What We Saw: Week 16

The QB List staff catches you up on everything you missed during Week 16 of the 2020 NFL season.

Bengals @ Texans


In a game between two teams eliminated from playoff contention, the Cincinnati Bengals won a back and forth shootout 37-31 over the Houston Texans. The win was the Bengals’ first road win since September 30, 2018, snapping a 20-game road losing streak. With back to back wins over the Steelers and Texans, Cincinnati also secured their first winning streak since weeks 4 and 5 of 2018. The win drops the Bengals from the top five picks in the NFL Draft, currently sitting at the sixth pick overall, while the Texans don’t even gain much of an advantage from the loss, as their first-round pick belongs to the Miami Dolphins. One thing is clear; both of these teams need a ton of help on the defensive side of the ball.


Cincinnati Bengals




Brandon Allen: 29/37, 371 yards, 2 TDs | 2 carries, 3 yards


Brandon Allen got the start over Ryan Finley and looked good in this one, though Houston’s awful defense can certainly be given much of the credit. Allen took more shots towards the sidelines downfield than Joe Burrow did pre-injury, and Allen made some nice throws and his receivers made some plays for him. When the perimeter receivers weren’t making plays downfield, Allen showed a nice connection with Alex Erickson (filling in for an injured Tyler Boyd) and got more production from the running backs in the passing game than the Bengals have since the Burrow injury. Allen hadn’t topped 220 yards in any of his previous three games, however, so the bigger takeaway here is just how bad this Texans defense is, as the Bengals possessed the ball for 36 minutes, did not turn it over, and only punted once.


Running Backs


Giovani Bernard: 16 carries, 65 yards | 8 targets, 7 receptions, 66 yards

Samaje Perine: 13 carries, 95 yards, 2 TDs | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 41 yards

Trayveon Williams: 2 carries, 6 yards


Giovani Bernard shared a good amount of work with Samaje Perine, but Bernard bailed out fantasy managers with his passing game work in this one. Bernard had 7 of his targets and 6 of his catches in the first half, as the Bengals made a concerted effort to get the ball to the running backs in the passing game through screens and dump-offs. Bernard had just 9 targets total in the four games since the Burrow injury, so today’s development was an encouraging sign. Bernard took the yards that were there in the running game, but that is never going to be the area where he shines.

Perine was the better back on the ground, busting a long 46-yard touchdown where he broke a tackle and spun out of it to the sidelines and beat the Texans defense to the goal line. Perine then scored the go-ahead touchdown late that ultimately won the game on a 3-yard rush. There’s not much long term interest in Perine for fantasy purposes with Joe Mixon returning next year, but Perine does look like a viable NFL running back, and even contributed in the passing game with dump-off receptions and a designed screen.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Tee Higgins: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 99 yards, 1 TD

A.J. Green: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 64 yards

Alex Erickson: 6 targets, 6 receptions, 88 yards

Trenton Irwin: 2 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards

Drew Sample: 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards, 1 TD

Mike Thomas: 1 target


After a bit of a slow start, Tee Higgins took over this game, making tough catches all over the field and generally looking like a building block of the future for this Cincinnati offense. Higgins had a couple of drops early, though they were far from easy catches, but they were still passes that he should have hauled in. However, Higgins began to take over with tough catches downfield on the sidelines as the game progressed, showing a good feel for staying in bounds on his catches. Higgins even had a big downfield play called back on offensive pass interference on a different receiver. While some of it is surely due to wearing the number 85, Higgins looks eerily similar to Chad Ochocinco at times, especially when going up to get the ball in traffic and making catches on the sidelines. Higgins capped off his day with a spectacular touchdown catch, which is shown below.



With Tyler Boyd out due to a concussion, the Bengals really forced the ball early to A.J. Green. Green dropped a 3rd and 5 pass that should have been brought in, and at times failed to gain separation. Green did get some separation on a nice 33-yard connection down the sideline from Allen, and he made some tough contested catches in traffic to move the chains. Unless Green can regain some of his speed during a hopefully healthy offseason of training, Green will need to continue to make contested catches as he transitions to a new phase of his career.

Alex Erickson did a good job filling in for the injured Boyd in the slot and was targeted on a key 4th and inches conversion in the second half. Erickson had a nice downfield reception down the seam deep but otherwise lacks much downfield ability. He may be worth a look in leagues that play Week 17 if Boyd is out again, but he doesn’t have much fantasy appeal outside of that.


Houston Texans




Deshaun Watson: 24/33, 324 yards, 3 TDs, 1 fumble, 1 sack | 5 carries, 38 yards


Deshaun Watson was his usual playmaking self, but his defense ultimately was unable to get off the field and he spent too much time watching from the sidelines. The Texans lost offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and guard Brent Qvale to injuries early on, so the offensive line was an issue throughout. While Watson was only sacked one time, he was pressured more than that and seemed to injure his throwing elbow early on in the game as well as on the final play, where he was strip-sacked to end it. Watson still made things happen throughout, however, trading scores with the Bengals throughout. Watson hit Brandin Cooks downfield early for a big gain and had success whenever he looked his receiver’s way. In the second half, he began targeting his tight ends with success as they shed multiple tackles seemingly every catch. And of course, Watson flashed his electric rushing ability, shown in the GIF below.



Running Backs


David Johnson: 12 carries, 128 yards, 1 TD | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 11 yards, 1 TD


David Johnson flashed on a long 48-yard rush and overall took advantage of what was given to him, racking up 128 yards on just 12 carries. Johnson was untouched on his long run, however, as the Texans gashed the Bengals defense with backfield motion, including on the touchdown below to end the drive. Then, later in the third quarter, Johnson capped a drive with a 2-yard touchdown reception split out wide on a slant route. While Johnson certainly didn’t look like prime DJ in this one, he showed some flash and is locked into a massive workload with Duke Johnson sidelined.



Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Brandin Cooks: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 141 yards, 1 TD

Keke Coutee: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 54 yards

Chad Hanson: 3 targets, 1 reception, 8 yards

Steven Mitchell Jr.: 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards

Jordan Akins: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 39 yards

Darren Fells: 2 targets, 1 reception, 22 yards, 1 TD


Brandin Cooks was the star of the show in the passing game, catching a long pass early to foreshadow his big game. Towards the end of the first half the Bengals’ top corner, William Jackson III, was injured, and Watson and Cooks immediately took advantage. Cooks caught three balls that drive including a screen the first play after the injury, and the drive was capped with the 25-yard touchdown shown below. Watson later overthrew Cooks on a deep bomb where Cooks had a couple of steps on his defender, just missing an even more massive fantasy performance. Overall Cooks was clearly their best option, and it actually felt like they should have gone to him more often.



Outside of Cooks, Keke Coutee was the second most targeted player, though the tight end position as a whole out-targeted him. Coutee looked fine but mainly blended in with the rest of the offense behind Cooks, though he did have a tough catch where he took a big shot. The next play he fumbled but the ball went out of bounds, a brief reminder of some of his past ball security issues. Otherwise, the Texans’ tight ends saw 10 targets total, but they were split between Jordan Akins, Darren Fells, Pharaoh Brown, and Kahale Warring. Akins is the leading tight end pass-catcher, but both Fells and Brown flashed strong tackle-breaking running down the stretch, and Fells fought through multiple defenders for his touchdown. Chad Hansen fell back to earth after a couple of big weeks, as he was only targeted three times and had a bad 3rd down drop in the first quarter.


— Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter, truebest on Reddit)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.