It all comes down to this. The fantasy championships. Hopefully your league is run by sane people and ends in Week 16, as that's when this article will end as well. With trade deadlines mostly passed, and the waiver wire all but devoid of worthwhile prospects, all owners have to rely on in their final contest is for the most part, the roster sitting before them. This makes playing the matchups all the more important to closing out the season with some hardware.
To help you out in your quest for a championship, I've compiled the fantasy points against (FPA) for every position on every team (sans the completely fantasy irrelevant ones -- I'm looking at you, Washington backfield). I've also added the home or road split for each matchup in parentheses. Here's a breakdown of how each team's section will look:
TEAM - Wk 16 opp
PLAYER NAME, POS: Wk 16 fpa (home or road)
For more specific questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @AlexGelhar. Good luck chasing that championship!
Carson Palmer had to have a finger popped back into place on Sunday night against the Eagles, but returned to the game and will be good to go against the Packers as a QB1. Larry Fitzgeraldhas fallen from grace as a starting fantasy wide receiver, except in deeper PPR leagues. He doesn't run downfield routes and plays primarily from the slot, severely lower his scoring potentail. John Brown dropped two touchdowns last week, but caught his third. Look for him to bounce back and blow the top off the Green Bay secondary. If Sam Shields misses another week with a concussion, Michael Floyd should be able to out-muscle the young Green Bay corners, much like Amari Cooper did a week ago. David Johnson is dominating the backfield touches and is our top ranked running back this week.
If you streamed Matt Ryan last week, cast him back into the waiver wire pool for his rematch with the Panthers. Devonta Freeman sees the touches of an RB1, and his owners should hope that this game script doesn't turn as pass-heavy so early, as it did the last time these teams played. Julio Jones lost Round 1 to Josh Norman back in Week 13, but with Norman having endured countless distractions this week, and Julio playing at home, we like his chances of solid stat line this week.
Buck Allen's run of being a starting running back in fantasy is over. He faces second-toughest defense against running backs in the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is seeing more touches go to Terrance West of late. Making matters worse, is that this game figures to feature the Ravens playing catchup for roughly all 60 minutes. Kamar Aiken remains a safe volume play in PPR, with some upside if he can find the end zone against the occasionally suspect Steelers secondary. He's proving he's more than just a rotational player after putting up solid tape against good defenses in Seattle and Kansas City.
The Tyrod Taylor-Sammy Watkins connection is one of the hottest in the league right now. Over the last month, they've connected on 19 of 36 attempts for 459 yards and six touchdowns. Both can be started this week, though we trust Watkins more. The Dallas defense has done a pretty good job of shutting down opposing passers this year. LeSean McCoy is doubtful for this contest with a knee injury, which puts Mike Gillislee and Karlos Williams into some sort of committee. Williams was one of the most efficient backs in fantasy at the start of the year, but doesn't look like the same runner now as he battles through a shoulder injury. Gillislee is an explosive athlete who seems like the better high-upside flex play of the duo. The Bills defense hasn't lived up to expectations under Rex Ryan, but after being called out by teammates and the media alike, they'll like have something to prove in Week 16. Good news for them is that Kellen Moore brings the talent-deficient Dallas offense into Buffalo at just the right time. Start the Bills D/ST if you have them.
Cam Newton and Greg Olsen remain must-starts, and aren't in danger of being sat for parts of this game as the Panthers still need to lock up home-field advantage. At this point, we know the dance we're playing if we start Ted Ginn -- he could make or break your weekly lineup. Something tells me he's do for a letdown, but I have no facts to back it up. Just a gut feeling. Cameron Artis-Payne emerged from this crowded backfield as the preferred early-down option and workhorse back. He'll be a low-end RB2 this week in a favorable matchup as the Panthers look to reestablish their running game with Jonathan Stewart on the shelf.
Cutler needs to be left on the bench this week, as he could be without Alshon Jeffery, or be throwing to a less-than-100-percent version of his top wideout. Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford are mired in a true committee right now, splitting the touches 67-53 over the last month in favor of Forte. Forte seems to have more upside as he's found the end zone three times in that span, but start either of these backs at your own peril. Jeffery's status once again needs to be monitored up until kickoff. Hopefully your fantasy title hopes aren't hinging on his health. Zach Miller averages 5.5 catches and 71 yards per game since Martellus Bennett went on IR, firmly putting him in the TE1 tier from here on out.
With Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert both set to miss this contest, it's going to be extremely hard to trust any of the Bengals skill position players in the fantasy championships against the staunch Denver defense. A.J. Green will get locked down, and Jeremy Hill will be running into a loaded box on most plays. If there's one player to deploy as a "what the heck" flex play, it'd be Bernard in the hopes that AJ McCarron becoms a checkdown champion to avoid the fierce Denver pass rush. If possible, avoid this offense this week.
Johnny Manziel has acquitted himself well in the last two weeks, but there's no reason to risk starting him against the Chiefs defense. As expected, Isaiah Crowell crashed back down to Earth and is once again irrelevant in fantasy. Duke Johnson is an interesting flex option, especially in PPR formats, as he's looked like the electric back we saw during his college days in the last two contests, despite only seeing 23 touches in that span. The Cleveland passing options should be left on the bench, aside from Gary Barnidge, of course.
Darren McFadden restored our faith in him last week, and he gets a solid matchup this week against the Bills. Those who've ridden him this far can keep rolling him out for one more week and a shot at a fantasy title. Bryant is once again a boom-or-bust venture at wide receiver. He scored a touchdown in the red zone last week against overly soft coverage, but are willing to put your fantasy championship hopes on that happening again?
Without C.J. Anderson at full health, this running attack has lost it's juice. He and Ronnie Hillman will also be running into the teeth of a Cincinnati defense allowing just 3.24 yards per carry over the last month. If possible, avoid this backfield. The Broncos pass catchers have been tough to trust this year, but if Denver is going to have a hope at winning this game, it'll be through the arm of Brock Osweiler. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas will both be WR2s this week, but owners need to understand the risk that comes with starting them against a strong Cincinnati defense. Vernon Davis and Owen Daniels are probably best left on the bench this week as well.
Detroit Lions - vs. SF
» Matthew Stafford, QB: 16.95 fpa (19.64 away)
» Ameer Abdullah, RB: 23.88 fpa (30.71 away)
» Joique Bell, RB: 23.88 fpa (30.71 away)
» Theo Riddick, RB: 23.88 fpa (30.71 away)
» Calvin Johnson, WR: 23.66 fpa (27.46 away)
» Golden Tate, WR: 23.66 fpa (27.46 away)
» Eric Ebron, TE: 7.22 fpa (8.49 away)
All hail Jim Bob Cooter, offensive coordinator of the year! OK, maybe that's a bit much, but the work he's done with the Lions offense has been remarkable, and has llowed fantasy owners to mine this offense for points for the first time in what feels like forever. Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell are legitimate options at the flex this week given their cushy matchup and the fact that so many running backs are out with injuries this week. Golden Tate has passed Calvin Johnson as the most trust-worthy pass catcher in this offense, and he's emerged as the team's top red zone threat under Cooter to boot. Tate has caught four of five targets in the red zone over the last two weeks -- all for touchdowns. Megatron will be hard to bench, but he's caught just five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets over the last three weeks. With Brandon Pettigrew out of the picture, Eric Ebron has a clearer path to targets. He'll once again be a solid streaming play this week against the 49ers, but certainly carries a high level of volatility as well.
Despite the inability of Aaron Rodgers' pass-catchers to gain separation (and catch the ball -- looking at you, Davante Adams), he'll remain a QB1 the rest of the way, though his date with Arizona is worrisome. Eddie Lacy is back in his coaches good graces and is on the fringe of being an RB1 the rest of the way. Lacy has posted 100-plus rushing yards in three of his last four games, with the one outlier being his "benching" against the Lions. Starks will be a high-upside flex play, as the team likes to use him as the lightning to Lacy's thunder. Owners will just need to be prepared for a disappointing stat line if he doesn't find the end zone, as Lacy has out-touched him 75-49 the last month. Mike McCarthy took back play-calling duties last week and immediately made getting Randall Cobb the football an emphasis. He's the type of receiver who could give the Oakland secondary fits this week, and is a solid WR2 play. James Jones could be a desperation flex start (REVENGE!), but he's a total boom or bust play. Richard Rodgers is a solid option this week, as Oakland has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the season.
Alfred Blue returned to leading this backfield, as it appears the Chris Polk-Jonathan Grimes experiment was only because Blue was injured. The former LSU product is a low-end RB2 this week against Tennessee as he should see 20-plus touches. DeAndre Hopkins is an every-week start, regardless of matchup. Ryan Griffin is a name to circle as a tight end streamer, as his role in the offense has been steadily growing and Brandon Weeden might target him more as a safety valve.
It's unclear who will be under center this week, but whether it's Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst, this passing attack is one to avoid. Frank Gore remains a low-end RB2 and at least has a plus-matchup this week against the Dolphins. The Colts could feature him plenty as they try to battle back into the AFC South race.
Blake Bortles and the Allens are all must-starts this week against the New Orleans secondary, and Julius Thomas can be trusted as well. With T.J. Yeldon likely on the shelf for another week, Denard Robinson will be the feature back once again. His owners can breathe a sigh of relief as it sounds like the foot injury he suffered in Week 15 will not hamper him too much for this juicy matchup.
Alex Smith disappointed as a streaming option last week, but those in a pinch can return to the well this week, as Cleveland's secondary allows the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the season. Charcandrick West should carry the load again for the Chiefs, though a healthier Spencer Ware could eat into those touches. West is an RB2, while Ware a risky flex play. Owners should monitor the injury reports leading up to Sunday. Jeremy Maclin and Albert Wilson should both be on fantasy owners' radars this week, as the Cleveland secondary is a mess. Travis Kelce no longer should be penciled in as a weekly TE1, though given the position's overall volatility it might be harder for owners to find someone they trust more than Kelce.
If only Lamar Miller could get the ball more often. He averages just 13 touches a game over the last month, and that includes his 21-touch over-correction game after Bill Lazor was fired. He has a great matchup, but owners know by now that they are playing with fire if they start Miller. Jarvis Landry remains a safe PPR play, but carries standard league risk. DeVante Parker is a pure upside dart throw, if your team needs that.
Apologies to Teddy Bridgewater -- that was one helluva performance against the Bears last week. Teams in need of a quarterback streamer could dial up Teddy's number. He's playing against one of the most generous secondaries in the league, is at home, and could be without a full-strength Adrian Peterson (who you're starting if he starts, by the way). Don't be surprised if Bridgewater makes some noise in the stat sheets again this week.
Start Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski if you have them. All right, on to the backfield. With the team signing Steven Jackson, the values of Brandon Bolden and Joey Iosefa take a huge hit. Don't pit your fantasy hopes and dreams on one of these three. James White is a different story, as he's grown into Dion Lewis' role and played pretty well of late. The game also looks like it could turn into one that heavily features White as a pass-catching option out of the backfield, as Danny Amendola's status is in doubt and it only seems like Julian Edelman will return for Week 17 to knock off some rust. White is a high-upside RB2 this week, but does come with plenty of volatility thanks to #Belitricks. Brandon LaFell played his best game of the season last week and will be in the mix as a WR3, but could draw Darrelle Revis by default. Start him at your own risk.
Drew Brees's status is up in the air after he suffered a torn plantar fascia on Monday night against the Lions. His backup is Matt Flynn, who will torpedo the value of Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Benjamin Watson if he starts. All of those players are great options if Brees remains in the lineup for Week 16. Even in a game where the Saints were playing catchup from basically the getgo, Tim Hightower saw 76 percent of the running back touches. He's a safe RB2 play based on volume alone.
Just when we were starting to count out this backfield, the Giants have followed some rational coaching and fed Rashad Jennings. He's a solid RB2 plays this week, as he averaged over 20 touches in each of the last two games, and Minnesota's run defense is overrated when it comes to FPA. Odell Beckham Jr.'s suspension was upheld, much to the dismay of his fantasy owners. Rueben Randle could be fet targets as a result. Eli Manning is back on the streaming radar against the Vikings, though there are probably options available with more upside than old Eli. Will Tye is demanding your attention after posting at least 70 receiving yards or a touchdown in each of the last four weeks, averaging over eight fantasy points per game in that span (and 6.25 targets per game). He's a solid streaming option against Minnesota.
The Jets offense has been a fantasy goldmine this year, and could continue to be in the playoffs. The Amish Rifle and his dynamic pass-catching duo in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker posted solid days against the Patriots in their first match earlier this year, but the receiving touchdowns went to Jeremy Kerley and Chris Ivory. Don't expect that to be the case again. Belichick could try to scheme away Marshall, as he frequently tries to take away the other team's top option, but Marshall is too good to sit. Ivory figures to keep the early-down work, but this seems like a game that could shape up as more of a Bilal Powell affair. In fact, since returning from injury in Week 11, he's actually out-snapped presumed workhorse Ivory 178-154, while also out-gaining him 393-365 on 32 fewer touches. Both are solid flex plays for the fantasy super bowl.
Amari Cooper delivered for fantasy owners in Week 15, though he and Michael Crabtree will make for a solid start as well after catching six passes for 70 yards against the Pack. Derek Carr rebounded after two awful first quarter interceptions to finish with a solid fantasy outing, though his ceiling is low-ish against a San Diego defense that has been tough on opposing passers. Latavius Murray represents one of the better running back plays of the week against a porous Chargers run defense, so if you have him on your roster, make sure he gets into your lineup.
Bradford has improved as the season has gone along, but doesn't deserve a spot in any fantasy rosters not playing in deep 2QB leagues. This backfield is an absolute mess, though desperate owners could flex Ryan Mathews, who has led the backfield in touches in each of the last two weeks. Zach Ertz has finally shown up as the tight end owners drafted back in August, with 13 catches on 20 targets for 176 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks. He's a fine streaming option this week if need be.
The Pittsburgh offense is loaded with playmakers and is the NFL's most electric unit. Fantasy owners should know by now to start all of their Steelers in the playoffs, and shame on you if you benched Antonio Brown last week. This week, he, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton should be able to run freely through the Baltimore secondary. They're all must-starts (aside from Wheaton) along with Ben Roethlisberger in what could be a championship-winning matchup. DeAngelo Williams will continue to be fed touches and is still running like it's 2008 -- he's an RB1.
Case Keenum showed signs of life for the Rams under center, but no one should trust him or his pass-catchers on the road against Seattle. Once again, Todd Gurley is the only startable asset from this team, but his owners likely won't feel great about the machup. There's a chance Seattle could get up big early and force Gurley right out of the game. Nevertheless, he's proven in recent weeks he's the kind of special talent who needs to remain in starting lineups each and every week.
Melvin Gordon landing on IR brings Danny Woodhead back into fantasy relevance, as the King of Grit scored four touchdowns last week in a win over the Dolphins. He's back on the RB2 radar with so many running backs suffering injuries this season, while Donald Brown is a risky flex play. Philip Rivers is running out of pass-catchers to throw too, but has a nice matchup this week. Antonio Gates has had at least 50 receiving yards in six of his last seven games and remains on the fringe of the TE1 tier. His matchup with Oakland is enticing.
Shaun Draughn was looking like a solid volume-based RB2 for the playoffs, but suffered an injury which led to more work for Travaris Cadet last week. Starting either back against the Lions is a tremendous risk. The rest of this offense should be avoided as well, though Boldin could have flex appeal in PPR formats.
The Seahawks offense is heating up at the perfect time, as they have a wonderful schedule in the fantasy playoffs. Russell Wilson has played out of his mind the last four weeks, with 20 total touchdowns, no turnovers and 25-plus fantasy points in each of his last five games. He's a no-brainer this week. Doug Baldwin has caught fire in recent weeks, and with his scoring spree (10 touchdowns in four weeks) has landed him into the top 10 among fantasy scoring wide receivers on the season. He's a WR2 this week, with Tyler Lockett also in the mix as a WR2/flex play against the Rams. In the backfield, the prayers of Christine Michael truthers appear to have been answered. He looked great last week (albeit in a nice matchup against the Browns), and word from the locker room was the team could see a renewed focus in their former second-round pick. He'll be a low-end RB2/flex play this week, as this backfield is far from set in stone.
Doug Martin is one of the top running back plays of the week, and should have a permanent spot in fantasy rosters vying for a championship. Mike Evans saw ALL of the targets last week (as expected), and will once again be a nice WR2 play. The Bears have allowed 10 touchdown receptions to opposing No. 1 wide receivers this year, third-most in the league. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has seen six targets in each of the last three weeks, but needs to get into the end zone to be relevant in fantasy. Jameis Winston is a decent streaming option this week, as the last two solid signal-callers to face the Bears (Kirk Cousins, Teddy Bridgewater) have posted 21-plus fantasy points against them.
Marcus Mariota is done for the season with a knee injury, which means Zach Mettenberger is once again a starting NFL QB, though he shouldn't start for you in the fantasy championships. Antonio Andrews has been a steady and unspectacular flex play this season, and will remain just that against Houston. Owners forced to start him are asking Santa for an Andrews touchdown for Xmas. Dorial Green-Beckham poses plenty of upside, but is still raw, though Mettenberger's insertion into the starting lineup. Once Mariota left Sunday's game against the Patriots, Mettenberger hurled seven targets (25 percent of his attempts) toward DGB, with the rookie hauling in five for 94 yards. That's good for a 13.43 yards-per-target average. The Texans allow just 7.09 yards per target to opposing wideouts over the last month, but DGB could use his size and athleticism to get over on their secondary for a few big pass plays from the cannon-armed Mettenberger.
Kirk Cousins is a streaming option once again versus the Eagles, though we'd like him more if he was at home, where he averages nearly 10 more fantasy points per game. This backfield is also an absolute disaster, as the touches vary from week to week and the combined production of Alfred Morris, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson still barely represents a startable back in fantasy. DeSean Jackson always has the ability to score on a big play, but his weekly floor is in the 20-30 yard range. He's moves into the WR2 category this week against the Eagles, who were a few John Brown drops away from giving up another massive game to an opposing wideout. Jackson has championship-winning upside this week. Jordan Reed sees an immense amount of targets from Cousins, and even though his playoff slate isn't ideal FPA-wise you can throw out those numbers when it comes to a player like Reed. He's is a solid TE1 with a safe week-to-week yardage floor.