Fantasy Football Report: Week 16

Gourav Pany, Staff Writer

No one needs to be told to start Jonathan Taylor on their fantasy team. But what about the flex tight-end/wide-receiver position? What about that one running back on waivers that might be able to fill in a spot for a starting running back on injured reserve? Now that the fantasy playoffs are here, it is imperative to start the right players and sit the ones who might be the factor to a loss in the knockout rounds.

Quick Note: With the rise in the number of Omicron variant cases in the United States, the National Football League has also been greatly affected by this new strain. Therefore, fantasy teams should be checked regularly in order to prevent sidelined plays from starting during the playoffs.


QB: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers had a spectacular night against the Baltimore Ravens last week as he threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns, which were added to eleven more yards on the ground. Rodgers will face a Cleveland defense that has performed better against average and bad teams but has crumbled against really good teams, with the exception of the Cincinnati Bengals. Rodgers was aided in a large quantity by the emergence of WR Marquez-Valdes Scantling, who showed that his big play ability can be consistent and carry a team with a less than healthy WR Davante Adams. When facing a Cleveland team that has had limited practices because of COVID-19 cases, which have decimated the offense more than the defense, but have still kept the whole team out of practices, which will negatively affect their preparation on a short week after their game on Monday afternoon against the Las Vegas Raiders. Aaron Rodgers, therefore, will have an amazing matchup to continue his MVP season and give fantasy managers a bounty of points for the second round of the playoffs in a traditional 12-man league.

Projection: 21.98 points (non-PPR)

RB: Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With the injury of RB Leonard Fournette last week against the New Orleans Saints, Jones will look to take over the RB1 role that he had last year before it was snatched away from him in Week 1 after a fumble that led to his benching. Ronald Jones was thought as a steal in most fantasy drafts after the thought that Leonard Fournette’s role in the playoffs was just a fluke. However, after Fournette’s injury that will sideline the star runningback for at least two weeks, Jones will be a smart play behind a strong offensive line that can push around opponents not named the New Orleans Saints. Even with the offensive struggle the Buccaneers had last week against the Saints, Jones still posted a solid 63 yards after Fournette’s injury, which gives hope to fantasy managers that lost their main source of fantasy production that helped them get to the playoffs. Jones will be a viable pickup-and-start in place of Leonard Fournette because of his pedigree as a shifty and explosive runner who has previously shown he can get the job done in the same offense, and his matchup against a battered Carolina Panthers team that had trouble stopping Fournette the first time they met.

Projection: 12.90 points (non-PPR)

WR: Ja’marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

Chase is a big play weapon on a team that often struggles to find the gas pedal in games, which still didn’t seem to affect Chase’s production until last week. Against the Broncos, Chase simply served as a distraction as he picked up a measly three yards on one reception en route to a disappointing night in terms of fantasy production. However, Chase will get to face the Baltimore Ravens, who are without CB Marlon Humphrey, who would have projected to shadow Chase for most of the game. Now that Chase is facing a secondary that isn’t as talented or scheme-strong as the Broncos, look for him to break out, especially with his connection with QB Joe Burrow, who seems to look Chase’s way almost all the time as his first read and has the accuracy and arm to take advantage of Chase’s talents. Meanwhile, Chase will also line up with WR Tee Higgins, who has found his mojo that made him a top target on the Bengals offense when Chase wasn’t there a season ago, and will look to draw the double coverage away from Chase, along with breakout TE C.J. Uzomah.

Projection: 11.90 points (non-PPR)

TE: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Last week, against the 49ers, Pitts was part of an elite tight end showcase that also involved TE George Kittle on the other side. Pitts amassed 77 yards in a disappointing Falcons loss, but it was refreshing to see some consistent signs of life from Pitts as opposed to the flashes we had seen weeks prior that were a resultant of more coverage drawn towards him. Pitts will still be the primary target on the Falcons offense, which will lead to a fantasy ceiling, which is never good for any position, especially tight end. Even with limited fantasy production, Pitts has shown his propensity as top fantasy tight end who is just getting better as he gets more experience. Pitts will draw a matchup against the Lions, who are not as good as they looked against the Cardinals, and a bad defense in terms of defending tight ends, which makes this week a good week to start Pitts, who has shown the capability of dominating games.

Projection: 10.50 points (non-PPR)

K: Greg Joseph, Minnesota Vikings

When talking about kickers, it is important to talk about the teams playing as a whole before making a projection about the kicker. In this case the Minnesota Vikings play the Los Angeles Rams in the early window on Saturday. The Vikings possess a team that plays up or down to the level of the opponent they are facing, which bodes well for them as the Rams have been playing their best football since Week 4 of this season. The Vikings have an offense that features RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson, who have shown that they are constants on an offense that is almost unstoppable if they just hit their groove and keep with it. The Rams, on the other hand, has a strong defense that is capable of keeping teams from the end zone, but not good enough to consistently create turnovers because of the age of the defensive side of the ball. However, the Rams will get CB Jalen Ramsey back, who will create some problems in his hybrid safety/corner/nickel/slot/outside defensive back role that shows off Ramsey’s versatility. This matchup on the whole looks like a beneficial matchup for Joseph, who has been solid so far this season and has shown his mettle in both bad and good weather, something he doesn’t need to worry about this week in his own home stadium. Joseph will have plenty of opportunities as part of a clash between two elite units, which is something that will give Joseph a high fantasy ceiling and a good floor in a pivotal playoff week in terms of fantasy football.

Projection: 10.00 points (non-PPR)

DEF: San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers put on a showcase on defense last week, with DE Nick Bosa wreaking havoc in the backfield and star LB Fred Warner flying around the field, tackling anyone within five feet of him. The 49ers will face the Titans, who looked sluggish and unprepared without WR AJ Brown or RB Derrick Henry, and put up a measly thirteen points against the declining Steelers. The 49ers should have no trouble putting away the Titans, mostly because of the Titans’ one dimensional attack that can’t elevate an old and battered WR Julio Jones, who has added nearly nothing to the Titans offense since his trade in the offseason. The 49ers, on the other hand, have a resurgent front four that is getting healthy at the right time, and a secondary that can hold strong for long enough so that the front four can get to the quarterback, which is something that bodes well for fantasy managers because of the horrible pass protection QB Ryan Tannehill has received this season.

Projection: 9.00 points (non-PPR)


QB: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders enjoyed quality play from Derek Carr for the first ten weeks of the season, which placed the Raiders firmly in control of the AFC West. However, their Cinderella season fell apart with the firing of HC Jon Gruden and the off-the-field troubles of WR Henry Ruggs III and CB Damon Arnette, who were released shortly thereafter. Derek Carr has had a slump ever since, and it doesn’t look to fade away any time soon against the Denver Broncos, who have played outstanding defense all season long and have been on their A-game for most of the season. Powered by a stingy secondary and big pass rush, the Broncos will look to cause plenty of problems against an offense that seems broken, with the exception of WR Hunter Renfrow, who doesn’t pose much of a big play threat as a primary slot option for Carr. There remains hope for Carr, even with all of these struggles, as he has remained poised in the pocket and delivered strikes whenever he has found an open receiver, which hasn’t been as prevalent as it was before, mostly due to the loss of scheme following Jon Gruden’s departure.

Projection: 13.64 points (non-PPR)

RB: Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers

Filling in for RB Christian McCaffery, aka CMC, is no hard task, and Hubbard has filled in decently well for a formerly unknown backup running back. However, Hubbard does not possess the talent that CMC does and does not carry nearly enough volume in the Panthers’ offense to validate starting him in the playoffs. Hubbard has taken a backseat to QB Cam Newton in terms of rushing production and will face the Tampa Buccaneers in Week 16, which is something that looks to be troublesome, especially after their performance against RB Alvin Kamara, in which they limited him to a measly 18 yards on a whopping eleven carries, which totaled into 1.6 yards per carry. Hubbard is simply a decent running back who can fill in decently well in real life for a struggling Carolina Panthers team, but he does not look like a fantasy option that can win a playoff game.

Projection: 5.80 points (non-PPR)

WR: Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

Jaylen Waddle missed most of last week with a COVID-19 diagnosis, which sidelined him in their game against the New York Jets. With an immenent return, Waddle should find himself locked up against CB Marshon Lattimore, who has shown that he can lock down any receiver he faces against. The Saints limited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a grand total of 0 points last week with a stingy defense and flying linebackers, and not much looks to change against a one-dimension Miami offense that gives little to nothing in the run game besides a little spark in the form of RB Duke Johnson. The Dolphins drew a tough matchup against the Saints, and Waddle looks to pay with a low fantasy value that might sink some fantasy teams, despite the talent and promise that he possesses.

Projection: 5.60 points (non-PPR)

TE: Hunter Henry, New England Patriots

In an age in which tight ends are increasingly consistent, Hunter Henry provides himself as an outlier as a touchdown-or-bust tight end who provides little promise in the yardage category. Even with his 77 yards and two touchdown explosion against the Indianpolis Colts, this game looks more like a fluke than a sign of things to come. The Patriots will face the Bills this week, who have shut down tight ends with great proficiency, mostly due to their two stars in SS Jordan Poyer and FS Micah Hyde. The last time these two teams met, the winds were gusting at around fifty miles per hour and the Patriots threw the football only three times, which led to a bad showing all-round from the Patriots receiving corps. Even though the conditions will be better this time around, the Patriots are a run-first team who are pretty unpredictable when it comes to the passing game, which gives way to some uncertainty in terms of stats for Hunter Henry. Long story short, Henry had a great game last week, but does not look to continue it against a stingy opponent because of his inconsistency, which is something that is not favored in the fantasy playoffs unless it is absolutely necessary.

Projection: 4.60 points (non-PPR)

K: Graham Gano, New York Giants

The Giants have shown no signs of life on the offensive side of the football ever since QB Daniel Jones’ neck injury, and that doesn’t project to change against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have remained stout defensively for most of the season. With QB Jake Fromm expected to start on this laughable offense, Graham Gano should project to not see a ton of opportunities to kick field goals, even though he has been solid and accurate with the few chances that he gets. Going up against a division rival is often a recipe for disaster, and the Giants project to be on the wrong side of it, which makes Gano a risky play in the kicker position, unless it is truly a desperate situation.

Projection: 5.00 points (non-PPR)

DEF: Houston Texans

The Texans have a defense that has kept them in games so far this season, but they are devoid of talent and are heavily scheme dependent, which makes them a bad play against the Los Angeles Chargers, who are coming off a loss in a high-scoring affair against the Chiefs. The Chargers, led by QB Justin Herbert, simply have too much firepower, which is a bad sign for a Texans defense that has had stellar performances against teams who are short handed on the talent. Even though the Texans had a great day against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and even though they are at home against the Chargers, it does little to change the fact that the Chargers are better, stronger and faster than the Texans, who are unlikely to frazzle Justin Herbert despite the schemes that they throw at him, which is mostly based on the immense talent Herbert possesses and his virtually limitless arsenal of weapons. This game should be avoided by any fantasy managers that have players from the Texans not named WR Brandin Cooks.

Projection: 0.00 points (non-PPR)