Ten Things We Learned in Week 16 (Fantasy Football)
Semi-finals week is wrapping up, and there is a lot to talk about that took place in Week 16. We had games on Christmas day, which hopefully added more good to the most wonderful time of the year. There were many matchup-winning types of performances and several busts as well. A ridiculous amount of players were impacted by Covid once again, so playoffs have continued to be brutal. Even with all of the unforeseen inactive players due to Covid and injuries, we still got to watch some good football. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the major storylines and things we learned in Week 16.
1. A.J. Brown Reminds Us to Start Your Studs
Fantasy managers that decided to start A.J. Brown were gifted an early Christmas present on Thursday Night Football. Brown returned from injury and showed why he is one of the best wide receivers in the league, catching 11-of-16 targets for 145 yards and a touchdown. As of writing this article, Brown is the WR3 on the week with 26 points in half-point PPR scoring. Brown has had an up and down season in 2021, and since he was coming off of an injury in a playoff matchup, many fantasy managers were unsure about starting the star receiver. While it can be hard to trust players in these situations, sometimes it’s best to start your studs, and Brown is the latest reminder of that.
2. Davante Adams Either Ruined Your Christmas or Gave You a Great Present
In the first game on Christmas Day, the Packers took on the Browns, winning a close one 24-22. Davante Adams had a great game, catching 10-of-13 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Just about all of his fantasy points were in the first half of the game, so it looked as though we were set up for another Kamara-Esque performance on Christmas Day again. If you were going against Adams, then it’s likely that your Christmas joy was taken from you every time you checked the score. I can personally attest to this, hence the headline. However, if you had Adams, that may have been the best gift you got all day.
3. Burrow and Higgins Dominate the Ravens
The Bengals beat the Ravens 41-21, mainly due to big games from both Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins. Burrow set career-highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns, throwing for 525 yards and four touchdowns. Burrow’s previous career-high in passing yards was 416, which he also had against the Ravens in Week 7 of this year.
Tee Higgins was the primary beneficiary of Burrow’s big game, catching 12-of-13 targets for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Higgins may be another playoff matchup-winner, finishing as the WR1 in Week 16 as of writing this article. Higgins has had a much better second half of the season than he did in the first half, and he has had over 100 receiving yards in four of his last five games.
4. Antonio Brown Will Be a Target Hog
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost some major pieces to their offense last week. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Leonard Fournette were all inactive. Evans may be back next week, but without Godwin or Fournette, Antonio Brown has the opportunity to soak up targets in the championship week just like he did in Week 16. Brown caught 10-of-15 passes for 101 yards. He had a 51.7% target share, and only four targets went to other wide receivers. It’s really no surprise since AB was getting a ton of targets even with Evans and Godwin healthy. However, he may be the definitive number one option in the offense and could help fantasy managers win a title next week when the Bucs take on the Jets.
5. Kyle Pitts Had a Great Season, Just Not For Fantasy
Many would call Kyle Pitts‘ rookie season a disappointment for fantasy purposes because he didn’t live up to his ADP from fantasy drafts this year. In Week 16, Pitts finished with more than 10 fantasy points in half-point PPR scoring for only the third time this season. Although he may feel like a bust, he actually had one of the best rookie seasons for a tight end ever. Pitts now has 949 receiving yards, the second-most by a rookie tight end ever, 127 yards behind Mike Ditka (1961). Pitts is also now tied with Evan Engram for most receptions by a rookie ever (64).
It’s well known that it’s rare for a rookie tight end to be a factor in fantasy, but volume hasn’t been the issue for Pitts. The only thing keeping Pitts from being a top fantasy tight end this year is touchdowns, with only one touchdown on the season. Through Week 15, Pitts was the TE8 on the year. We know touchdowns can be fluky, but if Pitts had scored just three more touchdowns, he would be the TE4 on the year with 137.7 points, 14.2 points behind George Kittle. Pitts was frequently drafted as the TE4 or TE5 in drafts this season, which would have returned good value. Pitts has so much upside for 2022.
6. Fantasy Managers May Have Been Better Off With Tyreek Hill Not Being Activated
Tyreek Hill was one of the many star players impacted by Covid recently. On Tuesday, Hill was placed on the Covid list, but he was activated on Christmas day, allowing him to play in Week 16 against the Steelers. In what many fantasy managers may have thought was a Christmas miracle, it may have been better had Hill not been activated. Hill only caught 2-of-2 targets for 19 yards in a 36-10 blowout win. Week 16 against the Steelers was the second game in three weeks that Hill hadn’t scored when his team scored at least 36 points. It’s obvious to play someone like Hill if they are available, but had he not been active, it’s possible that many fantasy managers would have had a better option.
7. Davis Mills Deserves To Start in 2022
The Houston Texans beat the Los Angeles Chargers 41-29 in Week 16. The Texans were in control for most of the game and were dominant on offense. Mills completed 21-of-27 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Mills has had several solid performances and has been one of the most impressive rookie quarterbacks in 2021. He hasn’t had much to work with in Houston and has played well regardless. As we all assume that Houston will be without Deshaun Watson in 2022, Mills has earned the right to start next season to see if he can be the future of the Texans.
8. Cordarrelle Patterson is Flaming Out
In one of the most surprising breakouts in recent memory, Cordarrelle Patterson dominated for most of the year and became a focal point of the Atlanta Falcons offense. He undoubtedly helped fantasy managers get into the playoffs; however, the ninth-year breakout player has come up short in the fantasy playoffs. Patterson’s last two games have been disappointing, only scoring a total of 11.1 fantasy points in half-point PPR scoring. Patterson has still gotten a decent workload on the ground, but the work in the passing game has slowed way down compared to the first half of the season. He will be a risky start if you have Patterson and have still advanced to the championship game next week when the Falcons take on the Bills.
9. Rashaad Penny May Be Happening, Finally
For the first time since a small stretch in the 2019 season, Rashaad Penny is making an impact in fantasy football. Penny rushed 17 times for 136 yards and a touchdown in Week 16 against the Chicago Bears. Penny has now seen at least ten carries in each of the last four games and has rushed for 135 yards in two of the last four games. Penny hasn’t made an impact through the air, which may be capping his upside, but he is getting good rushing volume. He gets a great matchup in the championship week against the Detroit Lions and could be a great start, especially with Covid running through the league and all of the injuries.
10. Justin Jackson Was a Great Spot Start
Austin Ekeler, unfortunately, missed Week 16 due to Covid, which allowed Justin Jackson to shine in a juicy matchup against the Texans. Jackson only rushed 11 times but ran for 64 yards and two touchdowns. He also added eight receptions for 98 yards through the air. As of writing this article, Jackson is the RB1 of the week. Hopefully, those with Ekeler on their roster were able to spot start Jackson and get a massive bump in these crazy playoffs.