Love ‘Em & Leave ‘Em: Week 16

It’s week 16 and if your team is still alive, it’s not time to get cute. I’m a firm believer in starting your studs, so I won’t suggest you bench Aaron Rodgers or Chris Johnson because they have tough matchups – just go ahead and keep them in your lineup. Instead, I’ll focus on the borderline guys – players you’ll only start under the right circumstances.

As usual, I’ll discuss these players within the context of my weekly positional rankings, so remember — everything is relative.

The Seahawks have been brutal against the pass, so I’d expect another good fantasy line from Josh Freeman, who has been very steady this season…Believe it or not, I have Tim Tebow ranked in the top 10 this week. He played pretty well against the Raiders last week and this week he faces a Texans’ pass defense that has given up an average of 275 yards and 2.2 pass TDs per game. I wouldn’t expect that yardage from Tebow, but 200 passing yards plus 2-3 total TDs is well within reach against Houston’s secondary…Need another sleeper? Rex Grossman has a nice matchup with Jacksonville’s 27th-ranked pass defense.

I was down on Rashard Mendenhall last week due to his bad matchup and lack of recent production. But he managed 100 yards and a TD, so my faith is renewed. This week he has the Panthers, who are ranked 23rd against the rush…LeGarrette Blount has a nice matchup with a Seattle defense that has given up 117 rush yards and almost one rush TD per game this season…I think both Ryan Torain (vs. JAX) and Fred Jackson (vs. NE) should post good fantasy numbers (80 yards and a TD?) in good matchups…Tashard Choice figures to get plenty of work in a great matchup with Arizona’s 30th-ranked rush defense, especially if Felix Jones can’t go. In fact, if Felix is out, I’ll be moving Choice up several spots.

There’s always the chance that Beligenius comes up with some smothering defensive gameplan, but according to the numbers, Stevie Johnson is a very good play this week. New England had been playing better pass defense of late, but Green Bay had its way with the Patriot secondary, so Johnson should have a nice game…I love Mike Williams (TB) this week. Seattle is terrible against the pass so he should score at least one TD on Sunday…Vincent Jackson is a must-start against the Bengals, who have given up a lot of fantasy points to opposing WRs this season…Need a deep sleeper? David Nelson of Buffalo figures to have another nice game as the Pats’ defense focuses on Stevie Johnson.

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 12: David Nelson  and Fred Jackson  of the Buffalo Bills celebrate Nelson's touchdown catch against the Cleveland Browns at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

The Chargers have the top ranked pass defense in the league and are the worst fantasy matchup for opposing QBs. Don’t start Carson Palmer, especially since he’s without Terrell OwensEli Manning was great (fantasy-wise) last week against Eagles, but the going figures to be tougher against a desperate Packer defense that is ranked 3rd in the league against the pass…Shaun Hill is back under center for the Lions, but this isn’t the week to start him. Miami has been good against opposing QBs this season and Hill is a mediocre starting QB at best.

I’ve been on the Jonathan Stewart bandwagon the last few weeks, but a matchup with the top-ranked Pittsburgh run defense puts the kibosh on all of that…I’d once again steer clear of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene given their recent production and their matchup with the Bears’ 3rd-ranked rush defense…I’m a little iffy on Peyton Hillis, who hasn’t scored a TD in three weeks and has been missing practice this week. The Ravens have only allowed five rush TD all season and are 5th in yards against, so they figure to focus in on the Browns’ one-dimensional attack.

I’d steer clear of Chad Ochocinco this week. Not only does he have a terrible matchup, but he’s reportedly only going to play about half his normal snaps due to a foot injury…I’m not optimistic about Santonio Holmes. He and Mark Sanchez have cooled off considerably and making matters worse, he has a bad matchup against the Bears and is battling a turf toe injury…Johnny Knox caught a deep ball against the Vikings, but he’ll be visiting Revis Island on Sunday and conditions at Soldier Field could be messy.

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