Welp, folks, it’s here. The finals for many of you in redraft and my final waiver article for the season. Week 15 is in the books and it held some unexpected performances, disappointments, and injuries just like every week. Though a familiar roller coaster, this week held much more weight for fantasy owners trying to make it into their finals. For those that made it, congrats and let’s get to Week 16 Waiver Wire Rankings. That is, after I review the news, injuries, and notes that impact your waiver decisions in Week 16.
Winner for most heartbreaking and fantasy-ruining injury in Week 15 goes to Antonio Brown, sadly. My fav guy and 2017 MVP candidate left the field with a calf injury in the second quarter and did not return. Reports currently state that Brown partially tore his left calf muscle and won’t return until playoffs. Though I’m feeling lucky as a Steelers fan at the thought of getting AB back for a playoff run, I know his injury dashed many fantasy playoff hopes this year. First Wentz, now AB. Sheesh.
On that note, at least Davante Adams got his owners 57 yards and a TD before an illegal hit by Thomas Davis knocked the receiver out with a concussion. This is the first season that I’ve recapped the injuries on a weekly basis, but the amount of concussions (especially needless ones caused by illegal or vicious hits) seems concerning. Adams appears to be facing a multiple-week recovery, which is sad to see with Aaron Rodgers back under center and his heavy involvement. This does open up more opportunity for Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and apparently…Richard Rodgers (77 yards, 1 TD) in Week 16.
My heart stopped when a cart drove Keenan Allen into the locker room Sunday with a back injury. News reported that the back injury should be “fine” and Allen plans to suit up for Week 16 against the Jets. These games are must-wins for the Chargers and with teammate and fellow play-maker, Hunter Henry (lacerated kidney), out for one or both of them, LA needs Allen in a big way. Right now, coaches state that Henry’s status for Weeks 16-17 is “in the air”. That doesn’t sound promising for fantasy owners in the finals, so I would snag a back-up off the wire. **Update Hunter Henry placed on IR.
If Henry can’t suit up, old-man-river Antonio Gates may continue to brush the cobwebs off his jersey (vultured a TD in Week 15). Tyrell Williams stands to benefit from the absence of either player, but he sure didn’t look like the clutch receiver they need in Week 15. Williams pulled in just three of seven targets for 31 yards. There were several deep passes and one end zone target that Williams just couldn’t bring in, but Philip Rivers used him for the long ball instead of Travis Benjamin. His seven targets were his most since Week 3 and he played 88% of the snaps compared to Benjamin’s 60%. For this reason, his upside, and the match-up, I’ve ranked Williams in my waiver rankings this week.
After rushing four times for 12 yards and a TD, Rex Burkhead left Sunday’s clash with the Steelers with a sprained knee. Though the sprain isn’t considered a “serious” injury as far as the Patriots playoff run goes, it does mean bad news for fantasy owners. It’s doubtful Burkhead suits up in Week 16, so Dion Lewis should get a bump and Ghost-of-Christmas-Past Mike Gillislee could actually be active this week.
Aldrick Robinson, WR for San Fran, left the game for wrist and head injuries. This opened the door for rookies Kendrick Bourne (four catches/85 yards) and Trent Taylor (four/40 yards) to make an impact against Tennessee. Fantasy devastation in the form of zero points occurred Sunday after Marquise Lee of the Jags left the game with an ankle injury. Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens (who? I know I know) served up monster games in Lee’s absence.
Tavarres King of the Giants hulked out versus the Eagles with two TDs and 70 yards on just two catches but left with a concussion. Roger Lewis could see more targets if King misses Week 16, but also may see a lot of Patrick Peterson since Sterling Shepard plays in the slot most of the time.
Thursday Night Football claimed another injury victim: Trevor Siemian. Whether in their control or not, Denver wins the award for most QB switches in a season right? Anyways, Siemian dislocated his shoulder against the Colts, ending his season. Brock Osweiler took over, connecting on 12 passes for 194 yards and two TDs. With Paxton Lynch medically cleared (ankle) this week, the Broncos need to decide (yet again) who gets the start in Week 16 against Washington. I know we are all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to not care and not stream whoever it is. Sorry, I’m not sorry.
Jeremy Maclin left Sunday’s tilt with a knee injury after a hit to his lower body from Jabrill Peppers on the first drive. He returned to the game but not for long. His Week 16 status is questionable, but for a guy that hasn’t been fantasy relevant basically all season, this isn’t a huge knock for most owners. If anything, it makes me like Mike Wallace and Ben Watson more this week.
Unfortunately, Monday Night Football also saw injuries to key players, as both DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard exited with ankle injuries. Both sported a walking boot after the game, which can’t be good for either or their status. Cameron Brate left the game for the 2nd quarter with a knee injury but returned in the second half. Add these injuries to the existing ones of Lavonte David, Vernon Hargreaves, and Gerald McCoy and you’ve got some issues for TB. In addition, Doug Martin was a healthy scratch for the Bucs and they started Peyton Barber instead. Summary: the Bucs are a mess, but Winston is OK.
Ok, that about covers it. Sheesh. Lots of injuries. Let’s get to the waivers finally!!
Week 16 Waiver Wire Rankings
Green = Top Waiver Option
Orange = Streaming Target
Blue = Bench Stash
Purple = Deep League Stash
**Due to this being the final week of waiver rankings, I stick to QB, TE, and DST streamers and rank the top RB/WRs together for the first time instead of listing an extensive list for each. There’s no need to find you stashes since there most likely is no next week for most of you. You’re sticking with the studs that got you here but might need some upside or injury fill-in candidates. As usual, all players mentioned at owned 60% or less. Here we go!
- Blake Bortles (54%) at San Francisco
- Nick Foles vs Oakland
- Jameis Winston @ Carolina
- Jimmy Garappolo vs Jacksonville
- Eli Manning at Arizona
- Tyrod Taylor @ New England
- Joe Flacco vs Indianapolis
If I haven’t harped on you enough for you to snag Blake Bortles over the past several weeks, then you’ve already got your starter or just hate him and it’s a lost cause. Just to update you, Bortles currently stands as the #13 overall fantasy QB (4pt/TD) and finished in the top five QBs two out of the last three weeks. This week he draws the 49ers. According to Pro Football Reference, SF defense gives up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season. They allowed an average of 255 passing yards and 1.79 TDs per game in 2017. Bortles threw for 903 yards, 7 TDs, and zero INT his last three games. Need I go on?
Nick Foles. Oh, Nick Foles. He took on the role of the hero come to save the day for both Philly and fantasy owners in Week 15. Foles threw a whopping four TDs and 237 interception-free yards. In a game when Philly’s defense surprisingly couldn’t hold the NY Giants, Nick took the reigns, throwing touchdowns to four different receivers, including to two tight ends (congrats Trey Burton owners, you lucky dogs). This week, Foles draws a matchup vs an Oakland defense that held it’s past two QB opponents to zero passing TDs (Dak Prescott and Alex Smith). Dak snagged a rushing TD to help his fantasy stats, but overall, the Raiders held QBs in check recently.
I don’t expect Foles to repeat his rockin’ performance, but also think he fares a better fate than Dak and Smith, whose offenses have been struggling as of late. It’s hard to know what to expect since I also didn’t expect a shootout with the Giants in Week 15; however, Foles should give you a pretty safe floor. Oakland gave up the 12th most fantasy points to QBs on the season, they’ve just faced some softer QBs as of late (Trevor Siemian, Geno Smith, then the struggling Dak and Smith).
He did me proud that Jimmy G! Garoppolo (I learned to spell it!!) completed 31-of-43 for 381 yards and one TD in Week 15. I really hope he got some of you through to the next round of your playoffs. However, Week 16 is the week to stream elsewhere if you can. Jimmy G faces the stout Jacksonville defense this week, who gave up more than 250 passing yards in just TWO contests this season (Big Ben and Russell Wilson). Streaming alarm. Very bad-matchup. But, I trust him more than those ranked lower than him….
In a big f*** you to maybe everyone, Eli Manning piled on the points in Week 15 against a previously trusted Philadelphia defensive unit. Manning threw for 434 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. It represented a season-high in yardage and tied for season-high in TDs (threw for three in Week 3 vs….guess who….Philly). I don’t think anyone saw the Giants putting up this much of a fight, forcing the Eagles to come back from a considerable deficit at one point. In the end, the Giants defense couldn’t hold off Foles and company. Maybe Manning is trying to sell himself as still relevant in order to land a new home in 2018.
This week, Eli draws an Arizona defense that gives up the 10th most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. I wouldn’t expect another 400+ yard outing by any means, but Arizona is beatable. In four-point per TD scoring, the Cardinals defense gave up 19 or more fantasy points to QBs in nine games this season so far. With Patrick Peterson only covering the slot a small percentage of the time (12%) and Manning’s big weapon Sterling Shepard lining up in the slot 84% of the time, he’s got a shot. Add rekindled chemistry with Evan Engram and you’ve got something cooking. Arizona just gave up 55 yards and a TD to Jamison Crowder (slot) in Week 15.
Running Back and Wide Receiver
- Keelan Cole
- Martavis Bryant (57%)
- Dede Westbrook (44%)
- Mike Wallace (44%)
- Randall Cobb (54%) (if Rodgers in)
- Tyrell Williams
- Gio Bernard (if Mixon out, solid floor, good match-up vs DET, Cinci given up)
- Mike Gillislee
- Kendall Wright (solid floor, good match-up vs CLE, low powered offense, limited ceiling)
- Jonathan Stewart (good match-up, decent floor 10+ carries per game, heavy CMC involvement)
- Kerwyn Williams (decent floor, monitor quad injury, good match-up vs NYG)
- Adam Humphries
- Bilal Powell (58%, vultured by Forte, three-headed backfield, good match-up)
- Mike Davis (OK match-up, bounce back for Seattle offense)
- Payton Barber (bad match-up, ball security, Doug Martin may be active)
- Chris Ivory (Fournette most likely back, good match-up)
- Paul Richardson (56%)
- Kenny Stills (boom-or-bust, great match-up but at Arrowhead)
- Roger Lewis (could see Patrick Peterson coverage)
- Damiere Byrd (deeper leagues, maybe just flash in the pan, good match-up)
- Jaydon Mickens (if Lee is out, likely flash in the pan, good match-up)
Fourteen. Sit with that number. That is the number of times Aaron Rodgers targeted Randall Cobb in Week 15. That’s a season-high and brought back memories of Week 1-2 when he received 22 targets and caught 15 for 145 yards. Welp, Aaron’s back again and so is Cobb. I’m not going to say I wasn’t surprised by the number of targets, as I predicted best bud Jordy Nelson to benefit the most from Rodgers’ return. However, they had difficulty connecting in Week 15 and the Davante Adams injury also bumped up Cobb’s usage.
With Adams expected to miss Week 16, Nelson and Cobb face a tough Minnesota defense but at least playing at Lambeau Field. I bumped Cobb down the waiver rankings for the matchup, yes, but also because reports are coming out that GB coaching staff may sit Aaron Rodgers this week to protect him. Last week’s loss dashed their playoff hopes, so they’re of the mindset that it’s unnecessary to risk their less-than-100-percent All-Star. I get it. But, we won’t know until after waivers, so it’s worth the potential upside to me. However, I would rather stake my waiver claim (or spend my FAAB) on the guys above him for guaranteed roles against great matchups in Week 16. **Update: Aaron Rodgers placed on IR and will not start in Week 16. Bump down Cobb and Nelson.
Keelan Cole finished with the game I anticipated for Dede Westbrook in Week 15. Sigh. After Marquise Lee left with an ankle injury, Cole seemed to be everywhere. Blake Bortles targeted him nine times, connecting seven times for 186 yards (yes, I wrote that correctly) and one TD. That’s his third TD in his three straight games. This kid’s on fire and I wish I still had some skin in the game to capitalize on it.
Jaydon Mickens received five targets and caught four for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Don’t worry if you don’t know who I’m talking about. Most didn’t. If Lee remains out (which seems likely), you could take a lottery ticket out on Mickens but my prediction is a bounce-back week for Dede Westbrook and the continued Keelan Cole show in Week 16. Westbrook out-snapped both Cole and Mickens (57-53-30) but received just two targets. This should turn around in Week 16 when Bortles and the Jags face San Fran. Though they aren’t the complete pushover defense we saw to start the year, this defense just gave up 95 and a TD to Rishard Matthews last week. They gave up 149 yards and two TDs to DeAndre Hopkins the week before. I like both Cole and Westbrook this week.
Look, I’m a Steelers fan who dislikes the Baltimore Ravens greatly. But, looking at Mike Wallace‘s targets and consistent (not ground-breaking) fantasy production over the last five weeks, I can’t really believe he’s still out there on the wire. I get it. Joe Flacco and the Ravens. Not enticing. Check out the break down of the last five weeks, though. Ravens won 4 out of 5 games and averaged a whopping 31 points scored per game. Wallace received 10 targets in Week 15 and received 24 in the three games prior to that. Now, it looks like Jeremy Maclin could be out, which only helps Wallace’s value.
The Ravens face the Indianapolis Colts who give up the 7th most fantasy points to the WR position. Flacco averaged 275 yards per game and 1.6 TDs over the last three games. If you need a guy with a higher floor, Wallace is an option in Week 16. He’s scored double-digit fantasy points (PPR scoring) in five out of his last six games. In deeper leagues, Chris Moore could get some targets this week if Maclin out, but he’s much more volatile and caught zero of his targets last week.
In Week 14, Tyrell Williams caught four for 132 yards and a TD. He would’ve had a similar day in Week 15 had he hung onto the ball. Rivers targeted Tyrell 11 times over the last two weeks, so with Hunter Henry out and Allen’s injury, the opportunity is there for the taking. As I mentioned earlier, he out-snaps Travis Benjamin on a weekly basis and sees downfield targets. Williams and the Chargers are in a must-win situation against a Jets defense that gave up big numbers to Michael Thomas (93 yards, TD) and deep threat Tyreek Hill (185 yards, 2 TDs) in recent weeks. You know the risk involved here, but have to take into account the pros of having 1)a high-powered offense, 2) a successful QB, 3)increased targets due to injuries, and 4)a good match-up. I’m not sure what else you could ask from a pick-up in fantasy finals.
I know, I can’t believe I get to type his name again. Mike Gillislee must be mentioned. He lit the fantasy world on fire the first two weeks of the 2017 season with four TDs and 114 yards. Since NE’s bye in Week 9, he’s been a healthy scratch and Rex Burkhead took over the early-down and goal-line work consistently. Fantasy owners finally seemed, dare I say “comfortable”, with NE’s running back situation: a combination of Burkhead and Dion Lewis (more pass catching). Well, I hope you didn’t get used to the feeling. With the injury to Burkhead, I think Mike Gillislee will be active in Week 16 and looks to gain more benefit than James White.
The only question is will they just give more carries Dion Lewis who receives between 10-15 carries per game. This isn’t an answer that I can provide, but I do know that only Mike Gillislee/James White are available on your waivers and I prefer Gillislee. The Patriots face a Buffalo run defense that just gave up 113 all-purpose-yards and a TD to Kenyan Drake and 130 rushing yards to Frank Gore in Week 14 (note: it was the snow bowl though). At this point, you’re taking a shot early in the week and waiting to see what happens. It’s pretty poetic to think that Gillislee could come back from fantasy oblivion to bookend the fantasy season with explosive performances. Just sayin’.
I speak on the situation in the next section regarding Cameron Brate’s streamable week, so I don’t want to harp on Adam Humphries too much here. With DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard likely out for Week 16, Humphries and Brate look to see increased opportunity in a plus matchup versus Carolina. He caught five targets for 43 yards and a TD in Week 15. Carolina gives up the 8th most fantasy points to the WR position and just allowed Cobb and Adams to combine for 141 receiving yards and two TDs last week.
For those I didn’t comment about in more depth, I tried to give some brief reasoning for including them in rankings or why they are ranked where they are for Week 16 (in parentheses like this). If there are guys not mentioned at all, it’s because I think they have minimal fantasy relevance or lack enough upside to take a risk.
- Eric Ebron @ CIN
- Jesse James @HOU
- Cameron Brate @ CAR
- Ben Watson vs IND
- Charles Clay @ NE
- Antonio Gates (if Henry out) @NYJ
- Ricky Seals-Jones vs NYG
- Adam Shaheen (if healthy) vs CLE
Well, it looks like I could’ve trusted Eric Ebron in Week 15 after all. Matthew Stafford targeted Ebron 18 times over the last two weeks and he snagged five for 33 and a TD against Chicago. Dare we trust him in the fantasy finals? With minimal free agents on the wire, Ebron might be your best bet. This week, he faces a Cincinnati defense that is typically middle-of-the-pack against the TE position. However, Cincinnati gave up a TD to the tight end in each of their last two games. For anyone that’s watched the Bengals’ last two weeks, you know why. They seem to be just going through the motions and basically giving up. Ebron provides a decent floor for a streamer, but upside is limited given all the weapons for Detroit.
Jesse James provides some streamer appeal in Week 16 after the loss of Antonio Brown (30% of overall target share). He’s received 16 targets over the last two weeks and almost caught the game-winning TD versus New England. Officials later overturned the TD, stating that the ball moved when it hit the ground and deemed it incomplete. James faces a Houston defense giving up the fifth most points to the tight end position. Over their last five games, the Texans gave up four touchdowns to the TE position.
Both Antonio Gates and Cameron Brate stand to benefit from injuries to key offensive players on their teams. Yes, I ranked Antonio Gates for fantasy football finals week. Hear me out dammit. Hunter Henry seems pretty doubtful to suit up this week and Allen is banged up (though expected to play). With Tyrell Williams struggling to connect with Rivers, Phillip could look to his old faithful.
The same scenario happens for Brate this week. He developed chemistry with Jameis Winston and fellow TE O.J. Howard will most likely miss Week 16. DeSean Jackson is also out, plus there’ve been recent issues of getting Mike Evans the ball (though finally did later in Monday’s game). Considering all this, Cameron Brate starts to look like a fine streamer. Brate caught four passes for 49 yards in Week 15 and tied with Adam Humphries for 2nd most targets on the Bucs. He would’ve had a bigger game, but missed snaps with his own injury (knee, returned after half-time). Carolina, the Bucs’ opponent for Week 16, just gave up 77 yards and a TD to Richard Rodgers in Week 15 and 41 and a TD to Kyle Rudolph in Week 14.
Charles Clay received nine targets against Miami in Week 15 and caught five for 68 yards. His match-up on the road with New England in Week 16 isn’t a good one. I mention him here because clearly he is one of the main targets for Tyrod Taylor and they’ll need to throw to keep up with the Patriots. He’s got a decent floor in PPR.
Reports from the Ravens indicate that Jeremy Maclin most likely won’t play in Week 16 versus the Colts. This works in Ben Watson‘s favor and could mean increased targets for him. Watson caught four for 74 yards and a TD against the Browns in Week 15. Indianapolis gives up the 8th most fantasy points to the TE position, though they’ve been stingy the last three weeks. Joe Flacco has actually been consistent the recently [knock on wood], so while he’s risky, at least we know there’s an opportunity for Watson.
Alert. This is a purely match-up based mention. Ricky Seals-Jones hasn’t helped any of you the last three weeks and was out-snapped by Troy Niklas (76-31) in Week 15. With Jermaine Gresham out, many believed RSJ would take the lead at TE. However, he received six targets which is the same amount as Niklas and caught just two for 11 yards. Niklas fared better, snagging three for 41 yards.
This has volatile situation written all over it….but…..they’re facing the NY Giants and you know what that means for TE. So, with Gresham most likely back and RSJ still receiving 5+ targets, he is one option. A shaky one, but it’s the Giants. Keep in mind that now the Cards decided to name Drew Stanton the starter over Blaine Gabbert, so who knows what kind of chemistry they’ll generate.
The limited list really says it all. I don’t feel right backing/ranking guys that I see putting up huge duds for you in the finals. That list includes Vernon Davis (vs Denver, good match-up, goose-egg last week), Tyler Kroft (vs DET, good match-up, two goose eggs in a row and plays for Cincinnati), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (vs LAC, bad match-up, two targets last week), and Trey Burton (vs OAK, good match-up, only 11 snaps in Week 15, 60 snaps for Zach Ertz). I hope you either have a guy you can trust already or the first few here are still available.
- Chicago vs CLE
- Detroit @ CIN
- Carolina vs TB
- Arizona vs NYG
- Washington vs DEN
Thank you for reading Week 16 Waiver Wire Rankings: Final Edition! I know some of you may continue or have other playoff set-ups, so feel free to DM/tweet me @FF_Female920 next week if you want to discuss some waiver pickups, but there won’t be an article. As always, check out The Fantasy Authority for great weekly content and rankings!
I just want to take a moment to thank all of you for reading and I hope that I helped your fantasy season with my waiver rankings at some point along the way. Goodluck for any active teams you have left and for those of you out of the running, let’s have a beer. Cheers to a great 2017 fantasy football season! Happy Holidays from me and the entire TFA team!