Fantasy football championship weekend is nearly upon us, and hopefully you’ve been fortunate enough to make it this far! A funny aspect of fantasy football is how anti-climactic it is when you don’t win your way to the final showdown. Because let’s face it, if you’re not in the championship bout, chances are you’re not exactly on the edge of your seat awaiting the outcome. Instead, you’ve probably long closed out that league home page and moved on to other things. Finish all that holiday shopping yet?
But if you’re in that fantasy Super Bowl, Week 16 is first and foremost on your mind. Who cares if your vanquished league mates have checked out? There will be plenty of time to remind them of your victory next season. It’s lonely at the top, but with it comes glory, and perhaps some extra spending money for 2018.
Now, let’s get to business. As always, let’s journey through some Interesting Tidbits to highlight important fantasy football related changes and trends entering the week. This can include notable recent performances, changes in playing time, intriguing matchups, and so on. Let’s see what’s on tap for Week 16!
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Kareem Hunt has touch totals of 28 and 31 over the past two games
Kareem Hunt‘s peculiar season continues, but if you were lucky enough to survive his middling weeks, he’s paying off in a huge way at just the right time. After seeing 13 or fewer touches in three of four weeks, in the fantasy playoffs he’s touched the ball 28 and 31 times, while finding the end zone in both weeks. Week 15’s performance was particularly monstrous, with Hunt going for 206 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, which would have been the talk of the day had it not been for Todd Gurley going bonkers himself. Hunt is finally getting the volume we’ve been hoping for all season, and while it’s unusual how he’s book-ending his season with his best performances, it’s better late than never. The Kansas City Chiefs are double-digit home favorites against the Miami Dolphins, so we should expect another encore performance from Hunt this week.
The Rex Burkhead injury shakes up the Patriots backfield, and could mean more usage for Dion Lewis and James White
Well, it was fun while we actually had clarity in the New England Patriots backfield. Things had pretty much settled into the Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis show, but with Burkhead going down with a knee injury, we’re left with more uncertainty entering this crucial Week 16. However, the matchup against a Buffalo Bills defense that ranks 28th in DVOA against the run is a spot worth exploiting. Lewis would seem to be the obvious beneficiary considering he’s seen at least 14 touches in seven of the last eight games, and Burkhead will no longer be in his way to vulture touchdowns. Still, any additional touches could be relatively minor considering New England hasn’t given Lewis more than 17 all season, and they’re likely keen on limiting his volume given his injury history. On the other hand, after becoming mostly an afterthought of late, James White could reclaim the pass-catching role that Burkhead essentially stole away from him. It’s easy to forget that White was the safest Pats back early in the season, seeing double-digit touches in five of the first six games. Mike Gillislee could also return from the abyss as a goal line threat, but seeing as he hasn’t played since Week 8, unless we hear some confirmation about his role (unlikely), you’re taking a big leap of faith during championship week. Yes, it’s not entirely clear how this situation will shake out, but you can start Lewis with confidence due to his secure volume, and White deserves flex consideration, particularly in PPR formats.
Jimmy Graham has one reception in the last two weeks
Unlike Kareem Hunt, who has come through at just the right time, Jimmy Graham has done the complete opposite, becoming virtually invisible in the fantasy playoffs. Over his last two games, he’s caught just one of five targets for a negative yard and no scores. Yikes. It’s a far cry from a guy who produced nine touchdowns over the previous eight games. Still, at least we can partially blame the no-shows on a tough matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then last week’s team-wide debacle against the Los Angeles Rams. His recent decline in target share is concerning, and the yards haven’t really been there this season, but he remains Seattle’s best red zone threat. Despite the poor outings, you shouldn’t hesitate to roll with him against the Dallas Cowboys.
C.J. Anderson gets 30 carries in Week 15, and is now averaging 24.3 touches over his last three games
When C.J. Anderson led the Denver Broncos in carries back in Week 13, it seemed like a flukey result due to Devontae Booker being sick with the flu. But as it turns out, Anderson has wrested back control of this backfield, tallying touch totals of 19, 24, and 30 over the past three weeks. Finally, a true lead Bronco running back! Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows because Trevor Siemian is done for the year, so we’ll have an offense in the shaky hands of Brock Osweiler or Paxton Lynch, and the game script could be an issue should Denver fall behind on the road against Washington. Still, the volume and matchup are promising, making Anderson a solid RB2.
Jay Ajayi has seen his snaps rise in five consecutive weeks
Jay Ajayi still isn’t “the guy” in Philadelphia, which limits his overall upside, but he’s slowly getting more and more usage every week. Since the Eagles’ bye, Ajayi has seen his percentage of snaps steadily rise in each game (20%, 28%, 41%, 47%, 51%), and has hit double-digit touches in three straight weeks. As a big home favorite against a poor Oakland Raiders defense, the setup can’t get much better for Ajayi in Week 16.
Aaron Rodgers is gone again, and with him goes Jordy Nelson‘s fantasy value
Welp. Last week was meant to be Jordy Nelson‘s big return to fantasy relevance, but a rusty Aaron Rodgers couldn’t change his fortunes, leaving Nelson with just three receptions for 28 yards against the Carolina Panthers. With the Green Bay Packers eliminated from the postseason, they’re predictably playing it safe with their franchise quarterback by putting Rodgers back on injured reserve. That leaves Nelson with Brett Hundley against the Minnesota Vikings, which likely squashes any hope of any final hour turnaround. Nelson hasn’t scored since Week 5, and hasn’t surpassed 35 yards in eight straight games. Even if Davante Adams misses Saturday’s game with a concussion, which would theoretically lead to more targets, Nelson would still draw a brutal matchup with cornerback Xavier Rhodes. It looks like Nelson’s 2017 season will end on a quiet note, and it will be interesting to see how it affects his draft stock in 2018.
Blake Bortles has accounted for multiple touchdowns in four straight games
One of this season’s most unlikely fantasy playoff heroes has been Blake Bortles, who has scored multiple touchdowns and at least 18 fantasy points in four consecutive games. Coming off a 326-yard, three touchdown performance against the Houston Texans, we could see more of the same against the San Francisco 49ers, who rank 31st again the pass in DVOA. Between facing a team that loves to play at a fast pace, and the Jaguars’ league-best defense setting up short fields for the offense, Bortles will have a great opportunity to bring home some championship hardware to those willing to trust him for one more week.
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Kenyatta Storin is a featured writer with FantasyPros. For more from Kenyatta, check out his archive and follow him @kenyattastorin.