Week 16 Risers and Fallers

by Jonathan Lange · Fantasy Football
Amari Cooper fantasy

Welcome back to the latest edition of Risers and Fallers. Hopefully you woke up to a fantasy playoff victory under the Christmas tree. Those with Amari Cooper in fantasy lineups sure did. Now we’re down to the last week in most fantasy seasons. It’s fantasy championship week. We had a weekend chock full of NFL action, including two games on Saturday, and three games on Monday as the palate cleanser. Let’s look at the latest Risers and Fallers from Week 16!


George Pickens, WR — Pittsburgh Steelers

Who knew that all it took to unlock George Pickens was Mason Rudolph? On Saturday, Pickens had two massive touchdown plays on his way to a 195-yard performance against the Bengals. After the video came out of him not blocking on a red zone play for fellow Steeler Jaylen Warren, the heat was on all week for Pickens. He proved his value to the team on Saturday.

The last time a Steeler receiver had more than 150 yards receiving was back in 2018, a feat achieved by both Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Despite the quarterback issues in Pittsburgh, Pickens has had another standout season as a deep-ball specialist. He’s top-20 in ADOT, and one can only imagine the damage he would do with a capable passer. Pickens may not crush every predictive metric for receiver success, but he does, in fact, have that dog in him.

Amari Cooper, WR — Cleveland Browns

After a poor performance in Week 13, I declared Amari Cooper as a Faller. Boy was that wrong. On Sunday, Cooper eviscerated the Texans secondary on his way to an 11-catch, 265-yard performance. Cooper added two touchdowns to his box score, as well. His 265 yards receiving are a franchise record for most in a game by a Brown.

The quarterback change to Joe Flacco has done wonders for Cooper and fellow pass catcher David Njoku. The Browns are airing it out more than ever before, and Cooper has averaged 27 fantasy points per game over his last three games. The lethal combination of Flacco to Cooper is wining fantasy championships in the year 2023. Incredible performances all around, but especially for alpha Amari.

Jordan Love, QB — Green Bay Packers

Jordan Love seemed destined to fail against the top-five pass defense of the Carolina Panthers. Going into the game without Jayden Reed and Christian Watson, hopes were not high. But Love put up a respectable performance on Sunday, finishing with a 60-percent completion percentage, 219 passing yards, and three total touchdowns.

The highest drafted pass catcher that started for the Packers was tight end Tucker Kraft, who was drafted in the third round this past offseason. Love has played lights out all season, but Sunday was special. He got the ball late and was able to lead a game winning drive while throwing to Romeo Doubs, Bo Melton, and Kraft. The Packers may have their quarterback of the future after moving on from Aaron Rodgers.

Rachaad White, RB — Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rachaad White has been a smash for late-round RB drafters. Sunday, he continued his league winning ways with another touchdown in a victory against the Jaguars. White has been a fun play. He’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry, No. 49 among running backs. However, he is also averaging 9.4 yards per reception.

This Tampa Bay offense has been rolling all year, and White has been the key cog in the backfield. If you took away his pass-catching ability, he’s an average running back. He’s finished nine games with 60 yards rushing or less, but as a receiver, he’s electric. White is second to only Christian McCaffrey in receiving yards among running backs. Whenever he’s stymied by a stout rush defense, he can produce in the air. His versatility will make him a feature in the Buccaneer offense for future seasons.


Joe Mixon, RB—Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Mixon could always be counted on as the guy with the Bengals backfield to himself. Even in the worst game scenarios, he could be counted on for pure volume. But the emergence of Chase Brown has put a dent in the once pristine vision of Mixon as the lead dog. On Saturday, he rushed for only 43 yards, and 15 of those yards were gained in the last minute of the game.

Mixon’s efficiency has also taken a dip this season. He ranks No. 45 among running backs with a 2.4-percent Breakaway Run Rate, and No. 41 in True Yards Per Carry. Mixon has clear control of the backfield for now, but expect the Bengals to involve Brown more after a full offseason with the team.

Stefon Diggs, WR—Buffalo Bills

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Stefon Diggs has not been himself lately, at least according to his stats. Diggs finished with five receptions for 29 yards against the Chargers on Saturday. He’s now finished with under 50 yards receiving in five of the last six games. One would wonder if it has been a schematic issue with new offensive coordinator Joe Brady, but Diggs’ last 100-yard game was back in Week 6. Brady took over the offense in Week 10.

Dalton Kincaid has emerged as a viable target for Josh Allen. We’ve also seen the emergence of James Cook as a receiver. Diggs has practically vanished in the second half of the season. The last time he had more than 100 Air Yards was back in Week 7. He’s gotten a steady stream of targets; he led the team in targets on Saturday. Perhaps Diggs is saving his best work for the NFL Playoffs.

Trevor Lawrence, QB—Jacksonville Jaguars

Are we sure Trevor Lawrence is a top-eight quarterback in dynasty? On Sunday, he was able to clear concussion protocol in time to face off against the leaky Buccaneer defense. Lawrence went on to throw two interceptions and score the team’s first touchdown before being pulled. It was reported the star quarterback was pulled due to a shoulder injury.

The Bucs have been a team to target for fantasy players as they have struggled all year against passing attacks, but it was an uninspiring performance for Lawrence. He has been the topic of plenty of off-season discourse. Does he belong as a top quarterback for dynasty? Or is he a flawed prospect? Two years of his three-year career have been frustrating. With the incoming group of quarterbacks entering the league in the Draft, Lawrence may find himself on the outside of the top-eight in dynasty.

Jahan Dotson, WR — Washington Commanders

Jahan Dotson seems so far away from the flashes we saw in his rookie season. On Sunday, he finished with two receptions for 31 yards on four targets. He’s now eclipsed 50 yards or more in only three games this season. Last season, he eclipsed 50 yards receiving five times in 12 games. He also had an average of 5.4 targets per game, compared to 5.1 this year, so the volume is still there. Last season, there were plenty of quarterback issues, similar to this year. Washington looks headed for a coaching change in 2023. Dotson will need to improve in his third season, or it could be a short career for what was once a promising rookie.

Championship Week

George Pickens, Amari Cooper, Jordan Love, and Rachaad White are the Risers this week. The Fallers are Joe Mixon, Stefon Diggs, Trevor Lawrence, and Jahan Dotson. It’s been a long and winding road, and the season is winding down. Next week is Week 17, and I’ll have a special edition of Risers and Fallers, so be sure and stay tuned. Now go win those fantasy championships!