Start: Amari Cooper — Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ)
This could very well be a must-win game for the Browns when it comes to securing a playoff spot. Even with Joe Flacco at quarterback, this isn’t a contest in which Cleveland should lose. The Jets have nothing to play for, and you wonder if the motivation factor will be in play here. Assuming the Browns come out ready to play, Cooper should be the beneficiary of multiple throws downfield.
Sit: Tyler Conklin — New York Jets (at CLE)
The Browns are fighting for playoff positioning. Meanwhile, the Jets are totally cooked. Conklin actually has been decent in the fractured season for the Jets. In 15 games, he’s hauled in 54 recptions for 560 yards. However, Conklin has zero TD grabs all year along. There’s little reason to think he’ll break the streak in Week 17.
Sit: Jameson Williams — Detroit Lions (at DAL)
While a talented player, Williams is still a relative afterthought in this offense. He has yet to have a game in which he’s accrued more than 53 receiving yards. His season-high in catches (5) came on Christmas Eve versus the Vikings. Williams also hasn’t hauled in a TD grab since November 19th versus Chicago. With all of this said, steer clear of the young receiver.
Start: Brandin Cooks — Dallas Cowboys (vs. DET)
Cooks has been an integral cog in the Dallas offense for the last two months. With CeeDee Lamb being bracketed a great deal of the time, it’s opened up some single coverage looks for the talented receiver out of Oregon State. Cooks has six TD grabs in the last 10 games — including three over the last five contests. With both Detroit and Dallas jockeying for playoff positioning, Cooks should garner plenty of opportunities to be a playmaker.
Start: Cole Kmet — Chicago Bears (vs. ATL)
Kmet has been one of those guys with a better-than-you-would-imagine season. He’s caught 70 passes for a respectable 678 yards and 6 TDs. The 24-year-old is also coming off his best game yet — going for 107 yards on four catches in the Christmas Eve win over Arizona. With nothing to lose in this game, the Bears would ‘go for it’ and try to build some momentum heading into next year.
Sit: Kyle Pitts — Atlanta Falcons (at CHI)
Pitts does have two TD catches in two of his last three contests. However, he has only three TD grabs in the entire year. This game is being played in Chicago, and we can’t see a decent Bears defense suddenly allowing Pitts to explode for a career game. Pitts hasn’t gone over 60 receiving yards in a single game since Week 5 versus Houston. Why would this all of a sudden change?
Sit: All Receivers — New England Patriots (at BUF)
Buffalo is going to be motivated to win this game. New England tripped up the Broncos on Christmas Eve, which probably is a good thing for the Bills. They won’t be sleeping on Bailey Zappe en route to a playoff spot. While we still have a few days until conclusive accuracy weather-wise, we can’t imagine a late December game in Buffalo will be a picnic to play in.
Start: Gabe Davis — Buffalo Bills (vs. NE)
In this situation, we’re riding with the hot hand. Davis is coming off a season-high 130 receiving yards on four catches in the win over the Chargers. Davis also caught a TD for good measure. While New England does boast a solid defense, Davis should see some single coverage looks downfield with Stefon Diggs drawing plenty of attention. Exploiting the field vertically is a staple of Buffalo’s offense, and as such look for Josh Allen to test the Pats over the top with Davis and his speed.
Start: Alec Pierce — Indianapolis Colts (vs. LV)
Pierce wouldn’t look like an obvious start in this game. He’s reached the 100-yard mark only once this year and has only one TD on the season. With that said, the Colts are playing at home versus an inconsistent defense. There are times when the Raiders do look capable. There are also moments when Las Vegas looks very exploitable. Pierce has a lot of speed, and we could envision a scenario where he breaks a couple of long gains against the Raiders in Indianapolis.
Sit: Mike Mayer — Las Vegas Raiders (at IND)
Despite being a high second-round pick out of Notre Dame, Mayer’s season has been rather disjointed. As opposed to being used exclusively as a receiver, the Raiders have opted to utilize Mayer predominantly as a blocker. He did catch a TD in the gigantic win over the Chargers two weeks ago. However, he was held out of the win over the Chiefs with a toe injury. We’d steer clear of Mayer moving forward.
Start: Puka Nacua — Los Angeles Rams (at NYG)
Nacua has been a monster in Sean McVay’s offense. An excellent route-runner with big-time toughness and supreme hand-eye coordination, Nacua has hauled in 96 grabs for 1,327 yards and 5 TDs through 15 games. He will surely break the 100-reception mark this week versus the Giants. While NY can be frisky, the thought of the Rams losing out on a playoff spot to an aging Tyrod Taylor or a guy called Tommy Cutlets seems unlikely.
Sit: Darren Waller — New York Giants (vs. LAR)
Even when nicked up or slightly unhealthy, Waller is the most dynamic receiver New York has. The Rams will not let Waller dominate a game that LA needs to desperately win. While Waller hasn’t racked up huge yardage this year, he’s still a dangerous player nonetheless. With a group of speedy linebackers and a couple of hard-hitting safeties, the Rams will likely ward off the middle of the field — thus forcing whomever New York’s QB is to stick to the perimeter fringes of the hash marks.
Sit: Terry McLaurin — Washington Commanders (vs. SF)
San Francisco was uncharacteristically thrashed at home in front of a national audience on Christmas Day versus the Ravens. We can’t envision the 49ers suffering a second-straight loss even with the team having to go on the road across the country to the nation’s capital. McLaurin is a talented player without a doubt. However, San Francisco has to sew this game up to put a stranglehold on the NFC’s top seed.
Start: Brandon Aiyuk — San Francisco 49ers (at WAS)
San Francisco will throw the kitchen sink at the Commanders in this game. After Brock Purdy’s bad performance versus the Ravens, Kyle Shanahan will want to get his confidence back in a good place. There’s a sizable talent advantage SF is enjoying in this contest. Aiyuk is a guy who has developed into one of the league’s best deep threats. Don’t be surprised if he’s targeted early and often for some big chunk plays over the top.
Sit: Marquise Brown — Arizona Cardinals (at PHI)
Brown is the big name within the WR corps for Arizona. With that said, he’s had back-to-back games with zero catches. There’s too much volatility with the Cardinals for Brown to be a solid fantasy option. Those issues are compounded even further when considering the fact this game will be played in Philadelphia. The Eagles haven’t been playing well — though they should roll in this game as the playoffs approach.
Start: Dallas Goedert — Philadelphia Eagles (vs. ARI)
As the playoffs come closer, Goedert’s role in this offense seems to increase. The Eagles have two elite receivers in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Both pass-catching threats are quite potent on the perimeter. The middle of the field, however, is Goedert’s domain. He’s more athletic than given credit for, and he’s also a huge human. For Philadelphia’s offense to function at the highest level, it involves Goedert moving the chains with catches in between the hash marks.
Start: Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. NO)
Both of these teams need a win here. The NFC South is up for grabs, and the Bucs will love the fact this game is being played in Tampa Bay. Baker Mayfield has resurrected his career in large part thanks to Mike Evans. The jumbo receiver has 13 TD grabs on the season to go along with 73 receptions and 1,163 yards. Evans has been great all year long, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be yet again with the division at stake.
Start: Chris Olave –New Orleans Saints (at TB)
While it’s not exactly a true like-for-like situation, the Saints’ answer to Evans comes in the form of Olave. He went over the 1,000-yard mark with a 123-yard performance in the loss to the Rams on the road. It was yet another sparkling performance from the San Diego native. Over his last five games, Olave has had four performances with at least 94 yards. Three of those went for at least 114 yards. With Olave cooking at the moment, start him and don’t think twice.
Sit: Terrace Marshall — Carolina Panthers (at JAX)
At this point in the fantasy year, you might be looking for a DEEP sleeper. Carolina hasn’t been an environment for fantasy production this year. You could be seeking someone available on the wire with upside. Marshall has a lot of physical talent but said talent hasn’t translated to production on the field. He has only 18 grabs throughout the season. While he looks like a stud on the hoof, his lack of tangible numbers suggests otherwise.
Start: Evan Engram — Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. CAR)
Jacksonville needs a win this week against the lowly Panthers. It got embarrassed by the Bucs on Christmas Eve — though it certainly wasn’t Engram’s fault. Engram had 10 catches (on 15 targets) for 95 yards. He continues to be the favored target of Trevor Lawrence. Whenever the Jags need to move the chains or rely on someone to make a big play, Engram is usually the guy they turn to.
Start: DK Metcalf — Seattle Seahawks (vs. PIT)
This is another fascinating game. Seattle is clinging onto a playoff spot, and the Steelers are equally in a precarious position pertaining to the AFC standings. Metcalf has come on of late, hauling in five TDs over the last four games. He had a slow start to the year, though Geno Smith and Drew Lock have been far more active in targeting Metcalf downfield. This trend shouldn’t stop versus the Steelers — assuming Seattle gives its QB time to throw the ball.
Sit: Keenan Allen — Los Angeles Chargers (at DEN)
Allen has missed the last two games with injury. The Chargers aren’t playing for anything, and there’s no reason to rush Allen back into action. LA is heading to Denver for a classic AFC West showdown. Despite Allen being one of the league’s best receivers for the vast majority of the year, it just doesn’t appear as if he’ll get the chance to reach the 1,500-yard mark. It’s a shame for fantasy owners who’ve relied on him all season long.
Start: Travis Kelce — Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CIN)
Kelce doesn’t look like the same player. He isn’t possessing the elite quickness off the line he once had. His numbers across the board are also down from his usual brilliance. With that said, Kelce is still the best receiver Patrick Mahomes has by a wide margin. Playing against Kelce’s hometown Bengals this week, the Chiefs are hoping to get back on schedule after a disastrous home loss at the hand of the Raiders on Christmas Day.
Sit: Romeo Doubs — Green Bay Packers (at MIN)
A touchdown vulture for much of the year, Doubs has been relatively quiet over the last few weeks. He has only one TD grab over the last five weeks. Green Bay has a multitude of young receivers it uses. With Doubs not getting a ton of volume, he’s not a slam dunk pick here. You could use him as a solid flyer — though keep your expectations measured.
Start: TJ Hockenson — Minnesota Vikings (vs. GB)
Hockenson is one of the better tight ends in the league. He’s accrued 960 yards and five TDs on the year (to go along with 95 receptions). You could do a whole lot worse than Hockenson in any fantasy format. The Vikings are squarely in the hunt for a playoff spot. Playing at home versus the Packers should provide Hockenson with the opportunity to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark AND the 100-catch mark.
Week 16 Sit/Start: Running Backs
Start: Breece Hall — New York Jets (vs WAS)
The entire Jets offense was shutout in Week 15, and RB Breece Hall had his worst game of the year. Hall carried the rock just six times for 12 yards, and hauled in one reception for six yards. That hasn’t been the norm for Hall who has shined in 2023 despite New York’s offensive troubles. He’s been leaned upon in the passing game (53 receptions on the year) and is an explosive runner who doesn’t need much daylight to break off a big gain. The Commanders are dreadful defensively, and Hall should be able to exploit them.
Sit: Aaron Jones — Green Bay Packers (at CAR)
Aaron Jones has had one of the worst years of his career. In the past, Jones’ fantasy ceiling was only limited by Green Bay’s infuriating usage of him. This year, it’s been injuries that have plagued his season — but Jones hasn’t really stood out even when he has suited up. In his return to the field in Week 15, Jones finished the day with 69 yards on 17 opportunities (four receptions). And, that was with AJ Dillon out. It’s fantasy playoff season, and we can’t suggest Jones being one of your starters if you are looking to advance.
Start: Kyren Williams — Los Angeles Rams (vs NO)
Kyren Williams has been a machine for the Rams this season. He was excellent in his return to the lineup in Week 12 (38.40 FP), and has continued his strong play over the past three weeks. Versus a stout Ravens defense, Williams finished the day with 114 rushing yards — eclipsing the century mark for total yards for the sixth time this year. Against the Commanders, Williams toted the rock 27 times and rushed for 152 yards and a score. Williams has reached the endzone in seven of ten games this year. The Saints defense has been on a tear, but this Rams offense is exceptionally high-powered.
Sit: Clyde Edwards-Helaire — Kansas City Chiefs (vs LVR)
Don’t be fooled by a single strong performance. Clyde Edwards-Helaire enjoyed his best game of the year in Week 15, totaling 101 yards and a score while hauling in four receptions. Of course, his increased role was due to Isiah Pacheco missing the contest. With Pacheco likely returning in Week 16, we will see CEH once again reduced to a backup. Prior to Kansas City’s last outing, Edwards-Helaire had just one game registering over 10.00 FP in PPR leagues (Week 3).
Start: Zack Moss — Indianapolis Colts (at ATL)
Zach Moss was well on his way to a huge fantasy day before exiting with an injury. In his limited time, Moss posted 12.30 FP (PPR) against the Steelers and scored on a receiving touchdown. The Colts ended the game with 170 rushing yards as Trey Sermon and Tyler Goodson carried the load. Moss hopes to play Week 16, and we would expect a huge game from him if he’s able to go.
Sit: Khalil Herbert — Chicago Bears (vs ARI)
Khalil Herbert entered the year as the clear starter in Chicago’s backfield, but his role has grown murkier as the season has progressed. He was out-carried in Chicago rookie Roschon Johnson three weeks ago in a game the Bears won by just two points. And, two weeks ago we saw the return of D’Onta Foreman who paced the backfield with 11 carries in his first game back. In their most recent game, Herbert handled just six of the 27 team carries which were divvyed up between six different Chicago rushers. As it currently stands, we don’t have much faith in any Chicago running back to produce a quality fantasy scoring line.
Start: Rachaad White — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs JAC)
Rachaad White has been on fire in recent weeks, and is quickly rising the ranks of top RB’s in fantasy football. White has scored at least 13.00 FP in each of Tampa’s last nine games (PPR). He topped 100 total yards for the fourth straight week last time out, and scored his eight TD of the season versus the Packers. His consistent usage makes him a strong option every week. On the year, only three RB’s have posted more points in PPR leagues than White — Christian McCaffrey, Travis Etienne Jr., and Raheem Mostert.
Start: Joe Mixon — Cincinnati Bengals (at PIT)
It looked like the Bengals season was over after Joe Burrow went down with an injury. However, Jake Browning has blown past any expectations and has looked more than capable in two starts. Additionally, RB Joe Mixon has really hit his stride with Browning under center. Over his last three games, Mixon has seen 50 carries and 14 targets in the passing game — totaling 303 yards and 4 TD’s. This is the best he’s played all year, and he’ll look to keep it going against a stingy Steelers defense.
Sit: Ezekiel Elliott — New England Patriots (at DEN)
Zeke looked great in his first chance as New England’s lead back. Going up against the Steelers, Elliott had his best game in a New England uniform totaling 140 yards plus a score. QB Bailey Zappe checked it down to Elliott seven times — a great trend for fantasy players in PPR leagues. However, we have zero trust in this offense. And, we were proven right in the Patriots’ most recent outing when Elliott finished with just 46 total yards on 16 opportunities. While his pass-game usage has been promising, we can’t bank on this Pats offense moving the ball.
Start: Raheem Mostert — Miami Dolphins (vs DAL)
Mostert has been a revelation for the Dolphins this season. Amidst all of the hype surrounding Miami’s passing attack, Mostert has collected a franchise-record 20 TD — seven of which have occurred in Miami’s last four games. Even with Devon Achane returning, it’s clear the Dolphins prefer the more experienced Mostert near the goal line. That trend should continue against a Cowboys team that is reeling after being embarrassed by the Bills.
Sit: Javonte Williams — Denver Broncos (vs NE)
Javonte Williams is the clear lead back in Denver’s offense. That much is obvious. However, he’s been inefficient in that role and hasn’t made much of an impact for fantasy purposes. Williams has eclipsed 100 yards just a single time this year, and has been held without a score in all but three games. A lack of explosion is apparent, as backup Jaleel McLaughlin often times looks more spry than the former second-round pick Williams. Denver’s offense isn’t nearly dynamic enough to trust a struggling Williams in your lineup during the fantasy postseason.
Start: David Montgomery — Detroit Lions (at MIN)
David Montgomery is having an excellent first year with the Lions. A move to Detroit has seemingly rejuvenated the former Bear as he’s been one of the best RB’s in fantasy all season. Montgomery has played ten full games this year, and has scored at least 10.20 PPR in each of those contests. That kind of consistency is key to winning your fantasy matchups. You can’t have a RB post single-digits, and Montgomery has proven that he has one of the higher floors in terms of production in the league.
Sit: Najee Harris — Pittsburgh Steelers (vs CIN)
Najee Harris has been one of the biggest fantasy busts thus far. After getting drafted in the first or second round of most leagues, Harris’ production has been nowhere near that level. Most troubling is Harris has seemingly lost snaps to backup Jaylen Warren. Neither have been very productive, and the Steelers offense isn’t nearly good enough to sustain two fantasy relevant RB’s. Harris is coming off a horrid outing (12 carries for 33 yards), and we expect that to be the norm moving forward.
Start: Chuba Hubbard — Carolina Panthers (vs GB)
Chuba Hubbard will look to make it five good games in a row. The last four outings for Carolina’s lead back have been impressive. Hubbard ran for 104 yards and two scores versus the Bucs in Week 13. Four weeks ago, he caught five passes and totaled 92 yards plus a score versus the Titans. Versus the Saints, Hubbard carried the ball 23 times and finished with 96 total yards. Last week, Hubbard eclipsed 100 yards for the second time in three games. While he’s not overly explosive, Hubbard’s usage keeps him fantasy viable. The Panthers are more than happy handing the ball off to him 20-plus times per game. That should be more than enough to post a solid fantasy outing.
Sit: Dalvin Cook — New York Jets (vs WAS)
It’s been a disappointing season for Cook who thought he’d be playing alongside Aaron Rodgers. Instead, he’s dealt with the play of QB’s like Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian. Against the Dolphins, Cook was limited to just two touches. He caught one pass for six yards. Cook’s nightmare season rolls on against the Commanders. Don’t expect him to have his biggest game of the year in this one.
Start: Tony Pollard — Dallas Cowboys (at MIA)
The No. 1 back on Dallas’ offense will always have value. Especially when it comes to Pollard who has been a massive big play threat in the past. Though he struggled to find his footing, Pollard is coming on strong as of late. Plus, the Cowboys offense will be looking for a big bounceback after that letdown versus the Bills. Easiest way to get back on track? Get the ball to your playmakers. Pollard should be featured heavily in this one.
Sit: Kareem Hunt — Cleveland Browns (at HOU)
Kareem Hunt has been on a peculiar run since returning to the Browns. Hunt scored in every game from Week 6 to Week 10 — a five-game TD streak. However, his streak was snapped in Week 11 and his fantasy totals have plummeted ever since. Perhaps most stunningly, the Browns have shown little interest in getting Hunt involved in the passing game — 29 receiving yards over last nine games. Previously one of the league’s most dangerous pass-catching backs, Hunt has one or fewer receptions in nine of 12 games this year. Even with Jerome Ford on the injured list, Hunt has not been his usual efficient-self. He’s a clear stayaway.
Start: Alvin Kamara — New Orleans Saints (at LAR)
Alvin Kamara has been the first, second, and third option for the Saints since returning from a three-game suspension. He might have to become the fourth, fifth, and sixth option moving forward. This offense has been decimated by injuries. Michael Thomas and Chris Olave were both out last game in addition to right tackle Ryan Ramczyk. The Saints need to win every game down the stretch to make a postseason appearance. On a short week, Kamara will be the featured player in New Orleans’ offense against the Rams.
Sit: Tyler Allgeier — Atlanta Falcons (vs IND)
Tyler Allgeier has seen his role decrease over the course of the season. And, it’s not all that hard to see why. Allgeier has been mostly ineffective out of the backfield this year. Week 15 saw his biggest workload in over a month, and he turned 14 carries to just 45 yards. Additionally, he’s hardly ever included in the passing game having just one reception in his last four games. The Falcons offense is in a tail spin, and we can’t trust Allgeier to put up a big performance even in a favorable matchup Colts.
Sit: Derrick Henry — Tennessee Titans (vs SEA)
Derrick Henry was forced out of the Week 13 matchup against the Titans to be checked for a concussion. Fortunately, the RB was not placed into the protocols after not exhibiting any of the symptoms. Though, he’s been largely ineffective over his last two games. In matchups against the Dolphins and Texans, Henry totaled just 43 rushing yards on a 33 attempts. That’s not going to get it done, as the Titans offense has mightily struggled during that span. Even in a favorable matchup versus the Seahawks, Henry is tough to trust.
Start: Devin Singletary — Houston Texans (vs CLE)
Devin Singletary had been excellent as the No. 1 back in Houston’s offense. His skill-set fits a pass-heavy attack better than Dameon Pierce. As such, Singletary starred in Weeks 10-12 as he averaged over 18 FP (PPR) during that stretch. When CJ Stroud went down, it was assumed Singletary was going to take a step back along with the rest of the offense. However, Singletary responded with a huge game against the Titans totaling 170 yards — and nearly had an overtime score before it was called back. With Stroud likely returning in Week 16, start Singletary with confidence.
Start: Jahmyr Gibbs — Detroit Lions (at MIN)
There aren’t too many RB’s doing it better than rookie Jahmyr Gibbs right now. The former Alabama star has been dominant since carving himself a larger role within Detroit’s offense. You can’t possibly sit him, even with David Montgomery cutting into his usage. Gibbs is too explosive and he can produce a solid fantasy day even without a ton of touches. The Vikings defense has been stingy, but showed some cracks late against the Bengals. Detroit’s offense is humming following a dominant performance against the Broncos, and should keep it up in a winnable road matchup.
Start: Saquon Barkley — New York Giants (at PHI)
The Giants don’t have much of a choice — they have to feed Saquon Barkley the ball as often as possible. That bodes well for fantasy managers who have Barkley on their squad. The former Penn State runner is a bit boom-or-bust. You’ll have to be willing to accept a lousy game here and there if he isn’t able to break off a big gain. However, he’s capable of carrying your entire lineup any given week — like he did for some in Week 11 when he scored 30.00 fantasy points versus the Commanders. The Eagles are reeling defensively, and the Giants will definitely want to spoiler versus their division rival.
Start: Austin Ekeler — Los Angeles Chargers (vs BUF)
Austin Ekeler finally broke out of his funk with a strong outing against the Broncos. The Chargers’ RB has been a consistent force in fantasy since entering the league, but had a three-week lull in which he failed to score even 10 FP (PPR). Though Justin Herbert will be out for this one, Ekeler is still a must-start. The Bills are a middling team against the run, and are especially susceptible to giving up receptions to RB’s. Even in a reduced role, Ekeler should find plenty of chances to score.
Start: Christian McCaffrey — San Francisco 49ers (vs BAL)
The No. 1 back in all of fantasy, McCaffrey is the surest bet to dominate his matchup every week. What separates him from other top backs is in his dual-threat ability. No players puts more stress on defenses both on the ground and through the air than CMC. And, 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan always has a play in his back pocket that goes McCaffrey’s way. He’s the top option this week and for the remainder of the year. The 49ers will assuredly get the ball to McCaffrey early and often in a game marquee game versus the Ravens.