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Start or Sit? NFL fantasy football tips for Week 16

What players make the cut in this week’s start/sit list?

San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The moment has finally arrived. It’s championship week as owners are playing for the fantasy title. Whether that title comes with a cash prize, a trophy, or bragging rights that mean a lot more than we’re willing to admit, this week is what it’s all about, and it’s never been more important to make sure you’re starting the right players in your lineup. To help you out, we offer up this week’s fantasy start/sit suggestions for one last time.

QUARTERBACK

Start’Em

Jalen Hurts (Eagles) vs. Dallas Cowboys (Week 16 position rank: 5th)

The Eagles rookie quarterback is going to be in most fantasy lineups this week as we don’t really have to sell you on him. After all, he was the no. 1 fantasy quarterback last week, and now he faces a Cowboys defense that has given up some big games to mobile quarterbacks. The dilemma some Hurts owners might be having is whether he gets the nod over some other really good QB options. Are you really prepared to put your fantasy life on the arm (and legs) of a rookie quarterback making only his third start in the NFL? Well, truth be told, there’s a short list of quarterbacks that would be ahead of him on my list this week, and some of this year’s fantasy gems like Josh Allen and Russell Wilson are not on it.

Sit’Em

Russell Wilson (Seahawks) vs. Los Angeles Rams (Week 16 position rank: 11th)

Speaking of Wilson, owners who drafted the Seattle star quarterback looked like geniuses as he was tearing it up in the first half of the season. He finished as the QB10 or better in seven of his first eight games, including five different top five finishes. Since then, Wilson has cooled off as he’s finished as the QB19 or worse in four of his last six games, including his worst performance of the year with just 121 yards passing against Washington last week. He’ll now face a Rams defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The last time he played them, he had no touchdowns and two picks in the only contest this season where he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Wilson owners would be wise to look for a better option in the biggest fantasy week of the year.

RUNNING BACK

Start’Em

Giovani Bernard (Bengals) vs. Houston Texans (Week 16 position rank: 23nd)

The Bengals backup running back hasn’t been an appealing option this season even with the injury to starter Joe Mixon. He just doesn’t get the work as he’s established himself more of a role-playing running back than an actual handcuff. However, when he’s gotten the work, he’s actually performed quite well. There have only been three games this season where he’s gotten more than a dozen carries in a game, and each time he’s finished RB7 or better. This week he faces a Texans defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to running backs. The Bengals could very well spread the workload, and that will hurt his upside, but if you’re a dice-roller, he’s worth considering for your flex.

Sit’Em

Mike Davis (Panthers) vs. Washington (Week 16 position rank: 17th)

Normally, Davis is an auto-start this year with fantasy star Christian McCaffrey out of action, but there are a handful of reasons to not be high on him this week and none of them include the small possibility of a McCaffrey return. First off, he faces a Washington defense that allows the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Washington has a chance to clinch the NFC East this week, where Carolina currently holds the no. 4 spot in the draft. A win will hurt their draft position. That’s not to say they’re going to deliberately tank, but with nothing really to play for, teams have a tendency to go off script. If Davis doesn’t find the end zone, there’s a good chance he’ll be fantasy irrelevant this week.

WIDE RECEIVER

Start’Em

Brandon Aiyuk (49ers) vs. Arizona Cardinals (Week 16 position rank: 8th)

Every year there’s a rookie breakout receiver that leads his fantasy owners to victory. This year, a few different rookies have performed well as players like CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson have had strong rookie seasons. But the guy who is hot right now is 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk. After being essentially non-existent the first half of the year, Aiyuk has come alive, finishing WR16 or better in each of his last five games. With San Francisco having quarterback issues, Aiyuk’s short passes and run after the catch ability means he’s going to continue to see targets in this offense. If you own him, you’re likely starting him already, but even if you’re stacked with talent at receiver, he needs to be high on your list list week.

Sit’Em

T.Y. Hilton (Colts) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 16 position rank: 30th)

The veteran wide receiver has come alive during the last trimester of the season as he’s scored four touchdowns over his last four games. This includes a WR6 finish in Week 13 as well as a WR3 finish in Week 14. While fantasy owners might be tempted to ride out a hot streak with Hilton, things might be a little challenging this week on the road against the Steelers. With a game script that could end up being low scoring, we’d recommend finding an alternative choice at wide receiver.

TIGHT END

Start’Em

Logan Thomas (Washington) vs. Carolina Panthers (Week 16 position rank: 6th)

The veteran tight end has gone from a solid streaming option to a regular starter as he’s currently the sixth-highest scoring fantasy tight end this year. He’s become very consistent as his 91 targets are sixth-best in the league, and while he plays for a low-scoring Washington offense, his red zone targets helps his respectable touchdown totals. Thomas has had seven finishes inside the top 10 this year, including three times over his past four games. With a favorable matchup against Carolina, Thomas is a good play this week.

Sit’Em

Jonnu Smith (Titans) vs. Green Bay Packers (Week 16 position rank: 13th)

There was a time where we were talking about how Jonnu was the breakout tight end for the 2020 season as he was hot out of the gate scoring five touchdowns over his first four games. Smith has fallen off as of late, as he hasn’t finished inside the top 10 since Week 10. The Titans also have tight ends Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt getting targets as well now. And when you factor in that this week Smith will face a Packers that allows the third-fewest points to tight ends, it’s not ideal.

DEFENSE

Start’Em

Washington vs. Carolina Panthers (Week 16 position rank: 7th)

The Washington defense is legit, and they have especially come on strong as of late. Over their past four games they have:

  • had a defensive score against Dallas
  • allowed just 21 rushing yards against Pittsburgh
  • had two defensive scores against San Francisco
  • allowed just 121 passing yards against Seattle

Ron Rivera goes up against the team that fired him, and you better believe he’s going to lean on his tough defense to secure the win.