Kickoff: Sunday, December 27th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Betting Odds: ATL +10.5, 53.5 total via Oddsshark
Matt Ryan (Sit, QB2)
Matt Ryan put together one of his best fantasy performances of the season last week against the Bucs, but I’m still apprehensive about trusting him in the fantasy finals. He was averaging only 9.85 fantasy points per game over the four games before Week 15. Even when considering the Buccaneers and Chiefs have allowed similar points to fantasy quarterbacks this year, I still can’t trust Ryan in Week 16. Yes, the Falcons will need to throw the heck out of the football to have a chance this week (raising Ryan’s fantasy value), but a blowout seems just as likely.
Ito Smith (Sit, Flex), Todd Gurley II (Sit)
Ito Smith is listed above Todd Gurley II because interim head coach, Raheem Morris, said on Monday that Smith is officially the team’s lead running back. Ito earned the role through his production, and the decision didn’t have anything to do with Gurley’s health.
This whole situation feels like fool’s gold. I doubt many fantasy football enthusiasts will want to trust Smith if they find themselves in championship match-ups this week. The Chiefs are fairly mediocre against fantasy running backs, but I don’t have any confidence in what Smith’s production will be. I can’t bring myself to rank Smith any higher than Flex value this week. Morris said he has been implementing this change over the past few weeks, and Smith has been averaging 5.4 fantasy points per game over the past two weeks.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Julio Jones (Start if active, Low-end WR1), Calvin Ridley (Start, WR1), Russell Gage (Start-able Flex with upside), Hayden Hurst (Sit, TE2)
Julio Jones was inactive for last week’s game against the Bucs. Jones is trying his best to get back on the field as soon as possible but will likely be questionable most of the week. Luckily, this game will occur during the early 1:00 PM slot, meaning fantasy managers can keep an eye on Julio’s status leading into Week 16. It will be tough benching Julio if he’s good to go this week. Fantasy managers know Jones is one of the most talented receivers in the league.
Calvin Ridley was busy last week with his best fantasy performance since Week 1. Ridley has done well whenever he has to play without Jones, so he should be a trustworthy start in fantasy finals. The Chiefs have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this year, but I still like Ridley’s chances for low-end WR1 performance, especially if Jones is inactive once again. An inactive Julio should mean a few more targets going Ridley’s way.
Averaging 17.2 fantasy points per game over his past three, Russell Gage has proved he can produce with our without Julio Jones on the field. Still, this week’s match-up isn’t great, and I wouldn’t guarantee a WR2 performance from Gage this week. The match-up and the possible return of Julio taking away targets has me ranking Gage in Flex territory. That said, Gage has plenty of upside. He scored a touchdown in two of his last three games and nearly caught a second touchdown last week.
Hayden Hurst had a good performance (by tight end standards) last week, but he only totaled 21 yards and his first touchdown since Week 6. Hurst has had way too many unimpressive performances this year to trust weekly, and certainly not in the fantasy playoffs. Fantasy managers should look elsewhere in important match-ups.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes II (Start, QB1)
Patrick Mahomes II is having an MVP-caliber season and is currently the overall QB2 on the season. The match-up couldn’t be better if you’ve found yourself in the fantasy finals this week. The Falcons are allowing more fantasy points to quarterbacks than any other NFL team this year. Mahomes is in a fantastic position for a monumental fantasy showing in Week 16. Start with confidence.
Le’Veon Bell (Start, RB2), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Sit)
Ian Rapoport revealed that Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a hip and ankle injury last week, but the X-Rays came back negative. The expectation is that Edwards-Helaire will be unavailable for the rest of the regular season. This situation creates an intriguing opportunity for Le’Veon Bell, who is still generally considered one of the most talented in the league.
Interestingly, the Falcons have allowed the eighth-fewest points to fantasy running backs, so it could be tough predicting Bell’s fantasy value this week. The Falcons could quickly fall behind this week, meaning more touches for Le’Veon. Many teams will consider a Bell waiver-wire add this week. If you happen to be in the fantasy playoffs and need a one-week starter, I wouldn’t blame you. This week shouldn’t mean much for the Chiefs’ playoffs outlook, so they could rely on Bell quite a bit this week if they pull ahead early.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tyreek Hill (Start, WR1), Mecole Hardman (Sit), Sammy Watkins (Sit), Travis Kelce (Start, TE1)
Tyreek Hill is sitting pretty at the overall WR1 spot on the season and shows little signs of slowing down. The Falcons’ secondary has struggled throughout most of the 2020 season, allowing the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year. Fantasy managers would be crazy to even think about sitting “‘Reek the Freak” this week.
Mecole Hardman put up 10.7 fantasy points last week with the help of a touchdown, but he only averaged 4.64 fantasy points per game over his past five. He has only achieved more than 20 fantasy points once this year, just like Sammy Watkins. Sammy had his single 20-point performance back in Week 1 and hasn’t impressed since. The match-up is enticing, but not enough to raise either of these receivers to start-able status.
Travis Kelce is having a stellar season, especially by tight end standards. The Falcons have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year, so the overall TE1 on the season should be in line for another impressive fantasy performance. Fantasy managers should start with confidence like they have been all year.
-Ryan Kruse (@ryanpkruse on Twitter)