The pivotal lineup decisions you make this week will either earn you a league championship or leave you drowning your sorrows in Christmas Eggnog. For example, owners who started Jameis Winston or Carson Wentz over Aaron Rodgers last week may have advanced to the finals due to a risky or bold call. It might even be the only reason your season is still alive. However, if you decided to play Julian Edelman or Amari Cooper over AJ Brown or Jamison Crowder, the decision may have cost you a playoff berth.
It's small lineup decisions like those that can leave fantasy owners saying the dreaded words: "My bench outscored my starters." Well, for that not to happen, it's vital to be aware of players drawing tough matchups who pose a significant risk to your quest for a fantasy title.
The excessive amount of injuries may force many of these players into championship lineups. However, owners need to realize there is no tomorrow. Let's take a look at several players who pose a risk with all the money and hardware on the line.
QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (at MIN)
Rodgers, started in 89% of leagues, has posted subpar numbers over the last six games, and things will not get any easier in Week 16 on the road against the Vikings. The star quarterback, who has led the Packers to an 11-3 record, has disappointedly only thrown for one or fewer touchdowns in five of his last six games while failing to top 243 yards passing in that span. With everything on the line in championship week, my model identifies Rodgers as a fade against a Vikings defense that has been on fire of late, recording ten sacks, 11 turnovers and a defensive touchdown over their last three games. Rodgers falls out of my model's top-12 quarterback rankings in the biggest week of the fantasy football season.
RB Carlos Hyde, Houston Texans (at TB)
Despite coming off his best game of the season against the Titans, Hyde should not be trusted with a difficult matchup in Week 16 against a quietly stout Tampa Bay run defense. The veteran back, who has posted single-digit PPR fantasy points in three of his last five games, has only found the endzone twice in his previous eight games. Owned in 92% of leagues, many owners are intending on using Hyde, who ranks as the overall RB24 in PPR formats. In championship week, he will be facing the league's best run defense that is allowing a league-low 73.3 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs.
RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (vs. KC)
Montgomery (owned in 98% of leagues) has not scored a rushing touchdown in six consecutive games, has fewer than 39 rushing yards in three of his last five games. In Week 16 against the Chiefs, despite an extremely favorable matchup against the league’s 26th-ranked rush defense, Montgomery just can not be relied upon with all the money on the line. With less than 7.6 PPR fantasy points in five of his last six games, fantasy owners should look to their bench.
WR John Brown, Buffalo Bills (at NE)
Despite being fantasy’s overall WR15 this season, owners should fade inserting the sixth-year wideout into championship lineups with the expected draw of Patriots top CB Stephon Gilmore. Brown, owned in 96% of leagues, has been on the field for 91% of the snaps this season leading Buffalo by a wide margin in targets (111), receptions (71) and yards (1,007). Even with his career year in 2019, the veteran wide receiver is challenging to have confidence in against the second-best Patriots pass defense that is allowing a league-low in yards per reception (5.7) and passing touchdowns (10).
WR Odell Beckham, Cleveland Browns (at BAL)
Beckham, who is struggling to play through a sports hernia injury, has had a disappointing first season in Cleveland with a paltry two touchdown receptions on the year. The veteran wideout (owned in 100% of leagues) has fewer than 39 yards receiving his two of his last three games. The contentious pro, among the biggest fantasy busts this season, is reportedly unhappy and could be looking to leave the Browns after just 14 games. Now is not the time for fantasy owners to show any faith in the injured diva who may be trying to play his way out of the Dawg Pound.
Don’t Even Think About It. Your Fantasy Life Is On The Line!
- QB Sam Darnold, New York Jets (vs. PIT)
- QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL)
- QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots (vs. BUF)
- RB Sony Michel, New England Patriots (vs. BUF)
- RB Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers (vs. ATL)
- RB LeSean McCoy, Kansas City Chiefs (at CHI)
- WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers (at NYJ)
- WR Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams (at SF)
As one great legend once said, "There is no tomorrow," and that certainly applies to fantasy owners in the championship of the fantasy playoffs. Best of luck to everyone this week, and may all your lineup decisions be winning ones! Go get that glory!