Russell Wilson, Derrick Henry and Corey Davis

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Fantasy Football Sweet & Sour: Wilson, Henry, Davis Among Strong Starts In Championship Round

Matt Citak
December 20, 2018 - 9:51 am
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The time has come.

You have been working all season for this exact moment -- the fantasy championship.

Congratulations to those of you who have made it this far. It's been a wild season, but your hard work has paid off. Let's get you that championship.

Players who look poised for a big week will fall under the "Sweet" category, while guys who might be in for a tough matchup will fall in the "Sour" section. In addition, I'll add a couple of sleeper picks at each position for those in need of a streaming option.

Let me preface this article by saying I won't be telling you the obvious. You don't need me to tell you to start Todd Gurley or Antonio Brown each week. And a player falling in the "Sour" section doesn't necessarily mean you should bench him; it means you should lower your expectations for that player given the circumstances that week (matchup, injuries, etc.). While I want these recommendations to help you make lineup decisions, at the end of the day, you have to go with your gut.

Best of luck this week!

Quarterbacks

Sweet

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks -- Wilson rebounded nicely from his dismal Week 14 performance, throwing for 237 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers last weekend. Seattle takes on Kansas City in Week 16, which means this game could quickly turn into a high-scoring affair. The Chiefs have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing home quarterbacks this season, setting Wilson up nicely for another big outing. Wilson should finish as a top fantasy QB in this appetizing matchup. 

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons -- Julio Jones popped up on the injury report this week, putting his availability for Sunday's game against the Panthers in jeopardy. Even if Jones can't go, Ryan should still be in your starting lineups. Despite limiting Drew Brees to under seven fantasy points last week, Carolina is still surrendering the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year. In his first matchup against the Panthers back in Week 2, Ryan finished with over 30 fantasy points. He may not score that much this week, but he should come close.

Sour

Tom Brady, New England Patriots -- Brady has to be up there as one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy this season. Despite his high average draft position, he currently ranks as QB13 on the year, nestled between Kirk Cousins and Mitchell Trubisky. The 41-year-old quarterback is likely to fall further down that list this week against a tough Bills defense. Buffalo is allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and has allowed only one QB (Andrew Luck) to top 16 fantasy points since Week 4. Keep Brady on your bench this week.

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- It's been an incredibly up-and-down 2018 for Winston, and Week 16 is shaping up to be yet another turn for the worse. Winston is coming off an awful game against the Ravens and could be looking at another rough day this week against the Cowboys. Dallas has held opposing quarterbacks to just 228 passing yards and less than 16 fantasy points per game at AT&T Stadium. With this matchup meaning nothing for Tampa Bay and everything for the Cowboys, Winston is in for a long, long day.

Sleepers

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns -- Mayfield's turnaround since the departure of Hue Jackson has been remarkable, and the rookie QB is just getting started. Mayfield takes on a Bengals defense in Week 16 that is giving up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Fire him up.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys -- If you rolled with Prescott last week, it might be hard to trust him again. But the matchup against the Buccaneers' horrid pass defense is too good to ignore. Don't hesitate to go with the young QB in Week 16.

Running Backs

Sweet

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans -- Seen as a colossal bust merely a month ago, Henry has looked like a new man over the last two weeks. During that span, the bruising back has carried the ball 50 times for 408 yards and a whopping six touchdowns. Henry has now found the end zone in six of his last eight games and should have no trouble continuing the trend this week against the Redskins. Washington has allowed four opposing backs to either gain 100 total yards or score a touchdown in the last five weeks. Henry should be in for yet another big outing. 

Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts -- Mack looked like an absolute stud against the Cowboys last week, gaining 139 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns. If he did that against Dallas and their top-five rush defense, imagine what he can do against the Giants. New York comes into this game ranked 28th in rush yards allowed per game (128.4), and it's clear that the unit misses Damon Harrison. The Giants have allowed an opposing running back to score in every game but one this season, and since the trade of Snacks to Detroit prior to Week 8, six backs have scored at least 14 PPR points against them. Mack is going to run wild on this struggling defense.

Sour

Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars -- The matchup may look great on paper, but Fournette is not a recommended play this week. Jacksonville's offensive line has been devastated by injuries, leading to the talented back scoring just 13 fantasy points total over the last two games. Having Cody Kessler under center certainly hasn't helped Fournette's cause. The second-year back is now dealing with a foot injury yet again and lost a few touches to David Williams last week because of it. This game against Miami is shaping up to be quite an ugly battle, and I'm staying as far away from everyone involved as possible. 

Josh Adams, Philadelphia Eagles -- Adams was able to find the end zone against the Rams in Week 15, but even that was not enough for him to reach double-digit fantasy points. The rookie running back managed to gain only 28 yards on 15 carries against Los Angeles, finishing with zero receptions for the fourth consecutive game. Houston's defense has been stingy against opposing backs this year, surrendering the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the position despite allowing a running back to score in three straight games. Adams' lack of a role in the Eagles' passing game makes him a touchdown-dependent flex this week, one that I would not feel comfortable starting in the fantasy championship. 

Sleepers

Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins -- With Frank Gore done for the season, it appears as if it's Ballage's show in Miami. Kenyan Drake will still get his touches, but Adam Gase's refusal to make him the lead back paves the way for Ballage to get 10-15 touches, making him a decent flex play.

Elijah McGuire, New York Jets -- The Jets' offense isn't good, but even so, McGuire has been able to find the end zone in two consecutive games. Going up against a Packers defense that has allowed a running back to score or gain 100 yards in seven of its last eight games, McGuire is a sneaky play this week.

Wide Receivers

Sweet

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans -- Davis has quietly put together a solid 2018 campaign, and the talented receiver should be able to add to his season stats in a plus matchup against Washington. The Redskins have had a lot of difficulty defending opposing wide receivers split out wide, allowing the fourth-most yards and 12 touchdowns. With Jonnu Smith done for the year, Marcus Mariota has no one to target in the Titans' passing game besides for Davis. The second-year receiver should have himself a great outing in Week 16.

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks -- Lockett has been a pleasant surprise for the Seahawks this season, even after going through a bit of a rough stretch over the last three weeks. However, the young receiver should be able to get his season back on track in a great matchup against the Chiefs. Kansas City can't seem to slow down opposing wide receivers when away from Arrowhead Stadium, surrendering the third-most fantasy points to opposing home receivers. Lockett should be able to sneak behind the Chiefs' secondary once or twice in this one.

Sour

Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions -- Golladay has had an incredibly rough stretch of matchups over the last four weeks, having to face off against the Bears, Rams, Cardinals and Bills defenses. The young receiver thrived against Buffalo, but really struggled in the other three contests. With a Week 16 matchup against Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings, Golladay has a high chance of putting up another dud. The Vikings are allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers, and with the Lions offense crumbling around him, I'm fading Golladay this week. 

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants -- Odell Beckham Jr. has missed the last two games for the Giants, but it has not done much to boost the value of Shepard. Over that two-game span, the young receiver caught only four of 15 targets for 54 yards and a touchdown, finishing with under 13.5 fantasy points total. That now makes five straight games with single-digit fantasy points for Shepard, and whether or not OBJ plays in Week 16, the slot receiver has a good chance of extending that streak to six games. The Colts just shut down Amari Cooper, limiting him to four catches for 32 yards, and have only allowed three wide receivers to score over the last five games. Don't expect a big game from the talented young slot receiver in Week 16.

Sleepers

Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons -- As I mentioned above, Julio Jones may not play this week. Even if he does, Ridley should be in for a solid game. The Falcons have nothing to play for but pride, which means the young guys should see a ton of playing time. I'll take my chances on Ridley finding the end zone against the Panthers. 

Robby Anderson, New York Jets -- Anderson is coming off one of his best games of the season, catching seven of 11 targets for 96 yards and a score. With the Packers' defense reeling, Anderson could be in for another offensive explosion. 

Tight Ends

Sweet

Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons -- To put it simply, Hooper sucked last week. The tight end put up a goose egg in Week 15, but returns to the TE1 mix this week due to the great matchup against Carolina. The Panthers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to the tight end position this year, giving up nine touchdowns. With Jones iffy to play (and less than 100 percent even if he does), Ryan will be looking for Hooper all game. 

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns -- The tight end position has seemingly gotten even thinner as the season has progressed, leaving us with few reliable options. Njoku has not been good over the last three weeks, failing to top five fantasy points in any of the three games. However if there were ever a week for him to buck that trend, it would be Week 16. The Browns take on the Bengals, who are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. You can start Njoku with at least a little bit of confidence in this matchup.

Sour

Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers -- McDonald was able to find the end zone for the first time in four weeks against the Patriots last week. He is unlikely to mirror that success in Week 16. The Steelers have a huge matchup against the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, and that is not good news for McDonald. The Saints have allowed a tight end to reach double-digit fantasy points in each of the last two weeks, but they were the first two to accomplish that feat against this defensive unit all year. McDonald is going to struggle to put up good fantasy numbers in this brutal matchup. 

Trey Burton, Chicago Bears -- Burton may be tough to bench, but you should definitely lower your expectations for him in this one. San Francisco is averaging less than 40 receiving yards allowed to opposing tight ends this year and has only allowed three tight ends (Travis Kelce, Jimmy Graham and Cameron Brate) to reach double-digit fantasy points. Don't expect much from Burton in Week 16. 

Sleepers

C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals -- It's a big roll of the dice, but with 26 targets over the last four weeks, at least you can rely on a decent amount of volume from Uzomah. 

Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys -- Jarwin has been targeted seven times in each of the last two weeks, and with a matchup against the Bucs on deck, that is more than enough to put the second-year tight end on the streaming radar. 

Matt Citak is a Web producer for WFAN Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewCitak.