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Analysis Paralysis: Week 16 Start & Sit

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Can Rueben Randle be a difference-maker in your fantasy championship now that Victor Cruz is out? Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Can Rueben Randle be a difference-maker in your fantasy championship now that Victor Cruz is out? Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

"There can be only one"  -- Highlander

"Neo, you are The One" -- The Matrix

"One, oh, one" -- Creed

Whether we're talking about amazing 80's movies, even more amazing 90's movies, or just plain horrible 90's bands... it all comes down to one.

There's one week left of the fantasy football season and come Monday night, there will literally be no tomorrow. One lucky fantasy owner will have bragging rights for the next nine months, and one unlucky fantasy owner will be left wondering what went wrong. This weekend is why you spent all summer prepping your draft board, and why you've spent the last 15 weeks agonizing over your lineup. 

It all comes down to one. And here's to hoping that you are that one.

As always, here are the Week 16 players who I think deserve to be in your lineup (or on your bench):

The Championship 10
(10 players non-obvious players who can help you bring home the title)

Kirk Cousins: A few weeks ago, I spoke about going to the well until it runs dry. Well, the Carson Palmer well may have run dry, but the Kirk Cousins well is still gushing water like it's Poland Springs. Cousins may have benefited from a great matchup against the Falcons last week, but you don't get docked fantasy points for having an easy matchup and it only gets easier for Cousins this week. We saw the Cowboys make a star out of Matt Flynn last week, and I have no problem with starting Cousins this weekend against what is statistically the best matchup that a fantasy quarterback can have.

Andy Dalton: I don't know about you, but I don't usually think of Dalton as a QB1. However, if you go check out this year's scoring leaders, the Ginja Ninja is currently QB10 on the year (above old faithfuls like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger). He's heating up at the right time (he's averaged almost 20 fantasy points per game over the last two weeks) and gets to face a Vikings defense that seems to be in a contest with the Cowboys for the worst defense in the NFL this year. It should be interesting to see how that contest plays out, but the decision on whether or not to start Dalton this week isn't all that interesting. It's a no-brainer.

Jordan Todman: (Disclaimer: if Maurice-Jones Drew starts this week, all bets are off). Ok, now that I've hedged my bets, let's look at why Todman is a good start this week. He's coming off a 25-carry, 109 rushing yard, 44 receiving yard effort against Buffalo last week and should see plenty of action against a woeful Titans rushing defense this week (again, assuming MJD is out). The Oilers Titans have allowed two rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in seven of their last nine games, and Mr. Todman's Wild Ride should be able to capitalize on that this weekend.

Dennis Johnson: It seems sorta strange to be recommending Dennis Johnson for the championship round, but with Ben Tate recently placed on IR, here I am recommending Dennis Johnson for the championship round. I worry a little bit that the Texans will fall behind Denver and abandon the run, but the Broncos have allowed an average of 24 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the past three weeks, and the Texans literally don't have any other options to carry the rock. He's more of a low-end RB2 this week, but Johnson is worth a start if you're in a pinch.

Marlon Brown: Remember last week when I said the Patriots defense was literally disintegrating before our eyes and that they had made a star out of Jason Campbell during Week 14? Well one week later, that disintegrating part still holds true, and we can now add Ryan Tannehill to that list alongside Campbell. Why am I talking about quarterbacks? In case you haven't figured it out after 15 weeks, they're the ones who throw the ball to wide receivers and low and behold, Marlon Brown is a receiver who is facing the Patriots this week! Brown has actually seen more targets than Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones over the past two weeks, and I like him to find some holes in the Patriots Swiss cheese defense this week.

Rueben Randle: With Victor Cruz declared out for the rest of the season, Randle will step into the Giants starting lineup, and I'd argue that he is currently their best receiving option ahead of the Artist Formerly Known as Hakeem Nicks. Through Week 11, Randle had caught exactly half of Eli Manning's touchdown passes, and even better for Randle, he gets to face a Lions secondary that has given up the third most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. The aforementioned lesser Manning can certainly bring the bust factor when he wants to, but I'm more than happy to roll the dice on Randle this weekend.

Zach Miller: It seems almost cliche to keep talking about tight ends who are facing the Cardinals being a good start, but cliches get proliferated for a reason: they're usually true. The Cardinals are BY FAR the worst defense in the league in terms of stopping opposing tight ends and have allowed a whopping 13.8 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season (second-worst are the Jaguars at 9.8 points per game for some comparison). With only six targets over the past two games, I will admit that Miller worries me a tad, but if you're scrapping the bottom of the barrel for a tight end this week, Miller should be a better option than the leftover gum you'd be scraping up otherwise.

Ryan Griffin: Speaking of scraping gum off the bottom of the barrel... If you didn't know who Griffin was until now, don't worry. I hadn't heard of him until a few weeks ago either. As with Todman, I'll preface a recommendation on Griffin by saying this only holds if Garrett Graham is out this week, but he's sounding pretty iffy, so I feel okay with the recommendation for now. Griffin led the Texans in both receptions and receiving yards last week and should be their second or third receiving option this week as long as Graham is ruled out (which is looking more likely by the day).

Cleveland Browns D/ST: Crazily enough, the Browns are a Top 10 fantasy defense through the first 15 weeks of the season and things get even better this week as they get to face a Jets offense that allows almost 12 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses (second-most in the league). I know it seems counter-intuitive to rely on the Browns for anything, but this is one matchup you can't ignore if you've been streaming defenses all season.

Detroit Lions D/ST: Here's another team that it seems weird to be relying on, but the Lions actually have the only fantasy matchup that is better than the Jets for an opposing defense this week: the Giants. With Eli and Co. imploding regularly, it's pretty easy to feel good about the Lions at home this week, as the Giants have yet to allow less than six fantasy points to an opposing defense this season. When you can go into a matchup with a base of six fantasy points from your D/ST, that's always a good way to start the week.

The Consolation Five
(Five players who could help end your season with a loss)

Andrew Luck: Luck sits at QB4 on the season, but he's not someone who I want to risk my fantasy championship on this week as he visits the Chiefs at Arrowhead. The Chiefs defense has been rejuvenated over the past couple weeks after getting brought back down to Earth by Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, and they're catching Luck at a time in which he's only topped 15 fantasy points once in his past four games. There are certainly worse options than Andrew Luck this week, but that doesn't mean there aren't better options too.

Andre Brown: I didn't like Brown against tough Chargers and Seahawks run defenses the last two weeks, and I don't like him against a tough Lions run defense this week. Brown has totaled eight combined fantasy points (in standard leagues) over his past two games and comes up against a Lions defense that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 4 - if you take away that snow-enhanced anomaly against LeSean McCoy two weeks ago. I'll still have Brown ranked as a low-end RB2 this week, but I wouldn't expect a double-digit return from him since the Giants will likely be playing from behind this weekend.

Larry Fitzgerald: I'll pretend for a second that Fitzgerald isn't trying to fight through the concussion protocol at the moment and make my case against a healthy Fitzgerald this week. He's playing a Seahawks defense that held him to 17 yards in Week 7 and has only allowed eight touchdowns to opposing wide receivers all season (with only three of those coming in Seattle, where they will play this weekend). When you couple that with the fact that Carson Palmer is questionable for this weekend with an ankle injury, Fitzgerald is a screaming "sit" for me this weekend. And again, that's all ignoring the fact that he's currently dealing with a concussion. Even if he's able to play this weekend, Fitzgerald needs to be on your bench.

Tyler Eifert: I know it's tempting to think about starting Eifert and his huge upside this weekend when you see that he scored a touchdown last week, but do yourself a favor and resist the temptation. His increased usage last week was mostly due to Jermaine Gresham missing the game, and Gresham is currently listed as probable to play against the Vikings this weekend. It's a nice matchup, but there just aren't enough consistent targets coming Eifert's way to feel good about starting him this week.

Carolina Panthers D/ST: Am I really recommending sitting the third-best fantasy defense through 15 weeks? I sure am. The Panthers have the advantage of playing at home this week, but they got absolutely torched by Drew Brees two weeks ago and put up a fantasy goose egg in their first matchup against the Saints. I still have the Panthers as a Top 15 defense this week (so I'm not saying they're an atrocious option like the Texans are), but you should be able to do a lot better than a team who put up a big fat zero against the same opponent two weeks ago.

That's it for this week, but leave any start/sit questions you have in the comments section below, and I'll make sure to get back to you before Sunday. Good luck in your finals matchup this weekend!