Whether you’ve been playing DFS all year long or just decided to jump in after getting ousted from the fantasy playoffs, here are five things you need to know as you create lineups for Week 16.
1. Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant have been more productive with Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup
Prescott averaged 225.0 passing yards per game and a stellar 16-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio during the eight games that Elliott was in the lineup, then sunk to 189.5 passing yards per game and a dismal 5-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio during Elliott’s six-game suspension.
And while Bryant was able to maintain his average of 55 yards per game, his receptions per game dipped to 4.0 from 4.8, while his touchdowns per game fell to 0.3 from 0.5.
In five full games without Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks defense has seen its completion rate allowed go to 64.8% from 57.0%, its yards per attempt allowed go to 7.1 from 6.6, and its touchdown-to-interception ratio allowed go to 8-to-3 from 10-to-8. In other words, the Cowboys are trending in the right direction, and the Seahawks are headed the opposite way.
2. Rex Burkhead’s knee injury opens up double-digit touches in the New England Patriots backfield
Since New England’s bye in Week 9, Burkhead has averaged 11.2 touches per game while playing 35% of the offensive snaps. Burkhead had been operating as the team’s primary back in scoring position, handling a team-high 12 of New England’s combined pass and rush attempts inside the 10-yard line, en route to seven total touchdowns over that six-game span.
Dion Lewis, who over that same span has put up a team-leading 13.8 touches per game and has handled the second-most carries inside the 10-yard line (seven), may get a few extra cracks to take advantage of a Buffalo Bills defense that allows the second-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points in the league to running backs.
3. No. 1 wide receivers have averaged 7.5 catches, 119.8 yards, and one touchdown per game against the New York Jets over the last four weeks
As crazy as it sounds, those numbers may go up by the time route-running maven Keenan Allen is done with them. Over his last five games, Allen has totaled 8.8 catches, 120.2 yards, and 0.8 touchdowns per game. Allen has already recorded 100 or more receiving yards in a game six times this season—the same amount as A.J. Green (three) and Julio Jones (three) combined, triple that of Michael Thomas, and behind only Antonio Brown (eight) for the league lead.
4. No. 1 wide receivers have posted at least 100 yards and/or a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in six straight games
Mike Evans is having a mostly quiet fantasy season, but should be able to follow in the footsteps of what Julio Jones (6–118–0), Jarvis Landry (5–42–1), Robby Anderson (6–146–2), Michael Thomas (5–70–1), Adam Thielen (6–105–1), and Davante Adams (5–57–1) have done against the Panthers over the last six weeks.
Evans’s per-game averages of 4.6 catches, 64.5 yards, and 0.4 touchdowns this season are down across the board from the 6.2 catches, 82.6 yards, and 0.75 touchdowns he put up in 2016, and it’s mainly because his targets per game plummeted from 8.8 in 2016 from 10.8 so far this year.
With tight end O.J. Howard going on the injured reserve this week and DeSean Jackson also unlikely to play, Evans could resume his target-hogging ways, as Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers look to replace the combined 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns that Howard and Jackson have contributed this season.
5. The Miami Dolphins allow 5.6 catches per game to tight ends, which is second-most in the league
Though the Dolphins had the misfortune of facing Rob Gronkowski twice already, a tough schedule doesn’t let them off the hook: Miami allows the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends after adjusting for strength of schedule.
A Week 16 trip to Arrowhead to face Travis Kelce and company could cause that average to climb even further. Kelce leads all tight ends with 5.6 catches per game of his own, and trails only Gronkowski for the position lead in fantasy points per game.