15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 16
I love fantasy football because it creates stronger bonds among friends. Though you might hate the living hell out of your buddy who just Emmanuel Sanders'd you in the playoffs this past week, in the end, the back-and-forth trash talking throughout the season was still worth it. It was so worth it.
I love fantasy football because it makes fans love the game of football even more. If not for fantasy, the majority of casual NFL watchers would think Christine Michael just came out of nowhere this past week, leading the run-heavy Seahawks in rushing. Instead, pretend pigskin has created stories for us to read and watch -- we know Michael's had more jobs this season than a high school student, and we know that his Week 15 emergence is more than just a standard "get him off the waiver wire" situation.
Christine Michael being relevant in football means endless Twitter banter among truthers and haters.
And it's amazing.
I love fantasy football because it allows me to do this -- write this column -- each and every week. Whether the tidbits in 15 Transactions led you to a shot at the championship this season or not, I at least hope this was informative. I hope it at least made you a better fantasy football owner. I hope it at least made you a smarter fantasy owner.
But, really, I want you to win a championship. Because what I love about fantasy football most is winning at it.
For the last time this season, here are 15 transactions to help out your squad.
Thanks for another great 16-week ride, readers.
Add Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee
LeSean McCoy owners aren't very happy today, because he not only finished Week 15 with just 29 rushing yards, but he also tore his MCL.
That's not a very fun combo.
As a result, Week 16 should be one where the Bills feature Karlos Williams once again, with some Mike Gillislee in between. Both backs saw four rushes in relief of McCoy, but Gillislee did finish with more snaps played than his rookie cohort (19 to 13). A big reason for that could be due to Williams returning from injury in Week 15, but Gillislee's also been an effective runner this season on limited touches, averaging 0.21 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush. Only Karlos Williams and Spencer Ware have been more effective on a per touch basis this season at running back.
I'd prioritize Williams given we've seen him carry the load and finish as a top-20 fantasy back earlier in the season when doing so, but don't sleep on Gillislee, either.
Add Christine Michael
Here's what we know about the Seahawks' backfield: a running back-by-committee is definitely in place, Christine Michael looked like the best runner in said committee on Sunday, and it would be logical to think this group of rushers will continue to eat into one another's carries into Week 16.
Michael played 33.8% of the team's snaps versus Bryce Brown's 31.0%, so the difference there wasn't significant. But he was far more effective (2.51 Rushing NEP versus Brown's 0.61) and carried the ball seven more times.
He'll be tough to trust completely in Week 16, but it's a smart bet to think he'll lead the backfield in touches again.
Add Markus Wheaton
I'm admittedly one of the biggest Markus Wheaton haters on this planet (though I'm sure he's a great guy), so writing this is a little tough. But I can't deny the facts -- since his blowup game against Seattle, he hasn't been completely worthless. At all, really. He's seen 15.3%, 17.9% and 20.0% of Ben Roethlisberger's throws over the last three weeks, which are pretty strong target market shares in one of the best passing offenses in football. And in Week 16, he'll face a Ravens defense that's allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers. Sleeper alert.
Add Cameron Artis-Payne
Without Jonathan Stewart in the lineup, it wasn't Fozzy Whittaker who stole the snaps in the Panthers' backfield. Instead, it was rookie Cameron Artis-Payne, who played 40.3% of the team's snaps to Foswhitt's 33.8%. Artis-Payne also led the team with 14 carries, while Whittaker only touched the ball twice on the ground.
If J-Stew ends up missing another one in Week 16, look for Artis-Payne to have sneaky value against an Atlanta rush defense that ranks 14th against the run according to our schedule-adjusted numbers, surrendering the fourth most fantasy points to the position.
Add Jameis Winston
Winston really salvaged a poor start against the Rams on Thursday night, finishing Week 15 with 19.02 fantasy points, which were fringe QB1 numbers. He's felt like a roller coaster this season because of his rookie errors, but really, Winston's provided a pretty great floor for fantasy owners, never hitting below the 12-points mark, just like Alex Smith.
He'll face a Bears secondary on Sunday that ranks 25th against the pass and that has surrendered four top-10 performances to the position over their last five games. The quarterbacks who posted QB1 numbers against them during this stretch? Brock Osweiler, Blaine Gabbert, Kirk Cousins and Teddy Bridgewater. The only passer to not post a top-10 performance was Aaron Rodgers, who faced them in bad weather on Thanksgiving.
Winston makes for a great streamer this week.
Add Will Tye
Will Tye has kind of been a monster for fantasy football teams over the last five weeks. Well, "monster" may be a little strong, but consistent -- he's definitely been consistent.
In PPR formats, Tye has failed to score fewer than 10 fantasy points over his last five games. At an inherently volatile position, that's crazy. He's averaging 6.4 targets per game during this time -- time without tight end teammate Larry Donnell, I should add -- making him a legitimate weekly option. Add in the fact that Odell Beckham is facing a suspension, and you've got yourself a perfect tight end streamer for your fantasy championship.
Add Rueben Randle
Speaking of OBJ's suspension, if he is indeed out in Week 16, that should drive more opportunities for wide receiver Rueben Randle, who's owned in just 34% of ESPN leagues. Randle hasn't been awful this year if you've been in need of a fill-in, but he's also ranked in the weekly top 20 at the position in PPR leagues just once. In other words, I'm not convinced his ceiling is super high even with an Odell Beckham suspension, but a contest against a banged-up Vikings' secondary could be worse for needy championship teams.
Add Bilal Powell
When I recommended adding Bilal Powell after Week 11, I did so thinking he had both handcuff and flex capability -- you were basically killing two birds with one stone with him on your roster. But since that time, he's actually been a full-blown running back stud (we're living in sad running back times), scoring 24.8, 19.2 and 20.90 fantasy points over his last three games.
Meanwhile, Powell has actually out-snapped teammate Chris Ivory in two of the team's last three games, which should give fantasy owners a little comfort considering the original belief was that Powell was more of a negative game script back. Instead, he's become the Jets' top asset in the backfield, and it's a little ridiculous to see that he's out on 69% of ESPN league waiver wires.
Add Kirk Cousins
A huge reason I was into Kirk Cousins last week as a streamer was because of his home/road splits. At home this season, according to Net Expected Points, Cousins' per drop back average has been better than Tom Brady's season-long rate. Against an average Bills' secondary in Washington, the logic was there for him to have a nice game.
But the other thing going a little unnoticed with Cousins are his splits with and without DeSean Jackson. Since Jackson's return from injury in Week 9, Cousins has ranked as a weekly top-10 quarterback four times. That's 57.14% (4 of 7) of his contests. Cousins failed to put up fantasy numbers against New England (8th against the pass according to our numbers), Carolina (2nd), and Dallas (16th).
The Eagles, a team that's giving up the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks, are next. And while this game is on the road for Cousins, the D-Jax factor should make him relevant enough to warrant a stream in your league championship.
Add Donald Brown
This is the 16th time I've written this column this year, but it's the first time I've been able to reference one of the greatest clips on the Internet.
That's more than likely what you'll be saying if you play Donald Brown in your fantasy football championship, but with Melvin Gordon out, Brown does has flex appeal. After all, he's facing a Raiders rush defense that ranks 23rd in the league, per NEP, and he rushed 12 times for 90 yards in relief on Sunday. In deep leagues -- I'm talking 14- or 16-teamers -- you could do worse.
Add Zach Miller
Martellus Bennett was ruled out for the year a couple of weeks ago, and in the two games since, Zach Miller has been solid. Last week saw a six-target performance where Miller finished as the second-best tight end in fantasy (PPR), and in Week 15, Miller saw another six targets for 57 yards. Nothing earth-shattering, no, but he ended up playing 100% of the team's snaps on Sunday, which provides a great floor. Look for him to give you that baseline this week against the Buccaneers, making him a solid add.
Add Julian Edelman
It's not necessary to go into detail about Julian Edelman, because everyone knows what he's capable of when healthy -- in fewer than nine games this year, Edelman has four top-seven PPR performances at wide receiver, ranking outside the top-25 in weekly scoring just twice. Given that he's practiced over the last couple of weeks and could return as soon as this week, he's worth a speculative add off the waiver wire if a team ended up dropping him.
Add Alex Smith
Smith has sort of been a staple of this column over the second half of the season, mostly because the Chiefs' schedule has been awesome.
He won't give you an amazing ceiling, no, but the Chiefs' signal-caller has scored fewer than 12 fantasy points just once this season, coming in a Week 2 contest against Denver, the best secondary in the NFL. This week, the Chiefs face a Browns team that's allowed the fourth most points to the quarterback position. Though the Chiefs are heavy favorites in the game, which could make for a super run-heavy script for Kansas City, if Smith ends up scoring early, he should return a really nice, efficient day.
Add the Bills' Defense
The Bills are owned in more leagues than not, but it felt necessary to mention them before talking about a deeper defensive play this week.
Buffalo's hosting Dallas on Sunday as six-point favorites. Dallas will be starting Kellen Moore. Who? Exactly. Start the Bills.
Add the Lions' Defense
Non-10- or 12-team leagues may need a deeper play at defense, and it seems like the Lions are in the best spot among streamers. They'll be at home as huge favorites (8.5 points) against a middling quarterback in Blaine Gabbert who's running an offense that ranks fifth worst in the league according to our metrics. That's exactly what you need from a defensive streaming option.
Additional Add: Jonas Gray