Week 16 Player Grid
This Player Grid will hold little value for you without first reading this.
Note: Players in a given tier are not listed in any particular order.
FantasyDraft Players :: I’ve added a FantasyDraft Addendum to the bottom
Quarterback is a strange position this week. There are volume concerns on Andrew Luck against a Giants team that has seen the fourth lowest pass play rate on the season (with the Colts content to ground-and-pound in matchups that set up well for that approach). There are volume concerns on Deshaun Watson, whose Texans prefer to lean run-heavy — and who is traveling to a tough road environment. There are weaponry concerns on Aaron Rodgers, and volume concerns on Drew Brees, matchup concerns on Ben Roethlisberger…the list goes on and on. Every quarterback listed above can also have a strong “ceiling” case made for him — but none pop off the page to me this week as a true lock-and-load play. As such, I’m going to be very content this week in tourneys to take shots on some Tier 3 quarterback plays as well. The five guys below are “on-paper” Tier 1 plays this weekend; but on a strange QB weekend, I certainly won’t be boxing myself into this tier in my own play.
- Andrew Luck :: The likeliest scenario here calls for 28 to 33 pass attempts against a Giants team that faces the fourth lowest pass play rate in football, in a game the Colts should control — and as noted in the NFL Edge, Luck has actually failed to top even 30 pass attempts in four of his last five home games. But he also has the ability to pop for upside on limited volume, and the upside will grow if the volume rises. Luck is a borderline Tier 1 play in a deceptively below-average QB matchup, but he has been able to beat much tougher spots than this.
- Deshaun Watson :: The Texans have topped 31 pass attempts only once in their last nine games, but with Lamar Miller ruled out, and with the Eagles facing the highest opponent pass play rate in football, there is opportunity for volume to spike in this spot for Watson. Watson has boosted his floor with 31.1 rushing yards per game, and his 8.4 yards per pass attempt give him plenty of opportunity to pop for a big game this week. He’s a borderline Tier 1 play as well, with a strong shot at making any concerns disappear.
- Aaron Rodgers :: I won’t be using Rodgers myself, as this offense has not looked quite right as a one-weapon unit — with Rodgers failing to top even 21 fantasy points in seven of his last eight games. But the matchup is not an issue, and Rodgers should at least be mentioned as a fine on-paper play. If he pops for a big game, it should be viewed as an outlier — but the floor is solid, and “a big game” is certainly still in his range.
- Drew Brees :: Brees has not topped even 36 pass attempts since Mark Ingram returned to the field, and the Steelers have been a legitimately dangerous defense to try to attack with quarterbacks across the last couple months; but even on lower volume, Brees has met or exceeded price-considered expectations in all four of his home games since this offense turned into a run-heavy unit, and it always feels good to bet on Brees at the Superdome. Matchup and volume concerns keep him on the Tier 1 borderline as well, but his chances of smashing are higher than his chances of disappointing.
- Ben Roethlisberger :: With JuJu Smith-Schuster now set to play, Roethlisberger shapes up as a strong option once again this weekend, with a solid floor and a monster ceiling. Ben is averaging 319 passing yards per game, in spite of seven games on the year below 300 yards — pointing to the spiked-week potential he has when things break his way, with four games on the year north of 350 yards (including two games north of 450). The matchup is not great against a Saints defense that has been lights-out lately, keeping Ben on the Tier 1 borderline; but his spiked-week potential still makes him one of the more attractive plays on the slate.
The running back position, as always, is one of the best places this week to lock in strong floor and ceiling; but this week, we also have a few Tier 3 plays with just as much to like from a “ceiling” perspective as what Tier 1 offers us — creating a lot of different ways to go about constructing a roster. (Note: If Gurley is active this week, and if you expect the Rams to play him the whole game, he obviously become a Tier 1 option as well. He carries some risk, but the upside is obviously still in place.)
- Ezekiel Elliott :: Tampa ranks bottom eight in both yards allowed per carry and rushing yards allowed per game, and no team in the NFL has allowed more touchdowns to running backs. Zeke has been a lock for 25+ touches across the last month-plus, locking him in this week with the highest-projected floor/ceiling combo on the slate.
- Saquon Barkley :: The Colts have been a top eight defense against the run, but they have allowed the second most running back receptions in the league, and Saquon has the second most running back receptions in the league (and the 13th most receptions overall). It would be difficult for Saquon to fail in this spot, and the ceiling — as always — is as high as any player on the slate.
- Nick Chubb :: I didn’t expect to find Chubb in Tier 1, but as the week has moved along and the slate has taken shape, this spot has stood out as just too good to overlook. The Bengals have allowed the fourth most rushing yards and the seventh most receiving yards to running backs, while giving up the second most touchdowns to the position. The Bengals also allow the third-most plays per game, and with Jeff Driskel under center and no one for him to throw to, volume should play toward the Browns. Chubb’s ceiling is as high as any player on the slate, and with the matchup so strong and the workload so locked-in, his floor looks solid even with a lighter pass-game role than the guys listed above him.
- Christian McCaffrey :: If you expect CMC to see his snaps scaled back this week with the Panthers’ season over, you can bump him down to Tier 3 (that’s where most people would have him this week), but I’m still expecting him to be on the field for almost the entire game — and if he is, he should be the focal point once again, against a team he pasted last time around for 14 catches for 102 yards. Sustained drives may be tougher to come by this week for the Panthers, so such lofty volume is likely out of reach, but McCaffrey should have plenty of opportunities to pile up floor and ceiling in this spot.
- DeAndre Hopkins :: Hopkins ranks second in the NFL in percentage share of team air yards, and everything sets up great for locked-in volume this week: Keke Coutee is set to miss another game // Lamar Miller will be out this week // the Eagles have a talent-deficient secondary // the Eagles force opponents to the air. While we should expect the Eagles to go out of their way to isolate Hopkins, Deshaun Watson is always willing to force targets to his top receiver regardless of coverage. Hopkins’ floor is a bit lower than the running backs priced in the same range, but his ceiling is as high as any player on the slate.
- Davante Adams :: Only two teams have faced more wide receiver targets this year than the Jets — and when Aaron Rodgers throws to wide receivers, he throws to Davante Adams. Adams’ on-paper floor is highest among wide receivers this week, while his red zone role (first in the NFL in red zone targets // first in receiving touchdowns) gives him a ceiling as high as anyone.
- Evan Engram :: Indy faces the second most tight end targets, and Engram projects for another volume spike with Beckham on the sidelines. Engram does have the lowest aDOT in the entire National Football League among qualified players, and 11 of his 17 targets across the last two weeks have come within five yards of the line of scrimmage — creating a strategy case for moving off Engram’s likely high ownership in tourneys; but from a pure projections standpoint, Engram carries the highest floor/ceiling combo on the slate.
- Zach Ertz :: Ertz has a great matchup against a Houston defense that has allowed the eighth most receptions and the seventh most yards to the tight end position. Foles is limiting downfield looks for Ertz, but the floor should be solid, and Ertz maintains “do the work on his own” upside in this spot.
- Eric Ebron :: Before his three-target dud last week, Ebron’s targets in games that Jack Doyle missed looked like this: 11 // 10 // 15 // 7 // 7 // 16 // 8. The matchup is fine against the Giants, and the likeliest scenario has Ebron’s volume jumping back up again, making him a solid floor/ceiling play
- George Kittle :: Kittle has recent target counts of 13 // 9 // 9 // 8, with Mullens topping 33 pass attempts only once in that stretch. On average, this Chicago defense is facing 38.9 pass attempts per game behind one of the toughest run defenses in football, creating opportunity for Kittle to matter once again. The matchup is not great — but Kittle’s locked-in workload should keep his floor high, while the ceiling remains attractive.
- Bears :: The Bears have been one of the only “can’t miss” defenses this year, and they are facing a San Francisco offense that has taken the seventh most sacks in the league, with a raw quarterback who is prone to turnovers. There is opportunity for the Bears to pop this week.
- Rams :: If you have simply played defenses against Josh Rosen this year, you have probably made money doing so. The Rams are an aggressive unit with an attacking front four and an attacking secondary. It is impossible to predict a DST touchdown, but the chances are about as high as they can get in this spot.
- Browns :: Jeff Driskel has not looked overwhelmed so far, but he has also not looked good — and this week, he’ll be playing without Tyler Boyd, leaving him with the running backs and a roster that is otherwise packed with backup-caliber players. The Browns should be able to put up points to force the Bengals to the air, and this aggressive defense will have opportunities to create mistakes from there.
- Julian Edelman :: Edelman’s chances of a huge game are always slim, but his chances of a failed game in this spot are also slim, as the Patriots are down to Edelman as their top wide receiver weapon, and interior routes are the best way to beat this Bills defense. The last time these teams met, Edelman went 9-104-0 on 10 targets. He’ll have a shot to push for that range again this week.
- Robert Woods :: I have a tough time seeing a blowup game from Woods, but with target counts of 11 // 8 // 13 // 9 since Cooper Kupp went down, it’s also tough to see him failing. Woods has doubled his slot rate since Kupp went down — locking him into floor — while he does retain some ceiling in this offense with downfield looks still sprinkled in. He’s a safe play this week, and while his chances of reaching upside don’t quite move him to Tier 1, it’s not impossible to find a path to a big game.
- Larry Fitzgerald :: As with the guys above, it’s tough to see Fitz popping for a truly big game — but it’s also tough to see him failing. Maybe that’s crazy to say in this Josh Rosen offense, but with the Cardinals sure to be chasing points against the Rams, and with Fitz playing in what might be the final home game of his Hall of Fame career, another seven to 10 targets should come his way. Fitz is a risk on paper, but I would feel comfortable targeting him for floor at his price, while he does still retain a slim shot at ceiling.
- Isaiah McKenzie :: McKenzie continues to see manufactured touches in the run game, which he is pairing with underneath work — yielding solid price-considered floors so far, but non-exciting ceilings. The work should show up once again this week — especially as the Patriots will be dedicating their primary attention to Foster and Zay on the perimeter. McKenzie should not be “counted on for ceiling,” but he does have enough speed to still carry upside potential.
- Taylor Heinicke :: Atlanta has allowed the third highest catch rate in the NFL, and they have allowed the fourth most passing touchdowns in the league — creating a quality spot for a minimum-priced quarterback in a well-schemed offense with multiple weapons who are strong after the catch. Heinicke will likely be called on to take a couple downfield shots, but his main job will be to deliver the ball into the short areas of the field to playmakers who can make things happen after the catch. Heinicke is stepping into a nearly perfect matchup for his first start; he doesn’t have to do much to become a solid play from a salary-allocation standpoint, and he doesn’t have to do much more to become one of the better point-per-dollar plays on the slate. There is risk in taking a 25-year-old non-prospect in his first career start, but at home with good weapons against a soft defense is the best place to take a play like this, making Heinicke very intriguing in tourneys.
- Josh Allen :: The Patriots have allowed the ninth most passing yards and the 10th most quarterback rushing yards — and with this team tightening up near the end zone against running backs, they have given up the fourth most passing touchdowns in the league (tied with the Falcons). With the Pats playing such tight coverage on wide receivers, there is more risk to this play than there has been the last couple weeks…but the upside in The Great Backyard Offense still makes Allen one of my favorite plays on the slate yet again.
- Mitchell Trubisky :: Trubisky has topped two passing touchdowns only three times this season, and he has cracked 300 yards only once since Week 7 — but with the 49ers intercepting an impossibly low two passes all season, they are allowing opponents to drive the field, which has led to them allowing the second most passing touchdowns in the league. Trubisky has four legitimately week-winning scores on his resume this season, and if you want to chase some upside in tourneys, this is not a bad place to look.
- Dalvin Cook :: This is a below-average matchup, but Cook should have a strong shot at 20+ touches once again this week. This gives him a decent shot at floor, while his explosive talent keeps him very much in the top-of-the-slate conversation from a ceiling perspective.
- Leonard Fournette :: Nothing is guaranteed on this Jaguars offense anymore, but this team is taking on a Dolphins team that has faced the second highest opponent rush play rate in football, and that ranks 26th in yards allowed per carry. If the work returns for Fournette this week, he’ll have a sneaky path to a big game.
- Marlon Mack :: The Giants have not been a standout-attackable matchup on the ground this year, but they do rank middle of the pack in yards allowed per carry, and they have allowed the eighth most running back rushing yards per game on the season. Only five teams have allowed more running back touchdowns, and only three teams have faced a higher opponent rush play rate. Each time Mack has topped 16 rush attempts this year, he has cracked 100 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns — which by no means guarantees that he will do the same this week, but it does point to the upside he has when the touches are there.
- LeSean McCoy :: The Patriots have allowed the second fewest rushing touchdowns in the league, and Josh Allen is not one to dump the ball off to running backs — but Shady does have a matchup against a Patriots team that ranks 31st in yards allowed per carry, and if the Bills are able to keep this game close, he’ll have a chance to surprise with a big game on the ground.
- Tarik Cohen :: At this point, we know what Cohen is: a pass-heavy back with a rickety floor for his price, but with enough upside to become a slate-winning play a couple times throughout the season. There is nothing in the matchup that points to “this being the week” for Cohen, but I do like the idea of using him as part of a Trubisky stack.
- Darren Sproles — DraftKings :: From a salary-allocation standpoint, there are not many players at other positions who should be able to get you seven or eight points for $3600, with legitimate upside for 15 to 20. Against a Houston defense that is stout against the run, it would make sense for the Eagles to lean a bit more Sproles-heavy in this spot — and if they do, he’ll have a chance to surprise with one of the better point-per-dollar scores on the weekend. This is a thin play, but the upside is certainly in place.
- Julio Jones :: Julio has at least eight targets in all but one game this year, and he leads the NFL in receiving yards, air yards, percentage share of team air yards, and targets per game. The only real concern here is Julio’s hip injury — but as long as he is out there, his upside will remain in place.
- Antonio Brown // JuJu Smith-Schuster :: It’s difficult to bet on these guys with confidence at their respective price tags, as one often performs at the expense of the other (and it is often impossible to know which guy to target on a given week) — but in a potential shootout under the dome in New Orleans, the ceiling is high on both guys, keeping each very much part of the tourney conversation.
- T.Y. Hilton :: The Colts may not have to pass a ton in this spot, and the Giants have done a good job keeping wide receivers out of the end zone — but New York has allowed the 11th most pass plays of 20+ yards, and Hilton’s speed on the turf always keeps him in the Upside conversation at home. He’s a strong tourney play this week.
- Alshon Jeffery :: I’ve sort of brushed past Alshon while building rosters through the early portions of the week — but realistically, he is very much in the Upside conversation in a game that has an outside shot at turning into a shootout, with Nick Foles sure to look toward him another six to nine times along the way. Banking on a repeat of last week’s perfect eight catches on eight targets (including multiple downfield connections) would be foolish; but it’s also not impossible for this play to hit again, keeping it in the tourney conversation.
- Robby Anderson :: Anderson has gone 4-32-0 // 4-76-1 // 7-96-1 in his last three games with Sam Darnold — which perfectly illustrates the range in which his production can be expected to flow. Anderson is going to see his downfield looks. If he connects, you’ll be thrilled with the production. If he misses, he won’t kill your roster, but he won’t be helping much either
- Dante Pettis :: Any offense against the Bears carries at least some level of risk, but with the Bears shutting down the run and typically playing with a lead, they have faced 38.9 pass attempts per game, which should at least keep Pettis in his recent range of targets (7 // 7 // 7 // 5 across his last four games), with a small chance that volume grows from there. As an underpriced number one receiver in a well-schemed offense, there is plenty to like in this spot.
- Robert Foster :: The Patriots have been a tough matchup for wide receivers this year, with a low 60.3% completion rate allowed to the position, and with a yards per attempt mark to wideouts of only 7.4. When the Pats miss in coverage, however, their man-heavy coverage scheme sets them up to miss big, with only eight teams in the league allowing more pass plays of 20+ yards this year. Foster saw only five targets last week, but the Bills threw the ball an uncharacteristically low 26 times. Chasing points in New England, we should see volume rise — creating an opportunity for another seven to nine targets for Foster in this spot, with at least a couple of these looks coming on high-upside downfield shots.
- D.J. Moore // Curtis Samuel :: Moore and Samuel are elite after-catch threats, and each guy should see some underneath routes designed to get them into space and one or two downfield routes with upside potential. Samuel is actually standing out to me a bit more than Moore, but both guys carry risk with an untested quarterback under center, and both guys carry upside with explosive ball-in-hands ability. These guys are both tourney-worthy plays this week.
- Austin Hooper :: Hooper has topped five targets only five times this year, but he has a solid matchup against a Panthers defense that has allowed the most tight end touchdowns in the league, and he has enough spiked-week potential to be a strong tourney consideration. Hooper has wrecked rosters less often this year than most tight ends, and his ceiling remains worth chasing.
- All the rest :: Ian Thomas // Chris Herndon // Blake Jarwin // C.J. Uzomah // the list goes on; all these guys can be considered for “five to six points and hope for more.” None stand out as lock-and-load options, but all can be considered.
- All the rest :: The Dolphins will have a chance to force turnovers and limit scoring at home against the Jags // The Vikings absolutely destroyed Matthew Stafford and the Lions the last time these teams played, keeping this unit in the conversation even on the road // The Saints have been genuinely matchup-proof lately, making them an interesting salary-saver // The Eagles have one of the top sack units in the NFL, while the Texans have taken more sacks than any team in football // The Lions have been surprisingly solid at home this year, and Kirk Cousins has been mistake-prone // The Patriots are non-aggressive, but Josh Allen is almost certain to make a couple mistakes // honestly, there are even more places to look than this, and DST is always a strong position to go off the board a bit — betting on the variance that defines this position.
Hopefully this gives you a great opportunity to compare your thoughts against my own.
I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend; and I’ll see you on the site next Thursday night for the Week 17(!) edition of the NFL Edge.
If playing the Full-Sunday slate on FantasyDraft:
There is a lot to like in the Sunday night game from a full-slate perspective, with upside on both sides of the ball in a game that has a good shot at becoming the highest-scoring contest of the weekend. From a strictly tier-based perspective, Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are the only players who squeeze their way onto Tier 1 for me (though you could make a case for Chris Carson if you don’t mind the uncertain aerial workload), but Tyreek Hill is a Tier 3 play with legitimate top-score-of-the-weekend upside, while Carson, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Russell Wilson all have rock-solid Tier 3 cases as well. If this game were on the Main Slate for DraftKings and FanDuel, it would be one of the more attractive options available, and it should absolutely be considered if adjusting your DK builds for FantasyDraft play.