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2021 Fantasy Football: Week 16 Waiver Wire Rankings

I’m going to start by saying this Week 16 waiver wire column is going to have a lot of pickup suggestions. However, my discussions for each player are going to be a bit more brief than usual. Why? Well, for starters, it’s the semi-finals and you’re likely only battling three other managers for these players, if at all. Secondly, with the way Covid-19  and injuries continue to consume the NFL, I want to make sure I provide a larger quantity of insight as this week’s transactions in your league are likely to be very fluid.

With that said, my best advice to those still standing is to approach the waiver wire with an open mind. Tread lightly, but remain diligent as the holiday weekend progresses. Not only should you be considering players to add to your bench, but also think about picking up players to prevent your opponent from adding. It goes without saying that no move you make should compromise your chance at winning this week’s semi-final matchup.

Below, we’ll look at players at each position to target, who are on 50% or less of most fantasy football rosters, that could be considered on the Week 16 waiver wire.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Colin_McT for up-to-the-minute advice, news updates, and to connect with any questions you may have!

More fantasy football fun for Week 16: Waiver Wire | FAAB Guide | Start & Sit | Loves & Hates | Stock Watch | Sleepers & Streamers | D/ST Streamers

Week 16 Waiver Wire Rankings

Running Back

Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Leonard Fournette is likely done for the remainder of the regular season. While he isn’t on the Injured Reserve yet, it wouldn’t shock me to see the move in the coming days. Regardless, his hamstring injury should keep him out the next two weeks, at least. That opens the door for Ronald Jones to start in Tampa Bay, but also in fantasy football.

In four games last season without Leonard Fournette, or a limited Fournette, Ronald Jones finished no worse than RB14. In fact, he finished as RB4 in both Weeks 6 and 10. He averaged just over 20 carries per game in those four games. The volume will be undeniable, especially without Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in the passing game, as well.

RoJo figures to be a volume-based RB2, and that’s being conservative. If Brady can keep this offense afloat without his usual weapons, Jones should have a good shot at the end zone. He’s the top overall add on the Week 16 waiver wire. If you make it through to the fantasy football finals, he’s a must-start in Week 17 at the New York Jets.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

This article is going to get published with a bit of uncertainty surrounding Chargers running back, Austin Ekeler. Earlier this week, it was reported Ekeler was on the Covid-19/Reserve List. However, the report has since changed leaving many confused. Regardless, Ekeler is still entering Week 16 with an ankle injury that limited him to just 34% of team snaps last Thursday night against Kansas City; his lowest snap count of the season.

Meanwhile, Justin Jackson saw the most playing time he’s had this season playing 54% of the snaps. While out there, Jackson recorded a season-high 13 carries for 86 yards. While Ekeler did get the short-yardage touchdown, Jackson ran effectively and could continue to see playing time.

The Chargers have a fantastic Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans. The Texans defense allows the most rushing yards and third-most rushing touchdowns to running backs this season. Justin Jackson should be a high priority on this week’s waiver wire. If Ekeler continues to manage the ankle injury, or does end up on the Covid-19/Reserve list, Jackson has top-10 potential this week at the position.

Craig Reynolds, Detroit Lions

I bet you didn’t expect to target Craig Reynolds on the waiver wire this week, and especially not this year, for that matter. You might not even have known who he is. That’s because, for the majority of this season, D’Andre Swift has been a fantasy stud with Jamaal Williams mixing in a few big games of his own.

However, with Swift out due to injury, and Williams coming off of the Covid-19/Reserve List, Reynolds is the workhorse back in Detroit until further notice. In the last two weeks, Reynolds has recorded 11/83/0 and 26/112/0 rushing lines. Sure, he hasn’t found the end zone, but he’s been Detroit’s bell cow back and a major factor in their win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Up next, Reynolds and the Lions head to Atlanta to face off against the Falcons. Their defense is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Jamaal Williams is set to return from the Covid-19/Reserve list, but Reynolds will continue to have a role. In fact, the Lions added him to their active roster for the remainder of the season. Fantasy football managers should add him off of the waiver wire to their rosters for the rest of the season, as well.

Samaje Perine, Cincinnati Bengals

Another beneficiary of an injury is Samaje Perine. I’ve been pounding the table for weeks for fantasy football managers to add top running back handcuffs off of the waiver wire. Perine is still, now more than ever, a top waiver wire target.

At the end of the Bengals Week 15 win over the Denver Broncos, Joe Mixon remained on the sideline with a reported sprained ankle. Now, with the playoffs in sight, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Mixon to share his workload or quite possibly sit.

Perine is averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season. He isn’t a player we’ve seen with a full workload this season,  but he has at least one target in each game this season. Whether Mixon plays or not, I expect Perine to mix in more as a pass-catcher at the very least. He should be added off of the waiver wire as a deeper league flex play with RB2 upside if Mixon does in fact sit. The Bengals host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in a crucial AFC North matchup.

Ameer Abdullah, Carolina Panthers

Abdullah is going to command the pass-catching running back role in Carolina for the remainder of the season. In the last two games, he’s rushed exactly four times and been targeted four times in each contest. With a home date against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Abdullah should see more targets especially if the Panthers fall behind early. Chuba Hubbard is still going to lead the two in carries, but Abdullah should have the higher ceiling in PPR leagues.

Other Running Backs to Consider

Duke Johnson, Jr. is one of those running backs many fans have been waiting for to get the right opportunity. He was buried behind better backs in Cleveland, then never really made it work with the Houston Texans. However, with Covid-19 ripping through the Miami Dolphins running back depth, Johnson is emerging. In his Week 15 start against the Jets, Johnson rushed 22 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Sure, it was the Jets, but the volume is worth chasing if you’re desperate.

Mike Davis is one of 2021’s top fantasy football busts. He isn’t having a horrible season. However, where he was drafted compared to his production is a major letdown. In the last few weeks, however, Davis has gotten mixed in more often to the Atlanta Falcons’ offense. It isn’t pretty, but Davis can establish a nice floor against Detroit in Week 16 with rushing and pass-catching if needed in deeper leagues and desperate situations.

Your Fantasy Team’s Starting Running Back’s Handcuff is probably not even on the waiver wire at this point. However, if he is, then this is a no brainer. There are probably better options now elsewhere with Covid-19 and injuries opening up opportunities. However, if you want your own back’s depth for a title run, then go get him.

Wide Receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions

This is a no brainer. St. Brown is one of the more exciting stories of the latter part of this year’s fantasy football season. For one thing, he has seen a target share north of 30% in the last month alone. In the fantasy football playoffs, where studs have been duds and others simply ruled out, this sort of volume is crucial to have in your lineup.

In the last three weeks, Amon-Ra is averaging 21.2 fantasy points per game. He is on a three-game streak with at least 11 targets, having recorded 12 in two of those games. It may be hard to wrap your head around relying on a Detroit Lion this late in the season. Set those preconceived biases aside. The rookie has a mouth-watering matchup against an Atlanta Falcons secondary in Week 16. All things considered, he is the top wide receiver add on this week’s waiver wire.

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills

Gabriel Davis is going to be one of the hottest adds off of the Week 16 waiver wire. I’m not the least bit surprised as I had him going off as my weekly bold prediction amongst Fantrax staff writers for Week 15. He did that and more with a 25.5 point total thanks to not one, but two, touchdowns on Sunday.

I made mention of Davis’ expanded role last season during wide receiver, John Brown’s, extended absence due to injury. Now, with Emmanuel Sanders sidelined, I expected Davis to slide back in to a larger than normal role, again. With 90% of snaps played, it was easily Davis’ busiest game of the season. It also follows a Week 14 game where he played 83% of snaps once Sanders went down with a knee injury.

I don’t expect Sanders back any time soon. The Bills are a likely playoff team and will want the veteran as healthy as possible for a Super Bowl title run. In a revenge game against the New England Patriots, Davis should have a good opportunity to produce with Stefon Diggs expected to see a lot of stud cornerback, J.C. Jackson. If you want to prioritize Davis on the waiver wire over Amon-Ra St. Brown, I have no objections. The Bills are a better offense.

Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tyler Johnson is one of my favorite wide receivers of the 2020 NFL Draft class. Unfortunately, he ended up in Tampa Bay on a roster behind Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown. Furthermore, even if on the field, the Bucs’ success running the ball, and even the strong production from tight ends, mainly Rob Gronkowski, makes Johnson’s opportunity to stand out extremely difficult.

Well, almost every player I mentioned above is now expected to miss time with injury. That opens the door wide open for Tyler Johnson to command a large portion of the vacant targets left behind. Already, Johnson saw a season-high seven targets against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night.

With Tom Brady looking to bounce back after his first shut-out loss in the last 16 years, don’t be surprised if he tries to pile it on the Carolina Panthers. It’s not the easiest matchup for wide receivers, but when your quarterback is the greatest of all time, it makes trusting a guy like Johnson a bit easier.

Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

If Russell Gage is still on your league’s waiver wire, go get him. He is the top wide receiver in the Falcons’ offense and it isn’t close. In the last five weeks, Gage has seen 44 targets. He’s caught two touchdowns and even had an 11 catch, 130-yard game, as well.

The Falcons and Lions game currently has an Over/Under of 42.5. Not only do I think this game has shoot-out potential, but I expect Gage to feast in Week 16. Prior to last week’s heroic home win effort against the Cardinals, who only scored 12 points, the Lions have allowed about 27 points per game this season.

This certainly isn’t a matchup to shy away from. With the Falcons season slowing slipping away, I don’t expect any sort of conservative approach. Continue to look for Gage downfield making plays and possibly in the end zone this Sunday. Though on a team trending downward, Gage’s fantasy football stock has never been higher.

Other Wide Receivers to Consider

Marquez Callaway is the top wide receiver in the present-day New Orleans Saints offense. That’s not saying much considering how average quarterback Taysom Hill has been passing the ball. Still, of the 25 team targets Sunday, Callaway saw nine of them, good for a 36% target share. He also caught six of 13 completed passes thrown by Hill. In Week 16, the Saints get the Miami Dolphins who allow the second-most targets, fifth-most yards, and fifth-most touchdowns to wide receivers.

Jamison Crowder continues to be a set and pray fantasy option in PPR leagues. With 20 targets in the last three games, the volume is there for Crowder to succeed. However, Zach Wilson is an extremely hot and cold rookie quarterback. It’s hard to trust Crowder to not only get the ball in his hands, but, more importantly, while in the end zone. With possibly very limited options, I understand chasing his PPR value. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a top matchup for opposing wide receivers in 2021.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine figures to be the top wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans in Week 16. The Titans play Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers. With Julio Jones continuing to struggle with a hamstring injury, and AJ Brown uncertain to return in time for this week, Westbrook-Ikhine becomes a deeper league option on the waiver wire. It’s worth noting this offense has a run-heavy approach and utilizes their backs in the passing game.

Breshad Perriman, like Tyler Johnson, offers a ton of upside in the absence of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. He notable scored a game-winning touchdown in overtime two weeks ago against the Bills. Perriman figures to be the deep threat option for Brady. He should be good for a few chunk plays, but banking on them is a gamble.

Tight End

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

The tight end waiver wire options are quite scarce. If you’ve made it this far into the fantasy football season, then odds are you have a tight end you can trust. If not, Cole Kmet is really the only option I would consider picking up for Week 16. In Week 15, Kmet led the team in targets with nine.

Unfortunately, Matt Nagy is still the head coach in Chicago which means the offense will remain inefficient from drive to drive. Kmet isn’t a good bet to find the end zone, but the volume is worth plugging into your semi-final lineup if needed.

Evan Engram, New York Giants

Engram is a waiver wire consideration solely based on his Week 16 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only is Philly going to host the Giants on barely five days rest, but they allow the most fantasy points to tight ends this season. The Giants will likely have Jake Fromm under center in this one.

With little to no data to draw from with Fromm, I’ll defer to the idea that backup quarterbacks tend to use tight ends as a safety valve to move the ball. Given that the Giants’ receiving options can barely stay healthy, Engram has a chance to lead the team in targets this week. Again, if you are truly desperate for a tight end, or even a flex, Engram’s matchup is worth investing in with a possibility at a high volume of targets.


Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Fields and the Bears head to Seattle in Week 16 with no playoff implications based on the result. It’s a middle-of-the-pack matchup for Fields, as far as Seattle’s season-long history against opposing quarterbacks. For Fields, his fantasy value rests on his ability as a runner.

In the last two games, Fields is averaging eight carries and has totaled 109 rushing yards. He’s also attempted an average of 36 passes and recorded as least 224 yards in both contests. Fields has established a safe floor fantasy football managers can count on this late in the season. If he can get things going with his legs, Fields has top-10 potential any given Sunday.

Tyler Huntley, Baltimore Ravens

Speaking of using your legs, Tyler Huntley put on a show in Week 15. For all of the fantasy football managers looking to replace Lamar Jackson, who was out with an ankle injury, it was Huntley, his own backup, who had the best day of available quarterbacks.

If Lamar sits again, Huntley will get the start in a pivotal AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals. I would prefer Huntley to Fields, believe it or not, with more a more reliable coaching staff calling the plays in Baltimore. It helps to have an offensive weapon as reliable as Mark Andrews, as well.

I would not advise picking up Huntley on the waiver wire unless Lamar Jackson’s status is known before submitting claims. However, if Jackson is ruled out, fantasy football managers should run to the free agency pool to pick him up. Even if you don’t need him, this is a player you don’t want your opponent starting against you.

Week 16 Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | Kicker | D/ST | PPR | Flex

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