15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 16
Nothing in life -- and I mean nothing -- is better than '90s R&B.
Maybe that's a little hyperbolic, because cheese, my wife, Mario Kart 64, Pittsburgh sports, and Kiwi Watermelon La Croix all exist in this world, too. But it's up there -- '90s R&B is up there.
The track that encapsulates the '90s R&B era -- we can debate this, but you'd lose -- is Boyz II Men's End of the Road. It's got love and heartache, it's got harmony, and it's got a breakdown mid-song where there's just straight-up soulful talking. It's everything.
Though the song is about a breakup, the tune itself can easily be tied to anything in your life that's coming to an end. Maybe you're graduating from college and you've got your close friends together for one last hurrah. Good luck playing the song and not singing it at the top of your lungs. Good freaking luck.
We're there with fantasy football. We're at the end of the road. It's Week 16, which means champions are going to be crowned on Monday night. And, unfortunately (or fortunately if you talk to my wife), that means my time here is done.
One last time this season, let's take a look at 15 transactions you should be making prior to your big game. Thanks for sticking around and reading all season long.
You belong to me, and I belong to you.
Add Ty Montgomery
The Packers' coaching staff consists of the last people on earth to realize that Ty Montgomery is the best option for Green Bay's backfield. Still out there in almost half of ESPN.com fantasy leagues, Montgomery needs to be owned. He saw 16 of a possible 20 running back carries for the Packers in Chicago on Sunday, going off for 162 yards on the ground. He also played 84% of the team's snaps, which was the highest mark recorded by a Packers back this year. With a potential positive game script versus Minnesota this week (the Packers are seven-point favorites), Montgomery could win some fantasy titles this year.
Add Tyler Lockett
Lockett has seen a spike in usage since Week 12 -- after getting six targets in each of the last three contests prior to this past week, he ended up with eight in Thursday night's tilt against the Rams. That led to his second top-five wide receiver performance in four games.
Over this four-game stretch, Lockett's played 78%, 62%, 61%, and 62% of Seattle's snaps. Before it, Lockett had been on the field for more than 60% of his team's snaps in four of eight games.
The trend is a positive one -- there's no doubt. And while his matchup looks a little scary on paper this week against the 12th-ranked (per our schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points, or NEP, metric), remember that Arizona is coming off a game where they were torched by a smaller, speedy receiver in Brandin Cooks. Lockett could be an interesting flex option this week for teams needing an upside play.
Drop Matthew Stafford
Week 15 featured somewhat of a dud for Stafford, as he scored just 10.22 fantasy points in New York. It just added to what's been a low-key sporadic season for Stafford in fantasy: he now has four top-five performances this year, but he's also had five games where he ranked 20th or worse in weekly scoring at the quarterback position.
In shallower leagues, starting Stafford this week in Dallas is pretty risky. We all know Dallas loves to run at a sluggish pace, as they've run a play every 30.30 seconds, the second-slowest in the NFL. But the Lions have run at the third-slowest pace this season. That could really limit Detroit's upside from a volume perspective, and with an implied team total of just 17.75, there may not be much scoring potential, either.
Add Matt Barkley
Now, adding Matt Barkley doesn't mean I'd be confidently playing him over the aforementioned Stafford this week -- especially with a championship on the line -- but quarterback streamers should be targeting him. The signal-caller position itself could be awful on your waiver wire this week (I hope you were prepared and added players ahead of time), and while Barkley is a scary name to toss in your lineup, he's actually been pretty damn good. On the year, his Passing NEP per drop back rate is 0.14, which ranks 15th out of 38 quarterbacks with 100 or more drop backs. And he's given you 12.4-plus standard points in three of his four starts.
This week, the Bears are at home (his bad performance was on the road) against a Washington secondary that's allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The game itself, per Vegas, has a 47-point over/under, and Washington is only a 3.5-point favorite. During a week with a lot of low totals, that's not bad at all.
Add Robby Anderson
Going into Week 15, Robby Anderson had a better than 30% target market share with Bryce Petty under center for the Jets. Though his share dipped after a six-target performance on Saturday night, Anderson still played more snaps than any other wide receiver for New York. His role for the rest of the season looks pretty real.
It wouldn't be a good thing if Petty misses this week's game (he left Week 15's matchup with a chest injury), as it's very clear there's a bit of a rapport between the quarterback and receiver. But if he's out there, Anderson is intriguing in what should be a super negative game script for the Jets -- that means more passes and more potential targets.
Drop Adrian Peterson
In Adrian Peterson's return, he ran the ball 6 times for 22 yards and a fumble. Over 75 running backs scored more fantasy points in Week 15.
He got the start and saw early-down and early-game work, which is a plus. The problem is that, when the Vikings lost the lead, Jerick McKinnon saw the field -- in the ultra-negative game script the Vikings saw, McKinnon had 9 targets while playing 59% of the snaps (Peterson played 21%).
In Week 16, the Vikings are going to be in Green Bay in a contest that, as noted earlier, could get away from Minnesota. If another lead is lost, Peterson could easily be irrelevant once again. And do you really want to play a back in a Vikings' running game system that ranks dead last this season, per our schedule-adjusted numbers?
Add Jack Doyle
The good news? Jack Doyle played 73% of Indianapolis' snaps in Week 15, easily the highest of any tight end on the team. The bad news? He had just 32 yards receiving on 4 targets.
There are a couple of reasons to add him this week, though -- that is, if you're streaming the tight end position. First, the Colts are going to be in Oakland, where they'll be participating in a game that has the highest over/under of the week. The Raiders are four-point favorites, too, which could lead to a lot of Indianapolis passing.
Second, the Indianapolis offensive line is still banged up. That possibly means more Dwayne Allen blocks (he's been known as the superior blocker) than catches -- Doyle's biggest competition for targets, then, may not be used much as a pass-catcher. And the volume could be nice if Donte Moncrief misses another game with his hamstring injury, too.
Lastly, the matchup is a pretty decent one, as the Raiders have allowed the ninth-most points to opposing tight ends this year.
Doyle is a really interesting way to get exposure to the high-scoring game.
Add Joe Flacco
As I said above, this week's streaming quarterback options are pre-tay bad. And using Joe Flacco in a championship matchup when he faces the Steelers in Pittsburgh is pre-tay not fun.
But here we are.
The reason you'd want to play Flacco is because the Ravens are underdogs and they could throw a ton in the matchup. Not only is the Steeler secondary beatable (they rank 20th against the pass according to our numbers), but the Ravens also throw the ball more than almost any other team in football (612 drop backs, when the leader, Arizona, has 617). The Steelers also have averaged over 30 points per game at home since the start of 2014 -- that could force more throwing from Baltimore and Flacco.
The reason you'd want to avoid Flacco is because it's a divisional game, the Ravens have an unattractive team total of 19.75, and Flacco himself ranks 21st in fantasy points per game at the quarterback position this year. But in cases like this one, you sometimes have to create a narrative for the guy to be a good play -- that narrative is the Steelers will score early and often, and Flacco will throw the ball 50-plus times. He's already done that twice this year, after all.
Add JJ Nelson
What's a final 15 Transactions column without some love for a guy named JJ?
JJ Nelson stepped in (up?) for the released Michael Floyd this week, hauling in 5 of 11 targets for 38 yards and a score against the Saints this week. He played 78% of the team's snaps -- second-highest on the team, behind only Larry Fitzgerald -- which was the third-highest rate of his season (the two other high rates came without Floyd, too). Though Nelson has a tough matchup this week against Seattle, his usage combined with a negative game script (Arizona is an 8.5-point dog) could force a decent amount of volume. If you're in a pinch, you could do worse.
Drop Jeremy Maclin
Jeremy Maclin finally saw some production this week, playing 85% of Kansas City's snaps and leading the Chiefs with 14.20 PPR points scored in their loss to the Titans.
But you're not playing him this week.
Kansas City hosts the Broncos in Week 15, a team that's allowing 13.20 standard fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts. That's over four points better per game than the second-best team against the position, Minnesota. Use this transaction as a friendly reminder to not roster guys who you won't be using from here on out -- especially if it's a big name like Maclin who might be enticing (for whatever reason) to an opponent.
Add Tom Savage
For the third time: quarterback streamers are awful this week.
Would I have the kahunas to play Tom Savage in a playoff matchup? No. No I would not.
So why recommend him? Because you might.
Savage was a savage against the Jaguars -- an underrated secondary that ranks 14th against the pass this year according to our numbers -- accumulating 7.39 Passing Net Expected Points in the game. Entering Week 15, only six quarterbacks were averaging that type of production per game this year.
He finished the day with over 10 fantasy points, which isn't bad considering he didn't play the entire contest. This week he will, and he's facing a Cincinnati secondary (in Houston) that's been below average against the pass all season long.
How desperate are you?
Add Ryan Griffin
The tight end position matters in the Houston Texans' offense -- C.J. Fiedorowicz has seen five or more targets in every game he's played since Week 3, and Ryan Griffin, who stepped in for the concussed Fiedorowicz this week, ended the Week 15 game with 8 catches for 85 yards while playing 79% of the team's snaps. Houston threw the ball a lot, sure, but Griffin's target market share in the game was a solid 17.02%, and that's with DeAndre Hopkins seeing 17 targets. If Fiedorowicz is still out this week, Griffin could have a stream-worthy game against the aforementioned Bengals, who have allowed the third-most receptions to the tight end position this year.
Add the San Diego Chargers Defense
Since it's difficult to find true game-changing waiver wire adds this late in the season, I figured talking about a few waiver wire defenses would help fantasy owners most. So, let's dig into the first one: the San Diego Chargers.
They'll be traveling to Cleveland to take on the winless Browns, and they're 6.5-point favorites. Check. Cleveland also has a low implied team total. Check. And the Browns have also allowed a top-16 performance (that is, a top-half one) to an opposing defense in all but one contest this year.
The Chargers are an easy play this week, and they're still out there in 63.5% of ESPN.com leagues.
Add the Tennessee Titans Defense
The Titans' secondary is really bad (fifth-worst in the league, according to our numbers), and that's forced a lot of throws against them this year -- they've seen the third-most pass attempts against this season, averaging 39 per game. In the seven games this season where Blake Bortles -- their Week 16 opponent -- has thrown 39 or more passes, he's averaged 1.29 interceptions per game (that number is 1.00 when he throws fewer than 39 times). As 4.5-point road favorites, it would be shocking if the Titans don't force at least one or two turnovers in the contest. And that's without factoring in that the Jaguars just fired their head coach.
Add the Los Angeles Rams Defense
Since Colin Kaepernick took over the starting gig in San Francisco, the 49ers have surrendered 3.13 sacks per game to opposing defenses. To give that some context, that prorates to 43.82 sacks in 14 games, which is almost four more than the Broncos, who lead the league in sacks. Whew.
The Rams haven't been great at sacking quarterbacks this year (just 26 sacks, good for 24th-best in football), but they're sixth in quarterback hits, so they're at least getting to opposing passers. The game also features a low game total of 40.5, and Los Angeles is actually a 3.5-point favorite. It could be a good day for Jeff Fisher's old team.