Congratulations on making it to your championship game for your fantasy league! My biggest suggestion is to play your studs. Don’t put much stock into matchups. Bet on talent. Bet on your studs. However, pay attention to the news. It used to be Week 17 that teams rested their players. Many are now doing it in Week 16, as well. Pay close attention to coach speak on Sunday morning. You normally can’t trust it but in Week 16 and Week 17, it is more legitimate. Some of the starters (mainly RBs) might not sit entirely, but they may not play much after the first quarter or first half.
This article is to provide some additional information as you set your lineups for Championship Week. If you have a player that we list in the “sit” category, you shouldn’t automatically sit him because you might be replacing him with a much worse player. Think of Start/Sit rather in terms of “Confident/Cautious.” These are players that we seem to be getting a lot of questions about. We offer our take on whether you should take a confident or cautious approach to playing them this week.
In most cases, we don’t touch upon the obvious plays. We don’t list obvious plays so we can look like we are smart when the obvious plays do what obvious plays do. That doesn’t help you. We try to look at some of the plays that are questionable and give you insights on those.
Remember to check the news and injury reports, leading up to roster lock for the various game times. Nobody knows exactly what will happen from week to week in the NFL but use all the information and resources available to you to make the best decisions possible for your lineup. We believe in having a good process and good rationale. Good luck and have fun!
Start – Mitchell Trubisky @ 49ers
Not an automatic start but definitely worth consideration. I like him in this matchup in the warm California weather. He always provides potential points with his legs. Lately, the Bears are playing at a much higher pace. Overall, the 49ers only have two interceptions this year. They’ve also allowed at least two touchdowns in 11 of their 14 games this season and 4 of their last 5. Prior to getting hurt during the Week 11 game, he had 30+ fantasy points in three of his previous six games. Last week, he seemed to show a little of that magic again. Start your stud, but if you don’t have a stud, Trubisky is a nice option that might get overlooked because he has been hurt.
Notables – Josh Allen vs. Patriots, Baker Mayfield vs. Bengals, Dak Prescott vs. Bucs
Sit – Kirk Cousins @ Lions
Could Kirk Cousins, with his two amazing Wide Receivers, pass for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns? Yes, most definitely! However, the most likely scenario is that the Vikings win this game easily and rely upon Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray for much of the game. Cousins has only had two games of 20+ fantasy points in his last 10 games. That is the most likely scenario.
Notables – Jameis Winston @ Cowboys, Nick Foles vs. Texans
Start – Phillip Lindsay @ Raiders
He struggled a little bit last week but don’t forget about him. Prior to last week, he had double-figure fantasy points in 12 of his 13 games. He is a good runner that has earned the Broncos trust but it is his ability to catch passes that gives him such a nice floor. This week, he gets a Raiders defense that gives up the most rushing yards per game (146) in the NFL. Lindsay ran for 107 yards on only 14 carries in a Week 2 matchup against the Raiders (when Lindsay wasn’t yet the bell cow back). The Broncos have struggled as a team the last two weeks. But they had won three in a row prior to this downturn. During that three-game win streak, he had 5 touchdowns. The Broncos are the favorites in this game so I look for Lindsay to do what he wants against the Raiders.
Notables – Elijah McGuire vs. Packers, Jamaal Williams @ Jets, Marlon Mack vs. Giants
Sit – Tevin Coleman @ Panthers
This is a major cautionary play this week. Yes, Coleman went off last week for 145 yards and a touchdown. BUT he only had 11 carries and 0 receptions. He has talent but he is dependent upon big plays. Unless you are a huge underdog in your matchup, be careful playing someone only getting 11 touches. The Panthers defense does not generally give up big plays. When you combine the lack of usage Coleman has gotten this year with a matchup against a defense like Carolina, then it’s a cause for concern. The most carries Coleman has had in a game all year is 16 back in Week 2. There is another dynamic at play in this game (that is pure speculation on my part, though), and that is the Falcons are out of the playoff discussion and they may take these last two games to see what they have in a player that has some potential that they like in Brian Hill, who ran for 87 yards on 17 carries and caught 6 balls for 70 yards and a touchdown during the preseason. The bottom line is that I don’t trust the Falcons giving Coleman enough opportunity that his talent might suggest. Also, as a bonus, be aware of Leonard Fournette’s status. He has been hurt all year and Jacksonville has capable backs behind him and they are out of the playoff discussion so no need to play him. He got just one carry in the 2nd half last week.
Notables – James White vs. Bills, Josh Adams vs. Texans
Start – Robby Anderson vs. Packers
I cannot believe that I am writing up Anderson in my start column. I am a Robby Anderson-hater. Not because of his talent. Lord knows, he has speed and talent. I just don’t think he is consistent, and I don’t like his off-field decisions (which, I think carries over into his on-field consistency issues). But I can’t argue with his results the last couple of games. Maybe he has gotten the consistency thing figured out and has a connection with Sam Darnold. He has seen 18 targets in the last two weeks (catching 11 of them). He has averaged 86 yards per game and has two total touchdowns in that stretch. The Packers are not very good defensively and tend to give up big plays. Seven times this season, a Wide Receiver has scored multiple touchdowns. Robby Anderson is a big play guy and he could easily make that number go to eight after this game.
Notables – Robert Foster @ Patriots, Calvin Ridley @ Panthers, Kenny Golladay vs. Vikings
Sit – Sterling Shepard @ Colts
I have been mistaken about Shepard for a number of weeks now. I thought he’d be able to fill in for Odell Beckham, Jr. but that hasn’t been the case. This is a common mistake we make in thinking that when the number one guy goes out, that they number two guy just slides over and takes his place. Shepard has not been able to pick up the slack. He might just be a really good number two. He has failed to reach double-figure fantasy points in 6 of his last 7 games. The only game that he did was when he had 11 points against the 49ers in Week 10. He’s still seeing targets (which is a good sign) but is just not pulling them in and converting them for catches. Especially with Evan Engram starting to play well, I am going to pass on Shepard this week.
Notables – Curtis Samuel vs. Falcons, Larry Fitzgerald vs. Rams, Demaryius Thomas @ Eagles
Start – Evan Engram @ Colts
I have been cautious about relying on Evan Engram most of the year. There is no question that he has talent but I didn’t think he was a must-start. I do now as he is showing that he has overcome his injury and Eli Manning is trusting him (especially with OBJ out). He leads the team with 17 targets and 152 yards in the last two weeks that Odell has been sidelined. Engram has had double-figure fantasy points in each of the last two weeks and that has been without scoring a touchdown. The Colts have not been great against Tight Ends this year giving up the most yards per game to the position (74) of all the NFL teams.
Notables – Trey Burton @ 49ers, Jimmy Graham @ Jets, Vance McDonald @ Saints
Sit – C.J. Uzomah @ Browns
I am all about targets, touches, and opportunity when it comes to fantasy options. But, sometimes a guy gets plenty of opportunity and just doesn’t have the talent to produce fantasy goodness. Uzomah has only one double-digit fantasy game all year and that was 11 points in Week 6. The last time that he went against the Browns, Andy Dalton force fed him 13 targets and he turned that into 6 catches for only 39 yards. He has shown to be unproductive this year and the Browns present an even stingier defensive group than when they played earlier this season.
Notables – Matt LaCosse @ Raiders, Ian Thomas vs. Falcons, Kyle Rudolph @ Lions
This is the only position that I would recommend really looking at the matchup this week. Sure, the stud defenses can come through regardless of the matchup. You might also want to consider dropping the defense you’ve played all year and picking up another team since you don’t need anyone for next week. Remember, low scoring games is not the only factor for a good defense. Conversely, going against a high-scoring offense also doesn’t automatically eliminate a defense. You can’t predict fantasy defensive scoring, but you can predict opportunity. You typically want defenses that are aggressive and get pressure on the quarterback. This pressure can lead to turnovers. It is also a decent gamble to target defenses going against rookie or inexperienced quarterbacks. Playing at home is a plus. Finally, game flow matters. A game that will be slow with a lot of rushing attempts is not good for fantasy scoring. Also, it is possible for a defense and an opposing Quarterback to both put up good fantasy numbers in the same game. Here are three teams that you might want to consider streaming for this week, along with three teams you’ll want to be a little cautious with.
Start Notables – Cowboys DST vs. Bucs, Dolphins DST vs. Jaguars, Browns DST vs. Bengals
Sit Notables – Cardinals DST vs. Rams, Steelers DST @ Saints, Seahawks DST vs. Chiefs
About the Author-
Jamy Bechler is a fantasy contributor for CouchPotatoGM and FantasyPros. His DFS twitter is @WinningDFS101 and his website is FantasyFocusFootball.com. He once won a fantasy league despite drafting last, trading away Ezekiel Elliott and having Tyrod Taylor as his starting Quarterback. When he is not playing fantasy sports, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and is a leadership trainer, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). You can also follow his personal twitter account @CoachBechler. Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommends.