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Roast & Ghost: Starts & sits for Week 16 fantasy football

One player to start and sit at each position for Week 16 fantasy football.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of your classic fantasy football start and sit column, I’ve decided to spice it up. I’ve dubbed start as “roast” which is a player who is not only a clear start, but is in for just a monster game and instead of sit (which I’ve always had difficulty with because sitting a player comes down to how your roster is), you’ll find “ghost”, as in a player who might be a straight up bench, but also might just be a star player who gives you less than you were expecting.

So, without further ado, a roast and ghost for each position for Week 16 fantasy football.


Roast: Tom Brady vs Detroit Lions

This as all the makings of a “holy crap Tom Brady really doesn’t age like us mortal humans” game. It took a little bit of time for the Buccaneers offense to get right after their Week 13 bye, with Brady only tossing 196 yards against the Vikings and then starting off real slow against the Falcons last week. But then Brady got right, as Brady is known to do against the Falcons, and finished with 390 yards and two touchdowns.

Now a passing game that’s starting to figure out how all it’s pieces fit together gets to face a Lions defense that has no idea how to fit any pieces together. On the year, only the Falcons, Jaguars, Jets and Seahawks have given up more points to quarterbacks than the Lions, averaging 25.2 points per game. They’ve allowed the seventh most yards, third most passing touchdowns, and second most yards per attempt to opposing QBs this year.

Plus, let’s not forget that just because Matt Patricia’s no longer the Lions head coach, doesn’t mean this isn’t still his defense, a defensive style Brady has practiced against for a large portion of his career.

Ghost: Russell Wilson vs Los Angeles Rams

Wilson as this week’s ghost shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone as the Rams handed Wilson his worst fantasy output of the year back in Week 10. Wilson threw for 248 yards and two interceptions that week and barely finished with double digit fantasy points.

Since that fateful game, Wilson has been a far cry from his earlier self, averaging 16.4 points per game and being the QB15 in that time as opposed to the 27.5 points and QB3 status he was enjoying in the opening nine weeks.

The Rams pass defense has remained one of the best in the league, still allowing the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this year—just 17.8 per game. I don’t think Wilson will put up another zero touchdown game, but I don’t think it’ll be a 2+ score one either.

Running Back

Roast: Austin Ekeler vs Denver Broncos

Since returning to the Chargers in Week 12, Ekeler has been back-and-forth with great fantasy games and fine fantasy games. Week 12 against the Bills—great! Week 13 against the Patriots—fine. Week 14 against the Falcons—great! Week 15 against the Raiders—fine. Now it’s time for the pendulum to swing back to great and it’s perfectly timed with a matchup against the Broncos.

Since Week 10, the Broncos have allowed the sixth most fantasy points to running backs and have given up a league leading nine touchdowns in that time. Ekeler is without a doubt still the Chargers backfield leader, seeing over 60% of the snaps in every game since his return.

I’m banking on Ekeler getting it done on both the ground and through the air and finishing with at least two total touchdowns on the day. He’s a perfect DFS play for this week.

Ghost: D’Andre Swift vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

You can treat this as a straight up sit if you want to. When on the field, Swift has been a reliable RB2 this season, scoring at least once in seven of the 10 games he’s played in. He’s coming off one of his better games in the season—15 carries for 67 yards and touchdowns plus four catches for 15 yards against the Titans—and has scored in each of his last two games.

Unfortunately for him (and any Swift fantasy managers) that’s likely to end this week as the Buccaneers have allowed only one rushing touchdown and just 286 total rushing yards to running backs since Week 10. 286. That’s like as much as Derrick Henry puts up in a game these days.

With the Bucs offense likely getting out to a big lead early (see: QB Roast of the Week above), the game script won’t be conducive for Swift to see a lot of opportunities to score or even gain yards against this stifling defense. Best leave him on your bench this week.

Wide Receiver

Roast: Amari Cooper vs Philadelphia Eagles

I really want to just saw all the Cowboys wide receivers but that’s too broad and I’m already going to be picking two guys for my WR ghost this wee (spoiler alert). But trust that I like all the Cowboys receivers this week. And that is because the Eagles secondary has been down right trash in recent weeks.

Only the helpless Lions have allowed more receiving yards to wide receivers over the last six games and no team is allowing more yards per target during that time (10.8). Despite a down game against the 49ers, I have full faith that Cooper is still the top receiver in Dallas as he’s seen less than five targets only twice this season.

Cooper will likely see a lot of Darius Slay who, despite having name recognition, has not been good this season. Slay is allowing a 102.4 QBR against and has given up 626 yards and three touchdowns in coverage this season. I’m fully expecting Amari to be able to put together a stellar game especially with the NFC East still up for grabs for Dallas.

Ghost: A.J. Brown vs Green Bay Packers/DK Metcalf vs Los Angeles Rams

I’m giving you two ghosts this week because managers of both these receivers need to have tempered expectations this week.

As I had Robby Anderson as my ghost last week, I’ve spent plenty of time talking about the excellence of Jaire Alexander this year. A quick recap: Alexander has allowed a 60.6 QBR against, 41.9 completion percentage, and only given up 291 yards in coverage this year. Brown has certainly had some highs recently, but we’ve seen him be an after-thought at times in the Titans’ passing game, as crazy as that is to say, seeing under eight targets in five of his last six games. I’d expect the Titans to live and die by Derrick Henry this week.

As for Metcalf, he gets to face Jalen Ramsey this week, the man who held him to two catches on four targets from 28 yards back in Week 10. I don’t think that stat line will repeat itself but Ramsey is still balling out this year, allowing a 44.8 completion percentage and only 263 yards.

If you’re in a fantasy championship this weekend and you’re loaded at wide receiver for whatever reason, you might be wise to break away from these two.

Tight End

Roast: Austin Hooper vs New York Jets

No one is allowing more fantasy points, receiving yards, and touchdowns to tight ends this season than the New York Jets. Even in their first win of the season last week against the Rams, they still managed to give up a touchdown and 67 yards to Tyler Higbee, and then another 28 yards to Gerald Everett.

Hooper is coming off his best fantasy game of the season, going 5/6-41-1 against the Giants. I expect the Browns passing game to be more than active against the Jets this week—I really like me some Jarvis Landry as well—and will likely include a solid dose of Hooper.

Ghost: Dawson Knox vs New England Patriots

While Knox isn’t viewed as a member of the fantasy tight end elite, Since Week 12, he’s been the TE10 in .5PPR leagues, scoring a touchdown in three of his last four games. I don’t expect him to continue to be a TE1 for you this week as the Patriots have been terrific against tight ends this year, allowing the third fewest points (9.1) and only one touchdown to the position this year. Knox hasn’t passed 36 yards receiving this year so without a touchdown to help boost his stats, he’s not going to return a start-worthy week in fantasy.