Texans at Buccaneers (at 1pm ET – on Saturday)
Must Play: QB Deshaun Watson; WR DeAndre Hopkins
Start: QB Jameis Winston; WR Breshad Perriman; WR Will Fuller
Beware: RB Carlos Hyde
Stream: TE O.J. Howard
Sit: RB Ronald Jones; RB Peyton Barber; RB Duke Johnson
Key Game Facts
— No team has allowed more fantasy points to outside wide receivers than Tampa Bay (29.8)
— The Bucs are also giving up the 5th-most points per game to slot wideouts (22.7)
— Tampa has allowed the 3rd-most completions on throws of 20+ yards
When the Texans have the ball:With a game total sitting at 49 points and two bad pass defenses playing against each other, Houston-Tampa Bay has obvious shoot-out appeal. Deshaun Watson has finished as a QB1 (top-12) in three of his last 4 games and both Watson and DeAndre Hopkins should have no issue hitting their ceiling once again against the Buccaneers brutal secondary. After a somewhat slow start to the season for his standards, Hopkins has gone over 60 yards or scored a touchdown in eight-straight games and has 5 or more receptions in every contest in this span. Will Fuller’s presence also lifts expectations for the entire Texans offense as Watson has averaged significantly more yards per pass attempt (8.7 vs. 7.5) when Fuller is in the lineup over the last two years. Fuller is one of the most explosive WR2 plays on the Week 16 slate. Carlos Hyde went nuts for 26/104/1 as the Texans built a lead over the Titans last week, but he remains a touchdown-dependent RB3/FLEX option with little involvement in the passing game. Since Houston’s Week 10 bye, Hyde has seen five targets while Duke Johnson has 20. I would avoid chasing Hyde’s solid performance last week against this Bucs’ front-seven that has allowed the 4th-fewest yards per carry and 2nd-fewest yards per game over the last eight weeks.
When the Buccaneers have the ball:Even though both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are out, Jameis Winston remains a top-8 play at the position this week. It’d certainly be nice if his top two wideouts were healthy, but this matchup is too nice to pass up. The Texans have allowed eight of the last 10 quarterbacks they’ve faced to log top-12 (QB1) results in fantasy with only Gardner Minshew (Week 9) and Jacoby Brissett (Week 12) failing against them in this span. Breshad Perriman took advantage of his starting opportunity last week, ripping the Lions for 5/113/3 while playing a season-high 90 percent of Bucs’ snaps. With only Justin Watson behind him on the depth chart — Scott Miller also re-aggravated a hamstring injury in Week 15 — Perriman is a top-15 play at the position during the fantasy football finals. With all of the Bucs’ injuries at receiver, O.J. Howard will be forced into a larger role in Week 16. Howard somewhat disappointed last week (4/46), but he saw a season-high eight targets without Evans. Now with Godwin also sidelined, Howard is this week’s top non-Hollister streaming option against a Texans defense that has allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points to tight ends over the last month.
Bills at Patriots (at 4:30pm ET – on Saturday)
Start: WR Julian Edelman
FLEX: RB James White; RB Devin Singletary
Sit: QB Tom Brady; RB Sony Michel; QB Josh Allen; WR John Brown; WR Cole Beasley
Key Game Facts
— These are Tom Brady’s last six fantasy finishes: QB20, QB23, QB17, QB6, QB26, QB23
— Over the last two months, Buffalo has allowed the 3rd-fewest fantasy points per pass attempt and the 3rd-lowest passing success rate
— Josh Allen has been held to a 38.9 passer rating and 5.4 yards per pass attempt in two career meetings against New England
When the Bills have the ball:Josh Allen has really struggled to get anything going through the air in either of his two previous meetings against the Patriots, making him impossible to trust in lineups this week. Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson are the only two quarterbacks to finish better than QB20 in weekly output against New England all year. The same logic of avoiding Allen applies to John Brown and Cole Beasley, too. Brown will undoubtedly get shadow coverage treatment from the NFL’s top CB Stephon Gillmore while Beasley shouldn’t come close to entering a lineup this week. The Patriots are allowing the 5th-fewest fantasy points per game to slot wideouts. So, Devin Singletary stands alone as Buffalo’s top play in fantasy this week. Singletary has gone over 75 scrimmage yards in five-straight games and has seen 16 or more touches in every contest in this span.
When the Patriots have the ball:Outside of Julian Edelman and James White, the Patriots continue to be completely devoid of fantasy plays. Tom Brady hasn’t been a good fantasy quarterback in awhile and there is little reason to believe that turns around against Buffalo’s stout secondary. Julian Edelman unfortunately face-planted (2 catches for 9 yards) in the fantasy semifinals, but he remains a high-end WR2 in PPR leagues despite this tough matchup. The Patriots got out to a big lead against the Bengals early and just took their foot off of the gas in the second half en route to an easy win last week and Buffalo should force Brady to keep throwing in Week 16. Edelman had previously seen 10 or more targets in eight-straight games and his volume should get back to normal here after he saw just 5 passing looks in Week 15. Edelman is clearly less than 100 percent but Brady has no one else to go to. This matchup sets up nearly perfectly for a “James White game”, though. White has caught 20 balls for 149 yards over his last 3 games against Buffalo and dumping off a bunch of check-downs to White seems like it’ll be a big part of the Pats’ game-plan since they don’t have anyone on the outside that can come close to beating Bills star CB Tre’Davious White.
Rams at 49ers (at 8:15pm ET – on Saturday)
Must Play: TE George Kittle
Start: RB Raheem Mostert; RB Todd Gurley; WR Robert Woods; WR Cooper Kupp; TE Tyler Higbee
Beware: QB Jimmy Garoppolo; WR Deebo Samuel
Sit: QB Jared Goff; WR Brandin Cooks; WR Emmanuel Sanders
Injuries to monitor: TE Gerald Everett (knee)
Key Game Facts
— George Kittle has 22 receptions, 350 yards, and 2 TDs in his last three games against the Rams
— Kittle leads all tight ends in YPG over the last two months
— Tyler Higbee leads all tight ends in targets (33) with Gerald Everett out of the lineup
When the Rams have the ball:The results certainly haven’t been pretty at times, but Todd Gurley was re-installed as the Rams clear workhorse back after their Week 9 bye. Over the last six weeks, Gurley has played on 81 percent of L.A.’s snaps and his involvement in the passing game has somewhat returned to normal levels (21 targets in this span). Gurley is an RB2 start this week along with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp as low-end WR2 plays. Woods’ box score results left a lot to be desired last week (4/17) but he saw nine targets once again, marking his fifth straight game with at least 9 passing looks. After randomly playing just 19 snaps in Week 14, Kupp’s role was restored back to its usual level last week as he played on 92 percent of Rams’ snaps against the Cowboys. It looks like Richard Sherman (hamstring) is set to return to the lineup this week, but game script should favor the Rams passing attack here if the 49ers jump out to a lead and force L.A. to throw a ton. Meanwhile, Tyler Higbee continued dominating last week without Gerald Everett and posted his third straight game of 100 or more yards. Everett did practice and is set to return this week, though, and his presence obviously hurts Higbee’s outlook. Higbee has been a top-5 play over the last few weeks but is more of a low-end TE1 with Everett back.
When the 49ers have the ball:Fresh off roasting the Falcons for a monster 13/134 performance in the fantasy semifinals, Kittle is in a dream matchup this week against a Rams defense he has owned in the past. While Kittle is going to carry fantasy managers to a ring this week, the rest of the 49ers — outside of Raheem Mostert — have shaky outlooks in Week 16. Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel both randomly had one of their worst performances of the season last week as HC Kyle Shanahan relentlessly schemed looks to Kittle against Atlanta. With Jalen Ramsey likely on Sanders all game long, I’m fading Sanders during championship week while Samuel remains a boom-or-bust WR3. Since acquiring Jalen Ramsey, the Rams have allowed the 9th-fewest fantasy points per pass attempt, the 7th-lowest completion rate, and only Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott have logged QB1 (top-12) results against them. Outside of Kittle, I’d tread lightly on Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. this week. Raheem Mostert (72) has widely out-snapped both Tevin Coleman (29) and Matt Breida (24) over the last two weeks and is a rock-solid RB2 play against this Rams team that has allowed a top-24 RB fantasy performance in four of their last 5 games.
Bengals at Dolphins (at 1pm ET)
Must Play: RB Joe Mixon; WR DeVante Parker
Start: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick; WR Tyler Boyd
Stream: QB Andy Dalton
Sit: RB Patrick Laird; TE Mike Gesicki
Injuries to monitor: RB Joe Mixon (calf)
Key Game Facts
— These are Joe Mixon’s weekly fantasy finishes (PPR) since the Bengals Week 9 bye: RB9, RB9, RB27, RB16, RB3, RB11
— Miami has allowed a top-6 RB fantasy performance in three of their last 4 games
— Bengals-Dolphins has an over/under of 46 points, tied with Packers-Vikings for the 6th-highest total on the slate
When the Bengals have the ball:It took him a little while to get going, but Joe Mixon has returned as a fantasy RB1 when it has mattered most. Since the Bengals Week 9 bye, Mixon trails only Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry in scrimmage yards per game and is the No. 4 fantasy back in this span. He’s a top-5 play against Miami’s weak run defense. Just make sure Mixon’s calf issue that he popped up on the injury report with isn’t too big of a deal over this weekend. Tyler Boyd is seeing 9.6 targets per game in Andy Dalton’s starts this year, which would rank fifth among all wide receivers over the full season. Boyd is one of the best WR2 starts for Week 16 while Andy Dalton is an intriguing deep streaming option this week. Dalton has finished outside of the top-20 scoring QBs in three straight games since being re-named the starter, but this matchup is obviously ripe. I’d play Dalton over other low-end streaming options like Mitchell Trubisky and Jacoby Brissett this week.
When the Dolphins have the ball:Before facing Mason Rudolph/Devlin Hodges, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Tom Brady over the last month — the Bengals had previously allowed a top-12 (QB1) fantasy performance in 8-of-10 games this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick has quietly been fantasy football’s QB9 in fantasy points over the last month and has posted top-8 results three times in this span. Since this game has sneaky shoot-out appeal, I’m treating both Fitzmagic and DeVante Parker as top-10 plays at their respective positions this week. Outside of Parker and Fitzpatrick, the rest of Miami is looking thin for fantasy plays in Week 16. Myles Gaskin ended up out-snapping and out-scoring Patrick Laird in fantasy football last week, rendering both unusable for Week 16 lineup decisions. Meanwhile, there are simply better streaming options than Mike Gesicki — like O.J. Howard, Jacob Hollister, and Noah Fant — at tight end this week.
Steelers at Jets (at 1pm ET)
Start: RB James Conner; RB Le’Veon Bell
Sit: WR Robby Anderson; WR Jamison Crowder; WR James Washington; WR Diontae Johnson
Injuries to monitor: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee); TE Vance McDonald (concussion)
Key Game Facts
— James Conner handled 58 percent of Steelers snaps, 60 percent of their RB carries, and ran a route on 22-of-42 dropbacks (52 percent) in his return from injury last week
— The Jets are allowing a league-low 3.07 yards per carry but have given up the 6th-most receptions to running backs this season
— Steelers-Jets has an over/under of 37 points, which is the lowest total on the slate
When the Steelers have the ball:James Conner and Pittsburgh’s D/ST are the only two plays that should make it into lineups on the Steelers side for finals week. While Conner’s matchup on the ground is tough, he can more than make up for it with his involvement in the passing game. JuJu Smith-Schuster is set to return this week and he’s certainly talented enough to relentlessly roast the Jets’ weak cornerbacks, but there is no way you can feel confident clicking his name into a championship lineup. JuJu had been held under 45 yards in three of his last four games before going down with a knee injury in Week 11. With Smith-Schuster back, both James Washington and Diontae Johnson are hail mary WR4’s in Week 16.
When the Jets have the ball:Outside of starting Le’Veon Bell as an RB2, you’re playing any other Jet at your own peril in Week 16. Fantasy managers should have no interest messing around with Sam Darnold or any New York pass catcher this week against the Steelers white-hot defense. Over the last two months, the Steelers have allowed the league’s 2nd-lowest passer rating (74.8), 2nd-lowest passing success rate (39.7 percent), 3rd-lowest completion rate (56.9 percent), and forced pressure at the 4th-highest rate (30 percent). The Steelers front-seven has the talent to overwhelm the Jets pass protection and their secondary is playing significantly better as of late, allowing the 5th-fewest fantasy points to wideouts over the last five weeks. Both Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder are completely unpredictable, boom-or-bust WR3 plays for the fantasy finals.
Giants at Redskins (at 1pm ET)
Must Play: RB Saquon Barkley
Start: WR Terry McLaurin
FLEX: RB Adrian Peterson
High upside WR3: WR Golden Tate; WR Sterling Shepard; WR Darius Slayton
Injuries to monitor: QB Daniel Jones (ankle); TE Rhett Ellison (concussion)
Key Game Facts
— Washington has allowed the 6th-most rushing yards and 4th-most receiving yards to running backs over the last five weeks
— The Redskins gave up a top-15 RB scoring performance in four of 5 games in this span
When the Giants have the ball:Saquon Barkley finally reminded everyone of how high his ceiling is against Miami last week, ripping the Dolphins for 143 scrimmage yards and 2 TDs. Once again, Barkley is a top-5 RB start in this near-perfect matchup. With Daniel Jones set to return this week, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and Darius Slayton are high-upside WR3 selections against the Redskins banged-up secondary. I have no clue which one of this trio will have the best game, but I’d play any of one of this trio over options like Odell Beckham, Robby Anderson/Jamison Crowder, Curtis Samuel, and John Brown. Washington has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers this year — which will give slot man Golden Tate a nice ceiling — while both Shepard and Slayton have winnable matchups on the boundary.
When the Redskins have the ball:It’s 2019 and Adrian Peterson isstillin play for fantasy-lineup decisions. Time truly is a flat circle. Interim HC Bill Callahan is always looking to establish the run and has shown a willingness to load up Peterson with workhorse-level touches in his tenure. Peterson has handled at least 16 touches, played over 60 percent of team snaps, and tallied over 80 scrimmage yards in five games without Derrius Guice (and Callahan as HC). Amazingly, Peterson still has plenty of juice in his legs, even at 33-years-old. Meanwhile, Terry McLaurin is one of the best WR2 plays on this week’s slate against a Giants’ secondary that has been roasted for the 4th-most yards and 5th-most fantasy points by wide receivers this season. After a mid-season lull with Dwayne Haskins making his first career starts, McLaurin quietly has 60 yards and/or a touchdown in four of his last 5 games.
Panthers at Colts (at 1pm ET)
Must Play: RB Christian McCaffrey
Start: WR D.J. Moore; TE Jack Doyle
FLEX: RB Marlon Mack
Sit: WR T.Y. Hilton; WR Curtis Samuel; TE Greg Olsen
Key Game Facts
— Over the last two months, Carolina has allowed the league’s 8th-highest passer rating and 4th-highest completion rate
— No defense is allowing more yards per carry or more rushing yards per game than the Panthers
When the Panthers have the ball:At long last, the Panthers are finally giving Will Grier a chance to play after suffering through weeks of poor play from Kyle Allen. Granted, Grier really struggled on limited preseason snaps and he must have not done much to change the Panthers coaching staff’s mind since they stuck with Allen for so long, but there is no way you can bench D.J. Moore in the fantasy finals. Moore is one of the hottest receivers in the NFL — he’s averaging 6.9 catches and 101.6 yards per game over the last seven weeks — and the Colts don’t have a cornerback to match up with him. Meanwhile, Curtis Samuel has been held under 40 yards in five of his last 6 games and the unknown with Will Grier doesn’t exactly help his outlook. Samuel also popped up on the injury report with a knee injury this week and is questionable to play. Greg Olsen looks set to return after missing two games, but the Panthers are in full-on evaluation mode for 2020 and Ian Thomas has played well in recent weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Olsen only plays a limited role in Week 16.
When the Colts have the ball:Marlon Mack has turned his 24 carries into just 57 yards of offense since returning from injury in Week 14, but those were road matchups against the Bucs and Saints stout run defenses. Even though the Colts offense looked out of sorts and has struggled a bit on the road, a home spot against one of the league’s worst defenses is a far better matchup. I was excited for Jack Doyle down the stretch run, but he has gone 2/27 and 2/21 over his last two games without Eric Ebron and with T.Y. Hilton banged up. Doyle remains on the low-end TE1 radar for the good matchup alone, but I’d stream both O.J. Howard and Jacob Hollister over him this week. With just 3/18 and 4/25 receiving on limited snaps in his last two appearances, there is no way you can trust Hilton in a fantasy lineup this weekend. T.Y. is clearly playing at way less than 100 percent. For what it’s worth, I want to like Jacoby Brissett as a streamer this week in this great matchup but you’d have to be pretty desperate to start him.
Ravens at Browns (at 1pm ET)
Must Play: QB Lamar Jackson
Start: RB Mark Ingram; TE Mark Andrews; RB Nick Chubb; RB Kareem Hunt
Beware: WR Jarvis Landry
Sit: QB Baker Mayfield; WR Odell Beckham; WR Marquise Brown
Key Game Facts
— Over the last two months, the Ravens own the league’s lowest passer rating (73.8) and they have allowed the fewest fantasy points per pass attempt
— Baltimore has been susceptible against the run in this span, though (4.66 YPC allowed; 6th-worst)
— Since Week 10, Nick Chubb is the RB7 in fantasy points while Kareem Hunt is RB11
When the Ravens have the ball:Baltimore is the most straight-forward team every single week. You start Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, and Mark Ingram and just watch the touchdowns pile up. Ingram has a particularly high ceiling this week, too. The Browns have allowed a top-20 RB scoring performance in fantasy in three straight games and have given up the 3rd-most fantasy points per carry over the last two months. Cleveland has also allowed the 2nd-most explosive runs (10+ yards) in this span. Look out. Marquise Brown only needs to connect with Lamar once to have a big day, but he’s seen four or fewer targets in six of his last seven games since returning from injury in Week 9. You likely have better options at receiver than Hollywood this weekend.
When the Browns have the ball:Outside of starting Nick Chubb and using Kareem Hunt as an RB2/FLEX play, the rest of the Browns are precarious Week 16 fantasy plays. No pass defense is hotter than the Ravens are right now and I’m not sure how you could trust either Baker Mayfield or Odell Beckham in a lineup this weekend after 14 games of mediocre results. Jarvis Landry’s outlook is fairly poor, too. Landry will mostly do battle with slot cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who is allowing just 0.24 fantasy points per coverage snap this season. Humphrey is in a similar class with Tre’Davious White (0.23), Jimmy Smith (0.22), and Stephon Gilmore (0.19) as one of the least fantasy-friendly CB matchups. If you have to start Landry or Beckham this weekend, you’re praying that they see double-digit targets and that volume carries them to solid fantasy days.
Jaguars at Falcons (at 1pm ET)
Must Play: QB Matt Ryan; WR Julio Jones
Start: RB Leonard Fournette; RB Devonta Freeman; TE Austin Hooper
Beware: WR Chris Conley
Sit: WR Dede Westbrook
Injuries to monitor: WR D.J. Chark (ankle)
Key Game Facts
— In Week 15, Julio Jones became just the 4th receiver to see 20 targets in a game since 2015
— Prior to facing the Raiders last week, the Jaguars had previously allowed a top-12 (RB1) running back finish in fantasy in five straight games
When the Jaguars have the ball:Even though he’s apparently allergic to scoring touchdowns, Leonard Fournette’s involvement in the passing game continues to buoy his fantasy output. Fournette has now seen six or more targets in seven straight contests, giving him an extremely high floor. The only issue is that the Jags’ continue to fall behind in games, forcing them to abandon the run. Fournette remains a high-end RB2 start despite Jacksonville’s inefficient offense. Meanwhile, D.J. Chark is set to return after missing just one game with an ankle injury. Chark has mouth-watering upside in this obviously fantastic matchup and I’d be willing to roll him over options like Cooper Kupp and Jarvis Landry, for example. Chark’s return kills Chris Conley’s sleeper status while Dede Westbrook can’t be trusted after having just 2 receptions for 14 yards in a dream spot against Oakland last week.
When the Falcons have the ball:Fire up all of your Falcons this week! Over the last two months, Jacksonville’s defense has completely crumbled. In this span, they’ve not only allowed the league’s 2nd-most yards per carry (5.65) — but they’ve also been tagged for the 2nd-most fantasy points per pass attempt along with a league-high 8.7 yards per pass attempt. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are must-starts in season-long lineups while Devonta Freeman and Austin Hooper carry higher-than-usual ceilings in this perfect matchup at home. Freeman remains particularly under-priced on DFS sites.
Saints at Titans (at 1pm ET)
Must Play: WR Michael Thomas
Start: QB Drew Brees; RB Alvin Kamara; TE Jared Cook; QB Ryan Tannehill; RB Derrick Henry; WR A.J. Brown
Injuries to monitor: WR Adam Humphries (ankle); WR Corey Davis (ankle)
Key Game Facts
— Michael Thomas only needs 11 receptions to break Marvin Harrison’s single-season record (143 receptions)
— Thomas has caught at least 10 balls in five of his last 7 games
— The Titans are allowing a league-high 26.1 fantasy points per game to slot wide receivers and Thomas lines up in the slot on nearly one-third of his routes
When the Saints have the ball:Because New Orleans’ offense is so concentrated between Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Jared Cook — we know who to play here every single week. Drew Brees has notorious home/road splits, but he’s still a rock-solid QB1 start against the banged-up Titans secondary. Matchups do not matter for him, but it’s quite possible Michael Thomas sets the single-season record for most receptions in just 15 games. Titans cornerbacks stand no chance at slowing down Thomas this week. Even though the Saints have scored 19 touchdowns (3.1 per game) since Alvin Kamara returned from injury in Week 10, he still can’t seem to get in on the scoring fun. Kamara’s usage and yards from scrimmage have remained nearly identical in this scoring drought, though, so the touchdownshaveto be coming soon… right? It’d sure be nice if Kamara’s misfortune turned around during the fantasy finals. Jared Cook has quietly gone over 50 yards or scored a touchdown in six straight games since returning to the lineup in Week 10. Cooks remains a low-end TE1 in finals week.
When the Titans have the ball:With top-10 fantasy results in six of his last 7 games, Ryan Tannehill is a borderline must-start for fantasy championship week. I’d only play Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, and Matt Ryan over Tannehill this weekend. There is no way you can bench the white-hot A.J. Brown, but it’s notable that Marshon Lattimore will be shadowing him on every snap on Sunday. Brown is fantasy’s WR2 (90 PPR points) behind only Michael Thomas (98.1) over the last month, but few cornerbacks are playing better than Lattimore. Since Week 3, Lattimore hasn’t allowed more than 48 yards in his coverage in a single game. Brown was a top-10 play last week, but I’d treat him more as more of a WR2 in Week 16. Meanwhile, even though a balky hamstring has him operating at clearly less than 100 percent, Derrick Henry remains an RB1 start. The Colts weren’t able to take advantage of this last week, but the Saints lost stud defensive linemen Marcus Davenport and Sheldon Rankins to season-ending injuries after Week 14. Henry and the Titans rushing attack can certainly exploit New Orleans’ missing pieces in the trenches.
Raiders at Chargers (at 4:05pm ET)
Start: RB Austin Ekeler; RB Melvin Gordon; WR Keenan Allen; TE Hunter Henry; TE Darren Waller
FLEX: RB DeAndre Washington; WR Mike Williams
Stream: QB Philip Rivers
Sit: WR Tyrell Williams
Injuries to monitor:
Key Game Facts
— Mike Williams has gone over 60 yards in six of his last 7 games
— The Raiders are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to receivers aligned out wide
When the Raiders have the ball:With Josh Jacobs resting up for 2020, the Raiders will turn back to DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard in the backfield in Week 16. Washington played 63 percent of Raiders’ snaps and saw 20 touches in his spot start in place of Jacobs two weeks ago while Richard got 9 touches. The Raiders offense doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but Washington has an easy path to 12-15 carries and significant work in the passing game. Washington is on the FLEX radar in season-long and is under-priced on DFS sites this weekend. Meanwhile, the only other play-able Raider this week is Darren Waller. With 70 or more yards and at least five receptions in four of his last 5 games, Waller is a no-brainer TE1 start this week. Tyrell Williams finally made his way back into the end-zone last week, but his low volume makes him un-playable in the fantasy finals. Williams has seen four or fewer targets in 5 of his last 7 games.
When the Chargers have the ball:The Chargers have a lot of mouths to feed on offense, but all of them are in play for Week 16 lineup decisions. L.A. is implied to score 26.3 points (based on the spread and over/under) this week, which is the 5th-highest team total on the slate. The Chargers flopped for just 10 points last week against Minnesota, but a bounce-back is in order this week against the Raiders hapless defense. Melvin Gordon is especially due for a big game and he might just find one this week against an Oakland defense he’s owned in recent years. Gordon has gone over 120 scrimmage yards in five straight games against the Raiders. Meanwhile, Austin Ekeler has gone over 60 receiving yards or scored a touchdown in five straight contests and Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry all carry strong ceilings against this Raiders secondary that is allowing the 3rd-most fantasy points per pass attempt. On that note, Philip Rivers is the 3rd-best streaming play behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and Kirk Cousins this week.
Lions at Broncos (at 4:05pm ET)
Start: WR Courtland Sutton
Stream: TE Noah Fant
FLEX: RB Phillip Lindsay
Sit: RB Kerryon Johnson WR Kenny Golladay; RB Royce Freeman
Key Game Facts
— Kenny Golladay averaged 80 yards per game in his first eight games
— Golladay has cleared 61 yards once in his last 6 contests
When the Lions have the ball:Kenny Golladay is certainly talented enough to win in any matchup, but it’s hard to keep the faith with David Blough at the controls. Over the last two weeks, Blough has melted down for 4 INTs, 7 sacks, and an abysmal 5.6 yards per attempt. Denver’s secondary led by Chris Harris has struggled lately, but Denver’s front-seven should be able to disrupt Blough often and control the game. Kerryon Johnson is set to return after being placed on IR in mid-October, but I have no idea what type of workload he’ll see after such a long injury layoff. Bo Scarbrough (ribs) is banged up and questionable to play after missing last week, too — but you’d have to be pretty desperate to play Johnson in championship week.
When the Broncos have the ball:Phillip Lindsay has been disappointing in the back half of the regular season, but he’s not going to catch many better matchups than this one. Prior to last week’s offensive struggles on the road and in the snow at Arrowhead, Lindsay was averaging 17.5 touches per game as the Broncos clear lead back over Royce Freeman. I’m going back to Lindsay as a FLEX start this week and treating Courtland Sutton as a near-WR1. Drew Lock has been locked onto Sutton as his top receiver, targeting him on 24 percent of his throws in three starts so far. Sutton has week-winning upside against this Lions secondary that has allowed the 2nd-most yards to wideouts over the full year.
Cardinals at Seahawks (at 4:25pm ET)
Must Play: QB Russell Wilson; RB Chris Carson
Start: WR Tyler Lockett; WR D.K. Metcalf; QB Kyler Murray; RB Kenyan Drake
Stream: TE Jacob Hollister
Beware: WR Christian Kirk
Sit: Larry Fitzgerald
Key Game Facts
— In the nine games Rashaad Penny has either missed or been limited to less than 15 percent of snaps, Chris Carson has handled 23.8 touches per game
— Carson has played at least 80 percent of Seattle’s snaps in 7-of-9 contests with Penny out/limited
When the Cardinals have the ball:Because Kyler Murray keeps spreading the ball around — he targeted9 different receiverslast week — both Murray and Kenyan Drake stand alone as the only startable players for Arizona this weekend. Because the Cardinals almost always have three or four wide receivers on the field, it’s very hard for one pass catcher to be the clear lead target every week and that’s mainly why Christian Kirk has been held under 60 yards in 7 of 11 games this year. It doesn’t help that Kirk has been limited with an ankle injury and is a game-time call on Sunday. Drake absolutely vaporized the Browns for 22/137/4 last week and his near-workhorse level usage makes him a game-script independent RB2/FLEX option for Week 16. Drake has played on at least two-thirds of Arizona’s snaps in five of 6 games since joining the team. Murray remains on the low-end QB1 radar for championship week, especially since Seattle has quietly leaked the 6th-most rushing yards to enemy quarterbacks.
When the Seahawks have the ball:You know what to do here. Fire up all of your Seahawks with confidence this weekend. Russell Wilson hasn’t had many big games in recent weeks, but he should have no issue hitting his ceiling once again. I just can’t see Wilson failing to put up big numbers at home against Arizona. Both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are in amazing spots, too. Since Week 8, Arizona has allowed the 4th-most fantasy points per game to slot wideouts — that’s where Lockett runs over half his routes — and the 3rd-most fantasy points to boundary wideouts. Finally, Jacob Hollister is this week’s top TE streamer in the most obvious flow-chart matchup of the season. Arizona has allowed a TE1 (top-12) fantasy performance in 11-of-13 games this year.
Cowboys at Eagles (at 4:25pm ET)
Must Play: RB Ezekiel Elliott; TE Zach Ertz
Start: QB Carson Wentz; RB Miles Sanders; WR Amari Cooper; WR Michael Gallup
Deep sleeper: WR Greg Ward
Injuries to monitor: QB Dak Prescott (shoulder)
Key Game Facts
— Amari Cooper has gone for 6/75, 10/217/3, and 5/106 as a member of the Cowboys vs. the Eagles
— The Eagles are allowing the 4th-most fantasy points per game to receivers aligned out wide
When the Cowboys have the ball:There is no way Dak Prescott is going to let his shoulder injury hold him out of this battle for the NFC East title, but unfortunately, his shoulder is likely not at full strength. Prescott did not throw in practice on Wednesday or Thursday. It’s entirely possible that Prescott has a so-so game and still gets the rock to Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup often enough for them to bounce-back after week killing, one-catch performances in the fantasy semifinals. I’m treating Prescott as a low-end QB1 at less than 100 percent health and would start Matt Ryan, Kyler Murray, Carson Wentz, and Ryan Fitzpatrick over Dak this weekend. Cooper and Gallup are both high-ceiling WR2 starts in this perfect draw. The Eagles perimeter cornerbacks simply don’t have the talent to match up with what Cooper and Gallup can throw at them. All told, this just seems like a week where Dallas loads up Ezekiel Elliott with 25 touches. The Eagles front-seven has been one of the best run-stuffing units in the NFL for multiple seasons now, but the Cowboys have continued to have success on the ground against them. Dallas has gone over 125 yards rushing against Philadelphia in five straight meetings.
When the Eagles have the ball:With top-12 (QB1) fantasy results in three straight contests, Carson Wentz is starting to get hot when it matters most. Since Dallas has allowed top-13 fantasy results in four of their last 5 games — only Tom Brady (QB17) failed against them in this span — I’m locking in Wentz as a QB1 start. Even though he has zero wide receivers outside of Greg Ward to throw to, Wentz and Zach Ertz continue to show incredible chemistry. Ertz has seen over 10 targets in five of his last 6 outings and is averaging a monster 7.8 receptions and 77.3 yards per game in this span. If you’re truly desperate, Greg Ward is a hail mary WR4 sleeper in the Eagles banged-up pass-catcher corps. Ward has seen 7 or more targets in three of his last 4 games while Dallas has allowed the 9th-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers over the last month. Fresh off his best game of the season (172 scrimmage yards and 2 TDs), you’d have to be pretty loaded at running back in order to bench Miles Sanders this weekend. With Jordan Howard still not cleared for contact, Sanders has played over 70 percent of Eagles’ snaps in four of his last 5 games with Howard sidelined.
Chiefs at Bears (at 8:20pm ET)
Must Play: QB Patrick Mahomes; WR Tyreek Hill; TE Travis Kelce
Start: WR Anthony Miller; WR
Sleeper: RB Tarik Cohen
Sit: RB David Montgomery
Injuries to monitor: RB Damien Williams (ribs)
Key Game Facts
— Tarik Cohen has out-scored David Montgomery in fantasy in five of their last 6 outings
— Only five teams have allowed more receptions to slot wide receivers this year than the Chiefs
— Anthony Miller runs over 75 percent of his routes from the slot
When the Chiefs have the ball:You’d have to be crazy to bench Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, or Travis Kelce with a fantasy ring on the line. You’d also be equally crazy if you started a Chiefs running back this week. Darwin Thompson, Spencer Ware, and LeSean McCoy were all involved in Week 15 and now Damien Williams might return after a three-game absence.
When the Bears have the ball:Even though Kansas City has done a phenomenal job at limiting production from wide receivers all year long, both Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller are fantastic WR2 starts this week. Miller has the far better matchup in the slot because the Chiefs coverage forces passers to attack the middle of the field, but there is no way you can bench Allen Robinson with all the marbles on the line. With Taylor Gabriel set to miss another game, A-Rob has the upside to win you a championship. In the seven games where Gabriel has either sat out or been limited, Robinson has gone for 7/77, 7/97/2, 10/87/1, 6/131/1, 8/86/1, 5/48/2, and 7/125 with at least 8 targets in every game. Even though the Chiefs run defense has struggled all year long, David Montgomery is a Week 16 fade. The Bears are likely going to have to play from behind this week and a pass-heavy game script favors Tarik Cohen. At any rate, Cohen has emerged as the better fantasy option over Montgomery in PPR leagues.
Packers at Vikings (at 8:15pm ET – on Monday Night)
Must Play: WR Davante Adams
Start: RB Aaron Jones; WR Stefon Diggs; WR Adam Thielen
Beware: QB Aaron Rodgers
Stream: QB Kirk Cousins
Sit: RB Jamaal Williams; TE Kyle Rudolph
Injuries to monitor: RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder); RB Alexander Mattison (ankle)
Key Game Facts
— Adam Thielen played 51 percent of Vikings snaps and only saw 3 targets in his return last week
— However, these are Thielen’s last five stat lines against the Packers: 12/202/2, 9/96, 2/26, 12/131/1, 8/125/1, and 5/75
— Thielen’s only bad outing against the Packers (2/26) came in a game where Minnesota only needed to throw the ball 25 times
When the Packers have the ball:Aaron Rodgers has the ability to go off in any matchup, but we’ve really only seen him explode for a big performance twice, as nine of Rodgers’ 24 touchdowns have come against the Giants and Raiders this season. The Vikings’ secondary has been beatable all year long, but there are a few similar QB options (like Fitzpatrick, Cousins, and Wentz) that have better outlooks than Rodgers this week. Rodgers has finished as the QB20 or worse in five of his last six games and he’s a perfect reminder of why you should never just blindly attach to “name-value” in fantasy football. Nevertheless, Davante Adams is set up perfectly to go nuts in Minnesota this week. Adams has seen at least 30 percent of Rodgers’ passing looks in four of 5 games since returning from injury and a struggling Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes will continue to be no match for Adams this week. Not only have the Vikings allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points to receivers aligned out wide, but Adams has also destroyed Minnesota for 100 yards or a touchdown in 5-straight meetings. Even though Aaron Jones’ passing game usage continues to bounce all over the place, he carries top-10 upside in every matchup based on his touchdown upside alone. Jones is a no brainer start again this week while Jamaal Williams remains a fade. After scoring in four straight games in Weeks 6-9, Williams has finished as fantasy’s RB30 or worse in weekly output in four of his last 5.
When the Vikings have the ball:The health of both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison is the biggest news storyline to track throughout the weekend. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has insisted that Cook likely won’t play for the rest of the regular season while he rests up for the playoffs, while Mattison missed Week 15 and will likely operate at less than 100 percent health if he does in fact suit up against the Packers. If Cook and Mattison both do not play this week, Mike Boone will be a top-15 running back play for the finals. Boone (13 carries, 56 yards, 2 TDs) got the bulk of the work in Cook’s absence against the Chargers last week and he’d obviously be set up extremely well as the starter in Week 16 against the Packers’ No. 25 ranked run defense in FootballOutsiders DVOA. Even though he was third-string on the depth chart all year, make no mistake: Boone can play. He’s looked explosive on his touches during the preseason and he’s more than capable of handling a workhorse load in Week 16. Even though Adam Thielen only played in a limited role last week as the Vikings mounted a large lead over the Chargers, I’m firing up both Thielen and Stefon Diggs up as WR2 starts in Week 16. Kirk Cousins, Diggs, and Thielen all carry high ceiling potential this week — especially if Minnesota leans a little more on the passing game with both Cook and Mattison out. Kyle Rudolph remains a fade with Thielen back healthy.
— Graham Barfield is a fantasy editor and analyst for NFL.com. Catch him on the NFL Fantasy Football podcast with Marcas Grant and Michael Fabiano, Fantasy LIVE on NFL Network, watch him on Fantasy League One, and follow him on Twitter @GrahamBarfield.