The last dance! For many of you, it is officially championship week and it is time to help you set lineups one final time. Welcome to the Week 16 edition of loves & hates at every skill position! As usual, we will review last week’s picks and the take-home messages from watching them on the field. Then, we’ll give you our picks for the upcoming week of action for the last time this year. It’s been incredibly fun making these picks and in some cases, helping you set your lineups. This will be the last article of the love/hate series for the year. A review of my picks will be available on my Twitter (@AhaanRungta) after Week 16 action.
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Week 15 Review
My Week 15 loves and hates can be viewed here. Here are self-evaluations of those picks, with grades for myself in parentheses.
My quarterback love, Kyler Murray, has not been the most healthy man in the world over the last few weeks but against the Philadelphia Eagles, we liked the matchup and I told you to make sure you start the mobile quarterback in hopes of some red zone rushes. Indeed, Murray took part in a shootout with Jalen Hurts, who ended up being the QB1 of Week 15. Murray finished with 406 passing yards, 29 rushing yards, and 4 total touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing). Despite throwing 1 interception, Murray was the QB4 of Week 15.
Our hate pick, Baker Mayfield, came into the matchup as one of the hottest quarterbacks in fantasy football. We warned you about the possibility that the Browns just run the ball down the throats of the Giants; however, Mayfield still produced in fairly efficient fashion. His 84.4% completion rate was his season-high and he tallied 308 yards, threw 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Mayfield has now only thrown one interception since Week 8. He finished as the QB13 of Week 15.
Running Back (B-)
At running back, we picked a pair of rookies and identified which one to start and which one to sit. With Gardner Minshew at quarterback, we pointed out the upside in usage and production for James Robinson. However, against the Baltimore Ravens, the Jaguars got blown out and the rookie runner Robinson was almost irrelevant. He carried the ball 16 times for only 35 yards for a season-low 2.2 yards per carry. He added 3 catches for 18 yards and even though he salvaged his day a bit with a receiving touchdown, he was outside of the top 20 PPR running backs in Week 15.
Our running back hate pick, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, was forced out of the close contest due to a high-ankle sprain and a strained hip late in the fourth quarter. However, he was also fantasy-irrelevant before his departure. He was efficient on his 14 rushes that cashed in 79 yards, but he did not score a touchdown and was outperformed by Le’Veon Bell. Here is how the primary Chiefs backfield duo fared in Week 15 against the New Orleans Saints, who notably lost Cam Jordan due to an ejection early on in the game.
|14 carries, 79 yards
|1 catch (2 targets), 4 yards
|15 carries, 62 yards, 1 TD
|1 catch (1 target), 14 yards
* personal season-highs in bold
Both Edwards-Helaire and Bell finished outside of the top 20 PPR running backs in Week 15. Bell will likely be the Kansas City starter in Week 16 against the high-upside matchup of the Atlanta Falcons.
Wide Receiver (B)
Our love pick, A.J. Brown, was hoping to take advantage of a Detroit Lions secondary that have given up offense and explosive pass plays at an alarming rate. Indeed, Ryan Tannehill was the QB2 of Week 15 but A.J. Brown wasn’t even the biggest fantasy customer of the day for Tennessee. Instead, Derrick Henry ran wild and Corey Davis benefited off the big play to lead the team in receiving yards. Brown was still worth the start with his usual-volume 5 receptions on 6 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown, but he did not exceed expectations as we would have hoped. In fact, Antonio Brown and Marquise Brown outperformed the Ole Miss product in PPR scoring in Week 15.
Our hate pick, Brandin Cooks, is someone we’ve been warning you about since the suspension of Will Fuller V. In a rematch against the Indianapolis Colts, with Duke Johnson out due to injury, the leading receiver for Houston was not Cooks. It wasn’t Keke Coutee, who did score a touchdown. It wasn’t Chad Hansen, who also snagged a 38-yard touchdown. It was running back David Johnson, who rushed 8 times for only 27 yards but caught 11 passes on 11 targets for 106 yards. Cooks finished the day with 6 receptions on 7 targets for 59 yards and no touchdowns. He continues to be a risky play for the remainder of your fantasy season.
Tight End (B)
In a Sunday Night Football matchup against the well-respected Cleveland Browns, Evan Engram had the benefit of what could have been a soft matchup. We pointed out that despite the quarterback situation in New York, Engram should draw some targets from Colt McCoy. Indeed, he was targeted 7 times but only caught 4 passes for 46 yards and the Giants did not find the end zone. The only pass-catcher on the Giants to outperform Engram was Darius Slatyon, who caught 4 of 9 targets for 74 yards. Regardless, Engram could not take advantage of his usual volume and was not a fantasy-relevant tight end. He was named to the Pro Bowl and he probably dropped whatever he was doing to celebrate the news. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Our hate pick at tight end was the intriguing committee in Chicago of Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet. While the 21-year-old and the 34-year-old have been splitting volume, it was best to leave out that situation entirely out of your starting lineup. Indeed, neither produced any sort of fantasy performance that was worth noticing. Graham and Kmet each made 2 receptions on 3 and 2 targets, respectively. They combined and 37 receiving yards. Both Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney outdid that total by themselves and the only touchdowns for the Bears came via a Mooney reception and 2 David Montgomery runs. Neither tight end should be your go-to option at tight end for the remainder of the season.
Week 16 Loves & Hates
For the final time this season, I will be giving you my loves and hates at each skill position. There will be no follow-up article to grade these picks. Instead, I will be tweeting (@AhaanRungta) after the week is over with a full overview of how I did in Week 16 and the year as a whole on my love/hate segment, so follow me there for a recap.
Week 16 Quarterbacks
Love: Tom Brady (TB)
Targeting the Lions defense has been one of my favorite obsessions of the season. The biggest beneficiary from the Bucs skill players? Who knows? Mike Evans always has the big play potential, Antonio Brown has gotten considerable volume in his time in Tampa Bay, and Rob Gronkowski and Chris Godwin have also had their moments. But with Ronald Jones out for the Buccaneers, expect Tom Brady to not be afraid to air it out instead of spamming an inefficient backfield. While Brady has had his struggles against good defenses, this is not one of them and he hasn’t thrown an interception since his Week 13 bye. Additionally, with Matthew Stafford still toughing it out at quarterback, the Lions are certainly capable of keeping the game close enough for Brady to continue passing the ball. Tom Brady can win you your league with his upside of a 4-touchdown day.
Hate: Teddy Bridgewater (CAR)
This isn’t the first time I have given Chase Young and his crew some respect for being one of the best teams at chasing the quarterback. (My puns are elite, I know.) While Teddy Bridgewater has had a decent fantasy season, he hasn’t been explosive since his Week 11 injury and he hasn’t thrown a touchdown since his Week 13 bye. One of the weakest quarterbacks under pressure in 2020 by QB rating, Bridgewater also still won’t have the benefit of Christian McCaffrey to utilize against The Football Team. Sit Teddy or forever regret it.
Week 16 Running Backs
Love: David Johnson (HOU)
As I mentioned in my Week 15 preview above, in the absence of Will Fuller V and now Duke Johnson, David Johnson was the most productive volume pass-catcher for the Houston Texans. He was a PPR stud without finding the end zone. With Duke Johnson still out of the practice scene and Keke Coutee dealing with a foot issue that kept him limited in practice, David Johnson should immediately see similar value as not just a runner but a complete football player, something not unfamiliar to the best PFF receiver of 2016. Fire him up in all formats.
Congrats to David Johnson for being named PFF's best receiver of 2016.
— PFF (@PFF) January 25, 2017
Hate: James Conner (PIT)
While he practiced fully on Wednesday and the plummeting Pittsburgh Steelers will hope to have his services in a Week 16 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t quick to make promises about the usage split of his backfield. In such an uncertain situation, it is best to stay away from James Conner and not get too excited about his possible return. Conner last broke 100 scrimmage yards in Week 6 and last found the end zone in Week 8. It is unclear where the touchdown potential lies for the Steelers in what deems to be a close game.
Given a chance to say Conner is the bellcow, Tomlin says: "You've got to admit Benny was an awesome element of play for us in the last game when we didn't have a lot of awesome elements of play. … he'll have an opp to be impactful in this one regardless of James' availability."
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) December 22, 2020
Week 16 Wide Receivers
Love: Amari Cooper (DAL)
The script is unideal for the talented wide receiver Amari Cooper. He was shut down by Philadelphia earlier this season (1 reception for 5 yards on 5 targets) and in Week 16, he was out-targeted by Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, Noah Brown, and Michael Gallup. But who cares? With an Eagles team that should be better on offense, the Cowboys will likely play from behind and look to score faster. Without utilizing their best talent, that’ll likely be impossible. Expect Cooper to get a normal workload and be sure to start him in all lineups.
Hate: A.J. Brown (TEN)
Just a week after drooling over the talent and upside of A.J. Brown, I’m bringing him back down to Earth against the tough matchup of the Green Bay Packers. While the second-year receiver has been a monster in the Tennessee offense, one of his few knocks has been his inconsistency against great defenses. While he’s lit up the Bears and the Steelers, his small set of below-average games has come against some cornerbacks that were playing well at the time.
Small selection of weak games from A.J. Brown (#Titans) in 2020:
🔵 DEN: 5 catches (8 targets), 39 yards
🔵 IND: 1 catch (4 targets), 21 yards
🔵 CIN: 4 catches (7 targets), 24 yards, 1 TD
— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) December 24, 2020
In Week 16, he will have to put up with the second-best PFF cornerback of 2020 so far, Jaire Alexander of the Green Bay Packers. While Brown poses touchdown potential every time he sees the ball in his direction, his floor is also low, especially with the MVP-caliber season of Derrick Henry and the rise of Corey Davis.
Week 16 Tight Ends
Love: Logan Thomas (WSH)
In Week 15, with Dwayne Haskins filling in at quarterback, Logan Thomas put up a career day as a pass-catcher with 13 receptions on 16 targets for 101 yards. However, Thomas has displayed this year that the spike in performance is not just a once-in-a-lifetime fluke. He’s immune to his quarterback situation and has scored over 10 PPR points in his last four games and in 7 of his last 9 games. Against the Carolina Panthers, one of the worst fantasy tight end defenses in the NFL this year, Thomas’ ceiling is as high as top 3 at his position.
Hate: Austin Hooper (CLE)
A quick look at the surface-level potential of this matchup is attractive but deceiving. Facing the New York Jets, one of the worst defenses in the league, Austin Hooper is coming off a solid fantasy outing in Week 15 where he caught 5 of his 6 targets for 41 yards and scored a touchdown. However, don’t chase points here; instead, acknowledge the game narrative. The Browns, now looking for an AFC North title, should have no problem running all over the Jets. For a team that takes pride in their backfield, passing the ball around shouldn’t be a top priority against the 1-13 Jets. Hooper, who has only been targeted 17 total times in his last 5 games, poses an ultra-low floor for Week 16.
It’s been a pleasure and a fun ride making these picks and occasionally being spot-on. Now go study up one final time before you take on Week 16 and win your league!
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