Fantasy Football Start'em and Sit'em: Championship edition

Fantasy Football Start'em and Sit'em: Championship edition
December 19, 2013, 7:00 pm

CSN Staff

 

Did you really think we would omit Eric Decker and Jessie James from our final start/sit of the season? (DENVER POST)

 Greg Jennings is putting your fantasy team on his back right now. 

By: Tony Andracki, Scott Krinch and Mark Strotman

We're baaaaack!

Welcome to another edition of CSNChicago.com's Start'em and Sit'em, where three totally unqualified guys give their take on the best and worst plays in the upcoming fantasy football week.

We're not experts, but then again, how can anybody truly be an "expert" at fantasy football? This is a game of luck and nobody can predict the future.

We don't have special powers, but we are pretty obsessed with fantasy sports. Just ask our girlfriends...if we had any. 

Every week, each of us will comprise a trio of players with the best matchups or situations on tap for the week ahead and a corresponding trio of guys who are most likely to run into a metaphorical brick wall.

And because we're men and we love perpetuating stereotypes, we, of course, turned this into a competition. Why not?

After three weeks (and all of last year), we realized a major flaw in our scoring: If we assign 0-5 values to each player's performance, there's nothing worse than a zero. And Mark's Week 3 sit of Antonio Brown (who went off for 31 ESPN standard points) should have been bad enough to sink his entire week (as Tony's picks of Cam Newton and DeSean Jackson in Week 6 did), instead of just that one pick.

So we've instituted a new system. We will add up the ESPN standard fantasy points for all of our "Starts" and subtract the points from all our "Sits" and the difference will be the weekly score. If one of us winds up with a negative score, so be it.

[RELATED: Week 15 picks]

(Scoring example: If Scott's three starts total 45 fantasy points and his three sits total 20, he would finish the week with 25 points.)

So without further ado, here are our picks for Week 16:

Mark Strotman (Week 15: 8; Total: -61)

It wasn't a fantastic fantasy season for me. Drafting Doug Martin in the first round of each of my leagues, trading Colin Kaepernick for Russell Wilson early in the season, starting C.J. Spiller in every week except the one that he went off for 20 points against the Falcons. I had some gems, like riding my rookie running backs in Eddie Lacy and Gio Bernard to the semifinals, allowing me to go with Dez Bryant and AJ Green as my wide receivers. But I want to help you who made it to the Super Bowl. This is exciting times, and I believe I'm going to finish the season on a strong note by giving you the right picks in hopes of winning your league. Congrats on a great year, good luck in your matchup and thanks for reading us as long as you did.

Start 'em

Ben Roethlisberger, QB -- PIT (@ GB)

Big Ben didn't have to do too much last week in an easy win over the Bengals, and this week he'll face a struggling defense that may allow him to open up the playbook a little bit more. The Packers need a win, true, but they have allowed seven touchdown passes the last three weeks, and Roethlisberger has outstanding chemistry with Antonio Brown, meaning big plays are on the horizon here. Don't forget, too, that Le'Veon Bell's presence has forced defenses into the box, opening up the deep secondary. I expect Pittsburgh to air it out early and often against a dinged up Packers secondary.

CJ Spiller, RB -- BUF (vs. MIA)

Well, here he is. Your boom-or-bust play this week that will either win or lose you the week. Spiller is just waiting to bust out one more time for his fantasy owners, I can feel it. Maybe it's just the Lou Malnati's talking, but I sense deep down that Spiller is going to go crazy against a division opponent. You drafted him to be a first-round stud on your team; in the last week of the year, run him out there as a flex play and watch the biggest playmaker in the AFC (yes, Jamaal Charles, that includes you) do his thing.

Danny Amendola, WR -- NE (@ BAL)

Don't look now, but one of the biggest offseason fantasy story lines is coming on strong as the season winds down. Amendola's point totals have increased the last three weeks, including a 10-catch, 131-yard performance last week in a loss to the Dolphins. With Rob Gronkowski out and Amendola healthy (knock on wood), the offseason acquisition is Brady's go-to guy (Julian Edelman is a nice option, too). I figure you can pencil in Amendola for at least 8 fantasy points, and even more if Brady decides he wants to find Amendola early and often again.

Sit 'em

Jay Cutler, QB -- CHI (@ PHI)

I realize this is a perfect matchup after his 19-point performance against the Browns, but I'm just not buying Cutler as a trusted option in fantasy league championships. You don't want to get cute in the Super Bowl, and starting Cutler after just one healthy week of play following his multiple injuries is the definition of getting cute. The Eagles need a big performance after last week's debacle in Minnesota, and I believe that underrated defense steps up in a big way and shuts the Bears down in a win.

Chris Ivory, RB -- NYJ (vs. CLE)

Props are in order for you if you have stuck with Chris Ivory this long, and two weeks ago he may have gotten you into the playoffs with his 13-point performance. But I'm not willing to roll the dice on a guy who carried the ball just 11 times last week and who goes up against a Cleveland defense that needs to regroup after Matt Forte burned them for 100+ yards. You really can find a better option here, because at best he's going to continue splitting time with Bilal Powell. It wasn't a good fantasy season for Ivory, and it won't get better Sunday.

TY Hilton, WR -- IND (@ KC)

So Mr. Hilton should really thank Wayne for making him who he was. Hilton has been horrid in his last five outings, never topping more than seven points and averaging just 3.6 points. If you bought high on him or thought he'd be great without Wayne, unfortunately you were wrong. Plus, he's going up against a fantastic Kansas City secondary. This is just a bad scenario, and if you were thinking of trying him one last time...don't waste that time.

[RELATED: Week 16 AFC Target Watch

Tony Andracki: (Week 15 points: -20; Total: 31)

Well, the Brandon Marshall Project Borderline shirt worked its magic yet again with the Bears' win and the Lions' loss, but it didn't have the same effect on my fantasy teams.

Three semifinal matchups led to just one championship game, and in that matchup, I'm facing the league's best team that is projected to beat me by 71.4 points. Seriously. If I win, it'll be a real David vs. Goliath story.

Like so many people out there, Jamaal Charles doomed me. In a PPR league, he wound up with 59 points. Had he gotten just 35 points (still an awesome day), I would be defending my crown in the Fantasy Championship this week.

But that wasn't my most painful loss. Have you ever lost a fantasy matchup by one point? I never have until the semifinal round in the CSN Digital league last week. Damn Reggie Bush and that final two-yard run.

Oh well, on to this week. The best advice I can give you is to just chill. If you don't win the championship (or you're only playing for third place or first overall pick in next year's draft or whatever), nothing happens. It's just a game. So, don't put too much pressure on it or on any of your start/sit decisions. Trust your studs, trust the guys that you got you to where you are. And trust yourself.

Start 'em

Tony Romo, QB -- DAL (@ WAS)

Public perception isn't always reality. Lay off my guy. Tony's going to be just fine. Those late picks were bad last week, but they also prove once again that Dallas' offense lives and dies with the pass. Romo will be slinging the ball all game against the Redskins, a team that is susceptible to big days from opposing fantasy QBs. 

Le'Veon Bell, RB -- PIT (@ GB)

Bell is as consistent as they come, with only one game under seven fantasy points and eight of 11 with nine or more points. This week, he draws a Packers team that has given up 665 rushing yards and four tuddies to opposing running backs the last four weeks. And the Steelers will learn from the Cowboys' mistakes -- running the ball is the best way to beat the Packers. Especially if you have a late lead.

[MORE: Rotoworld Week 16 Rankings

Michael Crabtree, WR -- SF (vs. ATL)

Why not? I know Crabtree isn't exactly the most trustworthy option right now, but he's an integral part of the Niners' passing game and he did find the endzone for the first time last week. Now he's going up against the Falcons, who just surrendered 23 catches for 325 yards and two scores to the Redskins wide receivers last week. Crabtree's a money play this week.

Sit 'em

Tom Brady, QB -- NE (@ BAL)

Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't play Brady. I realize that would be contradictory to my "just play your studs" advice from above. But I am saying that Brady has a bad matchup and there are definitely better options out there. Pick up Ryan Tannehill. Go with Romo over Brady, if you have both. Don't just blindly start him because he's Tom Brady.

Zac Stacy, RB -- STL (vs. TB)

Stacy burst onto the fantasy scene in a big way earlier this season, but he put up a couple stinkers before his big day against New Orleans last week. The Buccaneers are not the Saints. Tampa Bay has been surprisingly good against the run, with just two touchdowns allowed to opposing RBs and only three games over 20 points all year. There are better options out there than Stacy.

Vincent Jackson, WR -- TB (@ STL)

On the other side of the field, Jackson draws the underrated Rams defense that has only allowed three scores to opposing WRs in the last six games. V-Jax has scored two weeks in a row, but he's dealing with a hamstring injury and he's been very boom or bust this year. He has eight games under eight fantasy points and four contests where he couldn't even muster four points. Can you really trust him in the championship game?

Scott Krinch: (Week 15 points: 19; Total: 18)

This has been the worst fantasy football season I've ever had. In my big league, my first three picks consisted of Doug Martin, Julio Jones and David Wilson. I don't need to explain how that season went.

In my other league, I used my first-round pick on Martin, yeah it looks like that's where I went wrong this year. Putting all my faith on a second-year running back wasn't the best strategy.

My only saving grace would be pulling a rabbit out of my hat and passing up Tony for first place. I'm only down 13, stranger things have happened.

And I've saved my best advice for the championship. I hope everybody has enjoyed following along with our competition as much as we enjoyed doing it. 

Start 'em

Kirk Cousins, QB -- WAS (vs. DAL)

Cousins could be auditioning for his next team and a future payday. He looked great at times in against the Redskins in Week 15, but also showed some rust. His 381 yards and three touchdowns looked great on the stat sheet. Although his three turnovers aren't what you want to see if you started him in the fantasy playoffs. The former Michigan State quarterback has a cake matchup this weekend against the Cowboys. They've given up a pair of four touchdowns each to Josh McCown and Matt Flynn in their last two games. There's no reason to believe those numbers will go away against Cousins on Sunday.  

Ryan Mathews, RB -- SD (vs. OAK)

Mathews has been on a tear as of late. He's got four touchdowns in his last six games with three 100-yard plus and five double-digit fantasy games. His carries per game have gone up a significant margin and he's finally starting to show glimpses of why the Chargers used a first-rounder on him. He'll be licking his chops on Sunday as he gets to go up against a Raiders defense that was torched by Jamaal Charles for five touchdowns and 51 fantasy points. Besides that gaudy number, Oakland also allows the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Yeah, get Mathews in your lineup.  

[ALSO: Week 16 NFC Target Watch

Greg Jennings, WR -- MIN (@ CIN)

Man what has gotten into Greg Jennings lately. He's putting your fantasy team on his back though. 23 catches, 294 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. He's developed a rapport with Matt Cassel and is being targeted more than any other wide receiver on the Vikings. If Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart are a no-go on Sunday, expect Minnesota to favor the pass. The Bengals defense has struggled against wide receivers the last two games giving up five touchdowns. I can see Cincinnati getting out to a big lead in Week 16 which will equate to some garbage time fantasy points for Jennings. And everybody loves garbage time points.  

Sit 'em

Andrew Luck, QB -- IND (@ KC)

Luck has been the epitome of hit or miss this season. He looked dominant in Week 14 against the Bengals with 32 fantasy points and then laid an egg against the Texans -- probably when you needed him the most -- last week. I can't envision any "Luck" -- see what I did there -- if you start him in your fantasy championship. The Chiefs defense is not the opponent you want to be starting offensive players against for the title, especially quarterbacks. They've shutdown pretty much everybody all season expect for Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. There are clearly better options at quarterback on Sunday.  

Darren Sproles, RB -- NO (@ CAR)

If you've still got Sproles on your roster ... you're crazy, that's all I can say. Don't hold out hope that he's suddenly going to turn into the Sproles of old. He's been a B.A.D. fantasy player in 2013 with only four touchdowns spanning across two games. He's totaled 44 fantasy points in his last 10 games, that's less than Charles had last week. It won't be pretty against Carolina on Sunday. The Panthers have only given up three rushing touchdowns all season and haven't allowed a score since Week 11. Unless you're in a PPR format -- and I won't endorse that either -- stay far away from Sproles in your fantasy championship.  

Mike Wallace, WR -- MIA (@ BUF)

Yeah, Wallace has been good in three out of his last four games, registering three touchdowns. But if you've owned Wallace you know the ups and downs. Can you trust him every week? No. Is he a good gamble in a regular season matchup? I'll give you that. But with your season on the line in a title game is he worth the risk? Hell no. I know the Bills matchup looks good on a paper, but the risk with Wallace is way too high on Sunday.