- Fantasy football championships are here, and we have a handful of players who could help you bring home that coveted title.
You play all season to get to this point. Week 16. Championship Week. Are you really going to leave a stone or two unturned now that you’ve arrived in fantasy football’s most important week of the season? Of course not. The Week 16 Waiver Wire focuses on players you can grab now who can help you hoist your league’s championship trophy one week from now.
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles
Look, the Eagles aren’t going to play any teams like the Giants in the playoffs. It’s still a little early to say the may not miss Carson Wentz in January. But maybe they won’t miss Carson Wentz in January? That became a real possibility on Sunday after Foles shredded the Giants in Week 15. In his first start in 13 months, Foles threw for 237 yards, 6.24 yards per attempt and four touchdowns in an 34-29 Eagles win over the Giants. Wentz unlocked the power of the Eagles offense, bringing the most out of all his weapons. Foles did the same in the Week 15 win. Alshon Jeffery caught passes four for 49 yards and a touchdown, Nelson Agholor found the end zone and finished with seven grabs for 59 yards and Zach Ertz hauled in six passes for 56 yards and a score. Even Trey Burton got in on the fun, accounting for Foles’s fourth touchdown. If nothing else, Foles proved he can guide the explosive Eagles offense to a huge game against a bad defense. He’ll get another one of those in Week 16 when the Eagles host the Raiders on Christmas night. Foles is the ideal quarterback streamer for championship week.
Damiere Byrd, WR, Panthers
Byrd’s name started making the rounds in fantasy circles earlier this week when it was suggested that he could be in for a bigger role in Carolina’s offense. If the immediate returns are any indication, we’ll be seeing plenty of him the rest of the season. Byrd came through for anyone who threw a dart in his direction—as well as the Panthers, of course—catching three of four targets for 25 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The touchdowns aren’t predictive, but it’s encouraging that Cam Newton looked in his direction multiple times when the Panthers got in the red zone. Byrd will still be a long-range option in Week 16, but if you need help at receiver he’s all but guaranteed to be available in your league, which is a unique brand of currency this time of the season. Byrd and the Panthers host the Buccaneers and their 30th-ranked defense against wide receivers by 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric (aFPA).
Chicago Bears Defense
The defense remains a real bright spot for the Bears in an otherwise down season, giving the team some reason to believe it can compete in the near future. They’ve consistently generated pressure and made big, ball-hawking plays, ranking sixth in the league with 39 sacks and tied for 14th with 19 takeaways. They make life tough on every position group from a fantasy standpoint, ranking third in quarterback aFPA, seventh against running backs, eighth against receivers and sixth against tight ends. They get about as good a matchup in fantasy championship as a defense can hope for in 2017, hosting the Browns on Christmas Eve. The Bears are available in about seven of every 10 fantasy leagues, but that shouldn’t be the case come midweek. They’ll be one of the best fantasy defenses on the board for the most important week of the season.
Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals
With Adrian Peterson now on IR, Williams is officially in line for a starter’s workload the rest of the season. If nothing else, the volume will be there for him. In three games since Peterson suffered a neck injury, Williams has had 16, 20 and 17 carries. He has yet to find the end zone with all that work, but the work itself is more than half the battle for RB2 types. The mere fact that Williams is a good bet to handle the ball 15 to 20 times makes him relevant in all fantasy leagues. He suffered a quad injury in the Cardinals 20-15 loss to the Titans on Sunday, but, at this point, it’s not expected to cost him any time. The Cardinals host the Giants next week, in what looked at the beginning of the season like it could be meaningful NFC contest. Instead, there won’t be much of anything on the line. The Giants rank 31st against running backs in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric (aFPA), and the Cardinals will be favored. The matchup sets up well for Williams to have a big game in fantasy championship week.
Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants
Gallman has surged back into the Giants plans over the last two weeks, totaling 178 yards on 33 touches in losses to the Cowboys and Eagles. He has had at least 14 touches in both games, doing serious work as a receiver with 13 catches for 80 yards. With all due respect to Orleans Darkwa, Gallman is the most talented back on the roster. If one of them is going to be an impact player for the Giants in 2018, it’ll be the rookie out of Clemson. The Giants would be well served to give him as much playing time as possible the rest of the year so they can learn as much about him as they can heading into what’s going to be an active, potentially transformative offseason for the franchise. In the fantasy world, that means the sort of workload for Gallman that makes him an attractive asset in Week 16. The Cardinals are just about league-average in running back aFPA, meaning this isn’t a terrible spot for Gallman. He’ll certainly factor into the flex mix in a traditional 12-team league for Week 16.
Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars
This, of course, is contingent on Leonard Fournette’s health. If the rookie out of LSU returns next week, Ivory has zero fantasy value. If he doesn’t, however, Ivory could be a worthy fantasy starter. He left Jacksonville’s thrashing of Houston in Week 15 with an injury of his own, but all indications are that it isn’t serious. The main reason he didn’t return was that the game was well in hand at that point. Ivory had 17 carries, including two inside the 5-yard line. He failed to turn either of those into touchdowns, but that gives us an idea of how he’ll be used next week, should Fournette need to sit again. The Jaguars visit San Francisco in Week 16 to take on the 49ers, a defense ranked 29th in running back aFPA.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers
Antonio Brown suffered a partially torn calf in the Steelers 27-24 loss to the Patriots on Sunday. While he’s expected to be fine for the NFL playoffs, he’ll be missing the rest of the fantasy postseason. That opens the door for Bryant to have a major role in Pittsburgh’s offense the next two weeks. He got six targets in the loss to the Patriots, catching four of them for 59 yards and a touchdown. Even without Brown, the Pittsburgh passing game will be expected to carve up a Houston defense that is 29th in wide receiver aFPA, and 30th against quarterbacks, in Week 16. Bryant will likely be worthy of a start in your fantasy championship.
Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
We’re cheating a bit here because Cobb is unlikely to be available in the most competitive leagues, but his ownership rate on Yahoo and CBS is low enough to suggest that he might be floating around in some competitive, but shallow, formats. Cobb scored for the first time in nearly a month in Aaron Rodgers’s return to the field, and his 84 yards were his most since Week 1. It’s hard to exactly peg what Cobb’s value will be in Week 16. On one hand, the Packers were all but eliminated from playoff contention with their loss to the Panthers, so they could shut down Rodgers, who didn’t look like he was quite at 100%. On the other, Davante Adams suffered his second concussion of the season, and could be out when the Packers host the Vikings on Saturday. Cobb can be a WR3 this week, making him a worthy add for owners in need of some help at receiver. Those of you in deeper leagues could also take a look at Geronimo Allison.
Tyrell Williams, WR, Chargers
Keenan Allen was carted off the field at the end of the Chargers loss to the Chiefs on Saturday with a back injury. At this point, his status for Week 16 is not known. If he’s out, Williams would likely be the de facto No. 1 receiver in the Chargers offense. Williams has been surprisingly quiet after a mini-breakout campaign in 2016, catching 35 passes for 611 yards and three touchdowns this season. He emerged last year in Allen’s absence, however, so there’s reason to believe he could turn in a useful fantasy game if Allen is out on Sunday. The Chargers in Week 16 visit the Titans, a defense ranked 10th in wide receiver aFPA. Williams would be a boom-or-bust WR3 type for the week.
Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens
Wallace turned in another solid game in Week 15, catching six of 10 targets for 89 yards. That makes five of six games where he has had a touchdown or at least 70 yards, and while those numbers don’t jump off the page, they translate to standard WR3 production. In other words, Wallace has done enough of late to have the look of a relatively safe WR3 for Week 16. The fact that his ceiling is limited does hurt his value, but guaranteed WR3 production from your WR3 is a win most weeks for fantasy owners. The Ravens will be heavy favorites when they host the Colts on Saturday. On top of the team-against-team context working in Wallace’s favor, he’ll also get an individual matchup with a defense ranked 22nd in wide receiver aFPA.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars; Keelan Cole, WR, Jaguars
Marqise Lee left Jacksonville’s drubbing of the Texans in Week 15 with an ankle injury. The Jaguars clinched a playoff spot with the victory, and are one win or one Titans loss away from securing the AFC North crown. In other words, the team will likely take it easy with Lee, doing whatever it can to help him be 100% by the first round of the playoffs. As such, both Westbrook and Cole should be in for increased target share when the Jaguars take on the 49ers on Sunday. Westbrook was almost silent in the win over the Jaguars, catching two passes for 21 yards, but Cole exploded for seven grabs for 186 yards and a score. Westbrook is still the preferred option here, but both receivers will be in the WR3 mix for Week 16. Those of you in deeper formats could also take a look at Jaydon Mickens, who caught four passes for 61 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Kendall Wright, WR, Bears
Wright was the leader of the Bears receiving corps again in Week 15, pulling down seven of his 13 targets for 81 yards. Over the last two weeks, Wright has 17 catches on 24 targets for 188 yards. He’s doing what he did best when he first emerged as a fantasy option with the Titans, and that should have him on the radar in PPR formats. The Bears have opened up the offense in the last two weeks, giving more responsibility to Mitchell Trubisky. He has handled it well enough to feel good about Wright as a possible fantasy starter. The Bears will be favorites in Week 16 with the Browns coming to Chicago in a Christmas Eve game that is anything but a gift. Still, it’s a good matchup for Wright and the Bears offense. PPR leaguers should put a premium on him when making their waiver claims.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB,49ers
Garoppolo turned in another efficient performance in his third game as the 49ers starter. He completed nearly three-fourths of his 43 pass attempts, totaling 381 yards and 8.86 YPA. The 49ers frustratingly bogged down in the red zone yet again, leading to six field goals for Robbie Gould, but Garoppolo did manage to throw one touchdown. Red-zone struggles aside, Garoppolo has more than answered the bell for the 49ers. The team is 3-0 in his three starts, and he has looked exceedingly comfortable in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He has completed 68.1% of his attempts for 1,008 yards, 8.92 YPA and three touchdowns against two interceptions. Even with the unsustainably low touchdown rate, he’s averaging 16.94 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. That has him on par with the likes of Philip Rivers and Jared Goff. It will be very interesting to see where Garoppolo ranks among quarterbacks heading into 2018. For now, he’s well worth adding for fantasy championship week.
Eric Ebron, TE, Lions
Ebron led the Lions in targets once again in Week 15, racking up seven looks from Matthew Stafford. He caught five of those for 33 yards and a touchdown. Ebron has come on a bit in the second half of the season, at least playing his way onto the weekly tight end stream. He and the Lions get a matchup in Week 16 with a Bengals team that is playing out the string and desperate for the season to end. They’ve allowed touchdowns to Adam Shaeen and Kyle Rudolph in their last two games. Ebron can keep the NFC-North-tight-end-touchdown-against-the-Bengals train rolling this week.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals
Seals-Jones is another matchup-based play in Week 16. The Cardinals host the Giants and their 27th-ranked defense in tight end aFPA. They’ve cleaned it up a little against tight ends of late, but they’ve the most yards and touchdowns to the position this season. In fact, if “tight ends against the Giants in 2017” were one player, he’d be on pace for the 26th most yards and third-most touchdowns in a single season by a tight end. Seals-Jones has slowed down since bursting onto the fantasy scene with three touchdowns in two games at the end of November, but he’s still getting his fair share of opportunity, totaling 14 targets over the last three weeks.
Washington Redskins Defense
If you’re not lucky enough to stream the Bears defense against the Browns, turn your attention to Washington. The Redskins racked up five sacks and two takeaways in their 20-15 win over the Cardinals in Week 15. They’re now tied for 10th in the league with 36 sacks, and tied for 14th with 19 takeaways. They get a favorable matchup in Week 16, hosting the offensively challenged Broncos. There’s word that Paxton Lynch may start for the Broncos after Trevor Siemian left their win over the Colts with a shoulder injury, but it doesn’t matter who it is under center. The Redskins will be one of the best options, and one of the few palatable ones readily available in most fantasy leagues.