If you are interested in this content, it probably means you made it to fantasy football’s championship week, unless your league goes to Week 17. If the latter’s the case, you really should fix that, because the NFL’s final regular season week all too often features player-benchings that make an unfair mess of title-worthy lineups.
As it turned out, though, Week 16 got kind of messy in its own right. In addition to the inevitable spate of horribly timed injuries, with the likes of Keenan Allen, Lamar Miller and Aaron Jones crushing their owners' dreams, more than a few other important players submitted performances that ranged from disappointing to disastrous.
One guy who came through for those brave enough to start him was Josh Allen — he of the yes-you-should-start-him-over-Aaron-Rodgers advice, dispensed in this very space last week. With everything at stake this week (again, for leagues sensible enough to end before Week 17), decisions won’t be any easier, and I can only hope these rankings help all of you taste the sweet, sweet nectar of fantasy glory.
Note that The Washington Post defaults to PPR scoring, and that the rankings will update throughout the week, so please check back frequently. Here are this week’s top movers and players of note.
Quarterbacks: In a game played on the fast track in New Orleans and featuring easily the week’s highest over/under (57.5 as of this writing), I’ll take the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger to have the best chance at the highest-scoring week, even if he hasn’t thrown for over two TDs in a game since Week 10. . . . The Chiefs-Seahawks game is next with an over/under of 54.5, and there’s a big drop-off to third place (Falcons-Panthers at 49.5), so I’m more than willing to believe that Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson can put up good numbers. . . . On the other side of that Big Easy track meet, Drew Brees has done nothing over his past three games, but it’s crucial to note that they’ve all been on the road. In each of his past three home games, he’s thrown for four TDs. . . . the Colts' Andrew Luck has laid an egg in two of his past three, but he preceded that with at least three TD passes in eight straight games, and I see a return to form here. . . . Given that the Bills' Josh Allen has posted top-four scores in three of the four weeks since he returned from injury, with a respectable 18.3 mark in the other outing, I probably have him ranked too low. . . . With Aaron Rodgers dinged up and his Packers eliminated from the postseason, he might not play at all, but he wants to suit up and finish the season on a strong note. . . . The Panthers' Cam Newton is also not at full strength and has been flat-out awful of late, but he gets the most favorable matchup for QBs. . . . The Rams' Jared Goff has lost the benefit of the doubt, as opponents may be figuring out Coach Sean McVay’s scheme.
Running backs: The Cowboys got embarrassed in Week 15, need a win to lock up the NFC East and have a home date with a very pliant Buccaneers runs defense. It all adds up to a heavy, heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott. . . . The Rams' Todd Gurley is day-to-day with a knee injury and is expected to play. His owners are, you know, certainly hoping he does. . . . Melvin Gordon (knee) is expected back for the Chargers, and a possible return by Austin Ekeler (concussion) would further take the wind out of Justin Jackson’s sails. . . . The Giants' Saquon Barkley picked an awful time for his first single-digit performance (in PPR) of the season, and the Colts have been surprisingly competent on defense, but it’s almost unthinkable he would have two bad games in a row. . . . James Conner (ankle) is tentatively expected to play for the Steelers, but if he can’t go again, Jaylen Samuels will be a top-10 play. . . . Spencer Ware (hamstring) is day-to-day and might return, but even if he does, Damien Williams has likely shown enough to get a plurality of the work for the Chiefs. . . . Although Sony Michel has had just one big game since Week 6 and now has Rex Burkhead and James White siphoning off touches, the Patriots will want to run as much as possible on a Bills defense that’s far tougher against the pass. . . . Leonard Fournette should be in a great spot at Miami, but he may have a foot injury, and the Jaguars might want to limit his work in any event, and his team definitely stinks on offense. . . . With Aaron Jones (knee) out, Jamaal Williams gets his Packers job back and could do well with it at New York. . . . Other beneficiaries of injuries to backfield mates include the Jets' Elijah McGuire, the Falcons' Tevin Coleman and some combination of the Dolphins’ Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage — good luck predicting how they’ll be employed. . . . The Texans' Lamar Miller (ankle) is day-to-day, making Alfred Blue somewhat relevant and even putting D’Onta Foreman on the fantasy radar, if he gets activated from the PUP list.
Wide receivers: The Falcons' Julio Jones has over 100 yards in each of his past four road games, with four total TDs in those contests. . . . DeAndre Hopkins dragged an awful lot of his fantasy teams into the finals, and while the Eagles' bedraggled secondary was surprisingly effective against the Rams, it has no one to check the Texans' stud. . . . Don’t look now, but the Packers' Davante Adams is now the highest-scoring WR for the season. Do look now, however, for reports on whether Aaron Rodgers is actually playing (although you’d still have a hard time not making Adams at least a flex play). . . . Given my ranking of Ben Roethlisberger, you know I have to be bullish on the Steelers' Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Brown continues to find the end zone with almost weekly regularity, which is helping make up for his almost weekly, and head-scratching, struggles to break out for major yardage. . . . Okay, Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) and Adam Thielen (Vikings), it’s time to come through for those who survived your Week 15 duds. . . . The Cowboys' Amari Cooper was going to come back to Earth at some point, and that point arrived last week. Now he has a great chance to go off again. . . . Alshon Jeffery is looking a lot like the go-to receiver for new Eagles QB Nick Foles. . . . Robby Anderson appears to have finally started clicking with Jets QB Sam Darnold. . . . It could all come crashing down at any moment, but you’re darn right that I’m ranking the Bills' red-hot Robert Foster ahead of the likes of Josh Gordon (Patriots), Jarvis Landry (Browns) and D.J. Moore (Panthers). . . . The Chargers' Keenan Allen (hip) and the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. (thigh) will move up if they are cleared to play. Mike Williams will definitely move up if Allen can’t play.
Tight ends: With the Eagles' Zach Ertz suddenly turning into a sketchy commodity, there is no bigger positional gap in fantasy than the Chiefs' Travis Kelce to everyone else at TE. . . . Ertz still slots in at No. 2 because a) the TE landscape has all the allure of a minefield without any of the explosive potential, and b) he has a much better matchup, versus the Texans, than the 49ers' George Kittle does versus the Bears. . . . If I’m predicting a return to form for Andrew Luck, I may as well do the same for Colts teammate Eric Ebron. . . . The Raiders' Jared Cook has been alternating bad weeks with good ones, and this week is on the ‘good’ schedule (hashtag, analysis). . . . If I may be allowed to quote myself from a recent post on the defensive struggles of the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, who also has been having major issues as a pass-catcher: You know things aren’t going well for Gronk when the only spike he’s associated with is a sharp rise in snarky Internet comments. . . . As usual, Cameron Brate owners have to hope that he gets a TD pass from Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston . . . The Browns' David Njoku is oozing with potential, but it’s mostly yet to be realized. Hey, that’s life in TE-land, folks. . . . As noted last week, the Steelers' Jaylen Samuels has TE eligibility on some platforms.
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