Ryan Fitzpatrick as the key to your fantasy championship? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.
With championship weekend having arrived, it’s more important than ever to analyze the matchups to see who’s in store for a big Sunday.
Fitzpatrick and the Tennessee Titans have one of Week 16’s most favorable matchups, visiting Jacksonville. The Jaguars are allowing an average of 18.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. That’s fourth most in standard ESPN leagues. Fitzpatrick is coming off his best game of the season - 402 yards and four touchdown passes against Arizona in Week 15.
Should you sit a player like Drew Brees for Fitz? Probably not, but it wouldn’t be crazy. Brees and the Saints face the Carolina Panthers. They are allowing just 10.6 points per game to opposing quarterbacks - second least in the NFL.
While Brees rightfully has “never sit” status, Fitzpatrick could certainly replace players like Andrew Luck or Alex Smith in your lineup Sunday. Luck and the Colts visit Smith and the Chiefs on Sunday.
Another quarterback with a favorable matchup in Week 16 is Washington’s Kirk Cousins. The Redskins face the Cowboys on Sunday. Dallas is allowing an NFL-high 21.4 points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and was just shredded for 299 yards and four touchdowns by Matt Flynn (really). The Bengals’ Andy Dalton gets to play the second-most generous fantasy defense when it comes to facing quarterbacks in the Minnesota Vikings. They’re giving up an average of 21.2 points per game.
At running back, Jacksonville’s Jordan Todman is a good play a week after his 109-yard effort against the Bills. Todman faces a Tennessee defense that has allowed an average of 21.4 points per game against opposing running backs.
Tampa Bay’s Bobby Rainey has been hot and cold this year, but is facing a Rams defense that has allowed 14 rushing touchdowns and 19.8 points per game to running backs. Rainey is a strong flex option because of that.
At receiver, Oakland’s Rod Streater is the sort of borderline player who’s worth considering this week. The Chargers are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers, and Streater got nine targets last week against Kansas City. He has 11 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks.
The matchups also favor a pair of veteran receivers who have turned in disappointing fantasy seasons. Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe goes against an Indianapolis defense giving up 23.1 points to receivers, while Minnesota’s Greg Jennings faces a Cincinnati defense allowing nearly 20. Jennings is coming off his best game of the season - 163 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles.
Analyzing the Bills
EJ Manuel’s injury and Stevie Johnson’s likely absence from the lineup shouldn’t have much of a fantasy impact this week. That’s because neither should have been in your lineup in the first place.
With Thad Lewis starting at quarterback, none of the Bills’ remaining receivers after Johnson have much fantasy value. In the deepest of leagues, tight end Scott Chandler does have some minimal appeal. He had two of his three most productive fantasy games earlier this season with Lewis under center.
Running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller remain the two Bills with fantasy value. Both are flex options because they take touches away from each other. Jackson had more success against Miami in the opener, totaling 85 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Spiller, meanwhile, was held to just 11 yards on six carries in the first meeting between the teams. He’s healthier now, though, and with expected wet weather, should get more touches Sunday.
That rainy forecast also means that if you’ve been using Bills kicker Dan Carpenter, it would be wise to find another option.
On the Miami side, receiver Mike Wallace has been hot over the past month, with 20 catches for 333 yards and three touchdowns in the past four games. He’s a low-end No. 2 receiver.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has thrown for eight touchdown passes the past three games, accounting for 68 fantasy points. He’s an intriguing option, but because of the aforementioned weather, I’d be hesitant to start him.
Miami running back Daniel Thomas injured his ankle in Week 15 against New England. He’s been held out of practice this week. That should mean more carries for Lamar Miller, but his fantasy value remains limited. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week Four.
The Bills have allowed an opposing tight end to score a touchdown in four straight games, which makes the Dolphins’ Charles Clay a must-start option. Clay curiously only had two targets last week, but had 14 catches for 177 yards and two touchdowns the previous two weeks.