Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Fantasy Football Wild-Card Weekend

Start ‘Em, Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the best and worst matchups based on a PPR scoring system in fantasy football. This column will not cover the elite players in the NFL like Patrick Mahomes, Jonathan Taylor, Davante Adams or Travis Kelce. Instead, I'll look at the players you have the most questions about to help you set the most effective starting lineup possible. For all of your final fantasy lineup decisions, be sure to check out my weekly player rankings which will be updated daily throughout the 2021 NFL season.

Wild-Card Round Start ‘Em: Quarterbacks

Tom Brady vs. Eagles (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Brady had a strong finish to another solid statistical season, as he’s scored 25-plus points in each of his last two games. The G.O.A.T. should continue to produce at a high level this week, as he’ll face an Eagles defense that’s allowed 19-plus fantasy points to quarterbacks nine times this season. It’s also allowed the ninth-most points to signal-callers over their last nine contests.

Matthew Stafford vs. Cardinals (Mon. 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN): Stafford finished the season on a bad note, throwing seven interceptions and failing to score more than 17.5 fantasy points in his final three games. Still, the veteran has a great matchup in the wild-card round against the Cardinals. Since Week 9, their defense allowed 19 touchdown passes and the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

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Wild-Card Round Sit ‘Em: Quarterbacks

Ben Roethlisberger at Chiefs (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC): Big Ben has led the Steelers to yet another postseason berth, but it wasn’t on the back of his statistical success. In fact, he’s failed to score more than 11.9 fantasy points in each of his last four games. That includes a Week 16 contest against the Chiefs where he was held to 159 yards, one touchdown and a mere 6.4 fantasy points. I’d keep Roethlisberger on the bench.

Mac Jones at Bills (Sat. 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS): Jones might have been the best rookie quarterback in fantasy football, but he wasn’t a consistent point producer. Also, he was particularly bad when he faced the Bills (5.6 fantasy points combined in two meetings). One of those games was odd in that Jones threw the ball three times due to weather, but it’s going to be freezing cold in Buffalo on Saturday. I’d keep Jones out of action.

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Wild-Card Round Start ‘Em: Running Backs

Joe Mixon vs. Raiders (Sat. 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC): Mixon was activated off the COVID list earlier in the week and should be ready to roll when the Bengals host the Raiders. He should find plenty of success against the Silver & Black, who have allowed 14 total touchdowns and the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs since Week 9. In all, Las Vegas has allowed 14-plus points to an opposing runner 16 times this season.

Elijah Mitchell at Cowboys (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Mitchell emerged as fantasy star as a rookie, scoring 17-plus points in three of his last four games while seeing most of the Niners backfield touches. The Cowboys have allowed at least 13.2 fantasy points to at least one back in three straight games, including 18.7 to Kenneth Gainwell in the finale. I like Mitchell as a viable No. 2 fantasy running back in the wild-card weekend.

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Wild-Card Round Sit ‘Em: Running Backs

Ezekiel Elliott vs. 49ers (4:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Elliott struggled to produce for fantasy managers down the stretch, scoring 10 or fewer points in four of his last six games. During that time, he scored single digits three times. He’ll be a risk in postseason league action this weekend, as Elliott faces a San Francisco defense that has allowed one running back to score more than 13.9 points against them in its last four games.

Miles Sanders at Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Sanders will be back from an injured hand in time to face the Buccaneers, but the matchup makes him tough to start. The Bucs have allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs in their last nine games, during which time the position has scored just six total touchdowns. Sanders could also lose work to both Jordan Howard and Boston Scott this weekend.

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Wild-Card Round Start ‘Em: Wide Receivers

Mike Evans vs. Eagles (1 p.m. E, Fox): Evans put up a mere 4.7 fantasy points in a game against the Eagles earlier this season, but the Buccaneers had Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown in that contest (AB scored 24.3 points). Now the top option in the passing game for Tom Brady, Evans has scored a combined 41.6 points in his last two games and will no doubt see plenty of targets. I’d ignore the matchup and start him.

Tee Higgins vs. Raiders (Sat. 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC): Higgins recorded 16-plus fantasy points in four of his final six regular-season games, including three contests with more than 23 points. He should continue to find success in the stat sheets this week against the Raiders, who have surrendered seven touchdown receptions and the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing receivers who lined up wide over their last 10 contests.

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Wild-Card Round Sit ‘Em: Wide Receivers

Chase Claypool at Chiefs (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC): Claypool finished the regular season on a high note, scoring 18 fantasy points in a win over the Ravens. He had failed to put up more than 8.1 points in four of his previous five games, however, including a game in Kansas City where he had just four catches for 41 yards. The Chiefs have also given up just six touchdown catches to receivers lined out wide in their last nine contests.

Jakobi Meyers at Bills (Sat. 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS): Meyers finished with 11-plus points in three of his last four games, but a tough road matchup in Buffalo makes him difficult to trust this week. The Bills have been more than formidable against wideouts since Week 9, surrendering four touchdowns and the second-fewest points to the position. Buffalo has also allowed the fewest points to receivers lined out wide in that time.

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Wild-Card Round Start ‘Em: Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski vs. Eagles (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Gronkowski scored a combined 39.2 fantasy points in his last two games of the regular season, and he’s in a smash spot against the Eagles. No team in the NFL has surrendered more touchdowns or points to opposing tight ends, and players at the position scored 16-plus points against them six times. With no Godwin or AB, Gronkowski will also be a big part of the passing attack.

Dallas Goedert at Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, Fox): Goedert scored 13-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games, including two games with over 20 points. He’ll continue to see a high target share this week, too, as the Eagles face a Buccaneers defense that’s allowed six touchdowns and nearly 13 fantasy points per contest to opposing tight ends this season. Goedert should be viewed as a top-five option.

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Wild-Card Round Sit ‘Em: Tight Ends

Pat Freiermuth at Chiefs (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC): Freiermuth has posted 7.7 or fewer fantasy points in three of his last five games, during which time he has scored just one touchdown. I’d keep him on the fantasy sidelines this week, as the Chiefs have been tough on opposing tight ends in recent weeks. In fact, their defense has allowed zero touchdowns and the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends in their last nine games.

Hunter Henry at Bills (Sat. 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS): Henry scored 13.6 fantasy points in the regular-season finale, but he had been held to single-digit points in seven of his previous nine games. That includes two games against the Bills where he was held to a combined 1.9 fantasy points. Buffalo’s defense has allowed just one touchdown and the second-fewest points to opposing tight ends since Week 9, so Henry is a sit ‘em.

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Wild-Card Round Start ‘Em: Kickers

Evan McPherson vs. Raiders (Sat. 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC): McPherson finished as the eighth-best kicker in fantasy football during his rookie season, and he’s in a great spot to succeed in wild-card weekend against the Raiders. Since Week 9, their defense has surrendered 19 field goals and the most fantasy points to opposing kickers.

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Wild-Card Round Sit ‘Em: Kickers

Chris Boswell at Chiefs (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC): Boswell finished the regular season on fire, scoring 10 or more fantasy points in three of his last four games. The one contest he failed to score double digits was in Week 16 against his next opponent, the Chiefs. Since Week 9, no defense in the NFL has allowed fewer points to opposing kickers.

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Wild-Card Round Start ‘Em: Defenses

Chiefs D/ST vs. Steelers (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC): The Chiefs defense might be the best option at the position in wild-card weekend, facing a Steelers offense that’s been less than productive for most of the season. That includes a Week 16 contest when Kansas City’s D/ST had 14 fantasy points against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense.

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Wild-Card Round Sit ‘Em: Defenses

Steelers D/ST at Chiefs (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC) The Chiefs actually were a good foe for defenses in the first half of the season (believe it or not), but that has changed in the second half with Patrick Mahomes committing far fewer turnovers. That’s bad for the Steelers defense, which scored minus-2 fantasy points against the Chiefs in Week 16.

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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!