15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 16
If you felt like Week 15 was a terrible one for fantasy football, it's because it was objectively a terrible one for fantasy football.
In fact, it was one of the worst ever.
Sunday's games were particularly frustrating. According to NFL Media's research department, the 40 touchdowns scored on Sunday marked the lowest the NFL has seen on a Sunday with 10 or more games were played since 1994.
This had a massive impact on fantasy football.
It was sort of an equalizer. If you had one of the players who blew up this week -- one of the Chiefs pass-catchers, Mark Andrews, Brandin Cooks, Gabriel Davis, Amon-Ra St. Brown -- then you were at an even bigger advantage than usual. Because, with such bad offense, there were bad individual performances littered throughout fantasy football.
I could sit here and say, "This just happens in fantasy football." But it doesn't. Not like this.
For this to happen in the first round of the fantasy playoffs...it's brutal. It's gut-wrenching.
Hopefully you made it out to see another week.
Note: Trade deadlines have passed, but any buy or sell recommendation below is simply based on how confident you should feel in that player moving forward. The transactions, as usual, are not in order of significance.
Sell the Miami Dolphins Backfield
The Dolphins had COVID-related issues with their backfield last week, and that ended up helping Duke Johnson see a lot of work against the Jets in Week 15. He handled 68.8% of the team's running back rushes, the fifth-highest mark by any Miami running back this season. He turned that running back rush share into 22 carries for 107 yards and a pair of scores.
But -- say it with me -- it was the Jets.
When looking at schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed by position, New York against running backs has been the most advantageous matchup in fake football this year. On the season, they've allowed about 11 more points to be scored on them versus their opponents' season-long averages. To put that another way, if a team entered the week against the Jets with a backfield average of 15 points per game, we'd expect them to score over 26 points against the Jets.
Not only is it possible that this backfield just added another head to it with Johnson's strong outing, but the Dolphins won't go up against the Jets each week. In fact, in Weeks 16 and 17, they get the Saints and Titans, teams that rank 32nd and 29th, respectively, in adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs this year.
You can feel free to add Duke Johnson this week, but he's likely to be tough to trust over the final two weeks of the season.
Add Amon-Ra St. Brown
It's been a hell of a few weeks for Amon-Ra St. Brown. Over his last three, he's seen target shares of 31.6%, 32.4%, and 42.3% resulting in 12, 12, and 11 targets. He's finished as a top-10 wide receiver in two of those contests.
You should be buying volume in fantasy football, and St. Brown is getting that. They've also got a strong matchup against Atlanta in Week 16, a team that ranks in the top-five in adjusted fantasy points allowed to wide receivers this season.
Add Craig Reynolds
Things didn't unfold favorably for the typical Detroit running backs prior to Week 15, with D'Andre Swift nursing a shoulder injury and Jamaal Williams dealing with COVID-19. That allowed Craig Reynolds to lead the Detroit backfield for a second straight week, this time seeing an uptick in running back rush share. In Week 14, his share of running back rushes sat at about 58%. That jumped to roughly 79% against Arizona, and he carried the rock 26 times for 112 yards.
His role as a receiver hasn't been very strong (a 4.6% target share per game), but if Williams and Swift aren't ready to roll in Week 16, Reynolds would step into the aforementioned matchup against the Falcons as the Lions' starter. And for as bad as Atlanta's been against the pass, they've been equally as bad against the run, ranking fifth in adjusted points allowed to running backs this year.
Add Ronald Jones
The biggest add this week -- if he's available -- is probably Ronald Jones. It sounds like Leonard Fournette is going to at least miss a game or two with a hamstring injury, and considering the Bucs get the Jets in Week 17, it would make sense for Fournette to sit through the rest of the fantasy season. Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that it's likely Fournette ends up on IR, even.
That means RoJo is in store for a lot of work, at least on the ground. Fournette had seen a double-digit percentage target share in all but one game heading into Week 15, and, while it's not a complete apples-to-apples comparison, when Jones was getting a big workload last year, he rarely was seeing a ton of looks through the air. He had 10 games with 10 or more carries and ended up with a double-digit percentage target share in just three of them.
The good news? He averaged over 22 touches per game without Uncle Lenny in 2020.
Jones has never been much of a pass-catcher, which is likely why the Bucs opted for Ke'Shawn Vaughn as a receiver out of the backfield for a bit against the Saints on Sunday; both Jones and Vaughn ended the game with two targets.
Jones is a top priority, though, given the Buccaneers offense has been one of the best in football through 15 weeks. There should be plenty of scoring opportunities. And you could look to add Vaughn in deeper leagues, especially if they're PPR ones.
Add Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and Breshad Perriman
Tampa Bay is at least getting Antonio Brown back this week, but, man, those are brutal blows.
Replacing Godwin and potentially Evans will be Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, and Breshad Perriman. Per Pro Football Focus, against the Saints, Johnson ran 50 routes to Miller's 40. Johnson also played 12 more snaps.
Perriman was out because he was on the COVID-19 list, but he could play a role here as well. He ran ahead of the two wide receivers two weeks ago, but he took a back seat to Johnson in Week 14 against Buffalo.
So where do things stand, then? Who should you prioritize?
My money is on Tyler Johnson. He's now been on the field more than the other two wideouts in play over the last two weeks, and Godwin plays a lot from the slot -- he's played 70.4% of his snaps from that area of the field this year.
Perriman is a perimeter player, whereas Miller and Johnson have played a very similar snap rate from the slot this season. But in Week 15, Johnson ran 10 more routes from the slot than Miller did.
That all seems to favor Johnson -- especially if Evans is able to go. With Evans, you'd get Evans and AB on the perimeter and Tyler Johnson in the slot. If Evans can't go, there's a risk for Miller that Perriman plays on the outside.
It feels like Johnson is the safest bet.
Add Gabriel Davis
Once again, Gabriel Davis is a top add this week. Without Emmanuel Sanders in the lineup in Week 15, Davis saw 22.6% of Buffalo's targets while finding the end zone twice. He's now scored four touchdowns over his last three games, and it's no coincidence that, through Sunday's games, he's leading the NFL in red-zone targets during this time.
As long as Sanders is sidelined, Davis should be in store for not just a good number of looks, but valuable looks as well. Even if Sanders is healthy, it's becoming tough to imagine Buffalo making Davis a part-time player again.
Add Samaje Perine
Joe Mixon has been struggling in fantasy football. His highest target share over his last three games is just 5.9%, and he's failed to get any higher than that in four of his last five. During this five-game stretch, Samaje Perine has out-targeted him 13 to 8.
Now Mixon is dealing with an ankle injury, and while we currently don't know if he's going to miss any time, you can't really wait and see what happens. Add Perine as soon as you can; he'd see more work on the ground if Mixon is sidelined, and we've already seen him take on necessary receiving work this season.
Add Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Yours truly has brought up Marquez Valdes-Scantling in this column recently, but his percent rostered number still sits at just 41% over on Yahoo!. MVS has hit a 20% target share in three of his last four games, and he's finished as a top-10 wide receiver in two of those. He's the perfect type of boom or bust player for teams who are underdogs in the fantasy playoffs. You shouldn't shy away from a dude getting a fifth of the targets in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense.
Add Justin Jackson
Austin Ekeler was dealing with an ankle injury this past week, and that led to Justin Jackson seeing a season-high 39.4% running back rush share in the Chargers offense. He carried the ball 13 times for an impressive 86 yards.
There seem to be positive COVID-19 tests coming from the Chargers, and at one point on Monday, it was reported that Ekeler himself had tested positive. That's not the case, but the risk certainly is still there (that goes for Jackson, too, but no one is handcuffing Justin Jackson).
With the injury that Ekeler's dealing with and the way COVID is spreading throughout the league, Jackson should be rostered. All relevant handcuffs should be rostered.
Add Cole Kmet
Cole Kmet has actually seen a decent target share in 2021, accounting for a little over 19% of Chicago's targets on the year. He's coming off a game where he caught a nice 6 of 9 targets for 71 yards, and the Bears get Seattle this week -- a team that's been one of the worst against tight ends this year in adjusted fantasy points allowed. He makes some sense as a tight end streamer.
Add Justin Fields
The man tossing the ball to Kmet, Justin Fields, is a decent streaming option once again this week. Thanks to a late-game touchdown against the Vikings, Fields was able to finish as a QB1 in Week 15, giving him four QB1 performances across his last four completed games.
And, as I alluded to last week, a lot of that has to do with his increase in rushing -- he's now averaging 8.5 rush attempts and over 64 rushing yards per game over this four-game sample. I'd feel fine streaming him against the Seahawks this week as a result.
Add Jimmy Garoppolo
Speaking of underrated performances, Jimmy Garoppolo's been at least somewhat reliable during the second half of this season. He's not producing a high ceiling -- and that's why Fields is the preferred option to Jimmy G -- but he's averaged 17.3 points per game since Week 8, with a low of 11.2. He hasn't sunk your fantasy chances. And, against Tennessee this week, a team that ranks eighth in adjusted fantasy points allowed, he makes for a decent streaming choice.
Add the New Orleans Saints Defense
The Saints are rostered in 53% of Yahoo! leagues, so they're not totally a streaming option. But with it being Week 16, it can't hurt to throw out an extra defensive recommendation, right?
The New Orleans defense has one of the better Week 16 and 17 schedules in the league, as they'll face Miami in Week 16 and then Carolina in Week 17. Per my adjusted points allowed numbers, those are two top-10 opponents for an opposing fantasy football defense. FanDuel Sportsbook has this week's game against Miami with just a 39-point over/under, and the Saints are three-point home favorites. That alone means they work as a defensive streamer.
Hold the New England Patriots Defense
It's easy to get send a defense to the waiver wire when they get a tough opponent, and some of you may be considering doing that with the Patriots this week. After all, they face the Bills, and just three defenses against Buffalo have finished in the top-10 in weekly scoring this year. That's why the Bills are a bottom-five team for opposing defenses to face in adjusted fantasy points allowed.
But the New England defense is strong (they're second-best in fantasy this year), and they get the Jaguars in Week 17. You'll absolutely want them then.
It's understandable if you'd rather play a different defense than the Patriots in Week 16, but don't drop them as a result.
Add the Seattle Seahawks Defense
The most traditional streamer this week has to be Seattle. The Seahawks are decent home favorites in Week 16 against the Bears, and they'll follow up that game with a contest against the Lions in Week 17. Those are two plus matchups in adjusted points allowed, giving the Seahawks one of the best schedules in all of fantasy football over the next two weeks.