Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em: Week 16

It’s championship week in most fantasy football leagues, so it’s not a good time to get cute. There’s a saying — dance with the guy that brought you. In other words, don’t bench a stud unless you have to.

On the subject of the Colts…

At this point, only Indianapolis appears to be ready to rest its players, so I’d expect Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon to play a half of football. Moreover, the Jets are a pretty bad matchup, so it’s (relatively) safe to bench those Colts. It’s unfortunate that fantasy owners are forced to bench these players in such a crucial week, but this is a great argument for a fantasy league to end its playoffs in Week 15.

The “love ‘em” players are listed in the order that I’d start them this week.


Philip Rivers (TEN) and Tom Brady (JAX) are good fantasy QBs with good matchups, so start ’em..Matt Schaub has a very nice matchup against a Dolphins defense that is 23rd in the league against the pass…In a pinch? Alex Smith has the Lions this week. Detroit has given up an average of 268 yards and 2.1 TD through the air this season…David Garrard has a pretty good matchup with a Patriots defense that has really struggled to stop the pass of late.

Cedric Benson is a must-start this week against the Chiefs, who own the league’s 31st-ranked rush defense…Frank Gore is playing the Lions. Start him…The Titans have been bad against the run the last few games, so look for LaDainian Tomlinson to have another solid day…With Reggie Bush sidelined, look for Pierre Thomas to have a nice fantasy line against a Bucs defense that is just so-so against the run. Mike Bell might vulture some goal line carries, but the Saints’ offense is productive enough for two backs…Chris Wells is coming on, and has a great matchup with a Rams defense that has yielded 140 yards and 1.4 rush TD per game this season…Both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs figure to have good games against a very suspect Carolina rush defense. The Panthers are good against the pass, so the Giants’ game plan is likely to be based on a strong running attack…Jerome Harrison busted out in a big way against the Chiefs and has another nice matchup against the Raiders in Week 16. Oakland did a pretty good job against Knowshon Moreno last week, so there’s a chance they’ll be able to contain Harrison, but he’s worth a start if you don’t have a better option…The Bills rush defense is last-in-the-league-type terrible, so look for Jason Snelling to have a nice fantasy day filling in for Michael Turner.

Keep Vincent Jackson in your lineup. The Titans are playing better pass defense of late, but he’s still a good bet to go off…The Ravens are going to have a tough time running the ball against the Steelers, so I’d expect Derrick Mason to have another fine fantasy day…Mike Sims-Walker should be able to find the endzone against the Pats. New England has given up 23 pass TD this season…Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan are both capable of posting nice fantasy lines against a Lions defense that is ranked last in the league against the pass…Don’t be surprised if Antonio Bryant finishes with good numbers. The Bucs will probably fall behind and be forced to throw to try to stay in the game. Bryant could end up with some very nice garbage time stats.


Even though he has a nice matchup, it appears that Jay Cutler has called it quits a few games early. There’s a chance that he’ll come out and play well against a division rival (and with Brett Favre looking on), but I wouldn’t bet on it…All things considered, Matt Ryan played pretty well against the best pass defense in the league last week, but he has another bad matchup this week against the Bills…Matt Cassel had a nice fantasy day against the Browns in Week 15, but the Bengals are a different animal. I’d expect Cincy to control the game with Cedric Benson, so the Chiefs might not get enough possessions for Cassel to be an effective fantasy starter.

They’re still startable, but don’t expect monster games out of Ray Rice or Rashard Mendenhall. The Pittsburgh and Baltimore rush defenses are just too good. (I’d definitely start Rice in PPR leagues as he has a chance to be a big part of the Ravens’ passing attack)…Look for Matt Forte to struggle against the Vikings, who had a rough outing at Carolina last week…I’d leave Julius Jones on the bench against the Packers, who are still stinging from their loss in Pittsburgh. Green Bay has the 2nd-ranked rush defense and is likely to work over the Seahawks on that side of the ball.

Roddy White is still startable, but the Bills are very good against the pass, so I’m not optimistic about White having a big Week 16…Dwayne Bowe is back, but he didn’t play all that well last week and the Bengals are pretty stingy against the pass…The Giants’ WRs have a tough matchup this week (CAR). Steve Smith is startable in PPR leagues, but Mario Manningham should be benched if Hakeem Nicks manages to play.

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