By Matt Citak
It’s Week 16, which means we have reached Fantasy Football Championship Week. All of your hard work you have put in for the last four months comes down to one final showdown, where you will either leave with a fantasy championship, or be left pondering what you could have done differently. Don’t overthink your decisions this week. Stick with the guys that got you here.
What that in mind, here are CBS Local Sports’ Week 16 Starts and Sits.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Patriots that saw Pittsburgh lose their Hall of Fame-bound wide receiver Antonio Brown for the remainder of the regular season. That shouldn’t stop you from rolling with Roethlisberger this week, though. Pittsburgh will take on the Texans and their reeling defense on Christmas Day. Houston is coming off a 45-7 shellacking that saw Blake Bortles complete over 72 percent of his passes for 326 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Even without Brown, Roethlisberger is a strong QB1 in this dream matchup.
QB: Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
Although the Eagles almost lost to the Giants in Week 15, it had nothing to do with the performance of Foles. Filling in for the injured Carson Wentz, the 28-year-old quarterback threw for 237 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in Philadelphia’s 34-29 win. Foles has an equally appealing matchup this week with the Eagles welcoming the Raiders to Philadelphia on Christmas Day. Oakland’s loss last week essentially eliminated them from playoff contention, meaning this Week 16 matchup has little meaning for the 6-8 Raiders. Having to stream a quarterback in the fantasy championship is less than ideal, but if you’re forced to go that route, Foles is the best option this week.
QB: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bortles has been playing unbelievably over the last three games, tossing 903 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions, and finishing with a Passer Rating of 119.8 or higher in each contest. The fourth-year QB was 5-of-6 for 201 yards and a touchdown on throws of 10+ yards downfield in Jacksonville’s win over the Texans last week, and essentially looked unstoppable. Bortles and the Jags travel to San Francisco in Week 16 with a matchup against the streaking 49ers. San Francisco has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the last month. Bortles is another great streaming option this week.
RB: Dion Lewis, New England Patriots
Lewis has been running the ball well over the last month, finishing with at least 5.2 yards per carry in four of his last five games. But fellow Patriots running back Rex Burkhead sprained his knee last week and will be forced to watch the final two regular season games from the sidelines. This boosts Lewis’ value significantly, as the biggest knock against the 5-foot-8 running back this season has been his lack of touches in goal-to-go opportunities. Lewis will likely receive those carries against the Bills this week, who are allowing 136.2 rushing yards per game to running backs since Week 8. Lewis has a high ceiling for this week’s Fantasy Super Bowl.
RB: Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens
Poised for a big game against the Browns last week, Collins put up a giant dud. The running back out of Arkansas gained just 19 yards on 12 carries (1.6 yards per carry) while adding five receptions for 33 yards. After such a disappointing performance, it may be difficult to have a lot of faith in Collins in the fantasy championship. However a matchup against the Indianapolis Colts should squash any doubts you may have. The Colts rank 29th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (124.4) and 28th in rushing touchdowns allowed (14). The game script should favor Collins in this one, making him a strong RB2.
RB: C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
Anderson is coming off of his best game of the season. The veteran back carried the ball a whopping 30 times for 158 yards, good for 5.3 yards per carry in Denver’s 25-13 win over the Colts last week. While he is unlikely to receive 30 carries again, his matchup makes him worthy of a spot in your starting lineup. The Redskins have surrendered 125.2 rushing yards per game to running backs since Week 8, which is the second-highest mark in the NFL. Denver will likely lean heavily on their running game if Paxton Lynch is the starting quarterback, which is looking more and more likely as the week goes on. Anderson has a chance to go off in Week 16.
WR: Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers
As devastating as the injury to Antonio Brown was for the Pittsburgh offense, it significantly boosts Bryant’s value for this weekend’s fantasy championship. Bryant finished last week’s game with four receptions on six targets for 59 yards and a touchdown. His stats weren’t amazing, but the third-year receiver thrived on red-zone and vertical usage after Brown left the game. We’ve already discussed how great Pittsburgh’s matchup is against the Texans this week. Roethlisberger should target both Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster early and often in this one, putting Bryant in great position to have his best game of the season in Week 16.
WR: Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens
Wallace has been on fire over the last three weeks, averaging 92.3 yards per contest over that stretch. The 31-year-old receiver seems to have finally regained his big play ability, as he has caught a pass of 20+ yards in six different games this season. Similarly to Wallace, Joe Flacco has also been enjoying his best stretch of the 2017 season over the last three weeks. The duo’s ability to connect on downfield passes has helped keep the Ravens in the playoff hunt, and should lead Baltimore to another victory this week. The Colts have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. I’m expecting a big day from everyone in the Ravens’ offense.
WR: Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
While he is coming off the worst outing of his five-game career, Westbrook looks primed for a huge game in Week 16. The Jaguars, already down Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, lost Marqise Lee to an ankle injury during last week’s blowout victory. Jacksonville is now left with Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and Jaydon Mickens at wide receiver for their Week 16 matchup in San Francisco. You would think that a team starting three rookie wide receivers would be suffering through a lost season, but that is not the case. Westbrook has shown flashes of greatness during his rookie campaign, and has an opportunity to really make a name for himself in the fantasy championship.
TE: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Ladies and gentlemen, Greg Olsen is officially back. After catching just 1-of-4 targets in his first two games back from a foot injury, Olsen exploded for nine receptions, 116 yards and a touchdown in Carolina’s 31-24 Week 15 win over the Packers. The Panthers face another struggling defense this week as they welcome the Buccaneers to Bank of America Stadium. Tampa Bay is only allowing 10.1 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season, but Olsen shouldn’t be considered an ordinary tight end. With his big-play capabilities, Olsen can be used as a strong TE1.
TE: Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Ebron has played his best football of the season over the last two weeks. In Detroit’s last two games, the tight end has caught 15-of-18 targets for 127 yards and a touchdown. Ebron ranks first among tight ends in receptions, fourth in receiving yards, and second in fantasy points over that two-game span. The Lions face off against the Bengals this week, with Cincinnati having allowed an opposing tight end to score a touchdown in two consecutive games. Ebron’s play has been very inconsistent throughout the season, so while he has TE1 upside, he could easily bottom out and have an awful game. Starting him has its risks, but Ebron could be worth the gamble this week.
QB: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite having a poor season overall, Winston had one of his best outings of the season last week on Monday Night Football. Going up against Atlanta’s solid defense, the third-year quarterback completed an impressive 77.1 percent of his passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Since returning from a shoulder injury three weeks ago, Winston has thrown for 854 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions, and has looked a lot better than he did earlier in the season. But the Bucs have a tough matchup this week in Carolina, who forced three Winston turnovers in their last meeting. I would look elsewhere for a streaming option at QB this week.
QB: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Mariota was able to top 200 passing yards for the first time in a month during Tennessee’s Week 15 loss. The quarterback out of Oregon completed 23-of-33 passes (69.7 percent) for 241 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, finishing with a Passer Rating over 100 for just the third time this season. Week 16 is a must-win game for the Titans, but Mariota looks to be in store for a long game. The Rams just completely shut down Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks last week, and that game took place in Seattle. This weekend’s showdown will be played in Los Angeles, and Mariota enters the matchup ranked 21st in fantasy points per game among quarterbacks. I would not feel confident starting him this week with your league’s championship on the line.
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
What Garoppolo has been able to do for the 49ers over the last three weeks has been nothing short of amazing. The young quarterback has thrown for at least 293 yards in each outing, while completing over 70 percent of his passes in two out of the three, and has lead San Francisco to three consecutive victories. However those three games came against the Titans, Texans, and Bears, whose defenses pale in comparison to Jacksonville’s. The Jaguars are allowing a mere 169 passing yards per game, 20 yards less than the next best defense, and have the NFL’s most talented secondary. Garoppolo’s streak of consecutive victories as a starting QB will end in Week 16
RB: Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
Miller has been unable to find any running room over the last five games, due in large part to the poor quarterback play Houston has gotten out of Tom Savage and T.J. Yates. Against the Jaguars last week, Miller carried the ball nine times and was able to gain just 32 yards (3.6 yards per carry), adding two receptions for one yard. With Houston up against the Steelers this week, the Texans could find themselves dealing with a similar game script as last week. If Houston goes down big in the first half, they will likely abandon the running game. In addition, Pittsburgh has the league’s eighth-best rush defense, surrendering just 101.1 rushing yards per game. All of the signs point towards Miller having another dud performance in Week 16.
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders
Lynch has actually played really well over the last few games, averaging no less than 4.8 yards per carry in any of Oakland’s last three games while scoring a touchdown in two of those contests. The veteran back is now averaging 96.7 scrimmage yards per game over the past month, but that number is likely to go down after the Raiders’ Christmas Day showdown against the Eagles. Philadelphia enters Week 16 as the league’s top rush defense, allowing just 71.5 rushing yards per game. Even with Carson Wentz out, the Eagles could easily build a big lead early on in this game, which would limit Lynch’s touches. Beast Mode is still one of my favorite players in the league, but it doesn’t look like he is in position to have a good game on Monday.
RB: Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers
Week 15 was Williams’ worst outing since taking over as Green Bay’s lead rusher in early November. Although Aaron Rodgers was starting under center, the Packers fell behind early, leading Williams to finish with only 10 touches. It snapped the rookie’s three-game streak of 20+ fantasy points, and served as the first game in a month that he didn’t find the end zone. Rodgers is back on the IR, meaning Brett Hundley is Green Bay’s starting QB for this weekend’s matchup against the Vikings. While that may sound promising for Williams on paper, it’s not… The Vikings rank second in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (85.3), and are allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. If possible, avoid the Green Bay offense entirely this week.
WR: Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers
Goodwin has been on an absolute tear recently, finishing with at least 99 receiving yards in three consecutive outings. However the fifth-year receiver is unlikely to extend that streak to four games, as he has a daunting matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Christmas Eve. The Jaguars secondary consists of two of the league’s top corners in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. The performance of Ramsey and Bouye is one of the biggest reasons that Jacksonville has the league’s top-ranked pass defense. 49ers fans have to like what they have been seeing out of Goodwin and Garoppolo over the last few weeks, but those feelings are likely to end when the Jaguars come to town on Sunday.
WR: Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons
Sanu is coming off an incredibly disappointing performance in which he caught just 2-of-5 targets for 23 yards in a dream matchup against the Buccaneers. He will try to bounce back in Week 16, but that won’t be easy going up against the New Orleans Saints surprisingly strong defense. The Saints rank seventh in the league in passing defense, having allowed just 213 passing yards per game and limiting opposing quarterbacks to a 59.7 completion percentage. With defenses typically focusing on Julio Jones, Sanu always has a chance to go off. But after he recorded six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown against New Orleans in Week 14, I expect the Saints to keep more of an eye on the Falcons No. 2 receiver this time.
WR: Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Anderson has been a huge, pleasant surprise for the Jets this season. The second-year receiver has 57 receptions for 888 yards and seven touchdowns on the year, and has solidified himself as a part of New York’s plans moving forward. However the injury to QB Josh McCown destroyed his fantasy value for the remainder of this season. In his first game with Bryce Petty under center, Anderson reeled in 5-of-12 targets for 40 yards. While the double digit targets is great to see, the catch rate shows that it’s way too difficult to trust Petty’s arm, especially in the fantasy championship. Add in the fact that the Jets face Casey Hayward and the Los Angeles Chargers this week, and I’m keeping Anderson firmly on my bench.
TE: Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brate is being considered a popular streaming option this week after rookie TE O.J. Howard was placed on IR with an ankle injury. However, I wouldn’t be so fast to throw Brate into my starting lineup this week. While his usage and routes run are sure to increase, Brate and the Buccaneers are still facing a tough matchup in Week 16. Carolina is allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, and while he caught four passes for 64 yards in their Week 8 meeting, Brate isn’t 100 percent healthy. The tight end is dealing with both a hip and knee injury coming into this weekend’s game. He is expected to play, but I wouldn’t want to rely on a hobbled Brate this week.
TE: Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders
Cook has been incredibly frustrating to own in fantasy this season. One week he catches six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown, the next he has two receptions for 17 yards… That sort of up-and-down production has been the story of Cook’s season, as the tight end has not had two solid outings in a row all year. The 30-year-old is touchdown-dependent, which is not reassuring with so much on the line this week. With only one good game in the last month, Cook should be as far away as possible from your starting lineup.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.