WEEK 16 PREPARATION
I often base my decision-making on following stats, trends, and matchups. These thoughts are based on those observations.
9 Thoughts Worth Thinking for Week 16
Take advantage of the Jets' struggles on defense - The Jets have allowed 27, 54, 31, 45, 45, 24, 14, 33, 30, and 31 points in the last 10 games. That's an average of 33.4 points per game. Hopefully, Jacksonville can tap into some of that in Week 16. This is a favorable matchup all around for the Jags, but ultimately they need to execute, which they have struggled with this season. Laquan Treadwell and Laviska Shenault Jr have been the top targets for Jacksonville lately with 25% and 19% team target share in last week's game. Shenault has been 18% or higher in each of the last six games. Both are decent fliers as a deep flex option.
The Rams have a strong matchup against Minnesota - The Vikings have allowed three-plus touchdown passes in five games this season. Three of which came in the last five games and four of the last seven. They also have given up 28-plus points in five of their last seven games. Even though this is a road game, the Rams may wind up being one of the higher scoring teams in the league this week, especially if Minnesota can follow suit and keep this game close. Kirk Cousins has only three games this season where he has failed to reach two touchdown passes. This has the makings of a strong fantasy-producing game for both sides.
Beware of low fantasy scores for the Bills - You have to go back to Week 8 when the last time a quarterback topped 200 yards against the Patriots. Week 8 was also the last time an opposing quarterback had more than one touchdown pass against them. New England will look to put the squash on the Bills passing game because that's the strength of the Bills and Josh Allen. Stefon Diggs has been a tremendous producer for the Bills but this is a game I would be concerned about in terms of him having a big outing, despite the high ranking that you may see for Diggs in this week's projections. Other Bills like Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox, and Emmanuel Sanders (if he returns this week), could be the ones who benefit the most. You might look back at Week 16 in 2020 at New England where Diggs had 9-145-3, and have positive thoughts going into this game. The 2020 Patriots essentially opted out of the season and by Week 16, they were all but checked out. This is a different team and defense in 2021. The earlier meeting this season was the "wind game" in Buffalo, so we can't look too deep into a similar scenario. Should you bench Diggs? No, but be concerned that he might struggle to come through for you this week.
Should you be worried about Alvin Kamara? Maybe - The Saints play the Dolphins who have not allowed a rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 8. Interestingly enough, they have allowed three rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks (2) and wide receiver (1) in the last three games. What does this mean for Alvin Kamara? Miami has not allowed even a 75-yard rusher since Jonathan Taylor reached 103 yards rushing in Week 4. Kamara has scored in five of the last six games that he has played in and he is the focal point of the team. He may be able to score at least once, but this is not a good matchup for him.
Don't trust Duke Johnson Jr to be a fantasy threat again in Week 16? The Dolphins have a tough rushing matchup against New Orleans. Like the Dolphins, the Saints have been stingy against the run, allowing only one rushing touchdown by a running back since Week 5. Duke Johnson Jr had 58% of snaps compared to 37% by Myles Gaskin. The carry share was similar 54% vs 24%. Johnson was the better back for Miami in a favorable matchup against the Jets. Can he do it again, against a strong Saints run defense? My gut says no. It's a tough matchup for one, he's not guaranteed to be the bell cow back for Miami, and lastly, it is usually not a great idea to chase points when the player you're chasing had a fluke game, meaning, he hasn't shown that level of success often. It was a good matchup and he took advantage of it. Don't expect the same result this week.
Be wary of Arizona wide receivers - The Colts have been a brick wall against wide receivers lately. No wide receiver has topped 84 yards against them since Week 8. Indianapolis has blanked any wide receivers from scoring in four of their last five games. With DeAndre Hopkins out, A.J. Green and Christian Kirk have picked up the slack, but this is not a good matchup for the reeling Cardinals who are coming off a tough loss to the one-win Lions. Consider looking elsewhere for a wide receiver starter this week.
When in doubt, look for Tom Brady to gravitate to people he trusts - The Buccaneers are without their three top receivers in Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Leonard Fournette. Antonio Brown's return comes at the perfect time, but he can't do it all. Rob Gronkowski should see a healthy dose of targets (he had 11 targets with only two receptions last week). Among the rest of the Bucs receiving corps who could contribute, don't shy away from Breshad Perriman. He has enough experience and years in the league to gain Tom Brady's trust. Don't forget, Perriman was the one who caught the game-winning touchdown against the Bills. There may already be an established rapport worthy of his trust. Perriman will need to come off the Reserve/COVID-19 list to play, but if he does, he could be a sneaky play for those looking for a spark, like Amon-Ra St. Brown was last week.
Ronald Jones II is a must-have waiver claim, don't be fooled by Le'Veon Bell - Leonard Fournette was spotted using crutches this week which almost guarantees a multiple-week injury. His fantasy season is essentially done. Tampa Bay made a move to sign Le'Veon Bell who will most likely be Ronald Jones II insurance. If Jones cracks under pressure or gets hurt, they won't be in the dark. Ke'Shawn Vaughn is still on the team, but he doesn't appear to be involved in the plans that much. My gut says this is Jones' chance to rise to the occasion. He has a history of success against Carolina, much in part to a 98-yard touchdown run last season, but this is not the 2020 Panthers defense. Jones could struggle. This is not a great matchup. He's worth a start, but the matchup isn't as favorable as you may think.
Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts may be on many championship teams - Philadelphia has averaged 210 yards on the ground in their last six games. They play at home vs. the NY Giants and at Washington in Weeks 16 and 17. Both Hurts and Sanders are coming into their own at the right time. Philadelphia owns the tiebreaker against the Saints in the NFC wildcard race and they have quietly put up 30-plus points in six games this year.
Good luck this week. Watch out for more frustrating COVID news. Be prepared and ready to strike on a backup if news strikes and be proactive if you see a decent option on the wire. Don't be afraid to release a player who you stashed if the replacement can help you win. Go earn your ticket to the Championship Game.
Questions, comments, and start/sit decisions are always welcome. Hit me up on Twitter.