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Week 16 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchup Analysis

The (6-8) Denver Broncos and (3-11) Oakland Raiders have combined for fewer wins this season than 20-percent of the remaining teams in the NFL; individually. If we were somehow able to fuse quarterbacks Case Keenum and Derek Carr, the resulting Casrek Kerrum would have the same amount of touchdown passes as Andrew Luck and 11 fewer than Patrick Mahomes. Marshawn Lynch has just 140 fewer rushing yards and the same number of rushing touchdowns (three) as Raiders leading-rusher Doug Martin on the season. Not only has Lynch not seen the field since October 14th, but 19 running backs have put up more than 140 rushing yards in a single game this season - including three last week. Excluding the team-leading Emmanuel Sanders who's on injured reserve, Courtland Sutton is the only current Broncos player with more than 300 receiving yards this season making them one of just four teams to have a lone player on their active roster (who's been with them all season) with over 300 yards receiving. I could continue to depict this woeful catastrophe that is this Week 16 Monday Night Football matchup between the Broncos and Raiders for hours on end, but I'll keep it short and sweet instead...

Oh, boy.

Are you ready for some football?! I mean, seriously, how could you not be after all of that? If not, well, you're obviously a glutton for pain since you've made it this far, so you might as well continue reading the analysis. After all, real life trash can sometimes lead to fantasy treasure.

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Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

Date and Start Time: Monday, December 24th at 8:15 p.m. EST
Game Spread: DEN -2.5
Over/Under: 44

Offensive and Defensive Rankings:

Broncos Raiders
Passing Yards 19th 14th
Rushing Yards 11th 26th
Pass Defense 25th 16th
Run Defense 20th 32nd


Must Starts

Top Players That You Should Have In Your Lineup

Phillip Lindsay (RB, DEN)

Lindsay's 991 rushing yards rank fifth in the league and he's well on his way for a 1,000-yard season. His nine rushing touchdowns are also tied for fifth. Both of which put him right at, or slightly below, the numbers of rookie phenom Saquon Barkley. Lindsay also became the first undrafted rookie offensive player in the history of the NFL to be named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday.

What a season it's been.

None of that has anything to do with why you should have him in your fantasy football lineups this week as he's disappeared over his last two games - amassing just 95 scrimmage yards but adding a TD. Neither of those games came against Oakland, however, who have given up 4.9 yards per carry and 123.9 rushing yards per game to opposing backs putting them among the league's worst against the run. That has everything to do with why you should have him in your lineups this week.

Jared Cook (TE, OAK)

Two games ago, the Broncos gave up 210 receiving yards and a touchdown to George Kittle who averages just about 12 more receiving yards per game than Cook. Cook's 18.7-percent target share ranks fourth at the tight end position and leads the team. Cook leads the Raiders in receptions, yards, and touchdowns with his 848 yards and six TDs being nearly double in both of second place Jordy Nelson's 586 yards and three TDs. Cook has seven Top-10 fantasy TE finishes of 14 opportunities and is Top-10 at the position in fantasy points per game.


Must Sits

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup

Case Keenum (QB, DEN)

As a whole, this Raiders defense has not been good at preventing the opposing offense from doing whatever the hell in which it is that they desire. If we view them on the micro level, though, Phillip Rivers is the only quarterback to have put up more than 300 passing yards against them this season and this includes matchups with Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, and Andrew Luck.

Now I know, the 32 passing touchdowns Oakland has surrendered are good for the most of any team while Josh Rosen and Jeff Driskel are the only two QBs to have put up less than 15 fantasy points against them over their last 10 games. However, Keenum has thrown one or fewer TD pass in nine of the Broncos 14 games, has provided less than 200 passing yards in three of their last four, has just three more touchdowns tossed than interceptions, and again, Denver is likely to control this game on the ground.

Keenum did put up 14.5 fantasy points when these two teams met back in Week 2, but that was largely the result of a one-yard TD run. And while we could be in for a 225-yard, two-touchdown kind of stat line this time around, we've seen him disappoint despite favorable matchups all season. He's far beyond the point of fantasy irrelevance, and if he goes off, let out a sarcastic "Yay" and then go on about your evening.

Royce Freeman (RB, DEN)

Let me preface this by saying Freeman makes for an interesting DFS sleeper based on the matchup alone. Problem is, he has a total of 131 rushing yards in the five games he's played since returning from an ankle sprain, and outside of the touchdown he scored in Week 11, he's done nothing to warrant fantasy consideration. Unless, of course, the objective of your league is to have players who get the most touches while accruing the fewest statistics. Nonetheless, if you want to roll the dice on him finding the end zone, he should receive enough carries to register around 40 rushing yards which could result in an economical, double-digit scoring RB. Bold, but possible... I guess.

Doug Martin (RB, OAK)

The intro to this article was quite melancholy in nature, so I don't blame you should you have swiped through it to find yourself here. There was a part about Doug Martin, and Marshawn Lynch, and every other competent running back housed in a generic statement, all of which made Doug Martin being Oakland's leading rusher a rather far from impressive statement.

Martin hasn't reached 75 rushing yards in a single game this season, doesn't offer much additional value in the passing game, and has as many rushing touchdowns this season as Kapri Bibbs and Jay Ajayi. Sure, all three of his touchdowns have come over the last four weeks and he's received double-digit carries in seven of their last eight games, but Denver hasn't allowed a back to find the end zone on the ground since Week 6 and have limited the position to 3.8 yards per carry over that same stretch which would be good for the sixth-fewest if not for the first six games of the season where they were hot garbage.


Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option - Derek Carr (QB, OAK)

Quietly, Carr ranks Top-10 in passing yards this season with more than the likes of Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson, and Russell Wilson. This is true, as crazy as it may sound - I quintuple checked it. That said, the issue with Carr hasn't been yardage, it's the fact that he's thrown fewer touchdown passes than Andy Dalton - who isn't very good and hasn't played in three-straight games. The good news here is that Denver has allowed 25 passing TDs on the year which is good for the 13th-most, and they also placed cornerback Chris Harris on injured reserve Wednesday afternoon. It's not wise to expect a monster showing from the disappointing Carr, but the 16.4 fantasy points he's averaged over his last five games seems like a fairly reasonable floor.

Solid Option - Jalen Richard (RB, OAK)

Richard's production really hasn't changed since the Raiders lost Marshawn Lynch and this is just one of the many unexplained Grudenisms. Sure, he had that one game against Arizona where they decided to run the ball 33 times resulting in Richard seeing 11 carries, but even with that, he's up to just 4.6 carries per game without Lynch in the lineup after seeing 1.8 with him on the field. A marginal boost, at best.

Even more inexplicably, his targets and receptions have both somehow decreased in the Raiders eight games sans Lynch. Gruden's ineptitude aside, Richard has scored double-digit fantasy points (PPR) in nine of 14 contests with at least 50 scrimmage yards in all nine. Denver has done a decent job in containing pass-catching backs, but there's nothing about this matchup to suggest he won't make this his 10th double-digit PPR scoring effort.

Solid Option - Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)

Sutton has seen at least six targets in each of the three games Denver has played since losing Emmanuel Sanders. He's left many who expected a breakout disappointed by averaging just 47 receiving yards over those three, but he is the proud owner of one of the two touchdown passes Case Keenum has tossed over that stretch. If you like groundbreaking analysis, brace yourself... That's 50-percent of Keenum's TD passes over the last three games, and the Raiders have allowed the most passing TDs in the league with 63-percent of them landing in the hands of a wide receiver - 1.43 per game. Sutton, now -- by some very unreasonable, and even more incorrect, math/logic -- has about a 75-percent chance of finding the end zone on Monday night. It's worth noting that Oakland has been one of the best teams with regards to yardage allowed to the position, but you only get one point per 10 yards. One TD gives you six.

Solid Option - Daesean Hamilton (WR, DEN)

Hamilton has seen at least nine targets in each of Denver's last two games. He's caught seven balls in both, while recording 47 and 46 yards, and is the proud owner of one of the two touchdown passes Case Keenum has tossed over the last three games... That's 50-percent of Keenum's TD passes over the last three, and the Raiders have allowed the most passing TDs in the league with 63-percent of them landing in the hands of a wide receiver - 1.43 per game. Hamilton, now -- by some very unreasonable, and even more incorrect, math/logic -- has about a 75-percent chance of finding the end zone on Monday night. It's worth noting that slot receivers have found the most success against Oakland with regards to yardage - 55-percent of Hamilton's snaps have come from the slot.

Sleeper - Jordy Nelson (WR, OAK)

Despite not dancing since Week 5, Nelson remains the one usable-ish fantasy WR in this Raiders offense and appears to be back to the guy many expected to see all season with 26 targets, 22 receptions, and 233 yards over Oakland's last three. Neither Bradley Roby or Tramaine Brock present an overly exploitable matchup, but Jared Cook can't catch all of the passes.

Oakland has played eight games since their Week 7 bye, and their wide receivers have caught a grand total of four touchdown passes over this eight-game stretch. Brandon LaFell (who hasn't played in a game since Week 11 and is on injured reserve) has two to his name while Marcell Ateman and Seth Roberts have one a piece. Yikes. Expectations should be tempered here. However, unless Isaac Yiadom can't fill in for Chris Harris in the slot, Nelson is the receiver to trust (Seth Roberts becomes the sleeper to target should Yiadom not be able to suit up).

Sleeper - Matt LaCosse (TE, DEN)

Roughly 20-percent of Case Keenum's pass attempts have targeted one of his tight ends this season. Not among the Wentzes, Mahomes, or Lucks of the world, but a respectable allotment nonetheless. Season-ending injuries to Jake Butt and Jeff Heuerman have made LaCosse the de facto No. 1 TE in the Broncos offense, and he's looked solid in limited action. There's plenty of sleeper potential to be had here against a Raiders defense which has given up the fourth-most receiving yards, most touchdowns, and the most (possibly second-most depending on your rounding) fantasy points to the TE position.

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