Fantasy Football

Positional Matchups: Week 16

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for FOXSports.com since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for FOXNews.com, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on FOXSportsRadio.com and follow him on Twitter.

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Through 15 weeks, our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool has solidified as a good guide to help you find friendly matchups. It’s time for your fantasy title game, and we want you to make the best lineup decisions possible.

As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start guys like Jamaal Charles, because if you ever even consider benching him, you’ll deserve to lose when he scores 9,000 fantasy points like he did in Week 15.

Note: The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues, and always refer to the position being discussed.

Thursday game: None

Quarterbacks

Stay away: Matt Ryan, Falcons (@ 49ers)

Ryan’s Monday night start will be the much-ballyhooed final game at Candlestick Park against the 49ers’ third-ranked fantasy defense (14.5 FPPG to opposing QBs), which has allowed 12.5 real-life points per game during a four-game winning streak. No, thanks.

Also:

- Tom Brady has averaged 377.5 yards over his last six games. Great, right? Sure, but there’s still reason to worry about how Rob Gronkowski’s absence will affect Brady’s numbers, as he struggled earlier this season without the Pro Bowl tight end (yes, I know he was just fine against the Dolphins). This week’s matchup against the Ravens’ ninth-ranked defense (18.5 FPPG) isn’t an easy one, and I’ve got Brady at QB13. He’s not a must-bench, but you might have a better option on your roster.

Play, play, play: Kirk Cousins, Redskins (vs. Cowboys)

“THE COWBOYS? I GET TO PLAY AGAINST THE COWBOYS THIS WEEK? MERRY CHRISTMAS TO MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” – Kirk Cousins, December 16, 2013

(Note: I didn’t exactly hear Cousins say that, but there’s no doubt that something like it came out of his mouth after looking at this week’s schedule. The Cowboys have allowed a whopping 26.4 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks, and Cousins should be considered a top-10 play.)

Also:

- Colin Kaepernick is a top-15 option against the Falcons’ 28th-ranked fantasy defense (22.8 FPPG to opposing QBs). Yes, CK7 has been inconsistent and/or disappointing. Don’t be afraid to give him a start here.

- Andy Dalton is 10th in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks this season, but has struggled lately, averaging 197 passing yards over his last four games. This week’s matchup against the Vikings’ 31st-ranked fantasy defense (26.4 FPPG to opposing QBs) is as good as it gets, and you should strongly consider Dalton if you own him.

Running Backs

Stay away: Darren Sproles, Saints (@ Panthers)

Sproles is No. 30 among running backs in FOXSports.com fantasy scoring, but he’s had two games with more than 20 fantasy points, and 10 others in the single digits. It’s difficult to trust Sproles at this point, especially in a matchup with the Panthers’ second-ranked fantasy defense (13.1 FPPG to opposing RBs).

Also:

- The Seahawks have the league’s fifth-best fantasy rushing defense (14 FPPG to opposing RBs), and held the Cardinals to 30 net rushing yards in Week 7. Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall are shaky fantasy starts this week.

- Who runs for the Browns? Willis McGahee? Chris Ogbonnaya? Fozzy Whittaker? Flavor of the Week Edwin Baker? None of them should run for you against a sixth-ranked Jets’ fantasy defense (14.4 FPPG to opposing RBs).

Play, play, play: Jordan Todman, Jaguars (vs. Titans)

With Maurice Jones-Drew’s status once again uncertain, Todman appears to be a top-20 fantasy RB against the Titans’ 31st-ranked fantasy defense (23.6 FPPG to opposing RBs). Todman ran 25 times for 109 yards against the Bills in Week 15, and added four receptions for 44 yards. Are you ready to put your fantasy title hopes in Todman’s hands? I am … except that I’m no longer competing for any fantasy titles.

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John Halpin hosts his fantasy baseball podcast throughout the 2014 MLB season on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Also:

- Bobby Rainey has had two really good games, one mediocre game and two bad games in five outings as the Bucs’ lead back. Which Rainey will appear this week? The Rams’ rush defense has improved lately, but they’re still ranked 28th against opposing fantasy runners (21.9 FPPG). Look at Rainey as a low-end RB2 in Week 16.

Wide Receivers

Stay away: Steve Smith, Panthers (vs. Saints)

Smith might be the Panthers’ top receiver, but he’s No. 39 at the position on FOXSports.com fantasy scoring. He’s also got a home matchup coming against the Saints’ fifth-ranked fantasy defense (17.4 FPPG to opposing WRs). As a fellow short guy, I’m a big fan of Smith, but did you know he hasn’t surpassed 69 receiving yards all season? He’s a flex option, and a shaky one at that.

Also:

- After a five-game stretch during which he was clearly the Falcons’ top receiving target, Harry Douglas has caught just seven passes for 57 yards over his last two games. Douglas visits the 49ers’ eighth-ranked fantasy defense (18.7 FPPG to opposing WRs), and that’s not a good spot for him. I’ve got Douglas ranked one slot ahead of Smith in the high-20s at WR.

Play, play, play: Rod Streater, Raiders (@ Chargers)

Streater has caught 19 passes for 339 yards in his last four games, emerging as Matt McGloin’s favorite target during the absence of Denarius Moore (who returned in Week 15 with two catches for 46 yards). The Chargers – though improving – are still ranked 28th against opposing fantasy wideouts (26.2 FPPG), and present an inviting matchup for Streater, who is owned in just 7.9 percent of FOXSports.com leagues. He’s WR26 on my board.

Also:

- Want to take a flier? Washington’s Aldrick Robinson has caught four passes in each of his last two games, totaling 166 yards. His Week 16 matchup with the Cowboys’ 26th-ranked fantasy defense (25.1 FPPG to opposing WRs) is a very good one, as the Cowboys would have trouble stopping your neighborhood pee wee team. Robinson is owned in just 0.2 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, so if you need to take a chance on someone because of injury, he could be your guy.

Tight Ends

Stay away: Martellus Bennett, Bears (@ Eagles)

Bennett has been a solid, dependable tight end this season, catching 59 passes for 659 yards with five touchdowns, and ranking 10th at the position in FOXSports.com fantasy scoring. With that said, if you own the 10th-best tight end, you’re always at least considering a better option. The Eagles own the league’s stingiest defense against opposing fantasy tight ends (5.1 FPPG), and will be ready to clamp down on Bennett Sunday night. I’ve got Bennett at TE13 – not a horrible spot, but a bit lower than normal.

Play, play, play: Delanie Walker, Titans (@ Jaguars)

Yes, Walker was in this spot last week, and he came through with eight catches for 53 yards and a score. His Week 16 matchup is with a Jaguars’ D that ranks 31st against opposing fantasy tight ends (10.1 FPPG), allowing an average of six catches and 66.7 yards to players at the position. Walker has become Ryan Fitzpatrick’s second favorite target behind Kendall Wright, and should be in line for another solid game this week.

Also:

- With Owen Daniels (broken leg) and Garrett Graham (hamstring) still uncertain for the Texans, rookie Ryan Griffin could get another chance at fantasy glory. Griffin caught six passes for 62 yards against the Colts in Week 15, and has a matchup with the Broncos’ 25th-ranked fantasy defense (9.1 FPPG). If you grab Griffin (owned in 0.1 percent of FOXSports.com leagues) off the wire and start him, hope that the Texans fall behind early, causing Matt Schaub to throw a lot in garbage time. I’ve got Griffin at TE14, and wouldn’t be afraid to roll with him if his teammates remain sidelined.

Thanks for reading this weekly feature all year, everyone. This is the final edition – hit me on Twitter (@jhalpin37) if you need matchup help next week.

Tagged: Falcons, Bears, Browns, Cowboys, Titans, Raiders, Patriots, Saints, 49ers, Buccaneers, Redskins, Panthers, Jaguars, Cardinals, Texans, Tom Brady, Steve Smith Sr., Matt Schaub, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Darren Sproles, Delanie Walker, Martellus Bennett, Matt Ryan, Harry Douglas, Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Todman, Kirk Cousins, Bobby Rainey, Rod Streater

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