Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em is the ultimate weekly look at NFL matchups and how they’ll affect your fantasy football team. Fantasy superstars such as Todd Gurley and Antonio Brown will not be featured. All player matchups are based on PPR scoring system. NFL researchers Matt Frederick and Michael Florio have contributed to the column. For your final starting lineup decisions, check our weekly fantasy football lineup rankings.
Quarterbacks — Start of the Week
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Big Ben‘s numbers haven’t been all that consistent in recent weeks, but he’s still a virtual must start when the Steelers host the Bengals in what is a huge game for Pittsburgh. The Steelers need to win and the Ravens to lose to make the playoffs. Cincinnati’s defense has been gashed by quarterbacks all season long, most recently by Baker Mayfield. Start Roethlisberger in this AFC North battle.
Tom Brady vs. New York Jets: Brady’s numbers have been, well, un-Brady like in recent weeks. Here’s the good news … Brady and the Patriots still having seeding position in the AFC to play for this week, and the Jets just gave up a 40-burger to Aaron Rodgers on their home field. Tom Terrific also beat Gang Green’s defensive team for almost 20 fantasy points back in Week 12.
Quarterbacks — Sit of the Week
Baker Mayfield at Baltimore Ravens: Mayfield was among the start ’em quarterbacks a week ago, and he delivered with three touchdowns. Keep in mind that he had failed to score 14 fantasy points in his previous three games, however, and he has as a brutal road matchup against a strong Ravens defense that makes Mayfield a fade for me this week. I’d only consider him in super flex leagues.
Kirk Cousins vs. Chicago Bears: Cousins is coming off one of his better games of the season, as he put up three touchdowns and 22.2 fantasy points in a win over the Lions. He’ll have a far tougher task when the Bears come to town, however, as their defense has allowed an average of fewer than 14 fantasy points a game to quarterbacks. The Bears have NFC seeding at stake, too. The Rams must lose and the Bears must win for Chicago to take over as the No. 2 seed.
Running Backs — Start of the Week
Chris Carson vs. Arizona Cardinals: Carson has been one of the unsung heros in fantasy land, and I like him as a No. 2 runner this week against the Cardinals. Their defense has allowed around five yards per rushing attempt to opposing running backs on the season. If coach Pete Carroll decides to rest Carson, however, I would pick up and start Mike Davis as an RB2/flex.
Jamaal Williams vs. Detroit Lions: Volume is king in fantasy football, and Williams has seen a massive increase in volume since the Packers lost Aaron Jones to an injured knee. He saw 21 touches and put up almost 30 points in a win over the Jets, and his opportunities shouldn’t decrease against a Lions defense that has struggled against the run. Williams is a high-end RB2.
Running Backs — Sit of the Week
Marlon Mack at Tennessee Titans: Mack has scored a touchdown in each of his last three games, but he’s also failed to score more than 11 fantasy points in two of those contests. I’d consider him a risk-reward flex starter this week, as he’ll face a Titans defense that’s allowed just six total touchdowns and the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. The Colts have plenty to play for, though — as a win earns them the No. 6 seed in the AFC.
Josh Adams at Washington Redskins: Adams saw a mere 11 carries in last week’s win over the Texans, and he didn’t help his cause with a lost fumble in the contest. The Notre Dame product is now in a clear committee with Wendell Smallwood and veteran Darren Sproles, who turned back the clock in Week 16. Unless you’re desperate for a flex starter, Adams is better left on the bench.
Wide Receivers — Start of the Week
Julian Edelman vs. New York Jets: Edelman had a solid line in last week’s win over the Bills, posting 70 yards and 19 fantasy points. He’s a virtual must-start against the Jets, who have allowed the second-most yards and 12 touchdowns to slot receivers. Edelman took advantage of that matchup back in Week 12, beating Gang Green for 84 yards, one score, and almost 19 points.
Alshon Jeffery at Washington Redskins: Jeffery produced a respectable but underwhelming 82 yards and 11.2 points in a win over the Texans. I’d still start him in a big game for the Eagles versus a Washington defense that’s allowed the sixth-most yards and 12 touchdowns to receivers split out wide. Quarterbacks also have a 104.6 passer rating when targeting boundary wideouts.
Wide Receivers — Sit of the Week
Allen Robinson at Minnesota Vikings: A regular member of the sit ’em wide receiver list, Robinson hasn’t had more than 85 yards or scored a touchdown in a single game since Week 10. He’s a fade for me this week again, as he’ll face a Vikings defense that’s allowed just two touchdown catches and the fewest fantasy points to enemy wide receivers on their home field.
Jarvis Landry at Baltimore Ravens: Landry is coming off another “meh” stat line, and an upcoming game against the Ravens makes him a risk-reward WR3/flex starter at best. Baltimore has been tough on slot receivers, allowing just four touchdowns and an average of 13 points per game to the position. Also, only the Vikings have allowed fewer fantasy points to wideouts at home overall.
Tight Ends — Start of the Week
Jared Cook at Kansas City Chiefs: Cook has been one of the best tight ends in fantasy land this season, ranking in the top five in targets and points at the position. I’d expect him to put up a nice line when he faces the Chiefs, who have had a tough time against tight ends. In fact, Cook beat them for 100 yards, one touchdown catch, and 23 fantasy points back in Week 13.
Tight Ends — Sit of the Week
Kyle Rudolph vs. Chicago Bears: It only makes sense that Rudolph scored two touchdowns a few days before Christmas, right? Before you chase the fantasy points, however, I would remind you that he’s been a nonfactor for most of the 2018 season. What’s more, an upcoming matchup against the Bears isn’t what you would call favorable. I’d keep Rudolph on the fantasy sidelines in Week 17.
Kickers — Start of the Week
Harrison Butker vs. Oakland Raiders: One of the top kickers in fantasy land, Butker is in a great spot to bring home a fantasy championship to those who extend their postseason into Week 17. That’s due in large part to a matchup against the Raiders, who have allowed an average of almost nine points per game to kickers and surrendered 12 to Butker during a matchup in Week 13.
Kickers — Sit of the Week
Dan Bailey vs. Chicago Bears: Bailey has been on a short hot-streak, scoring a combined 20 fantasy points in his last two games. I’d still keep the veteran on the sidelines this weekend, however, as the Bears have been tough on enemy kickers during the course of the season, In fact, they’ve surrendered an average of fewer than seven fantasy points per game to the position.
Defenses — Start of the Week
Saints D/ST vs. Carolina Panthers: The Saints defense has been one of the most valuable in fantasy land in recent weeks, and I like that trend to continue against Kyle Allen and the Panthers. The young quarterback is expected to make his first NFL start this week, and he’s bound to make some mistakes against one of the league’s most aggressive defensive units.
Defenses — Sit of the Week
Jaguars D/ST at Houston Texans: The Jaguars defense produced an impressive 17 fantasy points against the Dolphins last week, so some fantasy owners out there might be looking to chase the points. I’d avoid that temptation, however, as a road matchup against the Texans isn’t very favorable. Defenses have averaged fewer than five points against them over the last five weeks.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for all of the latest fantasy football news, notes and in-depth analysis!