Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2017): Week 16: Martavis Bryant, Demarco Murray, Blake Bortles & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:


Start – Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars – at San Francisco

It’s Week 16 and you are preparing to play for your fantasy title.  Five months ago if we had said that Bortles would nearly be a must play option, arguably a better choice than Tom Brady, we would’ve been called certifiable.  Today though?  It’s simply a fact and one that’s clear looking at his performances the past three weeks:

  • vs. Indianapolis – 309 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
  • vs. Seattle – 268 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
  • vs. Houston – 326 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT

Sure he’s forced to take the show on the road, but the 49ers have yielded the third most points per week to opposing quarterbacks (ninth most over the past four weeks, so there hasn’t been much of an improvement).  Bortles has been playing too well and has too favorable of a matchup to ignore.

Sit – Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Seattle
The Seahawks are not the same defense that they were, but they are still in the bottom half of the league in terms of points allowed to opposing quarterbacks over the past four weeks (tied for 18th).  You could argue that the return of Ezekiel Elliot will help Prescott, who threw for more than 212 yards in just one of the six games he was out.  That said Prescott has thrown for more than 270 yards in one game all season and has 0 TD in five of his past eight games.  The problems have been there all year long and it seems impossible to have much faith in him.


Running Backs
Start – Lamar Miller – Houston Texans – vs. Pittsburgh
Over the past two weeks the Steelers have been torched by opposing running backs to the tune of 5 rushing TD (as well as 2 receiving TD):

  • Week 14 – Javorius Allen (2 TD), Alex Collins (1 TD)
  • Week 15 – Rex Burkhead (1 TD), Dion Lewis (1 TD)

Miller hasn’t topped 75 yards all season so he’s going to be easy to overlook, but with the way Pittsburgh has been going it’s easy to imagine him putting up value.  He’s not going to be a RB1, but there’s too high of a ceiling not to consider him a RB2.

Start – Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders – vs. Philadelphia
We have often been down on Lynch, but as the passing game has stumbled he’s been able to rediscover a little bit of his old form.  He’s now rushed for at least 60 yards in five straight games, including 1 TD in three of them.  He’s had at least 16 carries in three of the four games, so workload also isn’t a question.  It’s not an easy matchup, but the upside is there.

Sit – Demarco Murray – Tennessee Titans – vs. Los Angeles Rams
The matchup alone is difficult, but then you look at the “production” Murray has given us it gets that much worse.  Taking on the 49ers last week he managed 59 yards despite getting 18 carries.  He’s topped 66 yards in a game just once, and that came back in Week 3, and is averaging a meager 3.6 yards/carry.  The team could always give more opportunities to Derrick Henry, just further clouding Murray’s outlook.  At this point the floor is far too low to trust him.

Sit – Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Detroit
He’s coming off a poor showing, albeit against the Vikings, totaling 43 yards and 1 TD.  Of course it also appears like Joe Mixon is set to return, and he’s going to eat into Bernard’s opportunities (and could get the bulk of the work, as the Bengals look ahead to 2018).  That simply leaves far too much risk.


Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – Martavis Bryant – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Houston
All eyes are going to go to JuJu Smith-Schuster in the absence of Antonio Brown, but would it surprise you to hear that Bryant tied him in targets last week (6 each)?  Bryant was also the one who found the end zone and has 28 targets over the past four weeks (at least 6 targets per game).  The truth is that both will be usable, even in shallower formats, against a Houston defense that’s allowed the fourth most points per week to opposing wide receivers.

Sit – T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts – at Baltimore
Is anyone still clutching onto Hilton as an every week starter?  The name may appeal to some, and he has busted out three monster games this season, but the last one came in Week 9 (and against the lowly Houston Texans) and he hasn’t topped 60 yards in any other game.  The Ravens are one of the better defenses in the league, allowing the third fewest points per week to opposing wide receivers, so he’s impossible to trust in any format.


Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Robby Anderson – New York Jets – vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Anderson’s numbers were down last week (5 catches for 40 yards) and it’s easy to point to Bryce Petty being the quarterback as the reason why.  However keep in mind that he was targeted 12 times, so there were opportunities, and look at his production with Petty at QB in early December of ’16:

  • 12/05/16 – 4 receptions, 61 yards, 1 TD
  • 12/11/16 – 6 receptions, 99 yards
  • 12/17/16 – 4 receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD

That shows he can produce and there’s no question about his workload.  In deeper formats he remains a solid option.

Sit – Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers – vs. Minnesota
He failed to pop a big game, like many hoped, with Aaron Rodgers back under center (3 catches for 28 yards).  Now the team turns back to Brett Hundley, and regardless of who is in and who is out of the lineup the floor is simply way too low.


Tight Ends
Start – Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions – at Cincinnati

Over the past two weeks Ebron has been one of the most targeted tight ends, turning 18 targets into 15 catches, 127 yards and 1 TD.  He’s getting hot at the right time, while the Bengals have struggled against opposing tight ends over the past two weeks (sixth most points per week, including 2 TD).  With Detroit’s running game continuing to struggle to get going, look for much of the same from Ebron and company.

Sit – Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Seattle
Over the past two weeks the Seahawks have allowed a total of 2 catches and 16 yards to opposing TE.  Witten hasn’t topped 50 yards over his past five games (he’s been above 61 yards once, back in Week 2) and the return of Ezekiel Elliot could further limit the passing attack.

Sources – ESPN,

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Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Week 1 (2018): Matt Ryan, Jay Ajayi, Tevin Coleman & More
Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Davis, JuJu Smith-Schuster & More


  1. OtisP says:

    Prof: I need to start two of these three: Demaryius, Ju-Ju, and Alex Colline. PPR league. Thanks for the advice all year!

  2. Eric says:

    Prof (Eric)- already asked Will but also wanted your opinion before the championship— for flex in a PPR- Shepeard or M. Wallace? Thanks again for great insight throughout this year!!

  3. trevor says:

    ppr start two-schuster, evans, woods or cooks
    ppr freeman, lativus murray, kenyan drake or jamaal williams
    ppr-schuster or funchess
    ppr-howard, drake, collins or mckinnnon
    ppr flex- funchess or drake

    • ppr start two-schuster, evans, woods or cooks — Evans & Smith-Schuster
      ppr freeman, lativus murray, kenyan drake or jamaal williams — Freeman
      ppr-schuster or funchess — Smith-Schuster
      ppr-howard, drake, collins or mckinnnon — Howard (want to say Drake, but questions now)
      ppr flex- funchess or drake — Drake

  4. Dron says:

    Need to sneak one more win out of my team but its gonna be tough. For my WR2 I can start Keelan Cole or Tyrell Williams and for my TE I can start Ricky Seals-Jones, Jesse James, or Antonio Gates. Please help me navigate this absolute mess…

  5. Joel Goerdt says:

    Josh Gordon or Sterling Shepard

  6. Walt says:

    Standard league: Flex: G.Olson, or D.Baldwin?

  7. Whoppa says:

    PPR Start 1- D. Thomas,M.Goodwin, K. Cole
    Dak or Keenum? (Worried about cold in GB taking air out of the ball)
    Thanks for the great advice Professor!

  8. Vince says:

    ppr league

    if paxton lynch starts, who would you play at flex?

    Demaryius Thomas/Duke Johnson/Marquise Goodwin

  9. Tom says:

    PPR League, championship game

    Need starting QB,

    KCousins VS DEN
    JGoff @ TEN
    JFlacco VS IND

  10. Sdavm says:

    (PPR league)Getting nervous about AJ Green’s matchup this week as he and Dalton nearly cost me advancing through the playoffs last week. My alternatives are Crabtree and Stefon Diggs. Would you advise playing either of them instead of Green this week in a playoff game?

    • I’d actually go with both of them over Green this week. Diggs seems like the better matchup, but Thielen could obviously steal most of the looks. Crabtree is going to be “the man” in Oakland, and I’d view him as having the higher ceiling. That’s the direction I’d go

  11. Jennifer Johnson says:

    I have need 3 tbs and 2 we in a standard format
    Rb (3) D. Freeman, l.fournette d. lewis, k. Hunt, a. Collins
    Wr (2) funchess, m. Bryant, juju,r. Woods, j. Gordon, k. Cole

    • RB – Freeman / Hunt / Fournette (could argue Lewis over Fournette due to usage risk, as it’s close, but Fournette’s ceiling is significantly higher)
      WR – Smith-Schuster/Gordon (I’d use Funchess, but health is the questio)

  12. Tom says:

    Half ppr.
    Cooks/ m. Jones

  13. Tory971 says:

    Playing for 3rd. Need 2 RB. Fournette, DeMarcco Murray, Benard, J. Stewart. Obviously Fournette, but who for #2? Thanks much.

  14. reggie says:


    Thank you for all your work and input this season (and seasons past)

    Your feature articles are truly invaluable insight and your prompt support in answering questions is simply beyond compare!

    You are always my ‘go-to guy’ to settle my mental coin-flipping decisions and more often than not I ‘win the flip’ vs. my fantasy opponents!

    Thanks so much and have a wonderful holiday season and a great new year!


  15. medik says:

    Have Keenum as my starter in traditional league where points increase for length of tds. Do I stay with Keenum or pick up Bortles, Foles or Alex Smith for this one week?

  16. Sdavm says:

    I have the luxury of having both Russell Wilson and Cam Newton as my QBs this week (PPR league). I’m in the playoffs in what figures to be a very close game. Most of the expert opinions seem pretty much split down the middle between these two. After doing my own research, I’m leaning toward Cam Newton as, on paper, his would seem to be the better matchup and I’m still a bit traumatized by just how bad Wilson was last week.
    However, the one thing that troubles me about going with Newton is that he did not have a strong game against this same defense in Week 8. He only threw for 154 yards and had one of his lower fantasy outputs that week.
    I’d love to hear your advice on this.

  17. Sheldon Williamson says:

    Hi, Prof. For this week, in what order would you start the following RBs? Elijhaa Penny, Jamaal Williams, Wayne Gallman, and Kapri Bibbs. Thanks.

  18. dp says:

    Hi Professor,

    Keenum or Rivers in Standard League

  19. medik says:

    One other question please. In a PPR league, which three would you start out of Josh Gordon, Sterling Shepherd, Joe Mixon, Carlos Hyde, Robert Woods and Jamison Crowder.

  20. Miles says:


    I’m pinched… Flex
    C. Hyde
    D. Byrd
    M. Goodwin
    J. Allen
    K. Williams
    W. Gallman

    Thanks your swamieness!

  21. Kevin says:

    Week 16 PPR Flex – Olsen, Diggs or McKinnon? I have Newton at QB and Ertz at TE. Thanks!

  22. Wolverine says:

    Std flex – CJ Anderson, Joe Mixon or Josh Gordon

  23. C says:

    Hey professor,
    Happy holidays and many thanks for all the guidance during the season. Really appreciate your weekly advice when I can’t make up my mind!

    Sorry for (another) long post:
    Championship game and can’t decide on my qb. Have Ben and Foles. I’m afraid it’ll end up being a game where Bell gets a ton of carries.
    I’m starting: Zeke, Hunt, Drake, AJ Green, Baldwin, Ertz, Boswell, Ravens DST
    Opponent starting: Bortles, Bell, Kamara, CJ Anderson, Landry, Tate, Gronk, Tucker, Rams/Jags DST.

    Thanks a lot, and good luck this week everyone!

  24. Too Tall says:

    Hi Professor,

    I have Dede Westbrook, G. Tate, Keelan Cole, G. Tate, Marquis Goodwin, Kendall Wright, Robby Anderson. Standard league.

    With Allen Hurns out for week 16, would you play both Westbrook and Cole in Wr? Do you believe Fournette will be used heavily? Or what two of this group would you start? This is for championship. Unfortunately, I did not get great numbers in flex yesterday. Thanks.

  25. Toby says:

    Hi Prof,

    need help, Big Ben or Rivers?

    Thanks in advance

  26. reggie says:

    Bortles baby!

    its not whether you win or lose but how you rack up fantasy points!

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