Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 16 (2019)
This is it, folks: Fantasy. Championship. Week. To quote the great Bill Parcells, “This is what you work all offseason for. This is why you lift all them weights. This is why you do all that s***.”
In our world, “lifting all them weights” means studying up as much as we can on each player and matchup, which is what I try to assist you with here each and every week. With the fantasy season reaching its climax, this will be the last overvalued/undervalued column of 2019. I sincerely thank you for reading and hope my analysis has given you a little bit of an edge along the way. I’d like nothing more than to help as many of you as possible get the gift of a fantasy championship this holiday season.
If you listened to my advice to start Joe Mixon and sit David Montgomery, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jack Doyle for the fantasy semifinals, you probably did all right. My recommendations to bench Carson Wentz and play Dede Westbrook? Not so much. Josh Allen finished in between my expectations and the expert consensus. My undervalued tight end, David Njoku, surprisingly didn’t end up playing, but if he had, I firmly believe he would have ended up with the two touchdowns that Ricky Seals-Jones collected. C’est la vie.
As always, my overvalued and undervalued picks for Week 16 are based on FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings for 0.5 PPR formats. If you’re wondering how this advice affects your own lineup decisions — or have a question about a player not mentioned here — reach out to me on Twitter, @andrew_seifter. Now let’s go out and win some ‘ships!
Overvalued: Patrick Mahomes (KC)
My Rank: QB6
Undervalued: Drew Brees (NO)
My Rank: QB4
I am once again higher than consensus on Ryan Tannehill and Josh Allen, and once again lower than consensus on Jimmy Garoppolo. But rather than rehash some points I’ve made before about those players, I want to touch on a challenging decision that many fantasy owners could be facing this week. If you drafted Patrick Mahomes as your starting QB, there is a decent chance that you turned to the waiver wire for Jameis Winston or Drew Brees when Mahomes missed a couple of games at midseason. By the same token, if you drafted Brees, you may have picked up Winston when Brees got hurt in Week 2. So the question is, if you have two of Mahomes, Brees, and Winston, who should you start?
For the all-important Week 16, the expert consensus ranks these QBs Mahomes (4), Winston (5), Brees (6), but I have them in the reverse order. To me, it comes down to how you weigh the relative importance of four factors: 1) recent form, 2) matchup, 3) receiver quality, and 4) home/road splits.
When it comes to recent form, it’s impossible to argue that Mahomes has been anywhere near as good as Brees or Winston. Over their last four games, Winston is the QB2, Brees is the QB3, and Mahomes is the QB11. Regarding matchup, Winston has the clear edge against a leaky Texans secondary, with Brees’ matchup at Tennessee also significantly better than Mahomes’ matchup with the Bears at Soldier Field. Receiver quality is the area where Winston falters, as he’ll enter this week’s game without Mike Evans or Chris Godwin, while Mahomes and Brees will both have their full complement of weapons. Home/road splits is the primary concern for Brees, who has historically been much better in the Superdome and has barely played on the road — or outside a dome — this season.
Mahomes, Winston, and Brees are all elite fantasy options and there probably is no wrong answer here. But at the end of the day, I find Mahomes’ mediocre recent production and Winston’s lack of reliable pass-catchers to be bigger red flags than Brees having to play an outdoor game on the road.
Overvalued: Phillip Lindsay (DEN)
My Rank: RB28
Look, I was an early believer in Lindsay and was as optimistic as anyone about his outlook when it was reported in Week 11 that the Broncos planned to “ride” him over the second half of the season. But while Lindsay played more than twice as many snaps as Royce Freeman that week, Freeman has actually out-snapped him ever since. It shouldn’t be shocking, then, that Lindsay is just the RB42 over his last four games, or that he disappointingly produced a season-low 32 yards on a season-low seven touches last week in a plus matchup with the Chiefs. At first glance, Lindsay gets a great opportunity to bounce back this week in another cake matchup with Detroit, but a closer look tells otherwise. The Lions were gashed on the ground early in the season, but they haven’t allowed any running back to top rushing 75 yards against them since Week 9, including Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook. Drew Lock has acquitted himself well to the NFL, but the Broncos are still not a particularly potent offense, further limiting Lindsay’s scoring upside.
Undervalued: Raheem Mostert (SF)
My Rank: RB12
You could say I am something of a Mostert truther. After all, I was calling for fantasy owners to not only stash Mostert but to start him as an RB3/flex option back when Tevin Coleman was still dominating San Francisco’s backfield. Since then, the 49ers’ running back rotation has swung decidedly in Mostert’s favor, with head coach Kyle Shanahan acknowledging that Mostert deserves the lead role. He may not be a true workhorse, but with a 5.7 yards per carry average that is tops among all running backs, Mostert is fully capable of putting up big fantasy numbers on limited touches. He is averaging 16 touches over the last three games, and is the RB6 during that stretch, despite two of those matchups being against top-5 run defenses (Baltimore and New Orleans). This week he faces a Rams D that gave up a whopping 303 yards and three touchdowns to Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard last week. There is always some risk of Shanahan returning to a hot hand approach, but I’d say I’ve adequately accounted for that in my RB12 ranking for Mostert this week.
Overvalued: Cooper Kupp (LAR)
My Rank: WR25
As a Kupp owner and enthusiast myself, this one pains me, but here it is. Kupp looked like an absolute fantasy stud in the first half of the season, a legit every-week WR1. But since the Rams’ Week 9 bye, he is just the WR48. Even more concerning for his outlook, is the fact that he is no longer guaranteed to be an every-down player. He only played 72 percent of the snaps in Week 13, and then that number plummeted to just 29 percent in Week 14, as the Rams leaned on run-heavy two tight end sets and featured Josh Reynolds as a blocking receiver. Kupp’s snap share rebounded to 92 percent last week against Dallas, but it’s hard to know how much we can take from a game in which the Rams trailed by 21 points at halftime. Another way of looking at Kupp’s diminishing role is in terms of targets. He had at least 8 targets in seven of his eight games prior to the bye, but has six targets or fewer in five of the six games since then. Kupp has saved his fantasy owners by scoring a touchdown in three straight games, but I’m not banking on that continuing this week on the road against San Francisco’s league-best pass defense.
Undervalued: Tyler Boyd (CIN)
My Rank: WR17
Boyd predictably struggled last week against the Patriots’ elite pass defense, but it should be a very different story this week against a Dolphins unit that has given up more passing scores than any team besides the Cardinals. Over his last four games, Boyd is the WR27, which is pretty darn good when you consider he’s faced three top-six pass defenses (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and New England) during that stretch. With at least six targets in 13 of his 14 games and at least 55 yards in 10-of-14, Boyd has established a very high floor for himself. And with Andy Dalton back at QB and a matchup with Miami on tap, Boyd’s ceiling this week is as high as it will be at any point this season. I am confidently firing him up as a WR2 for championship week.
Overvalued: Jack Doyle (IND)
My Rank: TE19
I was rewarded for fading Doyle last week, so I’ll gladly do it again this week. As I mentioned then, the upside simply isn’t there for a catch-and-fall-down player in a low-volume passing attack. That’s even more true with Colts QB Jacoby Brissett in the midst of a very rough stretch of play — this offense was just plain hard to watch on Monday night in New Orleans. The Colts do face a bad Panthers defense this week, but Carolina is much better against the pass than against the run, and they’ve handled tight ends especially well, holding Austin Hooper and Jacob Hollister to a combined five catches for 55 yards over the last two weeks.
Undervalued: Jared Cook (NO)
My Rank: TE5
I am starting Cook over Hunter Henry is one of my title games, and I haven’t really given the decision a second thought. We all know by now that Cook can be an inconsistent performer who drops his fair share of passes, but he also has far more downfield ability than most tight ends, and the opportunity he has in New Orleans is simply too good to pass up. Cook has emerged as Drew Brees‘ clear number two target behind Michael Thomas, and that makes him a near must-start in my book. Since he returned from an ankle injury in Week 10, Cook is the TE4, trailing only the Big 3 of Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle. He has at least 54 yards in five of those six games, and if you count the two games he played prior to the injury, he’s scored six touchdowns in his last eight games overall. This week Cook gets a Titans defense that has been well below average at covering tight ends, in a game that is projected to be one of the highest-scoring of Week 16. Sign me up.