Week 16: Start 'Em
When it comes to setting your lineups for each week of the fantasy season, a good rule of thumb is simply to not over think it. You drafted players for a reason and in almost all cases, it is to play them from the jump. Then again, don't let draft day pride interfere with a basic - or detailed - look at the match-ups, something you most likely do throughout the season. That's why we offer the "Start 'em" column, where we look beyond the obvious names to offer suggestions on potential lineup options, perhaps someone sitting on your bench right now that you may have simply overlooked. Throughout the season check back here for sleepers and oh so subtle plays and also sneak a peak at our Matchup Analyzer page.
Despite being on his way to setting career highs in all passing categories, Sam Bradford has been very inconsistent so far this season. Don't expect that to be the case again this week. Bradford is coming off his best game of the season in a loss to Minnesota, passing for 377 yards and 3 touchdowns. Count on him to build on that this week when he faces the worst pass defense in the NFL, the Tampa Bay Bucs (who are giving a disgusting 310 yards per game through the air). Facing the Bucs has become every QB's dream this season and this will be no different. Look for 300 yards and at least 2 touchdowns this week.
For the better part of the season Curtis Brinkley has not been active, but he was last week with Ronnie Brown out. Then when Ryan Matthews went down with a season ending injury, Brinkley got the call and put up his best numbers since week 2, rushing for 42 yards on only 6 carries as well as catching 3 passes for another 14 yards. While Brinkley is far from a stud, he should get the bulk of the touches this week and has a very good match up as the Chargers are facing the Jets (who are giving up the 4th most rushing yards per game -- 138.7). If you had Matthews and don't have depth on your bench, Brinkley just might save the day.
Entering last week's game, Danny Woodhead had only 19 touches in the Patriots' past five games, but all that changed on Sunday night. After both Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen fumbled the ball (and the Patriots were playing from behind), Woodhead easily had his best game of the season rushing for 61 yards and 2 touchdowns as well as catching 5 passes for 23 yards. While you never know what Bill Belichick is gonna do, after seeing both his top two backs fumble there is a good chance he will be inclined to stick with Woodhead (especially after he performed so well). You add to that the fact that the Pats are facing the worst rush defense in the NFL in Jacksonville -- giving up 148 yards per game on the ground -- and Woodhead makes for an interesting start at flex (especially in a PPR league).
After a very slow start to the season, Justin Blackmon has really come on since week 11 (if you take the 1 catch for 9 yards game vs. the Bills out). Just last week he had 6 receptions for 93 yards and had another 2 catches and 52 yards and a TD called back due to useless penalties, holding him back from a very big day. This week the Jaguars are in tough as they face an angry Patriots team that will most likely take out their frustrations from last week on poor Jacksonville. Likely meaning the Jags will be down early and have to rely on passing for most of the game and that's a good thing for Blackmon; it means many targets against a defense giving up 270 yards per game through the air. If you need a WR3 or flex start, Blackmon makes for a good one.
Giving Riley Cooper a start this week is purely due to match-up. Despite scoring touchdowns in two of the last three weeks, Cooper hasn't done much this season. But this week as he faces the Redskins, he might be worth a look as a flex starter. Cooper has been getting the starts lately with Desean Jackson gone for the season, and last week was targeted the 2nd most times (7), catching 3 of them for 20 yards and a touchdown. Expect much better numbers this week, as Cooper should have no problem setting season highs across the board. In week 11 he faced the Skins and was able to catch 5 passes for 61 yards. The Skins are giving up 285 yards a game through the air, so if you need a flex starter this week, give Cooper a look.