Ahead of the 2022 fantasy football semi-finals, I’m highlighting players that most fantasy managers are debating starting in Week 16. With just a few teams left in contention, and the free agency pool bare, it’s likely obvious which players on rosters are worthy to start. However, for the fringe player, I’m making the case below as to why I love or hate plugging them into lineups which a trip to the championship on the line.
Players I Love and Hate in Week 16 of the 2022 Season
Love: Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Daniel Jones’ Giants are the only NFC East team without a wide receiver named to the 2022 Pro Bowl. Still, Jones gets a fantastic matchup against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16 that even his receivers should have a field day with.
The Vikings defense is allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game this season to quarterbacks. In their last eight games, the opposing quarterback has eclipsed 300 passing yards in six of them. So, it’s no shock that Minnesota is allowing the second-most passing yards this season, as well.
The Vikings are also just outside the top-1o in rushing yards allowed to quarterbacks. Jones is averaging 7.5 rushing attempts per game so he will likely pad his fantasy score with some points on the ground. I love Jones as a sneaky streamer, especially in one of the crucial indoor matchups on a cold December weekend around the country.
Some Extra Love:
Tom Brady is set up for success in Week 16 with a matchup fantasy managers should love. He and the Buccaneers are heading to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. Their defense is allowing the eighth-most points to quarterbacks this season. Now, consider the high probability of that same defense spending a ton of time on the field this weekend if third-string quarterback, Trace McSorley, struggles to get their offense going. Tom and Tampa are also passing at the highest rate this season (44.6 attempts/game) and specifically in their last three games (51.0 att./game). With the Buccaneers still in the hunt for the NFC South title, I love Brady to shine in the fantasy football semi-finals.
Hate: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are one of nine NFL teams averaging less than 30 pass attempts per game in their last three. In Week 16, they’re playing in Pittsburgh against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. The temperature at kickoff is just barely going to reach double-digits, if at all. In a frigid road matchup, I hate Carr to finish as a QB1 for the fantasy football semi-finals.
Though the Steelers held the Carolina Panthers to just 21 total rushing yards in Week 15, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, of the Baltimore Ravens, totaled 186 yards alone the week prior. The week before that, Cordarelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier, of the Atlanta Falcons, rushed for 112 yards of their own. I fully expect the Raiders to lean on Josh Jacobs on Saturday night with a good chance he surpasses 100 yards single-handedly. If you’re looking for a quarterback to plug in for Week 16, I hate Carr as an option given all of the above circumstances.
Love: Deon Jackson, Indianapolis Colts
Without Jonathan Taylor available in Week 16, it’s up to Deon Jackson and Zack Moss to carry the load out of the Indy backfield. I love Jackson more given his receiving upside against the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend.
Last week, in a game in which the Colts were up 33-0 at one point, Zack Moss carried the ball 24 times for 81 yards, both career-highs. However, Jackson scored more fantasy points logging 13 carries of his own but adding a one-yard receiving touchdown.
The Chargers are allowing the fourth-most points to running backs this season. That includes the second-most rushing yards this season. Zack Moss could see the majority of the rushing attempts on Monday night, but if the Chargers start to pull away, it will be Jackson who is on the field more as a receiving option out of the backfield. As a result, he should score more fantasy points than Moss. If you’re going to start one in the fantasy semi-finals, I love Deon Jackson.
Some Extra Love:
Jerrick McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco are players I love for Week 16, with McKinnon getting the obvious edge after back-to-back RB1 finishes. After a road matchup against the Houston Texans, the most favorable to opposing running backs, Kansas City now hosts the Seattle Seahawks are allow the second-most points to the position. It’s likely another tough game for the Chiefs which likely means McKinnon continues to see most of the work, especially in the passing game. However, given the lower temperatures, I still think Pacheco’s hard running style could warrant a low-end double-digit finish, especially with a good chance to get into the end zone.
Hate: Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders
It’s clear at this point that Brian Robinson Jr. is the lead ball carrier for the Commanders. He has more carries than Antonio Gibson in every game since Week 12. Gibson is on the field more as a pass catcher and pass blocker. As the Commanders head out west against the San Francisco 49ers, I hate Gibson’s outlook for the fantasy football semi-finals.
The 49ers defense is arguably the best unit in the league. They are one of four defenses that have not allowed a receiving touchdown to running backs this season. That doesn’t bode well for Gibson given his receiving role. The 49ers are allowing just 91 total yards to running backs per game. With shared work between Robinson and Gibson, there just isn’t a large enough piece of the pie for Gibson to succeed in Week 16. I’m completely fading him.
Love: Marquise Goodwin, Seattle Seahawks
Marquise Goodwin is a flex play in Week 16 that I love because he has major upside. With Tyler Lockett unavailable for the Seattle Seahawks due to a broken finger, Goodwin is the best bet to see an increase in playing time and targets. Lockett and Metcalf are the only Seattle wide receivers to play more than 80% of the team’s offensive snaps this season. Goodwin is the next closest with 43.5% snaps played followed by Dee Eskridge at 19.2% played.
That said, Goodwin, especially with his speed, is most likely to fill Lockett’s role for the time being. With Ken Walker III less than 100%, I think the Seahawks will continue to lean on their passing attack. They’re passing at the fifth-highest rate in their last three games.
I also love Goodwin’s matchup as he takes on a larger role in Week 16. The Kansas City Chiefs have allowed the most touchdowns to wide receivers (19) this season. The Chiefs, who are averaging the most points per game this season, are hosting Goodwin and the Seahawks on Saturday. That furthers the idea that Seattle will be throwing to keep up with the Chiefs. Goodwin is a good bet to get into the end zone. He has the ability to do so on one big play.
Some Extra Love:
Joshua Palmer is lower in the pecking order for Los Angeles Chargers targets with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams back in action. Still, the Chargers throw the ball at the second-highest rate in the league and Palmer has 11 targets in two weeks since Allen and Williams have both been back from injury. On Monday Night Football, the Chargers are heading to Indianapolis against a Colts team that just allowed the largest comeback in NFL history. In said comeback, three different receivers, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn, all found the end zone. Palmer’s ceiling is lower than it once was this season, but I love his floor for those in need of a safe flex option who plays indoors this weekend.
Hate: Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
Aiyuk caught just two passes for 19 yards in Week 15 posting a season-low 3.9 fantasy points. He is now a player I hate for Week 16 after making my Love List just one week prior. I’m not holding a grudge (Okay, maybe a little), but his matchup is absolutely brutal.
Not only are the Washington Commanders the third-toughest matchup for opposing wide receivers, but stud defensive end, Chase Young, is back and active for Week 16. This game is going to be a big test for 49ers quarterback, Brock Purdy. I still think Aiyuk remains a key piece in this offense, but he is going to be hard to trust as anymore than a WR3 given the matchup. This feels like it could be a low-scoring affair with two tough defenses playing lights out.
Love: Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cade Otton is the next tight end up to face the Arizona Cardinals defense, who are allowing the most receptions, yards and touchdowns to tight ends this season. Last week, I claimed Denver Bronco, Greg Dulcich, was going to have a big day against them, but his teammate, Eric Tomlinson, came out of nowhere and caught three passes for 28 yards and a score.
In Week 16, though, I think Cade Otton is in a better position to succeed. Yes, Cameron Brate still has a role on the Buccaneers’ offense, but Otton is seeing more playing time this season, playing more than double the number of snaps as Brate.
Otton is coming off of a one-target showing in Week 15 but has 16 total in his last three games. Given the high-volume passing offense and Otton’s matchup, I love him to bounce back in Week 16. If you’re looking to stream a high-upside tight end for the fantasy football semi-finals, Otton is your guy.
Some Extra Love:
Robert Tonyan is a streaming option to consider in Week 16 as the Packers head to Miami to take on the Dolphins. Miami is allowing the second-most receptions to the tight end position this season. They are also one of two teams that have allowed nine touchdowns to tight ends, tied for the second-most this season. They’ve allowed a tight end to score a touchdown in four of their last six games. Most tight ends not named Travis Kelce are a gamble to play in fantasy football. Tonyan is worth a shot in deeper leagues.
Hate: Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears
I don’t really hate Cole Kmet for Week 16. He is the only legitimate receiving option for the Chicago Bears at this point in the season. In fact, he has a 19% target share this season, but a 25.7% share in their last three games without Darnell Mooney. Unfortunately though, for Kmet, he is up against the Buffalo Bills who are the only defense this season that haven’t allowed a single touchdown to the tight end position. I still think Kmet can rack up 10 points in receptions and yards, but do think his ceiling is lower for the fantasy football semi-finals based on the matchup.