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NFL Week 16 fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em

Houston, Texas, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon (1) in action during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

• Start Kirk Cousins: Cousins has been on fire in recent weeks, and he is one of the lucky quarterbacks playing in a dome in Week 16, so the weather won’t cool him down.

• Start J.K. Dobbins: Dobbins is receiving double-digit carries a game and averaging over 8.0 yards per carry.

• Bench Gabriel Davis: Davis has only been a borderline fantasy starter in recent weeks, and the expected weather in Chicago isn’t going to do him or the passing game any favors.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Deciding who to start or sit can be as easy as looking at the PFF fantasy football rankings and finding the highest-ranked player. But this start ’em, sit ’em column goes a step further, looking into why some of the most popular players might struggle or why overlooked players might be in for a big week.

In many cases, the usual suspects should start, but we want to explore the borderline players, too.


QUARTERBACKS

START

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
  • Cousins has scored the fifth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks since his Week 7 bye and finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback in each of the past two weeks.
  • He’s thrown 31 passes into the end zone, which ties for the sixth most among quarterbacks.
  • The Vikings have the biggest advantage for quarterbacks this week against the New York Giants, according to PFF's strength of schedule tool.
  • The Giants employ man defense at the highest rate in the NFL this season.
  • Cousins has a 10-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio against man defenses this season, compared to 5-to-9 against zone.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
  • Jones has scored the 11th-most fantasy points among quarterbacks this season.
  • His 63.5% accuracy percentage is fifth best for quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts this season.
  • The Giants face the Minnesota Vikings, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
  • The Vikings are using zone at the third-highest in the NFL this season.
  • Jones averages 7.0 yards per attempt against zone, compared to 6.2 against man.

SIT

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
  • Goff has finished at QB15 or lower in eight of his past 10 games.
  • His rushing production has declined significantly since joining the Lions two years ago. He’s yet to run for a touchdown for Detroit, and he hasn’t even run the ball in three of his past four games.
  • The Lions face the Carolina Panthers, who haven’t allowed 300 yards to a quarterback since Week 3 and are averaging just one passing touchdown per game over the past month.
  • Detroit is favored to win while also having a game total under 45 for the first time this season. This should be a game where they run a lot and don't necessarily need to throw for many touchdowns.
Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
  • Watson is averaging 12.1 fantasy points per game, which ranks 34th among 45 qualifying quarterbacks.
  • His 6.2 yards per attempt are the fifth lowest among quarterbacks with 100 or more dropbacks.
  • The Browns have the fifth-worst matchup for quarterbacks this week against the New Orleans Saints, according to PFF's strength of schedule tool.
  • The winds in Cleveland are expected to surpass 25 mph during the game, which will make it difficult to throw the ball.
  • The Browns are favorites in what’s expected to be a very low-scoring game. Cleveland could stick with the run game even more than usual due to the weather.

RUNNING BACKS

START

Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs
  • McKinnon has scored the most fantasy points among running backs in each of the past two weeks.
  • He’s consistently played on passing downs and in short-yardage situations all season and is now also playing half the time on early downs rather than Kansas City using a third back.
  • He’s gained at least 120 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in each of those games.
  • He averages 10.8 yards after the catch, which is the second-best mark for a running back with at least 200 routes on the season.
  • He’s playing the Seattle Seahawks, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
  • This game won't have as extreme of weather as others this week, but it should be single-digit temperatures mixed with double-digit wind speeds. If anything, that will lead to more opportunities for running backs.

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