Start ’em Sit ’em Week 16 Saints vs. Browns: Nick Chubb, Alvin Kamara, Amari Cooper, and Others

    With snow and cold weather headed to Cleveland for the Saints vs. Browns matchup, who should you start or sit in your fantasy football lineups?

    Start ’em Sit ’em Week 16 Saints vs. Browns: Nick Chubb, Alvin Kamara, Amari Cooper, and Others

    The New Orleans Saints leave their comfortable southern confines in Week 16 as they travel to face the Cleveland Browns. Saturday will bring blowing snow and a high of 16 degrees, ensuring your fantasy football team will be affected by the weather. We’re taking a look at the key players that you’ll consider to start or sit.

    Make sure you check back for the weather conditions prior to kickoff. The advice below is based on weather forecasts at the time of writing. If that forecast alterts, the fantasy advice changes slightly in terms of which players to start and sit.

    Saints vs. Browns Sit ‘Em

    Deshaun Watson, QB, Cleveland Browns

    No one expected Deshaun Watson to look like the superstar we saw before he sat out 700 days of game action right upon his return. He had some tough luck facing good defenses in Cincinnati and Baltimore, but he’s also been rusty and the team is trying to figure out how to make the unit gel. Fantasy managers who stashed Watson haven’t benefitted from their gamble quite yet.

    This doesn’t look like a great opportunity for either Watson or fantasy managers to have a big game. Though Watson is looking better each week, the Browns’ lack of explosive playmaking and cohesiveness as a unit has really hamstrung the passing game. Watson’s numbers aren’t even as good as Jacoby Brissett’s were.

    Watson will be fine in 2023 after the Browns retool their offense and get healthier. The Saints have a top-six passing defense, but a bottom-10 run defense, meaning the weather and game plan should both be more limiting for Watson’s production than helpful.

    Amari Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns

    A core muscle injury has Cooper questionable to play this week, and it’s really just the icing on a cake that’s gone sour since Watson’s return. Cooper has been dealing with the strain for a few weeks, but he’s also suffered from the passing game’s struggles. He has 140 yards on 10 catches over the last three weeks after totaling 370 yards over the previous month.

    It’s a tough change in circumstances for managers who thrived after drafting Cooper and seeing a better return than expected. If you have to start Cooper, you’re really hoping for a touchdown connection. Watson’s only thrown two touchdowns in three games so far, so either a breakout is coming or the offense will continue to grind games out.

    It seems more likely the weather will all but force Cleveland to be conservative and pound the vulnerable Saints’ run defense into submission.

    Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns

    After looking like one of the biggest fantasy draft steals of the season through Week 8, Hunt has lost almost all of his value since then. It seemed as though Hunt was being protected from injury around the trade deadline, then Cleveland didn’t move the veteran. His usage has been inconsistent but less frequent over the second half of the year.

    MORE: Week 16 Fantasy RB Start/Sit Recommendations

    Unless he’s getting 10 or more carries and red zone looks, Hunt has no fantasy value for us. If you’ve gotten this far, you have three better options to slide into your lineup at running back and for a flex spot. If you don’t, then you’ll be stuck hoping Hunt sees a usage similar to Week 13, when he had 11 touches for 74 yards.

    It’s been seven weeks since Hunt reached pay dirt, and he’s topped nine carries only once since Week 5. You can’t afford to start Hunt with those numbers.

    Saints vs. Browns Start ‘Em

    Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    You know the rule by now. If Chubb is active, he has to be starting in your lineup. We saw good news with Chubb taken off the injury report this week, meaning we have to trust the dominant rusher. He’s set for a big week against a defense allowing almost 105 rushing yards per game.

    Cleveland is still alive in the playoff race, and relying on Chubb to carry the offense is their best way to win. He’s logged at least 14 carries in all but one game since Week 7. He’s a bit due for a touchdown since he hasn’t reached the end zone since Watson’s return, but he’s been a productive runner.

    I’m expecting a solid outing from Chubb as Cleveland plays their final home game of the season.

    Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    It’s been far from a banner season for Alvin Kamara and this Saints offense. Injuries have limited the availability of their best talent. Star rookie receiver Chris Olave and slot receiver Jarvis Landry will both miss this game, for instance. That leaves Kamara as the lone impactful playmaker on the Saints.

    MORE: Week 16 Fantasy WR Start/Sit Recommendations

    It’s risky to play Kamara despite his unusual talent. Last week was the first time he had more than 100 yards combined since Week 8. Cleveland’s defense is down four linebackers, and they’ve struggled with backs all season long.

    It may be an inefficient day for Kamara, but he has to get volume for the Saints to have any chance of competing in this game. That constitutes enough need for me to start him.

    Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Cleveland Browns

    We had questions as to whether the Browns had a real No. 2 receiver on their roster entering the season, and Peoples-Jones has answered the bell. With 782 receiving yards on the season, the arrow is pointing upward for the third-year talent. He’s benefitted from Watson’s inclusion, earning 15 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown in the last three weeks.

    The role reversal with Peoples-Jones becoming more efficient than Cooper and being a better fantasy play was certainly unexpected. We have to be smart and play the trends when there’s as big of a change as a quarterback swap is. DPJ is in a better position to produce this week than any other Browns receiver.

    Ian Valentino is a Fantasy and Betting Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Ian’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @NFLFilmStudy.

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