When I make tough lineup calls for my own Fantasy Football teams, the matchup is the biggest consideration. A player’s expected workload also matters a heck of a lot. But in this all-important week, I ask myself one more thing: Would I make this same lineup decision in a less consequential week? Whether I answer yes or no, I get an answer to my lineup dilemma. Unconventional decisions are more likely to stick with you — “Why did I start THAT guy?!” — than those where you can say you rode the player who got you to the finals — “Well at least I lost with THAT guy.” But the Fantasy game is the same every single week — start the guys who you think will get you the most points. Keep that in mind and you shouldn’t have that much angst over any choice you make.
All lines from William Hill Sportsbook.
The line wants us to believe: The Saints’ last two losses are no biggie. New Orleans’ defense has started to let them down, but the oddsmakers are hoping you won’t notice. They want you to take the Saints and gave them an appealing number because they knew no one would pick Minnesota. The Vikings are capable of marching downfield on the Saints and shouldn’t be slept on to compete. Just two of Minnesota’s last six losses were by more than a touchdown. I think they will cover.
The line wants us to believe: This is Detroit’s Super Bowl. This definitely feels like a sucker line. Who would take Detroit getting any less than two touchdowns?! The oddsmakers are banking on the Lions giving a big effort at home against a Tampa defense that has shown some warts lately. Problem is, I have a hard time banking on the Lions to give anything. Five of their past six losses have been by 10-plus points. If the oddsmakers are giving this line, I’m taking it.
The line wants us to believe: The 49ers’ loss to the Cowboys, and the injuries suffered in the game, mean little. It’s a fishy line — I don’t think there are many people who would take a depleted San Fran squad starting their third-string quarterback getting just five points against anyone. I think the oddsmakers think the Niners will play their division rivals tough (they usually do), plus don’t forget that Arizona nearly blew their lead against the Eagles twice last week. I think I’ll take a cue from the oddsmakers and nervously side with the 49ers and the points.
The line wants us to believe: The Raiders will be competitive. Miami has earned the right to be called a tough, savvy team. The Raiders have one last-minute lucky win against the then-winless Jets since Week 11. The only thing slowing me down from racing to take Miami is the feeling that it’s a line designed for me to do exactly that. This week is full of suspicious lines and this is another one. However, I can’t resist the Dolphins side knowing they are superior to the Raiders in pretty much every way.
The line wants us to believe: The Browns will keep rolling. Cleveland’s win last week was its first by 10-plus points since Week 5. The Jets’ stunning win featured some incredible defensive effort and smart utilization of their running backs. Losing Quinnen Williams on the D-line stinks, but no one should rule out the Jets rolling over against a Browns team that’s found ways to win, but not by a wide margin.
The line wants us to believe: Pittsburgh’s three-game losing skid isn’t indicative of who they are. I’m old enough to remember when the Steelers were undefeated — now they’re home underdogs. The oddsmakers couldn’t have made the Steelers a favorite, but even 1.5 points feels light. Indy has won three straight and actually has only one more loss than Pittsburgh. They definitely have the better run game and also may have the better defense at this point. Maybe I’m getting suckered a little bit here, but I’m taking the road team.
The line wants us to believe: New York will find a way to score a couple of touchdowns. New York’s 17-point implied total is the lowest of the week (even lower than the Jets!). But over the past four weeks they’ve scored 19, 17, 7 and 6 points. Now they’re on the road against a feisty Ravens defense, depleted as it may be. I think the oddsmakers are a little light on the points and could have gotten away with minus-13.5, but since I have no faith in the Giants, I am forced to side with the Ravens.
The line wants us to believe: The Bengals win last Monday means zilch. Ooh, this line is designed to play on the Bengals’ win over the Steelers! Who in their right mind would take a lousy Texans defense and give eight points?! Well, the answer is me. I would take a lousy Texans defense riddled with below-average players against an equally lousy Bengals offense. Deshaun Watson won’t turn the ball over like Ben Roethlisberger did last week. The right side to be on is the hard-to-believe side with the home squad.
The line wants us to believe: This is Jacksonville’s Super Bowl. Why else would they be only 7.5-point underdogs? Chicago has been (finally) dominating offensively with smart play by Mitchell Trubisky and David Montgomery plowing behind a healthy-ish O-line, but the Bears have one win by more than seven points all season (vs. Houston two weeks ago). I’m thinking the oddsmakers are thinking the Jaguars will give Chicago a fight. So I’ll follow the logic and take the points. And maybe I’m cuckoo, but I think there’s a chance the Jaguars win.
The line wants us to believe: Neither team’s recent results are indicative of who they are. Carolina’s lost eight of its past nine and are just 2.5-point underdogs?! Washington is coming off its first loss in five weeks and are just 2.5-point favorites?! This line is screwy. I think the oddsmakers want you to take Washington, which means they think the Panthers will hang with them. Carolina is capable of blowing past their implied 21-point total. But even against the Panthers defense, I’m not certain Washington can hit their implied 23.5 point total. Weird line, weird game, cautiously take the points.
The line wants us to believe: The Falcons are about to get blown out. Fun fact: The Chiefs haven’t blown out anybody since the Jets (obvs) in Week 8. And the Falcons have been blown out once since Week 5. I don’t think anyone realizes this. But if the oddsmakers had put the line at minus-7 or something, people would flock to take Kansas City. That of course makes sense. I’m not sure I believe the Chiefs defense will hold the Falcons to 21 or fewer points — they should do a little bit better than that. With sweat pouring down my face and my hands trembling, I’ll take the points.
The line wants us to believe: The Broncos aren’t as bad as their recent 1-3 record suggests. Seriously, how can you trust the Chargers to beat anyone by more than three points? Las Vegas pushed them deep into overtime with a backup quarterback and an awful defense last week. Atlanta stayed close with them the week before in a game neither team played well in. Even the Jets gave them a game in Week 11. And Denver’s looked terrible, but it’s been against really good teams. It’s risky, but I think the Broncos keep it close, if not win.
The line wants us to believe: Jalen Hurts is hot and the Cowboys are not. It’s been nothing but praise and hype for Hurts, who has earned much of it. But it’s not like the Cowboys don’t deserve a little love after winning back-to-back games. Three in a row seems like too much to ask from them. Dallas losing a starter at each level of the defense, including linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, is going to be tough to overcome against a Philly team with multiple running threats.
The line wants us to believe: I think the oddsmakers could have gotten away with giving Seattle another point or two. They might not be the explosive offense that brought tons of Fantasy points, but they’re finding ways to win on the strength of their run game and — surprisingly — defense. The Rams run game is a question mark and their offensive line got completely exposed last week. I think this is a tough bounce-back spot for the Rams.
The line wants us to believe: The Titans aren’t going to be pushovers. Did Green Bay get exposed a little bit last week? Just three second-half points against the Panthers?! And now they’re giving just 3.5 points against a non-conference opponent? The Titans have been among the league’s most efficient teams offensively. Defensively? Yeah they need work. But covering a smidge more than a field goal is well within their range, especially if they control the game with a big dose of Derrick Henry.
The line wants us to believe: The Bills won’t blowout their bitter division rival who has had a hex on them for the better part of 15 years. This should be a soothing moment for the #BillsMafia who have endured so much pain at the hands of the Patriots for a long, long time. Sure, Bill Belichick knows a thing or two about slowing down Josh Allen, but can he do it without his best cornerback and with a defense that hasn’t been playing well? And can he do it knowing his offense isn’t even promised 20 points (a number they’ve exceeded once in their past five)? The Bills will roll.
So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 16 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big-time last season.