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Week 16 Matchups - Fantasy Football Game Breakdowns (Part 1)

Welcome to our Week 16 matchups analysis and starts/sits column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every matchup from every Sunday game to help you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. We'll also be updating this as injury reports come in so check back often.

This article will cover the early slate of games, beginning at 1 PM ET on Sunday. Also, check out our Saturday matchupslate-game matchups analysis and our MNF matchups analysis.

Check back here each week to get advice for your toughest start/sit decisions and take a look at our consensus rankings each week. Find me on Twitter @ChrisMangano for more insight and help to your start/sit questions.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Matchups Analysis - 1:00 PM ET Games

We are on to championship week (for most of you), and there are nine games in the early slate. Set those lineups in time by analyzing each matchup below to gain the best advantage!


Bengals at Browns

Matchups We Love:

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)
Mixon has 53 carries, 240 yards, and three touchdowns over the last two games and should remain highly involved against a Browns run defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry and over 100 yards on the ground. The only real concern here is the Bengals falling behind and throwing more, but that shouldn't be enough to keep Mixon from being a high-upside RB1 start.

C.J. Uzomah (TE, CIN)
Uzomah is second on the team in targets behind only Tyler Boyd over the last three games and should see a bump with Boyd likely out this week. He gets a fantastic matchup against a Cleveland unit giving up 6.5 catches and 61 yards per game to the position. He is a fine streaming option for those who need it, even if the upside is limited.

Baker Mayfield (QB, CLE)
Over the last two games, Mayfield has just 238 and 188 yards and just three touchdowns but is in a great spot against a Bengals secondary allowing 280 yards and two touchdowns to opposing passers. When these teams met in Week 12, Mayfield threw for 258 yard and four scores. He has tons of upside this week and is a fringe top-12 play.

Nick Chubb (RB, CLE)
Chubb was held scoreless for the first time in six games last Saturday but still had 100 yards on the ground. He should have plenty of chances against a Bengals defense giving up five yards per carry, 115 yards on the ground, and averaging one touchdown per game to backs. Chubb is an easy RB1 start and has top-five upside this week.

Matchups We Hate:


Other Matchups:

Jeff Driskel (QB, CIN)
Driskel only has 300 yards combined passing and two touchdowns over the last two games but gets a Browns secondary allowing 290 yards and 1.5 touchdowns to quarterbacks. Still, he can't be trusted as anything more than a low-end QB2 in deep leagues.

John Ross / Alex Erickson / Cody Core (WR, CIN)
With Tyler Boyd on the wrong side of doubtful, the Bengals will turn to the receiving core of Ross, Erickson, and Core. In Week 15 the deadly trio combined for four catches, 28 yards, and no touchdowns. The matchup is not bad, and someone has to catch passes in this offense, but trusting any of these guys in a championship match is risky, to say the least.

Jarvis Landry / Antonio Callaway (WR, CLE)
Landry continues to lead the Browns in targets with 21 over the last three weeks, but Callaway has been coming on and has 13 over that span. Both are in a good spot against a Bengals secondary that is average at best against receivers. Landry is a solid WR2 while Callaway has some flex appeal.

David Njoku (TE, CLE)
Njoku has 15 targets over the last three games but has turned them into just nine catches for 73 yards. He gets another good matchup this week against a Bengals defense giving up over five catches and 60 yards per game to tight ends. He is a low-end TE1 play.


Buccaneers at Cowboys

Matchups We Love:

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)
Prescott was miserable in a shutout loss to the Colts on Sunday but has a chance to bounce back facing a Buccaneers defense giving up 270 yards and two touchdowns to quarterbacks. Yes, the Bucs have been better against the pass of late, but Prescott has been better at home and is a fine spot here. He should be a fringe QB1 start.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)
Elliott has a ridiculous 67 touches over the last two games, including a more ridiculous 21 receptions. If you've ridden him this far, you will likely get paid off in a major way as he gets a Buccaneers defense allowing over 100 yards and more than one touchdown per game to backs. Elliott is an easy top-3 start and could be the overall RB1 at week's end.

Amari Cooper / Michael Gallup (WR, DAL)
A week after torching the Eagles secondary for over 200 yards, Cooper fell back down to earth with just four catches and 32 yards. He gets a chance to rebound this week against a Buccaneers secondary giving up the 10th-most receptions and over one touchdown per game to receivers. Those in deeper leagues who are desperate should look at Gallup, who has 16 targets over the last three games and seems ready to pop.

Matchups We Hate:

Jameis Winston (QB, TB)
Winston is coming off a game where he attempted just 25 passes, threw for only 157 yards, and didn't throw a touchdown pass. He may struggle again this week against a Cowboys defense holding opposing passers to just 240 yards and one score on the season. Winston still has plenty of upside, but he comes with plenty of risks as well.

Peyton Barber (RB, TB)
Barber is coming off one of his best games of the season, a 19 carry, 85 yards, one touchdown effort against a tough Ravens run defense. He'll face another tough test against a Cowboys run defense holding backs to just 3.7 yards per carry and 77 yards on the ground. He is a touchdown-dependent RB3.

Mike Evans / DeSean Jackson / Chris Godwin / Adam Humphries (WR, TB)
The likely return of DeSean Jackson muddies up the Buccaneers receiving group, and in a matchup against a Cowboys secondary holding receivers to the second fewest receptions, all need to be knocked down a notch. Evans is a solid WR2 start while the others are risk/reward flex plays.

Other Matchups:

Cameron Brate (TE, TB)
Brate only has six catches for 57 yards over the last three games but does have two touchdowns over that span. The Cowboys are middle-of-the-pack against tight ends so Brate should get chances. He remains nothing more than a touchdown-dependent TE2, however.

Blake Jarwin (TE, DAL)
I wrote about Jarwin last week and he went out and caught four passes for 45 yards. That gives him 11 catches and 101 yards over the last two. He gets a matchup with a Buccaneers defense giving up over five catches and 70 yards per game to tight ends. Jarwin should be involved once again and is a viable streaming option at the position.


Vikings at Lions

Matchups We Love:


Matchups We Hate:

Adam Thielen / Stefon Diggs (WR, MIN)
After an incredible start to the season, Thielen has predictably cooled off but still leads the Vikings with 19 targets over the last three games. Diggs is second with 18 but has 60 more yards than Thielen over that stretch. Both are in a tough spot this week against a Lions secondary giving up the eighth-fewest receptions to receivers. You likely can't bench either, but you should temper expectations.

Matthew Stafford (QB, DET)
In the seven games since Golden Tate was traded, Stafford has yet to throw for over 300 yards and has just one game with two touchdowns while also being held scoreless three times. That is unlikely to change this week against a Vikings defense holding quarterbacks to just 226 yards and one touchdown. When the Tateless Lions played the Vikings in Week 9, Stafford threw for 199 yards and no scores while getting sacked 10 times. He can't be trusted in any format.

LeGarrette Blount / Theo Riddick (RB, DET)
Blount has just 19 carries and 42 scoreless yards over the last two games, while Riddick only has six catches for 39 yards. Both are in a tough spot this week against the Vikings 10th ranked run defense. Neither can be considered more than desperation flex starts.

Kenny Golladay (WR, DET)
Golladay has an impressive 24% target share over the last three games and has hauled in 12 catches for 201 yards over that stretch, but must contend with Xavier Rhodes and the tough Vikings secondary. On the year the Vikings hold receivers to the fourth fewest receptions and just 128 yards per game. Golladay can't be considered more than a WR3 in this matchup.

Other Matchups:

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)
Under new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, Cousins was asked to throw just 21 times as the Vikings used a run-heavy game plan against an overmatched Dolphins team. It's unlikely the game plan will be different this week against a hapless Lions team, and Cousins will likely see low volume again. The Lions aren't an overly tough matchup, but Cousins can't be considered more than a fringe QB1.

Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)
The main beneficiary of new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski was running back Dalvin Cook. Seeing a season-high 19 carries, Cook ran wild against the Dolphins to the tune of 136 yards and two scores. The Lions defense has been better since trading for Damon Harrison, but Cook should see enough looks to remain a fringe RB1 start.

Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)
Rudolph is fourth on the team with 11 targets over the last three games and has just eight catches and 68 yards over that span. The Lions are average against tight ends, but that may not help Rudolph who just isn't getting the volume he needs to be reliable every week. He is a touchdown-dependent TE2.


Bills at Patriots

Matchups We Love:

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)
If you started Allen last week because of what he brings on the ground consider yourself very lucky. Facing a Lions team that negates running quarterbacks, Allen got players a touchdown and saved the day. This week is different, however, as the Patriots allow a league-high 6.45 yards per carry to quarterbacks. Allen should pick up plenty of yards on the ground and is a high-upside streaming option.

LeSean McCoy (RB, BUF)
After missing most of Week 14 and all of Week 15 with a hamstring injury, McCoy looks set to play this week and gets a good matchup against a Patriots defense giving up five yards per carry and 100 yards per game on the ground. McCoy is far from a safe start but makes for an upside RB2 play.

Robert Foster / Zay Jones (WR, BUF)
Over the last three games Jones has 23 targets but just seven catches and 85 yards, while Foster has 15 targets but 10 catches and 216 yards. Both are in play against a Patriots secondary giving up the ninth-most receptions and over 160 yards per game. Foster is a WR3 while Jones is a boom/bust flex play.

Julian Edelman (WR, NE)
With Josh Gordon suspended indefinitely, Chris Hogan and Edelman should soak up most of the receiving work with Cordarelle Patterson sprinkled in as well. The problem for Hogan this week is he will draw the dreaded Tre'Davious White matchup on the outside. Edelman, playing mostly out of the slot, gets the prime matchup. He torched this secondary for nine catches and 108 yards back in Week 8. He is a high-end WR2 while Hogan is more of a desperation flex.

Matchups We Hate:

Tom Brady (QB, NE)
Brady has been good, but not great, this season and now gets a Bills defense holding opposing passers to just 200 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. He did throw for 324 yards against this team back in Week 8 but was also held without a touchdown. Playing at home this time should help, but Brady can't be considered more than a fringe QB1.

Sony Michel / James White (RB, NE)
Despite the return of Rex Burkhead, Michel has 50 carries over the last three games but has yet to score and has just 179 yards. White has taken the biggest hit as he has just 12 catches over that span. The Bills allow just four yards per carry and 86 yards per game, and give up less than five receptions per game to backs, so both Michel and White will have to work for everything. Michel is an RB2 in all formats while White is an RB2 in PPR only.

Rob Gronkowski (TE, NE)
In the four games since returning from injury, Gronkowski has just 16 total catches and has topped 56 yards just once. The Bills defense give up the third fewest receptions to tight ends and held Gronk to just three catches and 43 yards back in Week 8. You likely don't have a better tight end option at this point but you should temper expectations.

Other Matchups:

Isaiah McKenzie (WR, BUF)
A move to the slot in place of Jones has worked in McKenzie's favor, as he's caught 14 passes over the last three games. However, he is questionable with an ankle heading into this game and shouldn't be counted on due to a lack of red zone targets anyway.


Packers at Jets

Matchups We Love:

Jamaal Williams (RB, GB)
With Aaron Jones leaving last week's game with a knee injury, Williams turned 16 touches into 97 yards and a score against a tough Bears defense. With Jones headed to I.R. Williams should get all the work he can handle against a Jets defense allowing 4.2 yards per carry and 95 yards per game. Interim coach Joe Philbin has said publicly that Williams will be "a big part of the gameplan." He's gone from waiver fodder to a solid RB2 start in the matter of a week.

Davante Adams (WR, GB)
Adams continues to be one of the games most consistent receivers and gets a great matchup against a Jets secondary allowing the second most receptions and just under 200 yards per game. This is a blow-up spot for Adams, and he could end the week as the overall WR1. He is a must-start in all formats.

Matchups We Hate:

Jimmy Graham (TE, GB)
Graham only has five catches and 45 yards over the last two games and draws a Jets defense giving up the fewest receptions and just 32 yards per game to tight ends. Graham is barely a top-15 play this week, and you may want to look elsewhere.

Other Matchups:

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)
Rodgers has not thrown for more than 274 yards in the last four games, and has just four total touchdowns over that stretch, but gets a nice matchup against a Jets defense giving up 260 yards and just under two touchdowns per game to passers. Rodgers is not the every week must-start we are used to, but in this matchup, he has top-10 upside.

Sam Darnold (QB, NYJ)
Darnold had one of his best games of the season against the Texans, throwing for 253 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Now he gets a Packers defense giving up 240 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game. While it isn't the greatest spot, Darnold should have chances and is a fine low-end QB2 play.

Elijah McGuire (RB, NYJ)
McGuire has 41 touches over the last two games and has scored in both, and now gets a Packers defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry and 100 yards per game. He should see plenty of touches once again and is an upside RB2 start.

Robby Anderson (WR, NYJ)
Anderson has seven, seven, and 11 targets over the last three games and is coming off a monster seven catch, 96 yards, one touchdown game Saturday against the Texans. The Packers are prone to give up big plays as well, and their banged-up secondary should be no match for Anderson. He is an upside WR3 start.

Chris Herndon IV (TE, NYJ)
Herndon only has six catches over the last three games and now faces a Packers defense holding opposing tight ends to just four catches and 48 yards per game. Herndon is involved enough to be a solid TE2 start, but he lacks upside in this one.


Texans at Eagles

Matchups We Love:

Lamar Miller (RB, HOU)
Miller left Saturdays game with an ankle injury but appears on track to play. Prior to Saturday, Miller had been running well with four 100-yard games in his last seven. He could make it a fifth against an Eagles defense that gives up 4.8 yards per carry to backs. They also allow seven receptions per game so Miller could see plenty of work in the passing game as well. He is an upside RB2 start.

UPDATE: Lamar Miller has officially been ruled out for this week. Alfred Blue should get the majority of work instead.

DeAndre Hopkins / Demaryius Thomas (WR, HOU)
Hopkins continues to see the bulk of Deshaun Watson's targets with 33 (34% share) over the last three games. Thomas is a distant second with 19 (20% share). Both should have chances this week against a banged-up Eagles secondary allowing the most receptions to receivers and just under 200 yards per game. Hopkins is a must-start while Thomas can be considered an upside WR3 play.

Alshon Jeffery (WR, PHI)
Over the last two games, the Texans have given up a 9/199/0 and a 7/96/1 line to outside receivers T.Y. Hilton and Robby Anderson. Next up is Jeffery who is coming off an eight catch, 160 yard game with Nick Foles under center. Jeffery has major upside in this one and is a high-end WR2 start.

Zach Ertz (TE, PHI)
Ertz disappointed in Week 15 with Nick Foles under center, catching just three of seven targets for 22 yards. On the plus side, only Alshon Jeffery had more targets (8) than Ertz. Ertz should get back on track this week against a Texans defense allowing the eighth most receptions and 65 yards per game to tight ends. Ertz remains a weekly must-start at the position.

Matchups We Hate:

Josh Adams / Darren Sproles / Wendell Smallwood (RB, PHI)
With Sproles back and healthy the Eagles have returned to a full-blown RBBC. It doesn't help that this week they get a Texans defense holding opposing backs to just 3.2 yards per carry and just 66 yards per game. No Eagles running back can be trusted this week.

Other Matchups:

Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU)
Watson threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Jets on Saturday and gets a good matchup against an Eagles defense giving up just under 300 yards but only 1.5 touchdowns to quarterbacks. Watson has plenty of weekly upside and is a top-10 start at the position.

Nick Foles (QB, PHI)
In his first start since Week 2, Foles threw for 270 yards on the road against the Rams but had no touchdowns. The Texans are allowing 270 yards to quarterbacks but just 1.5 touchdowns. Even in a good matchup Foles is a risk and can't be trusted as more than a QB2 start.


Falcons at Panthers

Matchups We Love:

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)
Ryan has five touchdowns over the last two games and gets to face off with a Panthers defense giving up 260 yards and two touchdowns to quarterbacks. We'd like Ryan even more if he was at home, but with the Panthers season all but over we expect a top-10 performance this week.

Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)
There is some concern the Panthers will sit McCaffrey now that the season is over, but if he plays, he is in a smash spot. The Falcons give up 100 yards on the ground and a league-high 7.5 catches to running backs. If he plays, he is an easy RB1 start.

Julio Jones (WR, ATL)
Jones leads the Falcons with 26 targets, 15 catches, 185 yards, and two touchdowns over the last three games and should see plenty of work against a Panthers secondary giving up the 11th most receptions and over 170 yards per game. He is a locked-in must-start. Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley are both also in play this week as upside flex starts.

UPDATE: Julio Jones will be a game-time decision this week.

Austin Hooper (TE, ATL)
Hooper was surprisingly targeted just once in Week 15 after being targeted five or more times in five straight games. He should be more involved this week against a Panthers defense that gives up the fourth most receptions to tight ends and 60 yards per game. Hooper is a fringe TE1 start.

Matchups We Hate:

Tevin Coleman (RB, ATL)
Coleman had his best game of the season with 145 yards and a score but did it on just 11 touches. With Ito Smith headed to I.R. Coleman should see more work, but gets a tough test against a Panthers run defense holding backs to just four yards per carry and 80 yards per game. Coleman is a touchdown-dependent RB2.

Devin Funchess / D.J. Moore / Curtis Samuel (WR, CAR)
It's not that the Falcons secondary is so good that you should be scared of starting any Panthers receiver, it's that Cam Newton's season is over and the team will turn to Taylor Heinicke. Who? Exactly. In such an important game can you trust any pass catcher who has Tyler Heinicke throwing them the ball? No, you can't. Hopefully, you have other options.

Other Matchups:

Taylor Heinicke (QB, CAR)
With Cam Newton's season over, the team will turn to a quarterback who went undrafted in 2015 and has thrown five passes in his "career." He could be playing the worst defense on the planet, but you'd have to be crazy to start him. He is beyond risky and should not be touched anywhere.

Ian Thomas (TE, CAR)
After having 16 catches in two games, Thomas had just two catches last week against the Saints. Now he faces a Falcons defense that is middle-of-the-pack against tight ends, but like the rest of the Panthers will have Taylor Heinicke throwing him the ball. Still, he seems like the safest option of all pass catchers only because expectations are so low. He is a mid-TE2 start.


Giants at Colts

Matchups We Love:

Evan Engram (TE, NYG)
Engram has caught 11 passes for 152 yards in the two games Odell Beckham has missed, and with Beckham looking doubtful to play Engram should be heavily involved once again. He gets a great matchup against a Colts defense allowing the second most receptions to tight ends and over 70 yards per game. If Beckham is out Engram is a TE1 start.

Marlon Mack (RB, IND)
Mack ran wild against the Cowboys in Week 15, turning 27 carries into 139 yards and two touchdowns, and should run wild again facing a Giants defense that has struggled against the run since trading Damon Harrison to the Lions. Mack is a high-upside RB2 play.

Matchups We Hate:

Eli Manning (QB, NYG)
Manning threw for 229 yards but no touchdowns as the Giants were shutout by the Titans and now must face a Colts defense that just shutout the Cowboys. On the year quarterbacks are only throwing for 250 yards and one touchdown against them. Manning is barely startable in two-quarterback formats and should not be started in single quarterback leagues.

Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG)
In the two games without Odell Beckham, Shepard has caught a whopping four passes for 54 yards. Not what we expected. He draws a brutal matchup this week against a Colts secondary allowing the fifth fewest receptions and just 125 yards per game. Even if Beckham misses he is nothing more than a desperation flex play.

Andrew Luck (QB, IND)
With Marlon Mack doing most of the heavy lifting, Luck was only asked to throw the ball 27 times and had just 197 yards with no touchdowns. He should be better this week but the matchup is tough as the Giants hold opposing passers to just 250 yards and one touchdown. You likely can't bench Luck, but you should temper expectations.

T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND)
Hilton's streak of 10 or more targets ended at three, but with Luck only attempting 27 passes he still had eight, catching five for 85 yards and just missing a touchdown. The Giants give up the eighth-fewest receptions to wideouts and just 150 yards per game, so Hilton's ceiling may be limited in this one. Still, with his target share and quarterback play, he remains a fringe WR1.

Other Matchups:

Saquon Barkley (RB, NYG)
Barkley had his worst game of the season, turning 18 touches into just 56 yards and no touchdowns. He faces another tough test against a Colts run defense giving up just 3.8 yards per carry. They do allow over seven receptions per game, however, so Barkley should still do damage through the air. He remains an every week must-start.

Eric Ebron (TE, IND)
Despite all signs pointing to a monster game from Ebron, he disappointed with just one catch for eight yards in Week 15 against the Cowboys. People who have been riding him all year forget this is what he does. Regardless, he is in a spot to bounce back as the Giants give up five catches and 56 yards to tight ends. He is a must-start at the position this week.


Jaguars at Dolphins

Matchups We Love:

Leonard Fournette (RB, JAX)
Fournette was surprisingly held out the entire third quarter as the Jaguars apparently wanted to get a look at rookie David Williams. Why? Who knows. Fournette should be in for a much larger workload this week and gets a great matchup against a Dolphins defense that gives up 4.6 yards per carry and 120 yards per game. Fournette comes with some risk but he is an RB1 start.

Matchups We Hate:

Dede Westbrook / Donte Moncrief (WR, JAX)
Since Cody Kessler replaced Blake Bortles, Westbrook leads the Jaguars with 20 targets while Moncrief has 16. Bad news for both of them as stud corner Xavien Howard is set to return this week. The Dolphins are holding opposing receivers to the 12th fewest receptions, and on such a low volume attack, neither can be considered more than desperation flex starts.

Ryan Tannehill (QB, MIA)
On the plus side, Tannehill has thrown for 11 touchdowns in his four home starts. On the downside, he is facing a Jaguars defense that once again looks elite and is holding opposing passers to just 212 yards and one touchdown. We are betting on the defense in this one and Tannehill is nothing more than a desperate QB2 start.

Kalen Ballage / Kenyan Drake (RB, MIA)
With Frank Gore's season done it is finally Kenyan Drake time! Not so fast. Last week after Gore left the game, rookie Ballage took 12 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown while Drake remained uninvolved with just one carry and three catches. Regardless of how they are used this week, they are both in a tough spot against a Jaguars run defense holding backs to just four yards per carry and 87 yards per game. Ballage seems to be preferred of the two but can't be considered more than a flex start.

Kenny Stills (WR, MIA)
Stills has 13 catches, 189 yards, and two touchdowns over the last three games but almost all of that came in one game against the Patriots. Now he must face off against Jalen Ramsey and an elite Jaguars secondary that is holding opposing receivers to the third fewest receptions and just 130 yards per game. He will need to hit a big play to have any value this week.

Other Matchups:

Cody Kessler (QB, JAX)
In Cody Kessler's four games he has a COMBINED 603 yards and four touchdowns. Let that sink in for a moment. The Dolphins are by no means a tough matchup, but are you willing to put your championship hopes in the hands of Kessler? He should not be started in any format this week.

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