It all comes down to this. After 15 weeks, your fantasy football season will be determined in this final week (please do not play into Week 17).
If you thought the injuries were bad in Week 15, how about I raise you Chris Godwin and Dalvin Cook? It seems as if every year there are fantasy championships won on the back of random waiver wire adds and that may very well be the case this year. Because of injuries to Cook and Godwin, we’ve got some work to do. As always, let’s start with the quarterback streams.
Gardner Minshew at ATL
Jacoby Brissett vs. CAR
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. CIN
Dwayne Haskins vs. NYG
While it seems as if Gardner Minshew put up a pedestrian line in Week 15, he did finish as a top-12 quarterback for fantasy football purposes. Minshew completed 17 for 29 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns, adding 27 rushing yards. I believe he’ll have to keep passing as well considering they haven’t been able to run the ball effectively. Leonard Fournette has more than 50 rushing yards just once in his past six games. Heading into Week 16, Minshew and the Jags take on the Falcons, a defense that has played better recently but is still allowing the third-most fantasy points to the quarterback position.
Considering the Jaguars are touchdown underdogs and we could see some points traded back and forth within the dome, Minshew is a viable stream. Jacoby Brissett is getting his top wide receiver back in TY Hilton and is facing off against a defense that has struggled in the Carolina Panthers. They’ve allowed at least 286 passing yards and two passing touchdowns in three of their past four games. If your normal starting quarterback has a tough matchup or you’ve been streaming all season, take a look at Brissett.
Since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for the Dolphins in Week 7, he’s the QB5 overall. During that span, he’s averaging 37.7 pass attempts and hasn’t had fewer than 33 in any of those games. The Dolphins' defense has struggled and they don’t have a great running game. The Bengals' secondary has played better recently but they’re still a sub-par defense playing on the road in Week 16. They’ve also allowed five rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks (tied for most in the NFL) and Fitzpatrick has been known to make plays with his legs. If you’ve been holding Dwayne Haskins in a superflex league, Week 16 is your time to get him in there. He completed 19 for 28 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, including 26 rushing yards. Haskins will face the Giants in Week 16, a defense that has allowed eight passing touchdowns over their past three games.
Mike Boone vs. GB
Kerryon Johnson at DEN
Boston Scott vs. DAL
Myles Gaskin vs. CIN
As mentioned earlier, Dalvin Cook left in Week 15 after injuring his shoulder. Alexander Mattison was also inactive this past week as he dealt with an ankle injury. Enter Mike Boone, undrafted free agent out of the University of Cincinnati. Boone played well against the Chargers, rushing 13 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns. Regarding Cook's and Mattison's status, you have to grab Boone as an insurance policy. If those guys can’t go, Boone would be an RB2 against the Packers, who are allowing 4.89 yards per carry to running backs and the sixth most fantasy points to the position.
Speaking of RB2s, there’s a real chance Kerryon Johnson can return in Week 16. He’s been on injured reserve since Week 8, but has been practicing with the team over the past two weeks. While Johnson was healthy and active, he averaged 56 percent of the snaps for the Lions, the most of any of their running backs this season. At his best, Kerryon is a three-down workhorse who can catch and be used in the red zone. If he does manage to get back on the field this week against the Denver Broncos, it would be as more of a flex option.
As long as the Eagles are this starved for pass-catchers, Boston Scott will have value in PPR leagues. In Week 15, Scott played on 45 percent of the snaps, totaling 65 yards with seven receptions. Carson Wentz seemed to be focusing mostly on his tight ends and running backs as pass catchers against the Redskins. The Eagles host the Cowboys in Week 16, a defense allowing the seventh-most receptions to running backs this season. Scott will be in play as a low-end flex in PPR leagues. Myles Gaskin is an interesting option as he saw his snaps increase to 48 percent against the Giants, a season high for the rookie. He totaled 72 yards on just 11 touches, including two receptions. If Gaskin is working himself into a 50/50 split with Patrick Laird, he’ll be in play as a flex against the Bengals in Week 16.
Breshad Perriman vs. HOU
Chris Conley at ATL
Greg Ward vs. DAL
Danny Amendola at DEN
This season will be known as the year Breshad Perriman helped some folks win their fantasy football championships.
Mike Evans has already been shut down for the season and there’s a strong chance Chris Godwin does not play in Week 16 because of a hamstring injury. Enter Perriman who had five receptions, 113 yards, and three touchdowns against Detroit. He finished as the WR1 overall in Week 15. The Bucs cannot run the ball effectively so pass volume will always be there. Perriman is also a deep threat, which connects well with Jameis Winston’s skill set. The Bucs face the Texans in Week 16, a team that has been inconsistent against wide receivers and just allowed A.J. Brown to go off for eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Perriman will be a WR3 in that matchup. Speaking of injuries, it remains to be seen whether or not DJ Chark will return in Week 16 but if he can’t, Chris Conley is a prime add. Conley flashed his upside against the Raiders this past week, going for 49 yards and two touchdowns. Conley led the team with eight targets and 28 percent of their target share. If Chark is out again this week against the Falcons, Conley is also a WR3.
If you’re looking a little bit deeper, Greg Ward of the Eagles and Danny Amendola of the Lions have stepped into expanded roles. Ward finished second on the Eagles with nine targets in Week 15, snagging seven receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown while playing 75 percent of the snaps. The Eagles face the Cowboys in an important divisional matchup and the Cowboys have struggled against slot receivers recently. Ward is a sneaky start in that spot. In the Lions first game without Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola had eight receptions for 102 yards on 13 targets. Despite throwing that long touchdown on Thanksgiving, David Blough prefers those short-to-intermediate routes, and that’s exactly where Amendola thrives. The Lions defense has struggled, which will continue to lead to pass attempts for Blough, which will lead to targets for Amendola. He’ll be a viable flex in PPR leagues in Week 16 against the Denver Broncos.
Jonnu Smith vs. NO
OJ Howard vs. HOU
First and foremost, check to make sure Jacob Hollister is not available since he’s facing the Arizona Cardinals. They have allowed the most fantasy points and touchdowns to tight ends this season, by far. If Hollister is gone, take a look at Jonnu Smith who caught all five of his targets for 60 yards in Week 15, adding a 57-yard rush. Smith faces the Saints in Week 16, a defense that has allowed tight ends to score in three of their past six games. I know OJ Howard has hurt fantasy owners all season but, again, they’re missing a lot of pass catchers. Howard played 88 percent of the Bucs snaps this past week and led the team with eight targets. The Bucs take on the Texans in Week 16, a defense that just allowed a solid game to Jonnu Smith and two touchdowns to Broncos tight ends in Week 14.
If you’re looking for streaming defenses, the top adds for Week 16 will be the Colts (vs CAR), the Redskins (vs NYG), and the Broncos (vs. DET).
This column was provided to The Associated Press by SportsGrid Inc., www.sportsgrid.com