If you are looking for waiver wire help in Week 16 that probably means congratulations are in order, because you have advanced to the championship game of your fantasy football league.
It’s possible you have been streaming quarterbacks or defenses to get to this point. If that’s the case don’t worry, there are some very good waiver wire options to help put a bow on this thing and get you that trophy. If you need a flex option (or two) to give you some depth and help replace a starter injured late in the year, we have some players that fit that requirement, too.
So sleep easy knowing that no matter what next week’s injury report reveals, you will have the players you need to secure a year’s worth of bragging rights.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (Available in 39 percent of fantasy leagues)
Forget the shutout against the Colts and focus on the future. The Cowboys host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16, a defense that has allowed two or more passing touchdowns in a game nine times this season. Plus, the Cowboys passing offense has been more productive since the team acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper six weeks ago, with Prescott having completed 181 of 251 passes (72 percent) for 1,920 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions since the trade. That includes the dismal 206-yard, no touchdown performance against the Colts on Sunday.
Elijah McGuire, RB, New York Jets (67 percent)
With Isaiah Crowell on injured reserve, McGuire has seen 35 carries over the past two weeks, producing 102 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also caught 6 of 8 targets for 52 yards over that span.
His 42 yards Saturday against the Houston Texans weren’t terrible, either; the Texans are the second-best run-stopping unit in the NFL this year, per Football Outsiders. And McGuire should put up a higher total against the Green Bay Packers in Week 16, a defense that ranks as the fourth-worst this season. Green Bay also stops a league-low 13 percent of ball-carriers at or behind the line of scrimmage; the league average is closer to 20 percent.
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (70 percent)
Keenan Allen, the Los Angeles Chargers' top wide receiver, suffered a hip pointer injury against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, giving Williams the chance to step up as the team’s No. 1 wideout. Williams finished the game with 7 catches on 9 targets for 76 yards and a touchdown, plus he added a 19-yard reverse for a score on the ground.
It’s important to note that even before Allen’s injury, Williams was already a productive receiver. His 1.8 yards per route run ranks 35th out of 92 qualified wide receivers, per Pro Football Focus, and he and quarterback Philip Rivers have combined for a 142.6 passer rating. Only three other quarterback-receiver combos have been better this season.
Tennessee Titans defense and special teams (43 percent)
The Titans are an average defense with below-average performance against the pass (ranked 22nd, per Football Outsiders) and above-average performance against the run (13th). The poor pass defense ranking can be excused since their next opponent, the Washington Redskins, is trotting out Josh Johnson under center after the team lost starting quarterback Alex Smith and backup Colt McCoy to broken legs and third-string quarterback Mark Sanchez was benched. Johnson managed 151 yards and a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday and has a 65.3 career passer rating.
New England Patriots defense and special teams (47 percent)
The Patriots have the second-best pass-coverage unit, per Pro Football Focus, and are limiting opposing quarterbacks to an 89.1 passer rating against, the eighth-best mark in the NFL this season. Their opponent in Week 16, the Buffalo Bills, start rookie quarterback Josh Allen, a below-average passer, per ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (56.5 QBR, 20th out of 31 qualified quarterbacks). And while it is true Allen can produce with his legs — he is the first rookie quarterback with six rushing touchdowns since Prescott in 2016 — the Patriots have allowed only one rushing touchdown to a quarterback this season.
In addition, Buffalo scores nearly 13 fewer points per game than expected after accounting for the down, distance and field position of each play. Only the Arizona Cardinals are worse, per data from TruMedia.
Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (40 percent)
Used primarily on special teams for most of the season, the release of Kareem Hunt and injuries to Spencer Ware have heightened Williams’s profile in the Chiefs offense.
During the first 11 weeks, Williams had six touches for 19 total yards. In the last three weeks, Williams has 23 carries for 101 yards and three touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 97 yards and a score.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (46 percent)
The rookie quarterback continues to be a dual threat in the NFL. Jackson threw for 131 yards and a score and added 95 yards on the ground Sunday against the Buccaneers. His next opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers, have yet to yield a rushing touchdown to a quarterback this season, but they are the second-worst team at stopping a No. 1 wideout in coverage, according to Football Outsiders. That could be good news for Jackson and his top target, Willie Snead IV, who have struggled with consistency as a duo this season.
Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami Dolphins (99 percent)
The rookie took advantage of his opportunity to shine when Frank Gore left the game early due to injury. The Arizona State alum carried the ball 12 times for 123 yards and a touchdown, which includes a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play of the third quarter.
If Ballage gets more opportunities in the coming weeks, he should provide fantasy value by catching passes out of the backfield, too. Pro Football Focus notes that, as a junior at Arizona State, he led all returning Pac-12 running backs with his 2.3 yards per route run, and they also considered him the top back at the Senior Bowl in 2017 in terms of one-on-one play.
Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (34 percent)
Barber’s rushing totals don’t jump off the page, but his ability to score does: He has six total touchdowns this season, including 19 carries for 85 yards and a score Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. He’s also been elusive this season, inducing 37 missed tackles, tying him with four other rushers for the third-most missed tackles this season, per Pro Football Focus.
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