Editor’s Note: The Week 16 Establish The Run tournament on DraftKings is live! Click here to enter. It’s a $3 buy-in, 3-entry max with 3,000 entries. No rake and added prizes. To see Adam Levitan’s lineup review of previous winners, check out our YouTube page.
Bengals at Dolphins
Team Totals: Dolphins 24, Bengals 23
Despite early-week rumors otherwise, the Bengals will play their 15th straight game sans A.J. Green (ankle) in a meaningful contest only for 2020 draft position. Averaging nearly five fewer fantasy points per game when Green sits over the past two years, Andy Dalton has mustered next to no box-score intrigue without a finish above QB15 since Week 7 and a 7:11 TD-to-INT ratio over his last eight starts. Not even Sunday’s plum draw at Miami is enough to vault Dalton above two-quarterback-league range. … Since 9 of the last 11 defenses to face Cincinnati tallied top-ten fantasy weeks – including seven top-six scores – the Fins’ D/ST checks in as a legit Week 16 sleeper. … On stretch-run fire for a Zac Taylor-coached team that’s shown consistent willingness to keep running the ball down multiple scores, Joe Mixon regained every-week RB1 valuation weeks ago with 100-plus total yards and/or a touchdown in seven of Cincy’s last eight games and a 23.8-touch, 124.2-yard average since the Bengals’ Week 9 bye. Drilled by backfields all year, the Dolphins got 2019 fantasy dud Saquon Barkley off the schneid last week for season highs in total yards (143) and touchdowns (2). Mixon also stands to benefit from Miami’s loss of MLB Raekwon McMillan (hamstring, I.R.), PFF’s No. 8-graded run-defending inside linebacker among 60 qualifiers this year.
Dalton’s Week 15 target distribution: Tyler Boyd 7; Alex Erickson and Tyler Eifert 5; Mixon and John Ross 3; Giovani Bernard, C.J. Uzomah, and Cethan Carter 2. … Chased by Stephon Gilmore on most of last week’s targets, slot man Boyd is an excellent PPR bounce-back bet with averages of 9.9 targets and 6.1 catches over Dalton’s previous ten starts. PFF has charged Dolphins UDFA rookie slot CB Jomal Wiltz with the 13th-highest passer rating allowed (121.4) among 124 qualified corners. … Still scoreless since November 2017, Erickson continues to run lots and lots of routes and do little on them. He hasn’t hit 50 yards since Week 8. … Eifert’s playing time has upticked slightly over the past two weeks – he played over half of the Bengals’ offensive snaps (55%) for just the second time all year in Week 15 – but Eifert ranks just 19th among NFL tight ends in routes run during that stretch with consecutive receiving lines of 4/49/0 and 3/44/0 to show for it. He’s just not getting enough usage to stream. … Frustratingly, the Bengals did not commit full-time Week 15 snaps to Ross despite Auden Tate’s (MCL, I.R.) loss, instead opting for multi-tight end sets involving Eifert, Carter, and Uzomah. Thus, Ross drew just three targets on 38% of the snaps and is a leap-of-faith WR4/DFS-tournament consideration against the Dolphins.
As crazy as it may sound, the Bengals’ D/ST is fantasy-punt playable here; 12-of-14 defenses (86%) to face Miami have banked top-12 weekly scores. … At the same time, Ryan Fitzpatrick has reentered DFS-tournament discussion in a revenge game against one of his (many) former teams coming off FitzMagic’s fifth top-eight QB1 score in ten starts. While Cincy’s defensive improvement is notable – four straight quarterbacks to face the Bengals have fantasy scores of QB17 or worse – the Dolphins’ self-induced pass funnel combined with Miami’s defensive leakiness and Fitzpatrick’s YOLO-ball aggressiveness keep his ceiling high in DeVante Parker stacks. … A Week 15 trainwreck against the Giants, Patrick Laird blew two blitz pickups, committed a pair of costly drops, and was all but benched for Myles Gaskin, who held up well with 72 yards on 11 touches and could easily usurp lead duties this week. Since Laird remains a superior receiving back and Gaskin is probably the better runner, I’m projecting a near-even split versus Cincy and considering both Laird and Gaskin low-floor, low-ceiling flex options in a broken run game.
Parker returned from his concussion-ruined Week 14 game to score twice in last Sunday’s loss to the Giants, pace the Dolphins in Air Yards (101), and play all but four of the team’s offensive snaps. With 90-plus yards and/or a touchdown in eight of his last ten non-concussion-shortened games, Parker is a WR2 play with WR1 upside regardless of matchups. … Albert Wilson ran as Miami’s No. 2 wideout behind Parker in Week 15’s loss to the Giants, while Allen Hurns and Isaiah Ford shared third receiver playing time almost evenly. Wilson has gone 12 straight games without clearing 60 yards and reached pay dirt once during that span. … Any tight end averaging nearly 6.5 targets per game for an extended stretch warrants fantasy conversation, and that’s what Mike Gesicki has done since Week 8. Gesicki’s results have been up and down – four games below 30 yards and three above 45 – but the opportunity isn’t going away on a pass-first Dolphins team. He’s a volume-based, boom-bust streamer versus Cincy.
Score Prediction: Dolphins 23, Bengals 17
Giants at Redskins
Team Totals: Redskins 22, Giants 20
After a two-week break the Giants attributed to a high ankle sprain, Daniel Jones returns as a target for Washington’s D/ST. Jones may play at less than 100%, and he was a defense-friendly quarterback before going down with a whopping 21 turnovers and 33 sacks absorbed over Jones’ initial ten starts. As just 4 of the last 12 quarterbacks to face Washington have banked top-12 fantasy outcomes, Jones’ individual value is limited to two-QB leagues. … Even without one of his once-trademark monster plays – his long gain was 12 yards – Saquon Barkley parlayed Week 15’s plus draw versus Miami into his best fantasy game of the year. He now encounters another mouth-watering spot; Washington concedes the NFL’s fifth-most yards rushing (114.4) and sixth-most yards receiving per game (50.9) to enemy backs and was throttled for 237 yards and two TDs by the Eagles’ backfield last week. Barkley is an elite RB1 play again.
Jones’ 2019 target distribution: Darius Slayton 61; Golden Tate 57; Barkley 43; Sterling Shepard 42; Rhett Ellison 26; Cody Latimer 18; Kaden Smith 15. … Regardless of his quarterback’s identity, Slayton has been a boom-bust commodity all year with 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 6-of-12 games but fewer than 50 yards in 7-of-12. Slayton’s last four stat lines in Jones’ starts were 6/44/0 > 4/67/0 > 10/121/2 > 1/6/0. New York’s three-receiver set did catch a matchup boost on Friday when the Redskins ruled out top CB Quinton Dunbar (hamstring) and listed slot CB Fabian Moreau (hamstring) as doubtful. … Tate showed the most consistent chemistry with pre-injury Jones, logging 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five of Jones’ last six starts. AAF refugee Greg Ward (7/61/1) ate up Washington’s Week 15 slot coverage, and Tate is a far superior player. Slowed during Eli Manning’s two-game stint, Tate is a prime bounce-back bet at Washington and my pick to lead the Giants in Week 16 receiving. … Shepard’s last four stat lines with Jones under center were 4/28/0 > 3/40/1 > 5/15/0 > 5/49/0. With a few exceptions, Shepard has been a low-ceiling WR3 option for most of the year.
Fresh off easily his season-best outing in last Sunday’s shootout loss to the Eagles, Dwayne Haskins encounters a draft-day revenge game against the Giants, who famously bypassed him for Daniel Jones at the No. 6 overall pick. This is the best matchup Haskins will catch all year; New York’s pass rush has been M.I.A. throughout 2019, and the G-Men cut top CB Janoris Jenkins prior to Week 15. A league-high 13-of-14 quarterbacks to face the Giants have banked top-12 fantasy finishes. Haskins suddenly looks like a realistic two-QB-league starter worthy of DFS-tournament consideration in stacks with Terry McLaurin. … One potential Haskins obstacle is the possibility run-committed Bill Callahan simply rides Adrian Peterson all day long. Peterson ran as effectively as any back has all season on Philadelphia last week, finishing with 91 yards and a touchdown on 19 touches. The bad news for Peterson is the Giants’ run defense has stiffened since acquiring DT Leonard Williams from the Jets, limiting enemy backs to a 113/353/2 (3.12 YPC) rushing line over the last five weeks. The good news is this sets up as a neutral-script game where the score is unlikely to get out of hand and Peterson can stay fed. Peterson’s touch counts in the last six games Derrius Guice (MCL, I.R.) missed or left early are 19 > 20 > 19 > 16 > 20 > 25.
Haskins’ 2019 target distribution: McLaurin 39; Steven Sims 29; Kelvin Harmon 28; Jeremy Sprinkle and Chris Thompson 16; Trey Quinn 11; Peterson 10; Wendell Smallwood 7. … Haskins’ slow-but-tangible progress combined with McLaurin’s improving results should enhance confidence in McLaurin as a bankable WR2 with WR1 upside in this plus draw. He should have little trouble disposing of Giants outside CBs DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal, who’ve combined to concede 807 yards (9.4 YPA) and eight TDs (9.3% TD Rate) on 86 targets. McLaurin has topped 70 yards and/or scored a touchdown in three of Washington’s last four games. … Sims left a ton of Week 15 yards on the field with a pair of drops, but he put himself on the deep-sleeper map with 11 targets against the Eagles and has played 70% or more of the Redskins’ offensive snaps in consecutive games. Sims has overtaken Quinn at slot receiver, where Julian Edelman (9/113/0), Danny Amendola (8/95/0), Cole Beasley (4/83/0), Jamison Crowder (5/81/1), Anthony Miller (6/77/0), Randall Cobb (4/69/1), and Albert Wilson (5/59/0) have given the G-Men fits. Sims also popped as Week 16’s No. 5 player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Harmon is locked in as Washington’s No. 2 perimeter wideout after Paul Richardson went on I.R. but has been quieter than his teammates with a scoreless 34.2-yard average in Haskins’ starts. … Sprinkle is still operating as Washington’s full-time tight end but has 13 yards on two targets in the last two games.
Score Prediction: Redskins 24, Giants 23
Jaguars at Falcons
Team Totals: Falcons 26.5, Jaguars 20
Although Jacksonville’s offensive trustworthiness remains low considering its atrocious five-game run prior to last week’s eked-out Black Hole upset, there are reasons to believe Gardner Minshew could outkick Week 16 expectations inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz dome. Top playmaker D.J. Chark (ankle) is due back against the Falcons, who won’t have top CB Desmond Trufant (broken arm) or DE Takk McKinley (shoulder) and seem likely to pour points on Jacksonville’s defense, giving this game some high-scoring potential. Minshew has padded his stats with 28.7 rushing yards per start, while Atlanta has yielded the NFL’s 12th-most QB rushing yards (237) and a league-high five QB rushing TDs. … Leonard Fournette has re-reached positive-TD-regression territory during a scoreless three-game stretch while continuing to handle elite RB1 volume amid results-based ups and downs. Averaging 23.5 touches over the last month, Fournette encounters an Atlanta defense that faces 27.4 touches per game from enemy backs. Fournette’s usage keeps him in DFS-tournament play each week, and this is an unimposing spot.
Early-week reports gave Chark a realistic shot to return from his high ankle sprain after missing just one game, which seems aggressive considering the nature of his injury. High ankle sprains can be debilitating for weeks on end even after a player is cleared to play, as Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Tevin Coleman among many others can attest. Chark’s mere presence on the field may aid Jacksonville’s offense as a unit, but he’ll be at risk of decoy usage as a boom-bust WR3 even in this plus draw. … Last week’s fourth-quarter hero with two TDs including the Jags’ game winner against the Raiders, Chris Conley now has 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in three of Minshew’s last four starts. Even if Chark is active, Conley is probably just as good a fantasy bet considering Chark’s uncertain health. … Dede Westbrook has shown neither a stable floor nor much ceiling regardless of whether Minshew or Nick Foles has been under center, hitting pay dirt once since Week 1 and recording 32 yards or fewer in four of Jacksonville’s last six games. Lacking any hint of consistency, Westbrook is an unexciting WR4.
Still playing hard in apparent hopes of saving Dan Quinn’s job, the Falcons return from a thrilling last-play road upset of the 49ers to complete back-to-back wins. Even after Jacksonville’s own road triumph at lowly Oakland, the motivation of Doug Marrone’s club is in far more doubt, especially after the NFL Players Association publicly turned on the Jags’ organization this week. Andy Dalton, Deshaun Watson, Ryan Tannehill, and Philip Rivers have all dropped top-12 fantasy results on Jacksonville since Week 7. While Matt Ryan isn’t quite a safe season-long QB1 due to the up-and-down nature of Atlanta’s offense and the Jaguars’ always dangerous pass rush, Ryan does offer a high enough ceiling for DFS-tournament discussion in stacks with Julio Jones. … Devonta Freeman catches the premier matchup in Atlanta’s skill-player corps versus a Jaguars defense enemy backs clocked for 159/940/8 (5.91 YPC) rushing over its last six games. Freeman has lost enough sixth-year juice that Dynasty leaguers should fully expect the Falcons to upgrade at running back this offseason, but he’s also a strong bet for 16-plus touches at home in this near-optimal draw, rendering Freeman a confident RB2 play in fantasy championship week.
Ryan’s Week 15 target distribution: Julio 20; Austin Hooper and Russell Gage 6; Freeman 3; Kenjon Barner 2; Luke Stocker and Christian Blake 1; Olamide Zaccheaus 0. … Julio experienced an immediate post-Calvin Ridley spike with an otherworldly 20 targets as the Falcons circumvented San Francisco’s dynamic defensive front with quick passes to Jones. As the Jaguars also field an imposing pass rush, a similar game plan would make sense here. Jones has a chance at a monster rest-of-season finish with Tampa Bay up next. … Limited in his Week 14 MCL-sprain return, Hooper resumed full-time usage at San Francisco by running 37 routes – his most since Week 10 – on 82% of Atlanta’s offensive snaps. The Jaguars coughed up 8/122/0 receiving to Darren Waller last week, a combined 3/53/2 stat line on five targets to Chargers tight ends the week before, and 5/61/1 receiving on six targets to once-dead O.J. Howard in Week 13. This looks like a get-right game for Hooper. … Gage remains a low-ceiling, PPR-specific option having cleared 60 yards once all season. … Blake operated as Atlanta’s No. 3 wideout over Zaccheaus in Week 15, finishing scoreless on one target. They can be safely avoided in Week 16.
Score Prediction: Falcons 27, Jaguars 20
Panthers at Colts
Team Totals: Colts 26.5, Panthers 19.5
Realizing Kyle Allen isn’t more than their backup quarterback of the future, the Panthers are turning to top-100 pick Will Grier for a Weeks 16-17 evaluation. Grier demonstrated aggressive moxie on the Ryan Fitzpatrick–Tony Romo spectrum at West Virginia, but struggled all preseason (55.7% completions, 2 TDs, 4 turnovers, 7 sacks), was curiously slow to garner starting consideration amid Allen’s struggles, and is a total unknown at this level. The Colts’ D/ST is stream-able here. … The Panthers still have individual milestones to play for, Christian McCaffrey’s run at Chris Johnson’s yards from scrimmage record foremost among them. CMC needs to average an otherworldly 194 total yards over Carolina’s last two games to get there, obscene numbers but not impossible ones for McCaffrey, who’s cleared 190 total yards three times this year and come close on a few other occasions. The Panthers would be smart to focus their efforts to feed him in the passing game, where Indianapolis has coughed up the NFL’s fourth-most running back catches (86). CMC is averaging a moneymaking 11.6 targets over the past five weeks.
Grier’s impact on Carolina’s pass catchers is entirely to be determined, and the Panthers’ emphasis on forcing McCaffrey the ball could conceivably take away from keeping other skill-position players fed. Either way, D.J. Moore is difficult to abandon with 80-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven straight games, especially against a Colts secondary that was pounded by WRs Will Fuller (7/140/0), Michael Thomas (12/128/1), DeAndre Hopkins (6/94/2), Chris Godwin (7/91/0), Breshad Perriman (3/70/1), Mike Evans (1/61/1), and Justin Watson (5/59/1) in the last month alone. … Curtis Samuel is a much better fade based on his year-long touchdown dependency in a game where the Panthers’ scoring probability likely takes a Grier-induced hit. … Greg Olsen (concussion) is apparently due back to play quite possibly his final two games in a Panthers uniform. It still makes logical sense for the team to continue to give tight end of the future Ian Thomas late-season looks in some sort of a committee.
Committed to finishing as strong as possible instead of giving Chad Kelly stretch-run snaps at Jacoby Brissett’s expense, the Colts’ optimal Week 16 offensive approach is to jam Marlon Mack down the Panthers’ throat. Mack got taken out of last week’s loss quickly as New Orleans built a 20-0 halftime lead, but game script sets him up to bounce back with Indianapolis favored by a touchdown at home in wide-eyed rookie Will Grier’s NFL debut. Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines’ sporadic involvement are threats to Mack’s floor, but his ceiling is high against Carolina’s league-worst run defense, which has been ethered by enemy backs for 87/549/7 (6.31 YPC) rushing in three games since losing NT Dontari Poe (quad) to I.R. … Struggling Brissett has turned in fantasy scores of QB16 or worse in five of his last six starts, lacking Week 16 playability outside of two-quarterback leagues on the run-first Colts.
Update: Marlon Mack‘s Week 16 matchup improved on Friday when the Panthers ruled out WLB Shaq Thompson (ankle), one of their small handful of useful run defenders.
T.Y. Hilton seems almost impossible to trust after operating as the Colts’ No. 4 receiver behind Zach Pascal, Marcus Johnson, and Dontrelle Inman in last Monday night’s loss to the Saints. Hilton played just 52% of Indy’s offensive snaps and doesn’t have a game above 54 yards or a touchdown since Week 7. … Pascal led the team in Week 15 receiving and looks like the Colts’ lone playable Week 16 receiver. Pascal has settled into the slot, where fellow interior WR Tyler Lockett (8/120/1) busted his slump at Carolina last week, and Pascal can mostly avoid talented Panthers perimeter CBs James Bradberry and Donte Jackson. … Coming off back-to-back disappointing games, Jack Doyle is a wholly usage-driven TE1 option against the Panthers. Doyle is still averaging a robust 7.3 targets in three games since Eric Ebron went on I.R., and only four NFL tight ends have run more pass routes than Doyle during that stretch. Doyle’s DFS-tournament appeal further rose when he popped as Week 16’s lone tight end in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Air Yards Model.
Score Prediction: Colts 23, Panthers 17
Ravens at Browns
Team Totals: Ravens 29, Browns 19
Continuing to separate themselves from the NFL pack, the 12-2 Ravens visit a Browns team that dealt them one of their losses all the way back in Week 4 – in Baltimore – via Cleveland’s dominant run game and 3-to-1 turnover edge. Lamar Jackson still emerged as Week 4’s overall QB3 and is fantasy’s top quarterback play in Sunday’s rematch with the highest floor-ceiling combination on Week 16’s slate. … Prolifically ethered by Kenyan Drake (22/137/4) last week, Cleveland’s run defense generously permits 4.80 yards per carry to enemy backs, while Mark Ingram continues to hit pay dirt at a prolific rate, compensating for his light passing-game usage with 14 all-purpose scores in 14 games. Touchdowns can be a volatile metric lacking predictability, yet the Ravens’ consistent red-zone infestations obviously give Ingram more TD equity than most backs. Only four NFL players have more carries inside the ten-yard line (26) than Ingram, and only one (Christian McCaffrey, 16) has more inside the five (15). Ingram even has five red-zone targets, accounting for two of his end-zone trips. In an unimposing draw versus the Myles Garrett-less Browns, Ingram is a rock-solid RB2 play with touchdown-driven RB1 upside.
Jackson’s post-bye target distribution: Mark Andrews 34; Marquise Brown 28; Nick Boyle and Willie Snead 18; Ingram and Hayden Hurst 15; Seth Roberts 13; Patrick Ricard 8; Miles Boykin 3. … Following last Thursday night’s thrashing of the Jets, the Ravens’ mini-bye should help Andrews and Brown brush off lower-body injuries they’ve battled virtually all year. Andrews faces the Browns with 45-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 10-of-14 games (71%), exhibiting above-par consistency as an every-week TE1. … Although Brown has been far less trustworthy with fewer than 50 yards in 9-of-10 games since Week 2, Brown’s Weeks 13-15 snap-rate rise (57% > 72% > 75%) suggests the Ravens are growing more confident in the health of his foot, and Brown’s sheer big-play potential keeps him locked into boom-bust WR3 discussion each week, even in mediocre matchups like this one. Cleveland’s secondary has permitted the NFL’s 12th-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. … Ravens ancillary pass catchers still lack fantasy appeal. Roberts led the team in Week 15 receiving (3/66/1) but is most valued by the coaching staff for his perimeter run-blocking ability and has averaged 2.1 targets per game since Baltimore’s Week 8 bye.
Especially after Baker Mayfield largely failed to capitalize on last week’s plum draw at Arizona, he looks like a near-full fade in Sunday’s bout with Baltimore. Ten straight quarterbacks to face the Ravens have managed fantasy results of QB18 or worse, while Baker himself has top-12 scores in just 3-of-14 starts. … The Browns’ best chance at staying competitive against the NFL’s best team is likely to continually test Baltimore’s run defense, which enemy backs touched up for 229/1,095/9 (4.78 YPC) rushing over the Ravens’ last 12 games. Nick Chubb ran roughshod on DC Wink Martindale’s group in these clubs’ Week 4 meeting (20/165/3) and has maintained role security despite Kareem Hunt’s post-suspension presence with 16-plus touches in every game this year. Per Sports Info Solutions, Baltimore has fielded eight or more defenders in the box at the NFL’s sixth-lowest rate, while Chubb has hammered defensive boxes of seven or less for a league-best 5.9 yards per carry. … Whereas Chubb remains an every-week RB1, Hunt has earned every-week RB2 treatment averaging 11.3 touches and six targets per game in the Browns’ two-back offense, which essentially deploys Hunt as its change-of-pace back and No. 3 receiver.
Mayfield’s Weeks 10-15 target distribution: Jarvis Landry 56; Odell Beckham 54; Hunt 36; Chubb 15; Demetrius Harris 10; Ricky Seals-Jones 6; Rashard Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge 5; Stephen Carlson 4; David Njoku and Damion Ratley 3. … Landry is Week 16’s squeaky wheel after cameras caught him arguing with Freddie Kitchens about his usage against the Cardinals. Landry also happened to tally a season-high 167 yards in these teams’ Week 4 date, while fellow slot types Jamison Crowder (6/90/2), Julian Edelman (10/89/0), Mohamed Sanu (10/81/1), Tyler Boyd (6/62/0), Tyler Lockett (5/61/1), Kendrick Bourne (3/42/0), and Cole Beasley (4/29/1) have all produced at- or above-expectation PPR results against the Ravens within their last seven games. Popping as Week 16’s No. 1 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model, Landry is a confident WR2 play with an especially high ceiling this week. … Much as he’s (unsuccessfully) been all year, OBJ is purely a bet-on-volume WR2/3 option versus the Ravens, whose perimeter CBs Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith have allowed just 49 completions on 92 targets (53%) for an anemic 514 yards (5.6 YPA) and a 3:4 TD-to-INT ratio since Baltimore acquired Peters from the Rams eight games ago. Beckham joined Landry in Week 16’s Buy Low Air Yards Model, but Hermsmeyer has “redacted” him. … Njoku was a healthy scratch for last week’s loss, letting Seals-Jones capitalize for two TDs against Arizona’s matador tight end coverage. Still rotating with Harris and Carlson, Seals-Jones played just 27% of Cleveland’s offensive snaps and is hard to take seriously versus the Ravens. Njoku seems to be in the doghouse and also won’t be playable assuming he even dresses for Week 16.
Score Prediction: Ravens 30, Browns 17
Saints at Titans
Team Totals: Titans 26, Saints 25
This is a high-key dangerous spot for the Saints coming off an emotional blowout national-TV win over the Colts wherein Drew Brees set several records, now heading on the road on a short week to face must-win Tennessee. LG Andrus Peat (broken arm) was already on the shelf, and RG Larry Warford (knee) got carted off against Indy. Brees has benefited from playing seven of his eight full games in domes in New Orleans or Atlanta; his only start-to-finish outdoor game came at Tampa Bay in Week 11. All told, Brees has a sparkling 17:3 TD-to-INT ratio with 8.3 yards per attempt in home games versus 4:1 at 6.4 YPA in away affairs. I’m taking the risk of almost fully fading Brees in Week 16. … Although Alvin Kamara’s inevitable positive-TD regression is quite real – he’s still scoreless since Week 3 – Kamara’s loss of explosiveness also needs to be embraced averaging nearly a yard and a half less per touch (5.17) than in his first two seasons (6.61). The good news is Tennessee allows the NFL’s third-most running back catches per game (6.2), and Brees won’t stop throwing to Kamara, who is on pace for 97 receptions. Despite his inefficiency, Kamara remains on the PPR RB1 fringe. … Latavius Murray’s touch counts since Kamara returned from injury in Week 10 are 7 > 12 > 7 > 4 > 9 > 11, leaving Murray bereft of flex appeal.
Brees’ 2019 target distribution: Michael Thomas 95; Kamara 56; Jared Cook 36; Ted Ginn 30; Murray 26; Tre’Quan Smith and Josh Hill 15; Taysom Hill 13. … As Christian McCaffrey is to running backs, as is Thomas to wideouts on a ridiculous run of 100-plus yards in seven of his last eight games. The Titans’ secondary should be no match for Thomas missing both starting corners while allowing the NFL’s 11th-most yards per game to wide receiver groups (171.4). Thomas has accounted for 73% of the Saints’ wide receiver yards this year. … With 50-plus yards and/or a touchdown in eight straight games, Cook earned every-week TE1 treatment a while back. Tennessee is yielding the NFL’s sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends. … In a centralized passing attack that proactively funnels very few targets to players beyond Thomas, Kamara, and Cook, Ginn and Smith have failed to carve out any meaningful box-score value.
This is no time to turn away from Ryan Tannehill, who enters Week 16 with top-12 fantasy scores in 7-of-8 starts, including four top-six weeks. Four of the last five quarterbacks to face New Orleans banked top-12 results of their own, while the Saints’ year-ending losses of DE Marcus Davenport (foot) and DT Sheldon Rankins (Achilles’) are just waiting to be felt by an offense superior to Week 15 opponent Indianapolis. The Titans are averaging 30.1 points per game since Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota; for perspective, the 49ers rank second in the NFL behind Baltimore in points per game at 29.9. … After appearing labored due to a hamstring tweak in Week 14 against the Raiders, Derrick Henry showed no signs of lingering effects in Week 15’s 21-carry effort versus Houston. Henry’s box score disappointed because he didn’t catch a pass and didn’t reach pay dirt, reinforcing Henry’s touchdown reliance even when he’s running hot. None of the Saints’ run-defense metrics are favorable to Henry, but they only account for one game missed by Davenport and Rankins, and I think this is a script-friendly spot for the Titans for reasons outlined above. Henry’s weekly workloads remain among the most bankable for running backs with between 19 and 29 touches in five straight games. He’s a no-fear RB1 play here.
Tannehill’s 2019 target distribution: A.J. Brown 53; Corey Davis 37; Jonnu Smith 33; Adam Humphries 24; Anthony Firkser 21; Tajae Sharpe 17; Dion Lewis 14; Henry 13; Kalif Raymond 10. … Easily 2019’s most impressive rookie receiver, Brown takes on the Saints with 100-plus yards in three of his last four games and an upward-trending target share after spending most of the season fighting for scraps with his teammates. Brown drew targets on a whopping 32% of Tannehill’s attempts in Weeks 14-15 after commanding just 19% of the Titans’ targets in Tannehill’s first six starts. Brown’s biggest Week 16 obstacle is Marshon Lattimore’s potential shadow, theoretically lowering Brown’s floor but not his ceiling as an emerging WR1. … Davis’ Weeks 14-15 target share was 16%. He’s settled in as a low-upside WR4 who’s failed to show much of any popup capability even when his teammates encounter tough draws. … Smith’s Week 15 highlight play was a traditional running back carry he took for 57 yards, but he also ran 26 pass routes – Smith’s most since Week 9 – and parlayed five targets into 60 yards against the Texans. Smith’s usage and production have been all over the place in what amounts to a timeshare with Firkser, but his Week 16 matchup is attractive. Over their last six games, the Saints have given up useful fantasy results to fellow TEs Cameron Brate (10/73/0), George Kittle (6/67/1), Greg Olsen (5/44/0), Jaeden Graham (4/41/1), and Austin Hooper (4/17/1). Smith is a boom-bust streamer option.
Score Prediction: Titans 24, Saints 23
Steelers at Jets
Team Totals: Steelers 20.5, Jets 17.5
Especially after coach Mike Tomlin declined to name his Week 16 starter following last Sunday night’s defeat, Devlin Hodges’ four-pick, four-sack meltdown against Buffalo puts him at risk of an in-game benching with Pittsburgh’s team urgency at full throttle at the bottom of a heated AFC Wild Card race. Hodges dropped back to pass a season-high 42 times against the Bills, and the results were disastrous. On fantasy scores of QB23 > QB25 > QB23 > QB30 through four starts, Hodges’ fantasy stock is near the bottom of two-quarterback-league barrels. The Jets’ D/ST is in Week 16 streamer play. … James Conner returned from injury to pace the Steelers’ backfield in Week 15 touches (12) and snaps (58%), while Jaylen Samuels (3, 29%) and Benny Snell (2, 3%) assumed firm backseats. Conner didn’t immediately resume true workhorse usage, however, and now faces one of the NFL’s best run defenses on the road. Conner did draw five targets and nearly doubled Samuels’ routes run (22 to 12). The Jets have permitted the NFL’s fifth-most receptions to running backs (82), keeping Conner in the low-end RB2 conversation.
Hodges’ 2019 target distribution: Diontae Johnson 26; James Washington 24; Conner 12; Samuels and Nick Vannett 8; JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald 7; Tevin Jones and Johnny Holton 3; Snell 2. … On a low-volume passing team that is inefficient when it does throw with its quarterback potentially on a short in-game leash, Smith-Schuster’s (knee) return throws a wrench into his teammates’ volume projections. The Steelers got minimal production at slot receiver during JuJu’s four-game absence, and are now fielding a target monster there. At the same time, Smith-Schuster is not individually playable after admitting late in the week that his knee still doesn’t feel 100%. … Johnson is the lone Steelers pass catcher at whom I might throw a long-shot dart. He popped as Week 16’s No. 3 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model and has been slightly less dependent than Washington on JuJu’s absences for production. … Washington averaged just 33 yards over Pittsburgh’s initial seven games but has improved to a 77.3-yard average over his last six, most of which has coincided with Smith-Schuster’s injury. Washington is a high-risk WR4. … McDonald resumed fully practicing this week and looks on track to return from his concussion, further spreading out Pittsburgh’s target distribution. McDonald is an unexciting, touchdown-or-bust streamer without a game above 40 yards all year. He’s scored once since Week 2.
Fortunate to emerge from last Thursday night’s at-Baltimore bout with Week 15’s fantasy QB19 score, Sam Darnold’s Week 16 matchup is even tougher against a Steelers team that’s fielded the NFL’s best defense for two months. Darnold is at major risk of seeing ghosts again; Pittsburgh ranks first in the NFL in sacks (49), first in QB hits (101), and has held 10 of its last 12 quarterbacks faced to fantasy results of QB14 or worse. Per Sports Info Solutions, no offense has allowed pressure at a higher rate than the Jets (45%) over the course of the season, while no defense has created pressure at a higher rate than the Steelers over the last five weeks (46%). Darnold is a poor two-QB-league play. Pittsburgh’s D/ST remains an every-week start. … Although this may be billed as a “revenge” game for Le’Veon Bell in some circles, it is also a revenge game for Pittsburgh against Le’Veon, who held out for an entire season after the Steelers offered him a long-term extension and over $14 million for one year on the franchise tag. Narratives aside, Bell’s main obstacle is Sunday’s severe mismatch between Pittsburgh’s dominant defensive front and Gang Green’s matador line; the Steelers rank No. 2 in tackles for loss (102), while New York’s front five has allowed the league’s eighth-most TFLs (83). All told, the Steelers have held enemy backs to 3.82 yards per carry and just six TDs in 14 games. Bell is a low-floor, low-ceiling RB2.
Darnold’s 2019 target distribution: Jamison Crowder 89; Robby Anderson 71; Demaryius Thomas 47; Bell 46; Vyncint Smith 23; Ty Montgomery 12; Bilal Powell 10; Daniel Brown 6. … His results have been all over the place, but Crowder’s Weeks 13-15 target counts were a robust 9 > 7 > 11, and he has more targets, catches (58), yards (632), and touchdowns (5) on throws from Darnold than any other Jet. The Steelers have no tangible secondary weaknesses at this point, but Crowder is Gang Green’s best PPR pass-catcher bet based on volume. Crowder has a chance to rack up low-aDOT, quick-hitting catches in the slot with Darnold likely spend most of Sunday under duress. … This game sets up more poorly for Anderson, whose game is built on big plays; Pittsburgh has yielded the NFL’s sixth-fewest 20-plus-yard completions (39). As is typically the case, Anderson is a boom-bust WR3 option with a lower floor than Crowder but more theoretical upside. … Battling knee and hamstring injuries at age 32, Thomas is safe to ignore against the Steelers. Smith started in Thomas’ place last week and drew five targets, catching three for 40 yards against the Ravens. … Brown started for Ryan Griffin (ankle, I.R.) in Week 15 and drew two targets on 49% of the Jets’ offensive snaps. Brown isn’t a compelling streamer versus Pittsburgh.
Score Prediction: Steelers 14, Jets 13
Lions at Broncos
Team Totals: Broncos 22.5, Lions 15.5
The Lions visit Denver with most of their skill players’ outlooks up in the air. Badly struggling David Blough is rumored to be at risk of being benched for Kyle Sloter, while coach Matt Patricia indicated Kerryon Johnson (knee) could mix into Detroit’s RBBC if activated from I.R. Bo Scarbrough, Wes Hills, J.D. McKissic, and Ty Johnson are also candidates for running back snaps, making for a fantasy situation to avoid. … Danny Amendola continues to dominate targets from Blough, while Kenny Golladay’s box-score results have been entirely boom or bust. Both do catch quietly soft Week 16 matchups against a Denver secondary getting pounded by wideouts and missing difference-maker FS Kareem Jackson (suspension). Over their last six games, the Broncos have been clocked by Stefon Diggs (5/121/1), DeAndre Hopkins (7/120/1), Mike Williams (5/117/0), Odell Beckham (5/87/0), Cole Beasley (6/76/1), Keenan Allen (6/68/1), Keke Coutee (5/68/0), Tyreek Hill (5/67/2), Jarvis Landry (6/51/1), and John Brown (2/39/1). Amendola remains a PPR-specific WR3 play, and Golladay a high-volatility WR3. It can’t hurt that Amendola popped as Week 16’s No. 2 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model.
Predictably humbled at Arrowhead last week, the Broncos return home for a far more favorable spot versus the Lions, who’ve lost 10 of their last 11 games and are devastatingly short on both offensive and defensive firepower. Denver should control Sunday’s contest with its rushing attack in positive game script, setting up a Phillip Lindsay bounce back following Week 15’s seven-carry dud. Lindsay averaged 17.5 touches over the previous month, while Detroit has been drilled for a 152.6 total-yard average and 19 TDs in 14 games by enemy backs. Traveling cross country with nothing to play for, the Lions seem likely to lay down here. … Royce Freeman out-touched Lindsay 9 to 7 and out-snapped him 32 to 23 in Week 15 because the Broncos quickly fell behind the Chiefs, and Freeman is Denver’s preferred trail-mode back. Vic Fangio’s team is likely to flip Week 16’s script at home facing a far weaker opponent, benefiting Lindsay in particular. … Drew Lock’s fantasy results through three starts are a wildly uneven QB22 > QB7 > QB31, but Sunday’s matchup is friendly enough to take Lock seriously as a two-quarterback-league starter and long-shot DFS-tournament play. 11-of-14 signal callers to face the Lions have banked top-12 fantasy scores, while Detroit lacks pass-rush capability to consistently put heat on Lock, whose passer rating soars from a miserable 55.0 when pressured to 103.1 inside clean pockets.
Lock’s 2019 target distribution: Courtland Sutton 22; DaeSean Hamilton 16; Tim Patrick 12; Freeman and Noah Fant 10; Lindsay 9; Jeff Heuerman 7; Andrew Beck 5. … Sutton is Lock’s obvious DFS-stack partner facing a Lions defense allowing the NFL’s fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Among fantasy’s most consistent producers, Sutton has cleared 70 yards and/or scored a touchdown in 11-of-14 games and shown matchup proof-ness even against the league’s top corners. As a potentially added incentive, Sutton bristled this week when reporters asked about being left off this year’s AFC Pro Bowl roster. Sutton was among 2019’s most egregious Pro Bowl snubs. … One of the NFL’s worst receivers, Hamilton has 61 yards to show for his 16 targets from Lock and, dating back to 2018, hasn’t found the end zone in 15 games. … Already battling foot and hip ailments, Fant missed Week 15 snaps with a shoulder injury but returned and should play against the Lions, albeit almost certainly at less than 100%. Fant is always a boom-bust gamble with obvious big-play potential but distinct error proneness and a mostly part-time role. Fant’s route totals are way down since Heuerman returned from injury.
Score Prediction: Broncos 24, Lions 10
Cowboys at Eagles
Team Totals: Cowboys 23.5, Eagles 22.5
In Week 16’s most playoff-implicative game, the Cowboys visit Philly in a battle of 7-7 teams that will crown the NFC East’s victor if Dallas wins. We’ve made no secret of Dak Prescott’s negative road splits – he’s logged top-12 fantasy outcomes in just 3-of-7 away games and averaged 1.6 fewer yards per pass attempt outside of JerryWorld this year – but of greater concern are multiple injuries to Prescott’s throwing arm. Week 15 reports had Dak battling a hairline fracture on his right index finger, and he suffered what’s believed to be either an AC sprain or rotator cuff contusion on the same arm against the Rams. Prescott was unable to throw passes in practice all this week. Although Sunday’s matchup at Philly is unimposing, I’d be extremely wary of sticking with him in season-long championship week. … Ezekiel Elliott looked like his peak self in last Sunday’s blowout win, parlaying 27 touches into a season-high 160 yards and two TDs against the typically run-tough Rams. Although Philly is also typically run tough, DC Jim Schwartz has never had answers for Zeke, whose five career touches/yardage/touchdown stat lines against the Eagles are 28/147/1 > 40/192/0 > 25/187/2 > 30/141/0 > 26/148/0. Especially due to Dak’s questionable throwing-arm health, expect Elliott to be Dallas’ Week 16 offensive centerpiece.
Dak’s post-bye target distribution: Michael Gallup 54; Amari Cooper 52; Jason Witten 45; Randall Cobb 40; Zeke 29; Blake Jarwin 24; Tony Pollard 14. … Prescott’s hand and shoulder injuries are definite Week 16 causes for concern for Gallup and Cooper, who both flopped in last week’s blowout victory. Sunday’s game projects to be far more competitive, though, and both of Dallas’ top-two wideouts catch plus draws. The Eagles’ secondary got dogwalked by DeVante Parker (7/159/2), Darius Slayton (5/154/2), Terry McLaurin (5/130/1), and someone named Steven Sims (5/45/1) in its last three games against teams quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Eli Manning, and Dwayne Haskins. Even with Prescott on the mend, I’m going right back to Cooper as bounce-back WR1 and Gallup as a WR2. … With all due respect for last week’s one-handed touchdown catch, Witten remains TD dependent having failed to reach 60 yards in a game all year. He managed 33 scoreless yards in these teams’ Week 7 affair. Jarwin doesn’t see nearly as much opportunity as Witten, but he is clearly Dallas’ most explosive tight end. … Cobb has settled back in as a low-volume slot receiver on target counts of 3 > 5 > 2 over his last three games.
Overcoming his depleted supporting cast almost entirely on sheer will, Carson Wentz has eked out top-12 fantasy results in three straight starts and now draws a Cowboys team that has given up top-12 scores to seven of its last nine quarterbacks faced, including top-five results to Mitchell Trubisky and Jeff Driskel. Wentz’s floor is not safe missing RT Lane Johnson (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc) against a talented yet underachieving Dallas team, but his playmaking ability and volume can’t be ignored. On an extremely aggressive kick, Wentz has cleared 40 pass attempts in all five games since Philly’s Week 10 bye and tacked on a 12.4 rushing-yards average during that stretch. The Cowboys have allowed the NFL’s fifth-most QB rushing yards per game (19.6). … Although Week 14 hero Boston Scott deservedly stayed involved with 13 touches on a 45% playing-time clip in Week 15’s win at Washington, Miles Sanders reasserted himself as the Eagles’ alpha back with a week-winning 172 yards and two TDs on 25 touches. Sanders is averaging 5.37 yards per carry, 95.7 total yards, and 16.1 touches since Week 7, and his usage and effectiveness continue to rise. He’s an upside RB2 play at home versus Dallas.
With Jeffery down for the count, Nelson Agholor (knee) still sidelined, and even J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (foot) on the mend, Zach Ertz’s path of destruction should continue against a Dallas defense giving up the NFL’s third-most catches and eighth-most yards to tight ends. Ertz leads all players at his position with a 10.8-target average over the last six weeks, banking 90-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five of them. … A full-time player due to Philly’s wideout deficiencies, Dallas Goedert parlayed 40 routes run on an 84% playing-time clip into six targets and 55 yards in last week’s win over Washington. He dumped a 4/69/1 receiving line on Dallas in these clubs’ Week 7 date and belongs on the right side of this week’s TE1 fringe. … Essentially entrenched as Philly’s most job-secure wideout, ex-college QB and AAF product Greg Ward enters Week 16 with target counts of 9 > 9 on playing-time rates of 86% > 75% over Philly’s last two games. Meantime, fellow slot WRs Cole Beasley (6/110/1), Julian Edelman (8/93/0), Danny Amendola (4/47/0), Anthony Miller (3/42/1), and Cooper Kupp (6/41/1) each met or beat expectations against Dallas over the past five weeks. Ward is the Eagles’ lone fantasy-viable wideout at this point.
Score Prediction: Eagles 24, Cowboys 23
Raiders at Chargers
Team Totals: Chargers 26, Raiders 19.5
Losers of four straight by an embarrassing per-game margin of nearly 22, the Raiders visit the Chargers fielding an offense that has almost entirely lost its ability to score with a 13.2-point average over the last five weeks. Only 1-of-14 quarterbacks to face the Bolts have exceeded QB12 fantasy results, while Derek Carr has reached that threshold just three times all year. Carr is always a low-upside two-quarterback-league play in a weak passing attack. … With Josh Jacobs (shoulder) sidelined for Week 16 and probably Week 17, too, we can draw on Jacobs’ missed Week 14 game as a backfield blueprint over the final two weeks. DeAndre Washington assumed most of Jacobs’ role with more passing-game activity against the Titans, parlaying 20 touches into 106 yards and a touchdown on 63% of Oakland’s offensive snaps and running 22 pass routes. Jalen Richard was the Raiders’ clear No. 2 back with nine touches, a 39% playing-time clip, and 14 routes run. Sunday’s matchup is unimposing; the Chargers have yielded the NFL’s 12th-most running back catches per game (5.6) and 15 all-purpose touchdowns to enemy backs in 14 games. Washington is an upside RB2/flex play, while Richard is a riskier PPR-specific flex option.
Update: DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard took on added risk Friday when the Raiders sent RT Trent Brown (pec) to I.R. and ruled out LG Richie Incognito (ankle), especially concerning developments against a Chargers defensive front boasting highly disruptive DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
Carr’s Weeks 13-15 target distribution: Darren Waller 25; DeAndre Washington 13; Tyrell Williams 11; Jalen Richard 8; Keelan Doss 6; Alec Ingold 5; Derek Carrier 4; Rico Gafford 1. … The continued focal point of Oakland’s passing game with Foster Moreau (knee) out for the year and Williams debilitated by plantar fasciitis, Waller is Oakland’s lone confident fantasy pass-catcher play against the Bolts. With that said, Hunter Renfrow’s return combined with Waller’s slow Week 10 versus L.A. (3/40/0) are cause for some concern regarding his ceiling. Only six teams have allowed fewer receptions than the Chargers (54) to tight ends this year. … Out since Week 12 with a punctured lung and broken rib, Renfrow is likely to do more to cut into his teammates’ passing-game production than carve out a big Weeks 16-17 finish himself. … Coach Jon Gruden acknowledged this week that Williams continues to struggle with lingering effects of his early-season foot injury. He’s cleared 50 yards once over the Raiders’ last six games and is averaging 4.3 targets since Week 8. The Chargers allow the NFL’s second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Even in a “revenge” game, Williams is difficult to value as more than a low-floor WR4 option.
Quite possibly playing his final two games in a Chargers uniform, contract-year QB Philip Rivers will try to overcome his late-career rag arm in a near-optimal spot to do so against Oakland’s hapless defense, which has permitted top-12 fantasy outcomes to seven of its last nine quarterbacks faced, allowed the NFL’s third-most touchdown passes (32), and coughed up a league-high 8.5 yards per attempt. While Rivers’ matchup nears perfection, his own performance does not. He managed fantasy’s QB19 finish when these clubs met in Week 10, and Rivers has one result better than QB18 in his last seven starts. He simply hasn’t shown enough upside this year for serious DFS consideration. … Benched for losing two fumbles in last week’s blowout loss to the Vikings, Melvin Gordon enters Week 16 no-man’s land in some danger of continuing to lose work to Justin Jackson and always a committee partner at best with Austin Ekeler. While those risks do give Gordon some contrarian DFS appeal, they also drop him into RB2/flex range as a season-long start. Gordon’s upside remains intact in a game where the Chargers’ offense as a whole should play well, creating scoring chances. … Ekeler’s role is much more stable and his results more consistent with 80-plus total yards and/or a touchdown in 13-of-14 games. Somewhat stout on the ground, the Raiders’ defense can be exploited by pass-catching backs, having allowed the NFL’s seventh-most receiving yards to Ekeler’s position this year (682). He’s an every-week RB2 play.
Rivers’ target distribution under OC Shane Steichen: Keenan Allen 49; Ekeler and Hunter Henry 35; Mike Williams 31; Gordon 25; Andre Patton 6; Jalen Guyton 2. … For reasons alluded to above, every frontline Chargers pass catcher gets a favorable matchup here. Allen has rediscovered consistency with 80-plus total yards and/or a touchdown in five straight games, while Oakland’s secondary has yielded the NFL’s seventh-most fantasy points to wideouts. … Positive-TD regression is finally hitting Williams with end-zone trips in consecutive weeks, and he is averaging 82.2 yards over the Bolts’ last six games. The late-season improvement moves Williams into WR2/3 range. For Week 16 in particular, it helps that Williams leads L.A. in targets (25), catches (11), and yards (445) on 20-plus-yard downfield throws, because the Raiders have allowed league highs in 20-plus-yard downfield completions (32) and yards gained on 20-plus-yard downfield attempts (1,127), per Sports Info Solutions. … Henry’s target totals have ticked down (3 > 4 > 2) over the past three weeks while Allen and Williams’ have ticked up. Henry remains hard to fade against the Raiders, who allow the NFL’s second-most fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Raiders 13
Cardinals at Seahawks
Team Totals: Seahawks 30, Cardinals 20
Coming off Week 15’s blowout home win over Cleveland, the Cardinals visit Seattle for a letdown spot against the NFC’s current No. 1 seed, albeit in a potentially high-scoring affair totaled around 50. Not only do the Seahawks struggle to rush the passer – they’re bottom three in sacks (24) and bottom six in QB hits (65) – but Pete Carroll’s defense will be without field-flipping FS Quandre Diggs (ankle) against the Cards. His mobility restored following a short-term hamstring scare, Kyler Murray ran for 56 yards against the Browns, while Seattle allows the NFL’s sixth-most QB rushing yards per game (19.1). Cards-Hawks offers DFS game-stack possibilities with Murray nearly certain to go lower owned than Russell Wilson. Per Sports Info Solutions, the Seahawks run zone coverage at one of the NFL’s highest rates (78%). Murray’s yards per attempt spike from 6.0 versus man coverage to 8.0 against zone, and 9 of Murray’s 15 touchdown passes have been thrown into zone coverage. … Rationally feared to be in danger of ceding work to David Johnson after Johnson’s solid Week 14, Kenyan Drake instead did precisely the opposite in Arizona’s rout of Cleveland, parlaying a season-high 23 touches into 146 yards and four TDs, while Johnson (3 touches) and Chase Edmonds (0) were nowhere to be found. Seattle has surrendered the league’s second-most rushing TDs to enemy backs (14), while Kliff Kingsbury’s rushing attack has flashed matchup-agnostic capability by keeping defenses spread out and widening run fits all year. Averaging 18.2 touches across six games since joining the Cards, Drake is a confident RB2 play at CenturyLink Field. The rest of the backfield can’t be trusted.
Update: Kenyan Drake‘s Week 16 matchup upgraded when run-stopping NT Al Woods was hit with a four-game PEDs suspension, and the Seahawks listed DE Jedeveon Clowney (core) as doubtful on Friday’s injury report.
Murray’s Weeks 11-15 target distribution: Christian Kirk 30; Larry Fitzgerald 24; Drake 16; Pharoh Cooper 12; Damiere Byrd 10; Andy Isabella 7; Charles Clay 6; Johnson 4. … Burned by D.J. Moore (8/113/1), Robert Woods (7/98/1), Cooper Kupp (4/45/1), and Curtis Samuel (5/31/1) in their last two games alone, Seattle’s pass-rush deficiency is creating a domino effect on its secondary exacerbated by Diggs’ centerfield absence. Kirk should be considered an important part of any Arizona-Seattle DFS game stack and an upside WR3 in season-long leagues. Since returning from injury in Week 8, Kirk has dominated the Cardinals’ target share (31%) and yardage share (34%) versus zone coverage. As mentioned previously, Seattle relies heavily on zone defense. Kirk checked yet another box when he popped as Week 16’s No. 4 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Fitzgerald’s slot matchup is also swell, but patience for him ran thin long ago with just one game above 60 yards since Week 6 and one end-zone trip since Week 3. Fitzgerald is a low-ceiling WR4. … Byrd awoke from his extended slumber to lead Arizona in receiving (6/86/0) against the Browns, although he ran just 14 routes – Byrd’s fewest since Week 6 – and played 34% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps in his ongoing rotation with Isabella, Cooper, and the team’s numerous low-volume tight ends behind Kirk and Fitz. Byrd’s Week 15 isn’t worth chasing.
Back home after rejuvenating their passing attack in Carolina following a month-plus lull, the Seahawks catch a near-optimal draw to stay hot against a Cardinals defense that’s yielded NFL highs in touchdown passes (34), passer rating (111.9), and completion rate (71.6%), and an NFC-high 8.2 yards per pass attempt. Per Sports Info Solutions, the Cardinals rank 28th in the NFL in pressure rate (33%) over the last five weeks, while Russell Wilson‘s yards per attempt spike from 7.2 in pressured pockets to 9.0 when kept clean. His TD-to-INT ratio is 20:3 in clean pockets versus 8:2 under duress. Although Wilson often needs to be pushed by opponents for Seattle’s coaching staff to open up its passing game, there are enough edges on Arizona’s side in its matchup with the Seahawks’ defense for that possibility to become a reality. We shouldn’t overthink this one; Wilson is an elite QB1 play, and Russ-to-Tyler Lockett DFS stacks are right back on the table. … Seahawks team stacks merit genuine DFS consideration in a game where Seattle should impose its offensive will. Chris Carson’s touch counts in Rashaad Penny’s (ACL) last four missed games are a monstrous 25 > 24 > 28 > 26, including Week 4’s 145-total-yard outing in these clubs’ Week 4 date. Carson is a high-ceiling RB1 play in Sunday’s rematch.
Wilson’s Weeks 13-15 target distribution: Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and Jacob Hollister 17; Carson 8; Josh Gordon 7; David Moore and Malik Turner 6; Jaron Brown 3. … Lockett revealed after last week’s win that his midseason flu bug cost him ten pounds, especially debilitating for a wideout who only weighs 182. But Lockett looked all the way back against the Panthers and should ether Arizona’s slot coverage. The Cardinals have been pounded for 10.0 yards per attempt and 11 touchdowns on 129 interior targets (8.5% TD Rate) this year. … Metcalf is also in a plum Week 16 spot; Arizona has surrendered the NFL’s third-most 20-plus-yard completions (63), while both Lockett and Metcalf rank top 12 in the league in 20-plus-yard downfield targets. Continuing to demonstrate rare consistency for a rookie wide receiver, Metcalf earned every-week WR2 treatment months ago with 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 12-of-14 games. Patrick Peterson‘s potential shadow coverage isn’t a big worry for Metcalf; since Peterson came off suspension in Week 7, only five NFL corners have given up more yards (478) and only six more catches (36). … Even as Hollister has gone quiet lately during a scoreless month, Sunday’s matchup is friendly enough to resuscitate him versus a Cardinals defense that’s by far allowed the league’s most fantasy points to tight ends, and even conceded two TDs to Browns rotational TE Ricky Seals-Jones last week. … Gordon contributed a highlight-reel fingertips catch for 58 yards against the Panthers but was unfortunately suspended indefinitely on Monday for substance-abuse and PEDs violations. Seattle will resort to some combination of Turner, Brown, and David Moore for third receiver duties versus Arizona.
Update: Luke Willson‘s return from his five-week hamstring injury lowers Jacob Hollister‘s floor, even in an optimal matchup. Hollister’s playing time hovered around 50% before Willson’s injury, and Hollister has been a 70-80% player ever since.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 28, Cardinals 20
Chiefs at Bears
Team Totals: Chiefs 25, Bears 19
Patrick Mahomes braved last week’s snowy Arrowhead conditions for a vintage Mahomes performance, turning in Week 15’s QB5 fantasy score with his most yards (340) and highest passer rating (115.7) since Week 10 (340), top completion rate since Week 7 (79%), and Mahomes’ most yards per attempt (10.0) since Week 3. While I’m obligated to mention that just 1-of-14 quarterbacks to face Chicago has banked a top-12 fantasy finish, Mahomes is football’s most opponent-proof passer west of Baltimore when he and his supporting cast are at full strength. His pass catchers in better spots than you’d think, I’m riding Mahomes in season-long title week. … Although this is an unimposing draw for Kansas City’s backfield against a Bears defense that’s allowed 13 rushing TDs over its last 10 games, individual Chiefs running back usage prevents any members of its corps from establishing even so much as stable flex value. Week 15 touches were distributed as follows – Darwin Thompson 9, Spencer Ware 9, LeSean McCoy 6 – and Damien Williams (ribs) is practicing as if he has a real chance to return on Sunday night. None of these backs are trustworthy in season-long leagues, and they are dice rolls at best on one-game DFS slates.
Mahomes’ Weeks 10-15 target distribution: Travis Kelce 48; Tyreek Hill 44; Sammy Watkins 27; McCoy 12; Demarcus Robinson 11; Mecole Hardman 8; Darwin Thompson 7; Damien Williams 6; Spencer Ware 4; Byron Pringle and Blake Bell 2. … Down first-team ILBs Danny Trevathan (elbow) and Roquan Smith (pec), the Bears do not present a daunting draw for red-hot Kelce, who is averaging 10.3 targets per game over the last month and enters Week 16 with 60-plus yards and/or a touchdown in seven straight weeks. Only two teams have allowed more tight end receptions (84) than Chicago this year. … The Bears have also shown major vulnerability at cornerback, exploited by Kenny Golladay (4/158/1), Michael Gallup (6/109/0), Davante Adams (7/103/1), Amari Cooper (6/83/1), and Marvin Jones (3/40/1) over Chicago’s last three games. This is a plus spot for Tyreek. … Watkins remains a one-game DFS-slate dart throw only. … Hardman’s target counts are 0 > 1 > 4 > 0 > 1 > 2 over Kansas City’s last six games. He is always a big-play-dependent, one-game DFS-tournament option. … Robinson falls into a similar boat with target totals of 1 > 0 > 2 > 3 over the last month. He’s cleared 60 yards once all year.
Their playoff hopes dashed in last Sunday’s loss at Lambeau, the Bears nevertheless plan to play out the string at full tilt, according to coach Matt Nagy. Even as Chicago’s run game has been broken all season, Nagy’s best chance at spoiling mentor Andy Reid’s chances at a first-round postseason bye is likely to dial up a heavy dose of rushing attempts, attacking a Chiefs defense enemy backs have smoked for 4.93 yards per carry, and keep Mahomes off the field. With 15-plus touches in eight straight games, David Montgomery is a volume-based flex play in line for positive-TD regression without a rushing score since Week 9. … Tarik Cohen long ago lost his season-long-league viability over the course of a forgettable year, but he’s worth consideration on one-game DFS slates coming off a season-high 15 touches and his heaviest playing-time clip since Week 1 (65%). Cohen does his most damage in the passing game, where Kansas City yields the NFL’s second-highest receiving-yards average to running backs (57.5). … Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo’s unit has found its stride, holding four straight quarterbacks to fantasy scores of QB18 or worse with point totals allowed of 3 (Broncos), 16 (Patriots), 9 (Raiders), and 17 (Chargers). Mitchell Trubisky remains a two-quarterback-league starter with top-14 finishes in five of his last six starts, but this is not a high-ceiling environment for him, especially since so much of Trubisky’s production has come on the backs of Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, and the Chiefs are giving wide receivers fits.
Even against a Chiefs secondary permitting the NFL’s fourth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts, Bears alpha dog Robinson is a near-impossible fade with over 100 yards and/or a touchdown in four straight games and an 11-target average during that span. Robinson is an every-week, matchup-agnostic WR2. … Miller has also been a volume monster, averaging 10.4 targets over the Bears’ last five and clearing 75 yards and/or scoring a touchdown in four straight. Despite Sunday night’s hard draw, Miller has earned every-week WR3 treatment based on usage and production as Chicago’s No. 2 pass option behind A-Rob. … Fourth-round rookie Riley Ridley is a deep sleeper on one-game DFS slates after overtaking Javon Wims in Week 15. Taylor Gabriel (concussions) won’t play again, so Ridley projects as Chicago’s No. 3 wideout behind Robinson and Miller. … J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted remain in a tight end timeshare, although Horsted ran 35 routes to Holtz’s 17 in last week’s loss to Green Bay. No NFL team has allowed more tight end catches than Kansas City (90), giving Horsted life on one-game DFS slates.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 27, Bears 17
Packers at Vikings
Team Totals: Vikings 25.5, Packers 20
At the helm of Green Bay’s humdrum offense, Aaron Rodgers enters Week 16 with top-12 fantasy scores in just 5-of-14 starts facing a Vikings defense that has allowed enemy passers to exceed that threshold in 5-of-14 games. Especially on the road, Rodgers is a fade beyond one-game DFS slates. His yards per attempt plummet from 8.0 at Lambeau Field to 6.3 in away games, and 15 of Rodgers’ 25 accounted-for TDs have been scored at home. Minnesota permits the NFL’s tenth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. … This is a risky spot for Aaron Jones, who continues to function as Green Bay’s mere 1a back to Jamaal Williams’ 1b, helpfully reaching pay dirt twice in last week’s win over Chicago but only out-touching Williams 13 to 9, out-snapping him 35 to 24, and running just 15 pass routes, Jones’ fewest since Week 3. Jones has scored an otherworldly 17 touchdowns, but just six of them have come in road contests, and Jones could easily dud with RB3-caliber production if that end-zone luck runs out. The Vikings have surrendered just nine all-purpose running back touchdowns through 14 games. In a likely low-scoring environment, Jones sets up as a touchdown-or-bust RB2 play and Williams a low-ceiling flex.
Rodgers’ Weeks 10-15 target distribution: Davante Adams 51; Allen Lazard 16; Williams, Geronimo Allison, and Jimmy Graham 15; Jones 14; Marquez Valdes-Scantling 7; Robert Tonyan 6; Jake Kumerow 3. … The one driving force for any possible Rodgers positivity, Adams has cleared 100 yards and/or scored a touchdown against Mike Zimmer’s defense in five straight Vikings-Packers games, while Zimmer’s secondary is worse than ever this year, over the last six weeks having allowed WR stat lines of 11/147/1 (Amari Cooper), 6/140/1 (Tyreek Hill), 5/113/0 (Courtland Sutton), 6/106/1 (Randall Cobb), 9/99/0 (Keenan Allen), 4/77/0 (Tim Patrick), 4/76/1 (Michael Gallup), 6/75/0 (D.K. Metcalf), 4/71/1 (Mike Williams), 2/65/1 (David Moore), 7/63/0 (Sammy Watkins), and 6/58/1 (Kenny Golladay). … All other Packers pass catchers have appeal only on one-game DFS slates. Lazard has fewer than 50 yards in seven of Green Bay’s last eight games. Allison hasn’t cleared 25 yards since Week 7. Valdes-Scantling dropped a first-quarter 70-yard touchdown bomb in last week’s win and wasn’t heard from again. Matt LaFleur indicated Kumerow could benefit with more playing time after hauling in a 49-yard Week 15 catch. “We have to make sure we get him on the field,” the Packers’ head coach said of Kumerow. “So, I think you’ll see more of him as we move forward.” Kumerow is very much in play on one-game DFS-tournament slates. … Graham’s route total has dropped in four straight weeks (32 > 21 > 19 > 18) as the Packers are incorporating Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis more. Still, Graham is at least mildly intriguing on one-game DFS slates against a Vikings defense allowing the NFL’s sixth-most catches (81) to tight ends.
Adam Thielen’s return combined with Minnesota’s running back depletion give Kirk Cousins QB1 life following three straight sub-par fantasy scores caused mainly by blowout wins and pass-game-offsetting run-game dominance. Although nine straight quarterbacks have managed fantasy results of QB12 or worse against Green Bay, six finished inside the top 16, and Cousins’ yards per attempt fly from 7.74 on the road to 9.61 beneath the Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium dome along with a 101.1 to 126.0 improvement in passer rating. I’m valuing Cousins as a high-floor QB1 play. … As neither Dalvin Cook (shoulder, chest) nor Alexander Mattison (ankle) looks likely to face Green Bay, annual August superstar Mike Boone, passing-down niche player Ameer Abdullah, and FB C.J. Ham project to handle Monday night’s backfield. Boone blew up each of the last two preseasons for a combined 90/392/3 (4.4 YPC) rushing line and, just as importantly, demonstrated strong pass-catching skills with 13 receptions for 145 yards. He played wide receiver in high school. At 5-foot-10, 206 with 4.44 speed, Boone went undrafted out of Cincinnati due to an injury-plagued college career despite turning in 2018’s No. 2 SPARQ-athleticism rating behind only Saquon Barkley in that year’s running back class. Not only have enemy backs creamed the Packers for 4.76 yards per carry and 15 TDs, but Green Bay surrenders the NFL’s tenth-most running back catches per game (5.7). Boone will be an upside RB2 play if Cook and Mattison sit.
The nature of Thielen’s hamstring injury, his continued setbacks, and basic rust factor having played just 40 snaps of football since Week 7 are all causes for Week 16 alarm, even against Green Bay’s overrated secondary. He’s a low-floor, high-risk WR3 option after managing three targets on 51% of last week’s offensive snaps. … Stefon Diggs has torn the cover off at home this year, banking stat lines of 6/92/0 > 5/121/1 > 7/143/0 > 7/167/3 over his last four games at U.S. Bank. The Packers were ethered by fellow WRs Allen Robinson (7/125/0), D.J. Moore (9/120/0), Anthony Miller (9/118/1), Mike Williams (3/111/0), Terry McLaurin (4/57/1), Deebo Samuel (2/50/1), Darius Slayton (6/44/0), Steven Sims (4/40/0), Sterling Shepard (3/40/1), and Curtis Samuel (5/35/1) over their last six games. Green Bay has coughed up the NFL’s seventh-most 20-plus-yard completions (53) and second-most 40-plus-yard catches (14), playing directly into Diggs’ big-play hands. … Kyle Rudolph is the one Vikings ancillary pass catcher for whom I’d leave on the Week 16 light, especially on one-game DFS slates based on his touchdown potential. Only five teams have allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than Green Bay.
Score Prediction: Vikings 27, Packers 20