Matt Schaub (QB | Houston Texas | Week 16: vs. Minnesota | FantasyPros.com rank: 14 | My rank: 10)
This may be an incorrect assumption, but you would assume that the Texans would want to slow down Arian Foster’s usage to get him rested for the playoffs. They sort of took their foot of the gas in weeks 13-14 when Foster had only 29 combined touches, but they stepped on it last week giving him 27 carries. My guess is that they ease up again this week and let Schaub carry more of the load. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea given that Minnesota is much better against the run than against the pass.
DeAngelo Williams (RB | Carolina Panthers | Week 16: vs. Oakland | FantasyPros.com rank; 22 | My rank: 18)
He has talent (1st-round pick in 2006), he’s getting the work (43 touches the last two weeks), and he has a great matchup (Oakland allows the third most fantasy points to RBs). The only mitigating factor is Mike Tolbert presumably getting the goal line carries. But that negative isn’t enough to outweigh all the positives.
Ahmad Bradshaw (RB | New York Giants | Week 16: @Baltimore | FantasyPros.com rank: 27 | My rank: 20)
LeSean McCoy (RB | Philadelphia Eagles | Week 16: vs. Washington | FantasyPros.com rank: 26 | My rank: 21)
Here’s how you handle Bradshaw and McCoy this week. If you’re on the fence at all about one of these two as opposed to someone else, go with these guys. Don’t feel great about guys like Mikel Leshoure, Steven Jackson, Michael Turner, or BenJarvus Green-Ellis? Fine, roll with Bradshaw and McCoy. I’m not saying you have to start them. If you have a couple safe options you feel good about, go with them. But if you’re waffling on these two guys versus someone else, I think these guys will get enough work this week to warrant a start.
Danny Amendola (WR | St. Louis Rams | Week 16: @ Tampa Bay | FantasyPros.com rank: 21 | My rank: 17)
This isn’t a tough one to figure out. Tampa Bay has allowed the most passing yards, the most net passing yards per attempt, and the second most passing touchdowns. ‘Dola is healthy, so there’s no reason to sit him in this matchup.
Jeremy Maclin (WR | Philadelphia Eagles | Week 16: vs. Washington | FantasyPros.com rank: 26, My rank: 21)
The only teams that even come close to matching the ineptitude of the Tampa secondary are Washington and New Orleans (and maybe New England and the Giants). And Washington is the only team that has allowed more passing touchdowns than Tampa. And thus, Maclin is a start.
Torrey Smith (WR | Baltimore Ravens | Week 16: @ New York Giants | FantasyPros.com rank: 35 | My rank: 22)
Smith is going to have to pass the concussion tests, but let’s assume he plays. If he does, he’ll be matching up against the aforementioned weak Giants secondary that ranks fifth in passing yards allowed, 3rd in net yards allowed per passing attempt, and that doesn’t have one of the 63 corners that have been rated positively by profootballfocus.com.
Kyle Rudolph (TE | Minnesota Vikings | Week 16: @ Houston | FantasyPros.com rank: 12 | My rank: 7)
The Texans have a good defense, but they struggle with tight end (6th most fantasy points allowed to TEs). And that’s been especially true recently. In just the last five weeks they’ve allowed two touchdowns to Marcedes Lewis and two more to Aaron Hernandez, they allowed 131 yards to the unimpressive duo of Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, and last week Dwayne Allen scored on them. Rudolph is a decent bet to continue that trend.
Benjamin Watson (TE | Cleveland Browns | Week 16: @ Denver | FantasyPros.com rank: 24 | My rank: 12)
There is no better matchup for a tight end than the Broncos. They’ve allowed double digit fantasy points to opposing tight ends eight times (most in the league), and they’ve given up three of the fourteen 20-point games to tight ends this year. It’s understandable if you can’t convince yourself to go with a guy who has less than five fantasy points in ten of his 14 games, but if you’re desperate, Watson, who is owned in just 3.4% of ESPN.com leagues, is your guy.
Indianapolis Colts D/ST (4.1% owned | Week 16: @ Kansas City)
Since week 4 the Chiefs have allowed less than nine fantasy points to opposing defenses just one time. And it isn’t like they’ve only been giving up points to solid defenses. They’ve allowed 28 points to the Oakland defense who only has 22 fantasy points on the season. That’s right; the Raiders D has 22 fantasy points against the Colts and negative six against everyone else. You can start the Colts D with confidence against the Chiefs.
Eli Manning (QB | New York Giants | Week 16: @ Baltimore | FantasyPros.com rank: 12 | My rank: 18)
What am I missing? Eli has absolutely killed fantasy owners in four of his last seven games. So how in the world could you consider him a start-able option in even a 12-team league? Especially considering the fact that he’s playing the Ravens who allow the 9th fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and the fewest passing touchdowns this season.
Trent Richardson (RB | Cleveland Browns | Week 16: @ Denver | FantasyPros.com rank: 12 | My rank: 22)
Here are Richardson’s per-game rushing totals for his last seven games: 122, 105, 95, 85, 72, 42, 28. Obviously that is not a good trend. And it will be hard to reverse that trend against the Broncos who are 2nd best in all of the following categories: rushing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed per attempt, rushing touchdowns allowed.
Steven Jackson (RB | St. Louis Rams | Week 16: @ Tampa Bay | FantasyPros.com rank: 24 | My rank: 20)
Tampa’s run defense is stout. They allow the fewest yards per carry and are the sixth rated run defense according to profootballfocus.com. Jackson has been on a roll lately, but the 91 touches he has received over the last four games may catch up with him at some point.
David Wilson (RB | New York Giants | Week 16: @Baltimore | FantasyPros.com rank: 29 | My rank: 36)
Bryce Brown (RB | Philadelphia Eagles | Week 16: vs. Washington | FantasyPros.com rank: 32 | My rank: 35)
As discussed above, you’re rolling with Bradshaw and McCoy if you’re on the fence. But if you’re still considering their backups as viable options, you need to look elsewhere. This is anecdotal, but both Wilson and Brown are young backs playing for veteran coaches behind veteran backs, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the coaches roll with the guys they know they can trust. And that may be even truer for Wilson because he fell out of favor with Coughlin early.
Mike Wallace (WR | Pittsburgh Steelers | Week 16: vs. Cincinnati | FantasyPros.com rank: 19 | My rank: 23)
This is hard to believe, but Pacman Jones and Terence Newman are both playing great football this year. Which, as a Cowboys fan, is upsetting. But they’ve been damn good. Profootballfocus.com has them rated as the 9th and 23rd best cover corners in the league. And neither one has given up a reception of over 30 yards all year. Given that Wallace does a lot of his damage via the long ball, this doesn’t appear to be a very good matchup for him.
Hakeem Nicks (WR | New York Giants | Week 16: @ Baltimore | FantasyPros.com rank: 22 | My rank: 27)
I’ll use the same analysis I used last week on Nicks…
See: Manning, Eli
Michael Crabtree (WR | San Francisco 49ers | Week 16: @ Seattle | FantasyPros.com rank: 25 | My rank: 34)
Whether or not you’re playing Crabtree is completely dependent on the results of Richard Sherman’s appeal hearing for his four-game suspension that will occur Friday. My current ranking of Crabtree reflects the assumption that Sherman is able to play either because he wins his appeal or because the decision is not handed down prior to Sunday’s game. Sherman is the 2nd best cover corner in the league according to profootballfocus.com, and he would likely be on Crabtree most of the day if he plays.
Danario Alexander (WR | San Diego Chargers | Week 16: @ New York Jets | FantasyPros.com rank: 27 | My rank: 36)
This is another scenario where a receiver is facing an excellent cornerback. Antonio Cromartie is the 4th best cover corner in the league according to proffotballfocus.com, and Rex Ryan has stated that Cromartie generally covers the other team’s best guy for most of the game.
Jermaine Gresham (TE | Cincinnati Bengals | Week 16: @ Pittsburgh | FantasyPRos.com rank: 9 | My rank: 13)
The Steelers have allowed the fourth fewest receptions to tight ends and the third fewest fantasy points to tight ends. So yeah, this isn’t a great matchup for Gresham.
Written by Brett Talley exclusively for thefantasyfix.com. If you have any further questions about this particular topic, feel free to ask him on Twitter (@TheRealTAL) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.