From the Sports Deck: Fantasy football advice week 16


Courtesy of ESPN

Zack Goodrow, Sports Editor

Well fantasy football player, here we are, championship week. Congratulations if you’re competing for a league title this week. I am not after losing last week, thanks again Adam Thielen for that two catch performance it really helped me out. Good luck to those who are still competing out there and happy holidays.

START: Justin Herbert – Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert may be on his way to an AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year award. After Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow went down a couple months ago, Herbert has excelled and looks to be in a top position to claim the award. Herbert has not only looked impressive on the field but also in fantasy football leagues. He had his second best performance of the season last week against the Las Vegas Raiders, scoring 27.96 points. This week Herbert and the Chargers will take on the Denver Broncos. While the Broncos defense may be better than the Raiders, they do give up an average of 19.91 points to opposing quarterbacks. Herbert will likely end his rookie season on a strong note in these last two weeks of play. 

SIT: Ryan Tannehill – When this season started, I had my doubts that the Tennessee Titans, led by QB Ryan Tannehill, would continue to win games. After making it all the way to the AFC Championship game, I thought the Titans would slip in the NFL standings and Tannehill would regress. I was wrong. This Titans team led by Tannehill is 10-4 and they look like a true contender for an NFL Championship. Against the Green Bay Packers this week, Tannehill and company will face a great secondary. In a game that should be a high scoring affair, I believe the Titans will rely on star running back Derrick Henry on offense. This may not mean that Tannehill will have a subpar performance, but I’d be wary of starting him the week over other safer options like Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady and Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield.   

START: Antonio Gibson – If Washington Football Team RB Antonio Gibson is cleared to play this Sunday, he should be an excellent start. Gibson has missed the past two weeks with a toe injury and has been limited in practice all week. Surprisingly, this week against the Carolina Panthers is a must win game for Washington in a wide open NFC East division. With shaky QB play, Washington will have to lean on their run game and defense in order to pull out a victory. If Gibson plays, he should have a solid performance against a weak Carolina run defense that gives up an average of 25.32 points to opposing running backs. 

START: Leonard Fournette – Yet again, the Buccaneers will be without RB Ronald Jones as he is on the NFL COVID list. RB Leonard Fournette should see the majority of the carries again for Tampa Bay this week. Last week, Fournette had a solid performance scoring 21.5 points against the Atlanta Falcons. That point total should only improve this week against the Detroit Lions who have the league’s worst run defense. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to start Fournette this week against a soft Lions defense that has hardly any of their top coaches participating in this matchup because of COVID. Sorry Lions.  

SIT: Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Kansas City Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire is doubtful to play this week against the Atlanta Falcons with a high ankle sprain and hip injury. It’s very likely that Kansas City will sit him for the next two weeks in order to keep him fresh for their Super Bowl push in the playoffs. While it may be obvious that Edwards won’t play, coach Andy Reid apparently loves to troll fantasy football players. In Week 13, Reid had Edwards-Helaire suit up and was listed to play in their matchup against the Denver Broncos. Fantasy players, along with myself, who have Edwards-Helaire on their team were understandably outraged when Reid didn’t play his starting RB a single snap. Even if Edwards-Helaire suits up this week, do not put him in your starting lineup. You would be playing with some very hot fire. 

SIT: Kenyan Drake – After starting the season slow, Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake has been putting forth some steady performances. While he has gotten things back on track, last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Drake scored a miserable six points. Against the San Francisco 49ers this week, I have little faith that Drake will score more than ten fantasy points. The 49ers have a good run defense that gives up an average to 20.62 points to opposing backs. This is also a very important game for the Cardinals as they try to lock up a spot in the playoffs this year. I suspect the team will lean on QB Kyler Murray in the passing and run game for most of their offense, leaving Drake as a second option. 

START: Mike Evans – Starting any player against the Detroit Lions is a great way to win a fantasy football championship this week. This week, Buccaneers WR Mike Evans should reap the benefits of playing a weak Lions secondary. Against the Falcons last week, Evans scored 17 points on six catches for 110 yards. Evans should see similar productions as the Buccaneers top receiver this week against Detroit.  

START: Cooper Kupp – Speaking of bad secondaries, the Seattle Seahawks have given up a league worst 44.96 average points to opposing receivers so far this season. The Los Angeles Rams will take on the Seahawks this week in a game that may decide who wins the NFC West. This should be a hard fought game with some spectacular plays. Rams WR Cooper Kupp should see the most targets for the Rams, giving him a solid chance to be one of the top fantasy receivers this week. 

SIT: Tyler Lockett – On the opposite end of the spectrum, Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett, would be a risky start. Unlike the Seahawks, the Rams have the best secondary in the league giving up only 29.18 points to opposing receivers. The “let Russ cook” experiment has not been going well as of late. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has struggled in the past few weeks as well as their passing game. Lockett hasn’t scored more than 14 fantasy points in the past month and this shouldn’t change against a tough Los Angeles secondary. 

SIT: A.J. Brown – As I discussed before, the Titans will face a menacing Packers secondary this week. Packers star CB Jaire Alexander will most likely match up opposite of Titans WR A.J. Brown. This will not be an optimal match up, as Alexander has shut down the receivers he’s faced in man coverage all season. I would be skeptical to start Brown as fellow receiver on the team Corey Davis and RB Derrick Henry should see more targets for the Titans. 

START: Noah Fant – Broncos tight end Noah Fant has performed adamantly this season. He had his best fantasy performance last week against the Buffalo Bills as he produced 20.8 points with eight catches for 68 yards and a TD. Fant has an opportunity to improve those numbers this week against the Chargers. Los Angeles gives up an average of 13.89 points to opposing tight ends, tenth worst in the league. With ample opportunities to see the ball this week, I’d be confident sticking Fant into my lineup this week. 

SIT: Jonnu Smith – Titans TE Jonnu Smith is questionable to play this week with a knee injury. Last week, Smith scored only 10.2 points against the Lions. Again, the Lions have a horrendous defense that should see way more production at the opposing the TE position. Green Bay gives up a mere 9.89 points to opposing tight ends, the fourth best mark in the league. If Smith couldn’t produce anything great against the Lions, I seriously doubt he’ll fare any better against a tough Green Bay team. 

KICKER: Wil Lutz – Ah, the New Orleans Saints versus the Minnesota Vikings. A matchup that will most likely come down to the wire and will be tightly contested, right? Yeah I didn’t think so. The Saints should be able to run away with this game with QB Drew Brees back under center. Saints K Wil Lutz should have plenty of chances to kick field goals and extra points. 

DEFENSE: New Orleans Saints – This Saints defense should have a field day against a struggling Vikings team. QB Kirk Cousins has a tendency to throw interceptions and the Vikings offense has heavily struggled at some points this year. The Saints should have an excellent chance to get a few interceptions and some sacks against a frail offensive line.