Snap Count Observations: Five Decisions to Make for Week 16 (Fantasy Football)
My short-lived friendship with Week 15 is not something I will remember fondly, at all. I feel like I have mentioned “crazy weeks” so many times this year, but I can confidently reflect on the past seven days as the craziest of the year. There were a number of records set regarding touchdowns and points scored, and none of them were good. Quarterbacks barely quarterbacked, running backs barely moved the ball, and just about everyone was on the Covid/Reserve list. Outbreaks across the league hampered the starting lineups in just about every contest except the first one on Thursday night, and it caused multiple games to be rescheduled for an additional day of the week. Tuesday football is always a good thing, but this particular Tuesday was ugly. It was a week to forget, but thankfully a new week is already upon us. Championship belts don’t care about how they were won, they just look shiny and invoke envy.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receivers
Assuming Bruce Arians allows the Bucs to play football ever again, they are going to do so with a depleted offensive attack. Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin all went down during their disgusting Week 15 performance, and it looks like both Godwin and Fournette are done for the rest of the year. Evans has a chance to play, but Godwin left a huge hole in the passing game. Antonio Brown should return to the lineup as early as this week, so I wouldn’t be too aggressive on the waiver wire or with your starting lineup in Week 16 when everything is on the line. Breshad Perriman could spoil a lot of the potential Tyler Johnson excitement, so I wouldn’t put any of these guys in your starting lineup until we see how things look in the fantasy playoff semifinals. Avoid this situation completely.
The Arizona Cardinals Wide Receivers
Christian Kirk was a near full-time player in the Cardinals’ first game without their all-pro wide receiver, and that’s a valuable asset to have on your team. The Cardinals were somehow beat down by the lowly Detroit Lions, but Kirk’s usage was excellent. He out-snapped A.J Green and ran ahead of Rondale Moore all season. Kirk is now the bonafide top dog in a potent passing attack and should be started as such. He’s never going to be DeAndre Hopkins, but his skillset is underrated and Kyler Murray has connected with him enough to pass the ‘chemistry’ test. Kirk is a deep threat who can also succeed near the line of scrimmage, and he should be fairly matchup-proof in terms of volume. The Cardinals face-off with an excellent Colts secondary in Week 16, but Kirk should still be effective enough to warrant flex consideration in almost all formats. I would start him with confidence, even during a championship semifinal week.
Conclusion: ADD or START Christian Kirk (WR3)
The Miami Dolphins Running Backs
Amongst all of the surprises that Week 15 brought to us, Duke Johnson may have been the wildest one. He hadn’t even been on a roster up until this point, but somehow he was given the bulk of the carries by the Dolphins coaching staff in his first full week on the team. Myles Gaskin seems to be the least trusted running back in the league, and this was the final blow for my personal “can’t trust him” criteria. Johnson has always been a talented player, but his pass-catching prowess has siloed him into certain roles that don’t really warrant fantasy consideration except in the most perfect of circumstances. Johnson looked more than passable in his first outing, notching 23 touches and crossing the century mark in total yardage. This type of usage is too substantial to be ignored, so I’m expecting the Dolphins to rely on him again in week 16. Fantasy managers should feel comfortable trusting him in their flex spot or as a low end RB2.
Conclusion: ADD and START Duke Johnson
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Running Backs
The Bucs are just too good of an offense to not have two separate discussions in this piece. The loss of Leonard Fournette is monumental for a lot of teams, but Ronald Jones has provided plenty of moments in the sun himself. Jones is the top add across all formats this week, and he should be started in almost every lineup. Bruce Arians said it’s “Ronald’s time”, and we would be foolish to ignore him. Ke’Shawn Vaughn was once a dynasty darling who seemed poised to make noise, but he looked a step slow this past weekend. I’m not worried about a backfield split here, as Jones is a veteran and not far removed from a feature role with this exact offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s able to produce in a similar way to Fournette, and he can be considered a high-end RB2 by fantasy managers chasing a championship.
Conclusion: ADD (and start) Ronald Jones
The Los Angeles Chargers Running Backs
This recommendation is for a very specific crowd but should be taken into account by everyone. Backup running backs often rule this time of year, and handcuff running backs can win championships. Austin Ekeler was on the field in Week 16, but his usage was muted by his standards. Justin Jackson was the clear backup from a snap-count perspective, and we should anticipate Jackson to lead the way if Ekeler has to miss any time. The Kelley/Jackson debacle has bitten us before, but the usage here was significant enough to confirm Jackson’s the guy we want on our bench during championship weeks. There is always a chance Ekeler ends up on the Covid list as well, and although I hope that doesn’t happen, it’s very possible given what we’ve seen the past two weeks. Jackson is a must-add and should be considered an RB3 or flex if Ekeler goes down for any reason.
*Update*: Ekeler landed on the Covid/Reserve list as I typed that last sentence, so Jackson now becomes a must-add. I promise I didn’t jinx him. I hope.
Conclusion: Add Justin Jackson as an Ekeler Manager