Waiver Wire Week 16 | Now’s the Time!

by Theo Gremminger · Waiver Wire

Welcome to the Waiver Wire Week 16! We few, we happy few, we band of fantasy football managers playing meaningful Week 16 games. Welcome to the Semi-Finals for most home leagues and the two-week sprint for High-Stakes formats.

Week 16 can effectively be called “the money week.” Most leagues will award prizes to the league champion and the league runner-up. Some places award the third-place finisher, but it seems to be a rare occurrence. In a weekly game like fantasy football, Week 16 is the second most important one of the entire season right behind championship week.

Playing this deep into the season is special and should not be taken for granted. It is what you strive for all offseason, and the sort of pressure-filled week any competitive player should embrace.

Appreciate This Moment 

It is easy to know which of your friends and co-workers are still competing, and it is even easier to pick out the ones who are not. What started as something everyone talked about back in August is now only discussed by a few. Back in August, all of your friends and co-workers would discuss fantasy football decisions like they would a movie that just came out, a local election, or even the weather. “Who are you taking at the one spot? Jonathan Taylor or Christian McCaffrey?” “Who is your TE1? Mark Andrews or Travis Kelce?” “Are you waiting on QB? I know I am.”

After drafts occur, these same people always win their drafts. About 85 percent of fantasy football players feel fantastic on draft night, and the stories get told like myths and legends of the past. “Wow, Dude. I was able to draft Brandin Cooks in the fifth round! Championship!”, “Kyle Pitts in the third? LOL, my league mates sure were asleep at the wheel.” Many of these people seem to have moved on to other things as their fantasy season is over.

Now is certainly not the time to talk trash or boast in your league chats. That comes in two weeks when you win your league. Then you can make it rain and let everyone know who shipped it. 
No one remembers who finishes third and fourth in your league playoffs. They only remember who beat who in the title game. Week 16 is the week to have impeccable decision-making and calculated choices on the waiver wire. We cannot control what happens on the field, but we can put ourselves in the best possible position to win. 

Last week I dove into some defensive choices and discussed the need to roster handcuff RBs. This week is very much the same. We want maximum points from every position and we want to fill our benches with top upside choices. 

Streaming Options for Defense:

Tennessee (52-percent Available)  vs. Houston

Houston played their hearts out against Kansas City, but The Titans are still 7-point home favorites. They sacked Justin Herbert three times, and they could tee off on the Davis Mills/Jeff Driskel combo. 

Cleveland (74-percent Available) vs New Orleans

The Browns’ defense is red-hot. They shut down Houston in Week 13 with a 30-point defensive scoring performance and held Baltimore to three points on Saturday. They now face a Saints offense averaging 12.3 points over their last three games. 

Los Angeles Chargers (76-percent Available) at Indianapolis

The Rams play tonight against Green Bay and will be on a short week in a cross-town game against the Chargers. The Chargers sacked Tennessee four times and are on a two-game win streak holding Miami and Tennessee to 31 points combined. Plus, they get to play Baker Mayfield in Week 17. 

Detroit (96-percent Available) at Carolina 

A Week 16 dark horse candidate that is available everywhere. The Lions are sizzling, winning six of their last seven games. They have eight sacks over their previous two games and three forced turnovers. They scored on a punt return TD on Sunday to add icing on the cake. Also, you know, Sam Darnold is Sam Darnold

Consider rostering multiple defenses to prevent your opponent from using them against you. Dallas and Philadelphia managers, who have benefited from using them every single week, may consider pivoting this week as they play one another in a game that could be a potential shootout. 



Aaron Rodgers | Green Bay

Aaron F-ing Rodgers, yes, that Aaron Rodgers has dipped below our 25 percent threshold on Yahoo. He is currently QB18 but has a potential Week 17 shootout during championship week against Minnesota. Rodgers slinging three TD passes or more against a rival team would not be shocking to anyone despite his average season. 

Gardner Minshew | Philadelphia

This is a Super Flex bonus, and a Jalen Hurts manager emergency plan QB. We could have some Minshew magic in Week 17 as Philadelphia could rest players with a win this week against Dallas. Minshew would be a welcome addition over some of the mash unit of QBs we see now in the low-end QB2 ranks after all the injuries. Minshew ripping and running on New Year’s Day against the Saints would be a fun storyline. If you roster Hurts, add Minshew or another contingency plan QB. 

Brock Purdy | San Francisco 

Purdy is a must-start in Superflex formats. He has put up Garroppolo-like six TD passes over his last three games. I would not consider him in single QB formats. 

Running Backs 

Zack Moss and Deon Jackson | Indianapolis

Jonathan Taylor went down with a high ankle sprain in the first quarter of Saturday’s dramatic overtime loss to Minnesota. His season is over. Moss is the low-hanging fruit here as he rushed for 81 yards on 24 carries. He out-snapped Jackson 53-25, out carried him and ran more routes.

Jackson had some fantasy success earlier in the season and has displayed some two-way ability. How their work is divided out against Los Angeles remains to be seen. The Chargers and Giants have been generous against RBs all season, and there could be some sneaky fantasy value here. Fantasy gamers should think of low-end RB2 numbers. 

JaMycal Hasty | Jacksonville

Last week, and pretty much every single week, I write about the importance of rostering hand-cuff RBs, especially ones with pass-catching ability. Travis Etienne went down with an ankle injury on Sunday but was able to return and finish the game. If Etienne has a setback, Hasty will step into a valuable role as a locked-in RB2. The Jaguars are playing on a short week with a Thursday night game against New York. I will prioritize Hasty if he is available. 

Khalil Herbert | Chicago

Herbert will return from the IR this week. Chicago is devoid of offensive playmakers, so expect Herbert to see his usual work behind David Montgomery. The Bears are so run-heavy that Herbert could be viewed as an emergency flex against the Lions in week 17. Herbert is one of the more talented handcuff RBs in football and has four games over 74 yards rushing this season. 


Do not do it. Just move on and ignore.

Boston Scott | Philadelphia

Just like Minshew, Scott would fill a sizeable role if Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell were held out. 

Handcuff RBS

As a reminder- your bench is LESS important this week. There are no more bye weeks, and 10 PPG-type WR4s will never crack your starting lineup. Fill your bench with players who would gain massive value with an injury. Players like Jaylen Warren, Jordan Mason, Joshua Kelley, Samaje Perine, and Marlon Mack are this week’s afterthoughts that could be week 17 starters. If you have a valuable RB, ensure you are rostering YOUR handcuff, and by all means, roster your opponent’s cuff! 


Wide Receivers

K.J. Osborn | Minnesota

Osborn is balling. He has the best game of his career on Saturday with ten catches on 16 targets for an eye-opening 157 yards receiving and a TD. He has now found the end zone in back-to-back games. This week is devoid of exciting options at WR, so consider riding the hot hand with Osborn. Dynasty managers should prioritize him. He should fill in as WR2 next season whether or not Minnesota moves on from veteran Adam Thielen

Rashid Shaheed | New Orleans

Chris Olave has had a sensational rookie year, but Shaheed has been another bright spot of late among the Saints’ pass-catching weapons. Shaheed has three straight games with 53 yards or more receiving and had his best game of the season on Sunday. Shaheed led the Saints in routes run and finished with three catches for 95 yards and a TD. He is an explosive player with upside. 

Russell Gage | Tampa Bay

Julio Jones is dealing with a knee injury, and Gage filled in with his best performance of the season. Gage caught eight passes for 59 yards and two TDs. Consider him more of a floor play, but he has a chance to be well-targeted. 

Chris Moore | Houston

Moore now has 20 targets over his past two games. He is the only Houston Texan worth considering even rostering at this point, and he can be used in the flex or WR3 spot if you are in a jam. Temper your expectations, but it is hard to see him not being well-targeted against Tennessee and Jacksonville over the next two weeks. 

Tight End

Juwan Johnson | New Orleans

Johnson has been in this Waiver Wire article so many times that I may have to send him a holiday card. He was TE1 Overall this week catching four of six passes for 67 yards and two TDs. Johnson now has seven TD receptions, which places him second among all players at the TE position. He is TD dependent, but who isn’t among all low-end TE1s and high-end TE2s?  

Chig Okonkwo | Tennessee 

Okonkwo continued his impressive run with four catches for 54 yards.

Chig Okonkwo Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

He now has 17 catches on 21 targets over his last four games. He is an ascending talent with the burst and TD upside to help us win this week. 

Go and get that W this week! Time to cash some tickets!