Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 16

Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 16

Fantasy football roster management tips, strategy and advice

Fantasy football free-agent forecast: Week 16

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Free-agent recommendations refer to 12-team leagues, unless specifically stated otherwise. FAAB $ amounts are based on a $100 budget.

Bye weeks: none

Fantasy football waiver wire targets

Quarterbacks

Priority Free Agent

Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Reiterating last week’s inclusion of Hurts … Pick him up. 🙂 There’s not much else to say after we pointed out his potential here last week and he produced more than 41 fantasy points vs. Arizona. Dallas is ahead, and it the rookie has another fine opportunity to thrive. Carson Who?

Availability: 43%
FAAB:
$11-12

1-week plug & Play

Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders

This one will apply to a small portion of leagues, since the rookie is already owned in just over 60 percent of leagues polled. He stands a better chance of getting back WRs DeVante Parker (hamstring) and Jakeem Grant (hamstring), while there also remains optimism tight end Mike Gesicki will be available. Even without that trio, Tua produced a modest — if not impressive, given the circumstances — 20.7 fantasy points in Week 15 vs. New England. Las Vegas is dealing with its own injury plight on defense, and it’s not like that unit has played great football even with healthy. Tagovailoa is a worthwhile gamble as a starter if at least Parker returns.

Availability: 37%
FAAB:
$3-4

Marcus Mariota, Las Vegas Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins

On the other side of the matchup coin is Mariota, the likely Week 16 starter after Derek Carr suffered what was deemed a one- to two-week injury last Thursday. The veteran backup takes on a Miami defense that, for all of its on-paper upgrades in the offseason, has struggled to contain competent quarterbacks. Dual-threat QBs have been even more effective. Miami technically ranks in the bottom half of the league vs. the position, and a great deal of that is due to being able to handle the quarterbacks we expected them to stifle. More proven options, like Cam Newton, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Patrick Mahomes, have trounced this group, and even rookie Justin Herbert found success. Mariota is a viable one-week play, but there’s always going to be that shadow of doubt until we see him consistently produce and also stay on the field. Start him at your own risk, if rolling the dice on upside is your thing.

Availability: 82%
FAAB:
$3-4

Running backs

Priority Free Agent

Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

It should go without saying that all primary backups to elite backs need to be handcuffed, but Pollard is available in 30 percent of leagues examined, and that’s after seeing almost a 10-point ownership bump before Week 15 kickoff. He led all fantasy backs with 31.2 PPR points against what had been a stout San Francisco defense of the position. Ahead, Philadelphia is better than average at slowing running backs, too, and gamers need to roll with Pollard as long as there’s an opportunity for meaningful touches. Ezekiel Elliott (calf) may not even return in 2020, and it just so happens that he is backed up by one of the top No. 2 guys in the league.

Availability: 62%
FAAB:
As much as you have left

1-Week Plug & Play

Lynn Bowden, Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders

Let’s make this a Dolphins-Raiders party … after all, what to cities would be much better choices? Anyhoo, the Raiders drafted Bowden — a running back/receiver combo player — this spring and shortly thereafter dealt him to Miami, where he has toiled away until injuries have forced Miami’s hand in recent weeks. He has only three carries in the last three games, and this recommendation is exclusive to PPR leagues. He’s a worthwhile flex play vs. a matchup that is tremendous for a running back to find success with receiving work. There also is upside via the passing game when Bowden is flexed into the slot, where he has resided nearly 60 percent of his offensive snaps. The Dolphins need extra hands with injuries clouding the availability of WRs Jakeem Grant (hamstring) and DeVante Parker (hamstring), as well as tight end Mike Gesicki (shoulder). Las Vegas has allowed 5.5 receptions a game to running backs in 2020.

Availability: 62%
FAAB:
$4-5

Wide receivers

1-Week Plug & Play

Chad Hansen, Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Texans are in need of receiving help after the tight end position mostly has failed to step up following the loss of Will Fuller. Keke Coutee has been inconsistently productive, and Duke Johnson missed last week with a neck injury. There was room for someone to ascend in the pecking order, and Hansen has been that guy in recent weeks. He has at least 55 yards in three straight games and 12.6 or more PPR points over that span. The Week 15 score was his first, which is encouraging, and helped offset what was a two-target day after averaging six in the prior to weeks. Cincinnati has given up 15 TDs to WRs in 13 games entering Monday night, and 20 times wideouts have posted double figures in PPR scoring against the Bengals. Hansen is a desperation play in deep leagues.

Availability: 79%
FAAB:
$2-3

Tyron Johnson, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos

Injuries have slowed wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams of late, which has opened the door for the explosive Johnson to see more action. He has 12 targets in the last two games after only nine on the year entering Week 14. There is a ton of risk here, since he’s a low-volume, high-yield kind of player. The Broncos have permitted 21 different efforts of at least 10 PPR points in 2020, and both Allen and Williams scored in the earlier meeting.

Availability: 86%
FAAB:
$3-4

Rashard Higgins, Cleveland Browns at New York Jets

Higgins has flashed a time or two, and dating back to 2018, he displayed chemistry with Baker Mayfield. Since Odell Beckham Jr. went down, Higgins encountered a stretch of six games in which the Browns didn’t throw more than 29 passes in any outing. He didn’t score in that time, and his fantasy returns were predictably paltry. In the last three games, Mayfield has thrown no fewer than 32 times, and we’ve seen a trio of useful performances from Higgins. He has at least five targets in each of the games and no fewer than four grabs or 68 yards in any of the contests. New York has granted the sixth-most PPR points in 2020, and WRs have scored 16 times in 14 contests. The most recent two games alone have seen five different players go for 10-plus PPR points vs. the Jets.

Availability: 48%
FAAB:
$3-4

Tight ends

1-Week Plug & Play

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars

This one is purely a flier for a touchdown vs. a defense that has been atrocious at stopping the position. In 2020, only the Jets have allowed more touchdowns to tight ends, and no team has given up scores at a higher frequency than the once every 5.2 catches. Kmet had only two targets last week after seven in each of the previous two games. The rookie has not scored since Week 13, but adventurous fantasy owners shouldn’t be discouraged by it. Four touchdowns have been scored against the Jaguars in the last five games, and tight ends have scored seven times while racking up 36 or fewer yards, which helps make this the epitome of a gamble for a TD.

Availability: 57%
FAAB: $2-3

Kickers

1-Week Plug & Play

Ka’imi Fairbairn, Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The veteran has kicked at least eight points worth in fantasy in six of his last eight appearances. The injuries in the aerial game and suspension of Will Fuller has capped this offense’s explosive ability, and Fairbairn attempted at least two field goals in four of the last five games. The Bengals (entering Monday Night Football) have allowed 2.7 field goal attempts per game, and no team has given up more tries per contest in 2020. There’s a slight chance Cincinnati struggles to contain the remnants of Houston’s passing game and Fairbairn is left to kick more single-point tries than treys, but the odds are against it.

Availability: 73%
FAAB:
$0-1

Mike Badgley, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos

LA is banged up at receiver, which could limit the overall efficacy of the offense. It wasn’t necessarily the case last week, but Denver is a little better of on defense than Las Vegas’ depleted unit was in Week 15. In the Week 8 game, Badgley kicked a trio of field goals and PATs, logging a season-high 12 fantasy points. The Broncos have surrendered 37 field goal attempts, which is tied for the most in the league.

Availability: 79%
FAAB:
$0-1

Defense/specials teams

1-week plug & play

Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Niners have given up at least 11 fantasy points in three of the last four games, and opposing defenses have racked up 12 takeaways in that time. San Fran has permitted eight total sacks, and three different turnovers have resulted in six points the other way. Toss in a special teams score vs. Dallas last week and we’re looking at a matchup even Arizona is capable of exploiting. The Week 1 meeting was between much different teams, and the highlight was only three sacks for Arizona. The Cards have generated 14 sacks in the last two games alone, and Deebo Samuel (hamstring) probably is out again for San Francisco.

Availability: 70%
FAAB:
$0-1

2021 keeper league waiver targets

For gamers who are in full or partial keeper leagues, the following players may be available on waivers and are worthy of stashing into 2021 to see if their situations warrant retention. With so many varying setups and rules for keeper/dynasty leagues, many of these players may be too casual for more hardcore formats.

  • QB Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
  • QB Jameis Winston (UFA in 2021)
  • RB James White, New England Patriots (UFA in 2021)
  • RB Marlon Mack (UFA in 2021)
  • RB Benny Snell Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers (James Conner is a UFA in 2021)
  • WR Kendrick Bourne (UFA in 2021)
  • WR Demarcus Robinson (UFA in 2021)
  • WR Quintez Cephus, Detroit Lions
  • WR Cam Sims, Washington Football Team
  • TE Gerald Everett (UFA in 2021)
  • TE Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings

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