Fantasy Football Week 16: Predictions

By | December 21, 2023

Our analysts reveal the picks they feel most confident about entering the second round of the fantasy football playoffs to help you feel better about future draft decisions. For more start-sit advice, check out our Week 16 position-by-position rankings.

The rookie finally gets must-start status

It finally happened. The rookie we were so eager to see disappear into a full-time role finally got that promotion. Over the past two weeks, Rashee Rice has routed on 80.2% of the Chiefs’ dropbacks. That jump from the 60% range to north of 80% is critical. His ADOT over the past two weeks is just 5.1. He is still only tasked with running a small handful of routes over the middle of the field as a flanker receiver or off-ball flanker receiver. He doesn’t fall short of the assignment of a typical No. 1 wideout. But this is crucial to the debate over its long-term prospects. For now, he has a target share of 23.5%, the highest on the team. Being on the field more was all we needed to get that bump in production. He’s a clear must-start receiver coming into a good game in Week 16 against the Raiders. –Matt Harmon

Seahawks receiver trio flying high

Seattle will take on the Titans this week. Tennessee performed above average during the series this season, but had poor coverage. The Titans are allowing most of their production to outside receivers this season. We even saw Noah Brown post 82 yards on eight catches last week against Tennessee with Case Keenum as his quarterback.

We’ve seen all three Seahawks receivers earn at least 20% of targets over the last three games. Jaxon Smith-Njigba has taken a step further and continues to beat man coverage in his rookie season. Tyler Lockett has been hitting targets consistently, hitting at least 20% of target share in every game since Week 1. DK Metcalf is still a walking cheat code. He leads the NFL in combination of deep targets and red zone looks – the most valuable targets in fantasy football.

All three Seattle receivers will start this week against the Titans’ 30th-ranked secondary. —Sal Vetri

Little-known tight end delivers top-five finish

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is in a terribly sad state, having lost two key inside linebackers to season-ending injuries, leaving the middle of the field quite vulnerable in recent weeks. That will get worse in Week 16, now also in the top three safety options, with Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee) out, Damontae Kazee out with a suspension and Keanu Neal on IR with a rib injury.

Look for veteran tight end Tanner Hudson to have the best game of his season thus far, with a favorable matchup and potential for an increased workload in the absence of WR Ja’Marr Chase. Hudson ranks second on the team in goals against QB Jake Browning this season, behind only Chase and teammate Tyler Boyd, and could be a key part of this week’s game plan against a series of Steelers backups who cover the middle of the field. . The Steelers have allowed one or more touchdowns to opposing tight ends in each of the last four weeks, and Hudson will look to make it a fifth in Week 16. – Kate Magdziuk

A widely available tight end could deliver results again

The highlight of the New England season will be when it mercifully ends.

But let’s appreciate the connection Bailey Zappe seems to have with Hunter Henry. The veteran Henry has been the TE3 and TE4 the past two weeks, losing a second touchdown against Kansas City on a penalty. The Broncos defense has been poor in seam coverage all year (nine touchdowns allowed in tight ends and the worst TE coverage rate by DVOA). I’m baffled that Henry is still unclaimed in over 70% of Yahoo leagues. Assuming he’s cleared by the end of the week (Henry didn’t practice Wednesday), he’s cleared for proactive fantasy use. —Scott Pianowski

Vikings’ backup (backup-backup?) QB a solid streamer

Nick Mullens is getting 8.4 YPA since taking over Minnesota’s QB role and gets a home run against a pass-funnel Detroit defense; the Lions yield the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, but the fourth-most to quarterbacks. Mullens will continue to benefit from throwing to a healthy Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and TJ Hockenson, and it’s unlikely that last week’s sudden success will repeat itself on Sunday. The Vikings have a healthy implied team total, so Mullens finishes as a top-12 fantasy QB for the second week in a row. —Dalton Del Don

Don’t ignore this veteran star coming back

Aaron Jones returned to a 17-touch workload last week, which should allay concerns about his overall health and availability. When he’s right – which has rarely been the case this season – he’s one of the most dangerous multi-purpose backs in the league. He is also, in all likelihood, the best healthy(ish) receiving option currently available to the Packers. On Sunday, he faces a Carolina defense that has been torn apart by opponents this year, allowing 21 rushing scores in the league and the third-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Despite the fact that Jones has been largely useless over the last fifteen weeks, you should give him a boost in the fantasy semifinals. –Andy Behrens

Double down on this QB with a perfect performance

Last week’s 381-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 34-20 thrashing of the Packers at Lambeau Field not only kept the Buccaneers’ NFC South title hopes alive, but it was also the second-highest game from Mayfield’s career. Now Mayfield is primed for a big final kick in the fantasy playoffs as he gets optimal home conditions (72 degrees and a slight chance of rain and light wind) this week against a Jacksonville defense that ranks in the bottom three in terms allowed fantasy points. Weeks 12-14 Joe Flacco, Jake Browning and CJ Stroud each passed for over 300 yards against the Jaguars. To make it even more fun, the Bucs have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, so look for some offensive fireworks in this game.

Mike Evans has been fantastic this season with 66-1,077-11 and was the WR5 so far, and Chris Godwin returned to relevance last week with a 10-155-0 performance after a mediocre season. With both of his top pass catchers in top form, expect Mayfield to put together a top-five QB performance in this important fantasy playoff week. –Jorge Martin

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