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Saturday NFL Matchups Analysis - Week 16


Welcome to the Saturday edition of our Week 16 matchups analysis and starts/sits column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every matchup from every 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 for the latest advice.

This article will cover the two Saturday games, as the NFL starts to expand its late-season schedule with college football season over. Don't forget to see our early Sunday games and late Sunday games matchups analysis here and look for our MNF matchups analysis as well.

Check back here each week to get advice for your toughest start/sit decisions and take a look at our consensus rankings each week. For start/sit advice or anything fantasy football-related, find me on Twitter @Pfunk00, and I'll be glad to help.

Editor's Note: All you early birds can get a full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our Draft Kit, In-Season tools and over 150 days of Premium DFS. Sign Up Now!

 

Redskins at Titans - 4:30 PM ET

Matchups We Love:

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)
Are we really going to trust that Derrick Henry, the No. 2 running back on his own team for most of the year, is going to put together a third straight monster game out of nowhere? Yes. Just to put into context how shocking his outburst has been, in the first 12 games of this year Henry ran for 474 yards and five TD on 128 carries (3.7 Y/A) and in the last two games he's run for 408 yards and six TD on 50 carries (8.1 Y/A). We truly can pretend the first portion of the season didn't happen because he's finally being fed the ball consistently and isn't relying on big plays alone. His 36 red zone carries is seventh in the NFL, so there's always a strong chance he'll score if nothing else. A matchup with Washington is nothing to fear, as they are a mid-tier run defense and could be on that side of the ball frequently given their offensive struggles. Henry cannot be on benches this week no matter how you feel about him long-term.

Jamison Crowder (WR, WAS)
Crowder has put up modest numbers since finally returning from injury three weeks ago, averaging 3.3 receptions and 56.3 yards over the last three games. It's understandable since he's catching passes from a fourth-string quarterback who wasn't in the league when Alex Smith got hurt. He also had a tough matchup with Jacksonville last week. This time, he'll face a tough defense in Tennessee but benefits from an injury to Logan Ryan that will keep him out. Crowder could take advantage of new slot corner LeShaun Sims and serve as a reliable target all afternoon, making him a high-ceiling WR3 in PPR leagues.

Matchups We Hate:

Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)
No matter how hard I try, there is not a scenario I can come up with to convince myself that Mariota is trustworthy in any given week. Only once this year has he posted back-to-back games over 250 yards. That's not exactly winning you a week in itself, but add to that the fact he's not thrown more than two TD in a game all year either. On the flip side, he's been shut out of the end zone seven times and finished under 200 passing yards seven times. The Redskins are simply average against the QB which makes Mariota completely uninteresting and avoidable.

Josh Johnson (QB, WAS)
For his part, Johnson fared well against one of the best defenses in the league last week. He didn't get picked off and led his team to a much-needed victory. The passing numbers didn't help anyone in fantasy, however, at 151 yards and one TD. The matchup isn't much easier this week on the road against Tennessee, who allow fewer fantasy points to QBs than the Jags. Johnson doesn't need to be considered anywhere, especially if you are playing in any sort of meaningful contest.

Adrian Peterson (RB, WAS)
Is Father Time finally catching up to the speedy Peterson? It appears so. Since the second half of the season began in Week 9, AP is averaging 48 yards per game on 3.5 yards per carry. If you take away his 90-yard run against Philadelphia, he wouldn't have a single game of even 75 total yards in that span. This isn't an offense that promises a high chance to score touchdowns so there is way too much risk to start Peterson against a stout defense.

Chris Thompson (RB, WAS)
The Skins have been treating Thompson with kid gloves since he came back from injury in Week 13. He's averaging six touches per game and hasn't done anything with them. This matchup is tough enough that Thompson can't be relied upon to give more than a couple of points in PPR.

Taywan Taylor / Tajae Sharpe (WR, TEN)
After a big game in Week 13, Taylor started slowly fading from the offense again as they've been run-heavy (for good reason) the last couple of games. Taylor draws Josh Norman in this matchup anyway, so he should be avoided. Sharpe is questionable and may not make it onto the field. If so, there's no reason to be interested in a player who has been held to one or zero catches in eight games this season.

Josh Doctson / Maurice Harris / Michael Floyd (WR, WAS)
Tennessee's corners are above average while Washington's receivers have been below average all year. Don't bother looking this way.

Vernon Davis (TE, WAS)
Playing Davis in Week 15 was a long shot that didn't pay off. Two catches for 16 yards is already disappointing but to watch Jeremy Sprinkle go for a touchdown and add in one more reception than Davis was the final insult. Davis can't be played going up against a defense that still hasn't allowed a touchdown to a tight end all year long.

Anthony Firkser / Luck Stocker (TE, TEN)
It appeared Firkser would be first in line to replace Jonnu Smith but it was Stocker seeing the only two targets to a TE while Firkser came up blank. Neither have enough upside to consider in any league.

Other Matchups:

Dion Lewis (RB, TEN)
Lewis is now "the other guy" in Tennessee's backfield, holding Derrick Henry's water on the sideline as he watches him run wild. In non-PPR leagues, Lewis absolutely needs to be benched since he's only scored twice all year and we know Henry is getting all the red zone love these days. There is a chance Lewis catches enough passes to bring a modest floor in PPR if this game remains close. He's averaging 4.5 receptions over the last four games and could spell Henry a bit more if the Titans struggle for some reason.

Corey Davis (WR, TEN)
The former #5 overall pick will go down as one of the most frustrating players in all of fantasy this year. He's prone to big games or complete duds, with little in between. The individual matchup isn't bad, as he could avoid Josh Norman for most of the day. Trusting Davis still implies trust in Mariota and the play-calling of a team that suddenly has the best RB in the league running wild. If you need Davis this week, hope he brings in a touchdown - something he's done three times in the last six games.

 

Ravens at Chargers - 8:20 PM ET

Matchups We Love:

Kenneth Dixon (RB, BAL)
The Chargers rank ninth-best in run defense based on yards allowed on the ground. They rank 11th-worst in fantasy points allowed to RBs, however, based on the fact only the Chiefs have given up more receiving yards to the position. This would seem to favor Dixon since we know Gus the Bus has zero involvement in the passing game (one target all year). Dixon hasn't seen a ton of action yet in his three games back from injury but he could be ramping up for more work after seeing 12 touches last week. If the Ravens fall behind or can't generate much action with Jackson leaving the pocket, a more conservative offensive approach could see Dixon at his best. He is a flex consideration in full PPR leagues.

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)
Game-time decision - the worst phrase a fantasy owner can hear in relation to a star player. Allen owners may be up against the clock when deciding whether to keep him in the lineup. Fortunately, the Saturday kickoff gives a wealth of pivot options if he doesn't play at all. For now, be wise and keep another player in your WR slot with Allen either benched or in your flex and be prepared to swap him out if necessary. If he does suit up, he should be started based on his floor and a decent WR/CB matchup with Brandon Carr.

Matchups We Hate:

John Brown / Michael Crabtree (WR, BAL)
Neither receiver has gotten so much as 40 yards in a game since Jackson took over and neither has scored more than one touchdown since Week 8. These two fell off the fantasy radar long ago and won't re-enter it now facing the Chargers secondary.

Hayden Hurst / Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)
The only place either of these rookie tight ends should be on rosters is in dynasty leagues. Hurst has gone without a reception in three of the last five games and Andrews is averaging 1.4 receptions for 34.2 yards over the last five games. So no, Lamar Jackson does not throw it to the tight end very often.

Antonio Gates (TE, LAC)
The one area where Baltimore has been more susceptible on defense is against the tight end. It doesn't matter, as Gates should have little to no involvement now that Gordon is back. And don't even ask about Hunter Henry... he is just practicing and hasn't been activated off the PUP list yet.

Other Matchups:

Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)
Jackson has yet to throw for as much as 200 yards in a game but he also hasn't run for less than 67 yards as the starter. He's proven to be extremely consistent statistically, providing a stable floor without a lot of hope for a huge game. That hope should dwindle more in this matchup, as the Chargers' defense has allowed fewer than 300 total yards in three of the last four games. If you stream quarterbacks and don't find anyone more trustworthy available, Jackson can be started in order to provide you a certain cushion. Those seeking more in the fantasy championships could look elsewhere.

Philip Rivers (QB, LAC)
Even without his top RB and WR in Week 15, Rivers managed 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns. With 31 TD on the year, he's on pace to set a new career-high and he's been the most consistent QB in the fantasy world. But you may not want to trust him this week. Only two teams have allowed fewer passing yards than the Ravens and the return of Melvin Gordon could mean a turn back to the running game. He's still a QB1 for the fantasy playoffs, just on the lower end.

Gus Edwards (RB, BAL)
Edwards had a nice game in Week 15 against a Bucs team that is generous to opposing runners but faces a stiffer test this time. The fact that the Ravens finally have a tough matchup after a relatively soft second-half schedule could work against Edwards and the short-running game too. His upside may be capped this week, making him a risky flex play who could need a touchdown to save his day.

Melvin Gordon (RB, LAC)
Gordon has been out for three weeks, may not be 100% upon returning and faces a Ravens team that allows the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs (14 per game). You still have to start him. Gordon is an RB1 every time he's on the field and has been pretty much matchup-proof. He's scored in all but two games he's played and has gone over 100 scrimmage yards in all but three, including the Arizona game when he was injured. Start him and hope he sees enough touches to produce like he has all season.

Mike Williams / Tyrell Williams (WR, LAC)
We saw what the ceiling is for Mike Williams when Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon aren't on the field. Williams was the star of the show in a thrilling victory over the Chiefs, scoring three times and capping things off with a last-second two-point conversion. With both Gordon and Allen potentially returning, he is back to being a touchdown-dependent WR3 option. Tyrell Williams saw more targets (12) and was just one catch and five yards shy of Mike Williams' totals, he just didn't score. Either can be started if Allen doesn't go but both become boom-bust picks if the other case proves true.

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