Fantasy Football Booms and Busts: Week 16 Lineups

In the all-important Week 15 of the fantasy football season, some coaches were overjoyed as they advanced to the league championships, while others suffered crushing defeats and now need to restart and find out what went wrong, since the off season has started. The difference between these managers? He was realizing the importance of positive and negative confrontations. Some of these fights were easy to spot, like Jalen Hurts, JD McKissic and Corey Davis. All were considered capable starters for the week and were successful during the critical moment for the managers who pulled the trigger to start them. But then you have those tough-to-bank names that are left in lineups out of habit and were albatrosses in Week 15 (Russell Wilson, Miles Sanders, DK Metcalf), leaving managers out of the games for the title. This shows how difficult this fantasy game can be to manage at times. We all tend to look at the big names and never once debate about removing them from the lineups. When, in fact, the time to return to production and clashes must weigh heavily on the mind during this crucial moment.

This is what should be kept in mind for coaches who are still alive in the pursuit of the championship for Week 16. Throw away everything you know, sit back and analyze the clashes that go into this week’s games. The defenses in the last four to five games in terms of what they allow sometimes are not the same as in the spectrum of their numbers for the year so far. See teams like Seahawks and Falcons. Both were notoriously bad units during the early stages of the season. So bad that these numbers lead them to be seen as underperforming defenses for fantasy managers. Whereas in recent games, these numbers tell a totally different story, causing teams to avoid the prospect of confrontation. With everything at stake for managers in a league, using a broader scope to determine your starting lineup is critical. The boxes can and will be made to accommodate the typical stallion in favor of an inferior name. Using the “He took me here, it is better to stay with him” mentality can only lead to disappointment and leave the 2020 season empty-handed.

With all these pieces in motion, fantasy managers need to rely on matchup decisions more than ever. This is what we do here for you with the Woos and Boos for Week 16. Woo the players who are normally under the radar, but could shine with more matchups. While we Boo all the beginners of the week they can be configured to disappoint when they face difficult situations. With these games also falling over the Christmas holidays, I wanted to put a little Christmas spirit into that, too. Let’s take a look at the players that fit my “Naughty or Nice” list for these Week 16 clashes.

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Week 16 Woos (Nice)

Baker Mayfield @ New York Jets

Don’t look now, but Mayfield has been on fire for the past three games, with a QB1 result in each competition. With the playoffs looking like a possibility for the Browns, the attack is gaining ground. Mayfield in the season in the top 5 in the Total QBR (76.8), 10th in yards per attempt (7.6) and 11th in completed air yards (1,990). This trend is expected to continue to improve in Week 16 against a secondary Jets which is one of the worst in the Pass DVOA (25.0%) of the season. And in the last four games, they’ve given up 22.39 FPPGs to opposing QBs. Things are well aligned for Mayfield in this match and should be seen as a low-cost QB1 that you could get if you are in trouble.

Leonard Fournette @ Detroit Lions

Now that Ronald Jones has been ruled out again, things couldn’t be better for Fournette in a crucial game for fantasy managers. Seeing the entire workload at week 15, Fournette returned the managers with an RB1 finish with his two touchdown performance against a difficult Falcons race defense. In the season, wasting time with Jones, he has been somewhat disappointing as the numbers have been inconsistent. As of last week, he had only three points in the season and still has only 320 run yards and 187 receiving yards to his credit. He should improve those numbers a lot in Week 16 against a Lions Defense that gives up 137.3 per game on the ground and is one of the worst in the league in Run DVOA (1.1%). If you have held him for so long as a manager, congratulations, as he should easily be on his lineup during the week of the championship.

Michael Gallup vs Philadelphia Eagles

Call this my shot of the week, as Gallup can be a stealthy start to this clash against the Eagles. Although the targets and yards have been inconsistent throughout the season, he has found the final zone in two of his last three games. His efficiency in the season has been horrible, since he is the second in the league in disputed courses (542), but he occupies the 33rd place in targets (90) and the 40th in receptions (49). But why does it feel good in the confrontation? In the Week 8 game, he got seven receptions on 12 targets, so he was used. In addition, in the last four games, the Eagles’ secondary has been one of the worst in the league in points allowed for the position (45.80 FPPG). With Darius Slay locked in the clash against Amari Cooper, Gallup will see mostly single coverage and perhaps one or two targets in the red zone. It can be seen as a WR3 in Week 16 and can be played in its initial line-up on players with more difficult confrontations.

Tyler Higbee @ Seattle Seahawks

It’s the end of the season, so that means it must be Tyler Higbee’s production time, right? He found the final zone in two in his last three games and provided TE1 production during that period. And while Jared Goff has seen his own game up and down, it seems that he depends on Higbee in difficult situations. Facing Seahawks Defense in Week 16 will be difficult for outside recipients, but as for the tight end position, they have been one of the worst in the last four games, giving up on 17.08 FPPG. If you need a streamer this week, Higbee may be the guy to crash as a bootable option.

Week 16 Boos (Naughty)

Russell Wilson vs Los Angeles Rams

How the powerful have fallen may be the term used for Russell Wilson during the second half of the fantasy season. Since Week 10, he has had only two submissions in QB1, as managers have continued to keep him glued to the starting teams based on the talent around him. But now, with championships at stake, it may be time to make the tough decision to leave Wilson on the bench. Given your game in recent weeks, facing Rams Defense should be enough proof. But this defense has been one of the best in the league and in the last four games, it allowed only 11.08 FPPG to QB with a Pass DVOA of -10.0%. It is difficult to say, but there are many other options to start this week to start Wilson again, as he is expected to severely disappoint in this game.

Josh Jacobs vs. Miami Dolphins

After a very solid game in Week 15 (RB11), many managers will see Jacobs in an extremely positive way towards Week 16. He is ranked among the top players in the league in all major categories. He is third in transport (245), sixth in yards (906) and fifth in scoring (10 TD in total). But this week he faces a very difficult test in a robust Dolphins racing defense that has been the best in the league for the past four games (14.30 FPPG). Now, I am not advocating that Jacobs be eliminated this week, but with moderate expectations, he should be seen more as an RB2 in value as opposed to a basic RB1.

Brandin Cooks vs Cincinnati Bengals

After being a strong starting option for much of the 2020 season, Cooks has dropped tremendously since Will Fuller’s suspension. Receptions and distances have been consistent, but he has failed to finish above WR28 in the last five games. In a vacuum, if you look at the Defense of the Bengals, this confrontation looks like one to attack, as they are at the bottom of the well at permitted points with 35.7 FPPG. But in the last four games, that number dropped to 24.35 FPPG, ranking as the third best in the league. Along with the confrontation with William Jackson on the roof, Cooks is a receiver who should be seen as a difficult start in Week 16.

Evan Engram vs. Baltimore Ravens

With the quarterback carousel going on with the Giants, Engram made a disappearance scene at the worst time for fantasy managers. He has only had 10 receptions in the last three games and has not scored a TD since week 9. Although he still has a high rating on targets (95) and receptions (54), this can be further contributed to the lack of quality value in position as a whole. Now moving on to Week 16, he is facing yet another tough test against a Ravens Defense that is only allowing 11.00 FPPG for TE in the last four games. In addition, no TE found the endzone during that stretch marking Engram as a long shot to do the same. With other options available to stream during the week, Engram can be safely placed in the bank.

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