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

2K0GRPJ Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Paycor Stadium. 11th Sep, 2022. Tee Higgins #85 during the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals game in Cincinnati, Ohio at Paycor Stadium. Jason Pohuski/CSM/Alamy Live News

• Start Tua Tagovailoa: The Miami Dolphins will need a big game from Tagovailoa against the Dallas Cowboys, and he should be able to produce.

• Sit Austin Ekeler: The Chargers decided to see what their young running backs could do in a blowout loss last week, which could happen again this week.

• Start Tee Higgins: With Ja’Marr Chase out, Higgins will be the top receiving option for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Estimated Reading Time: 16 minutes

Deciding who to start or sit in fantasy football can be as easy as looking at the PFF rankings and going with the higher-ranked player. This start ’em, sit ’em column digs a step deeper, looking into why someone you might typically start might not have a good week or why someone overlooked might have a good week. In many cases, the usual starters should star, but we want to explore the borderline players, too.

Jump to a position group:

QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF/ST | K

WR:CB Matchup Chart



Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
  • Tagovailoa got off to an excellent start to the campaign, producing three top-three fantasy finishes over the first six weeks. He hasn’t been as productive over the last five weeks, as he's managed just two top-10 finishes over that span. 
  • The problem isn’t the quality of his play, as his grades have been relatively consistent all season. The problem is how often he’s asked to pass.
  • He’s attempted just 24 passes in two of his last three games.
  • The Dolphins face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16, and they are favored by only 1.5 points. The Dolphins have been touchdown favorites (at least) in their last five games. 
  • Tagovailoa has played better against man coverage than zone this season, earning a 94.8 PFF passing grade against man compared to 87.7 against zone.
  • He has a 12.9% big-time throw rate against man coverage, the best mark at the position. His 0.9% turnover-worthy throw rate against man ranks second. 
  • The Cowboys have lined up in man coverage at the highest rate in the league.

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
  • Goff is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season after he threw five touchdown passes against the Denver Broncos in Week 15.
  • He was very inconsistent in terms of fantasy production early in the season. He produced three top-five finishes in the first eight weeks but also had four games outside the top 18.
  • He’s been more consistent lately, with only one game outside the top 18 in his last six matchups.
  • He’s thrown at least two touchdowns in five of his last six games.
  • They face the Minnesota Vikings, who allowed plenty of fantasy points to quarterbacks early in the season.
  • Since Week 6, Minnesota has faced plenty of backups, including Tyson Bagent, Taylor Heinicke, Jameis Winston, Aidan O’Connell and Jake Browning. Browning just put together a 324-yard, two-touchdown game against Minnesota’s defense.
  • The Lions are favored to win, though not by as much as in recent weeks, so the Lions might need to rely more on Goff and less on the run game.


Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers
  • Love has scored the eighth-most fantasy points at the position this season. His worst finish in any week has been QB24, and he’s constantly finished around QB12.
  • While he played particularly well from Week 9-13, his passing grades have fallen below 70.0 in each of his last two games.
  • The Packers face the Carolina Panthers, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
  • Love has graded better against man defense, with a 12-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio against man and a 7-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio against zone.
  • The Panthers have lined up in zone coverage at the second-highest rate this season.
  • This game's total is 36, the lowest for a Packers game this season.
  • There is a chance the Packers might not need Love as much as usual, and even if they do, the Panthers' strength all season has been their secondary.
Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
  • Wilson has scored the 13th-most fantasy points this season but hasn’t finished as a top-10 quarterback since Week 5.
  • He threw for over 300 yards twice in the first three weeks but has only surpassed 225 yards once in a single game since then.
  • He’s still reached fantasy-starter status most weeks due to his high floor, but he’s less likely to get close to his ceiling this week.
  • The Broncos face the New England Patriots, who have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.
  • Wilson has graded much better against zone than man, earning an 80.0 PFF passing grade against zone compared to 62.6 against man.
  • The Patriots have lined up in man coverage at the third-highest rate in the league.
  • Despite this, the Broncos are still clear favorites for Sunday night in what should be a low-scoring game. Denver could rely heavily on the run game.
  • It will also be worth keeping an eye on the weather as there is a chance of rain or snow during the game.



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