If Aaron Rodgers' and Peyton Manning's bad weeks didn't knock out you, and if Dez Bryant's and Odell Beckham Jr.'s great weeks weren’t on your opponent’s side of the fantasy football ledger, then welcome to Week 16! This is the championship week for most fantasy leagues, which means you’re one win away from bringing home the hardware.
Sadly, this is a horrible week for waiver-wire help. Several quarterbacks are injured, and their replacements (possible waiver targets) are either on underperforming teams, or they face tough defenses this week.
There still might be some help out there for your championship team, though. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, with some players coming out of nowhere to contribute, you just have to know where to look.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed are owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Since they are barely owned in more than 30 percent of CBS leagues, you won’t see these rising players on this list: Robert Griffin III, Carlos Hyde, Kerwynn Williams, Charles Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Cecil Shorts III, Owen Daniels, Connor Barth, Dan Carpenter and the Giants defense.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (Owned in 23 percent of CBSSports leagues, 6.5 percent of ESPN leagues and nine percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- He remains on this list after throwing for 300 yards in back-to-back games, but he’ll be going up against a Dolphins defense that got destroyed by the Patriots in Week 15. The Dolphins pass defense has given up eight touchdown passes in its past four games, with just three interceptions.
Keeping an eye on: Houston’s Case Keenum and Oakland’s Derek Carr.
Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (15 percent, 4.3 percent and 11 percent) -- With DeMarco Murray having hand surgery this week, Joseph Randle looks like the best pickup of the week (but it's still unclear whether Murray will miss Sunday's game). Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com indicates the “early thinking” is Murray will play against the Colts. Either way, this should still be the most valuable choice on your waiver wire considering the rest of the choices. Even if Murray plays, he'll likely be limited.
Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars (29 percent, 8.1 percent and 33 percent) -- With Denard Robinson out for the rest of the season, Gerhart will pick up most of the carries for Jacksonville for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, he didn't do much with his 15 touches on Sunday against Baltimore. However, the Jaguars host the Titans in Week 16, and the Tennessee defense is allowing 22.00 fantasy points per game to running backs (30th in the NFL).
Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals (18 percent, 5.6 percent and six percent) -- We told you the pickings were slim this week, and now we’re recommending a player who shares carries already -- and will be facing a pretty good Seahawks run defense. But the Cardinals are down to their third quarterback, as Ryan Lindley takes the snaps after Drew Stanton’s knee injury. Arizona might be forced to run the ball a lot.
Keeping an eye on: San Diego’s Donald Brown and Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (21 percent, 13 percent and 15 percent) -- Are you sick of hearing about Jaguars players? The rookie out of Miami has 27 targets over the past three games, which is higher than all but 18 other wide receivers, and only 14 of those wide receivers have more catches than Hurns’ 15 in that span. Marqise Lee left Sunday’s game with his arm in a sling, and if he starts Thursday’s game against Tennessee, he'll likely be limited.
Hakeem Nicks, Indianapolis Colts (25 percent, 4.1 percent and 16 percent) -- T.Y. Hilton tweaked his hamstring Sunday, which means Nicks could see more action in the passing game. For now, though, the Colts expect Hilton to play against the Cowboys.
Keeping an eye on: Atlanta’s Devin Hester and Dallas’ Cole Beasley.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills (22 percent, 17.2 percent and eight percent) -- The Bills travel to Oakland for Week 16, and the Raiders defense has allowed a total of five touchdown catches in the past six games to tight ends, with an average of 4.67 catches and 54.5 receiving yards.
Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers (15 percent, 6.6 percent and 15 percent) -- It’s a great matchup for the Panthers kicker at home against Cleveland, and he is 8-of-9 on field goals over his past three games. The Browns defense has allowed 10 field-goal attempts over the past three weeks. Gano is also averaging three field-goal attempts per home game this season.
Tennessee Titans (19 percent, 4.7 percent and 23 percent) -- We knew long ago the Titans drew the Jaguars’ meager offense for Week 16, and as luck would have it -- this Titans DST is available in four of every five leagues on CBS. The problem is -- the Titans DST ranks among the lower echelon of fantasy defenses. In Week 15, however, this unit got three sacks and a safety against the Jets. The Jaguars also might be missing Blake Bortles (foot), so Chad Henne could start for the first time since Week 3. Finally, fantasy DSTs are scoring more against the Jaguars than any other team this season. Over the past four games, the Jaguars offense averaged about 13 points and 240 yards per game, while allowing an average of just under six sacks.