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START/BENCH: Week 16

In the majority of fantasy football weeks, this is it — championship week.

And in quite a few of those title games, the participants aren’t who we expected.

Week 15 was one of the wildest, most bizarre weeks of the season. Any number of fantasy football superstars fell flat on their faces as offenses around the NFL struggled.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees finished Week 15 25th in fantasy points at the position. The New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley was 30th among running backs. Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster wound up 47th among wide receivers. The list goes on and on.

Players who had been carrying teams all season long came up way short of their season average. It was a disaster that left a lot of high seeds holding the bag.

However, for every team that lost, another won. Every league still has at least two teams left.

And those teams are looking for information on who to start the same as any other week.

This week’s “Start/Bench” is going to be a little different than last week’s, which was, in turn, a little different from the weeks before it. Like last week, there’s no “Spot Start of the Week,” although a lower-end option with a good matchup will make an appearance at every position. But in a week where free time is at a premium (there’s something else going on — a holiday maybe?), I’m not going to waste yours with fluff. This column is down and dirty. Just the facts, ma’am.

OK, the facts and one Christmas video. Ho Ho Ho.

Best of luck to you in your championship game (or semifinal, if you’re one of those Week 17 title game weirdos).

I mean “weirdo” in the nicest possible way, of course.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

ROLL THEM OUT

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (vs. Cincinnati): Mayfield’s production has tailed off the past two weeks, but he’s at home in Week 16 against a Cincinnati team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2018.

Dak Prescott, Dallas (vs. Tampa Bay): Dallas looked like hot garbage last week against Indianapolis, but a home tilt with a Tampa Bay defense that has struggled in a big way this season offers Prescott a good shot at a rebound.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (at New Orleans): Roethlisberger didn’t exactly light it up last week against New England, but it’s a safe bet that Pittsburgh is going to need more than 17 points to beat New Orleans.

Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs. Kansas City): Wilson ranks outside the Top 12 fantasy quarterbacks for the season, but no team in the NFL has given up more fantasy points to Wilson’s position this season than Kansas City.

SIT THEM DOWN

Tom Brady, New England (vs. Buffalo): In two of Brady’s last three starts, he has just a single touchdown pass, and Buffalo is dead last in fantasy points surrendered to the quarterback position in 2018. Consider this a warning — just as last week was.

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams (at Arizona): Over his last three starts, Goff has one touchdown pass and seven interceptions. Arizona is a dumpster fire, but a dumpster fire that ranks 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks in 2018. It’s that one touchdown to seven interceptions ratio that has us concerned.

Cam Newton, Carolina (vs. Atlanta): If Carolina has any sense it will shut Newton down for the season. But even if the team doesn’t, he can’t be trusted — even in a Top 5 fantasy matchup. He obviously isn’t right, and a quarterback who can’t throw is rather a problem.

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. Baltimore): The Chargers might just be the best team in all of the NFL right now. But the Baltimore defense has made a habit of holding quarterbacks under their scoring average all season long.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.