Without diving into a long-winded tale about how my various fantasy teams did this year (I know, nobody cares), I will succinctly say that in most leagues I either A) missed the playoffs completely or B) was fortunate enough to have a first-round bye. In other words, I am thankfully writing this article in a mindset that has not been jaded or damaged by Week 15’s dumpster full of disappointment. If you are reading this, I am guessing that you won your first-round matchup (or you are a family member or something; thanks for reading!), so my sincere congrats on making it out alive. This fantasy season has been extremely unpredictable and maddening at times, so it is an accomplishment for you to still be standing in a position to survive and advance while the majority of your league watches from the sideline. It has been a wild but fun ride with you all so far this year and I look forward to closing out on a strong note. No time for holding back, so let’s sprint to that finish lineQ
* Players marked with an asterisk below can also be found in the priority waiver wire adds article referenced at the end. If anyone featured below is at risk of not playing or is relegated to a bench role late in the week, I will do my best to keep you all updated on Twitter (@BrandonMillerFB). All players below are under 65%-rostered as of 12/22/21.
Alexander Mattison (RB, Minnesota Vikings)
As of this article, Mattison is somewhere between 60% – 75% rostered in ESPN and Yahoo leagues and needs to be picked up immediately if available. With Dalvin Cook (COVID) set to miss at least one game, Mattison could be the missing piece that propels your team to the championship round and possibly even helps you in Week 17 as well. Every time he has been granted 20+ touches (three times in 2021), he has come through with over 100 total yards including three-plus receptions in each. Mattison is a priority “check if available” as a solid RB2 this week.
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB, New England Patriots)
Despite Week 16’s matchup against a respectable Buffalo defensive front, Stevenson is another name of note to consider this week, particularly if Damien Harris (hamstring) is once again sidelined. He had great volume with middling results against the Bills on the road in Week 13 (24 carries for 78 yards), an average that I expect to improve with the Patriots at home this time in a crucial divisional contest. He has missed practice time this week due to an illness, so make sure to monitor his status leading up to the weekend. If Stevenson starts and Harris sits, he is a back-end RB2/Flex for Week 16.
RB Streamers (ranked): Ronald Jones II (65% ESPN), Alexander Mattison (60% ESPN), Rashaad Penny, D’Onta Foreman, Rhamondre Stevenson, Darrel Williams, Duke Johnson, Craig Reynolds, Mike Davis, Jordan Howard, Samaje Perine, Ameer Abdullah, D’Ernest Johnson, Latavius Murray, Rex Burkhead, David Johnson, Tevin Coleman, Dontrell Hilliard, Justin Jackson (big boost if no Ekeler), Jeremy McNichols, Mark Ingram II, Devontae Booker, Brandon Bolden, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Nyheim Hines, Peyton Barber, Matt Breida, Boston Scott, DeeJay Dallas, Royce Freeman, Jaret Patterson.
* Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, Detroit Lions)
Despite all the heart that Detroit has, they do not have many wins or eyeballs on them nationally. Those are a couple of the few explanations I could see for why Amon-Ra St. Brown is not rostered in a much higher percentage of leagues. Over the past three weeks, he has caught 26 of an outstanding 35 targets, is averaging 83 receiving yards per game, and has his only two touchdowns of 2021 in that span. It is not uncommon for a rookie WR (or really any WR in their first three seasons) to start the season slow only for things to click in the second half, resulting in a series of productive games like St. Brown has proven capable of having. The Lions finish at Atlanta and at Seattle the next two weeks, so the opportunity for the neophyte from USC to finish strong and be anointed a “league-winner” at season’s end is certainly there (sorry in advance for jinxing). Fantasy sports are full of “I never thought I would be doing/saying this” moments, but I truly think he can be relied on as a back-end WR2 with added value in PPR leagues.
A.J. Green (WR, Arizona Cardinals)
Green has battled injuries throughout his playing days and saw the lowest receiving total of his career last season despite playing 16 games, leading some to speculate whether he would ever have another fantasy-relevant season again. However, his first year in Arizona has provided not only a welcome change of scenery, but solid fantasy production along the way. DeAndre Hopkins being out for the season does not automatically mean that Green will step into elite-level production like he consistently did earlier in his career, but it does clear up some competition for targets and pushes Green up the depth chart. He eclipsed 100 receiving yards on ten targets two weeks ago and had 64 yards on eight targets last week, so things are certainly trending in the right direction for Green to be a solid Flex option against the Colts.
WR Streamers (ranked): Amon-Ra St. Brown, Russell Gage, DeVante Parker (64% Yahoo), Gabriel Davis, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Josh Reynolds, Jakobi Meyers, Marvin Jones Jr, Jamison Crowder, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Robby Anderson, Marquez Callaway, Kenny Golladay, Allen Robinson II, Rashod Bateman, Laquon Treadwell, Tim Patrick, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, K.J. Osborn, Laviska Shenault Jr., Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Tre’Quan Smith, Tyler Johnson, Rondale Moore, Jalen Guyton, Breshad Perriman, T.Y. Hilton.
Cole Kmet (TE, Chicago Bears)
Things did not quite pan out earlier this season when I recommended Kmet in Week 3, but the Bears’ second half has seen him trending in the right direction for more fantasy production these next couple weeks. Outside of an anomaly Week 11 where he received just two targets, Kmet has seen eight, eleven, seven, five, and nine targets since Week 9. Week 16 opponent Seattle is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing TEs, giving Kmet the nod over others in the “Borderline TE1” cluster. Even if you are a skeptic of the Bears’ play-calling and offensive scheme, I think Justin Fields‘ scrambling ability will open up opportunities to capitalize on busted, backyard football-style plays that will benefit Kmet regardless of what was called in the huddle.
TE Streamers (ranked): Hunter Henry (51% ESPN), Cole Kmet, Tyler Conklin, Jared Cook, C.J. Uzomah, Gerald Everett, James O’Shaughnessy, David Njoku, Evan Engram, Ricky Seals-Jones, Albert Okwuegbunam, Foster Moreau (boost if Waller out), Cameron Brate, Jack Doyle, Brevin Jordan, Jonnu Smith, Austin Hooper.
Accountability is everything, so here’s a quick look back at last week’s recommendations
Rashaad Penny (RB, Seattle Seahawks): With the Seahawks-Rams game being pushed to Tuesday, the LAR defense was able to regroup for the most part and hold Penny to 39 rushing yards on 11 attempts (DeeJay Dallas was the only other ball-carrier for Seattle and had eight rushes for 41 yards and a score). Penny also caught both of his targets for five yards. Despite the disappointing results when you needed him most, I feel Penny remains a borderline RB2/Flex as long as he is the starter since the Seahawks wrap up the fantasy season against Chicago and Detroit.
D’Onta Foreman (RB, Tennessee Titans): In an ugly game that the Titans lost despite out-gaining Pittsburgh’s offense in total yards 318-168, Foreman was a bright spot. He averaged nearly five yards per carry with 22 totes for 108 yards along with two catches (three targets) for 27 yards. Tennessee is extremely banged up, so it would not be surprising to see Foreman have a role rest of season even if/when Derrick Henry returns.
DeVante Parker (WR, Miami Dolphins): Being the best receiver on the field in a game between the Jets and Dolphins might not count for a lot in the teams’ current states, but Parker led all receivers with four catches (eight targets) for 68 yards and a score. He is a solid WR3/ Flex the rest of the way as long as he can remain healthy.
Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR, Cleveland Browns): Peoples-Jones was unable to haul in a long reception that would have added another 20-30 yards to his receiving total, but he was the featured receiver for Cleveland with four catches (eight targets) for 48 yards. Could have been better, could have been worse, overall pretty blah results. I would still be fine starting him in deeper leagues if the other Browns pass-catchers remain out, but he is an easy drop once they are back in the lineup.
Hunter Henry (TE, New England): Henry passed the streamer test with flying colors and might have just won you your first-round matchup, leading all of the game’s pass-catchers with six catches (eight targets) for 77 yards and two scores. He is a hold rest of season as a key piece of New England’s passing game, albeit low volume most weeks.
Make sure to check out AJ Passman’s priority waiver wire adds article every Tuesday (awkward COVID-rescheduled Tuesday night games notwithstanding) for more insights on who you should be submitting claims for heading into each Wednesday. Good luck in Week 16!
(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)