I really hope you’re checking in this week because you won your first playoff matchup in Week 15. Congratulations! If you’re out of the championship hunt and are just a glutton for punishment, welcome anyway. At least now the pain can stop.
And painful it was. COVID is wrecking the NFL so much that new guidelines were put in place to allow more flexibility for vaccinated and close contact players. As of this writing, two more games have yet to be played. The most important thing you can do this week is annoy your loved ones by turning on all push notifications for your fantasy leagues. Things can change, and quickly.
Percentages are based on Yahoo! leagues.
If you followed our RB picks for Week 15, you should be in a good spot heading into your semifinal matchup. Ameer Abdullah, Craig Reynolds, and Duke Johnson all smashed this week, and Justin Jackson looks like a top waiver add with Austin Ekeler moving to the COVID list and still dealing with an ankle injury. Clearly, not everyone was listening because these players were still rostered in very few leagues. Let’s try this again, shall we?
Top RBs for Week 16:
Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay (36%)
This is why we stash backups in the playoffs. Leonard Fournette played Week 15 with an ankle concern but left the game with a hamstring injury. He’s likely to be placed on injured reserve, so Ronald Jones II will fill in as the lead back in Tampa Bay. Jones is an electric runner, but has shown little receiving skills and iffy ball security. Even so, the opportunity alone should vault Jones into the RB2 ranks immediately. He’s a must-add and a potential league winner. If he can hold onto the job.
Ameer Abdullah, Carolina (8%)
Last week, we said Abdullah could end up the better play over Chuba Hubbard, and that proved true in Week 14. There isn’t much offense to go around in Carolina, but Abdullah has secured the receiving role in the Panther’s backfield. That only led to 4 targets, but Abdullah made the most of them. I’m concerned about the quarterback situation, as well, but there should be plenty of passing plays when Carolina is playing from behind against a Tampa Bay team look to rebound from their rough loss against the Saints.
Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers (6%)
Austin Ekeler did play through injury in Week 15, but didn’t handle his normal workload. Instead, Justin Jackson was involved early and often, even finishing with more routes run and one more rushing attempt than Ekeler. With Ekeler now seemingly headed to the COVID list, I’d hang on to Jackson to see what happens here. If Ekeler were to miss Week 16, Jackson has a smash spot against Houston.
Craig Reynolds, Detroit (13%)
He did it again. With Jamaal Williams on the COVID list and De’Andre Swift still out, Craig Reynolds one-upped his Week 13 performance and turned 26(!!) attempts into 112 yards. The only thing missing is a touchdown, which might prove difficult to get in this Detroit offense. Reynolds might cede some work to Jamaal Williams, who should be active in Week 16, but he’s definitely worth the add to see how this backfield shakes out.
Other names to consider:
Duke Johnson (2%) was a revelation in Week 16, but the involvement of Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and even Malcolm Brown makes Johnson a risky option for the fantasy semifinals.
Samaje Perine (13%) would immediately have RB2/3 value if Joe Mixon’s ankle sprain causes him to miss any time.
Jordan Howard (10%) is healthy again and seems to be part of Philadelphia’s preferred backfield tandem with Miles Sanders. If Howard can get more opportunities at the goal line, he would be a viable flex.
My Week 15 WR recommendations were mostly good, but top-add K.J. Osborn didn’t do much in the plus-est of plus matchups against a depleted Bears secondary. Ah, what could have been. My other recommended picks hopefully served you well, with top-12 performances from both DeVante Parker (WR12) and Gabriel Davis (WR3). For this week, it’s more of the same, but injury and illness to teammates could completely change the outlook. Stay alert, friends.
Russell Gage, Atlanta (50%)
He probably isn’t available in your league, but add Russell Gage if he’s out there. Gage delivered for fantasy managers in Week 15, and he should continue to provide a solid floor and strong upside for the final two weeks of the fantasy seasons.
Gabriel Davis, Buffalo (19%)
With Emmanuel Sanders missing Week 15 with a knee injury, Gabriel Davis played virtually every offensive snap for Buffalo and scoring twice. As long as Sanders is out, Davis has major upside in this offense, especially with Josh Allen looking his way in the red zone. The Bills play New England again in Week 16, and it could be another low-scoring affair. I don’t think Davis matches his Week 15 output, but I’d still start him as a flex option.
Others to consider:
Amon-Ra St. Brown (30%) demands you put some fantasy respect on his name. For the third straight week, St. Brown saw at least 11 targets. T.J. Hockenson is done for the season, and De’Andre Swift might join him. The opportunity is there, and Jared Goff has quietly thrown multiple touchdowns in three of the last four weeks. The only problem? You guessed it. Goff is now on the COVID list. If Tim Boyle is under center in Week 16, St. Brown and the entire Detroit offense gets a major downgrade.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (41%) was much higher on this list for me as a boom-or-bust option for playoff underdogs, but he is now on the COVID list. I’d still add him if you can afford to wait it out, but Allen Lazard (9%) could be in line for an every-down role if MVS is sidelined.
K.J. Osborn (47%) let you down this week, but I still think the opportunity is there with Adam Thielen sidelined. In Week 15, his snaps and routes run were almost identical to Justin Jefferson, so the usage is there. It’s risky to put your season in Kirk Cousins’ hands, but Osborn’s opportunities should return to what we saw in Weeks 13 and 14.
Tyler Johnson (1%) and Breshad Perriman (1%) look to benefit from the injuries to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans in Tampa Bay, but the return of Antonio Brown and the uncertainty of roles is too risky for me to trust in the semifinals. If I had to play one, I’d lean toward Tyler Johnson.
Jalen Guyton (0%) has scored a touchdown in three straight games. His limited usage makes him more of a flyer/desperation play, but he is tied to the right kind of quarterback in Justin Herbert.
Foster Moreau, Las Vegas (13%)
With Darren Waller sidelined again, Foster Moreau finally came through. Not that anyone was starting him, of course. That should change in Week 16 if Waller is again ruled out. Denver has been one of the toughest matchups against tight ends this season, but I’d expect the Broncos to have a similar approach to Cleveland and focus on stopping Hunter Renfrow and the run game, leaving opportunities for Moreau to rack up targets.
Others to consider:
Gerald Everett (38%) is a preferred target of this version of Russell Wilson, and I can see that continuing for the rest of the season.
Evan Engram (31%) is about the safest option in this category, regardless of who is under center in New York. He gets a plus matchup with Philadelphia in Week 16.
Cole Kmet (25%) hasn’t had the breakout we’d hoped for alongside Justin Fields, but the flashes are there. He gets a plus matchup against Seattle in Week 16.
I promised I wouldn’t mention James O’Shaugnessy (13%) again if he tanked in Week 15, but 4 receptions for 60 yards is more than acceptable for a tight end this season. However, there’s a lot of uncertainty in Jacksonville, so I’m still looking elsewhere for a tight end this week.
*Be sure to check out Benjamin Hallers’ Streaming QBs article for Week 16 for a more in-depth look at the quarterback position.
Tyler Huntley, Baltimore (5%)
In Week 15, Tyler Huntley was the version of Lamar Jackson fantasy managers have been hoping for, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for another two. I wouldn’t be so bold to expect four touchdowns again, but if Jackson is out in Week 16, I would start Huntley with confidence for the rushing upside.
Justin Fields, Chicago (26%)
The Bears have nothing to play for, and head coach (for now) Matt Nagy is either unwilling or unable to create an offensive game plan around Justin Fields’ skillset. With that being said, Fields still managed a respectable fantasy performance, with 35 rushing yards from multiple scrambles added to a decent week through the air (285 yards, 1 TD). His legs provide the kind of upside you want in a streaming quarterback, and I think Fields breaks out some chunk gains while scrambling against Seattle in Week 16.
Others to consider:
Jimmy Garoppolo (41%) had a lackluster Week 15 against Atlanta but should provide a safe floor against Tennessee.
Tua Tagovailoa (46%) could be another safe option, but I’d feel more confident if Jaylen Waddle were back on the field.
Cam Newton (22%) might not even be the starter for Carolina anymore, but he finished as the #3 overall quarterback in Week 15 because he’s the main goal-line rushing threat for the Panthers.
Los Angeles Chargers (50%) @ Houston Texans
Sometimes you just play the matchups. Houston is the 3rd-most favorable matchup for opposing defenses.
Seattle (35%) vs. Chicago Bears
As we’ve said before, the Bears are bad. Chicago has 3+ turnovers the last three weeks, so the opportunity is there.
Philadelphia (50%) vs. New York Giants
I’m not sure if Mike Glennon or Jake Fromm will be under center for New York, but either option is good news for the Eagles defense.
Las Vegas (8%) vs. Denver Broncos
With Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) unlikely to play in Week 16, the Raiders get to face off against Drew Lock.
Atlanta (4%) vs. Detroit
Atlanta has scored a defensive touchdown in two of the last three weeks, and they’re matched up against a stagnant Detroit offense who may be without their starting quarterback and two best offensive players. Sign me up.
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