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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Week 16 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward redraft leagues but can also be used for setting DFS lineups, as these are the players I’ll likely have heavy exposure to on Sunday. Thanks for reading along all season, and good luck to those of you in your respective fantasy championships. Also, Merry Christmas to all of you!


Start of the Week: Carson Palmer vs. Packers: We wanted to attack this overrated pass defense of the Packers last week with Derek Carr, and it paid off. Carr threw two early interceptions, including a pick-six, but settled down and finished the day with a pair of touchdowns and 21.2 fantasy points. Fantasy owners flocked to Palmer last week for his tasty on-paper matchup with the Eagles, but the MVP candidate answered with his lowest fantasy points total of the season. Palmer still moved the offense, but David Johnson just happened to be the one finishing off the drives with three rushing touchdowns. This looks like a week for Palmer to get back on track as he tries to win over MVP voters. As pointed out last week, the Packers haven’t faced many top-tier quarterbacks, and all three they’ve seen — Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, and Derek Carr — have had big days. Palmer is next in line and gets to play at home. Packers No. 1 CB Sam Shields (concussion) sat out last week and missed practice Wednesday. He’s looking iffy at best for Sunday. On FanDuel, Palmer is a strong contrarian option at $8,700 between Ben Roethlisberger ($8,900) and Blake Bortles ($8,200). The Cardinals will also be up in pace with Green Bay playing at the ninth-fastest pace in the NFL.


Matthew Stafford vs. 49ers: Stafford has been on fire in recent weeks scoring at least 17 fantasy points in five-straight games, and he’s been even better at home. He has a 99.7 passer rating at Ford Field with a 15:6 TD:INT ratio while averaging over 281 passing yards per game. Stafford is averaging 20.8 fantasy points per home game, and that includes two early-season 11.1 and 8.7 outings against the Broncos and Cardinals’ elite pass defenses. The 49ers are 12th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks on the year and sixth since Week 11, but they’re 25th in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA. San Francisco has been much worse on the road, however. This is the Lions’ final home game of the season, and Stafford and the offense will be way up in pace. The 49ers are the fifth-fastest offense in the league. As 10-point home favorites, the Lions have one of the highest implied team totals (26.5) of the week. Look for Stafford to try and get Calvin Johnson on track.

Blake Bortles at Saints: This is the most obvious play of fantasy championship week. If you own Bortles, he’s pretty much a must-start. He’s put up at least 23.5 fantasy points in four-straight games. The Saints’ defensive deficiencies have been well documented all year. They’ve allowed 39 touchdown passes, eight more than any other team, and their six interceptions are second-fewest. New Orleans is bleeding touchdowns and not taking the ball away. Matthew Stafford and the Lions marched down the field repeatedly against the Saints last Monday night. This Jaguars offense remains one of the more underrated units in the sport. The matchup couldn’t get any dreamier. Bortles has accounted for multiple touchdowns in 11-of-14 games. Ideally, it’d be best for Drew Brees (foot) to play in this one so that the Saints and Jaguars can go toe-to-toe in a shootout. If Brees is active and starting, this game will easily have the highest Vegas total of the week. In some spots earlier this week, the over-under was set at a whopping 52 points with a 3.5-point spread.

Kirk Cousins at Eagles: Cousins is white-hot at the moment with four-straight games having a passer rating over 101. In that span, he’s averaged 285 passing yards (three 300-yard games) with seven touchdown passes and another three as a runner. The big thing with Cousins is he’s limited his turnovers. He’s tossed just one interception the past four weeks. The concern this week with Cousins, though, is he’s been far better at home. This one’s on the road for the NFC East marbles. Both teams are going to lean on their best players. Cousins, right now, is one of those for Washington. And he’s going to be way up in pace, as the Eagles run the fastest offense in the league, which will, of course, allow the Redskins’ offense to run more plays on their side of the ball. Week 4 against this same Eagles team, Cousins attempted 46 passes, the second-most he’s fired off all year. On that day, Cousins threw for 290 yards, one touchdown, and rushed for another. Through 14 games, the Eagles have surrendered the third-most passing touchdowns and third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Since Week 10, no team has allowed more touchdown passes than the Eagles. They also may be without default No. 1 CB Byron Maxwell (shoulder), as he didn’t practice Wednesday. Maxwell has been terrible this season, but he’s the best corner on the roster.

Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Patriots: FitzMagic has been super consistent all season, particularly of late. He’s scored at least 16.3 fantasy points in seven-straight games. Not a recommended start last week against Dallas in a slow-paced game, Fitzpatrick will be way up in pace this week. The Patriots run the sixth-fastest offense. In the previous matchup between these divisional foes back in Week 7, Fitzpatrick attempted 39 passes, his third-highest total of the year. The Jets will be at home this time around, and Fitzpatrick put up a respectable 20.7 fantasy points on the road at New England eight weeks back. The Patriots have been stingy against quarterbacks much of the year, allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position, but the Jets have relied on the pass much of the season. Fitzpatrick has been nails at home. He’s thrown multiple touchdowns in all eight games at MetLife.


Tyrod Taylor vs. Cowboys: If you’ve read this column all season, you’ve noticed a trend. We typically like to avoid quarterbacks and pretty much all skill players against the Cowboys. It’s not that Dallas fields a great defense or anything; they simply play at such a slow pace on offense that it limits possessions and plays for opposing offenses. Cam Newton is averaging over 25 fantasy points per game on the year, but managed just 17.8 back on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys. Taylor is a poor man’s Newton with a similar skill set. On the year, the Cowboys have allowed the second-fewest passing touchdowns (15) and third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Dallas-Buffalo has one of the lowest Vegas totals of Week 16 at 42.5 points. Expect this to be a run-dominated affair.

Eli Manning at Vikings: With Odell Beckham in the lineup, Manning would be a borderline usable streamer at quarterback. But with Beckham’s one-game suspension upheld on Wednesday, he’s not going to play, and Manning is left with a supporting cast of Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris, Hakeem Nicks, and Will Tye against a Vikings defense that is 10th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. The Giants are five-point road underdogs with an implied team total of just 20.25. New York will also be way down in pace in a cold environment with Minnesota likely to get back all three of NT Linval Joseph, SLB Anthony Barr, and FS Harrison Smith back from multi-week injuries, though it’s possible the Vikings hold out banged-up players in the Packers lose to the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, therefore making Minnesota’s Week 16 meaningless. Regardless, Manning isn’t someone I’d be looking to bet on having a good game. The Vikings are 27th in pace and will probably try to just run the clock with handoffs to Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon, and/or Matt Asiata.

Philip Rivers at Raiders: Typically, the Thursday night game is ignored in this column, but this week’s edition is out early enough on Thursday that most of you will have read it by the time the Chargers and Raiders kick off. Rivers and the Bolts are coming off an emotional home win over the Dolphins that very well may have been the team’s last game in San Diego. Rivers went out with a bang, throwing for 311 yards and three touchdowns, leaving everything out on the field. Now he’s faced with a quick turnaround on a short week on the road in what could end up being the Raiders’ final game in Oakland. Both teams are in the mix to move to Los Angeles as soon as 2016. The Raiders have been middle of the pack against the pass all year, but over the past three games, Oakland is allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. They just held Aaron Rodgers to 204 yards, one score, and one interception on 39 attempts last week. This is a big letdown spot for the Chargers, while the Raiders will be all sorts of jacked up for FS Charles Woodson’s final home game. Woodson announced earlier in the week that he’s retiring after the season. In four starts against the AFC West this season, Rivers has a 69.8 passer rating with a 3:5 TD:INT ratio.

Teddy Bridgewater vs. Giants: Bridgewater is coming off easily the best game of his career to-date. He totaled five touchdowns and 32.9 fantasy points against the Bears. On paper, the matchup against the Giants is even better. Only the Saints have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Giants. But the Vikings remain a slow-churning, run-heavy offense. Bridgewater isn’t going to have many three-touchdown games, let alone five-score outings. The main reason for sitting Bridgewater, however, as mentioned above, is the Vikings could choose to sit their starters on Sunday night if the Packers lose to the Cardinals that afternoon. Coach Mike Zimmer hinted on Wednesday that could be an option. In fantasy championship week, it’s simply far too risky to rely on Bridgewater as a streaming option unless late-swap is a possibility.

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Start of the Week: Denard Robinson at Saints: T.J. Yeldon was still in a knee brace as of Wednesday with his sprained MCL, and the Jaguars aren’t going to push him in a meaningless final two games. Robinson started Week 15 against the Falcons and played all 62 offensive snaps. There was some early-week concern surrounding Robinson after it was revealed he suffered a sprained foot last Sunday. Coach Gus Bradley assured the injury wasn’t serious, and Robinson practiced in full Wednesday. Robinson didn’t produce quite like we’d hoped against Atlanta’s soft run defense, totaling 74 scoreless yards on 22 touches. But that usage rate and high snap total is valuable stuff at a barren running back position in fantasy. The Saints’ struggles against the pass are well-known, but they’re also dead-last in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Only the Browns have allowed more rushing yards to the position. Running backs are averaging a whopping 5.23 YPC against the Saints. Robinson is also heavily involved as a pass catcher out of the backfield, as he reeled in 8-of-10 targets last week. New Orleans has surrendered the fifth-most catches to running backs. Handling an every-down role in a potential shootout, Robinson is a locked-in RB1 in a dream spot.


Charcandrick West vs. Browns: West is coming off an 85-yard, one-touchdown effort in a tough spot against the Ravens last week. With Spencer Ware (ribs) active, but only available on an emergency basis and not playing a snap, West piled up 18 touches. Ware is expected to reenter the rotation against Cleveland, but the matchup is so much better. As mentioned above, the Browns have allowed the most rushing yards and 4.73 YPC to running backs. They’ve surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points to the position. And the Chiefs are massive 12.5-point favorites at home. Alex Smith might not throw the ball more than 18-20 times. Both West and Ware should receive plenty of work, with West being the 1A to Ware’s 1B. West should get the start and handle most early-down and between-the-20s work. Ware could steal goal-line looks like he did Weeks 13 and 14, but there’s enough potential volume here for West to be a top-20 running back with upside for more.

Tim Hightower vs. Jaguars: It’s pretty unbelievable fantasy owners are relying on Hightower in fantasy championship week. In 2015. After being out of the league for three seasons due to knee complications. But the 29-year-old has taken over as the Saints’ lead back the past two weeks after Mark Ingram (shoulder) was placed on I.R. Hightower has piled up touch totals of 29 and 16 the past two weeks, respectively. He’s the closest thing the Saints have to an early-down back. Hightower is averaging just 3.5 YPC on the year, but the volume is too hard to write off at a very shallow position. With Drew Brees (foot) banged up, the Saints could lean more on Hightower to take some pressure off their injured quarterback. And if Brees is forced to sit, it’s very likely coach Sean Payton will slow things down and become even more balanced on offense with either Matt Flynn or Garrett Grayson under center. The Jaguars field Football Outsiders’ No. 11 run defense in DVOA, but the touches are going to be there for Hightower. He’s first in line for goal-line looks.

Cameron Artis-Payne at Falcons: With Jonathan Stewart (foot) missing Week 15, the rookie Artis-Payne emerged from the trio of he, Mike Tolbert, and Fozzy Whittaker to out-touch the other two a combined 16-9. Artis-Payne averaged a healthy 4.21 YPC on 14 totes against a soft Giants defense and gets another cake matchup this Sunday. Atlanta has been stingy in terms of YPC, allowing a 3.89 mark, but it has surrendered the second-most rushing touchdowns, most catches, and fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. Stewart missed practice again Wednesday and seems like a long shot to play with the 14-0 Panthers already having everything wrapped up for the playoffs. Artis-Payne will be a candidate for around 15 touches at the minimum.

Frank Gore at Dolphins: If you can’t tell, volume is a big thing for running backs. And Gore is another one that’s getting consistent work at a position littered with inconsistency. The 32-year-old has been a mammoth disappointment in his first season with the Colts, failing to rush for 100 yards in a single game and scoring just four rushing touchdowns. Gore hasn’t visited pay dirt on the ground since Week 9 and hasn’t topped 60 yards rushing since then. The work is still there, though. Gore is averaging 18 touches per game the past five weeks, and #NarrativeStreet is on his side in this one. Gore is from Miami, played his college ball at The U, and the Dolphins wanted to sign him as a mentor for Lamar Miller in the offseason. He spurned them in hopes of going to the playoffs and making a run at the Super Bowl with the Colts. That’s not going to happen, but this matchup is a great one on paper. The Dolphins have seemingly given up on their season and are just going through the motions right now. Only the Browns and Saints have allowed more rushing yards to running backs than the Dolphins, and only New Orleans has given up more fantasy points to the position. The Colts need to protect fragile Matt Hasselbeck from injury, and the best way to do that is to put the ball in the gut of Gore. This one should be close enough that Gore could see 20-plus carries.


Lamar Miller vs. Colts: It was all about bankable volume in the “Starts” section of this piece. As we’re about to see with the running backs in the “Sits” section, we can’t bank on anything with these guys. Miller was out-snapped by rookie Jay Ajayi 31-18 last week against the Chargers, and Miller managed 24 total scoreless yards on 11 touches. The Dolphins lost by 16 points, and Miller suffered a quad injury in the game, so both those things could have played a factor. But the Dolphins have been yanking Miller around all season, making him impossible to trust as anything more than a boom-or-bust RB2/FLEX option in an above-average spot against Indianapolis. The Dolphins have nothing to play for, and Miller is an impending free agent. They could choose to simply see what they have in Ajayi the final two weeks in an attempt to also possibly lower Miller’s asking price.

Buck Allen vs. Steelers: After replacing Justin Forsett (arm) early in Week 11, Allen had a strong three-game stretch against the Rams, Browns, and Dolphins. Those are three of the league’s worst run defenses this time of year. However, the matchups have been tougher of late. Allen squared off against the Seahawks and Chiefs in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively, and managed just 32 rushing yards on 12 carries, catching five passes for 44 additional yards. Allen fumbled in both games and was benched immediately last week against Kansas City. Coach John Harbaugh said the rookie has served his punishment, but even so, the matchup doesn’t get any easier this week against the Steelers. Only the Seahawks and Jets have allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs. Pittsburgh has coughed up just 3.85 YPC and three rushing touchdowns to the position. With Allen battling a case of the butterfingers, the Ravens could start giving more carries to Terrance West.

Chris Ivory vs. Patriots: Since Bilal Powell returned from injury in Week 11, he’s out-snapped Ivory 183-156. Ivory is averaging just 14.8 carries per game over that span after averaging 19.5 his first eight games. Powell is handling all of the pass-game work and splitting red-zone work. The past five weeks, Ivory has touched the ball or been targeted nine times inside the 20-yard line compared to six for Powell. However, Ivory has just one touchdown to Powell’s three. The Jets will likely try to establish the run early against the Patriots to try and set a tone, but this could very easily turn into a shootout of sorts. The Patriots are seventh in fantasy points allowed to running backs on the year, and Ivory managed just 41 scoreless yards on 17 carries against them in Week 7. Powell is the preferred play between he and Ivory this time around after Powell missed the previous matchup.

Jeremy Hill at Broncos: Hill was one of the favorite running backs of Week 15. But in a plus spot on the road against the 49ers, Hill managed only 31 rushing yards on 19 carries. Fortunately for fantasy owners, Hill was able to score a pair of short touchdowns to save his stat line. This week’s matchup is much tougher on paper. Over the past five weeks, the Broncos have allowed just 2.62 YPC and the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs. The Bengals will very likely again try to establish the run with A.J. McCarron under center in a tough road spot, but this sets up better for Giovani Bernard to do damage in the short passing game. The Broncos have allowed 79 catches and five receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs, fourth-most in the league. Hill isn’t a factor in the passing game and has gotten by this year on four multi-touchdown games.


Start of the Week: Martavis Bryant at Ravens: Bryant hasn’t scored a touchdown the past two games. As nearly a touchdown-per-game player through roughly two seasons, he’s due. And Weeks 12-15, only teammate Antonio Brown (12.75), Jarvis Landry (12.25), Julio Jones (11.75), Odell Beckham (11.25), and Demaryius Thomas (11.25) are averaging more targets per game than Bryant’s 11. The Ravens have been terrible against opposing receivers all season, allowing the most touchdowns and fantasy points to the position. Baltimore is 29th in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA. Bryant projects to run the bulk of his routes at LCB Shareece Wright, but he’ll also see plenty of RCB Jimmy Smith, if Smith is able to play through his thigh injury. Both have been thoroughly subpar in coverage all season. The Steelers have the highest implied team total of the week at 28.75 points and bring to Baltimore one of the league’s most-potent passing attacks. Not many receivers have a higher ceiling than Bryant, and floor has steadily come up along the way.


Calvin Johnson vs. 49ers: It’s pretty amazing we’ve gotten to the point where Megatron has become a questionable starting option. But here we are. Like last season, the 30-year-old is playing through an ankle injury. The 2015 version isn’t believed to be as serious as the 2014 one, but it may be affecting him. Since exploding for an 8-93-3 line on Thanksgiving against the Eagles, Megatron has managed to catch just 5-of-14 targets for 79 yards and one score over the past three games. He’s posted back-to-back one-catch games and was targeted just once in last Monday night’s mouthwatering matchup against the Saints. It certainly left a sour taste in Johnson’s owners’ mouths. But this looks like a prime spot to go back to the well on him. The 49ers are 25th in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA and have struggled mightily away from home. This could also be Johnson’s final home game in Detroit. Buzz has been circulating for a few weeks that the Lions could move on from him due to an exorbitant $24.008 million cap number next season. Johnson will certainly have to take a pay cut to return. The retooling Lions could choose to cut bait. Slot CB Jimmie Ward has easily been the 49ers’ best cover man the past month, but Johnson runs only 12 percent of his routes out of the slot, so he’s expected to avoid him much of Sunday. In DFS, Johnson makes for a really intriguing tournament play. He’s going to be extremely low-owned.

John Brown vs. Packers: This Arizona passing game is one to target Sunday, but it’s hard to pin-point which receivers to go after, which always seems to be the case with the Cardinals. Packers No. 1 outside CB Sam Shields (concussion) missed Week 15 and didn’t practice Wednesday. He’s facing an uphill battled to be cleared in time. If Shields sits, rookies Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall will play outside, leaving veteran Casey Hayward in the slot. Rollins is playing really well of late, but the Cardinals’ receivers move around enough to avoid shadow coverage. Hayward is probably the best of the trio. If ranking the Arizona receivers, Brown and Michael Floyd are the preferred plays over Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s targets are down in recent weeks, and Floyd and Brown have shown the ability to score from anywhere on the field. Brown has scored in back-to-back games and is averaging seven targets per the past four weeks, showing he’s over a mid-season hamstring issue.

DeSean Jackson at Eagles: Jackson has seen at least seven targets in 3-of-5 games and is coming off a monster 6-153-1 line against the Bills last week. He has four catches of at least 40 yards since returning from a hamstring injury in Week 9 and scored from 77 yards out last Sunday. Now returning to Philadelphia for the second time since he was released by coach Chip Kelly two offseasons ago, Jackson will be primed to explode in a very important game for the NFC East lead. Last season, Jackson got up for both games against his former teammates, posting receiving lines of 5-117-1 and 4-126-0 in Weeks 2 and 16. He’s taken over as the clear No. 2 option in the passing game behind Jordan Reed, while being the go-to downfield threat when the Redskins are looking for a big play. The Eagles have allowed the third-most catches for the fourth-most yards, second-most touchdowns, and third-most fantasy points to receivers this season. And they may be without default No. 1 CB Byron Maxwell (shoulder) and be forced to start Eric Rowe and Jaylen Watkins outside. Kirk Cousins is going to do everything he can to get Jackson the ball, or Jackson will be demanding it.

Jarvis Landry vs. Colts: As noted above, only Antonio Brown has seen more targets than Landry over the past four weeks. Unfortunately for Landry, the targets haven’t translated into big statistical games. He hasn’t scored since Week 12 and has posted 2-5-0 and 8-54-0 receiving lines two of the past three games. Landry gets one of the better matchups on the board for Week 16 with Colts slot CB Darius Butler. Butler is Pro Football Focus’ No. 91 cover corner out of 116 qualifiers this season and has allowed five touchdowns and a 117.5 passer rating in his coverage. Landry is Ryan Tannehill’s first and second read on nearly every play. He should easily see double-digit targets. The Colts have allowed the fifth-most receiving yards and sixth-most fantasy points to receivers. Over the past five weeks, only the Dolphins have allowed more yards to the position. Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton are also in play in this game on the Colts’ side of the ball.


Dorial Green-Beckham vs. Texans: DGB is coming off a 6-113-0 day against the Patriots last week. His six catches were a season-high, and it was his second 100-yard game in three weeks. The rookie is starting to emerge as a legitimate and more consistent downfield playmaker for the young Titans. Green-Beckham was probably one of the top waiver-wire adds of the week, but he’s embarking on a very tough matchup against Texans No. 1 CB Johnathan Joseph. The veteran cover man has been shadowing opposing No. 1 receivers of late, and DGB is likely to get that treatment Sunday. Since the Texans’ Week 9 bye, Joseph has allowed just 20 catches for 192 total yards and zero touchdowns across six games. He’s Pro Football Focus’ top cover corner over that span. With Zach Mettenberger at the controls, Green-Beckham is very risky for the fantasy finals.

Tavon Austin at Seahawks: Austin has done a heck of a lot with very little in his third NFL season, scoring nine offensive touchdowns on just 44 catches and 43 carries. He’s averaging a touchdown every 9.67 touches. Over the past three weeks, Austin is averaging only 5.67 touches per game. He turned seven into 73 yards and a pair of scores last week against the Bucs, but the matchup gets much tougher Week 16. The Seahawks are No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to running backs and No. 3 against receivers. Austin will likely avoid Richard Sherman most of the day, which obviously is a plus for his outlook, but the Rams could easily be shut out on the road at Seattle.

Anquan Boldin at Lions: Boldin has shown solid chemistry with Blaine Gabbert for the most part since Gabbert took over in Week 11. In five games together, Boldin is averaging 8.6 targets with a pair of 93-yard games and an 8-74-1 line last week against the Bengals. However, he did a lot of that work in garbage time last Sunday. Boldin now gets a date with Lions rookie slot CB Quandre Diggs. Since the Lions’ Week 9 bye, Diggs has been Pro Football Focus’ No. 3 cover corner, allowing just 100 total receiving yards on 15 catches across five games. Teammate LCB Darius Slay has been PFF’s No. 5 cover corner over that span. Detroit has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to receivers since Week 11. Boldin is going to need a heaping of targets to make noise.

Randall Cobb at Cardinals: Cobb hasn’t had a 100-yard game since Week 2 and has scored just two touchdowns since Week 3. The Packers’ offense is a mess that’s still trying to figure things out before the playoffs. Cobb has been held to 40 receiving yards or less in 3-of-5 games and isn’t doing much with his targets. Among 31 qualifying receivers, Cobb is 30th in yards per route, ahead of only Golden Tate. Cobb gets a boost avoiding Cardinals slot CB Tyrann Mathieu, who suffered a torn ACL last week, but fill-in nickel CB Justin Bethel is no slouch. It’s also conceivable that Cobb could see some shadow coverage from Patrick Peterson. Cobb and Davante Adams have become nearly unusable in this offense. James Jones has at least been scoring touchdowns and mixing in big plays.


Start of the Week: Ben Watson vs. Jaguars: To be clear right off the bat, this is only if Drew Brees (foot) makes the start on Sunday. If either Matt Flynn or Garrett Grayson gets the nod under center, all of the Saints’ skill players get bumped down. Watson is playing nearly every snap for the Saints. He’s seen at least seven targets in each of the past four games, averaging 8.75 over that span. Watson has visited pay dirt twice the past month and leads the Saints with 11 red-zone targets Weeks 12-15. On the season, the Jaguars have allowed the fourth-most yards, fifth-most touchdowns, and sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends. No team has given up more touchdowns to the position since Week 11. A fixture near the goal line, Watson is a great bet to score Sunday.


Julius Thomas at Saints: Since the Jaguars’ Week 8 bye, Thomas has averaged seven targets per game and scored four touchdowns. Last week’s 6-79-0 effort snapped a streak of four-straight games with a touchdown. The Saints are terrible against every single position defensively, as they’ve allowed the third-most catches, most yards, third-most touchdowns, and most fantasy points to the tight end spot. Thomas has seen at least two red-zone targets in 3-of-4 games.

Richard Rodgers at Cardinals: This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Rodgers has posted back-to-back one-catch games with a total of 10 receiving yards over that span. But some is going to have to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, and the receivers have tough matchups on the outside. Over the past five weeks, the Cardinals have surrendered the most catches for the most yards, most touchdowns, and most fantasy points to tight ends.

Zach Miller at Bucs: Miller did a ton of damage on the Bears’ final meaningless drive last week, catching three of his six total grabs and finishing with 57 yards on the day. Since becoming a bigger part of the offense in Week 10, Miller has seen at least five targets in 4-of-6 games. He’s been targeted four times in the red zone. Over the past five weeks, the Bucs have allowed the third-most catches for the seventh-most yards to tight ends. If Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) is forced to miss Week 16, Miller would be a candidate to lead the Bears in targets.


Travis Kelce vs. Browns: It’s hard to outright bench Kelce. He has one of the higher ceilings at the position, but the floor has also proven to be really low, especially in recent weeks. With Jeremy Maclin taking back over as Alex Smith’s top target, Kelce has seen just 5.25 targets per game the past four weeks. The Browns have been locking down tight ends recently, allowing a total of 14 catches for 133 scoreless yards the past four weeks. The Chiefs are massive 12.5-point favorites at home over Cleveland and may not even have to throw the ball 20 times on Sunday.

Charles Clay vs. Cowboys: Clay has been unusable for weeks now. He has just one touchdown since Week 3 and has seen four or fewer targets in 4-of-7 games. The Bills are paying him as a top-four tight end, but aren’t making an effort to feature him in the pass game. Clay has been tasked to block on over 50 percent of his offensive snaps through 14 weeks. One of the things the Bills are going to have to do over the offseason is formulate a plan to get Clay the ball more. Over the past five weeks, the Cowboys have allowed a total of 13 catches to tight ends.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Bears: Seferian-Jenkins continues to be a limited player in his return from a shoulder injury, playing just 31-of-83 snaps last week against the Rams. He was targeted six times, catching three for 29 yards and a garbage-time touchdown with the Rams in a soft prevent defense. ASJ has been held to 31 yards or fewer in his last four games. Even with Vincent Jackson (knee) out, Seferian-Jenkins doesn’t get a big boost. Mike Evans is going to dominate targets. And the Bears have been stingy against tight ends this season, allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to the position.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.