This is it. We’ve approached Week 16 and that means it’s time for fantasy super bowls (or consolation brackets for some) in most leagues.
You’ve made it this far, and that’s good, but this week is when legends are made; so you have to be on top of your game. Again, you’re starting your studs, but there are always a few fringe options (whether on your bench or on the waiver wire) who could make the difference in the playoffs.
On the flip side, there are some solid players you may want to sit this week based on the matchups. Take in this advice and use it as a barometer for exploitable matchups, but still trust your gut as you don’t want to stray from what got you here.
So, good luck to all this week and hopefully you bring home the championship hardware.
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Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Yes, it’s hard to trust a quarterback who is making his second start of the season (and third of his career), but given the circumstances, Cousins should absolutely light up the Dallas Cowboys this week.
Coming off a game last week in Atlanta in which he threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns (with two interceptions), Cousins could come close to replicating those numbers when the Cowboys come to town.
Dallas has been abysmal this year at defending the pass and they rank last in passing yards allowed (297) while giving up 30 touchdowns (31st in the NFL) through the air. Also remember that Matt Flynn just carved up the Cowboys to the tune of 299 yards and four touchdowns.
So, in case you don’t have a Peyton Manning or a Drew Brees and want to play the matchups with your quarterbacks, Cousins could be your ultimate lottery pick. (Disclosure, in my two leagues where I am in the championship and in the consolation bracket, I am indeed starting Cousins.)
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Of course we can’t talk about Rice without bringing up the fact that he has been a major bust this year, but if you made it this far with him on your roster, you can’t be doing all that bad. If there was a week where he has some redeeming value, this would be it.
This week the suddenly hot Ravens will host the New England Patriots, who have been getting toasted on the ground. The Patriots are allowing 132.5 rushing yards per game (31st in the NFL) and give up 4.4 yards per carry (24th in the NFL).
The last time Rice had an advantageous matchup was at Chicago in Week 11 and he ran for 131 yards and a touchdown. There is a good chance that Rice could have a similar-type performance this week and finally contribute to your squad when it matters most.
Jordan Todman, Jacksonville Jaguars
As long as Maurice Jones-Drew remains out for Jacksonville, Todman should pick up where he left off last week, when he ran for 109 yards while also hauling in four catches for 44 yards, when the Jags entertain the Titans this week.
Outside of the Bears, perhaps no team has been worse against the run this year than the Titans. The Titans have allowed 17 rushing touchdowns in their last 11 games and allow 119.1 rushing yards per game.
So if you need a low-end No. 2 running back or flex play, Todman may be your man.
Anquan Boldin, San Fransisco 49er
With him warming up as the season winds down, Boldin is someone you can put your trust in as a No. 2 WR or high-end flex play this week.
In his last five games, Boldin has 29 receptions for 384 yards and three touchdowns.
His matchup with the Falcons on Monday night in the 49ers last ever game at Candlestick Park might be the perfect confluence of events to allow Boldin to have a monster night. The Falcons look like they are mailing it in and they have been getting gashed through the air all year. They allow 255 passing yards per game (25th in the NFL) and have also given up 28 passing touchdowns (tied for 29th in the NFL).
With it to be an emotional night, expect Boldin to come through for you.
Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders
Ever since the Raiders switched to Matt McGloin as quarterback, Streater has taken off and has now become a preferred weapon for McGloin.
In his last five games with McGloin at quarterback, Streater has 25 receptions (on 41 targets;20 in the last two games) for 423 yards and two touchdowns.
Streater and the Raiders have a good matchup this week against the Chargers. In Week 5 with Terrelle Pryor as his quarterback, Streater had three receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers can be beat in the air, as they allow 267 passing yards (29th in the NFL) while also yielding 22 touchdowns through the air.
So if you’re looking for a low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 wide receiver or flex play, Streater may be your guy.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Now that he appears to be shaking off the rust, Pitta makes for an excellent option at tight end. Although he wasn’t great in his game on Monday night (two catches for 24 yards) at Detroit, that was a tough matchup, so we’ll give him a pass there.
This week, though, Pitta and the Ravens will go up against a Patriots squad that has allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in the last five games.
It’s clear Joe Flacco loves throwing Pitta the ball and the two have built a solid rapport over the years. Now that he is healthy, he’s an advised start in crunch time.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
While he has been useful down the stretch, Palmer will likely meet his match this week when he and the Cardinals have to travel to Seattle and deal with the Seahawks and their “12th Man.”
As if you didn’t know, Seattle is pretty dang good on defense, especially against the pass. They still allow the least amount of passing yards per game (174) in the NFL while also giving up the second-fewest amount of passing touchdowns (14 touchdowns-tied with Carolina).
With Larry Fitzgerald banged up with a concussion, and having to play in a hostile environment, you just can’t depend on Palmer this week.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Along with Darren Sproles, Thomas will likely be in for a long day while trying to find running room on the Panthers (the Saints opponent this week).
The Panthers are allowing just 84.9 rushing yards per game (second in the NFL) and have given up the least amount of rushing touchdowns (4-tied with Baltimore and Seattle).
The Saints bread and butter is their pass game. So expect them to abandon the run game early, making Thomas, and to some degree Sproles (although he’s still a solid PPR-threat), tough to count on.
Andre Brown, New York Giants
Coming off a dreadful 17-yard rushing performance (on 11 carries) against the Seahawks last week, it’s not going to get any easier for Brown this week.
The Giants will face the Lions on the road Sunday, and the Lions have done a bang-up job against the run all year. The Lions are allowing just 98.6 rushing yards per game (4th in the NFL) and have given up just nine scores on the ground (tied for 10th in the NFL).
With the Giants likely to fall behind, they might abandon the run and that could make Brown a liability. It all likely adds up for another frustrating day for Brown and the Giants.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
It’s not just Thomas and Sproles who may struggle in their game at Carolina, as most Saints’ skill-position players could be facing an uphill battle and that extends to Colston as well.
The Panthers also have an elite pass defense, as they are allowing only 211 passing yards per game (fifth in the NFL) while giving up 14 passing touchdowns (tied for second fewest in the NFL).
Drew Brees has a tendency to struggle on the road in outdoor venues (remember his outing in Seattle?), and Colston could be negatively affected. Play him at your own risk.
Roddy White, Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons
Just as they were listed here as advisable starts here last week (and disappointing us in the process), White and Douglas will likely stay in their rut when they head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers on Monday night.
The 49ers should be charged to play their final game at Candlestick Park and look for them to shut down the Falcons’ pass attack. The 49ers are limiting teams to 200 passing yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and have given up just 14 touchdowns (fourth fewest in the NFL) through the air.
This could get ugly for the Falcons, as most of their skill-position players are huge gambles with championships on the line.
Timothy Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Although he is coming off a great performance against the San Francisco 49ers last week (seven catches for 82 yards and a touchdown),Wright’s matchup this week in St. Louis could make him a prime bust candidate.
The Rams have been dynamite defending tight ends and they just limited Jimmy Graham to 25 yards receiving on two catches last week.
Wright is just too inconsistent to trust with championships on the line.