Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 16 lineups!
Start: Tee Higgins, Jaylen Warren
Higgins won’t have it easy, likely being shadowed by Joey Porter Jr., but he gets a big boost with Ja’Marr Chase out. Higgins averaged 92.8 receiving yards and finished as a top-24 fantasy WR during four games without Chase last year. The Steelers are down multiple safeties, and Higgins has seen his target rate jump from 17.3% against zone up to 25.0% versus man — a coverage Pittsburgh uses at the league’s sixth-highest rate.
Warren posted career highs in snap rate and route participation last week, when he also had multiple runs for 10+ yards called back by penalty. Cincinnati’s middling run defense took a big hit with the loss of D.J. Reader last week, and Warren will benefit Saturday.
Start: Bills D/ST
Sit: Austin Ekeler
Buffalo’s defense is playing extremely well over the last month, as the addition of Rasul Douglas has been huge. Easton Stick produced in garbage time last week, but he’s committed four fumbles (with a pick) over six quarters since replacing Justin Herbert. The Bills are 12.5-point favorites, so game script should be favorable for Buffalo’s fantasy defense (and James Cook is a top-three RB this week).
Ekeler played 63% of the snaps in the first half of last week’s game and just 19% afterward in the blowout. Los Angeles could be on the wrong side of a lopsided score again Saturday night, and an injured Ekeler is getting just 3.6 YPC during a lost season. Ekeler saw six targets last week and still has goal-line equity, but he’s not a top-25 RB on a Chargers offense with one of the lowest implied team totals.
Start: Jonathan Taylor
Sit: Drake London
Taylor is not guaranteed to return this week, but he practiced in full Thursday without much protection on his thumb. He was acting as the Colts’ workhorse before the injury and should get a bunch of touches Sunday with Zack Moss likely out. Atlanta has a solid run defense, but this matchup should have the fastest pace of the week and is indoors. Taylor should be treated as a borderline top-five RB if health cooperates.
London is typically a solid start when at home, but Sunday looks different. He’s seen a lowly 14.3% target share from Taylor Heinicke (admittedly a small sample) and gets a tough matchup against the Colts. London’s target rate has dropped from 32.5% versus man down to 19.4 against zone, a coverage Indianapolis uses at the league’s highest rate. The Colts are also the NFL’s second-biggest run-funnel defense, so London is a bench candidate (but keep Bijan Robinson in fantasy lineups!).
Start: Aaron Jones, Chuba Hubbard
Jones saw 17-of-21 Green Bay RB opportunities during his return last week, including six in the red zone and three inside the five. It didn’t result in a big fantasy game, but it was an encouraging workload nonetheless. AJ Dillon has a broken thumb, while Christian Watson and Jayden Reed are also dealing with injuries. Jones could see an expanded role Sunday in a favorable matchup against a Panthers’ run-funnel defense allowing the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks but the third most to running backs. The Packers are 4.5-point favorites, so Jones is a top-12 RB this week.
Dontayvion Wicks is a sneaky start if Watson and Reed both sit.
Hubbard has averaged 25 opportunities over the last three games since Frank Reich was fired. Bryce Young limits his upside, but Hubbard has become a workhorse. He’s a solid fantasy start against a Packers’ run defense that ranks among the bottom of the league in DVOA over the last five weeks.
Start: David Njoku, Devin Singletary
Njoku has finished as the No. 2 fantasy tight end in back-to-back weeks, leading all pass-catchers with 14 targets last week. He’s benefited greatly from Joe Flacco taking over, as Cleveland has averaged 44+ pass attempts over the last three games. The Texans have allowed the third-most targets to tight ends this season, so keep Njoku in fantasy lineups.
Especially if Kareem Hunt plays, Jerome Ford is a bench candidate against a stingy Houston run defense.
Singletary saw 26-of-29 Houston RB opportunities last week, as he’s retaken the lead back role. The Texans will be more run-heavy with their stars missing on offense, and Cleveland’s run defense has fallen off over the last five weeks. The Browns are also allowing 17.6 more points and 147.4 more yards on the road compared to at home this season. Singletary is a top-20 RB this week.
Start: Jared Goff, Nick Mullens
Starting Goff on the road is less of a concern when indoors, and volume should be there against a tough Vikings’ run defense. The Lions have the sixth-highest implied team total (25 points) this week, and Goff has all of his weapons available. There are some schematic (and blitzing) concerns regarding Minnesota’s defense, so don’t be surprised if Goff throws a couple of picks, but the fantasy numbers should be there anyway.
Mullens is getting 8.4 YPA since taking over Minnesota’s QB role and gets a home matchup versus a pass-funnel Detroit defense; the Lions are yielding the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs but the fourth-most to quarterbacks this season. Mullens will continue to benefit from throwing to a healthy Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson, and last week’s sudden rushing success is unlikely to repeat Sunday. The Vikings have a healthy implied team total, so I ranked Mullens as a top-10 QB this week.
Sit: Terry McLaurin
Start: Breece Hall
McLaurin would be a top-10 fantasy WR in the right situation, but Washington is turning back to Sam Howell this week. The Jets are yielding by far the fewest fantasy points to receivers this season, so don’t chase McLaurin’s stats from last week.
Hall played 62% of the snaps before halftime last week but just 14% afterward thanks to the lopsided score. The Jets are favorites Sunday, when they face a Commanders defense allowing the second-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to RBs over the last five weeks. Hall remains limited by a bad offense that has somehow produced just one carry inside the five-yard line (Nick Bawden!) this season, but he averaged 8.7 targets over his previous three games and should remain in fantasy lineups in Week 16. Just note that Zach Wilson has been ruled out with a concussion.
The Jets’ D/ST is also a must-start this week.
Start: Kenneth Walker or Zach Charbonnet, DeAndre Hopkins
Walker has missed practice this week while dealing with a shoulder issue, and Seattle is the hardest team in the league in regards to deciphering injuries. K9 is a must-start if active, while Charbonnet becomes a viable fantasy option should Walker sit. Tennessee’s run defense has fallen off lately while dealing with injuries, and game script should favor Seattle considering the Titans’ shaky QB situation.
Hopkins has averaged 11 targets over the last three weeks, leading the NFL in air yards over that span. Fantasy managers would likely prefer Will Levis, but Hopkins should still see a bunch of volume if Ryan Tannehill starts. Seattle has yielded the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season (an incredibly tough five-game stretch hasn’t helped), and the Titans offense has performed far better in Tennessee this year.
The Seahawks have ceded the fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points to running backs over the last five weeks, so proceed with caution when starting Derrick Henry.
Fade in DFS: Travis Etienne ($27)
Start in DFS: Rachaad White ($28)
Etienne is the No. 3 overall scoring fantasy back this season, but he’s the RB29 in ppg since the team’s Week 9 bye. He’s worn down thanks to a heavy workload (Jacksonville had the right idea drafting a back but just picked the wrong one), and the Jaguars’ screen game is among the worst in the league. Etienne gets a Buccaneers defense allowing the fifth-fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points to running backs, and Jacksonville could struggle badly if/when Lawrence sits.
White has seen just two targets in three of his past four games, but an increased rushing workload (and two TD catches on his last four targets) has continued to lead to big fantasy weeks. Tampa Bay has played four of its last five games on the road but returns home Sunday to face a Jacksonville defense allowing the most catches and the third-most receiving yards to running backs. The Buccaneers are (slight) favorites and should face a favorable game script with Trevor Lawrence (concussion) unlikely to play.
Start in DFS: Trey McBride ($21), Justin Fields ($31)
McBride has averaged 9.1 targets and 77.4 receiving yards over seven games since Zach Ertz went on IR (and subsequently released). He’s been the No. 2 fantasy tight end and ranks first at the position in target share, targets per route run and yards per route run since taking over Arizona’s starting role. McBride has a 31% target share from Kyler Murray since the QB’s return in Week 10, as the tight end’s usage has been equivalent to a top wide receiver. Plus, Marquise Brown has been ruled out. McBride’s the real deal and gets a Bears’ defense ceding the third-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends this season.
Fields deserved far better last week in a tough matchup in Cleveland and gets a much easier setup Sunday. He’s due for touchdown regression on the ground since he’s averaging 11.3 rush attempts over his last six games and gets an Arizona defense allowing the third-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last five weeks. Fields is the QB to build DFS lineups with during a slate missing most of the position’s stars.
Start: Jake Ferguson
Start in DFS: Raheem Mostert ($26)
Ferguson is tied with teammate CeeDee Lamb for the most red-zone targets among all pass catchers this season. He leads the league in targets inside the five, so Ferguson is always a threat to score. Miami has allowed the fewest EPA/play since getting Jalen Ramsey back in Week 8, although the Dolphins have faced an easy schedule. Dallas has a healthy implied team total (24+ points) and should be passing frequently against a potent Miami offense.
Mostert has more touchdowns this year (20) than he had over his previous eight seasons in the league (19). He’s scored 13 of them over seven games at home, where the Dolphins are averaging 35.9 points. Mostert is Miami’s clear lead back, seeing 71% of the snaps before halftime last week, later giving way to De’Von Achane in the blowout. Mostert leads the NFL in carries inside the 10- and five-yard lines, and is here for fantasy managers.
The Cowboys defense ranks last in the league in success rate (45.3%) against the run, and game script could favor the Dolphins given Dak Prescott’s struggles on the road. Mostert should see a nice workload with Tyreek Hill battling an ankle injury, and Miami has the highest implied team total on the DFS slate.
Start: Ezekiel Elliott
Sit: Javonte Williams
Elliott was a bust one week after finishing as fantasy’s No. 1 back against a Chiefs run defense that ranked last in the league in DVOA over the previous five weeks, even losing a late TD run to Kevin Harris. But Elliott saw 86% of the snaps and 81% of New England’s RB opportunities last week. He gets another favorable matchup Sunday against a Broncos defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs. The Patriots defense should keep the game script in hand as well.
Williams could benefit from Denver being near touchdown favorites, but he gets the toughest run defense in the league. The Patriots haven’t allowed an RB rushing touchdown since Week 10, and no running back has reached 70 yards since Week 6. New England has let just one back run for more than 80 yards all season. The Patriots have been vulnerable to RBs through the air, but Williams splits passing-down work. He’s a bench candidate this week.
Start: Davante Adams, Isiah Pacheco
Adams will likely be shadowed by L’Jarius Sneed, but he should also see good volume with Josh Jacobs banged up and Las Vegas double-digit underdogs. Adams sees his target rate skyrocket to 38.8% and has gotten the 11th-most fantasy points per route run versus man, a coverage the Chiefs use at the league’s fifth-highest rate.
Rashee Rice is a top-10 WR this week, while Pacheco is a borderline top-10 RB during his return. Pacheco was back practicing fully Thursday, and Andy Reid expects a full workload Monday. Pacheco scored twice when these teams met earlier this season, and he could see an expanded receiving role with Jerick McKinnon battling a groin injury.
Start: Darren Waller, Eagles D/ST
Waller saw a target on 28.6% of his routes last week coming off a long layoff and should play more Monday. Philadelphia is a pass-funnel defense allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs but the 11th-most to tight ends this season. Eagles opponents have attempted the most passes in the league this year. Waller can be started this week.
The Eagles defense hasn’t put up many fantasy points lately, but they are coming off an incredibly tough schedule. Philadelphia stuffs the run, and Tommy DeVito has taken at least five sacks in five of six games. The Eagles are 13.5-point favorites, so they have an argument to be the top fantasy defense this week.
Start: Isaiah Likely, Brandon Aiyuk
Likely has seen at least six targets in three straight games, and he should be busy Monday night. San Francisco has a big implied team total (26+ points), and 49ers opponents have attempted the second-most passes this season. With Keaton Mitchell out, expect Baltimore to go pass-heavy this week. Likely has become a weekly top-10 tight end with Mark Andrews out.
Brock Purdy is averaging 318.5 passing yards (11.6 YPA!) and two-plus passing touchdowns at home this season, where Aiyuk is averaging 119.4 receiving yards. BA sets up well for a big game this week in a potential shootout. Aiyuk sees his target rate jump to 29.3% and ranks No. 3 in fantasy points per route run against man, a coverage Baltimore uses at the league’s 11th-highest rate. Fire up all 49ers in a possible Super Bowl preview Monday night.