We’ve made it to the penultimate week of the NFL season, and if you’re still playing that means you’ve more than likely advanced to your league’s final showdown. If that’s the case, congratulations. You know that this week’s lineup choices will be more important than ever before this season. Below are my fearless suggestions for championship week, but before we move forward, let’s look back and see how I did in Week 16.
For transparency purposes, we’ll measure quarterbacks and tight ends against Top 12 finishes (QB1 and TE1) and we’ll measure running backs and wide receivers against Top 24 finishes (RB1-2, WR1-2). All finishes come from Fantasy Pros PPR scoring leaders lists found here.
Week 16 Starts
QB: Joe Burrow, QB1 hit. Burrow was outstanding against the Bengals.
RB: Ronald Jones, RB12 hit. Jones wasn’t the only back to score for Tampa, but he was still an RB1.
WR: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR6 hit. St. Brown continues to thrive for the Lions.
TE: Dallas Goedert, TE29 miss. The Eagles forgot about Goedert Sunday.
Start Record: 3-1
Week 16 Sits
QB: Russell Wilson, QB15 hit. Wilson hasn’t been the same elite player he once was.
RB: Darrell Henderson, RB74 hit. Henderson appears to be the depth back now.
WR: Amari Cooper, WR9 miss. After a few weeks of little production Cooper went off in Week 16.
TE: Tyler Conklin, TE19 hit. Conklin remains a low-end TE2 in fantasy.
Sit Record: 3-1
Start: Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
About: Jimmy Garoppolo has been solid, a start most weeks. But he’s injured and will miss, giving the third overall pick his second start of the season. I suspect he’ll make the most of it and give San Francisco plenty to consider this off-season. In his first start, in Week 5, Lance didn’t throw a ton but he was an effective runner. Even without scoring a touchdown, he was QB20. I think he’ll get in the end zone against Houston and will make it into the Top 12.
Sit: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
About: Baker threw four interceptions in a loss to the Packers last week. On Monday Night Football, in a must-win game against the Steelers, I don’t want my fantasy fate resting on his arm. Baker is just QB25 on the season, not consistent enough to warrant a start in Championship Week.
Start: Sony Michel, Los Angeles Rams
About: Michel’s trade to the Rams prior to the season made waves, but for much of the early going it didn’t result in much. But Darrell Henderson was knocked out and Michel took the starting gig in Week 13. In those four weeks, he’s RB3. Henderson is on IR and while Cam Akers was activated after tearing his Achilles over the summer, I don’t expect him to carry much of the load. Michel has been great for the Rams and he’ll be great in your fantasy lineup this week.
Sit: Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
About: While some are thinking this is obvious, Vaughn’s big contributions in Week 16 have people wondering if he’s worth a play. I, too, was excited to see him contribute, including a highlight-reel 55-yard touchdown run. But he had just seven carries for 70 yards total, with no receptions. Ronald Jones, meanwhile, finished as a Top 12 back. Vaughn’s performance is encouraging in the long run, but it’s not quite time to throw him in your lineup during a championship week.
Start: A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
About: I get that the Titans are playing the Dolphins, who have a good defense. But Brown is special. After four weeks out, he returned to 11 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown on 16 targets. He’s not only the most special player on the Titans’ offense, but he’s also one of the most special players at his position in the league. I’m firing him up without hesitation.
Sit: Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team
About: I love McLaurin, but Washington is really struggling. The team has lost three straight games and indications this week are that quarterback reps in the game will be split between Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen. That’s never a good thing. McLaurin is a talented player but this offense isn’t working. Since Week 13, McLaurin is WR83. That’s not the kind of performance you want to rely on when it counts, especially against an opportunistic Eagles’ defense that has plenty to play for this week.
Start: Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
About: With DeAndre Hopkins out of commission, Ertz has become the go-to guy for Kyler Murray in the Cardinals’ passing game. Since Week 14, he’s TE7. He’s getting a good volume of targets and showing why the Cardinals made a move to acquire him. In a tough matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, the Cardinals will need pass offense, and Ertz figures to be a huge part of the equation.
Sit: Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
About: Freiermuth is another player for whom I love the talent but just can’t buy the situation. The rookie caught fire early in the season and sits as TE13 overall. That seems pretty good but the issue is the Steelers’ pass offense. Freiermuth hasn’t seen more than four targets in a game since Week 11. You’re relying on him getting a touchdown to make your day, which could happen, but it doesn’t feel like a sure bet. I’m looking elsewhere during a championship week.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.