Calvin Ridley Fake Alpha | Everything You Need to Know NFL Week 16

by Matt Babich · Analytics & Advanced Metrics
Calvin Ridley Jaguars

This is Everything You Need to Know, Week 16 Edition. In Week 14, we predicted the playoff surge from Jaxon Smith-Njigba, stashed Isaiah Spiller a week early, correctly placed our faith in the Rams offense in DFS, and put together a money-making list of DFS values. Without further ado, let’s get right into Everything You Need to Know for NFL Week 16, including Calvin Ridley, the Jaguars fake Alpha, the impending late-season fantasy resurgence of Kyle Pitts, a league-loser in Jameson Williams, and a league winner in Adam Thielen.

Calvin Ridley, Fake Alpha

If you’ve ever tapped into the Dynasty Roundtable Podcast, you know I’ve been on this train since the summer. Calvin Ridley is a Fake Alpha. He failed to live up to expectations this season, and could only outscore Christian Kirk in zone-coverage-heavy spots where teams allow a target-funnel to the quarterback’s first read. Since Kirk’s injury, Ridley has yet to top 10 fantasy points.

The Buccaneers provide Ridley with a high-target-volume matchup. They allow 72-percent of targets to go to the quarterback’s first read (per FantasyPoints). Ridley averages nine targets per game against these defenses. He should be able to convert those into ample production, as the Bucs play heavy doses of man and single-high coverages. Tampa Bay is also without top cornerback Carlton Davis.

While Ridley has a strong outlook this week, he’s still a fake alpha who needs limited competition and a target funnel to produce. With both Zay Jones and Christian Kirk out, Jamel Dean will focus heavily on Ridley. Ridley’s ceiling is worth a start, but his floor is treacherous.

Out from the Pitts

Taylor Heinicke is set to start at quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. This is ultimately good news for Kyle Pitts, who has struggled with Desmond Ridder. Earning an 18-percent Target Share under Heinicke, Pitts converted four of five targets for nearly 60 yards against Minnesota in Heinicke’s lone start. 

The Falcons line up against a very beatable Colts defense in Week 16. The Colts frequently allow multiple passing touchdowns to teams that play at a faster pace. Jake Browning, Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, and C.J. Stroud have all hit thrown for multiple scores against them. Enter Heinicke, who prefers an up-tempo offense. In his last full start, he threw for 268 yards on 38 attempts against Minnesota. We could see similar volume this week, which is good news for both Pitts and Drake London.

Pitts will see his fair share of targets, and has a fair matchup against the Colts. On the surface, the Colts have excelled against tight ends this season. This is mostly a mirage that says more about the level of talent they’ve faced at the position. They’ve allowed 10-plus points in three of four matchups against top talents (David Njoku, Evan Engram twice). Pitts, who lines up all over the field, is a unique matchup for Indy in both his talent and the way he is deployed. Take the chance on Pitts this week.

Fading Jameson Williams

Jameson Williams had a career day on Saturday, hitting seven targets for the first time and posting a 22-percent Target Share against the Broncos. Working over Josh Reynolds for the first time, this is the sign believers needed to (finally) confirm their priors. With an exciting matchup against the Vikings on the surface, I’m here to tell you to stay far away from Jamo in your fantasy semi-final matchups.

Williams has notched only four games over 20 yards receiving, and they have come against defenses who primarily give single-safety looks. The Vikings, however, have a heavy focus on running two-high coverages. With an extra safety in the secondary, it’s going to be tougher for Williams to get behind the defense. This means we’re more likely to see a low Catch Rate game where Williams’ production primarily stems from screens.

Every speedster in the league has “a chance” to break off a long touchdown. That doesn’t mean you automatically start them. Williams is no different, and he is a sit this week.

More Than A Thielen

Jonathan Mingo has been getting his flowers recently, but it’s Adam Thielen who is going to come to life for fantasy managers this week. The Green Bay Packers defense is a solid matchup across the board for receivers, but they have been getting thrashed by slot-heavy receivers in the back half of the season. Because of this, we’re fading the ice cold Mingo in favor of slot-maestro Thielen.

Thielen, who had a scorching-hot start to the season, has only cleared 10 fantasy points in one of his last four games. However, this home matchup against the Packers is the perfect opportunity for him to end his season on a high note. Mingo is a risky flex play, while Thielen is a WR2 candidate.

Implied Team Totals (Sunday Main Slate)

Highest Implied Team Totals

  1. Miami Dolphins (25.5)
  2. Detroit Lions (25)
  3. Chicago Bears (24)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (24)
  5. Atlanta Falcons (22.5)

Two surprise teams – the Bears and the Falcons – find themselves on the top implied totals list for Week 16. Both of these teams have favorable matchups, and offer us an opportunity to create some unique lineups given their price points. Justin Fields, DJ Moore, Drake London and Kyle Pitts become exposure targets this week.

The matchup between the Dolphins and the Cowboys may be the heaviest DFS chalk matchup we’ve seen this season. These teams have been DFS favorites all season long. It’s tough to find ways to efficiently game-stack this matchup given the price points, but we should definitely be getting exposure to Tua-Tyreek stacks and Dak-CeeDee stacks to lean into the chalk. De’Von Achane and Raheem Mostert are viable options, as well, given what James Cook did to the Dallas defense last week.

My contrarian shootout of the week lies in the Panthers/Packers tilt. This is a bold take, given the 36.5 point game total, but there’s good reason. The Panthers struggle to stop competent offenses, and the Packers fit that bill. Green Bay consistently moves the chains and has the talent to make explosive plays. On the other side, the Packers defense can’t stop anybody, even allowing Tommy DeVito to put up a respectable performance. This game, which I see being closer to 45 points, offers low-exposure value.

Lowest Implied Team Totals

  1. Carolina Panthers (16)
  2. Washington Commanders (17)
  3. Houston Texans (19)
  4. Tennessee Titans (19.25)
  5. Arizona Cardinals (19.5)

As I mentioned, I’m (somewhat) leaning into the Panthers this week. I love the outlooks of Thielen and Chuba Hubbard, and Mingo even offers some value at his price point. Aside from the Panthers, the only player on the low-projected-totals list that I’m willing to buy into is James Conner. He’s getting fed regardless of Game Script, and has a positive outlook against the Bears.

DFS Values: Trevor Lawrence ($6600), Travis Etienne ($6600), Ty Chandler ($5600), DeAndre Hopkins ($6100), Garrett Wilson ($5800), Adam Thielen ($5900), Kyle Pitts ($4000)

Injury Report

Buckle up. There’s a lot of these.

CJ Stroud

CJ Stroud was already announced as doubtful to play in Week 16. He has yet to clear concussion protocol, and now has just two days to show enough progress to clear protocol and become active. Have your backup options ready. 

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor looks to have a good chance of suiting up this week, after logging a full practice on Wednesday. The Colts sounded optimistic when talking about Taylor’s availability. Barring a setback, we should see Taylor rejoin the team’s backfield in Week 16.

Michael Pittman

Michael Pittman has yet to clear concussion protocol, but the coaching staff seems pleased with his progress thus far. However, it’s still unlikely that he gets cleared in time to be activated for Week 16.

Ja’Marr Chase

Ja’Marr Chase is set to miss multiple weeks with a shoulder injury. In his place, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd will see expanded roles. We may even see relevant snaps from Trenton Irwin.

Christian Watson

Christian Watson has still yet to practice with his hamstring injury. If we don’t see a full practice this week, there’s no chance he suits up against the Panthers. Right now, Watson should be considered doubtful.

Keenan Allen

Keenan Allen has still not been spotted at practice this week. Given the state of the Chargers’ season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Allen get shut down. Until he sees the field, I’m considering him as doubtful. This won’t change unless he gets in a full practice.

Nico Collins

Nico Collins has yet to practice with his calf injury. He’s considered doubtful unless he gets in a full practice.

Alexander Mattison

Alexander Mattison has still not appeared at practice with his ankle injury looming. Ty Chandler is clearly the better back. Even if Mattison plays this week, he’s a sit given he’s likely now the 1B in the offense.

Will Levis

Ryan Tannehill is working with the first team offense while Levis nurses his ankle injury he suffered last week. We saw Trevor Lawrence start after suffering a similar injury, so his outlook is currently moderate. We’ll have to see some participation before the weekend if the rookie expects to be activated.

Trevor Lawrence

Trevor Lawrence is still in the league’s concussion protocol. The chatter from the coaching staff has been vaguely positive. Given the previous concussion designations, we may not see Sunshine this week.

Zay Jones

Zay Jones is considered week-to-week with his hamstring injury, meaning he’s effectively been shut down for the rest of the regular season.

Hunter Henry

Hunter Henry left Week 15’s matchup with a knee injury, and has yet to practice this week. He has a very positive matchup this week against the Denver Broncos, should he be activated.

On to Week 16

Week over week, we’ve been paying attention to the right details and will continue to refine our process as we learn lessons from our losses. By continuing to attack the right matchups and following the right usage and efficiency trends, we’ll continue to DOMINATE the fantasy playoff and DFS lineups. Happy hunting!