In seasonal fantasy football, matchups often boil down to which owner makes the right start/sit decisions. You can’t hold allegiances to projections or name recognition, you simply have to play the guys you think will wind up with the most fantasy points.
Here are the fringe options that might should be in your fantasy lineup in Week 16.
QB Baker Mayfield vs. CIN
After three consecutive disappointing starts (from a fantasy perspective), Baker Mayfield faces the same Bengals defense that he shredded for 258 yards and 4 TDs on the road in Week 12. Cincy ranks 26th in DVOA pass defense, and only three teams have given up more passing TDs (28) this season. The Bengals are poorly equipped to deal with the Browns strong interior passing game, which features slot-maven Jarvis Landry and freakishly fast TE David Njoku. Mayfield also has a pair of capable receivers coming out of the backfield in Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson. The Bengals have allowed a 70.4% completion rate and 106 passer rating on the road this season, so Mayfield should at least be able to approach his production in Cincy.
RB LeSean McCoy @ NE
The Patriots are starting to stumble, and everyone will want a chase to throw some dirt on the pile. LeSean McCoy sat out a meaningless game against Detroit last week but may give it a full go to spoil New England’s chances to clinch the division. The Patriots run defense has been anemic, yielding 4.95 YPC along with an above-average 77 receptions to the position this season. McCoy was a featured part of Buffalo’s game plan when they hosted the Pats earlier this season and would serve as a good complement to run-first QB Josh Allen if active. If he’s inactive along with Chris Ivory (shoulder) and Marcus Murphy (knee), UDFA Keith Ford could be worth a plug-and-play in this spot.
RB Jamaal Williams @ NYJ
The Packers are officially eliminated from postseason contention and have no reason to stretch future franchise back Aaron Jones (knee). Jamaal Williams will take over and should be motivated by the consistent chatter that he had no business ever taking snaps from the more talented Jones. Williams appeared to have a spring in his step while turning 16 touches into 97 yards and a TD in the toughest matchup imaginable at the Bears last Sunday. Now he’ll face a Jets team that ranks 20th in DVOA rush defense and has given up 11 rushing TDs to opposing backs this season. Start him with confidence.
WR Alshon Jeffery vs. HOU
Since Nick Foles is more of a typical pocket passer, his presence under center may continue to benefit Alshon Jeffery. The duo dominated throughout the playoffs last season and rekindled their magic last Sunday, as Jeffery caught 8-of-8 targets for 160 yards against Aqib Talib and the Rams. Talib is one of the bigger CBs in the league, and the Texans don’t have the same presence on the outside, with Jeffery slated to see plenty of 5-foot-11, 34-year-old CB Jonathan Joseph. Houston’s stout run defense should force Foles to air it out once again and look for his favorite target.
WR DaeSean Hamilton @ OAK
Coming to life late in the season with Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles) on I.R., DaeSean Hamilton draws a fantastic matchup in Week 16. The Raiders are 31st in DVOA pass defense, but yield limited production to opposing WR s because they can’t stop the run. Oakland also sells out to stop the opposition’s No. 1 receiver (stunningly first in DVOA against top WR), but ranks 29th in DVOA pass defense against other receivers. Raiders starting CB Gareon Conley is in concussion protocol, and they have limited depth behind him. Hamilton has seen a whopping 21 targets over his last two starts and could see a ton of looks again if the Raiders double No. 1 WR Courtland Sutton according to their usual defensive scheme.
TE Kyle Rudolph @ DET
Last week, the Vikings made it clear they’re going to establish the run under new offensive play-caller Kevin Stefanski. Detroit will be ready to try and stop that rushing attack this week, which will open things up for Kyle Rudolph to leak out on play-action passes and potentially score a red zone TD in that fashion. The Lions were awful in run defense during the first half and have allotted more resources towards the front seven along with acquiring NT Damon Harrison. But Detroit ranks 26th in DVOA pass defense against opposing TEs and is exploitable in the middle of the field. Rudolph still hasn’t caught a TD since Week 3 but is worth starting at a very shallow position.