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  • The IDP Guys’ NFL Week 16 Start/Sit List: IDP

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    Don’t set your IDP lineups for the fantasy playoffs without consulting the IDP Guys’ NFL Week 16 Start/Sit article


    I’m sorry that last week’s article was a bit short on detail. I was recovering from COVID and feeling a bit rough. I’m back with a bang this week, so here’s the IDP Guys NFL Week 16 Start/Sit article, complete with the usual level of useful information about every noteworthy defensive player on every NFL team.

    The fantasy landscape was dire last week due to so many players being on the reserve/COVID-19 list. First and foremost, I hope all the players involved have recovered fully. Secondly, I hope you all managed to avoid getting caught out with any inactive players.

    Many players remain on the COVID list but will be activated in the next few days. I’ll try to keep on top of these and update this article, but I urge you to check on their status before inserting them into lineups. I will place these players into their usual tiers for now so you know how they rank should they play.

    Every player currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list has ‘(C)’ next to their name. Monitor status updates for these players very carefully. Some of these guys will not play.

    Table of Contents

    Thursday Night Football
    San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans
    Saturday Games
    Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers
    Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals
    Sunday Mid-Afternoon Games
    New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
    Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings
    Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
    Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets
    Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons
    Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans
    Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
    Sunday Night Football
    Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks
    Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
    Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders
    Monday Night Football
    Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys
    Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints

    Disclaimers

    In the first few weeks of the season, I had a list of disclaimers here that explained how my advice is only a suggestion, how your team is your responsibility, and that I will get things wrong. It got too wordy, and I think most reasonable people understand all of this by now. I’m not going to include all that in my NFL Week 16 Start/Sit IDP article.

    I’ll just say this. If you’re the sort of person who feels the need to complain when (not if) I get something wrong, and it costs you points, please read the disclaimers from those early weeks first. I encourage all feedback — even criticism when it’s constructive — but not mindless rants. I do this for fun. It’s a game. Let’s keep it light.

    Article Key

    Tier One Starts

    Based on their opportunity, past production, talent level, and matchup, these players have the best outlook. They usually have a solid floor and an excellent ceiling. These guys should be the nearest to guaranteed production you can find.

    Tier Two Starts

    These players should earn a reasonable amount of points. Their opportunity, talent, or matchup is typically not on a par with a tier-one player. Tier two players are usually a good option in deep leagues that start multiple players at each position.

    Tier Three Starts

    These players are a bit of a gamble. You should probably only start them in larger leagues and those which start many players at each position. Tier three players can be serviceable as either bye week or injury replacements, but the chances of scoring well are slim. This tier is as close to “sit” as you can get while still retaining some value as a starter.

    Sits

    As the name implies, sit these players. You should not start these players for any number of reasons. They aren’t necessarily bad players. I just don’t predict them to be scoring well this game week. In the case of rookies, for example, they may simply need time to earn more playing time and, therefore, our trust as fantasy starters.

    Any player not listed in any of these four categories should probably be considered a “sit.” If they become IDP relevant on a week-to-week basis, they will likely end up in one of the categories above.

    No Cornerbacks?

    Johnny writes a separate article for CBs that drops on Fridays, so keep an eye out for that tomorrow!

    True Position Designations

    In some IDP leagues, certain positions are grouped in a suboptimal way, primarily because of outdated interpretations of what players at each position do. Many IDP leagues are turning towards True Position to address that problem.

    In true position scoring, outside linebackers and defensive ends (ends who predominantly line up outside of the tackle) are grouped as ‘Edge’ (rushers). Defensive tackles and defensive ends who play on the interior are grouped as IDL (interior defensive linemen). This leaves all remaining linebackers as off-ball linebackers (I’ve called them ILBs in this NFL Week 16 Start/Sit IDP article to help with clarification).

    The result of these changes is that scoring can be more fairly distributed between groups of players who, in modern defenses, essentially perform near-identical roles.

    Players with EDGE designations in such leagues, and this article, can vary in value from leagues that still use traditional DE and OLB positions. The same is true of IDL vs. DT designations and is complicated further by platforms that simply use DL positions to lump all defensive linemen together (the worst!). There is no easy way I can cater to all of these leagues here. Whatever I choose to do, someone would be missing out.

    While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to value translation between these different designations, I can at least offer to help adjust the IDP start/sit advice mentioned here for your league’s scoring system. If you find yourself in need of help in that sense, or if you find all of this just too complicated, please send me a Twitter DM. I answer every question I receive.

    Without further ado, let’s get into the NFL Week 16 Start/Sit IDP article.

    Thursday Night Football

    San Francisco 49ers at Tennesee Titans

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    49ers
    Starts

    Tier One

    Nick Bosa, EDGE; Fred Warner, ILB.

    The 49ers defense pressured Matt Ryan constantly last week and Bosa certainly played his part. The young edge rusher had nine pressures, a sack, a forced fumble, and a solo tackle.

    Bosa has had an excellent season. The former second overall pick has registered at least a sack in six consecutive games. He’s recorded more sacks than he did in his celebrated rookie season despite rushing the passer 168 fewer times than he did in 2019. 

    If the 49ers continue to use Bosa as they have since Week 8, Bosa will face David Quessenberry on Thursday Night Football. Quessenberry began the year pretty well but has seen been a liability in pass protection. He’s allowed 18 pressures and five sacks in his last four games. Bosa could dominate.

    Warner led the 49ers with nine tackles against the Falcons. He surpassed 100 tackles for the fourth time in his four-year career despite missing time with a hamstring injury. He remains one of the best and most reliable options at ILB in fantasy.

    Tier Two

    Azeez Al-Shaair, ILB.

    Al-Shaair couldn’t suit up for the Falcons game due to an elbow injury he sustained in the win over the Bengals in Week 15. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday that Al-Shaair’s status for the Titans game may not be decided until kickoff:

     

    Check back on Al-Shaair’s status nearer the time. If he can suit up, he’s an ILB2.

    Tier Three

    Arik Armstead, IDL/EDGE; Jaquiski Tartt, S; Arden Key, EDGE.

    Armstead has only recorded one sack in the last three weeks, but he’s arguably been more disruptive in each of those three games than he has since Week 2:

    Week 3 to Week 12 (nine games): 12 pressures.
    Week 13 to Week 15 (three games): 14 pressures.

    The giant defensive lineman spends almost as much time at the left end as he does at defensive tackle. He’ll face a fair amount of Ben Jones and Nate Davis. Jones hasn’t played quite as well as he has in other seasons but he’s still only allowed one sack since Week 1. Davis has been poor again.

    Tartt has conceded some snaps to the impressive Talanoa Hufanga since returning from injury in Week 11. Hufanga is unavailable for Week 16 which helps Tartt’s value.

    I consider Tartt a solid Safety3.

    Key has had an impressive six sacks in his last seven games. He hasn’t exceeded more than 25 total snaps over that period, but he almost exclusively rushes the passer when he is on the field. It’s rare for edge rushers to be so one-dimensional.

    It means he’ll be boom-or-bust, but beyond the truly elite at the position, the edge position tends to be that way in general.

    Sits

    Dre Greenlaw, ILB (injury); Talanoa Hufanga, S (injury); Samson Ebukam, EDGE; Marcell Harris, ILB.

    Greenlaw has barely suited up all season due to a groin injury. Even when healthy, his role is questionable due to the emergence of Al-Shaair.

    Hufanga suffered a knee injury in Week 15. He has been ruled out of Week 16. He plays too few snaps to be a fantasy starter at this point despite working his way into the mix.

    Ebukam has carved out a decent role on the 49ers’ defense. He has a sack in each of his last two games and has eight pressures over that period. He’s had no fewer than 20 pass rush attempts in each of his last eight games. It helps his cause that Taylor Lewan is out for the game but I’m still not on board with starting him.

    Titans
    Starts

    Tier One

    Harold Landry, EDGE; Jeffery Simmons, IDL; Kevin Byard, S.

    Landry led the Titans with three pressures in their Week 15 showdown with the Steelers. He registered his 13th sack of the season and is now tied for seventh at the position in that category. He still leads the edge position in total tackles.

    The fourth-year player will go up against Trent Williams and Tom Compton. Williams has been excellent, arguably one of the best offensive tackles in the league this season. However, Compton is the weakness that Landry could exploit.

    Simmons didn’t pressure Roethlisberger once last week; it’s only the second time all season he’s failed to earn at least a pressure in a game. He has otherwise been one of the best interior defensive linemen this year, ranking third with 54 pressures and second with 10 sacks.

    The interior of the 49ers offensive line will provide the former Mississippi State Bulldog with a good challenge. Alex Mack and Laken Tomlinson have both been quite solid in pass protection.

    Byard recorded five solo tackles against Pittsburgh. He won’t record as many tackles in 2021 as he has in each of the last two years, but he’s had another excellent season in coverage. Arguably his best since 2017. He’s had five interceptions and six pass breakups.

    Jimmy Garoppolo is quite efficient with the ball, but the 49ers don’t tend to meet many defenses that comprise a pass rush like Landry, Simmons, and Autry combined with ball hawks like Byard. The veteran safety doesn’t have the safe floor of some safeties in this tier, but his weekly fantasy ceiling is tantalizing.

    Tier Two

    Denico Autry, EDGE.

    Autry had a sack and three pressures in Week 15, but it does mask the fact that he played only 29 of a possible 49 snaps and generated his worst PFF pass-rush grade of the season. The reduced snap share is a concern. Bud Dupree was back from injury last week and he provides the Titans with other pass rush options.

    Tier Three

    Rashaan Evans, ILB; Zach Cunningham, ILB.

    We got our first look at how the Titans want to use the trio of options they have at ILB while David Long and Monty Rice remain out. Evans played 36 snaps, Cunningham 33, and Brown only 16.

    Evans had five tackles, Cunningham six, and Brown failed to record any. It’s reasonable to expect similar usage moving forward.

    Sits

    Amani Hooker, S; David Long Jr. ILB (injury); Monty Rice, ILB (injury – IR);  Jayon Brown, ILB.

    I think Hooker is one of many good NFL players who don’t typically have much fantasy value. He has four or fewer tackles in seven of the nine games he has played.

    Long has been ruled out for this game.

    I covered Brown’s situation above.

    Saturday Games

    Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers

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    Browns

    Starts

    Tier One

    Myles Garrett, EDGE.

    Garrett led the Browns with six pressures last weekend but he failed to record a sack for only the third time in what has been an otherwise superb season.

    He’ll have every chance to get back on track against the Packers this weekend. David Bakhtiari hasn’t been able to play this year, able replacement Elgton Jenkins is also on IR. Yosh Nijman has acquitted himself reasonably well for a third-string tackle but he should be no match for Garrett.

    Monitor Garrett’s status closely. He is questionable with a groin injury.

    Tier Two

    Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE (C); Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, ILB.

    Clowney missed Week 14 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He was not activated from the list on Monday. Monitor for updates.

    If Clowney plays, he’s an EDGE2. He had a fast start to the season, faltered down the stretch but did recover in his last game, posting five pressures and two sacks against the Ravens.

    The Packers’ Billy Turner hurt his knee against the Bears in Week 14. Veteran Dennis Kelly is likely to continue in his place. Clowney will have a nice matchup if he can suit up.

    JOK played 62 of a possible 70 snaps against the Raiders, notably playing 20 snaps more than the next nearest Browns ILB, Anthony Walker.

    The rookie took his opportunity to impact the game. He recorded four sacks, two pressures, including a sack, and forced a fumble. He also added five tackles but missed three more, and this is an issue I’d like to see him overcome. The only concern is his 16.4% missed tackle rate this season.

    Tier Three

    Anthony Walker, ILB.

    As I have mentioned above, Walker played 42 snaps to JOK’s 62. The veteran had a season-low three tackles and missed two more. It was a concerning drop-off from the fantasy production we saw from him earlier in the season when he posted at least seven tackles in seven consecutive games.

    Sits

    Malik McDowell, IDL (C); Malik Jackson, IDL; John Johnson, S; Ronnie Harrison, S (C); Grant Delpit, S (C); M.J. Stewart, S; Takkarist McKinley, EDGE (IR).

    McDowell was on the reserve/COVID-19 list for Week 15. He has been streaky when he has played, even for an IDL. He’s a dynasty stash if your roster size allows.

    Jackson started the season pretty well but has done nothing down the stretch. He has three pressures in his last seven games. I only mention him here because of the name recognition.

    Johnson has played better in the second half of the season. He’s produced better in fantasy too. If you need a Safety3 for the playoff push then you could do worse.

    Harrison missed last week as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He is a borderline Safety3 when he’s healthy. He hasn’t played since Week 12.

    Delpit was on the reserve/COVID-19 list for Week 15. He had a career-high nine tackles in Week 14. I’m intrigued, but there are too many variables for me to trust him this week. If Harrison was still unavailable, I’d be more comfortable having Delpit as a Safety3.

    Stewart saw a lot of time against the Raiders with Harrison and Delpit out. The former Bucs safety led the team with 14 tackles, had a pass breakup, and forced a fumble. He’ll have borderline Safety3 value if both Harrison and Delpit remain on the list this week.

    McKinley was placed on IR with an Achilles injury.

    Packers

    Starts

    Tier One

    Kenny Clark, IDL (C); Rashan Gary, EDGE; De’Vondre Campbell, ILB.

    Clark missed Week 15 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    He hasn’t stuffed the stat sheet in a way that helps fantasy managers this season, he just hasn’t converted pressures into sacks. However, he has been a force at an otherwise shallow position, recording 54 pressures, tied for third at the position.

    He has a tough matchup if he plays against the Browns this week. The interior of the Browns’ offensive line has performed reasonably well in pass protection, anchored by center J.C. Tretter.

    Gary didn’t record a sack against the Ravens, but he was disruptive. He tied Preston Smith for a team-leading five pressures.

    He’s been a bright spot for the Packers this season, providing a consistent pass rush despite the loss of Za’Darius Smith early in the season.

    The youngster should face plenty of Blake Hance this weekend. Hance is suspect in pass protection; Gary has the advantage in this matchup.

    Campbell had a productive game against the Ravens. He played every down, recorded six tackles and a sack. He has flourished in the Packers scheme this season, providing an edge for any fantasy managers savvy enough to grab him earlier in the season for what was a bargain in hindsight.

    Tier Two

    Adrian Amos, S; Preston Smith, EDGE.

    Amos played every down for the Packers in Week 15. He spent 18 of his 70 snaps in the box or on the defensive line.

    The veteran safety recorded six solo tackles. He also had a pass breakup, his seventh of the season and fifth in the last five games.

    Preston Smith has been on a mission lately. He generated only 15 pressures and two sacks in his first eight games but has 37 pressures and five sacks in his last five performances. Za’Darius Smith remains on IR and is not expected to play this weekend, so look for Preston Smith’s opportunities to continue.

    He has played at ROLB almost exclusively in the last two games. If that continues, he’ll go up against either Jedrick Wills Jr. (if he is removed from the reserve/COVID list) or Joel Bitonio, who slid over from his guard position to play left tackle in Week 15. It’s a tough matchup for Smith regardless.

    Tier Three

    Dean Lowry, IDL.

    Lowry had one of his quietest games of the season with Kenny Clark out. He recorded a solo tackle and had a batted pass but recorded zero pressures.

    The sixth-year lineman has otherwise been a solid IDL3 this season, generating 30 pressures, including four sacks, and earning 31 total tackles.

    See Clark’s notes for information on Lowry’s matchup.

    Sits

    Za’Darius Smith, EDGE (injury).

    Matt LaFleur said he does not expect Smith back this week.

    Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals

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    Colts

    Starts

    Tier One

    DeForest Buckner, IDL; Darius Leonard, ILB; Bobby Okereke, ILB.

    Buckner had three pressures, including a sack against the Patriots. He also added three tackles to his Week 15 effort.

    The giant defensive lineman has had the sort of season we have come to expect. He ranks in the top 10 at the IDL position in every meaningful category.

    However, the Cardinals’ offensive line won’t be a pushover for Buckner. They have been pretty solid in pass protection most of the season. It’s not an easy matchup for the Colts player.

    Leonard helped win some fantasy playoff games last week. The dynamic linebacker had nine tackles, a forced fumble, an interception, and a QB hit.

    He ranks outside the top-10 in tackles at the ILB position, but he’s not far off, and he’s more than compensated with a league-leading six forced fumbles, three interceptions, and four pass breakups.

    Okereke has had a productive season of his own. 110 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, and two pass breakups. The young linebacker isn’t in the same league as Leonard but that’s an unfair comparison as few are. He’s produced like an ILB1 all season.

    Tier Two

    Khari Willis, S.

    Willis has missed five games this season but he is visibly disruptive for opposing offenses when he’s on the field. He’s finished only seven games this season but has 47 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and two pass breakups.

    The young safety led the Colts with 10 total tackles against the Patriots. He spent 25 of his 67 snaps in the box or on the defensive line.

    Tier Three

    Kwity Paye, EDGE.

    Paye whets the appetite of Colts fans and his fantasy managers with a couple of dominant games mid-season but has since not been as productive. Most players have uneven levels of production, especially rookies, so we shouldn’t be too concerned as long as we temper our expectations.

    The rookie would face D.J. Humphries. The left tackle has been pretty solid in pass protection this season but has just allowed 10 pressures and a sack in his last two games.

    Sits

    Al-Quadin Muhammad, EDGE; Kemoko Turay, EDGE (C).

    I said this of Muhammad and Turay in Week 15:

    Muhammad and Turay each had two sacks in the last game. Neither player is without talent, Muhammad is a steady and reliable contributor, Turay is a tantalizing prospect whose career has been marred by injury so far.

    However, neither player is a reliable IDP starter unless you’re desperate for an injury replacement. Muhammad played only 29 of a possible 52 snaps, Turay, 17.

    Muhammad played 47 of a possible 68 snaps in Week 16. Turay played 27. Muhammad had two pressures, zero sacks, and missed his only tackle. Turay led the team with four pressures. Turay interests me as a dynasty stash but I say this about him most years!

    Cardinals

    Starts

    Tier One

    Jordan Hicks, ILB; Jalen Thompson, S.

    Hicks played every down in Week 15, had four tackles, a pass breakup, and a QB hurry. With this game, he surpasses 100 total tackles for the third consecutive season.

    The fact he did so against all odds makes this even more impressive.

    Did anyone predict Thompson would be the Cardinals’ safety to own in 2021? I didn’t. The youngster has been a bit of a revelation. He has at least nine tackles in his last three games, is a whisker behind the top dogs at the safety position with 98 tackles, has two interceptions, and three pass breakups.

    He consistently has between 15-25 snaps in a box role depending on how much the Cardinals defense plays. That’s not too shabby.

    Tier Two

    Budda Baker, S; Isaiah Simmons, ILB; Markus Golden, EDGE; Chandler Jones, EDGE.

    Placing Baker in tier two feels wrong. The young safety has been a safety1 mainstay for over three years. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been as productive this season.

    79 tackles are reasonable by most standards but it is some way short of Baker’s usual production. He hasn’t recorded more than five tackles since Week 9. The former Washington Huskies star does at least have a career-high three interceptions.

    Simmons had six solo tackles, a pass breakup, and a QB hurry. He has a chance to surpass 100 tackles with strong performances in his last two games. He may have achieved that mark already if he hadn’t played 128 of his 843 snaps in the slot.

    The young linebacker has produced some big plays to help boost his value this season. A sack, three forced fumbles, an interception, and three pass breakups.

    Monitor Simmons’ status. He’s questionable with a shoulder injury.

    Golden hasn’t been quite as dangerous as a pass rusher as he was in the middle of the season, but he at least remains efficient, converting a high amount of pressure into sacks. It’s just not something I suggest relying on long-term. 

    His matchup is decent in Week 16. He’ll face both Braden Smith and Eric Fisher. Smith has been erratic at times, Smith has been disappointing compared to his performance in recent seasons.

    Jones was on a run of good form, posting at least a sack in each of his last three games. That ended in Week 15. The former Patriots’ edge rusher generated two pressures, batted a pass, and had six tackles.

    See Golden’s notes for information on Jones’ matchup.

    Tier Three

    None.

    Sits

    Everyone else.

    Sunday Early Afternoon Games

    New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

    Embed from Getty Images

    Giants

    Starts

    Tier OneLeonard Williams, IDL; Logan Ryan, S.

    Williams had a modest game as a pass rusher against the Cowboys, he failed to record a sack and generated only two pressures. However, he did have three solo tackles and rescued his fantasy day with a forced fumble.

    It’s concerning that the former sixth overall player hasn’t generated a sack since Week 8. It’s also a bit worrying that he’s only generated four pressures in his last three games. That said, he’s faced two teams who have capable interior offensive linemen in pass protection.

    It’s an average matchup for Williams against an Eagles offensive line that features a mix of unproven youngsters and wily veterans.

    Ryan played every down in Week 15. He spent 23 of his 71 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. He had 10 tackles and a QB hurry. It was his fifth consecutive game with at least seven tackles.

    The veteran safety has 92 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, and four pass breakups despite missing two games. He’s been the model of consistency this year.

    Tier Two

    Dexter Lawrence, IDL; Xavier McKinney, S; Tae Crowder, ILB.

    Lawrence played 46 snaps – the same amount as Williams. Like Williams, he failed to record a sack, but he did have a QB hit, and two QB hurries. He also managed three tackles.

    The giant DT is a solid producer at the position. He has 45 tackles, 37 pressures, and three sacks this season.

    See Williams’ notes for information on Lawrence’s matchup.

    McKinney is a bit boom-or-bust in fantasy. He doesn’t play close enough to the line of scrimmage to record a consistent number of tackles each week, so we’ve relied upon his contributions in other areas to justify his position as a productive fantasy safety.

    It’s a risky game, he has five interceptions, but they’ve come in only three games. You have to live with the barren weeks when they don’t occur. I have him as a low-end safety2.

    Crowder played every down. He led the team with 12 total tackles.

    The young ILB has been an asset in tackle-heavy leagues, registering at least seven tackles in six of his last seven games. He has surpassed 100 tackles with two games remaining. That’s a good return given you probably picked him up for very little just a few months ago.

    Tier Three

    Azeez Ojulari, EDGE; Julian Love, S.

    Ojulari extended his streak to three consecutive games with a sack against the Cowboys, but it was his only pressure of the game. He rushed the passer 25 times.

    His performances have been very encouraging for a Giants team that desperately needed edge rush help. I’m intrigued to see how Ojulari does in year two.

    The rookie has a real test this weekend. Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson take no prisoners. Mailata has allowed 18 pressures and two sacks this season. Johnson has surrendered only 10 pressures and zero sacks.

    Love has forced his way into the Giants’ three-safety looks despite Ryan’s return to the lineup in Week 11. His snap share has increased in each of the last three weeks and his 10 tackles against the Cowboys tied Ryan for second on the team.

    The third-year safety looks like has a future.

    Sits

    Lorenzo Carter, EDGE.

    I don’t blame fantasy managers who want to ride the hot hand and start Carter this weekend. The 26-year-old edge rusher had a great game in Week 15, earning seven pressures, two sacks, forced two fumbles and had a pass breakup.

    Form counts for a lot, there is a chance he carries that over into Week 16, but I’m pessimistic. Those were his first two sacks of the season despite rushing the passer over 200 times. And he faces two accomplished edge rushers.

    Eagles

    Starts

    Tier One

    Javon Hargrave, IDL.

    Hargrave continued his impressive season against Washington on Tuesday. It was his third consecutive game with a sack and his eighth of the season. He has been one of the better options at a shallow position this season, ranking inside the top 10 in every meaningful category in fantasy terms.

    The 28-year-old has an opportunity to improve on those numbers against the interior of this Giants offensive line. They have struggled in pass protection.

    Tier Two

    T.J. Edwards, ILB; Alex Singleton, ILB.

    The Eagles tried several combinations at ILB earlier in the season before giving Edwards his chance. The youngster took the opportunity and made the role his own.

    He has double-digit tackles in four of his last seven games and is a solid ILB2 for your fantasy playoff run.

    Singleton appeared to have lost his opportunity to play a sizeable role but was thrust back into the action following the injury to Davion Taylor.

    The veteran has justifiably come under fire for poor performances this season, but as far as pure fantasy is concerned, he’s been productive. He’s had more than 100 tackles despite barely playing in two games and having a reduced role in two or three more.

    Tier Three

    Josh Sweat, EDGE; Fletcher Cox, IDL.

    I saw enough of Sweat in a limited role to expect bigger things in 2021. He’s fallen a bit short of my expectations in 2021. The youngster has barely matched his sack total from 2020 despite rushing the passer over 100 times more than he did last year. He is tied for 36th at the edge spot in pressures.

    Sweat has a nice matchup this weekend. Giants’ offensive line Rob Sale and head coach Joe Judge recently gave the struggling Nate Solder a vote of confidence before giving Matt Peart more snaps than Solder at right tackle in Week 15.

    At this point, Solder is abysmal in pass protection. Peart is better but has room to improve.

    I don’t know if Cox is back. He went eight games without registering a sack before producing seven pressures and two sacks against Washington this weekend.

    However, as I often say, IDL is a shallow position. That kind of performance catapults Cox into the IDL3 category. And he’s got the track record to reinforce the idea that he could be having a career renaissance. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible. And it’s the one position we can afford to take the gamble at.

    See Hargrave’s notes for information on Cox’s matchup.

    Sits

    Everyone else.

    Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings

    Embed from Getty Images

    Rams

    Starts

    Tier One

    Aaron Donald, IDL; Leonard Floyd, EDGE; Von Miller, EDGE; Jordan Fuller, S (C).

    Donald has had an incredible three-game spell. 27 pressures, including six sacks, 9 tackles, and a forced fumble. There were rumblings in the IDP community about how other interior defensive linemen had closed the gap on the 2020 Defensive MVP in 2021. No. Ultimately, he’s still the dominant player at the IDL spot.

    There are very few, if any, offensive lines capable of containing Donald in this kind of form. The interior of the Vikings line is not one of them. Donald’s run of form may continue in Week 16.

    Floyd had two pressures a sack against the Seahawks. It was his 12th sack of the 2021 season and it leaves him just one sack shy of equalling his career-high set in 2020.

    The former Bears player played predominantly at LOLB before Miller’s arrival but has spent roughly an equal amount of time at both LOLB and ROLB since Week 12. He’ll go up against Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw in Week 16. O’Neill has had an excellent season. Darrisaw has allowed four sacks in his last three games.

    Miller earned his first sack for the Rams in Week 15. It’s not like he’s failed to pressure opposing quarterbacks since arriving, he’s simply failed to convert pressures into sacks at the rate we’re used to seeing.

    The veteran edge rusher has 22 pressures in five games, including 14 in his last two. I have a feeling he’s going to take advantage of Darrisaw in Week 16 and produce for loyal fantasy managers in their playoff matchups.

    Tier Two

    Ernest Jones, ILB; Greg Gaines, IDL.

    Jones led the Rams’ ILBs with 55 snaps in Week 15, compared with Troy Reeder‘s 24. He led the Rams with 11 tackles and had a pass breakup. He has 26 tackles, a sack, an interception, and two pass breakups in his last three games.

    Unless your league has very few starter spots, he’s a player worth starting. He’s right on the line between ILB1/ILB2 status.

    Gaines was thrust into an expanded role in Week 8 following an injury to Sebastian Joseph Day. Gaines has grabbed the opportunity with both hands, producing 23 pressures, four sacks, and 27 tackles in seven games. He may benefit from playing alongside Donald but the 25-year-old Gaines has some ability.

    See Donald’s notes for information on Gaines’ matchup.

    Tier Three

    Taylor Rapp, S.

    Rapp is a high-end safety3 despite recording his third interception of the season in Week 15. He’s had five or fewer tackles in nine of his last 10 games despite generally playing every down, and despite playing more than a quarter of his snaps in the box or on the defensive line.

    Sits

    Everyone else.

    Vikings

    Starts

    Tier One

    Eric Kendricks, ILB; Harrison Smith, S.

    Kendricks has seven tackles in their showdown with the Bears. Four of those tackles were assists. He’ll have bigger games, but it’s a testament to what we’ve come to expect of Kendricks that a seven-tackle performance is considered almost disappointing.

    It’s been another ILB1 season for the veteran linebacker. He has 121 total tackles, two interceptions, two pass breakups, and he leads the ILB position with five sacks (I’m not including Parsons in that).

    Smith played every down in Week 15. He spent 31 of his 72 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. Hed the Vikings with eight tackles.

    The veteran safety has been excellent this season. He has 90 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, an interception, and five pass breakups. He’s fun to watch for those obsessed with defense and safety play.

    Tier Two

    Xavier Woods, S; 

    Woods has had a good season. It’s certainly been his most productive from a fantasy standpoint. He has 81 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and six pass breakups.

    The 26-year-old plays between 10 and 25 snaps in a box role depending on how many defensive snaps the Vikings play.

    I consider him a high-end safety2.

    Tier Three

    Anthony Barr, ILB, Armon Watts, IDL.

    I find Barr maddening sometimes, or perhaps it’s more his role in this Vikings scheme. Either way, he’s not someone I advocate you are in a hurry to start.

    He missed time earlier in the season with a nagging injury and didn’t return to the lineup until Week 5. He’s since had 41 tackles, a sack, an interception, and a pass breakup in eight games.

    Watts played only 39 of 72 snaps in Week 15 and failed to record a sack. He’s conceded snaps to Michael Pierce since Pierce returned to the lineup in Week 13. That’s the bad news.

    The good news is that Watt played more snaps than Pierce and Dalvin Tomlinson in Week 15, and was second on the team with five pressures. This wasn’t a one-off. He’s had 30 pressures and five sacks at a position where fantasy contributors are difficult to find. He’s also done this despite only playing 522 snaps.

    Sits

    D.J. Wonnum, EDGE.

    Wonnum tripled his career sack total with a three-sack effort against the Bears last weekend. It was the third game in his last four that he’s registered at least one sack.

    Has he turned a corner? Possibly. He’s still 24 and in only his second season. I remain wary. Good form is a major factor in determining these tiers, but I can’t overlook the fact that Wonnum has rushed the passer 471 times this season and hasn’t had nearly the level of production I expect.

    He faces both Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein in Week 16. Whitworth is a tough assignment, Havenstein isn’t. It’s a bit of a mixed bag.

    I’m hesitant to pin my playoff hopes on Wonnum in Week 16. If you lack good options at the position and believe in the talent and matchup, go for it. One thing you can be assured of is that he’ll play plenty. He has all year. Meh.

    Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

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    Bills

    Starts

    Tier One

    Jordan Poyer, S.

    Poyer has had a disappointing season in terms of his tackle volume. Some of that can be blamed on the fact that he’s played fewer snaps in the box and on the defensive line. He did so 39% in 2020 but has done so less than 33% in 2021.

    The talented safety has still produced like a safety1 due to his coverage abilities. He has matched his career-high with five interceptions and has five pass breakups. He’s been targeted 27 times and allowed only 13 receptions for 61 yards. Impressive stuff!

    Tier Two

    Tremaine Edmunds, ILB.

    Edmunds had an active day against the Panthers in Week 15. He recorded seven tackles and generated a QB hit and four QB hurries despite rushing the passer only eight times.

    The young ILB has 89 tackles and will therefore fall short of his tackle total in each of his first three seasons in the league. However, he has only played 12 games. He’s been a solid ILB2 this season and has only been let down by his lack of availability and big plays.

    Tier Three

    Matt Milano, ILB; Micah Hyde, S.

    Milano has shown flashes of the player we saw a few years ago but hasn’t been able to put together a consistent run worthy of ILB2 levels. He had 11 tackles and a sack in Week 14 but managed only three tackles and a pass breakup in Week 15 despite playing every down.

    Hyde had five tackles, three QB hurries, and a pass breakup. He’s a talented safety and you can certainly find poorer safety options, but I find it hard to recommend a player who has recorded more than five tackles only twice since Week 3.

    He does add to his value with some big plays. He has a sack, a forced fumble, three interceptions, and three pass breakups. But relying on those plays comes with some risk.

    Sits

    Jerry Hughes, EDGE; Gregory Rousseau, EDGE; Ed Oliver, IDL.

    Regular readers of this article know my thoughts on the Bills edge rushers. They have plenty of talent but they all rotate too heavily. Five Bills edge rushers had between 18 and 41 snaps of a possible 76 last weekend. You should stash Rousseau in dynasty.

    I’m not starting Oliver anywhere, but I acknowledge that he’s not a million miles from being an IDL3 at a position lacking many options, especially those around his level.

    Patriots

    Starts

    Tier One

    Matt Judon, EDGE; Kyle Dugger, S.

    Judon was kept quiet by the Colts in Week 15. He managed just four tackles and a QB hurry. It was his first game without a sack since Week 7 in what has been a career year.

    The veteran edge rusher will go up against Daryl Williams and Spencer Brown in Week 16. Williams is a tough competitor. Brown is likely to replace Dion Dawkins who remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Judon can take advantage of Dawkins’ absence.

    Dugger did fantasy managers no favors by getting himself ejected after a tussle with Michael Pittman last weekend. He managed five tackles (three assists) before leaving the game.

    Assuming he plays in Week 16, consider him a low-end safety1. He has 83 tackles, three interceptions, and a pass breakup this season. The former DII talent is one of the fun stories of the 2021 season.

    Tier Two

    Adrian Phillips, S.

    Phillips played 42 of a possible 52 snaps against the Colts. He spent 34 snaps in a box role or on the defensive line. His seven tackles tied for the team lead.

    The versatile safety won’t come close to matching his tackle total from last year. He’s been asked to spend more time at free safety, in the slot, and at the outside corner spot more than he did in 2020.

    I consider Phillips a safety2/3.

    Tier Three

    Ja’Whaun Bentley, ILB.

    Bentley suffered an ankle injury against the Colts after playing only 11 snaps. He was on a decent run after amassing 80 tackles in limited time this season and earning a bigger snap share in recent weeks.

    Monitor his progress closely this week.

    Sits

    Christian Barmore, IDL; Davon Godchaux, IDL; Kyle Van Noy, ILB/EDGE.

    Barmore only managed two pressures, but that was good enough to tie for the team lead in a game where the Patriots struggled to bring any real pressure. He also added five tackles.

    The rookie has only sack this season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He ranks 13th at the position in pressures and has contributed 39 tackles. It’s been a successful campaign in what can be a difficult position for young players to master.

    Godchaux led the Patriots’ interior defensive linemen with 44 snaps. He had five solo tackles, increasing his tackle tally to 22 in the last three games. The 27-year-old offers very little as a pass rusher but could be a decent start in tackle-heavy, DT premium, IDP leagues.

    Van Noy had five tackles. He does have games like this, he’s so versatile that different things are asked of him from one game to the next and his fantasy production will fluctuate accordingly. Good for the Patriots, risky for fantasy.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

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    Bucs

    Starts

    Tier One

    Devin White, ILB; Shaq Barrett, EDGE.

    White played every snap against the Saints and was second on the team with nine total tackles.

    The third-year player hasn’t quite lived up to expectations given he was likely a top-three selection at ILB in fantasy this season. It’s unfair to call him a disappointment, he still has 111 tackles, four sacks, and three pass breakups, but it’s a warning against targeting ILBs based on big-play production.

    An interesting point to consider when determining where to take White in redraft or dynasty startups next season:

    Barrett failed to record a sack but he was disruptive, tying for the team lead with five pressures.

    It’s been another excellent season for the former Broncos edge rusher, he ranks second at the edge position with 72 pressures. He has double-digit sacks for the third consecutive season.

    Barrett faces Taylor Moton and Cameron Erving in Week 16. Moton is a good pass protector. Erving is weaker and Barrett can take advantage of him when rushing the passer from the LOLB spot.

    Tier Two

    Antoine Winfield, S.

    Winfield missed the Saints game with a foot injury and is questionable for the Panthers game this weekend.

    The young safety has produced three strong fantasy performances in a row between Week 12 and Week 14, accruing 26 tackles, an interception, and a pass breakup. If he’s healthy for Week 16, let’s hope he can pick up where he left off.

    Tier Three

    Vita Vea, IDL; Jordan Whitehead, S.

    Vea ranks 19th at the IDL position in total pressure and sacks despite playing fewer snaps than his peers. He’s one of the better injury replacements to have in DT-required leagues. Hopefully, he’s not your starter.

    The interior of the Panthers’ offensive line is quite poor. Vea has a nice matchup.

    Whitehead played every down and spent 28 of his 61 snaps in the box or on the defensive line.

    He recorded eight tackles and had a QB hurry. He missed a few weeks with an injury but picked up right where he left off. He’s had at least eight tackles in four of his last five games.

    Sits

    Lavonte David, ILB; Jason Pierre-Paul, EDGE; Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, EDGE.

    David is likely to be out for several weeks with a foot sprain. Monitor his status for updates.

    JPP’s poor season continued in Week 15. He had 36 snaps, 16 pass rush attempts, zero pressures, and two tackles.

    It’s surely Tryon-Shoyinka’s job in 2022. He had 26 snaps, 13 pass rush attempts, five pressures, a sack, and three tackles.

    JPP has 388 pass rush attempts, 24 pressures, and three sacks this season. Tryon-Shoyinka has 241 pass rush attempts, 32 pressures, and four sacks.

    Panthers

    Starts

    Tier One

    Shaq Thompson, ILB; Brian Burns, EDGE; Haason Reddick, EDGE; Jeremy Chinn, S.

    Thompson came up short for fantasy managers in Week 15. He played every down but recorded only four tackles. It was particularly disappointing given he had an impressive 24 tackles in his last two games.

    Hopefully, he can rediscover the sort of production we’ve seen from him in other games this season. He has 80 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and three pass breakups in 11 games this season.

    Burns had a good game as a pass rusher against the Bills. He generated six pressures, including a sack. He missed two of his three tackle attempts but we can overlook missed tackles for edge rushers unless they’re missed opportunities for sacks.

    The young edge rusher ranks 19th at the position in pressures and is tied for 14th with nine sacks. He’s been quite a steady performer at a position that is notoriously streaky.

    He’ll face Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs in Week 16. It’s a difficult matchup and Burns will have to be at his best to produce on the same level as he did against a Dion Dawkins-less Bills in Week 15.

    Reddick also had success against the Bills. He led the team with seven pressures, including a sack, and had three solo tackles.

    The former 13th overall pick has had two double-digit sacks in a row. It’s a far cry from the player we saw in his first few seasons in the league. He is tied for 23rd among all edge rushers with 43 pressures and is tied for third with 15 sacks. He’s had six games with multiple sacks.

    See Burns notes for information on Reddick’s matchup.

    Chinn had fantasy managers worried earlier in the season but has turned it on down the stretch. He has 55 total tackles, a forced fumble, an interception, and a pass breakup in his last six games. He’s finding form at just the right time for fantasy managers with teams that remain in contention.

    Few safeties spend as much time as close to the line of scrimmage as Chinn. He’s spent over 61% of his time in the box or on the defensive line this season.

    Tier Two

    None.

    Tier Three

    None.

    Sits

    Jermaine Carter, ILB; Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE.

    Carter played 42 of a possible 70 snaps. That’s enough for me to want to avoid playing any ILB. I’m leaving him as he had played a much bigger snap share in previous weeks.

    The fourth-year player did manage six tackles and has 20 tackles in his last three games. There are worse options available, but I’m wary.

    Gross-Matos exploded in Week 15. He had four pressures, including three sacks, and added a tackle, and a forced fumble. Amazing. It was the game of the sophomore edge rusher’s career and was great to see.

    I almost feel bad for pouring water on the fire, but don’t expect more of the same. This will be an anomaly for the youngster. He plays a different role to Burns and Reddick, but there aren’t enough snaps to go around to justify the kind of snap share required to support the same level of production.

    Gross-Matos played 29 of a possible 70 snaps in Week 15 and rushed the passer 23 times.

    Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets

    Embed from Getty Images

    Jaguars

    Starts

    Tier One

    None.

    Tier Two

    Josh Allen, EDGE;  Dawuane Smoot, EDGE; Myles Jack, ILB.

    Allen is not in good form. He started the season well but hasn’t recorded a sack since the big performance against his namesake in Week 9. He’s only managed seven pressures in his last five games. However, he gave us some reason for optimism by leading the Jags with four pressures against the Texans in Week 15.

    If George Fant recovers from the knee injury that made him miss Week 15 then it is he who will be tasked with containing Allen. Fant would be a challenging matchup for Allen.

    If Fant can’t play, Conor McDermott is likely to continue in his place. McDermott allowed two sacks last weekend and presents Allen with an opportunity to earn a much-needed sack.

    Smoot’s efforts to extend his streak to three games with a sack fell flat as he generated just one QB hurry. He did record five total tackles but that’s of little compensation to fantasy managers.

    It has still been a successful season for the 26-year-old edge rusher who has provided a decent pass rush presence opposite Allen.

    See Burns notes for information on Smoot’s matchup.

    Jack was quiet in Week 15. He played every down and had five total tackles.

    The sixth-year ILB should surpass 100 tackles for the fourth time in his six-year career in his next game. However, he remains a low-end ILB2 as he doesn’t record big plays in the same way as many of his counterparts. It’s baffling and frustrating for fantasy managers.

    Tier Three

    Damien Wilson, ILB; Andrew Wingard, S; Roy Robertson-Harris, DI.

    Wilson played 49 of a possible 59 snaps and managed four tackles, a QB hit, and two QB hurries. It was a sobering performance after his 11 tackle, one-sack performance in Week 14. Fantasy managers who started him hoping for more in a difficult week for fantasy may feel short-changed.

    Wingard had a team-leading 10 tackles against the Texans.

    Robertson-Harris is a low-end IDL3 in my ranks. He’s shown some ability as a pass rusher, earning 25 pressures, including three sacks, despite playing fewer snaps than others due to missing Weeks 3-5.

    The interior of the Jets offensive line is a bit erratic in pass protection.

    Sits

    Rayshawn Jenkins, S (injury – IR); 

    Unfortunately, Jenkins broke his ankle in the Week 15 contest with the Texans. He has been placed on IR and his season is over.

    Jets

    Starts

    Tier One

    Quinnen Williams, IDL; C.J. Mosley, ILB; Quincy Williams, ILB.

    Quinnen Williams played through a shoulder injury and managed only 22 total snaps and nine pass-rush attempts. He’s officially listed as questionable for the Jaguars game but Robert Saleh sounded optimistic on Tuesday:

    I am concerned about starting Quinnen over other tier-one interior defensive linemen while this injury lingers. I will only consider him a low-end IDL1 this weekend if he’s able to practice and we hear positive reports on his status.

    When Williams is healthy, the only thing holding him back from competing with the truly elite is the fact he players fewer snaps than most at the position.

    Mosley had another productive game, registering 13 tackles. It was his third consecutive game with double-digit tackles, he’s now amassed an incredible 43 tackles in his last three performances. The veteran linebacker has 135 tackles in 2021 despite missing a game.

    Quincy Williams has been on fire since earning a bigger role in Week 11. He’s had 51 tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup in that five-game period.

    I reserve this tier for the best performers at each position. Williams belongs here ahead of this Week 16 matchup with the Jaguars. He may not have the proven track record of others in this category but that’s not what a start and sit article is about.

    Tier Two

    John Franklin-Myers, EDGE (C).

    Franklin-Myers has slipped down my rankings a little since earlier in the season. He’s had only two games with a sack since Week 4 despite having at least 20 pass rush attempts in all but two games.

    He is still tied for 19th at the position in total pressures and is tied for 27th in sacks.

    The young edge rusher faces Jawaan Taylor and co. in Week 16. Taylor has played better than he did in 2019 but still has games where he looks overwhelmed. It’s an average matchup for Franklin-Myers.

    Tier Three

    Ashtyn Davis, S (C); Elijah Riley, S.

    Davis played 69 of a possible 72 snaps in Week 15. He played 17 of those snaps in the box or on the defensive line. The young safety had six total tackles and recorded his second interception of the season.

    The second-year player needed a big game to remain in this tier. Despite some big plays, he’s lacked the tackle volume to provide a decent floor in fantasy, earning three tackles or fewer in each of his three games between Week 12 and Week 14.

    Riley left the game against the Dolphins with a neck injury. Thankfully, he appears to be OK according to head coach Robert Saleh.

    The young safety is officially questionable for the game on the weekend.

    Sits

    Everyone else.

    Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons

    Embed from Getty Images

    Lions

    Starts

    Tier One

    None.

    Tier Two

    Charles Harris, EDGE; Tracy Walker, S.

    Harris started the season well with four sacks in his first game, then went on a six-game run without a sack between Week 6 and Week 12. Thankfully, he seems to have found form just in time for fantasy managers in need of an EDGE2 for the playoffs.

    In his last three games, the 26-year-old edge rusher has 17 pressures, including four sacks, and has added 13 tackles and a forced fumble.

    Jake Matthews will be a tough opponent for Harris in Week 16. Harris will have to be at his best to get something out of this game.

    Walker was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of the Week 15 showdown with the Cardinals but still missed the game. He’s currently listed as questionable but unless we hear nothing to the contrary, I assume he’ll be good to play in Week 16.

    The fourth-year safety has 75 tackles, a sack, and four pass breakups in 12 games so far this season.

    Tier Three

    Jalen Reeves-Maybin, ILB; 

    Reeves-Maybin led the Lions’ ILBs with 72 of a possible 75 snaps against the Cardinals. It was the most snaps he had played in any game this season.

    The 26-year-old linebacker had four solo tackles, three QB hurries, and a batted pass. He’s not someone I think will be winning your team a fantasy championship, but if you lack options he can fill your ILB3/4 role.

    Sits

    Derrick Barnes, ILB; Alex Anzalone, ILB (injury – IR); Josh Woods, ILB.

    I complained much of the season about why the Lions weren’t using the season to see what Barnes could do instead of playing Alex Anzalone. Barnes got his chance beginning in Week 14. He played 47 of a possible 68 snaps in Week 14, and 47 of 75 in Week 15.

    Barnes hasn’t set the world alight but it’s not like Anzalone set the bar very high. The rookie has five sacks in each of his last two games. Fantasy managers shouldn’t be starting him but dynasty managers should keep an eye on how he performs in his next few games.

    Anzalone was placed on IR with a shoulder injury this week.

    Woods had a very productive game in Week 14 but took a back seat to Reeves-Maybin and Barnes in Week 15 after injuring his shoulder.

    Falcons

    Starts

    Tier One

    Deion Jones, ILB; Foyesade Oluokun, ILB.

    Jones had seven tackles in the Falcons’ 31-13 loss to the 49ers in Week 15. He was targetted eight times in coverage, allowing seven completions for 113 yards. That represents a season-high in yardage allowed by the veteran linebacker this season.

    The 27-year-old has surpassed 100 tackles for the fifth time in six years in the league. He only missed that mark in 2018 due to injury. He’s added two sacks, a forced fumble, and three pass breakups in the 2021 campaign.

    Oluokun has played one game more than his ILB partner, Jones. Even so, he’s produced 36 more tackles than Jones this season. It marks a new career-high in tackles for the fourth-year linebacker.

    He lacks the big plays that he managed last season, but it was always going to be difficult to match his 2020 numbers in that sense. He still has two sacks, a forced fumble, an interception, and two pass breakups in the current campaign.

    Tier Two

    Grady Jarrett, IDL.

    Jarrett poses a difficult problem for fantasy managers. It’s hellishly difficult to find fantasy contributors at the IDL position. Jarrett isn’t spent – far from it – he’s only 28. He has a proven track record at the position and he continually threatens to break out of the sack funk he is in. His 32 pressures rank 19th at the position.

    But it’s Week 16. Some of us were waiting all season for him to find his feet. For some, it’s already too late. For the rest of us, I recommend him as a low-end IDL2.

    Maybe he’ll surprise those of us fortunate enough to remain in our fantasy playoffs, and erupt for the performance of a lifetime? I’m not banking on it, even though the interior of the Lions’ offensive line isn’t strong in pass protection.

    Tier Three

    Dante Fowler, EDGE.

    Fowler barely played against the 49ers in Week 15. He was struggling with a calf injury and he was seen limping in pre-game workouts.

    The 27-year-old edge rusher has three sacks in his last five games. However, Falcons fans, and those who watch defense closely, will be aware that he doesn’t pass the eye test. I’m not a big believer that he’ll guide anyone to a fantasy championship. But what do I know?

    Fowler faces Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker. The Lions have several holes in their roster but they’re looking just fine at offensive tackle. Fowler has his work cut out.

    Sits

    Erik Harris, S (injury – IR); Jaylinn Hawkins, S.

    Harris landed on IR last week. Unfortunately, he needed season-ending pectoral surgery.

    Hawkins is the man most likely to benefit from Harris’ absence. He’s played almost every down in the last two weeks. He’s not a recommended starter as he only managed three tackles in each of those games, and has missed three more tackle attempts in those two games.

    Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans

    Embed from Getty Images

    Chargers

    Starts

    Tier One

    Derwin James, S; Kyzir White, ILB.

    James only played 29 snaps against the Chiefs. He was a game-time decision with a hamstring injury and it was the same injury that forced him out of the game against the Chiefs.

    Fortunately, it sounds like he hasn’t aggravated the injury:

    He’s a difference-maker in both the NFL and fantasy when he plays. Monitor his status closely this week.

    Tier Two

    None.

    Tier Three

    Nasir Adderley, S; Uchenna Nwosu, EDGE.

    Adderley has faced some criticism after his role in allowing Kelce to perform as he did in Week 15. Everyone deserves criticism at one point or another, but very few players can hold their own against the league’s best tight end. He’s not the finished article.

    The young safety has had a good fantasy season. 75 tackles, a sack, and four pass breakups place him in safety2/3 territory.

    It’s no exaggeration when I say I’ve seen every snap Nwosu has played for the Chargers. He has some talent, and he is improving, but the rate at which he’s improving does not inspire faith that he will become worthy of the second-round pick the Chargers spent on him in 2018.

    However, he’s still only 24 years old. Despite my cynicism, there is still room for him to grow.

    Nwosu is not in this tier solely because he has three sacks in his last five games. He’s also here because he’ll have even more opportunities with Bosa out. Nwosu had 45 pass rush attempts when Bosa missed Week 15.

    Sits

    Joey Bosa, EDGE (injury); Drue Tranquill, ILB; Kenneth Murray, ILB; Jerry Tillery, IDL; Linval Joseph, IDL.

    Bosa seems to play most weeks. He will miss this game against the Texans for a different reason, he’s on the reserve/COVID-19 list and head coach Brandon Staley said the talented edge rusher won’t be available. Bosa’s fantasy managers will be cursing their luck.

    There is one full-time ILB role in the Chargers’ defensive scheme. That was the case in 2020 and it remains the case now. The only thing that has changed is who occupies that role. It was Murray last season but he’s been replaced with White.

    Tranquill continues to play a role but it’s a diminished one as he plays second-fiddle to White. He has four or fewer tackles in five of his last seven games.

    Murray seemingly needs a move to regain fantasy relevance. He is the third ILB on this Chargers defense.

    Tillery maintained fantasy relevance with three sacks in his first seven games, but he’s since gone six games without taking down the quarterback. He’s a liability in run defense and doesn’t offer enough as a pass rusher to justify a sizeable role.

    Joseph led all interior defensive linemen in tackles at one point earlier this season. He still ranks eighth in that category despite missing three games.

    The reality is that while he’s still a capable player at 33-years-old, Joseph offers little as a pass rusher and is unlikely to help your fantasy team to a championship.

    Texans

    Starts

    Tier One

    None.

    Tier Two

    Jonathan Greenard, EDGE (C); Christian Kirksey, ILB (C); Kamu Grugier-Hill, ILB (C).

    Greenard was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday and therefore missed the game against the Texans.

    The talented young edge rusher will attempt to get his promising season back on track in Week 16 against the Chargers. He won’t get an easy ride against impressive rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater.

    Fortunately for Greenard’s fantasy managers, he’s equally adept at rushing the passer from the opposite side of the offensive line, meaning he’ll face Storm Norton too. Norton is awful in pass protection, he’s allowed 47 pressures and six sacks this season.

    Kirksey missed Week 15 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Hopefully, he returns this week to resume his role as the sole every-down ILB on the Texans’ defense.

    The veteran has played in 10 games this season, racking up 69 tackles, an interception, and four pass breakups.

    Grugier-Hill also missed Week 15 as he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 on Monday, two days before Kirksey. The 27-year-old linebacker was in hot form, having recorded 49 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, an interception, and two pass breakups in just five games between Week 9 and Week 14.

    Tier Three

    Jacob Martin, EDGE (C).

    Martin had a good run of form between Week 9 and Week 12, recording 13 pressures, three sacks, and two forced fumbles in three games. He’s cooled since, going three games without a sack.

    See Greenard’s notes for information on Martin’s Week 16 matchup.

    Sits

    Neville Hewitt, LB.

    Hewitt took advantage of his opportunity in Week 15 with both Kirksey and Grugier-Hill missing time due to being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    The 28-year-old played every down in Week 15 and was third on the team with eight total tackles. He’s third in the pecking order so he has no fantasy value unless either Kirksey or Grugier-Hill can’t return in Week 16.

    Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

    Embed from Getty Images

    Ravens

    Starts

    Tier One

    None.

    Tier Two

    Tyus Bowser, EDGE; Odafe Oweh, EDGE.

    Bowser has had his best season as a pass-rusher, generating 36 pressures and 7 sacks on only 271 pass-rush opportunities. He has four sacks, a forced fumble, and two pass breakups in his last five games.

    The 26-year-old edge rusher will go up against Jonah Williams and Fred Johnson in Week 16. Williams has not progressed in the way he was expected to in his sophomore campaign. Johnson is filling in for the injured Riley Reiff. Bowser will face more difficult matchups.

    Oweh has been as streaky as you would expect a rookie edge rusher to be. He’s also shown a lot of promise. The 31st selection in the 2021 draft ranks 25th among all edge rushers with 42 pressures and is tied for 27th with six sacks. It has been an impressive campaign.

    The former Nittany Lions star, who turned 23 last week, will try to snap a three-game sack drought against the Bengals. For information on his matchup, see Bowser’s notes above.

    Tier Three

    Patrick Queen, ILB; Josh Bynes, ILB; Brandon Stephens, S; Chuck Clark, S (C); Justin Houston, EDGE (C).

    Queen led the Ravens’ ILBs with 53 of a possible 62 snaps. He also led the team by some margin with 11 tackles in his Week 15 performance against the Packers.

    However, part of what led Queen to lose his starting role earlier in the season was his missed tackles, and he missed three more last weekend. It may not matter, for fantasy purposes at least, providing he retains the same role over the next few games.

    Bynes played 36 of a possible 62 snaps but still managed seven tackles and a sack. He’ll struggle to be as productive in a diminished role going forward. He’s falling further and further behind Queen with each week.

    Stephens continues to fill in for DeShon Elliot who was placed on IR with a pectoral injury in November. The young safety played every down in Week 15, played 32 of his 62 snaps in a box role, and managed four tackles.

    In Stephens’ defense, this was one of his least productive performances since he has filled in for Elliott. But he hasn’t exactly set the world alight either. I consider him a low-end safety3.

    Clark missed Week 15 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He has had minimal value even when healthy this season.

    Houston is a very risky EDGE3 for fantasy purposes. He only played 38 of a possible 62 snaps in Week 15. He managed three pressures, including a sack, and had three solo tackles.

    The veteran edge rusher is tied for 31st at the position with 37 pressures and is tied for 27th with six sacks. If you start him, you’re relying on him being efficient with his limited snap share. Like all Ravens’ edge rushers, he rushes from multiple positions. See Bowser’s notes for information on Houston’s matchup.

    Sits

    Everyone else.

    Bengals

    Starts

    Tier One

    Vonn Bell, S; Trey Hendrickson, EDGE; Sam Hubbard, EDGE.

    Bell played 70 of a possible 75 snaps in Week 15. He spent 41 of those snaps in the box or on the defensive line and managed six solo tackles.

    The sixth-year safety is a reliable option at the safety position. He provides a solid floor with his tackle volume. However, in leagues that reward big plays, he may have a limited weekly ceiling.

    Hendrickson had three pressures and a sack against the Broncos. Incredibly, it was his 10th consecutive game with at least a sack dating back to Week 4. The gifted edge rusher is tied for fifth with 63 pressures and is tied for third in the league with 15 sacks.

    The former Saints player has a great matchup in Week 16. Alejandro Villanueva has allowed 48 pressures and nine sacks this season. Very few offensive tackles have performed as poorly this season. I consider Hendrickson a solid EDGE2 for this matchup.

    Hubbard failed to record a sack last weekend, but he still led the Bengals in total pressure. He’s bounced back nicely after a disappointing 2020 campaign.

    The young edge rusher is tied for 14th with 49 pressures and is tied for 14th with nine sacks. Impressive enough. But I’ve been reluctant to place him in tier one because he has had more pass rush opportunities than all but three of his edge rusher counterparts.

    I’ve given in as he compensates for being a volume pass rusher with his tackle volume. On its own, I don’t value tackles for EDGE players highly enough to make much of a difference in tiers, but Hubbard consistently ranks among the best in that category at his position, I can’t continue to overlook that point.

    Patrick Mekari was limited in practice on Wednesday and is listed as questionable. If he cannot suit up for this game Tyre Phillips is likely to continue in his place. Mekari has been reasonably good in pass protection this season, Phillips has been uneven at best.

    Tier Two

    Jessie Bates III, S; Larry Ogunjobi, IDL; Germaine Pratt, ILB.

    Bates played every down against the Broncos. He played 58 of his 75 snaps at free safety and recorded five solo tackles.

    Despite missing a game and playing in a predominantly deep role, the young safety has accrued 78 tackles this season. It’s impressive, but he’ll still fall short of the 107 tackles he had last season.

    But it’s his coverage stats that have dropped off most notably. He had 12 pass breakups and three interceptions in 2020 but he has only two pass breakups and a single interception in 2021.

    Ogunjobi led the Bengals with two sacks in Week 15. He already has a career-best eight sacks and is projected to better his career-high in tackles. It’s impressive considering he started the year by earning only a single sack in his first six games.

    I moved Pratt up into this tier because of Logan Wilson‘s injury. Pratt took advantage of his opportunity. He played every down last weekend and led the Bengals with 13 tackles. He also added a sack and two QB hurries.

    Pratt will continue in the same role in Week 16.

    Tier Three

    None.

    Sits

    Everyone else.

    Sunday Mid Afternoon Games

    Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks

    Embed from Getty Images

    Bears

    Starts

    Tier One

    Roquan Smith, ILB; Robert Quinn, EDGE.

    Smith played every down against the Vikings and led the Bears with 10 total tackles, 5 of which were assists.

    The 24-year-old already has 134 tackles, equalling his total from the 2020 season despite playing 166 fewer snaps. He’s added three sacks, an interception, and two pass breakups this season. He’s been one of the most productive ILBs in IDP formats for the second consecutive year.

    Quinn has been in great form this season. Crucially for the Bears, he’s been at his best since Khalil Mack was unfortunately lost for the season. In his last six games, Quinn has 10 sacks and two forced fumbles.

    Critics will rightfully point to how Quinn has been incredibly efficient in converting pressure into sacks. He has 38 pressures and 15 sacks compared to his 2020 campaign when he had 33 pressures and only two sacks.

    That point would concern me more if we didn’t need just one or two good more games from the veteran for fantasy purposes. His form is undeniable; I’m riding the hot hand.

    Tier Two

    None.

    Tier Three

    Akiem Hicks, IDL (C); Alec Ogletree, ILB; Eddie Jackson, S.

    Hicks had a hell of a game last week. Four pressures, including two sacks, two solo tackles, and four stops. It was great to see him back and playing at the level we’ve grown accustomed to over the years.

    I’m mindful that Hicks could be a trap. The 32-year-old started the season well with two sacks in his first two games, but he wasn’t as disruptive for the next five games. However, I’m willing to overlook that drop in performance as he struggled for several weeks with a groin injury.

    His matchup this weekend is favorable. The interior of the Seahawks offensive line has struggled in pass protection.

    Hicks landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. He’s in danger of missing yet another game after just returning to the lineup. Monitor his status closely over the next few days.

    It feels wrong placing Ogletree in the same tier as Hicks. Hicks is far superior as an IDL than Ogletree is as an ILB. However, Ogletree has a sizeable role on this Bears defense at the moment, he played every down in Week 16. He was also second on the team with eight tackles.

    Jackson missed Week 15 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He’s had a disappointing year in general, managing only 52 tackles, a forced fumble, and one pass breakup.

    However, Jackson has only played 10 games this season. He missed a couple of games after injuring his hamstring against the 49ers. His best game was probably his most recent one against the Packers in Week 14 when he managed eight tackles and a pass breakup. I consider him a low-end safety3.

    Sits

    Trevis Gipson, EDGE.

    Gipson has shown he has a knack for getting after the quarterback. A fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft, the youngster has rushed the passer 199 times and generated 20 pressures and six sacks.

    I’m not starting him as the EDGE spot is so deep. And the youngster has only two pressures in his last three games.

    Seahawks

    Starts

    Tier One

    Bobby Wagner, ILB; Jordyn Brooks, ILB.

    Wagner didn’t have a great game against the Rams. He managed six tackles but missed two more tackle attempts. He was targetted nine times in coverage and allowed seven completions for 75 yards.

    Modest performances like this are rare for the talented linebacker. He’s otherwise been excellent in 2021. The veteran has racked up 154 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, an interception, and two pass breakups.

    Brooks has made a name for himself this season. The youngster had his sixth consecutive game with double-digit tackles in Week 15. He increased his tackle total to 141 for the 2021 campaign. He’s added a sack and three pass breakups.

    Granted, the Seahawks defense has played a lot of down this year, and Wagner and Brooks have benefitted. It doesn’t diminish their achievements too much. Their durability is impressive.

    Tier Two

    Quandre Diggs, S.

    Diggs had a disappointing performance in Week 14, managing only one tackle and missing two more attempts. He rebounded against the Rams last week, rewarding loyal fantasy managers with seven tackles and recording an interception.

    The former Lions’ safety rarely plays in the box yet he has still had good fantasy value. Part of the reason is the impressive five interceptions he has produced. The other reason is that he’s played more defensive snaps than any other safety. He’s the only safety to surpass 1000 snaps so far in 2021.

    Tier Three

    Ryan Neal, S.

    Neal is attempting to fill the void left by the injury to Jamal Adams. Neal played every down in Week 15 and spent 29 of those 66 snaps in the box or on the defensive line.

    The 25-year-old was second on the team with eight tackles. He has 14 tackles in his last two games since starting in Adam’s stead.

    Sits

    Carlos Dunlap, EDGE.

    Dunlap had one of the performances of the week by any defensive player in Week 15. The veteran edge rusher managed three sacks against the Rams, evoking memories of his best years with the Bengals.

    He could produce another good performance and help you win your fantasy playoff matchup this week. The Seahawks’ right tackle Brandon Shell missed Week 15 and remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Jake Curhan, Shell’s replacement last week, would be no match for Dunlap.

    What scares me about Dunlap is how little he plays. He has rushed the passer 15 times in each of his last two games. If you start him at the EDGE spot you’re either banking on him being very efficient or perhaps earning more snaps after his performance last week.

    I won’t argue with anyone who thinks differently about his Week 16 outlook.

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

    Embed from Getty Images

    Steelers

    Starts

    Tier One

    T.J. Watt, EDGE; Cam Heyward, IDL; Minkah Fitzpatrick, S.

    Watt was incredible, yet again. He had two sacks, two QB hits, three QB hurries, and three solo tackles. It was his sixth game with at least two sacks this season. He has 18 sacks in only 12 games and he’s left a couple of those games early with injuries.

    Lucas Niang returned to the Chiefs lineup in Week 15 but was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. Whether the sophomore returns to play against the Steelers or not, it doesn’t matter. Watt will eat.

    Heyward’s contributions to the Steelers defense are sometimes overshadowed by Watt’s heroics. They shouldn’t be, the veteran has had another excellent season and remains one of the elite players at the IDL spot at 32-years-old.

    In his 11th year with the Steelers, Heyward ranks seventh at the position with 49 pressures and is tied for fourth with eight sacks.

    He has a tough matchup in Week 16. Center Creed Humphrey has had an excellent rookie season and Joe Thuney remains one of the best guards in the league.

    Fitzpatrick has gotten better and better as the season has unfolded. He played every down against the Titans last week. Despite spending only five snaps in the box, he led the Steelers with 14 tackles. He’s now only two tackles short of recording his first season with 100 tackles.

    Tier Two

    Joe Schobert, ILB.

    Schobert led the Steelers’ ILBs with 57 snaps last week. He registered seven tackles, had a QB hit, and picked off a pass for the first time this season.

    The 30-year-old linebacker has at least seven tackles in four of his last five games. It’s a minor concern that he hasn’t played every down in each of his last two games but the Steelers have played a whopping 150 snaps in the last two weeks combined.

    Tier Three

    Devin Bush, ILB (C); Terrell Edmunds, S; Chris Wormley, IDL.

    Bush was second to Schobert in snaps with 53. He earned six tackles and had a pass breakup.

    He’s not someone I’m in a hurry to start in fantasy unless I am lacking options. He has mustered only 64 tackles in 13 games this season. He probably remained on fantasy rosters longer than he should’ve after earning two sacks and forcing a fumble before Week 6.

    Edmunds played every down in Week 15. He spent 36 of his 80 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. He was second on the team with 10 tackles. It was his first double-digit tackle effort of the season.

    The young safety has managed 74 tackles, a sack, an interception, and two pass breakups this season.

    Wormley suffered a groin injury against the Titans and is listed as questionable. Monitor his status closely this week.

    The 28-year-old has been disruptive, especially in the last four games. He has five sacks over that period, his three-sack effort against the Ravens in Week 13 was a particular highlight.

    His matchup is a little easier than Heywards. Trey Smith is not nearly on the same level as Thuney.

    Sits

    Alex Highsmith, EDGE.

    Highsmith had two pressures, including a sack against the Titans. He also added four solo tackles.

    The young edge rusher looks visibly more disruptive than he did earlier in the season even if it doesn’t always show up in the box score. I’m still cautious about starting him in Week 16. He has only recorded a sack in three games this season. More importantly, he faces a tough matchup in Orlando Brown.

    Chiefs

    Starts

    Tier One

    Chris Jones, DI (C).

    Jones missed Week 15 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    The 27-year-old has played at an elite level since playing predominantly at the IDL position in Week 9. However, it’s worth noting that he played more snaps at the left end spot than he did at the tackle position in Week 14.

    He’s an easy IDL1 when healthy.

    Tier Two

    Tyrann Mathieu, S.

    Mathieu played every down against the Chargers, but he disappeared at times. He only managed two tackles – his lowest output of the season. He spent a lot of time in the slot but that’s nothing too unusual, he has done so numerous times this season.

    Look for the veteran safety to bounce back in Week 16. Consider him a safety2/3 for now.

    Tier Three

    Frank Clark, EDGE; Melvin Ingram, EDGE;

    Clark had had arguably his best game of the season in Week 14, posting eight pressures, including a sack. He disappeared against the Chargers one week later, managing only one QB hurry.

    He’ll go up against both Chukwuma Okorafor and Dan Moore Jr. this weekend. Both players have shown evidence of improvement in pass protection recently, but Clark still has the advantage in this matchup.

    Ingram isn’t an EDGE player who excites me too much, but he’s playing plenty of snaps, rushing the passer a lot, and has been moderately productive in recent weeks, earning a combined 10 pressures and two sacks in his last three games.

    See Clark’s notes for information on Ingram’s matchup. I consider the former Chargers player to be an EDGE3/4 for Week 16.

    Sits

    Nick Bolton (C), ILB, Willie Gay Jr., ILB; Anthony Hitchens, ILB; Ben Niemann, ILB; Tershawn Wharton, EDGE; Juan Thornhill, S.

    The Chiefs have been rotating their ILBs for several weeks. As a result of this none of the Chiefs’ ILBs have been fantasy starters for some time. That changed in Week 15, largely because Gay was on the reserve/COVID-19 list and was unavailable.

    Nevertheless, Bolton had a huge week – as he does whenever he’s given the lion’s share of snaps at the position. The rookie led the Chiefs’ ILBs with 78 of 79 snaps, and he paced the team with 14 tackles. He also added a QB hit and two pass breakups.

    If only he played this much every week he’d be a great fantasy option.

    He was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list this week (as indicated above), so monitor his status – and that of all the Chiefs ILBs carefully.

    As mentioned above, Gay was unavailable. Like each of the Chiefs’ ILBs, he only has value if others miss time or the Chiefs change their approach to the heavy ILB rotation. Bolton’s status means Gay might be worthy of ILB3 consideration.

    Hitchens was second in snaps last week with 68. He had eight tackles, a QB hit, and an interception. As is the case with Gay, above, Hitchens might be worthy of ILB3 consideration in Week 16 if Bolton cannot play.

    Niemann has the least value of these four ILBs. He managed nine tackles last week but played only 34 of a possible 79 snaps.

    Wharton has had an impressive nine pressures, two sacks, and a fumble in his last two games. It’s impressive, but I’m not biting. He didn’t play more than 34 snaps in a single game until Jones was unavailable in Week 15. I’m keeping Wharton on my bench.

    Thornhill has developed into a good NFL player. Unfortunately, he’s one of those players who just doesn’t pad the box score in ways that help us in fantasy.

    Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders

    Embed from Getty Images

    Broncos

    Starts

    Tier One

    None.

    Tier Two

    Justin Simmons, S; Kareem Jackson, S; Baron Browning, ILB.

    Simmons has had another great season in coverage, notching five interceptions for the second consecutive season, and producing seven pass breakups. However, his tackle volume has dropped off in comparison to his 2019 and 2020 campaigns.

    The main reason for that is that he’s just disappeared at times. He’s had two or fewer tackles on five occasions this season. That’s partly because he hasn’t played as close to the line of scrimmage as he did in the past two years.

    Jackson has fared a little better in terms of tackle volume. The veteran has managed 74 tackles compared with Simmons’ 63. And Jackson has missed a game. However, Jackson has also had some excruciatingly quiet games, with two or fewer tackles in four of his performances, including two of his last three.

    Browning is the Broncos’ sole off-ball, every-down linebacker. He had nine tackles against the Bengals last week and has at least seven tackles in three of his last four games.

    He should continue in this role for the rest of the season. I consider him a low-end ILB2.

    Tier Three

    Dre’Mont Jones, IDL; Malik Reed, EDGE; Kenny Young, ILB.

    Jones did not play last week due to a foot injury. It was a shame, as he had a productive game against the Lions in Week 14 and could have built on that performance. In that Lions game, Jones had what he calls “the greatest series of my career”.

    He’s questionable for Week 16. Monitor his status. If he plays, he’ll have a good matchup against the interior of the Raiders offensive line. Alex Leatherwood had the best game of his career in pass protection against the Browns last weekend but has otherwise been a liability in his rookie season.

    Reed missed Week 15 as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It was the fourth game he’s missed this season for a variety of reasons.

    The 25-year-old edge rusher has had a modest season when healthy. He has contributed 25 pressures and six sacks in 11 games. He seemed to find his feet more recently, recording four sacks in three games but then he failed to record a single pressure in his last game against the Chiefs in Week 13.

    Reed will face Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker this weekend. Miller is a tough opponent for any edge rusher. Parker is a much easier matchup, he’s allowed 41 pressures in only 11 games.

    Young missed Week 15 with a concussion suffered during the victory over the Lions. The fourth-year linebacker had 18 tackles in the two consecutive games before Week 14. He’s an ILB3 if he can return this weekend.

    Sits

    Bradley Chubb, EDGE; Shelby Harris, IDL; Jonathon Cooper, EDGE; Jonas Griffith, ILB.

    Chubb failed to record a sack against the Bengals, but he tied for a team-leading three pressures. It was his best game since returning from injury in Week 12. That’s more of an indictment on his performances so far than it is praise for last week’s performance.

    The young edge rusher is undoubtedly talented, but I recommend you sit him this weekend. He’s yet to find his form, has a difficult matchup in Kolton Miller and is currently questionable for the game with a shoulder injury.

    Harris had a sack and two QB hurries against the Bengals. It was his first sack since Week 8. He generated zero pressures in Week 13 and Week 14.

    Cooper also had three pressures and a sack in Week 15. It was his third sack of the season and his first since Week 9. He isn’t someone I’m starting unless I’m desperate, and only if either Chubb or Reed miss time.

    Griffith played 42 of a possible 53 snaps last week in the absence of Kenny Young. The 2020 free agent had a nice game, recording eight solo tackles, two QB hits, and allowing just 13 yards despite being targeted six times in coverage.

    It was the young linebacker’s second impressive game in his last two outings. I’m intrigued, but not enough to start him assuming Young returns this weekend.

    Raiders

    Starts

    Tier One

    Denzel Perryman, ILB.

    The veteran linebacker has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury he suffered against Washington Football Team in Week 13.

    He was having an extremely productive season until that point. He was averaging more than 11 tackles per game and was a good bet to lead the league in that category by the end of the season.

    Perryman sounded cautiously optimistic about the chances of suiting up against the Broncos. He’s currently listed as questionable for the game. Monitor his status closely this week.

    Tier Two

    Maxx Crosby, EDGE; Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE.

    Unsurprisingly, Crosby led the Raiders in pressure last weekend and failed to record a sack. His bizarre season continues. At this point, I assume I am in the minority of those who believe things can and will change and Crosby will pile up the sacks. Even I’m resigned to the idea that it may not happen in 2021.

    Crosby will face Bobby Massie in Week 15. Massie is average at best in pass protection.

    Ngakoue started the season by failing to record a sack until Week 5. He’s since improved in that category and is now tied for 12th at the EDGE position with 52 pressures and 14th with nine sacks.

    Last week was the pass-rush specialist’s worst as a pass rusher this season. His only noteworthy statistic was a single QB hit. He may find it difficult to make amends this week, as Garrett Bolles has rediscovered his form. The all-pro tackle has allowed only four pressures and zero sacks in his last four games.

    Tier Three

    K.J. Wright, ILB.

    Wright dominated snap share at ILB in Week 15. The former Seahawks man played every down and tied Jonathan Abram for the team-lead with eight tackles.

    If Perryman returns I consider Wright a low-end ILB3 for this game. If Perryman misses this game, Wright is an ILB2/3.

    Sits

    Quinton Jefferson, IDL; Divine Deablo, ILB; Cory Littleton, ILB; Jonathan Abram, S (injury).

    Jefferson played 40 snaps and didn’t generate any pressure last weekend. He has just one sack in his last eight games and is failing to live up to the promise he showed in the middle of the season.

    Deablo failed to have the same impact against the Browns as he did against the Chiefs in Week 14. Wright played every down and Marquel Lee put a dent in Deablo’s snap share. Deablo managed 34 snaps while Lee had 22.

    Deablo managed four tackles.

    Littleton only had five snaps. He appears to be the fourth-choice ILB all of a sudden.

    Abram dislocated his shoulder in the Raiders win over the Browns. It’s a disappointing end to a solid fantasy season for the young safety. He will finish with 103 tackles, a sack, an interception, and three pass breakups. He should enter the 2022 season as a safety1.

    Sunday Night Football

    Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys

    Embed from Getty Images

    Washington

    Starts

    Tier One

    Jonathan Allen, IDL; Daron Payne, IDL; Cole Holcomb, ILB (C).

    Allen had another productive game in Week 15. He earned a sack, three QB hurries and added seven total tackles. He has a sack in three consecutive games.

    The former first-round pick has had a dominant season. He ranks fifth at the IDL position with 53 pressures and is tied for third with nine sacks.

    Allen will face one of his most difficult matchups of the season on Sunday night. The interior of the Cowboys’ offensive line is one of the best in the league this season.

    Payne failed to earn a sack against the Eagles last week but he did have three QB hurries and had four solo tackles.

    The 24-year-old tackle ranks ninth among all interior defensive linemen with 42 pressures. He hasn’t managed to convert those pressures into sacks as efficiently as his IDL counterparts, managing only four sacks so far this season.

    See Allen’s notes for information on Payne’s matchup.

    Some of the players on the reserve/COVID-19 list in this article still have a chance to play this weekend. Holcomb was a late addition on Wednesday so his chances are slim.

    He’s been extremely productive this season and has barely missed a beat. Holcomb has 118 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and four pass breakups.

    Tier Two

    Kamren Curl, S (C); Landon Collins, S; Jamin Davis, ILB; Montez Sweat, EDGE.

    Curl was on the reserve/COVID-19 list and missed Week 15 as a result. He remains there at the time of writing, so monitor his status closely this week. If he cannot play, consider Reaves a high-end safety3.

    Curl has produced 78 tackles, a sack, and three pass breakups in 13 games this season.

    Collins missed practice on Wednesday after picking up a foot injury. He played 39 of a possible 71 snaps last weekend, recorded eight tackles, and picked off a pass in bizarre fashion:

    Monitor Collins’ status closely this week. If either he or Curl misses time, Reaves is worth a look as a high-end safety3.

    Davis had eight tackles in Week 15. However, he’s yet to really ‘arrive’. Largely because of Cole Holcomb‘s presence and productivity. Holcomb was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday so Davis may get the chance to show what he can do as the main man at the ILB spot for Washington.

    Many thanks to @venmodoomscroll who pointed out that I’d overlooked Sweat in this week’s article!

    Sweat returned to action against the Eagles after missing several weeks with a fractured jaw. He earned only one QB pressure but he made it count, sacking Hurts. It was Sweat’s fifth sack of the season in nine games (or eight-and-a-half if we consider he left the Broncos game early).

    The young edge rusher played the vast majority of his snaps at the REO position in Weeks 1-8 but flipped the script in Week 15, spending much more of his time rushing the passer from the LEO spot.

    If he continues to align that way heading Week 16, he’ll see a fair amount of La’el Collins. Collins is decent in pass protection, surrendering only 16 pressures and two sacks in the nine games he has played. It’s a challenging matchup for Sweat. I consider him a middle-of-the-road EDGE2 in this game.

    Tier Three

    None.

    Sits

    Jeremy Reaves, S.

    Reaves had a nice game for fantasy purposes against the Eagles in the absence of Curl. He led the team with 10 solo tackles.

    The youngster was picked on in coverage, allowing seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. Fantasy managers don’t care providing Reaves fills in for Curl and Collins and plays a lot of snaps when doing so.

    Cowboys

    Starts

    Tier One

    Micah Parsons, ILB/EDGE; DeMarcus Lawrence, EDGE; Randy Gregory, EDGE; Jayron Kearse, S.

    So Parsons is human, who knew? The rookie had the quietest performance of his season against the Giants in Week 15. He managed only two QB hurries. Fantasy managers will feel aggrieved that it happened during round one of the fantasy playoffs but let’s be fair, he’s a major reason why you’re in the playoffs in the first place.

    That game snaps his streak of six consecutive games with a sack. He’s managed an incredible 11 sacks over that period. He rushed the passer only 12 times in Week 15. He’ll bounce back and I expected he will do this weekend. If he fails to record a sack then I highly doubt he’ll come away with zero tackles again.

    Lawrence failed to record a sack but he affected the game in other ways. He had a QB hit, two QB hurries, had six tackles, and he forced a fumble.

    I’ve been impressed with the contributions from the veteran edge rusher given he missed so much time. He has only managed one sack in four games since returning to the lineup, but he has 20 pressures, including four QB hits, and has forced two fumbles.

    Lawrence will see plenty of Samuel Cosmi this weekend. The rookie offensive tackle has allowed a sack in each of his last two games and won’t relish playing Lawrence.

    Gregory was kept mostly kept in check by a superb Andrew Thomas in Week 15. It’s one of the few times this season that Gregory hasn’t had things go his own way.

    He’ll look to bounce back against Charles Leno Jr. this weekend. Leno is a decent tackle in pass protection but has allowed six sacks this season. It will be an intriguing matchup.

    Kearse played every down against the Giants. He spent 35 of his 63 snaps in the box or on the defensive line. The former Vikings finished with six tackles and a QB hurry.

    It has been a surprisingly impressive season for the 27-year-old safety. His first as a starter and easily the most productive of his career. He has combined sound tackle ability (missed tackle rate of only 3.4%) and has demonstrated improved coverage ability in the second half of the season too.

    I consider him a low-end safety1 in tackle-heavy leagues and a high-end safety2 in all other formats.

    Tier Two

    None.

    Tier Three

    None.

    Sits

    Osa Odighizuwa, IDL (C); Leighton Vander Esch, ILB; Keanu Neal, ILB; Dorance Armstrong; EDGE.

    Odighizuwa has potential and is a definite dynasty stash in DT-required dynasty leagues. He hasn’t had a sack since Week 4 but has continued to generate reasonable amounts of pressure at a position that’s hard for rookies to master in year one.

    LVE only managed 33 of a possible 63 snaps and had three tackles. Neal had 27 snaps and had six tackles. They hurt each others’ values while sharing snaps.

    Armstrong had two pressures and had his third of the season. Interestingly, he had only five snaps and eight pass rush snaps fewer than Gregory. I am not keen to start edge rushers who are third in the pecking order on their team.

    Monday Night Football

    Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints

    Embed from Getty Images

    Dolphins

    Starts

    Tier One

    Emmanuel Ogbah, EDGE.

    Ogbah bounced back from a disappointing effort in Week 13 with a great performance in Week 15. He delivered two sacks, a QB hit, four QB hurries, and batted down a pass.

    The former Browns and Chiefs player has had a good season. He ranks 10th at the edge position with 57 pressures, and 14th with nine sacks.

    The Saints have struggled for healthy offensive tackles in recent weeks. Terron Armstead has missed multiple games in the last month and Ryan Ramczyk hasn’t played since Week 10. Both players are currently listed as questionable.

    Both players are so good in pass protection that their availability has a huge bearing on the outlook of Ogbah and Jaelan Phillips. For that reason, I’ll monitor their availability closely and will update this article daily with news as it develops.

    The Saints are fortunate to have one of the best, most versatile backup offensive tackles in James Hurst. If just one of either Armstead or Ramczyk can make it back for this fixture then the Saints are in good hands. Ogbah would be a low-end EDGE1 in that scenario.

    Tier Two

    Jaelan Phillips, EDGE; Christian Wilkins, IDL.

    Phillips has been one of the hottest EDGE performers in the last month. He had eight sacks in a five-game stretch and sufficient pressures to suggest his performances were no fluke.

    The rookie was brought back to earth with a quiet game in Week 15. He had a QB hurry and two tackles. This happens to even the best EDGE rushers at times, so remain patient with Phillips.

    As mentioned above, his outlook is heavily dependant on the availability of the Saints’ offensive tackles in Week 16. Phillips would be a low-end EDGE1 if he has an easy matchup, and a high-end EDGE2 if Armstead or Ramczyk return.

    At the very least, Phillips already has a difficult matchup against stand-in left tackle James Hurst. So I’ll leave the rookie in this tier for now.

    Wilkins had seven tackles, missed three tackle opportunities, had a QB hurry, and batted down a pass last weekend. He also caught a pass for a touchdown. That play hurt me in one of my home fantasy leagues. I was up against a team that had both Tua Taovailoa and Wilkins. I wasn’t pleased.

    The former Clemson Tiger doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher. He only has 23 pressures and three sacks this season, it’s a performance that is in keeping with his productivity levels in 2019 and 2020.

    He compensates with his tackle volume. Wilkins is projected to rank in the top three at the position in that category. He currently has 57, already beating his career-high of 56 in his rookie season.

    The interior of the Saints’ offensive line is quite poor in pass protection. Wilkins has a nice matchup.

    Tier Three

    Jerome Baker, ILB; Jevon Holland, S; Andrew Van Ginkel, EDGE.

    Baker played every down in Week 15. He had four tackles and two sacks on pass-rush attempts.

    Fantasy managers may be wondering where the sacks have gone after the young ILB had eight in 2020. The answer is very similar to the point made earlier on Devin White. He’s had a similar amount of pass rush attempts as he did in 2020, and more pressures, but sack numbers aren’t a stable metric for ILBs.

    Baker has failed to keep pace with the tackle volume of the better options at ILB. He’ll fall well short of his production in 2019 and 2020 in that sense.

    Holland missed the game against the Jets as he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    He has had an excellent season and not just by rookie standards. He lacks the tackle numbers of some of the more reliable fantasy options at the safety position because he lines up deep so often, but he’s delivered plenty of big plays to compensate. The 2021 second-round pick has two sacks, a forced fumble, two interceptions, and five pass breakups.

    Van Ginkel was second on the team with five pressures in Week 15. He earned a sack had three solo tackles.

    The 26-year-old has had 40 pressures, five sacks, and an impressive 49 tackles this season. Most of his production as a pass rusher has come in the second half of the season.

    Sits

    Eric Rowe, S.

    Rowe has 70 tackles, three forced fumbles, and four pass breakups this season. Those are numbers worthy of safety2 consideration. However, he only played 33 of a possible 57 snaps last week. Brandon Jones had 36 and Nik Needham started in place of Jevon Holland.

    It’s not a situation that I find reassuring heading into the fantasy playoffs.

    Saints

    Starts

    Tier One

    None.

    Tier Two

    Demario Davis, ILB; Marcus Davenport, EDGE; Cameron Jordan, EDGE.

    Davis played every down and led the team with eight tackles, four of which were assists. He added a QB hurry and had a pass breakup.

    The veteran linebacker has had a strong campaign, recording 96 tackles, three sacks, and five pass breakups. His levels of production are impressive considering he’s 32-years-old. However, he’s currently over 30 tackles short of his 2020 numbers.

    Davenport has missed almost as many games as he’s played. However, when he’s been healthy he has demonstrated his talent as a pass rusher, generating 30 pressures and six sacks in only eight games. It feels like we’ve talked of his potential several times before, but he’s still 25 and his career ahead of him.

    The young edge rusher has a nice matchup in Week 16. Jesse Davis and Liam Eichenberg are terrible in pass protection.

    Jordan had a productive game against the Bucs. He had four pressures, including two sacks, earned three solo tackles, and had a forced fumble.

    Despite that game, the 32-year-old hasn’t been quite as dominant at rushing the passer this season. He ranks sixth at the position in pass-rush snaps, but a lowly 28th with 40 pressures, and is tied for 27th with six sacks.

    See Davenport’s notes for information on Jordan’s matchup. It’s a very favorable matchup for the Saints edge rushers in Week 16.

    Tier Three

    Malcolm Jenkins, S.

    Jenkins is another player who has seen a significant drop-off in production this season. He has 74 tackles so far compared with the 107 he had in 2020. He also has fewer sacks, forced fumbles, interceptions, and passes defended than he had in 2020.

    His level of productivity has deteriorated. Whether it’s an age thing I can’t say conclusively, but he celebrated his 34th birthday last week. The veteran safety has done extremely well to perform at the level he has well into his 30’s.

    Sits

    Kwon Alexander, ILB; Pete Werner, ILB; Marcus Williams, S.

    Alexander played 59 of a possible 74 snaps last week. He had only one tackle and missed a second tackle opportunity. It was a derisory performance from the former Bucs linebacker.

    The 27-year-old has played in ten games this season. He has four or fewer tackles in seven of those games.

    Werner only played in three games last weekend.

    Williams is a really good NFL player who just doesn’t record the kind of stats that provide value in a fantasy sense.

    Final Reminder

    Please remember to check inactive players before submitting your final lineups on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays. Players can and will suddenly become inactive at the last moment.

    This NFL Week 16 Start/Sit IDP article was published days before kick-off. I will try to keep it updated with injury news if it affects start/sit recommendations. I will update it at least three times, once before the Thursday night game, once before the early games on Sunday, and again before the mid-afternoon games.

    Please check the IDPGuys IDP Injury Report article from @FF_Skinnychef for the latest injury news.


    Thanks for taking the time to read my NFL Week 16 Start/Sit article for IDP leagues! I hope you find it useful. You can find more of my work here at IDPguys.org, and you can follow me on Twitter @FFIDP_Jase. I will do my best to be available for questions or feedback. My DMs are always open.

    For start/sit advice for players on offense, please check out the article here from the IDPGuys @FantasyLadder.

    Jase Abbey

    I'm an IDP-obsessive and have been playing fantasy football for 20 years. I write the weekly IDP start/sit for IDP Guys in-season, redraft IDP content during the offseason, and appear on the odd podcast from time to time. I am a big, big believer in data-driven and evidence-based content. I'm UK-based, love most sports, and study sports journalism at university. My favorite two things in life are family and sarcasm.
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