It's the most critical week of the fantasy season. Week 16 is the end of the line for most leagues with a champion soon to be crowned. Whether you're fighting for a trophy, third place, or to win the consolation bracket, you're likely agonizing over every lineup decision. We're here to help. Let's go position by position and evaluate which players are starts this week and which players need to be benched.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers—Some may be tempted to avoid Tampa Bay's gunslinger this week because of injuries to his top weapons. Mike Evans is out for the rest of the season. Both Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller suffered hamstring injuries in Week 15 and seem unlikely to play on Saturday. Playing without three of your top four receivers is a challenge, but head coach Bruce Arians, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and Winston himself aren't going to feel sorry for themselves. The Buccaneers will continue to sling the ball all around the field with Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate against the second-worst defense in the NFL against fantasy QBs. Winston has scored 32 or more fantasy points in back-to-back weeks, and he wasn't hindered by his thumb injury last week. Start him with confidence as a mid-level QB1.
Matt Ryan, Falcons—Ryan hasn't been the same since he suffered his mid-season ankle injury, but it looks like he's starting to turn things around as the regular season draws to a close. He has three straight multi-touchdown games and finished as a Top 10 quarterback in each of the last two weeks. He's a Top 10 QB again this week against a Jaguars defense that allows the 10th-most points to fantasy QBs this season and has allowed an average of nearly 21 fantasy points per game to the position since their bye week.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings—There seems to be a lot of love in the fantasy experts community for Cousins as a low-end QB1 this week, and I don't understand it. Since Minnesota's bye, Cousins has finished as the 15th, T-21st, and 25th-highest scoring quarterback in the last three weeks, respectively. He's going up against a Packers defense that allows the sixth-fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks this season. The current QB12 for the season is averaging 19.1 fantasy points per game. The Packers have allowed only three quarterbacks all season to eclipse that total and none since Week 7. Cousins had less than nine points against Green Bay in Week 2. Cousins should not be in any fantasy lineups in single-QB leagues.
Adrian Peterson, Redskins—Peterson sure doesn't look like he's 34 years old. He found the end zone for the third consecutive game against the Eagles last week. It was the exclamation point of an 18.1 fantasy point day. Peterson ranks as the No. 16 RB in PPR leagues over the last three weeks, with an average of 15.9 points per game. He had 20 touches in Week 14 and 19 touches last week, including three catches. He'll be in line for a similar workload against a Giants defense that's right around league average against fantasy running backs. Consistent touches are a rare commodity, and Peterson's role is clearly defined. Dwayne Haskins playing a bit better lately should only help the Redskins' rushing attack.
Tarik Cohen, Bears—Do you think Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense can go blow-for-blow with Patrick Mahomes? Yeah, neither do I. That's great news for Cohen owners, though, as he'll be on the field a lot when Chicago needs to play catch up. Cohen is averaging 5.5 catches per game over the last six weeks and has 13 in the last two weeks. He ranks as the No. 22 overall PPR running back with an average of 12.8 points per game since Week 10. Kansas City allows the third-most points to fantasy running backs this season and could be playing plenty of prevent defense in the fourth quarter. Cohen should continue to pile up the catches in Week 16.
Le'Veon Bell, Jets—It's been a season to forget for Bell and those who drafted him in the first round. The coup de grâce will be benching him in the last week of the fantasy season. Bell ranks outside of RB2 territory this week, even in a so-called revenge game, because he's been fairly ineffective, and the matchup is terrible. Bell rushed for a season-high 87 yards last week. Yup, that was his best output of the season. Yikes. The Steelers are one of the ten best teams against fantasy running backs and have been extremely stout lately. Since its Week 7 bye, Pittsburgh is allowing an average of 15 combined PPR fantasy points per game to all running back units. Bell's upside is limited in this matchup and will continue to be next season if Adam Gase still coaches him.
Mike Williams, Chargers—Williams is trying to get all of his overdue positive touchdown regression before the end of the regular season. The 6-foot-4 wide receiver caught his first touchdown of the season in Week 14 after having 10 in 2018. He followed that up with another score last week. Williams is averaging 16 fantasy points per game over the last three weeks and gets a glorious matchup against a defeated Raiders secondary this week. Oakland allows the fifth-most yards per game to No. 2 WRs, and the 12th-most fantasy points to the position overall. Start Williams with confidence as a low-end WR2 this week.
Anthony Miller, Bears—Miller's been a Top 10 wide receiver over the last four weeks as his role continues to grow in Chicago's offense. He's scored in double figures for five straight games and is averaging 10.4 targets per game in that stretch, including 15 last week. He's scored in two straight and has a better matchup than one would think at first glance against Kansas City this week. Although the Chiefs have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to the position this season, they allow the seventh-most yards per game to slot receivers. Miller is going to get plenty of volume because the Bears are going to have to throw a lot to keep up with the Chiefs' offense. Miller has proven to be a trustworthy option in recent weeks and is again with a championship on the line.
Odell Beckham Jr., Browns—When he's not asking the Ravens sideline to "come get him," Beckham will be busy trying to beat one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, Marlon Humphrey. Humphrey won Round 1 this season, holding OBJ to just two catches for 20 yards on seven targets in Week 4. He got the best of him in this scuffle too. The current WR24 in full-season PPR formats is averaging 14.2 points per game. Beckham has only reached that total in four games this season. He doesn't have WR1 upside anymore, and the matchup is terrible. You likely have better options, even in three-WR formats.
Dallas Goedert, Eagles—Goedert is a high-floor option with the potential for more this week as a borderline Top 10 tight end. Given all of the injuries to Philadelphia playmakers, Goedert is getting between 6-8 targets per game and has been reasonably efficient. Since the Eagles' Week 10 bye, Goedert is averaging around five catches for 46 yards on 6.6 targets per game. He only has one touchdown, but he was a big red zone threat for the Eagles earlier in the season. The matchup against the Cowboys plays in his favor too. Dallas allows the third-most points to fantasy tight ends this season. Even if Nelson Agholor returns, there will be plenty of targets to go around for Zach Ertz and Goedert.
Jacob Hollister, Seahawks—Start any viable tight end against the Cardinals. Period. Arizona is allowing nearly 19 points per game to the position. For context, the Cardinals are allowing 2.5 more points per game to tight ends than the average score of the No. 1 player at the position this season, Travis Kelce. Hollister hasn't been as effective since Seattle emerged from its bye, but he at least has some role in the offense. He's averaging 3.8 catches on 5.3 targets per game over the last four weeks. Both numbers should increase this week. It's worth noting that Will Dissly had 7/57/1 against Arizona in Week 4. Hollister is a TE1 this week with a decent chance at a monster game because of the matchup.
Jack Doyle, Colts—Despite injuries to Eric Ebron and T.Y. Hilton (who's now back), Doyle still hasn't carved out a significant role as a pass-catcher for the Colts. He's on the field a ton and is a valuable piece of Indianapolis' offense, just not the part fantasy managers care about. He has only one performance above 5.8 fantasy points over the last five weeks. He needs to score to be fantasy relevant and is going up against a Panthers defense that allows only 9.0 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, second-lowest in the NFL. Doyle is not in TE1 territory this week.