TE Greg Olsen: Olsen is reappearing from the fantasy hole he has been in with back to back games of over 80 yards receiving. He has a fantastic matchup this week. Expect TE1 numbers from Olsen, a veteran player that is fully capable of taking advantage of a great matchup.
Washington Redskins @ Chicago Bears
QB Kirk Cousins: Coming off a disappointing performance against the Panthers, Kirk Cousins will look to bounce back against the Bears. Cousins will have a much better game than he did last week but do not expect too much out of a guy traveling to Chicago on a shorter week than most teams. He should still be a solid QB2 in this game.
RB Rob Kelley: Received his lowest carry total in 7 weeks last week with 9, Robert Kelley will get his workload back against a team that can give up yardage on the ground. What was encouraging from last week’s game was Kelley’s ability to finally showcase catching some passes. Play him as your RB2 this week.
WR DeSean Jackson/Jamison Crowder: Looks like the DeSean Jackson of old is back in the past 5 weeks. You can confidently start him as a high-end WR2 with upside against this pedestrian Bears defense. Crowder has not produced relevant fantasy numbers in the past 3 weeks. Crowder is a great bounce back candidate this week given the matchup. He is nothing more than a WR3/flex option.
TE Jordan Reed/Vernon Davis: Jordan Reed does not look like he should be on the football field at the moment. He was in incredible pain before getting thrown out of last week’s game for throwing a punch. He is obviously frustrated by his injury and should not be trusted in your championship week. Throw rule 86 out this week. If Reed sits as he should, Vernon Davis would see an increase in opportunities. Not enough for you to throw him into your lineup as Chicago has been very good against the TE position this season.
QB Matt Barkley: Hasn’t been terrible since taking over the Starting position for the Bears. He does have a decent matchup against the Redskins defense that has allowed the 8th most points to QBs, including a great game out of the struggling Cam Newton last week. With that said, Matt Barkley is not someone you want to hang your hat on to end your season.
RB Jordan Howard: Has been an absolute stud this year. Now over 1,000 yards rushing, Jordan Howard will look to dominate touches against a Redskins team that has allowed the 4th most fantasy points to RBs. Consider Howard my start of the week.
WR Alshon Jeffery: Had a strong performance last week returning from his suspension. Expect Jeffery to get the targets but will have the physical Josh Norman covering him this week. Still, a solid WR2 with WR1 upside.
San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns
QB Philip Rivers: Rivers has thrown for 2 or more TDs in each of his last 7 games, totaling 16 TDs. His 14 INTs in that span has put a damper on his fantasy numbers. He faces a team that has given up the most fantasy points to QBs and with this matchup, increases his odds of having a cleaner, better game for his fantasy owners. It is very hard not to consider him a low-end QB1 this week against the Browns.
RB Kenneth Farrow: With Melvin Gordon likely out another week, Kenneth Farrow will get his second start in as many weeks. This time, it will be against the awful Browns defense that has surrendered the 2nd most fantasy points to RBs. Farrow fell short on his projected numbers last week but you can’t ignore the great matchup. He will be an RB2 this week vs the Browns.
WR Tyrell Williams/Dontrelle Inman: A great matchup for both WRs. Williams had a poor game last week but was very productive in the previous 5 weeks. Expect him to bounce back as a solid WR2 with WR1 upside. Inman has been a bit more consistent this season in terms of targets, receptions, and production. He is a safe WR2 this week.
TE Antonio Gates: Cleveland has given up the most fantasy points to TEs this season. This should be a dream matchup for TE Antonio Gates but Hunter Henry is more than capable of playing vulture to his TD opportunities this week making Gates more of a TE2 this week.
QB Robert Griffin III: The winless Cleveland Browns are helpless on offense right now. RG3 is not helping improve the team that has been in the dumpster all year. Stay away from RG3 against a defense that has given up the 8th fewest points to QBs.
RB Isaiah Crowell: The San Diego Chargers weakness is their run defense that ranks 24th against RBs. Crowell is good enough to take advantage of that, however, he may be taken out of the game plan if and when the Chargers expand their lead enough to force RG3 to throw on every play reducing Crowell’s fantasy value to a mid to low-end RB2.
WR Tyrell Pryor: Will be playing out the season with a torn ligament in his finger. Not sure how much of that has contributed to back to back terrible games but he is not worth the risk this week, especially championship week.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
QB Sam Bradford: Matchups are not everything. Bradford will face the Green Bay defense that has given up the 15th most fantasy points to QBs but Bradford has not been a good fantasy option this season and has only thrown for multiple TDs in 3 games this year. Don’t trust him this week.
RB Adrian Peterson: A complete disappointment this fantasy season and will disappoint again this week. He is obviously not game ready and is up against the 10th best defense against RBs this season. Do not trust any Vikings RB against the Packers Week 16.
WR Stefon Diggs/Adam Thielen: Diggs has done very little in the past 4 games to make you excited to start him. Adam Thielen has been the consistent WR of the two. Thielen injured his neck in the last game and did not return, putting up a zero in fantasy. Expect both to be heavily involved in the offense this week making them both low-end WR2 options. Thielen has the potential to flirt with WR1 numbers in PPR given his recent target volume.
TE Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph the Red Zone Reindeer will have an opportunity to shine in this game as he has been the main target in the red zone for Sam Bradford. Consider Rudolph a TE2 with TE1 potential in this game.
QB Aaron Rodgers: Aaron Rodgers finally cooled down last week after 8 straight weeks of fantasy dominance. Expect him to bounce back to his elite self this week even against a defense that has allowed the 3rd fewest points to QBs this year. Rodgers will see the field plenty to do what he does best. He is a QB1 this week.
RB Ty Montgomery: The reason Rodgers didn’t have to put up his normal numbers last week is because of this man. Ty Montgomery exploded against the Bears for 162 rushing yards on 16 carries and 2 TDs. He will come back down to earth this week against the Vikings but I still expect him to get the volume making him a solid RB2.
WR Jordy Nelson/Davante Adams/Randall Cobb: Jordy Nelson has been the most consistent Packers WR and is a weekly WR1 despite the challenging matchup against the 2nd best defense against WRs. Davante Adams has been boom or bust week to week. Too much of a risk in championship week to roll with him. Randall Cobb is not on the radar to consider a start at this point.
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Marcus Mariota: Has cooled down since the bye week but played back to back games against the Broncos and the Chiefs. Two very tough matchups. He will bounce back this week against the Jaguars as they hover around the middle of the rankings against QBs. Consider Mariota a high QB2 this week.
RB DeMarco Murray: The most consistent fantasy RB this year has a great matchup against the middle of the pack Jaguars run defense. DeMarco has been an RB1 all season and this week is no different.
WR Rishard Matthews: With the exception of his matchup against Denver Week 14, Rishard Matthews has over 60 yards per game and 4 TDs since Week 9. He just went over 100 yards last week against the Chiefs. Although the Jaguars have some good success against WRs this season, Matthews should be considered a solid WR2 with WR1 upside.
TE Delanie Walker: Walker will be targeted more by Mariota in this matchup as Jacksonville is slightly more vulnerable to the TE than the WR position. Insert Walker as a TE1 this week as TE1s are few and far between this season.
QB Blake Bortles: The Titans defense is 5th worst against QBs this year. Bortles had his best game of the season in Week 8 when he threw for 337 yards, 3 TD and ZERO INTs. He accomplished this against none other than the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars have lost 9 straight and Bortles hasn’t done much in the process to stop the skid. This offense is simply unreliable making Bortles a low-end QB2 at best.
RB T.J. Yeldon: The Jaguars weakest offensive position will meet the Titans 3rd best rush defense this week. Leave Yeldon on the bench as he is likely floating on waivers anyway.
WR Allen Robinson/Marqise Lee: Very interesting matchup for the Jags WRs. You don’t know week to week which one will be that “star”. Expect Bortles to do enough against the Titans to make both Robinson and Lee WR3/flex options this weekend.
New York Jets @ New England Patriots
QB Bryce Petty: Although the Patriots defense lands right in the middle against opposing QBs you can’t start Bryce Petty. He is not a fantasy option especially away in Foxboro against the division foe, New England Patriots.
RB Matt Forte/Bilal Powell: Forte is not healthy and will likely see limited snaps against the Patriots as Powell has emerged in the past two weeks. Forte should see your bench this week. Not sure if this is a bold prediction or not but if I were you, I would thank Powell for his fantasy services the past two weeks and bench him against New England defense that is fully capable of being lights out, especially at home.
WR Brandon Marshall/Robby Anderson: Brandon Marshall is a must sit. Robby Anderson on the other hand, has been Petty’s go-to WR in the last 3 weeks averaging just under 10 targets a game in that span. Both the volume and production has been there for Anderson. Even though the Patriots are 6th best against the WR position, you can expect that Bryce Petty will have to throw a ton in this game as he plays catch up to Tom Brady. Anderson will get his targets and opportunities making him a solid WR2 this week.
QB Tom Brady: The Jets have given up the 4th most fantasy points to QBs this season so you can fully expect Brady to take advantage of his divisional opponent this week. He is a QB1 at home against a bad Jets team. The only thing fantasy owners will not like is Brady may begin to hand off more toward the end of this game or even exit since a blowout is highly possible.
RB LeGarrette Blount/Dion Lewis: Great matchup for both RBs this week. The Patriots will likely have the ball a ton in this game and will not be afraid to highlight their run game against this terrible Jets defense. Blount will likely find the end zone yet again and Dion Lewis will see more volume to prime him for the playoffs. If you have either, play them.
WR Julian Edelman/Malcolm Mitchell/Chris Hogan: No doubt, Tom Brady will spread the ball around against the Jets but that doesn’t necessarily equate to fantasy production for these WRs. Edelman is clearly a WR1 this week, so play him. Malcolm Mitchell is a great play as well as Brady has really found a rapport with him making Mitchell a solid WR2 with upside. Chris Hogan is the risky play that could pay off for you but I would not risk him in your lineup in championship week.
TE Martellus Bennett: Bennett has not been consistent by any means but his matchup is just too good to ignore, especially when you have Tom Brady throwing you the ball. Don’t be surprised if Bennett has a multiple-TD performance this week. Consider him a TE1 against the Jets this Saturday.