Happy Holidays! We’ve made it to Week 16 and hopefully you are in the championship for seasonal leagues. If you happened to miss or get eliminated from the playoffs already, fantasy football doesn’t have to end. Make sure you’re dabbling in DFS to tide you over for the rest of the season as you have the freedom to play any level you want.
Let me provide the disclaimer that I encourage you use the game by game tables and data points in conjunction with your own information and thought process rather than searching out your own players in the individual player diagnosis and turning that section into a linear start/sit guide. This is an evidence-based expectation based column that you can always cross reference these thoughts with my weekly rankings for further context. With that out of the way, let’s hit all of the Week 16 games with a PPR light…
New York (NFC) vs. Philadelphia
- Odell Beckham has joined Randy Moss and John Jefferson as the only players to have 1,000 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns in each of their first three seasons.
- Beckham is the first player to accomplish that feat while also having at least 80 receptions in each of his first three seasons.
- Eli Manning has thrown for fewer than 260 yards in eight consecutive games, tied for the longest streak in his career.
- New York ranks 31st in red zone opportunities per game (2.5).
- New York allows the fewest offensive touchdowns per game (1.6) in the league.
- The Giants haven’t allowed more than two touchdowns in 10 straight games, their longest streak since going 11 games in 1994.
- Ryan Mathews has a touch or target on 58 percent of his snaps, the highest rate for all running backs.
- Zach Ertz leads all tight ends in targets (53), receptions (34) and fantasy points (80.2) over the past five weeks.
- Carson Wentz has thrown a touchdown once every 41.5 pass attempts, the lowest rate in the league for all passers with 200 or more attempts.
- The Giants allows a touchdown pass once every 43.8 pass attempts, the second lowest rate behind Denver (48.3).
Trust: Odell Beckham (Beckham has typically gotten going at home more often this season than on the road, but the Eagles have allowed a top-12 receiver in seven of their past eight games), Zach Ertz (he’s been a top-10 scorer in six of his past seven games while the Giants allow the 7th most receptions per game to tight ends)
Bust: Carson Wentz (this is another game where his volume should be close to 40 or more pass attempts, but the Giants just haven’t allowed tangible fantasy game to quarterbacks so far), Rashad Jennings/Paul Perkins (both are splitting poor overall totals nearly right down the middle), Sterling Shepard (there are worse options if you’re chasing a touchdown as he’s scored in five of his past seven, but in the seven games in which he’s failed to reach the paint, his average weekly finish is WR63)
Reasonable Return: Eli Manning (by now our expectations for Eli are that he is likely going to throw for multiple touchdowns that are attached to a low yardage totals unless Beckham drags those yards up), Ryan Mathews (he’s been a solid RB2 in every game that he’s been featured, but if Darren Sproles is back, then knock him back down to flex status with Sproles himself), Jordan Matthews (he has five or more receptions in six of his past seven games while the Giants are far more vulnerable to interior receivers than ones on the boundaries)
Atlanta vs. Carolina
- Matt Ryan is 19th in the league in pass attempts, yet leads all quarterbacks in yards per attempt (9.3) and passing points per attempt (.618).
- Carolina has allowed 242.1 passing yards per game at home as opposed to 341 per game on the road.
- Just 23.8 percent of the yardage gained against Carolina comes from the ground, the second lowest percentage in the league.
- 48 percent of Devonta Freeman‘s fantasy output over the past four weeks has come from rushing touchdowns.
- 22.3 percent of Freeman’s carries have come from inside of the red zone, the second highest percentage in the league behind Ryan Mathews (22.6 percent).
- Cam Newton averages 18 completions per game, 27th at the position.
- Atlanta allows 26.8 completions per game, the most in the league.
- Ted Ginn has outscored Kelvin Benjamin in five consecutive weeks with four top-22 scoring weeks over that stretch.
Trust: Greg Olsen (his yardage has bounced back the past two weeks and this is a prime spot for him as Atlanta has allowed the most top-12 scoring tight ends in the league at 10), Matt Ryan (after a small slow stretch, Ryan has bounced back with three straight top-10 scoring weeks and while Carolina has been a much better defense at home, they are still an extreme passing funnel to target), Cam Newton (Newton has run for just 56 yards total over his past five games, but he has been his best this season against extremely soft pass defenses and Atlanta is allowing the most passing points per game)
Bust: Tevin Coleman (he’s being used as a true complimentary player at this point and hasn’t been involved in the passing game like he was earlier in the season. If he doesn’t score a touchdown, you’re not getting much), Mohamed Sanu (he’s been inside of the top-50 in just two of his past five games and he’s just not as attractive with Jones returning and Gabriel still providing points), Kelvin Benjamin (eight straight weeks outside of the top-30 with three in a row outside of the top-75), Jonathan Stewart (Atlanta allows the majority of their fantasy production to backs through the air, something that Stewart isn’t doing and he’s had just one top-40 week in which he failed to score a touchdown)
Reasonable Return: Julio Jones (it’s hard to place ceiling expectations on him coming back from injury, but if he’s playing, you’re getting him into lineups), Taylor Gabriel (eventually touchdown regression is going to catch up to Gabriel, but in a game where I think Atlanta throws a lot, it’s hard to move away from him as a WR3 option), Devonta Freeman (this is a sketchy spot for Freeman because I don’t believe that the will post a high yardage total on the ground, but he’s still been a top-24 scorer in three of his five games without a touchdown on the season), Ted Ginn (he’s producing in a similar fashion that Gabriel is and Atlanta is more than beatable on the back end)
Miami vs. Buffalo
- The Bills average 30.7 points per game at home, third in the league.
- 61.4 percent of the Buffalo offensive touchdowns have been rushing, the highest percentage in the league. They were at 42.2 percent in 2015.
- Buffalo has 27 rushing touchdowns on the season, the most ever in franchise history for a single season.
- LeSean McCoy‘s .90 rushing points per carry leads all backs with 100 or more carries on the season.
- Since their Week 8 bye, the Dolphins have allowed a league-high 5.4 yards per carry.
- Miami averages 75.6 rushing yards per game on the road as opposed to 137 per game at home.
- 25.6 percent of Jay Ajayi‘s carries have failed to gain positive yardage, the second highest rate in the league behind Doug Martin (27.8 percent).
- Matt Moore was just the 7th quarterback to throw four or more touchdown passes while completing 12 or fewer passes since 2000.
- Kenny Stills has seven touchdowns on throws 15 yards or further downfield, the second most in the league behind Antonio Brown (eight).
Trust: LeSean McCoy (he’s averaged 146 yards from scrimmage over his past seven full games played and Miami has allowed a top-10 RB in six of their past seven games)
Bust: Sammy Watkins (he has just 11 receptions since returning and averaged just 5.5 targets per game), Jay Ajyai (he’s averaged 70.2 yards from scrimmage over the past six games with a high scoring week of RB17), Matt Moore (it will be hard for him to be carried by touchdown totals against the defense that has allowed the 4th fewest passing scores on the season), Kenny Stills (he’s had more than three receptions in just two of his past seven games, so he’s not quite trustworthy outside of taking a swing at a splash play), DeVante Parker (he’s had three or fewer catches in nine games and has hit 70 yards in just two of his past nine games)
Reasonable Return: Tyrod Taylor (he’s the quintessential reasonable return quarterback, going below 15 points just three times this season while reaching 20 points in just four games), Jarvis Landry (he’s masked some low target games the past two weeks with two long catch and runs, but he’s been a WR3 plus in four of his past five games and Buffalo has been vulnerable to slot options all season long)
Washington vs. Chicago
- Washington has had the lead for just 20.8 percent of the offensive plays, 27th in the league.
- Chicago is allowing 146.4 rushing yards per game over the past five weeks after allowing 98.4 per game through nine games.
- Jordan Reed has played just 10 and 19 snaps since returning from injury.
- Washington averages the most yards per possession (40.8) on offense and allows the second most yards per possession (36.7) on defense in the league.
- The Bears average 376 total yards per game in games not started by Jay Cutler as opposed to 308 yards per game with him starting under center.
- 50.9 percent of Matt Barkley‘s fantasy output has been scored in the 4th Quarter, the highest percentage in the league.
- Alshon Jeffery played 92 percent of the team snaps and had 20.9 percent of the team targets in his return from suspension.
- Per Pro Football Focus, Cameron Meredith has run 75.2 percent of his routes from the slot over the past four weeks as opposed to 33.5 percent prior.
- Since Week 8, Jordan Howard is fourth in the league in yards from scrimmage with at least 99 total yards in each of his seven games over that span.
Trust: Jordan Howard (he’s been a steady source of yardage and will be facing a Washington team allowing 4.5 yards per carry to backs, the 4th highest in the league), Kirk Cousins (he had his run of seven straight top-12 weeks snapped, but the high yardage totals were still there as he’s second in the league in passing yards per game)
Bust: Alshon Jeffery (seeing Jeffery perform last week was bittersweet since it was so late in the season, but it should be short lived as he’ll draw Josh Norman more than anyone else), Jamison Crowder (he’s faded down the stretch with fewer than 45 yards in four of his past six games while Jackson and Garcon has been more stable), Jordan Reed (him being active has been more for show than anything the past two weeks as he’s severely limited I just don’t see how you can count on getting anything form him)
Reasonable Return: Matt Barkley (he’s been at his best for fantasy in extreme negative script, but Washington has allowed 17 or more points to seven of the past eight quarterbacks they’ve faced), Cameron Meredith (moving into the slot has given Meredith new life as he’s had 34 targets over his past four games and working from the slot will allow him to avoid Norman) , Rob Kelley (the Chicago run defense has gotten leaky while Washington should control at least a partition of this game), DeSean Jackson (he’s been a top-24 scorer in four of five games since returning from injury and is coming off a season-high 10 targets), Pierre Garcon (he has 12.5 or more points in eight of his past 10 games, but has hit 20 points just once over that stretch)
New York (AFC) vs. New England
- New England has had the lead for 65.9 percent of their offensive snaps. The next closest team (Dallas) has led for 52.2 percent of their offensive plays.
- Opposing teams have run the ball 55 percent of time versus the Jets the past three weeks after teams ran just 38.3 percent of their plays versus New York through 11 weeks.
- Dion Lewis had 36.4 percent of the team touches last week after having 14.2 since returning entering the game.
- Julian Edelman leads the NFL in targets over the past five weeks (67) and has been targeted on 34.3 percent of his routes over that span, the highest in the league.
- New England ranks first in points allowed per game (16.6), third in points allowed per play (.263) and 10th in yards allowed per game (336).
- 35.1 percent of Bilal Powell‘s carries have gained a first down, the highest rate for all backs with over 75 carries on the season.
- The Patriots are allowing 50 yards rushing per game over the past four weeks, the fewest in the league.
- 60.2 percent of the fantasy production for running backs against the Patriots comes through receiving output, the highest in the league.
- The Jets are last in the league in red zone touchdown rate (37.8 percent).
Trust: Tom Brady (I try not to bring narratives in here, but the Jets have borderline quit on 2016 and have allowed four touchdowns in two of their past three games), Julian Edelman (he’s averaging 13.4 targets and 7.4 receptions per game over the past five weeks), LeGarrette Blount (he’s scored in every game except for three on the season and surely going to get some clock killing opportunity as he’s crushed when the Patriots are double digit favorites over the past three years)
Bust: Martellus Bennett (he’s the only Patriot that I’m not overly interested in as he’s scored in just one of his past nine games and has been inside of the top-15 just twice over that run), Brandon Marshall (one catch for 16 yards on 11 targets last week is peak Brandon Marshall in 2016)
Reasonable Return: Dion Lewis (who knows if his rushing usage will rollover or if it was just game plan specific, but Lewis has been a top-36 option in four of his five games played if you’re looking for a floor flex base), Malcolm Mitchell (we can go back to him here as he was a top-30 scorer in each of his four games prior to Denver), Chris Hogan (he’s the most volatile of the trio of receivers, but also has the highest ceiling of the group in a game where we’re expecting points to be scored by the Patriots), Bilal Powell (he had the highest scoring game of the season for a back without a touchdown a week ago and while the Patriots don’t give up rushing production because they control the scoreboard so often, they do turn that around into giving up receiving opportunity for backs), Robby Anderson (as long as Bryce Petty is playing, you can keep using him as he’s been the WR17, WR16 and WR15 the past three weeks)
San Diego vs. Cleveland
- San Diego has averaged just 18.5 points per game over the past four weeks after averaging 29.2 prior.
- Philip Rivers has averaged 292 passing yards per game on the road as opposed to 250 per game at home.
- Cleveland allows the most passing points per pass attempt (.546) and the most passing points per drive (1.7).
- The Browns have allowed a touchdown pass once every 14.8 pass attempts, the highest rate in the league.
- Only the 49ers (3.6) allow more offensive touchdowns per game than the Browns (3.4).
- Hunter Henry is the first rookie tight end to have at least 30 receptions and seven touchdowns in a season since Rob Gronkowski in 2010.
- 31.3 percent of Henry’s targets are from inside of the red zone, the highest percentage for all players with 40 or more targets on the season.
- Cleveland is allowing 2.32 points per target to opposing tight ends, the most in the league.
- The Browns have scored one or fewer touchdowns in six straight games, the longest streak in the league and the longest as a franchise since 2008.
Trust: Philip Rivers (the last time that Rivers was a top-12 scorer we had yet to vote and I still only had two children, but he’s thrown multiple touchdowns in seven straight games and Cleveland has been the matchup in terms of allowing efficiency)
Bust: Tyrell Williams (Cleveland has actually defended lead boundary receivers moderately well as opposed to the interior types and Williams is averaging three catches for 45 yards over the past three weeks), Travis Benjamin (he’s getting one deep shot a game, but has had just 13 total targets over his past five games played), The Browns (at least it will be Christmas weekend)
Reasonable Return: Antonio Gates/Hunter Henry (Cleveland has been bludgeoned by tight ends and the San Diego duo has combined for 12 touchdowns and 41 percent of the San Diego red zone targets), Melvin Gordon (we still need to get solid practice reports from him this week, but his injury will keep expectations tempered in a fantastic spot against a Cleveland defense that has allowed a top-5 back in six of their past seven games. If he’s unavailable gain, then Kenneth Farrow is back in play as a mid RB2), Dontrelle Inman (when you look at the receivers that have done the most damage for fantasy against the Browns, the majority of them are interior/possession types such as Inman)
Tennessee vs. Jacksonville
- Blake Bortles has attempted the fourth most passes of 15 yards or further downfield, but has completed just 28.3 percent of them, ahead of only Brock Osweiler (25.9 percent).
- After averaging 272 passing yards per game through seven games, Bortles has averaged 196.4 per game since.
- The Titans allow the most receptions (15.1) and second most receiving yards (186.6) per game to opposing wide receiving units.
- 15.9 percent of the offensive plays run versus the Jaguars have come from inside of the red zone, the highest percentage in the league.
- Tennessee leads the league in touchdown percentage in the red zone at 72.7 percent.
- After eight straight games with two or more touchdowns, Marcus Mariota has failed to throw a touchdown 53 attempts the past two weeks.
- Jacksonville allows 12.7 passing points per game, the 8th fewest in the league.
- Tennessee backs average 29.9 touches per game while the Jaguars face 29.9 running back touches per week, the 4th highest in the league.
Trust: DeMarco Murray (he’s lost goal line opportunities in recent weeks which have limited him from the 20 point weeks we had grown accustomed to, his workload is still high as he’s been the RB13 or higher in three of the past four weeks) , Delanie Walker (he’s the main target of this passing game while the Jaguars have allowed a top-5 tight end in three of their past four games)
Bust: Marcus Mariota (I wouldn’t have issues with using Mariota like the past two weeks, but it’s still a tough week to anticipate him performing to the levels he has all season as Jacksonville has allowed one top-10 quarterback over their past 12 games with just 10 touchdown passes over that span)
Reasonable Return: Allen Robinson (he has three or fewer receptions in five straight games, but I just can’t shake him completely off this weekend against a Tennessee secondary that has just atrocious defending receivers this entire season), Marqise Lee (his ceiling is still too low to truly get excited about, but the matchup is right if chasing a floor flex), Blake Bortles (Tennessee has been a weekly target for quarterbacks and Bortles had a great fantasy game when these teams met in Week 8, but it was all under immensely negative circumstances as he went 18 of 26 for 182 yards and two scores in the 4th Quarter and Jacksonville has made a commitment to being more balanced no matter the circumstances since), Rishard Matthews (he’s been a WR3 or better in each of past six games outside of facing the Broncos), T.J. Yeldon (Chris Ivory is unplayable in this split, but we have three straight weeks of Yeldon reaching double digit points since he’s stayed involved as a receiver)
Minnesota vs. Green Bay
- The Vikings are the first team to average fewer than 3.0 yards per rushing attempt through 14 games since the 1999 Chargers.
- Adrian Peterson played 12 snaps in his return last week.
- Just 13.5 percent of Peterson’s carries this season have gained at least five yards, the lowest rate for all players with at least 30 carries on the season.
- Only the Rams (278.8) average fewer total yards per game than the Vikings (301.5).
- After getting 43 targets from Weeks 8-10, Stefon Diggs has totaled 25 targets over the five games since.
- Kyle Rudolph leads all tight ends in routes per game (33).
- Only David Johnson (26) has more receptions than Jerick McKinnon over the past four weeks.
- Ty Montgomery played 84 percent of the Week 15 snaps, a season-high and the highest rate for any Green Bay running back on the season.
- In seven career games against a Mike Zimmer coached defense, Aaron Rodgers‘ has averaged 226.6 passing yards per game and 6.6 yards per attempt with 11 touchdown passes.
Trust: Ty Montgomery (it feels a little like point chasing, but Green Bay finally committed to him and he delivered in a big way. While expecting the same output would be lofty, the Vikings have allowed 122.1 rushing yards per game since their Week 6 bye and Montgomery still holds receiving upside), Kyle Rudolph (he’s been a top-12 scorer in five of his past six games and a top-4 one or higher in four of those games as he’s averaged 10 targets per game over the past month)
Bust: Aaron Rodgers (I’m still starting him everywhere I have him and he’s at home while we saw the Minnesota defense flounder a week ago, but I’m still setting the expectation level as a lower QB1 and under his season to date performance), Davante Adams (he’s traded 100-yard games with duds for six straight weeks, but this is a week where I’m only trusting Nelson for Green Bay as Minnesota has allowed the second fewest receptions per game to opposing wideouts and Terrnace Newman is no consolation prize if Rhodes takes Nelson on), Randall Cobb (he’s been inside the top-40 just once over his past seven games with a high at WR33), Adrian Peterson (it doesn’t matter who Minnesota hands the ball off to at this stage), Sam Bradford (the volume has consistently been there, but the touchdowns have consistently not existed)
Reasonable Return: Jordy Nelson (despite a matchup coming with Xavier Rhodes, Nelson’s average weekly finish over the past eight weeks is WR11 with a low of 11.8 points over that span), Stefon Diggs (he’s fallen off the map over the past month, but with Adam Thielen banged up and the Packer secondary on deck that just allowed three top-12 receivers to the Bears, it will be hard to completely shun him as a WR3), Jerick McKinnon (he’s been a steady RB2/flex play over the past month since he’s been involved as a receiver, but you’re still slightly at mercy of game script to get him there), Jared Cook (a deep streamer at best, his best games have come when the boundary receivers have been limited/played poorly, so this sets up as another week for him to be involved and Minnesota has been sketchy versus athletic tight ends to date)
Indianapolis vs. Oakland
- The Colts average 30 points per game on the road, the second highest total in the league.
- Frank Gore is 9th in first half rushing yardage (560 yards) and 21st in second half rushing yardage (331 yards).
- T.Y. Hilton leads the league in receptions that have gained 20 or more yards (25).
- Oakland has allowed 54 receptions of 20 or more yards, tied for the most in the league.
- Andrew Luck has gone six straight games in which he’s failed to pass for 300-yards, matching the longest streak of his career.
- Over the past five weeks, Michael Crabtree is the WR28 while Amari Cooper is the WR42.
- Over that span Crabtree has 17 more targets (46) than Cooper (29).
- The Raiders allow the third most yards per carry to backfields (4.58 YPC) while the Colts allow the 6th most (4.49 YPC).
- In the eight games when the Raiders have allowed 24 points or more, Derek Carr has averaged 22.1 points per game as opposed to 11.6 per game otherwise.
Trust: Derek Carr (there’s some worry that Oakland will just run the rock at will here and grind this game down, but Carr’s best fantasy weeks have come in back and forth shootouts, something this game can become and the Colts have struggled versus the pass all season), T.Y. Hilton (he’s scored just eight touchdowns in 28 career games outdoors, but he’s been the league’s best lid lifter against the secondary allowing the most splash plays)
Bust: Donte Moncrief (he’s expected to be back, but is only in play for those chasing a short touchdown as he’s only hit 50 yards receiving twice on the season), Colts TEs (it was already rough enough getting these guys right when there was just Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle in play every week, but now there might be a third with Erik Swoope getting a sprinkling of targets)
Reasonable Return: Andrew Luck (he’s been up and down for fantasy and the Raiders haven’t allowed a top-12 quarterback since Week 5, but I still believe he finds his way to multiple scores even if the big yardage still eludes him), Frank Gore (after hitting the skids for a few weeks, he’s come back as the RB15 and RB17 the past two weeks despite Robert Turbin stealing scores), Michael Crabtree/Amari Cooper (Crabtree has just been the far more bankable option here all season and can actually save a pedestrian game with touchdown appeal, but this sets up as week for both to have one of their rare games of producing together), Latavius Murray (he lost some snaps due to two fumbles last week, but is still the lead back with big touchdown appeal in a soft matchup at home)
Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans
- Doug Martin has averaged 2.1, 2.6, 3.8, 2.7, 2.9 and 2.6 yards per carry since returning from injury.
- Just 6.3 percent of Martin’s carries have gained 10 or more yards (nine of 144) after 11.5 percent in 2015.
- Since their Week 5 bye, the Saints are allowing just 3.7 yards per carry to opposing running backs and have allowed just one rushed to reach 80 yards in a game.
- Through nine weeks Mike Evans led the NFL in targets (12.9 per game). Since then he ranks 11th overall (8.7 per game).
- Evans has totaled 12 receptions for 135 yards in four career games versus the Saints.
- Only Jordy Nelson (10) has more red zone touchdowns than Cameron Brate‘s seven.
- Jameis Winston has been the QB17, QB19 and the QB23 in his three career starts versus the Saints.
- Drew Brees leads the league in passing yards per game at home (352.6).
- Brandin Cooks‘ 1.85 points per target leads all wide receivers with 100 or more targets on the season.
Trust: Drew Brees (after two let down weeks, Brees showed us that he’s far from dead yet on the road and returns home this week to face a defense that just allowed a quarterback to nearly set a record for completion percentage on the road a week ago), Brandin Cooks (you just keep riding the highs and lows and the highs do usually come at home while he just missed a big game against this secondary two weeks ago)
Bust: Doug Martin (when he doesn’t score, he’s been unusable and even when he does score he’s never finished higher than RB12), Mark Ingram/Tim Hightower (Tampa Bay has allowed just four top-12 backs on the season 100-yards from scrimmage to just six on the year)
Reasonable Return: Michael Thomas (the big yardage totals aren’t here weekly, but he’s the best red zone option for the quarterback who has thrown the most red zone touchdowns in the league), Willie Snead (possession guys have turned in consistent serviceable lines versus Tampa Bay, including Snead’s 6-85 two weeks ago), Mike Evans (between Tampa slowing down the pace and controlling games, Evans has lost the obscene weekly volume he was carrying through two thirds of the season, but you’re not running away as he still holds high touchdown upside weekly), Cameron Brate (in a position driven by touchdown upside, he’s scored in five of his past eight games), Jameis Winston ( I do believe this game will feature more scoring than the game two weeks ago, but Winston still is more of a floor play and the Saints aren’t allowing many ceiling performances to passers)
San Francisco vs. Los Angeles
- The 49ers (6.1) and Rams (5.9) rank first and second in punts per game on offense.
- The Rams have scored six touchdowns at home this season (five in Los Angeles), the fewest in the league. The next closest team has scored 12 touchdowns at home.
- Since Jared Goff took over as the starter, the Rams have scored on 16.4 percent of their possessions (10 of 61), last in the league.
- Opposing teams have scored on 44.9 percent of their possessions versus the 49ers, the second highest rate in the league.
- San Francisco has allowed the most offensive touchdowns in the league (3.6 per game) while the Rams have scored the fewest (1.4).
- San Francisco has allowed the most rushing yards (2,468 yards) through 14 games played since the 1987 Falcons (2,561 yards).
- Just 36.7 percent of the yardage gained by the 49ers over the past three weeks has been through the air, the lowest rate in the league.
- 56.6 percent of