Week 16 waiver wire: Considerations for championship weekend

Steven Psihogios

The fantasy football championships — this is what we play for.

You’ve drafted, you’ve traded, you’ve added and you’ve dropped. All of those moves have led you to this moment.

The fantasy football championships are a wild, unpredictable and stressful time. Whether it results in one of your greatest achievements, or one of your biggest regrets, hopefully you’re able to look back at this season and say you had the time of your life.

Cue Green Day.

QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (40% rostered on Yahoo)

If you have made it to the fantasy football finals with one of Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger or Ryan Tannehill, it’s highly recommended you make the pivot to Hurts to secure the championship. All three of the aforementioned quarterbacks have a date against a bottom-10 ranked fantasy football opponent for the quarterback position, while Hurts battles the Dallas Cowboys defense, which has allowed the 14th-most fantasy points per game to opposing passers this season. Hurts offers a safe floor with his rushing abilities, but he demonstrated in Week 15 that he can get it done with his arm as well. He passed for 338 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions and finished with the most fantasy points of any QB last week.

Tony Pollard could be a difference-maker in the final week of the fantasy football season. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard could be a difference-maker in the final week of the fantasy football season. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (47% rostered on Yahoo)

Is Pollard better than Ezekiel Elliott? I don’t say this lightly as I think highly of Elliott, but Pollard’s two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday were more than Elliott has scored since Week 6. Pollard also looked like he ran with more burst and speed than we’ve seen out of Elliott in 2020 and his 4.7 yards-per-carry on the year are ahead of Elliott’s 3.9. Of course, Elliott has handled 211 carries while Pollard has seen just 87, but it’s hard to ignore a performance like the one we just saw. Additionally, the second-year back looked good in the receiving game, catching six of his nine targets for 63 yards. If Elliott remains out in Week 16, Pollard can be viewed as a high-end RB2 against the Eagles.

RB Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers (27% rostered on Yahoo)

Snell Jr. has been a staple of the weekly waiver wire report as James Conner has missed a handful of games throughout the season. With Conner’s status uncertain for Week 16, Snell Jr. could once again slide his way into your starting roster. On Monday Night Football, in a game the Steelers’ passing attack failed them, Snell Jr. actually ran the ball well, totalling 84 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries while adding three receptions for 23 yards. The matchup against the Colts isn’t favorable as they’ve allowed the 13th-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs this season, but an inactive Conner would make Snell Jr. a volume-based RB2.

RB Frank Gore, New York Jets (24% rostered on Yahoo)

This recommendation is for the desperate. If you are in dire need of a running back for this week, hold your nose and plop Gore into your starting lineup. Jets head coach Adam Gase is hell-bent on marching Gore onto the field an obscene number of times. Last week in a winning effort against the Rams, Gore turned 23 carries into 59 yards and a touchdown while securing his only target for six yards. His Week 16 matchup against the Browns isn’t great, as Cleveland is conceding the eighth-fewest fantasy points to tailbacks, but if you need someone, anyone, who is going to touch a football this week, Gore will do that.

RB Le’Veon Bell, Kansas City Chiefs (56% rostered on Yahoo)

Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is likely going to miss the final two games of the regular season, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, which means Bell is presumptively taking over lead-back duties in Kansas City. Bell saw a major uptick in carries this past week, as he toted the ball 15 times for 62 yards and a touchdown while bringing in his lone target for 14 yards. His matchup against the Falcons in Week 16 is less than desirable as Atlanta is surrendering the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs, but now assuming the starting role, Bell will be a high-end RB2.

QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (47% rostered on Yahoo)

Over the past three weeks, Mayfield has accumulated the fourth-most fantasy points of any QB. Over this three-game span, no other passer has thrown for more yards (974) or more touchdowns (8). He has been playing at a very high level and he’ll look to continue that this week against the Jets, who are allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. He’ll slot in as a low-end QB1.

WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons (24% rostered on Yahoo)

If Julio Jones misses Week 16’s matchup against the Chiefs, Gage will be a fine WR3 for fantasy managers looking for a last-minute starter. Over the past three weeks, Gage is WR17 in fantasy points and has seen 25 targets, which is tied for the 13th-most amongst wide receivers over that stretch. The matchup isn’t great as Kansas City is allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, but because of his recent target volume Gage is a serviceable option if Jones remains sidelined.

Houston Texans (18% rostered on Yahoo)

This defensive recommendation is for those who are in deeper leagues and don’t have great options at their disposal. The Texans are not a great defense and are actually allowing more than 27 points per game, but their Week 16 opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, are worth picking on. Prior to Cincinnati’s unexpected offensive outburst against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals were averaging 10 points per game since Joe Burrow’s season-ending injury. I’m willing to venture we won’t see a similar performance out of the Bengals in Week 16, and even a bad defense like the Texans should have a good fantasy day against Ryan Finley and company.

Washington Football Team (34% rostered on Yahoo)

Unlike the Texans, the Football Team actually has a good defense. They’ve allowed the fifth-fewest points per game (21.1) to opposing teams this season and are tied for allowing the fewest red zone scoring attempts to opponents per game at 2.6. Washington draws the Carolina Panthers, whose 23.1 points per game on offense are the 11th-fewest in the NFL. Washington will be a top-10 play at the position this week.

Arizona Cardinals (34% rostered on Yahoo)

Arizona’s opponent, the 49ers, are down to their third-string QB as C.J. Beathard will replace Nick Mullens who is out with an injury. The move may actually be a downgrade for the Cardinals defense as Mullens had totalled 11 turnovers in his last six games. No defense should fear Beathard, however, as he owns a 1-9 record as a starting QB and a 14:13 touchdown-interception ratio. Starting running back Raheem Mostert was also placed on IR this week, further complicating matters for San Francisco’s offense. The Cardinals should be able to hold the sputtering 49ers to a low point total in Week 16.

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