Merry Christmas everyone! The NFL will be playing most of their games this Saturday on Christmas Eve, so make sure you get your lineups set for your championship game before then. Good luck and enjoy the holidays.
START OF THE WEEK: Tom Brady (vs NYJ)
I recommended Brady as a Start last week in Denver because I thought Dion Lewis would cause fits for the Broncos; I was half right, as Lewis was the main source of offense for the Patriots—but it was as a ball-carrier. TB12 remains the best quarterback in the league and needs to be in lineups every week, especially at home against the Jets. Brady is back as the #1 quarterback after last week’s tough game.
START: Derek Carr (vs IND)
Don’t be fooled by the Colts allowing just three points to the Vikings last week. The Raiders have the league’s third-best scoring offense this season and are playing meaningful games as they try to win the division and capture a first-round bye over the final two weeks of the regular season. Carr has been struggling recently, but he is too good not to bounce back soon. Start him confidently.
START: Cam Newton (vs ATL)
In last week’s win over the Redskins, Newton played well and had his first 300-yard game since the Week 7 bye week. Now, he gets a Falcons team that is 32nd against opposing fantasy quarterbacks, so he’ll look to keep the momentum going and hopefully at least finish as a top-10 quarterback for those who drafted him early in their league.
START: Matt Barkley (vs WAS)
The former USC quarterback had thrown five interceptions in his four starts since taking over for an injured Jay Cutler, but Barkley hasn’t looked bad in limited action. He just threw for nearly 400 yards and two touchdowns last week in a near-win over the Packers, and gets a good matchup for Week 16; besides Josh Norman, Washington’s secondary is a mess. Barkley is a good two-quarterback league option.
Others: Philip Rivers (@ CLE), Tyrod Taylor (vs MIA)
SIT OF THE WEEK: Russell Wilson (vs ATL)
The Seahawks are at home, and the Cardinals did just allow 48 points to the Saints, but you never know what kind of game you’re going to get between Seattle and their NFC West rivals. Wilson had just nine fantasy points in their first meeting, when they two teams did all they could not to win as both kickers missed chip-shot field goals in overtime. This could be low-scoring again, or it could be a shootout, and the uncertainty keeps Wilson out of the top-10.
SIT: Matthew Stafford (@ DAL)
Stafford looked uncomfortable before (as he talked to Troy Aikman) and during the game as he dealt with an injured finger on his throwing hand last week. The hand didn’t get any better, and it probably won’t until after the season. Dallas doesn’t have a scary defense, but their offense kills the clock and keeps the opposing offense off the field. I’d find it hard to play a guy who isn’t going to be on the field as much as usual.
SIT: Eli Manning (@ PHI)
Eli was good in the first game with the Eagles, throwing for four touchdowns, but that was at home, and the Giants quarterback remains as volatile as they come. If you think he is going to have another big game, go for it, but Manning is just as likely to throw multiple picks as he is multiple touchdowns.
SIT: Alex Smith (vs DEN)
In their win a few weeks ago on Sunday Night Football, Smith was great in Denver. The two teams have their rematch on Christmas Night, as the Chiefs look to keep up with the Raiders in the West and the Broncos look to just stay alive in the playoff race. Kansas City will likely use a similar approach as the last time, where Smith threw for just 220 yards playing as well as he did.
Others: Blake Bortles (vs TEN), Carson Wentz (vs NYG)
START OF THE WEEK: Todd Gurley (vs SF)
I’m guessing if you drafted Gurley you probably aren’t in the championship right now, but if you are, this is when it could finally pay off. The Niners probably won’t shutout the Rams like they did in Week 1, and their run defense has gotten a lot worse since the beginning of the season. Gurley has a great chance at his first 100-yard game of the season on Christmas Eve.
START: Jonathan Stewart (vs ATL)
Speaking of 100-yard games, Stewart had his first of the season in last week’s win over the Redskins, rushing 25 times for 132 yards. The veteran looked fresh on Monday night, and will look to end the season on a high-note with a couple more favorable matchups—starting this week with the Falcons.
START: Justin Forsett (@ KC)
Now, I don’t think Forsett is a great option this week or anything like that, but he’s a usable FLEX play for desperate owners. The Broncos need to get the running game going if they want to turn things around, and Forsett has looked like the best back on the roster in his short time in Denver. The Chiefs are a great defense, but they don’t have a great run defense.
START: Paul Perkins (@ PHI)
Perkins also looks like the best back on the roster, as the rookie outgained Rashad Jennings by 18 yards on seven fewer carries. The Giants need to win one of their final two games to make the postseason, so they should rely on Perkins to carry the load against Philly on Thursday night. He’s a viable FLEX play.
Others: Ty Montgomery (vs MIN), Kenneth Dixon (@ PIT)
SIT OF THE WEEK: David Johnson (@ SEA)
Wait! Don’t lose your mind about this. Johnson is still an RB1 and they only way I would bench him is if I somehow had like Jordan Howard and Latavius Murray to play over him. If you are starting him, you should lower your expectations. Arizona started easing back his workload last week (15 carries) and are now officially eliminated from playoff contention, so they should save their superstar back for 2017. A potential limited workload and playing in Seattle isn’t a good combination.
SIT: Adrian Peterson (@ GB)
Peterson proved he’s a superhuman by even playing last week against the Colts, but he struggled to find room behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Now, the Vikings need a lot to break their way to make the postseason, so AD might be given a light workload. He showed glimpses of breakout potential last week, but Peterson is just a desperation FLEX for Christmas Eve.
SIT: Jeremy Hill (@ HOU)
Hill keeps seeing monster workloads, but he’s been inefficient with his touches. Touchdowns keep saving him, but it’s tough to rely on that, especially against good defenses like Houston’s. Maybe A.J. Green’s return will lighten-up the box for Hill, but consider him a touchdown-dependent FLEX.
SIT: Rashad Jennings (@ PHI)
See Perkins, Paul. The rookie is simply a better player.
Others: Isaiah Crowell (vs SD), Dwayne Washington (@ DAL)
START OF THE WEEK: Jordy Nelson (vs MIN)
How did Jordy not make the Pro Bowl? Seriously, that makes me angry. Nelson had 73 yards and a score in the first meeting with the Vikings, so don’t be afraid of this matchup. He knocked the rust off since then and still leads the league in touchdown catches, and I would bet that Aaron Rodgers had Jordy’s Pro Bowl snub in the back of his mind. He remains a top-three play.
START: DeAndre Hopkins (vs CIN)
Tom Savage entering the lineup could help Hopkins become a savage to opposing defenses. Brock Osweiler just wasn’t getting it done for the Texans, and the former Pitt Panthers quarterback was effective after replacing Osweiler in last weeks’ comeback win. The most encouraging for Hopkins owners is Savage’s ability to get the ball down the field. I expect him to be effective in his first start this Christmas Eve.
START: Emmanuel Sanders (@ KC)
Sanders went off in his last game against the Chiefs, and he could do it again with Marcus Peters expected to guard a hot Demaryius Thomas again. The night game on Christmas Day should be lower-scoring than the 30-27 game from the last time these two teams played, but Sanders is a solid WR2 for Week 16.
START: Stefon Diggs (@ GB)
I’m talking about the past a lot this week, but sometimes a guy just has a teams’ number (or vise-versa). If Diggs plays anything like he did in Week 2 against the Packers, he should make fantasy owners very happy. The second-year wideout should put up some big numbers after the Bears had three receivers top 88 yards in Week 15.
Others: Michael Crabtree (vs IND), Ted Ginn Jr. (vs ATL)
SIT OF THE WEEK: Tyreek Hill (vs DEN)
Yes, Hill made history the last time the Chiefs played the Broncos, but Denver will probably pay more attention to the rookie on Christmas Night. As we saw last week, Hill just needs one touch to take it to the house (and be worth a fantasy start), but I would rather play safer options in the fantasy championship if I could.
SIT: Alshon Jeffery (vs WAS)
Alshon was shutout until the 4th quarter of last week’s loss to the Packers, but he finished with 89 yards and a touchdown in his first game back from suspension. Matt Barkley has proven competent at quarterback, but there is a good chance Josh Norman shadows Jeffery on Christmas Eve. Norman had been taking away receivers this season, including Kelvin Benjamin just last week.
SIT: Larry Fitzgerald (@ SEA)
Fitz started the season hot with five touchdowns in his first five games, but the future Hall of Fame wideout hasn’t scored since then. The Cardinals probably won’t have any more success in Seattle than they did in Arizona, so Fitzgerald is just a weak FLEX for Week 16.
SIT: Jordan Matthews (vs NYG)
The Eagles had given Matthews a lot of chances to make plays, but he’s not had many big games or scored since Week 8. Philadelphia will probably continue to try to get the ball to Matthews, but he is going to see a lot of Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie on Thursday night.
Others: Jeremy Maclin (vs DEN), Rishard Matthews (@ JAC)
START OF THE WEEK: Zach Ertz (vs NYG)
If the good cornerbacks of the Giants take away Matthews and the wideouts, Zach Ertz could be in for another nice game. Over the past three weeks, Ertz has lines of 9/79/1, 10/112, and 6/80. For whatever reason, Ertz always picks it up at the end of the season. Last year, he had nine catches for 152 yards against these Giants in Week 17.
START: Charles Clay (vs MIA)
Over the past two weeks, Buffalo remembered they signed Charles Clay to a big contract a couple offseasons ago. Clay has had two straight big games and will look to make it three against his former team on Christmas Eve.
START: Hunter Henry (@ CLE)
The rookie is perhaps the safest bet to find the end zone out of any tight end in the league with Gronk out. He leads the position with seven touchdowns and is doing so with Antonio Gates splitting playing-time with him. This week, the Chargers visit Cleveland, and the Browns have not guarding tight ends well this season.
START: Dion Sims (@ BUF)
Sims went off last Thursday night, and he looks like Matt Moore’s favorite target after one week as the starter. As a big target and a good bet for a score, Sims is a good streaming candidate against the Bills.
Others: Jack Doyle (@ OAK), Ryan Griffin (vs CIN)
SIT OF THE WEEK: Jimmy Graham (vs ARI)
The Cardinals allowed nearly 50 points last week to the Saints, but merely 10 yards to tight end Coby Fleener. Arizona continues to shutdown opposing tight ends, so Graham is off the TE1 map for Week 16.
SIT: Tyler Eifert (@ HOU)
Another team that defends tight ends well, Houston has allowed two for fewer catches to the position in half their games this season. Eifert could benefit from A.J. Green’s return, but there are still better options out there this week.
SIT: Jordan Reed (@ CHI)
Reed probably lost a few leagues over the past two weeks, as he scored one fantasy point in Week 14 and zero in Week 15. The star tight end is playing with a serious shoulder injury, which is clearly impacting his game… but not enough to keep him from squaring up in the middle of the field.
SIT: Dwayne Allen (@ OAK)
Allen has a good matchup with the Raiders, but he’s going to continue to spend a lot of time blocking as the Colts try to give Andrew Luck time to throw. Jack Doyle is the better play.
Others: Jason Witten (vs DET)
START OF THE WEEK: New England Patriots (vs NYJ)
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been bad this season, but at least he competed with New England in their first meeting a few weeks ago. Bill Belichick is probably happy to see Bryce Petty under center, and he should take advantage of the unpolished second-year passer.
START: San Diego Chargers (@ CLE)
START: Tennessee Titans (@ JAC)
START: Buffalo Bills (@ MIA)
Matt Moore was good last week for Miami as he threw for four touchdowns on TNF, but the Bills are a good defense and will probably be fired up to stop Jay Ajayi after he rushed for 200 yards against them last time.
Others: Philadelphia Eagles (vs NYG), New York Giants (@ PHI)
SIT OF THE WEEK: Baltimore Ravens (@ PIT)
Baltimore hurt fantasy owners last week with their three-point effort at home versus the Eagles. On the road versus Pittsburgh is a no.
SIT: Minnesota Vikings (@ GB)
The Vikings really hurt fantasy owners last week with their negative-four point effort at home versus the Colts and their banged-up offensive line. On the road versus Aaron Rodgers is also a no.
SIT: Arizona Cardinals (@ SEA)
Perhaps we will have another field goal (and missed field goal) battle between these two teams, but Seattle will probably push on the gas to get some momentum going into the playoffs. Arizona just allowed 48 points to the Saints.
SIT: Washington Redskins (@ CHI)
This seems like a good matchup to target, but the Bears offense has been decent with Barkley under center and Jordan Howard should have no problems ripping through Washington’s front.
Others: Detroit Lions (@ DAL), Carolina Panthers (vs ATL)