(CBS Boston)-Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially arrived at the fantasy football finals.
Week 16 is finally here, and for most fantasy leagues, that means we have reached the end of the season. If you’re still playing at this point, it likely means that you have reached your league’s championship, a feat in and of itself.
But simply making the finals is not good enough. We want to get you over the goal line to get you that fantasy crown.
Let’s dive right into it. Here are the top waiver wire adds for Week 16.
QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles- Hurts has been featured on this list for a few weeks now, and the fact that his ownership is still so low is insane. After a solid performance in his first career start in Week 14, Hurts went bonkers this past Sunday. The rookie quarterback carved up the Cardinals defense, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns. As if that wasn’t enough, Hurts also carried the ball 11 times for 63 yards and an additional touchdown, finishing with nearly 38 fantasy points. Hurts already looks like a fantasy stud, and in Week 16, the young Eagles QB gets just about the greatest matchup you could ask for- a visit to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. Hurts could easily finish as a top 5 QB again this week, so unless you have one of those top guys, Hurts should be at the top of your waiver wire list.
QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns- The narrative that Baker Mayfield is not that good of a quarterback has totally been thrown out the window following his fourth consecutive multiple touchdown performance in Week 15. Going up against a tough Giants defense on Sunday night, Mayfield completed an amazing 84.4 percent of his passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Over his last four games, Mayfield is averaging 308 passing yards per game to go with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10-to-1. That would be enough to warrant picking up Mayfield, but in Week 16, the Browns also get an incredibly appealing matchup against the Jets. Yes, the Jets played well in defeating the Rams for their first win of the season, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. They are still the 1-13 Jets… Don’t overthink this one. If you need a QB streamer and Hurts isn’t available, Mayfield is likely your next best option.
RB Le’Veon Bell, Kansas City Chiefs- One of the biggest injuries of the week came in the showdown of the season between the Chiefs and Saints. Towards the end of the game, talented rookie back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered an injury that is likely to sideline him for at least the remainder of the regular season. You know what that means? It is officially Le’Veon Bell time in Kansas City. The veteran back recorded a season-high 15 rush attempts against New Orleans and picked up another season-high 62
yards while scoring just his second touchdown of the year. Bell will not become a bellcow back for the Chiefs now, as Darrell Williams will likely still get some touches. But he will certainly lead the backfield in touches, and in an offense led by Patrick Mahomes, that is quite a valuable role. If Bell was dropped in your league and is sitting on the waiver wire, do whatever it takes to get him on your roster and into your lineup.
RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys- Ezekiel Elliott missed the Cowboys’ Week 15 outing against the 49ers, leading to Pollard handling most of the backfield touches. This couldn’t have been better for fantasy owners debating all week whether or not to start a banged up Elliott. Pollard stepped up for those who trusted him in their lineup, taking 12 rush attempts for 69 yards, good for an average of nearly 6.0 yards per game, while scoring two touchdowns. On top of all that rushing production, Pollard caught six passes for 63 yards, leading to one of fantasy’s top performances in Week 15. If Elliott remains sidelined, Pollard needs to once again be in all fantasy lineups in Week 16. The Eagles’ run defense is by no means weak, but Pollard’s role in the passing game makes him a must-start if Elliott is out.
RB Jeff Wilson Jr., San Francisco 49ers- It can sometimes be frustrating relying on a 49ers running back, as head coach Kyle Shanahan loves the running back by committee approach. Wilson was supposed to split carries with Raheem Mostert in Week 15, and the two backs did with Wilson totaling 16 carries and Mostert 14. However, Mostert was forced to leave the game early with an ankle injury, putting his Week 16 status in doubt. Even if Mostert is able to suit up, Wilson has clearly carved out the role of the 49ers’ goal line back, making him the preferred play between the two. A Week 16 matchup against the Cardinals could be a high-scoring affair, making Wilson a solid play once again, especially in non-PPR leagues given his lack of production in the passing game.
WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons- For seemingly the first time all season, Matt Ryan was able to put together a strong performance without Julio Jones in the lineup. While Calvin Ridley was the biggest beneficiary of Jones’ absence, Gage certainly took advantage of the opportunity as well. The slot receiver was targeted 10 times against the Buccaneers in Week 15, turning that into five receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. While he has made it clear he wants to return this season, Jones could end up being shut down by the Falcons. If this is the case, then Gage becomes a priority add. The Falcons take on the Chiefs in Week 16, which means they will likely be playing from behind for most of the game. The likely game script bodes extremely well for Gage, so keep an eye on the Falcons’ injury report to see where things stand with Jones.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, New Orleans Saints- With Michael Thomas back in the lineup and Taysom Hill starting under center, Sanders’ fantasy value completely plummeted. Sanders caught just one touchdown pass while failing to top 50 yards in the previous three games before Week 15. But with Thomas placed on injured reserve and Drew Brees back in the starting lineup, Sanders once again found his way to fantasy relevancy. The veteran received caught four of five targets for 76 against the Chiefs. This week, New Orleans will take on the Vikings on Christmas Day. Bears wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney both finished with double digit fantasy points against the Vikings this past weekend, and while Mitchell Trubisky has been playing well the last few weeks, he is no Drew Brees. If no one picked Sanders up following Thomas’ placement on IR last week, make sure you snag the veteran receiver now.
WR Tyron Johnson, Los Angeles Chargers- Entering the Chargers’ Week 14 game against the Falcons, Johnson had just six receptions all season. After Mike Williams left that game vs. Atlanta with an injury, Johnson went on to catch six receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. He then followed that up by catching three passes for 61 yards and another touchdown against the Raiders on Thursday Night Football. The Chargers are 5-9 and don’t have much to play for at this point, which could lead to them erring on the side of caution when it comes to wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who have both been banged up the last few weeks. If either one doesn’t suit up in Week 16, Johnson will be elevated to the starting lineup. When given the opportunity, Johnson has taken advantage, as he seems to have developed a connection with fellow rookie Justin Herbert. This is another situation where you need to follow the injury report throughout the week, but if Allen or Williams sit, especially Allen, Johnson could be worth a flier in Week 16.
TE Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns- Hooper has not played the role in the Browns offense that many thought he would when he signed there last offseason. However, the tight end has shown flashes throughout the season, and played well against the Giants on Sunday Night Football. Hooper reeled in five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown, his second score in the last three weeks. He hasn’t shown much consistency throughout the season, but you couldn’t ask for a better matchup than a Week 16 showdown against the Jets. Despite the Jets picking up their first win of the season last week, they still struggle quite mightily on defense. Rams tight end Tyler Higbee led Los Angeles with 67 receiving yards and a touchdown on four receptions. The Jets allow the most fantasy points to tight ends this season and have allowed a tight end to score in six straight games, with eight total TDs allowed to the position during that span. Unless you have one of the top tight ends on your team, Hooper is worth a start in Week 16.
TE Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears- The drop-off between Hooper and Kmet is a big one. Kmet entered Week 15 having seen seven targets in two consecutive games. But against the Vikings this past Sunday, the rookie tight end saw just two targets, catching both of them for 12 yards. While the outing was disappointing, it was great to see how much success Mitchell Trubisky had. With Trubisky on fire, all of the Bears’ pass-catchers get a boost, especially with the Jaguars on deck. Jacksonville is now in position to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft if they lose out, and unlike the Jets, I highly doubt the Jaguars will ruin their chances to draft Trevor Lawrence. This one is more of a dart throw than a confident start, but if you’re in a bind, you could do worse than Kmet.
DEF Houston Texans- Hopefully you already looked ahead and secured a good defense with a nice matchup for the fantasy championship. If not, than the Texans might be your best bet at this point. Houston’s defense has not been that good all year, so this recommendation definitely comes with some risk. However, the Texans will take on the Bengals in Week 16, and while Cincinnati has yet to play their Week 15 matchup against the Steelers at the time of this writing, I don’t think it’s going to go well. Whether it’s Ryan Finley or Brandon Allen under center, the Texans defense should be able to reach double digit fantasy points for just the second time all year, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
DEF Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tampa Bay’s defense has not played up to expectations this year. Despite that fact, a Week 16 matchup against the Detroit Lions and a banged up Matthew Stafford could be enough to warrant a start. The Buccaneers allowed the Falcons to put up 27 points in Week 15, but after Tom Brady led a late comeback, Tampa is still in great shape to secure a playoff spot as they sit at 9-5. Bruce Arians’ team will still need to close out the season strong, and it starts against the Lions. With 9 total sacks over the last two weeks, the Buccaneers make a solid play in Week 16.