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Favorites & Fades

Week 16

By: Nick Caron | HC Green | Eli Mack | John Fessel
Updated: 12/23/23





Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:




LV @ KC | NYG @ PHI | BAL @ SF

- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
- Lines and totals updated Sunday morning

Saints @ Rams - (Fessel)
Line: LAR -4.5
Total: 46.5

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

No Brainers: RB Alvin Kamara

Favorites: WR Chris Olave, TE Taysom Hill

Saints head coach Dennis Allen has confirmed that wide receiver Chris Olave will play Thursday night, and that places him back firmly into the WR2 conversation. The Rams’ secondary has surprisingly held its own for most of the year, but recently they’ve been taken to task. Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers combined for over 32 points against them in Week 14, and then Terry McLaurin had a field day against Los Angeles in Week 15 (141 yards, 1 TD). Curtis Samuel also went for 18.6 points. The possibility that things are unraveling a bit for the Rams secondary may allow Olave to flirt with fantasy WR1 status this week.

Taysom Hill, the “swiss army knife”, continues to defy fantasy predictions and polish off fantasy relevant seasons. In leagues that reward him for not just receiving and rushing, but also passing, he’s pacing his 3rd consecutive top 12 finish at TE. It’s not unusual to see fantasy platforms projecting him for just a few points – or less – coming into a week, despite this.

Yes, he’s coming off a very quiet week, but we’ve seen that before. It’s rarely long before he has a blow-up game, especially in a season where he has already collected a career high 27 receptions. This week, Hill faces a Rams team that has been very vulnerable to TE’s (6th most points allowed) and QB rushing (309 yards and 5 TDs allowed). It’s an ideal formula for Hill, especially when playing on turf. His ceiling is sky high in this one.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: QB Derek Carr

There’s been a lot of criticism of Derek Carr this year, but the Saints have their first shot at a division title since Brees retired. Granted, it’s an easy division, but they still came up short last year despite the Bucs taking the crown with a losing record. The point being, the Saints were probably a best fit for Carr, who is a good companion to the red zone ace that is Taysom Hill. But it’s terrible for fantasy football, and playing against a Rams pass defense that has given up the 8th most points to quarterbacks is probably not going to be enough to make the difference. Especially when quite of few of those points have come due to quarterbacks running.

Carr is 31st in fantasy points among QB’s with at least three starts. That’s right, 31st. Carr has never been a great fit for fantasy football, as he’s neither mobile nor particularly aggressive in the red zone as a passer. Having Taysom Hill there to bite into his action has made things worse. It is an especially thin time at quarterback, but it’s arguably still not enough to trust Carr as your starter.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

No Brainers: RB Kyren Williams, WR Cooper Kupp

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: QB Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford has been on a tear since returning from injury, and even though last week wasn’t quite the banner game it could have been, he had a solid performance (258 yards passing and 2 TD). With four consecutive multi-touchdown games and three straight games over 250 yards passing, it’s hard to think about sitting Stafford. It even tougher when considering how few healthy QB1’s are available.

Yet the Saints give quarterbacks fits. Especially pocket quarterbacks. New Orleans has given up the 7th fewest points to QBs despite giving up the most rushing yards to the position. Stafford in not a mobile QB with just 70 rushing yards on the season.

You probably still have to start Stafford and hope he’s just too hot for the Saints to slow him down, unless you are blessed with good depth at the position. But those who do have this depth might consider turning to someone else this week, as Stafford could very well be cooled by one of the league’s best defenses.

Fade: WR Puka Nacua

Since Cooper Kupp has returned from injury, Nacua has still been involved, but has cooled off and become more of a WR3 (11.3 FPts/G). Kupp has also begun to look like his old self over the last three weeks, though Nacua has been involved, featuring him on jet sweeps more often (5 rushes in the last 3 games, 3 prior rushes for the year).

Nacua should remain involved enough to consider starting in any solid matchup, but this may not be it. DB Paulson Adebo has been erasing a lot of second receivers this year, having given up just a 51-passer rating on targets in his coverage. Outside of Chris Godwin’s 15.4-point effort in Week 4, no other team’s WR2 has seen more than 10.7 points against Adebo and the Saints. It’s a very tough situation for Nacua, as his floor has been shaky since Kupp’s return (four games with under 6 fantasy points). The ceiling may not be there this week, either.

Prediction: Rams 20, Saints 17 ^ Top

Bengals @ Steelers - (Green)
Line: CIN -3.0
Total: 38.5

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

No Brainers: RB Joe Mixon, WR Tee Higgins

Favorites: QB Jake Browning

Ja’Marr Chase (shoulder) will be unavailable in Week 16 due to his injury, so he’s not listed and Higgins, who ostensibly moves up to the No. 1 receiver slot, becomes a no-brainer -- he also caught two TD passes last week. The loss of Chase could be enough to knock Browning down a peg, but the Steelers have played so poorly recently, getting torched by Bailey Zappe and Gardner Minshew in back-to-back games, that it feels like the Bengals will be able to move the ball regardless. As such, Browning could slide into your lineup as a low-end QB1.

On the Fence: RB Chase Brown

While Tyler Boyd is another tempting option here, as his role could expand with Chase out of action, the choice is Brown (sternum). The rookie has been a revelation since he started seeing meaningful action three games ago, averaging 72.3 yards per contest over that stretch and scoring once. Expect the club to try and tap into his speed this Sunday without their top wideout and maybe even create a few extra opportunities in the passing game. He has been limited in practice with a sternum injury, but assuming he’s ready to roll on Sunday he’d be an enticing flex play.

Fade: N/A

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

No Brainers: None

Favorites: RB Najee Harris

Week 15 was one to forget for Harris, who ran a dozen times for just 33 yards and lost a critical fumble. He also went without a reception for just the third time all year. The former first-round pick has a good shot at bouncing back this Sunday against Cincy, however, after the Bengals had minimal success in corralling Ty Chandler last Saturday, allowing 132 yards and a touchdown to the first-time starter. Harris found success in the earlier matchup between these clubs as well, posting a 15-99-1 line, which is his season high for rushing yards. As an RB3, Harris has upside.

On the Fence: WR Diontae Johnson

Unless Kenny Pickett (ankle) returns ahead of schedule, the expectation is that Mason Rudolph will make his first start since Nov. 14, 2021, when he led the Steelers to a tie with the Lions. The leading receiver in that game was, you guessed it, Johnson, who had 83 yards on seven receptions. It’s hard to know how dynamic the Pittsburgh passing attack will be in general, but given their history together, Johnson seems more likely to deliver decent value. You could view him as a weak WR3 or flex option.

Fade: WR George Pickens

Pickens was still at the University of Georgia the last time Rudolph made a start, so his chemistry level with the presumptive new QB1 is an unknown. Pickens has also spent this week having to answer questions about his effort level due to some not-so-physical blocking. After topping the 100-yard mark three times in his first six games, Pickens has only topped 50 yards twice in the last eight. He’d be a dubious choice as anything more than a flex.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Steelers 12 ^ Top

Bills @ Chargers - (Fessel)
Line: BUF -12.5
Total: 44.5

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

No Brainers: QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs

Favorites: RB James Cook, TE Dalton Kincaid

James Cook was back at practice on Thursday, after missing out on Wednesday activities due to illness. Cook is coming off a 25-carry outing where he and the Buffalo offensive front absolutely trampled Dallas. The 221 total yard, 2 touchdown performance will likely go down as a career day for Cook, but there is a real chance that he could be similarly fed against a struggling Chargers defense – even if the Bills haven’t embraced establishing the run for the long haul. Cook is an easy RB1 in a game where the Bills will want to lay keep away from a Chargers offense sans Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

Dalton Kincaid could be another major benefactor of the Bills approach this weekend. The Bills game script had Josh Allen playing it very safe against Dallas last week – too safe for most fantasy owners, in terms of opportunities. It’s unlikely that Allen sees only 23 combined pass and rush attempts, again, but it’s very likely that Allen and the Bills look to do a lot of short-field passing, protecting the football. This all adds up well for Kincaid, the Bills emerging rookie TE. Before last week’s doughnut, Kincaid had seen at least 5 receptions for seven consecutive weeks.

On the Fence: WR Gabriel Davis

Gabe Davis has nearly gone untargeted by Josh Allen over the last two weeks (3 targets) and has a pair of Easter eggs to show for it in the fantasy stat book. He saw the same results back in Week 9, giving him three zero-point performances for the season. It may be that Davis is being phased out of the offense, but while his snap rate tied his season low last week, he still saw 72% of snaps in a game where the Bills blew out the Cowboys (and saw 82% the week before).

Davis could have another very quiet week, especially if the Bills feature ground heavy attack and couple it with safe passes against a seemingly easy opponent. Yet the fact that the Los Angeles secondary is so vulnerable to the big play does at least leave some window for Davis to have a fantasy impact. Despite ranking just 51st among wideouts in points per game, Davis does still have big ceiling ability, pulling in two 100+ yard performances this season and already having earned his 4th consecutive season with 6 or more touchdowns. Consider Davis a boom-or-bust candidate this week.

Fade: N/A

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Josh Palmer

If there’s one Charger to have hope for this week, it’s probably Palmer. He managed to play 72% of snaps in his first game back from injury – far more than anticipated – and turned out a 113-yard performance (with a touchdown). He was only targeted 4 times, which is the only tarnish on the shine of his return. Still, no other Chargers wide receiver saw more targets (Quentin Johnson had 3) and Palmer has a history of producing flex-worthy numbers or better when the Chargers are short at wideout. Of course, he’ll have Easton Stick throwing to him instead of Justin Herbert, but the Chargers may also be in negative game script all day long. Palmer is a reasonable flex for this one.

On the Fence: RB Austin Ekeler, TE Gerald Everett

It’s hard to say exactly how many snaps Austin Ekeler would have played last week if the Chargers weren’t getting blown out in a most stunning fashion by the Raiders, but his 40% snap rate was easily his lowest of the season, and he’s had his two lowest snap rates of year in the last three weeks, sans a Week 1 game that he exited due to injury.

Ekeler’s fantasy bread-and-butter has never been rushing – he has no 1000-yard seasons – so it might have been possible to overcome just 46 rushing yards per game. But Ekeler has his lowest reception rate in the last five years (3.6 per game) and the touchdowns are not piling on this season (6). Touchdown regression was bound to come, after 38 touchdowns over the last two years, but it’s hard to imagine many more touchdowns coming this season with the Chargers offense in dire straits and the defense failing to help with field position. Ekeler is also 28, having played 7 seasons, and his age may be wearing his wheels a bit.

Ultimately, Ekeler is the best weapon left in the Chargers offense, but the possibility that the Chargers start moving on from him and get a better look at what Isaiah Spiller and Joshua Kelley can do is very likely. The Bills may also dominate this game, leaving little rushing opportunities and limited red zone looks. It’s not clear what Ekeler will be this week, or for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, tight end Gerald Everett led the Chargers with 8 targets last week, and has had 8 targets each of the last two games. Since Easton Stick stepped onto the field and found himself short on wide receivers, this type of action may continue for Everett. He’s yet to turn it into big results, averaging just 8 yards per catch over the last two weeks, but does have 5 receptions in each game. The Bills, who’ve allowed under 10 yards per reception to tight ends this season, will not make it easy for him to outdo these numbers, and perhaps even difficult to match them.

Ultimately, for managers looking for a tight end with a decent floor, Everett is a potential option. It’s unlikely that he’ll provide much of a ceiling against Buffalo, though.

Fade: QB Easton Stick

Stick lost 2 fumbles against the Raiders last week and has quickly compiled 3 lost fumbles since Justin Herbert went down for the remainder of the season. Stick has yet to impress, and it’s not going to help that Keenan Allen (heel) is again out. A lot of fantasy managers are digging through the rubble for quarterbacks, but Stick should probably be left there and the search continued.

Prediction: Bills 30, Chargers 14 ^ Top

Seahawks @ Titans - (Mack)
Line: SEA -3.5
Total: 41.5

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

No Brainers: WR DK Metcalf

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB Geno Smith, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR Tyler Lockett, RB Zach Charbonnet

Geno Smith returns to the lineup after missing the last two contests with a groin issue. Despite having his full complement of offensive weapons at his disposal, he might find it tough to navigate the sometimes-stingy Tennessee pass defense. The problem with the Titans is you don’t know what version you’re going to get. Is it the unit that gave up 300 passing yards to the middle-of-the-road passing attack in the Colts, or the unit that limited the explosive Miami passing offense to 208 yards? It should be interesting to see how this plays out. Smith’s challenges will directly affect Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Tyler Lockett, neither of whom has cracked the century mark in receiving yards this season. Don’t expect it to occur this week.

Zach Charbonnet appears poised to step in for the injured Kenneth Walker (shoulder), who, as of Thursday evening, has yet to practice this week. Charbonnet is not the runner Walker is, so don’t expect much should he get the nod in Walker’s absence. Also, Charbonnet’s limited role in the passing game does little to supplement his potential production. He is not a viable option this week.

Fade: N/A

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Derrick Henry, WR DeAndre Hopkins

We may be witnessing the beginning of Derrick Henry’s inevitable decline in production, who will turn 30 the first week of January. Yet, he remains a viable fantasy option, despite the ugly game from last week. He can score TDs in bunches, as he six scores in Weeks 12-14 would attest. Seattle is one of the league’s worst in stopping the run, and they just gave up 178 yards on the ground against Philly. The 9 yards Henry finished last week’s game with won’t happen this week. Expect solid numbers.

DeAndre Hopkins hasn’t wowed us with eye-popping numbers the way he used to—his Week 7 game against Atlanta notwithstanding—but he can serve as a solid flex option this week, and most weeks. Seattle’s pass defense isn’t going to scare anyone, and they can be taken advantage of. Hopkins should rebound from his two-catch stinker from last week.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Seahawks 20, Titans 14 ^ Top

Colts @ Falcons - (Mack)
Line: ATL -2.5
Total: 45.5

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

No Brainers: RB Jonathan Taylor

Favorites: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

Pittman suffered a concussion during last week’s game against Pittsburgh, which has put his availability in question this week. But he’s progressed his practice regime throughout the week to the point now where it appears he’s on track to return. Pittman is the unquestioned No.1 receiver on this team, and his 33 receptions over the previous four games prove it. He has 56 more targets and 42 more receptions this season than the next closest teammate. If he’s on the field, he should be in your lineup—regardless of the opponent.

On the Fence: QB Gardner Minshew

With the number of starting QBs injured this season, there are certainly some fantasy managers counting on Gardner Minshew this week to take them to their league’s Super Bowl. While he’s been hit or miss in 2023, he has the ability to toss multiple TDs, as he did last week. It’s asking a lot to expect him to do it again, and with Atlanta boasting a pass defense ranked eighth in the league, counting on Minshew could be fool’s gold. But as desperation plays go, he’s a solid option.

Fade: WR Josh Downs

Josh Downs’ production continues to nosedive in the second half of the season. He has only nine receptions for 65 yards in the previous three contests, and he hasn’t scored in nearly two months. It’s going to be fun seeing Downs blossom next season when Anthony Richardson returns. But for now, Downs is a deep stash on your roster who should not be counted on this season.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Bijan Robinson

With the inconsistent way this offense produces, it’s hard to call anybody a “favorite.” I’m still trying to pick my jaw off the ground from several weeks ago when head coach Arthur Smith admitted to using Bijan Robinson as a decoy. Such a bizarre strategy left even the most ardent Smith supporters scratching their head. Robinson managers can only hope that a head coach trying to keep his job will finally feed his prized tailback. The Colts offer a juicy matchup. They surrender the seventh most yards on the ground and have given up the second most rushing TDs. We can only hope that Smith has gotten the memo to feature Robinson more prominently in the offense. But then again, that argument has been made all season long with no long-term change.

On the Fence: WR Drake London, TE Kyle Pitts

The inconsistency of Atlanta’s offense can be best summed up by looking at Drake London’s last three games. One catch. Ten catches. Two catches. Dreadful. How does a fantasy manager proceed with that kind of roller coaster ride of a player? While Pitts has been a bit more consistent, his numbers continue fall woefully short of his draft position. And now these two pass catchers have to contend with yet another change at QB, with Taylor Heinicke taking over for the turnover-prone Desmond Ridder. We will see if Heinicke’s return to the lineup changes things for the pass catchers. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst is about the best I can come up with regarding Atlanta’s passing game.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Colts 20, Falcons 17 ^ Top

Browns @ Texans - (Mack)
Line: CLE -3.0
Total: 40.5

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

No Brainers: TE David Njoku

Favorites: WR Amari Cooper

Houston has given up the eighth most passing yards but the fewest TD passes. That fits Amari Cooper’s production this year, as he’s nearing 1,000 receiving yards but has found paydirt only three times. Cooper is not known as a big-play receiver, but his 16.1 yards per catch put him ninth in the league. Cooper should continue being Joe Flacco’s main target out wide, while Njoku controls the middle of the field.

On the Fence: QB Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco emerged from his sofa at home to throw multiple TDs in each of the three games he’s played. While it’s easy to project another multiple-TD game, we must keep in mind that he’s only done that one other time in his career, and that was all the way back in 2010. Houston has only given up 14 TD passes in 15 games, so we should expect regression from Flacco this week.

Fade: RB Jerome Ford, RB Kareem Hunt

Over the last four games, Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt have combined to score two TDs. Houston is the sixth-toughest run defense, so don’t expect much from either of the Cleveland RBs this week.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: RB Devin Singletary, WR Nico Collins, WR Noah Brown

Devin Singletary is coming off a game against Tennessee in which he had 160 scrimmage yards, including four receptions, but the Browns have held their two previous opponents (Chicago, Jacksonville) to 146 rushing yards combined, which is indicative of the 11th-ranked run defense they’ve proven to be in 2023. Singletary will have a difficult time duplicating his production from last week, so he may be best suited as a flex play.

Meanwhile, Nico Collins is trending toward returning after missing last week’s contest with a calf injury. He hopes to find his groove he had when, in Weeks 12 and 13, he combined for 16 catches for 295 yards and two scores. There’s a good chance that won’t happen this week for two reasons: One, Cleveland has allowed the fewest passing yards in the league, and two, it looks like C.J. Stroud will miss another game with a concussion, leaving Case Keenum under center. Neither circumstance bodes well for Collins.

Noah Brown has had some solid performances throughout the season, but he’s often followed those games up with head-scratching duds. For example, in Weeks 9 and 10, he combined for 13 receptions for 325 yards and a score. After returning from injury, he had zeroes across the board in Weeks 13 and 14. It’s tough to know what you’re going to get from him, and now with Keenum as the QB, it makes his prospects for success even more hit or miss. Be cautious with Brown this week.

Fade: TE Dalton Schultz

As mentioned above, Cleveland’s pass defense is statistically the best in the league. At best, Dalton Schultz is a mid-TE2 this week and you should expect the corresponding production with that ranking.

Prediction: Browns 24, Texans 13 ^ Top

Packers @ Panthers - (Mack)
Line: GB -4.0
Total: 37.5

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB Jordan Love, RB Aaron Jones

Jordan Love leads a hobbled Green Bay Packers squad into Carolina to face a surprisingly stingy Panthers pass defense. Carolina has limited opponents by giving up the third-fewest passing yards and the eighth-fewest TD passes. Love comes into the game with receivers Christian Watson and Jayden Reed both question marks, which will limit the QB’s prospects for success.

Before last week’s return, Aaron Jones had missed the previous three games, upping the total number of missed games this season for Jones with six. Jones hasn’t looked like himself much this season, and he hasn’t cracked the century mark on the ground since Week 16 last season. The good news is, as good as Carolina is at stopping the pass, the team’s rush defense has some holes, as it has surrendered the most rushing TDs in 2023 (21). Jones is a flex, at best, in this week’s game.

Fade: WR Romeo Doubs

Romeo Doubs is a viable option because of all the injuries Green Bay is facing this week. Doubs is a lottery ticket, and his managers hope that he can drum up some of the magic he found in the middle of the season when he scored four TDs over a five-game stretch. He hasn’t topped 90 receiving yards since Week 4, so don’t expect much in the way of receiving yards. But he could get a sneaky TD this week. Just don’t count on it.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Chuba Hubbard

Chuba Hubbard is in the midst of the best three-game stretch of his career—a stretch where he has rushed for 278 yards and two scores. He’s not much of a threat in the pass game, but with numbers like that, he’s a solid complement to a sound roster. Hubbard is a viable start, despite the overall struggles of this offense.

On the Fence: WR Adam Thielen

Seems like years ago that Adam Thielen had 40 receptions for 443 yards over the course of four consecutive games in late September and early October. This team’s continued struggles offensively have directly been responsible for tanking the promise that Thielen’s season gave to his managers. His contribution at this point of the season is too sporadic and lacks the kind of explosiveness that provides a reason to start him. For those with injuries to contend with at the receiver position, the decision to play Thielen might be a no-brainer. To others, his place in your lineup should be scrutinized heavily. He remains Bryce Young’s primary target, so that fact along makes him tantalizing. Proceed with caution, however.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Packers 21, Panthers 16 ^ Top

Commanders @ Jets - (Caron)
Line: NYJ -3.0
Total: 37.5

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Curtis Samuel

Curtis Samuel has always been an extremely unreliable player for fantasy purposes, but one thing has remained relatively consistent about him and it’s that when he does perform, he usually does it in streaky fashion, stringing together multiple usable fantasy weeks in a row before regressing back to his usual self. Right now, Samuel is enjoying one of those hot streaks as he’s been targeted 26 times over his past three games. This has resulted in 18 catches and he even scored a pair of touchdowns in Week 15.

The Jets defense has been quietly excellent throughout most of the season so we don’t typically want to start ancillary fantasy players against them, but Samuel is an interesting player in that a lot of his production doesn’t come from him getting open and the quarterback targeting him, but rather pre-designed plays where he’s getting the ball regardless of what else happens on the field. Samuel is definitely not someone that you want to start over a normal stud, but if you’re missing someone who’s normally a starter for you and you’re in need of a one-week replacement, you could do worse than Samuel.

On the Fence: RB Antonio Gibson

With Brian Robinson Jr. still sidelined with his hamstring injury, the Commanders will likely again go with some sort of committee approach in their backfield consisting of Antonio Gibson, Chris Rodriguez, and potentially Jonathan Williams. Williams himself is dealing with a concussion, however, and did not practice on Thursday, making it increasingly less likely that he’ll be active, which should further consolidate the Commanders’ backfield touches.

Rodriguez appears to be the team’s preference for backfield carries, but Gibson is unquestionably the player they feel most comfortable with on passing downs, which resulted in him catching five passes this past week. In fact, Gibson has caught at least three passes in six straight games, giving him a surprisingly decent floor to go along with whatever he is able to accomplish on the ground. The Jets have struggled against running backs this season, so Gibson is a sneaky option this week for those in deep formats.

Fade: WR Terry McLaurin

McLaurin is coming off his best fantasy performance of the season, which probably has you questioning why he’s in the “Fade” category this week. Well, the answer lies in what we’ve seen from him prior to that one-game performance. Yes, he went for 141 yards and a touchdown against the Rams, but McLaurin was held to single-digit fantasy totals in each of his previous four contests before that.

While his target share remains fairly strong, McLaurin has an extremely tough matchup this week against a Jets defense that has conceded fewer fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than any team in the league this season - and by a fairly wide margin. The Jets have given up just four total touchdowns to the position on the year - four fewer than any other defense. McLaurin has shown himself to not have a strong enough floor to make him a trustworthy fantasy asset right now and his upside is very limited in this one, making him a player to avoid unless you simply have no other viable options.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Breece Hall

The Jets have been held to fewer than 14 points in seven of their past eight games, so it’s not difficult to understand why Breece Hall’s production has been all over the place this season. Following a huge game in Week 14, Hall completely collapsed in the fantasy playoffs this past week, rushing for just 12 yards on six carries and catching just one pass. It was the first time that Hall had caught fewer than three passes in a game since Week 3.

Hall now has the chance to play against the Commanders, a team that has been in the holiday-giving mood to opposing running backs all season long. They’ve conceded the seventh-most PPR fantasy points to the position and have recently given up six touchdowns to opposing backs over their past three games alone. If you survived his bad week, it’s time to get Hall back in your lineup in what might be his best on-paper matchup of the season.

On the Fence: WR Garrett Wilson

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson has been shockingly consistent this season despite the Jets rolling with a carousel that more resembles a dumpster fire at quarterback. Wilson has scored double-digit PPR points in nine of his 14 games and he’s been targeted at least seven times in all but two games. The Commanders have been horrendous against opposing wide receivers this season, including 22 touchdowns to the position - second-most in the NFL.

Aside from the Jets having the floor of potentially scoring zero points in any given week, the other concern for Wilson is that the quarterback situation is even shakier than usual. With Zach Wilson still dealing with a concussion and having not practiced on Thursday, Trevor Siemian is now expected to start for New York. Siemian has played in just two games this season and looked quite bad in both, including this past week when he took over for Wilson and threw for just 110 yards on 26 attempts with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Worse yet, Garrett Wilson himself struggled in each of the two games that Siemian played in, most notably seeing just four targets in this past week’s contest. Wilson is still a WR2, but there is some risk here.

Fade: WR Allen Lazard

While the on-paper matchup is about as good as it can be for Jets wide receivers, the reality is that there just isn’t enough volume or strong enough quarterback play to be trusting this team’s lower-level fantasy options. Wide receiver Allen Lazard had been held to zero catches in each of his previous three games prior to Week 15 when he finally saw six targets come his way. This could lead some fantasy managers to turn to him out of desperation, but it’s just not worth it.

Prediction: Commanders 17, Jets 16 ^ Top

Lions @ Vikings - (Green)
Line: DET -3.0
Total: 47.5

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

No Brainers: RB Jahmyr Gibbs, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, TE Sam LaPorta

Favorites: RB David Montgomery

A no-brainer play for most of 2023, Montgomery’s stock has dropped a bit due to a blend of injuries and the ascension of Gibbs, who has become the superior fantasy option week to week. With the Vikings playing strong defense, however, this feels like a week where the Lions might want to limit what they ask of Jared Goff, who was great last week but recently went through a rough patch in terms of turnovers. If the idea is to control the clock, Montgomery is the guy you want. While he hasn’t scored the past two games, he has averaged 5.6 yards per carry, so it’s not as though he’s been in a slump. He's a strong RB3 with some juice.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: QB Jared Goff

As mentioned above, Goff was lights out against Denver last Saturday night, throwing for 278 yards and matching a career high with five TDs without a pick. While those are tremendous numbers, it doesn’t simply wash away the fact that Goff has had three three-turnover games in the last five weeks. Minnesota can be an opportunistic bunch, and before fading late in Cincinnati they had gone 11 straight quarters without giving up a touchdown. Goff is by no means unplayable in this matchup, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see his production land outside of QB1 range this Sunday.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

No Brainers: WR Justin Jefferson, TE T.J. Hockenson

Favorites: WR Jordan Addison

Little more than an afterthought since Kirk Cousins (Achilles) was lost for the year to an Achilles injury, Addison re-emerged in Nick Mullens’ first start, catching a half-dozen passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. That was his second-highest yardage output of the season, and his first scores since Cousins’ injury back on Oct. 29. The chemistry he showed with Mullens is enough to get Addison a spot in your lineup as a low-end WR2 or strong WR3 as Detroit will surely prioritize slowing Jefferson, and perhaps even Hockenson, in Week 16.

On the Fence: RBs Ty Chandler/Alexander Mattison (ankle)

Mattison (ankle) was a DNP last Saturday due to an ankle injury, and he has yet to practice this week. Still, head coach Kevin O’Connell hasn’t ruled Mattison out, leaving open the possibility that he’ll return. What his role would be is unclear, both in terms of health and the effectiveness of Chandler in his absence as the second-year back showed burst and power in racking up 132 yards and a score on 23 carries. It would obviously be better for Chandler if Mattison is out again, and that would clear up who holds what value. It’d be more worrisome if Mattison returns on a snap count, as he’d be unlikely to play enough to generate much appeal but could undermine Chandler. At this point, keeping Mattison away from your lineup seems like a good move, whereas Chandler is a low-end RB2 that could slide to a high-upside flex if Mattison is able to play.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Lions 24, Vikings 20 ^ Top

Jaguars @ Buccaneers - (Mack)
Line: JAX -1.5
Total: 42.5

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Update: Trevor Lawrence has cleared concussion protocol and expected to play.

No Brainers: TE Evan Engram

Favorites: RB Travis Etienne

Remember all the talk about the need to handcuff Tank Bigsby to Travis Etienne? That was a nothing burger of epic proportions. Etienne has had a firm grasp of the RB1 role the entire season, despite his recent dip in production. He has only 111 rushing yards combined over the last three games, but his 12 receptions have helped cushion the blow. Tampa has been formidable against the run all season, and they just held Green Bay to 60 yards as a team. Etienne could play an even bigger role in this game if Lawrence is limited on out. While Etienne’s numbers may not pop in one category, when looked at as a whole, he usually carves out a productive game. Continue to rely on him this week.

On the Fence: WR Calvin Ridley

With QB Trevor Lawrence trending toward missing this contest due to a concussion, Calvin Ridley’s stock may take a dip as well. Ridley has been heavily targeted the previous two weeks (25 total), but he hasn’t turned those opportunities into production. His nine receptions over that time for 92 yards leaves a lot to be desired and makes him an iffy proposition. Tampa surrenders the second-most passing yards in the league, so there could be some moments in the game where Ridley can put up respectable numbers. There is cautious optimism, but I would still be weary relying on Ridley at such a crucial stretch of the season—especially with Lawrence possibly not playing.

Fade: N/A

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

No Brainers: WR Mike Evans, RB Rachaad White

Favorites: QB Baker Mayfield, WR Chris Godwin

Baker Mayfield is arguably playing the best stretch of football of his career. He’s taken care of the ball all season—no games with multiple interceptions—and he’s maintained Mike Evans and Chris Godwin’s fantasy relevance when many thought he would tank it. Jacksonville has given up the fourth-most passing yards and the seventh-most passing TDs. Mayfield should continue his top-10 play and help you advance in your league’s playoffs.

Godwin is coming off his best game of the season with 10 receptions on 12 targets. In fact, he’s had at least seven targets in four of the last five games. That kind of consistent role in the passing game lends itself to startable numbers in fantasy football, and that’s what Godwin has delivered. The only thing that could limit Godwin’s output is the abundance of opportunity Evans and White will see. Still, he’s a solid play this week.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Jaguars 19 ^ Top

Cardinals @ Bears - (Green)
Line: CHI -4.0
Total: 42.5

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

No Brainers: RB James Conner, TE Trey McBride

Favorites: WR Greg Dortch (shoulder), WR Rondale Moore

This is a bit of a flier, but with Marquise Brown (heel) battling a heel injury and Michael Wilson having not caught a pass since Nov. 12 due to an injury of his own, Dortch or Rondale Moore may find himself in a larger role this weekend. The Bears rank first in the NFL in run defense and 26th against the pass (and only two clubs have allowed more TD passes). Arizona ran all over San Francisco in Week 15, and when they weren’t running, they were going to their tight ends -- in fact, Dortch’s 2-15-0 line led the team’s receivers. If Chicago stands tall against the run, Arizona will have to go to the air, and that could mean chances for Dortch or Moore. They are desperation flex plays.

On the Fence: QB Kyler Murray

Murray’s numbers have not been great since returning from injury. In five games, he’s averaging 215 yards passing, 31 yards rushing, and 1.4 total TDs per outing. You cannot simply dismiss his upside, however, especially against a Bears secondary that has had its share of issues. There’s also a difference between being a stout run defense and being able to shut down a mobile quarterback. There’s a pathway to at least low-end QB1 value for Murray, though he carries significant risk as well.

Fade: N/A

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

No Brainers: QB Justin Fields, WR D.J. Moore

Favorites: TE Cole Kmet

Arizona gave up four touchdowns on 16 completions last Sunday, so the upside for Chicago’s pass catchers is readily apparent. We know Moore is Fields’ favorite target, ensuring both enter Week 16 on the no-brainer list. After that, though, the most likely player to benefit is Kmet, who caught five passes against the Browns, including the team’s lone touchdown (his sixth of 2023). It’s always a little dicey to rely on anyone in this passing attack beyond Moore, but Kmet offers enough upside to warrant inclusion as a fringe TE1.

On the Fence: RBs D’Onta Foreman/Roschon Johnson

Just when you think you have the answers, the Bears change the questions. With all three backs healthy and available in Week 14, Foreman led the backfield. Last Sunday, his six touches resulted in minus-six yards. Khalil Herbert was slightly more effective, leaving Johnson (nine touches, 60 yards) as the only productive member of Chicago’s Cerberus backfield. So, how are we feeling headed into Week 16? The correct answer is uncertain. We still like Foreman to be the lead back, but last week already proved that’s no sure thing. Both players can fill a flex spot as risk/reward selections.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Bears 31, Cardinals 20 ^ Top

Cowboys @ Dolphins - (Caron)
Line: MIA -1.5
Total: 49.5

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

No Brainers: WR CeeDee Lamb

Favorites: QB Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott’s MVP aspirations likely went out the window this past week when the Cowboys got trounced on the road by the Bills, but there’s still plenty of reason to be excited about his fantasy potential here in Week 16. Prescott faces a Miami defense that has done a fairly decent job as of late against quarterbacks, but they’ve also been facing the likes of Zach Wilson & Trevor Siemian, Will Levis, Sam Howell, Tim Boyle, Aidan O’Connell, and Mac Jones. Sure, they’ve kept most of those QBs in check, but what happens when they have to face another team that has shown the ability to score points in bunches this season?

The Cowboys’ running game has still been subpar, so look for them to prioritize passing the ball, especially if they happen to fall behind against the Dolphins and their high-powered offense. Prescott has a solid floor with an excellent ceiling in this matchup.

On the Fence: RB Tony Pollard

While he hasn’t been bad enough to bench most weeks, Tony Pollard’s 2023 season has certainly been disappointing from a fantasy perspective and he could be in for another tough matchup this week against the Dolphins. Miami has managed to hold every opposing running back they’ve faced to fewer than 70 rushing yards in eight straight games. That includes matchups against Breece Hall (x2), Derrick Henry, Brian Robinson, Isaiah Pacheco, Rhamondre Stevenson, and D’Andre Swift.

Pollard is still seeing too much work to justify benching him for most teams, but the upside is limited here.

Fade: WR Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks had been sneaking by on an unsustainable touchdown rate that included five scores over a seven-week span with just 28 total receptions, but things have really come back down to reality over the past two weeks as the veteran has managed just four receptions for 47 yards and no touchdowns. Cooks is seemingly the third or even fourth option in the Cowboys’ passing attack most weeks, so don’t trust him with your fantasy season on the line.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

No Brainers: WR Tyreek Hill (ankle)

Assuming that he is healthy enough to play, Tyreek Hill needs to be in all fantasy lineups as usual. The Dolphins did not rush him back in Week 15 which indicates that they’re being cautious about their star receiver, so expect him to be close to his normal usage if he is active.

Favorites: RB Raheem Mostert, RB Devon Achane

The Cowboys defense has been excellent most weeks this season, but when they’ve struggled it’s often been due to strong performances from opposing running backs. This past week it was the Bills, who are normally a pass-first offense, leaning heavily on running back James Cook who came through with what was by far his biggest game of the season. Now the Cowboys have the unenviable task of facing the Dolphins and their two-headed rushing attack that has been terrorizing opposing defenses this season.

Raheem Mostert has out-carried Achane by a margin of 36 to 16 over the past two weeks, but both players have remained usable fantasy options even in some difficult matchups. With Tyreek Hill less than 100 percent, there’s a decent chance that the Dolphins look at what the Bills did against the Cowboys this past week and decide to feed their backs plenty of touches.

On the Fence: WR Jaylen Waddle

This past week was the first time this season when the Dolphins were without Tyreek Hill for a full game and, not coincidentally, that resulted in Jaylen Waddle turning in his best fantasy performance thus far in 2023. Waddle’s eight receptions for 142 yards highlighted the reality that he’s probably a borderline fantasy WR1/2 if Hill were to not be on the team.

We still don’t know whether or not Hill will be on the field this weekend, but if he isn’t then Waddle becomes a must-start. Even if Hill does play, there’s a possibility that he’s not at full strength and thus doesn’t end up playing a full snap count, which would again make Waddle a strong play. Of course, if Hill does play and is at full strength, then Waddle probably falls back down to being a low-end WR2 against Dallas.

Fade: QB Tua Tagovailoa

There’s nothing that specifically sticks out as being bad from Tua Tagovailoa, but his recent fantasy performances just have not been very inspiring. Tua has been held to fewer than 250 passing yards in four of his past six games and he was held to one or fewer touchdowns in all four of those games. We’re probably looking at another mid-level floor game from Tua, which might be good enough if you’re facing a bottom-feeder team in the fantasy regular season, but probably won’t be enough to overcome another powerhouse team in your playoffs. Pay attention to the inactives because if Hill is out then you might want to look elsewhere for upside here in Week 16.

Prediction: Cowboys 27, Dolphins 24 ^ Top

Patriots @ Broncos - (Fessel)
Line: DEN -7.0
Total: 35.5

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Ezekiel Elliott, TE Hunter Henry

Since Rhamondre Stevenson went down three weeks ago, Elliott has averaged 22 touches per game. Stevenson has remained out of practice and it appears likely that Elliott will be the lead back for New England again this week. Elliott has hardly lit the world on fire with just 3.6 yards per rush, 6.9 yards per catch and 3 touchdowns...but enter the Broncos. Having given up the 2nd most points to running backs, it’s quite reasonable to see Elliott grinding his way to an RB2-worthy performance this week.

Hunter Henry is probably the best skill player on the Patriots offense. He’s a fine receiver and blocker, and with a better quarterback room and/or better all-around offense, he’d probably be a Top 10 fantasy tight end. As it is, even in this offense, Henry has a chance for his second Top 12 finish in his three seasons in New England (currently ranked 13th in points at TE). The Broncos have already given up nearly 1000 yards to the position, as well as 9 touchdowns. Henry’s 42 receptions and 6 touchdowns both lead the Pats. This is a good spot for him, and he’s well within the Top 12 TEs this week.

On the Fence: QB Bailey Zappe

It’s hard to hold a candle to the Patriots offense and see much life in the passing game. But for fantasy owners who are digging around for a quarterback, make note of these crumbs of hope: In Bailey Zappe’s five starts, he’s managed two fantasy worthy performances – a 309 yard, 2-TD performance against Cleveland last year, and a 240 yard, 3-TD performance against Pittsburgh two weeks ago.

Zappe is a real roll of the dice, but he’s a bit more life than Mac Jones and the Patriots are unlikely to turn back to Jones this year, as they prepare the way for a new QB. Zappe is reasonably not that guy, but he’ll fill the space, and against a Broncos pass defense that reverted to some of their early season struggles last week against Jared Goff and the Lions (5 passing TDs allowed), there is more hope to cling to, for those searching for help among the “other” quarterbacks.

Fade: Patriots Wide Receivers

Outside of Kendrick Bourne early in the season, no Patriots wide receiver has been relevant in the fantasy football this year. There has, at times, been a little bit of interest in Demario Douglass, but he has just 39 receptions and 0 touchdowns on the year. To top it off, the only double-digit performance by a Patriot wide receiver since Bailey Zappe took over was JuJu Smith-Schuster two weeks ago (4-90-0). Smith-Schuster promptly missed last week’s game and is iffy for Week 16. He’s also not topped 60 yards in any other game this year. There’s not much here, and if any one Patriots receiver has a notable game, it’s just impossible to predict.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Courtland Sutton

With 10 touchdown receptions and 770 yards receiving, the only real mark against Courtland Sutton this season has been 3 lost fumbles – a remarkably infamous feat for a wide receiver. Still, Sutton has been the brightest spot in the Bronco attack, and the Patriots one weakness on defense is at cornerback. Sutton has a good opportunity to take advantage of that and perhaps even garner his first 100-yard performance of the season, as well as his 11th touchdown this year. At the least, he’s a good flex option this week.

On the Fence: RB Javonte Williams

Javonte Williams has been a borderline RB3 this season, despite averaging 16.5 touches per game. Having just a 3.7 rushing average and a mere 3 touchdowns has everything to do with the results. The Pats are respectable against running backs (just the 18th most points allowed to the position), so it’s hard to imagine Williams as more than he’s been this year – a borderline flex.

Fade: QB Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson’s yo-yo season continues in the real world, but in fantasy football he’s had one of his most consistent – producing Top 20 outings in each of the last 4 weeks. The problem is that there’s not been much ceiling, (barely) breaking the Top 10 once during that time. Another problem is that Patriots defense, which is the 5th stingiest against QB’s this year, and that should point owners away from Wilson in week 16.

Prediction: Broncos 19, Patriots 17 ^ Top

Raiders @ Chiefs - (Caron)
Line: KC -10.5
Total: 40.5

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Davante Adams

Davante Adams turned out his first 100-yard game since Week 2 when he went for 101 yards receiving against the Chargers. More consistent have been his targets, with four 10+ target affairs in the last five games. It’s the heaps of targets that keep Adams in your lineup, despite a roller coaster ride of an offense that has mostly been heading downhill. Adams posted 5-73-0 (7 targets) against the Chiefs back in Week 12.

On the Fence: WR Jakobi Meyers

Meyers has been rarely heard from as a wide receiver since Jimmy Garoppolo was benched, and last week was largely no exception – other than that he did find the end zone. Actually, what really made his day was not one, but two pass attempts and a touchdown toss (with the Raiders already up 42-0). Still, his 32 yards receiving last week marked the 5th time in seven games where he’s had under 40 yards receiving.

The two upsides that exist for Meyers right now are: (1) the Raiders are willing to use him in unique ways (3 pass attempts this year - he also has a history with 3 career touchdown tosses – and 3 rushes with a score), and (2) Meyers did go for 6-79-1 against the Chiefs just three weeks ago. He’s very much on the fence in Kansas City, this week.

Fade: QB Aidan O’Connell

O’Connell drew this Fade spot from me last week, and made mincemeat of my analysis. Yet the Raiders stunning performance was likely a blip on the radar; a product of a Chargers team that had not just fallen apart physically, but quit on their coach, as well. The Chiefs are on the opposite end of the spectrum, and O’Connell’s Raiders should revert back to the production of prior performances. That includes the likes of the likes of O’Connell who finished as the QB19 the last time these teams met.

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

No Brainers: QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce

Favorites: WR Rashee Rice, RB Isiah Pacheco

Rashee Rice has been a favorite of mine for a while, and with good reason. It became clear early in the season that he had the inside track to become Patrick Mahomes’ next favorite target. It’s become quite clear over the last few weeks that he’s entered that domain, and while he surely has to continue growing as a player, he’s already good enough to be no worse than a regular WR2 with Mahomes and the Chiefs coaching staff drawing up quality plays for the rookie.

Running back Isiah Pacheco returns to the field this week, and he should continue where he left off before injuring his shoulder two weeks ago. Clyde Edwards-Helaire did have a fine receiving performance last week (4-64-1), but has rushed for just 76 yards on 24 carries with no touchdowns over the last two weeks. Pacheco draws a Raiders defense that is somewhat vulnerable to the run (10th most points allowed), and that should land him in the RB2 conversation.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: Other Chiefs Wide Receivers

The story holds that no other receivers on the Chiefs are making a case for them as a fantasy option, and the Raiders secondary has done a solid job at limiting receiver production (13th fewest points allowed). There’s no real reason to dial up even a prayer for any of them.

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Raiders 13 ^ Top

Giants @ Eagles - (Caron)
Line: PHI -13.5
Total: 43.5

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: TE Darren Waller

There’s not a lot to like about the Giants’ offense right now, but one potentially interesting fantasy matchup comes this week as tight end Darren Waller faces the Eagles. Waller returned to the field this past week after an extended stint on the IR and immediately caught four of six passes for 40 yards in the Giants’ blowout loss to the Saints. Certainly, 40 yards is nothing to be excited about, but it’s worth considering that this is the first time that Waller had ever played alongside quarterback Tommy DeVito and that it was his first game back from injury. He ran snaps on just 47 percent of the Giants’ passing plays, which should only increase as he gets reacclimated in the offense.

The Eagles have done a good job at containing the low-level tight ends they’ve faced, but players like T.J. Hockenson, Hunter Henry, Logan Thomas, Jake Ferguson (x2), Travis Kelce, and George Kittle have all scored double-digit PPR fantasy points against this defense. Waller is still not on the radar of many fantasy players, so he could be a sneaky DFS option as the team’s top pass-catching weapon against a terrible Philadelphia secondary.

On the Fence: RB Saquon Barkley

This offensive situation has to be extremely frustrating to Saquon Barkley, but it’s also been excruciating at times for fantasy managers as they’ve watched their stud running back fail to reach even 10 PPR fantasy points in four of his 11 games this season. Of course, Barkley has mixed in a few whoppers in there to make up for it, but when we needed him most, this past week, in the opening round of the fantasy playoffs, he and the Giants completely fell apart.

Now the Giants face an Eagles team that has been skidding as of late, but one that has remained fairly good at defending against opposing running backs. Barkley is probably impossible to bench for most teams, but there is absolutely a risk that the Giants fall behind on the scoreboard enough that he ends up turning in another dud fantasy performance. Of course, it’s also true that if the Giants manage to stay close then Barkley is probably a big part of why that happened and could be a difference-maker in your fantasy playoffs. He’s a classic high-risk / high-reward player in this matchup.

Fade: QB Tommy DeVito

The media has been loving to follow Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito and this looks like the kind of matchup that could lead to some fantasy production, but now is not the time to be trusting a borderline cut candidate who has failed to reach 200 passing yards in all but one of his six starts.

If you’re playing DeVito, it’s essentially with the hope that he continues to tactically scramble for 30 to 50 yards per game and hopefully sneaks into the end zone on one of those rushes. Otherwise, it’s going to be pretty difficult for him to deliver any sort of a ceiling even against a Philadelphia secondary that has been one of the absolute worst in the league this season.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

No Brainers: QB Jalen Hurts, WR A.J. Brown

Favorites: RB D’Andre Swift

It’s hard to imagine that things have gotten this bad when you consider how hot he started the season, but it’s now been since before Thanksgiving that D’Andre Swift delivered even a double-digit PPR fantasy performance. The Eagles’ insistence on relying on their quarterback to deliver short-yardage touchdowns has been an absolute killer for Swift’s scoring potential and he’s only managed to catch five total passes over his past four games. Things have been ugly for the Eagles and Swift lately, so it’s completely understandable if fantasy managers want to take a more cautious approach, but if there’s a matchup that could turn things around for him, it might be this one against a struggling Giants team.

New York has been gashed by opposing backs lately, particularly in the passing game, and this looks like a potential “get right” blowout victory for the Eagles, at least on paper. If that plays out on the field then look for Philadelphia to get back to running the ball heavily with Swift, which should give him a decent enough floor. He just needs some usage in the passing game and/or to get into the end zone to turn in a solid fantasy day.

On the Fence: WR DeVonta Smith

Dallas Goedert’s return to the lineup is good for the Philadelphia offense as a whole, but there’s quite a bit of data to show that it does hurt wide receiver DeVonta Smith’s production. Smith had been enjoying some big fantasy performances throughout November, but since Goedert got back into the lineup two weeks ago, Smith has managed to catch just 10 passes for 123 yards and no touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t completely terrible and he’s still managed to see 15 targets over these past two weeks, but those performances have also come in two games where the Eagles have needed to pass the ball.

In a game against a Giants offense that might not be able to move the ball at all, there’s a real possibility that the Eagles could opt to pass the ball much less often than normal which would really hurt Smith’s upside. Still, he’s scored double-digit PPR points in seven straight games, so don’t get too cute and bench Smith just because you’re worried about game script.

Fade: TE Dallas Goedert

The tight end position is always a trainwreck, but as the season has gone on, we’ve seen a number of players break out. If it seems like the position is deeper than normal, that’s probably because it is. Not only are the top tight ends like Travis Kelce and T.J. Hockenson not delivering the difference-making performances that top tight ends have in the past, but 11 tight ends are averaging 10 or more PPR fantasy points per game. This has meant that players like Dallas Goedert, who currently sits outside that range, are not providing fantasy managers with must-start production.

Goedert has just two catches in each of his two games since returning from injury and, including his time spent on IR, he has not exceeded five catches in any one game since back in Week 5 - a span that includes six games. In fact, other than his huge performance against the Rams in that Week 5 matchup and another solid day against the Dolphins in Week 7, Goedert has otherwise failed to reach 10 PPR fantasy points in any other game this season.

While he remains a high-usage player who’s running a ton of routes, it’s possible that fantasy managers could have better, higher-upside options to place in their lineups this week over Goedert.

Prediction: Eagles 30, Giants 14 ^ Top

Ravens @ 49ers - (Fessel)
Line: SF -6.0
Total: 47.5

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: QB Lamar Jackson

The match up with the 49ers is tough enough to rule Jackson out as a no brainer (6th fewest points allowed to QBs), but the Niners are likely to be without two key components of the defensive line tasked with containing Lamar Jackson – Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave. That won’t turn the task into an easy one for Jackson, but it may provide just enough wiggle room for his elite abilities to make big plays.

This may be the game of the week, and despite the defenses both teams carry, it may develop into somewhat of a shootout. Over the years since his arrival, Jackson has been as important a player to the Ravens offense as any player has been to any offense in the league, and that is surely going to remain true this week against San Francisco in a possible Super Bowl preview.

On the Fence: WR Zay Flowers (foot), WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Zay Flowers was is dealing with a foot injury, but is practicing in a limited capacity. If he suits up this weekend, he lands in match up that could push him up out of WR4 territory into that of a WR3. The 49ers banged up front, coupled with the potential for fireworks between these two teams set up Flowers as a flex option.

Beckham, who missed Thursday’s practice with an illness, will likely be healthy by the weekend and is a bit more of a boom/bust play, as he’s become more involved in the Ravens offense and has had a couple of very productive days recently (97- and 116-yard performances), but also duds like last week’s one-catch 13-yard outing. If Flowers were to sit out, Beckham might be elevated to WR3 status.

Fade: N/A

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

No Brainers: RB Christian McCaffrey, TE George Kittle

Favorites: QB Brock Purdy

The Ravens defense makes it very difficult on every position, but there are certain players you just can’t sit. It continues to be true that when Brock Purdy steps onto the field with this incredible group of weapons, he’s one of those guys. Besides, in an unprecedented season of injuries for quarterbacks, how can a fantasy owner think of turning another way?

On the Fence: WR Deebo Samuel, WR Brandon Aiyuk

The Ravens toughness against the run (10th fewest rushing yards allowed, least rushing touchdowns allowed) and the pass (7th fewest passing yards allowed, least passing touchdowns) does not bode well for Deebo Samuel, whose 6 receiving touchdowns and 5 rushing touchdowns have played a big hand in him returning to the Top 12 at wide receiver. This offense has so many players to deal with, and is playing so well that I’d hardly count him out, but expectations may need to be a bit tempered this week. He might be more of a flex than a WR1 against the Ravens.

Brandon Aiyuk is arguably a flex option this week, as well, against the stellar Ravens secondary. The Ravens only allow 8.2 yards per reception, an incredibly low number, and that means Aiyuk – leaning on 18.5 yards per reception – may not see much of a window for a big play.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: 49ers 24, Ravens 23 ^ Top