Starts & Sits: Championship Edition

Happy holidays to all! Before we get to this weekend’s starts and sits, I just wanted to say thanks to all of you guys for making this another great fantasy year here at the National Football Post. Best of luck in your championship and semi-final matchups this weekend!

If you’re looking for a little extra fantasy excitement, come challenge me in the Week 16 NFP/FanDuel Salary Cap Challenge. If you can post a higher total than yours truly, you will be refunded the $5 entry fee. With the way I’ve been drafting teams as of late, that shouldn’t be a problem for any of you.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE WEEK 16 SALARY CAP CHALLENGE!

In addition, CLICK HERE to read our very own Diana Klochkova’s recap of the Week 15 happenings from the Procter & Gamble Bloggers Fantasy League. The NFP was fortunate enough to advance to the championship game this weekend, but we’ve got a stiff test in front of us.

CLICK HERE for a chance to win a trip to this year’s Pro Bowl in Hawaii, courtesy of Procter & Gamble!

And before we get to your motivational moment of the day, make sure you tune in to the Tulsa-Hawaii showdown Friday night when you get back from church and start pounding beers. If you like offense, this is the game for you.

I know we’ve run this video clip before, but it’s just too damn good to pass up at this time of year:

START ‘EM UP

David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Garrard has thrown two or more touchdown passes in five of his last seven games and needs to keep running hot if he wants to lead the Jaguars into the postseason. The good news is that Jacksonville plays host to a Washington Redskins team this Sunday that currently ranks 30th in the league in pass defense (263.3 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of 20.9 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (fourth-most in NFL). Keep in mind that over his last three home games, Garrard has thrown seven touchdown passes and is averaging 251.6 passing yards per game.

Felix JonesICONIf Jones gets the touches, he should rip apart the Arizona defense on Saturday.

Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Ever since Jones received an increase in touches back in November, the veteran dual-threat running back has been producing. Jones has caught 22 passes and is averaging 104.3 total yards per game over his last six outings. Expect more of the same Christmas night at Arizona against a Cardinals team that ranks 30th in the NFL in run defense (145.7 yds/gm) and is currently giving up an average of 24.7 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (second-most in NFL). Yes, Tashard Choice will steal some carries, but Jones still makes for a solid RB2/flex in Week 16.

Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: This guy is quickly establishing himself as one of the game’s top up-and-coming wideouts. Williams has been targeted 31 times over the last three weeks and has found the end zone in five of his last eight outings. Despite a disappointing loss in Week 15 to the upstart Lions, Tampa still has an outside shot at a postseason berth. Look for the Buccaneers to take to the skies in Week 16 against a Seattle Seahawks team that currently ranks 29th in pass defense (259.0 yds/gm) and is allowing opposing receivers to post an average of 25.6 fantasy points per game (third-most in NFL). Keep in mind that the Seahawks have been absolutely terrible on the road this season (2-5, giving up 28.0 pts/gm).

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, New England Patriots: This guy is pretty much a sure-fire bet to find the end zone no matter who he’s playing. Green-Ellis has scored six touchdowns over his last five games and has crossed the goal line in nine of 14 outings this season. Week 16 offers a very tasty matchup against a Buffalo Bills team that ranks dead-last in the NFL in run defense (158.6 yds/gm) and is currently giving up an average of 23.0 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (third-most in NFL). Keep in mind that prior to receiving just six carries in Week 15 vs. Green Bay, the Law Firm had carried the rock 18 or more times in four of his previous five starts.

Larry FitzgeraldFitz should be licking his chops at the prospect of shredding the Dallas secondary.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitz has only found the end zone five times this year, but keep in mind that he’s been targeted ten or more times in eight of his last nine games and is coming off a season-high 125-yard receiving performance against the Carolina Panthers. Expect the high target totals to carry into Week 16 when the Cardinals play host to a Dallas Cowboys team that ranks 28th in the league in pass defense (256.6 yds/gm) and is currently allowing more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (29.5 pts/gm) than any other team in the NFL. Fitzgerald may not find the end zone, but we’re willing to bet he tops the century mark.

Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins: After being held out of the end zone for nine straight games, Cooley popped back up on the radar last Sunday with a 12-point fantasy performance that consisted of five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Credit a quarterback switch to Rex Grossman and a shaky Dallas defense for the revival. Owners are advised to keep the Washington tight end in the lineup for this Sunday’s showdown against a Jacksonville Jaguars team that ranks 27th in the league in pass defense (255.6 yds/gm) and is currently surrendering an average of 8.3 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends (seventh-most in NFL). Keep in mind that despite having a somewhat disappointing 2010 season, Cooley currently leads all NFL tight ends in targets, with 108.

Dallas Cowboys, D/ST: We recommended you start this unit last week and the Cowboys responded by posting 11.0 fantasy points vs. the Washington Redskins (11th highest total of Week 15). Not great, but definitely serviceable. Week 16 offers another very favorable matchup for head coach Jason Garrett’s crew as Big D heads to Arizona on Christmas to take on a Cardinals team that currently ranks 31st in the NFL in total offense (268.5 yds/gm) and 27th in scoring offense (18.2 pts/gm). In addition, Arizona is currently surrendering 12.1 fantasy points per week to opposing D/STs (second-most in NFL) and will once again have rookie quarterback John Skelton under center. You really can’t ask for much more.

SIT ‘EM DOWN

Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: Manning has quietly put together one hell of a 2010 statistical campaign that has featured eight multi-touchdown games over his last ten starts. However, the former Ole Miss standout has tossed 11 interceptions in six road games this season and heads to Green Bay on Sunday to take on a Packers team that currently ranks third in the NFL in pass defense (1 92.4 yds/gm) and is surrendering an average of just 15.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (fourth-fewest in NFL). If you have another option, leave Manning on the bench.

Matt ForteForte has struggled to find the end zone as of late.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: The third-year running back out of Tulane has been a fairly consistent fantasy producer in 2010, but owners have to be somewhat concerned about the fact that Forte has only found the end zone twice in his last eight games. That doesn’t bode will for a Week 16 showdown with a New York Jets team that currently ranks fourth in the NFL in run defense (92.7 yds/gm) and is surrendering just 12.7 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (second-fewest in NFL). Keep in mind that the Jets have allowed only nine rushing scores this season, which ranks 11th in the league.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Not only is Ochocinco currently battling a painful ankle injury, but the loquacious wide receiver has failed to score a touchdown in each of his last four games. Should he be healthy enough to play on Sunday, owners are still advised to go in a different direction. The Bengals play host to a San Diego Chargers team in Week 16 that currently ranks first in the league in pass defense (170.4 yds/gm) and is surrendering only 13.2 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers (fewest in NFL). With Terrell Owens sidelined for the rest of the season, many of you may think that means more targets for Ocho. We advise you to rethink that logic.

Brandon JacobsICONWill Jacobs be able to find running lanes against a tough Green Bay defense?

Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants: After ripping off 219 rushing yards and three touchdowns over a two-week stretch, Jacobs fell back to Earth in Week 15 when the Philadelphia Eagles held the big bruiser to just 34 yards and no touchdowns on 12 carries. Week 16 offers another formidable opponent for Jacobs as the G-Men head to Green Bay to take on a Packers team that has surrendered only six rushing touchdowns all season (fourth-fewest in NFL) and is allowing an average of just 13.8 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (third-fewest in NFL). Throw in the fact that Jacobs will lose some touches to backfield cohort Ahmad Bradshaw and you have a guy that should be spending his Sunday on your bench.

Deion Branch, WR, New England Patriots: For as bad as the Buffalo Bills have been defensively this season, this team has actually done a half decent job of limiting the pass. The Bills currently rank seventh in the NFL in pass defense (202.1 yds/gm) and are surrendering just 19.9 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (11th fewest in NFL). Branch isn’t a terrible start for Week 16, but keep in mind that the forecast for Sunday in Buffalo is calling for snow showers with temperatures dropping into the teens. Yes, I do realize that Branch went ballistic against the Bears in similar conditions. However, if you have another WR option with a more favorable matchup, we advise you to make the switch.

Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets: After a red-hot start to the season that included five touchdown receptions over his first four games, Keller has gone ice cold. The New York tight end hasn’t found the end zone since October 11 and has hauled in more than three passes in a game just two times over his last ten outings. Expect this unimpressive streak to continue Sunday in Chicago against a Bears team that has allowed only 12 passing touchdowns this season (second-fewest in NFL) and is currently giving up just 6.1 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends (eighth-fewest in NFL). Be advised that Keller has been targeted five or fewer times in three of his last four games.

New Orleans Saints, D/ST: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ pressure-heavy philosophy usually translates into fantasy success. However, owners are advised to leave the Saints on the bench in Week 16 as New Orleans travels to Atlanta to take on one of the league’s elite offenses of 2010. Matt Ryan and the Falcons currently rank fifth in the league in scoring offense (26.4 pts/gm) and are surrendering just 5.4 fantasy points per game to opposing defenses (third-fewest in NFL). Keep in mind that the Falcons have scored 25 or more points in four of the last five meetings between these two teams. In addition, Atlanta has turned the ball over just 14 times this season (third-fewest in NFL).

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