Championship Week 16 Where to Put em

Thursday, Dec 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm ET

fantasy football rankings
Where to Put 'em is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for the week. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid in Week 16 of the 2011 NFL season.

This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Andre Johnson, or Adrian Peterson. Where to Put 'em takes a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.

This is the last Where to Put'em column for 2011. Good luck this week!

Put 'em In The Game: Rex Grossman
Don't let last week's game fool you - this is a great week to start Rex Grossman. The Vikings give up the most fantasy points to opposing QB's and the 3rd-most passing yards. Minnesota gives up more multi-touchdown games than any other team. Grossman should be able to put up decent stats for you this week if you need him.
Put 'em In The Game: Matt Ryan
If your championship comes down to Monday night, it will be a great game to end the season on. Matt Ryan has finally kicked it into gear and is putting up the points that we all expected when we drafted him. Ryan put up 351 yards, 2 scores, and 1 pick when he faced the Saints in Week 10. As explosive as the New Orleans offense may be, it's their defense that has holes in it. The Saints give up the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing QB's. Start Ryan with confidence.
Put 'em In The Game: Tim Tebow
OK, so Tim Tebow is no Tom Brady, who we now know is the nephew of God according to SNL. Tebow is a matchup QB with a great matchup this week against the Bills. Buffalo is giving up 18 fantasy points each week to opposing QB's, and when you factor in the 6 points for a rushing TD, Tebow's 4th quarter should be very productive. If the fantasy championship is the equivalent of the NFL 4th quarter, who better to take you into the end zone?
Put 'em In The Game: Rashard Mendenhall
Rashard Mendenhall landed on our sit list last week facing a stout San Francisco 49ers run defense and he hit expectations with just 64 yards and no scores. If you've made it to the final round of the playoffs and have Mendy, this is your reward. Let's be honest...the Rams are terrible. They give up the 4th-most fantasy points to RB's, and when you combine that fact with a hurt Roethlisberger (or no Roethlisberger), you can expect the workload to increase for Mendenhall. We're expecting a big game.
Put 'em In The Game: Reggie Bush
Does anyone remember a guy from our drafts by the name of Daniel Thomas? He's now the backup for Reggie Bush who had a career high 203-yard rushing game last week. Without a Kardashian dragging him down, Bush has become a PPR monster this year and there's no reason to sit him now. The last time he faced New England in Week 1, he wasn't the starter, but he still put up 24.4 fantasy points (PPR) against them.
Put 'em In The Game: Michael Bush
The Official FFN Handcuff-of-the-Year award goes to Michael Bush. When Darren McFadden went down, Bush turned it on. He has scored double-digit PPR fantasy points every week except one. The Chiefs give up 158 yards per game on the ground so it should come as no surprise to see Bush hit the century mark and find himself in the end zone. Run DM-who?
Put 'em In The Game: Julio Jones
Julio Jones has lived up to his expectations and then some. He torched both Carolina and Jacksonville the past two weeks and should close the fantasy season out strong in what we expect to be a shoot out on Monday night. The Saints give up the 4th-most yards to WR's this season so look for Ryan to take a few shots downfield to the rookie who's playing like a veteran.
Put 'em In The Game: Santana Moss
Santana Moss makes for a great play this week for the same reasons that Grossman does. The Vikings are terrible against the pass. Minnesota gives up the 3rd-most fantasy points and the most touchdowns to opposing WR's. Nobody in the Minnesota secondary is capable of keeping up with Moss and he should have plenty of opportunities to see the end zone.
Put 'em In The Game: Brandon Marshall
If history is any indication, Brandon Marshall makes for a solid play this week. His Week 1 performance against the Patriots (7 receptions for 139 yards) is exactly the kind of outing you need in the championship week. The Patriots' secondary hasn't gotten any better in the past four months. They're giving up the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing WR's which is great news for Marshall-owners.
Put 'em In The Game: Brent Celek
Brent Celek is available in nearly half of all leagues, so if you're in need of a TE during the last week, he's your man. He's not going to put up gaudy numbers like last week's 5 for 156 and a score, but he should still put up decent numbers in what we expect to be a high-scoring affair between the Eagles and the Cowboys. Celek torched them in Week 8 when he hauled in 7 receptions for 94 yards and a score.
Put 'em In The Game: Jermichael Finley
Somebody call Clifford Franklin and get this guy some glue for his hands. Jermichael Finley did well last week grabbing 83 yards in the Packers first loss. He could have had more if he hadn't dropped several passes. He'll face division rival Chicago on Christmas Day at Lambeau Field. The Bears are giving up the 6th-most fantasy points to opposing TE's which makes Finley a great play...even better if I can find some glue.
Put 'em In The Game: Nick Novak
Nick Novak has quietly become a Top 10 fantasy kicker and he's still available in 2/3 of all leagues. The Lions have allowed the 4th-most fantasy points to opposing kickers this season. If you've got a tight championship game, perhaps Novak can kick you the extra points you need (terrible pun completely intended).
Put 'em On The Bench: Joe Flacco
We've already made one reference to the movie The Replacements, so why not make one more? Joe Flacco is no Shane Falco so don't expect to see him kissing any cheerleaders or making big 2nd-half comebacks. He has been a disappointment all season and the Browns' 2nd-ranked pass defense is not the kind of matchup you want during the championship week. Cleveland killed him less than a month ago. We're expecting them to do the same again in what will be the Ray Rice show.
Put 'em On The Bench: Ben Roethlisberger
When the lights were on at Candlestick Park last Monday night, it was plainly visible that Ben Roethlisberger is still in pain and his play suffered because of it. There's a chance that he won't suit up this week, but if he does, now's not the time to put faith in that ankle.
Put 'em On The Bench: Eli Manning
Eli Manning killed many fantasy owners' hopes for a championship bid last week against Washington. We're not ready to give him another shot at disappointment, particularly against the Jets this week and their 7th-ranked pass defense. The Jets have given up the 2nd-fewest TD's to opposing signal-callers this year and the 5th-fewest fantasy points. It's hard to see how Eli could help you bring home a fantasy championship.
Put 'em On The Bench: Peyton Hillis
Peyton Hillis defied all logic last week rushing for 99 yards and a score against the Cardinals. If you want to take a chance on Hillis this week expecting the same type of results as last week, you're a better person that we are. There's no way we're putting him in. One good game does not make a streak, particularly when facing the Ravens who give up the 2nd-fewest yards and the 4th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. No thanks.
Put 'em On The Bench: Ryan Grant
As Packer fans, we love to see Ryan Grant turning it up. It's just nice to see Green Bay with a bit of a running game to compliment the normally-stellar aerial assualt. Unfortunately for us fans, this isn't the week to expect a lot out of him, particularly with Starks coming back. When he faces the Bears on Christmas Day (technically Christmas Day Night), he'll be facing the league's 8th-ranked rush defense. Urlacher and company have allowed the 7th-fewest fantasy points to opposing rushers.
Put 'em On The Bench: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Someone put out an APB for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Where has the Law Firm been? His role on the team has been reduced and he has been failing to capitalize on the carries that he has been given. There's no upside to him this week against the Dolphins who have given up the 3rd-fewest fantasy points to opposing RB's this season.
Put 'em On The Bench: Anquan Boldin
When the Ravens meet the Browns this week, it will be the Ray Rice Show. Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin are merely supporting cast members facing Cleveland's tough pass defense. Boldin had 2 catches for 32 yards when they played just a few weeks ago. What logical reasons exist to think that he'll do much better this week?
Put 'em On The Bench: Darrius Heyward-Bey
Heed this advice: if you start Darrius Heyward-Bey this week thinking he'll turn in another performance like he did last week, you WILL BE disappointed. He's available in more than 70% of all leagues and he's the 2nd-most added player over the past three days. C'mon people - did anyone watch the Green Bay game last week? Kansas City is no joke against the pass giving up the 4th-fewest yards through the air this season. Heyward-Bey does not make for a good play (the rhyme is the most upside he'll have this week).
Put 'em On The Bench: Greg Olsen
GReg Olsen





It must be the abundance of holiday cheer that helped create the above acronym. Olsen could certainly be a grinch this week, particularly if past history is any indication of his odds of success. When he faced Tampa Bay in Week 13, he had a 1 catch gimme for 21 yards. Olsen has been on a downward spiral as of late and he's sharing targets with Shockey. This is not the week to play him hoping for some upside.
Put 'em On The Bench: Heath Miller
By all accounts, this week should be the Rashard Mendenhall show for the Steelers against the Rams. The Rams may stink against quarterbacks and running backs, but believe it or not, they are stellar in the middle field against opposing tight ends literally ranking 1st in fewest yards, fewest TD's, and fewest fantasy points allowed to them. With Big Ben questionable to play, Miller could spend most of the game blocking and opening up holes for Mendenhall. Fine for Mendy-owners, but terrible for anyone hoping to squeeze a few points out of Miller.
Put 'em On The Bench: Robbie Gould
Let's try a little math: No Jay Cutler + No Matt Forte + Josh McCown + Marion Barber = terrible matchup for Robbie Gould. He can't score if he can't get close to the end zone. Since losing Cutler and Forte, Gould hasn't seen more than four fantasy points in a game. We may have lost interest in math after they started putting letters in with the numbers, but we're pretty sure that this is not the kind of math we want when playing the championship game.

Join the Discussion

Lutefisk CommentedDec 23, 2011 11:00 am

Nerd, I should probably ask if you're over the funk KC laid on the Pack fans last weekend before I ask any questions. Just a reminder of how special stringing a lot of wins together is. Last question of the season... who gets the love? Tebow or Vick? Thanks for all the help and another fun year. See ya next fall.


Nerd CommentedDec 23, 2011 11:00 am

No worries on the GB loss. Had to get it out of our system. Better now than in the playoffs. :-)

I think Tebow and Vick should both turn out solid days, but I'd give the edge to Vick.

Good luck and thanks for your support this year!

My best,


chazz44 CommentedDec 27, 2011 11:00 am

Won my league Championship, 2nd title in 3yrs. Thanks FFNerd.

mgaughan CommentedDec 27, 2011 11:00 am

Hi Joe,

10 teams - 4 championships.

Not a bad return for all the sanity you provide.

Thanks for this year and years to come.


Nerd CommentedDec 27, 2011 11:00 am

Thanks guys - that means a lot! Enjoy the off-season.

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