Fantasy Football Rankings: Week 16 Matchups to Consider
Fantasy leagues are down to just four teams remaining heading into Week 16, which means the stakes are higher than ever when making your lineup decisions. The Ballers have their Week 16 rankings out and I’m here again to take a closer look at a few matchups before locking your rosters in.
Tom Brady (TB) at Arizona
Tom Brady has been mostly impossible to predict this season for fantasy purposes with just four top-12 QB finishes. What’s encouraging is that two of those top-12 finishes have come within the last three weeks. Brady’s passing volume has been extremely high over that same stretch, averaging 51 attempts per game, so there are plenty of opportunities for fantasy production despite a struggling Tampa Bay offense. The biggest concern for fantasy managers considering putting Brady in their lineups should be the low ceiling he has, having only scored over 20 points once this season.
In a fantasy week where there’s so much riding on having your QB finish strong, Brady really has a coin toss of a matchup against Arizona. Over their last six games, the Cardinals’ defense has given up three top-five QB finishes. For perspective, in the other three weeks, they faced John Wolford, Mac Jones, and Brett Rypien who averaged nine fantasy points.
Brady may be a safe floor play based on the matchup, but doesn’t provide the high upside fantasy managers should be looking to shift to in such a big week.
Kurt would prefer to play: Gardner Minshew (QB16)
Daniel Jones (NYG) at Minnesota
It’s been a sneakily quiet QB11 season so far for Daniel Jones in New York. There have been some bumps in the road, but over the last five weeks, Jones has been a top-12 QB three times. Jones has consistently provided a baseline for fantasy managers with his legs, averaging nearly 40 yards per game since Week 11.
It may be tough for fantasy managers focusing on Jones’ most recent QB26 finish last week at Washington, but it’s the matchup that is most intriguing for Jones in Week 16. Prior to last week, Minnesota had given up five-straight weeks of top-12 QB finishes, with an average fantasy finish of QB6. The Vikings will give Jones plenty of opportunity to come through for fantasy managers in Week 16. On the season, Minnesota’s defense is giving up the most yards per game to opposing offenses in the league.
Kurt would play Jones over: Dak Prescott (QB8)
Raheem Mostert (MIA) vs Green Bay
Raheem Mostert has made the absolute most for fantasy managers when given a chance to perform this season. Week 15 saw Mostert post his sixth top-24 RB finish of the year and his first since Week 10 after totaling 136 yards on the ground against Buffalo. Mostert‘s big day on the ground was his best rushing performance since Week 13 of the 2019 season and was just the third time since then he’s seen 17 rushing attempts in a game.
Week 16 should be another chance for Miami to lean on their ground game against Green Bay. The Packers’ defense has allowed a top-24 RB finish in each of their last six games and four top-12 RB finishes. Green Bay is giving up the fourth most rushing yards per game, and while Miami is averaging under 100 rushing yards per game, Mostert should still be a very good option for fantasy managers this week.
Kurt would play Mostert over: Joe Mixon (RB15)
Cam Akers (LAR) vs Denver
After being left for dead by most fantasy managers, Cam Akers has strung together a triplet of strong fantasy finishes when it has mattered most. Since Week 13, Akers has finished inside the top 24 each game while averaging 55 yards and a TD. What may be most encouraging for Akers is the increased efficiency after averaging 5.4 yards per carry last week, his highest mark in a game since his rookie season.
The matchup for Akers in Week 16 doesn’t look ideal at first glance, as the Bronco’s defense has given up just eight rushing TDs on the season and just 18 total points per game. However, Denver’s defense has given up a top-12 RB finish in back-to-back games, including the RB1 overall finish in Week 14. Given the opportunity, Akers should still be considered a solid FLEX play for fantasy managers in Week 16.
Kurt would play Akers over: Zonovan Knight (RB29)
Deon Jackson (IND) vs LA Chargers
We’ve seen Deon Jackson emerge into fantasy relevance in Jonathan Taylor’s absence for the Colts already this year. Even though it was just for a two-game stretch, Jackson averaged over 100 total yards per game and finished as the overall RB2 in Week 6. Jackson was called upon again last week when Taylor left the game and made more of his opportunities than Zack Moss, who averaged nearly a whole yard less per carry.
For fantasy managers needing a spot start, it never hurts to be able to pick up a player who’s taking on the Chargers. LA’s defense gives up the fifth most rushing yards per game and is just as willing to give up strong fantasy finishes to opposing RBs. The Chargers’ defense has given up a top-24 finish in seven of their last eight games, including five inside the top 12. Jackson should be the preferred option in the Colts’ backfield for fantasy managers looking to replace Jonathan Taylor with top-24 upside.
Kurt would play Jackson over: Cordarrelle Patterson (RB37)
DJ Moore (CAR) vs Detroit
If you’ve held on to DJ Moore this long, the time may have finally come for some predictable payoff. The biggest problem with Moore this season has been knowing when you can expect him to be playable for your team. On the season, Moore has finished inside the top-15 WRs four times and all of those games have come since Week 7.
Week 16 might be the best chance to use Moore this season since he’s coming off a WR13 finish, and can back it up with a great matchup against the Lions. Detroit’s defense is allowing the third-most receiving yards per game and the eighth-most TDs. Moore is seeing plenty of volume in an offense that’s sure to be playing from behind and should be considered a FLEX play with upside this week for fantasy managers.
Kurt would play Moore over: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR20)
George Pickens (PIT) vs Las Vegas
After finishing inside the top 24 three times in four weeks, George Pickens hasn’t sniffed being a WR2 for fantasy purposes since Week 12. For everything that Pickens brings to the table, it’s clear he’s best at making big plays down the field. Even in his worst weeks, Pickens is regularly posting catches of 30 or more yards.
The Raiders’ defense has been a consistent target for fantasy managers this season, especially at the WR position. However, Las Vegas hasn’t allowed a top-24 WR finish in consecutive weeks. Granted, those games came against two struggling offenses, but the Steelers are only averaging 17 points per game and it’s still uncertain who will be starting at QB for them this week. I’m still big on Pickens going forward, but he’s too risky of a play in such an important fantasy matchup.
Kurt would prefer to play: Chris Moore (WR40)
Jahan Dotson (WASH) at San Francisco
Back-to-back games against the Giants produced WR18 and WR8 finishes for Jahan Dotson. Dotson’s rookie season has seen flashes of fantasy greatness, as he’s finished inside the top-24 WRs in 56% of his games played. In games where Dotson has seen at least four targets, he’s averaging 62 yards and a TD, so it’s really just a matter of making sure Washington gets him the ball to be productive for fantasy managers.
San Francisco isn’t the best matchup for fantasy WRs on paper, but if there is going to be a position the 49ers’ defense will allow a good fantasy finish it’s the WR spot. Over their last six games, the 49ers have allowed three top-16 WR finishes. Where Dotson may have trouble this week is getting into the end zone. San Francisco has only allowed 13 receiving TDs this season, the second-fewest in the league. Dotson on the other hand hasn’t finished inside the top 80 WRs without scoring a TD.
Kurt would prefer to play: K.J. Osborn (WR48)
Darren Waller (LV) at Pittsburgh
The long wait was well worth it for fantasy managers who held on to Darren Waller. After missing eight games, Waller returned to finish as the TE6 against the Patriots. In just six games played, Waller has finished as a top-10 TE three times. While he’s definitely been a disappointment for fantasy managers who invested mid-round draft picks to get him during draft season, the path is still clear for Waller to have a big impact on the outcome of fantasy playoffs.
Week 16 doesn’t give Waller the best matchup for TEs to instill confidence in fantasy managers again this week. The Steelers’ defense has allowed a combined 5.7 fantasy points to opposing TEs over the last two weeks. However, it’s important to remember that Waller doesn’t find his production like a typical TE, instead, he played 65% of his snaps last week out of the slot. For context, when Mark Andrews played the Steelers in Week 13, just 31% of his snaps came from the slot.
I’d be playing Waller, regardless of the matchup.
Kurt would play Waller over: Dalton Schultz (TE3)
Noah Fant (SEA) at Kansas City
After not posting a single usable fantasy week the first half of the season, Noah Fant has finished inside the top-seven TEs in three of his last six games. Whenever Fant has seen at least five targets in a game this season, he’s averaging nearly five receptions for 53 yards. What’s more impressive is Fant’s 27.3% target per route run he posted in Week 15. That’s better than Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle from last week. If Fant stays involved as he’s been over the last month, he should provide a solid baseline at the TE position with top-six potential.
Kansas City offers a TE matchup for Fant that should aid fantasy managers in getting through the semifinals. Over their last six games, the Chiefs have allowed less than five fantasy points to opposing TEs four times, but also gave up two TE TDs last week to the Texans. The biggest motivation for keeping Fant in fantasy lineups has to be the game script for Seattle. Assuming the Chiefs will continue to score 24 or more points as they’ve done in their last six games, Seattle should be forced to throw the ball often, giving Fant a chance to return to the top-12 TEs again.
Kurt would play Fant over: Taysom Hill (TE11)