Henry John @HankTimeSports
Week 16 of the NFL season means Championship Week in the vast majority of Fantasy Football Leagues. With league titles on the line, start/sit decisions are under the microscope more than ever this week. While I advise taking advantage of positive matchups, there is such a thing as being too cute and benching high-floor Fantasy stalwarts for matchup-dependent plays. I have sorted through the best streaming options at each position to tell you what’s a calm play and what is too cute for your own good.
For the calmest (and best) DFS plays of Week 16, click HERE!
If you are one of those owners who made it all the way to your league’s championship game while playing quarterback roulette all season, you undoubtedly have some familiarity with Gardner Minshew. He is once again the best streaming option at the position this week. While the Atlanta Falcons have been playing better on defense of late, they still rank 25th in adjusted pass defense per Football Outsiders and dead last in Fantasy points allowed per game to the QB position (21.26). Add in the now likely return of top wideout D.J. Chark and “Minshew Mania” could be in full effect for Champ Week.
Drew Lock has a stellar Champ Week matchup against the Detroit Lions, who are allowing 17.45 Fantasy points per game to the QB position. While I would advise keeping him away from your opponent if you have the roster space to do so, I don’t think he warrants an actual start. From a game script standpoint, Denver may be running the football often if they jump out to a lead. Even with Lock’s fine play since getting the starting nod, the RB duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman remains the focal point of the offense. Lock was also a late add to the injury report due to an illness. While he is almost certain to play, starting an ill QB is not advised with a Fantasy championship on the line.
With Dalvin Cook already ruled out and Alexander Mattison appearing to be limited if he can play at all, Mike Boone is set to be the lead back for the Vikings on Monday Night Football against the rival Green Bay Packers. The 24-year old out of Cincinnati proved himself plenty serviceable when called upon in last week’s game, racking up 56 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 total carries against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Packers rank 25th in adjusted run defense according to Football Outsiders, and they give up a healthy 24 Fantasy points per game to the running back position. Boone is a viable play for me this week, especially if Mattison is also held out of Monday’s game entirely.
Josh Jacobs has already been ruled out, so the onus will fall on DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard to handle Oakland’s backfield duties. It was Washington who dominated touches when Jacobs was forced out of the game two weeks ago. Despite this and the fact that this week’s opponent, the Chargers, allow the 7th-most Fantasy points per game to running backs, Washington isn’t a must-start for me with Fantasy Chips on the line. An offense gone stale is a large part of why the Raiders are now all but eliminated from playoff contention. Oakland has scored an average of 13.2 points over their last five games. With the Chargers being healthier on defense now than earlier in the season, it could be another long afternoon for Jon Gruden’s offense.
Mike Williams has probably been one of the bigger Fantasy Football disappointments this season given where he was likely drafted. A combination of nagging injuries and a struggling Chargers offense plagued him much of the year. Yet he still finds himself on the Champ Week starter radar after a good run of late. Williams caught his first TD pass of the season two weeks ago and followed it up with another last week on one of his 9 targets. That total marked his third highest number of targets this season and highest since all the way back in Week 6. Provided that Philip Rivers can get him the football, Williams has an opportunity to thrive this week against the 31st-ranked Raiders pass defense, per Football Outsiders.
With the plethora of injuries that the Eagles have suffered at the wide receiver position, Greg Ward has seen a significant uptick in usage the last few weeks. The Philadelphia pass offense has been far from prolific this season. Despite perhaps being the best healthy receiver on the roster, Ward will continue to face competition for targets from tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. In addition, this week’s opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, are giving up the sixth fewest Fantasy points per game to wide receivers (29.79). Despite being the recipient of 9 targets in the last two games and going for 61 yards and a touchdown last week, Ward does not warrant a spot in your Champ Week starting lineup.
Did you really think back early in the season that you could calmly start a Miami Dolphin in Champ Week? Well I am all over Mike Gesicki this week. The matchup is golden as he goes against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that ranks last in Fantasy points allowed per game to tight ends (15). Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown no hesitation to look Gesicki’s way of late, targeting him six or more times in 6 of the past 7 games, including a season-high 8 targets just last week. Gesicki’s athleticism is undeniable. Expect it to be on full display this week.
Sunday will mark the first time Greg Olsen has played since he suffered a concussion in Carolina’s December 1st game. There has been a change in both head coach and quarterback for the Panthers during Olsen’s absence. Rookie Will Grier is set to make his NFL debut on the road against the Indianapolis Colts this week. While the Colts have allowed the third-most Fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, Olsen is a very risky play for me this week given the unknown factor of Grier. With Christian McCaffrey likely to continue hogging touches and D.J. Moore emerging over the past few weeks, I’m not convinced Olsen will see enough targets to produce.