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Fantasy Football Week 16 Recap: Surprises, Disappointments, Key Stats & Takeaways

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Dec 27, 2021
Ezekiel Elliott

As we say goodbye to Week 16, I hope everyone reading this is playing for a fantasy championship next week. And if you’re sweating out a result in Monday night football as I am (please score fewer than 14 points, Myles Gaskin), then I wish you the best of luck.

I also want to thank everyone who has followed this recurring series throughout the season. I hope these rundowns were an effective way not only to recap the week that was but also give future-focused insights that played a role in your success.

This will be the last rundown of the 2021 season. Best of luck in your fantasy title games, and thank you again for reading.

Let’s get into the Week 16 recap.

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The Surprises 

1. Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins go off on Baltimore

The fantasy MVPs of Week 16 were no doubt Burrow and Higgins. Burrow carved up the Baltimore secondary for a second time this season, throwing for 525 yards and four touchdowns. Higgins caught 12 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. It was a glimpse of how great this offense can be when everything’s clicking.

What should we do from here? Cincinnati will face a much stiffer test next week when the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs defense comes to Cincinnati. However, Higgins and Burrow should be weekly fixtures in your lineups, as should Ja’Marr Chase. I’d even consider Tyler Boyd as a high upside WR3 for teams dealing with injuries or COVID concerns. Start your Bengals in your title games.

2. Justin Jackson delivers 

Justin Jackson was one of the most popular waiver pickups this week, and he certainly delivered for teams that started him. Jackson rushed for 64 yards and two touchdowns while catching eight passes for 98 yards. He was the only part of the Chargers offense that really delivered, as Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen put up underwhelming numbers.

What should we do from here? Austin Ekeler will likely return from the COVID-19 list this week, which means Jackson will be thrown back into a timeshare, at best. The Chargers have done a good job spelling Ekeler throughout the year, so Jackson won’t suddenly go back to the bench. But his value will be greatly reduced should Ekeler come back. He should probably return to your bench in Week 16.

3. Welcome back, A.J. Brown 

Boy, was it great to have A.J. Brown back. He literally took over that game for Tennessee, showing the national audience just how dominant he can be when healthy. Brown caught 11 of 16 targets for 145 yards and a touchdown. He was magnificent, and most importantly came out of Thursday’s game healthy.

What should we do from here? There might have been some trepidation in starting Brown coming off the injured reserve. But after last Thursday’s performance, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about in Week 17. Start Brown with confidence against the Dolphins.

4. Cowboys go bananas 

Anyone who was banking on the Dallas Cowboys being an offensive juggernaut finally saw it Sunday night. The Cowboys destroyed the Washington Football Team, but the fantasy fortunes weren’t as great as you might’ve expected. Dak Prescott had a great day, throwing for 330 yards and four touchdowns. The Cowboys defense and special teams scored twice. Amari Cooper had a good day, catching seven passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Dalton Schultz got in the end zone and caught nine balls. Ezekiel Elliott saved his day with two touchdowns. But CeeDee Lamb was left out in the cold, catching just four balls for 68 yards.

What should we do from here? The Cowboys are tricky. You probably have to start all of them, aside from maybe Tony Pollard, unless you’re flush with roster depth. But the matchup against a strong Arizona defense isn’t ideal for your fantasy championship.

The Disappointments 

1. Tom Brady 

This isn’t an enormous surprise, as the Buccaneers were without both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans Sunday. But 232 yards and one touchdown probably wasn’t good enough for anyone starting Brady last week.

What should we do from here? You have to start Brady this week, especially when considering he’s playing an awful Jets defense. However, it wouldn’t stun me if Tampa Bay followed a similar script next Sunday in New Jersey. With the division clinched, Tampa’s main goal will be to get to the playoffs healthy. That could put a damper on Brady’s fantasy outlook.

2. Matthew Stafford 

Woof. Stafford was horrendous against Minnesota Sunday, throwing for 197 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Hopefully you survived this dud performance.

What should we do from here? Stafford has had a tendency to put up stinkers this season. But against a Ravens secondary that’s shredded with injuries, you should start Stafford with confidence in your fantasy title game.

3. Cordarrelle Patterson 

Patterson will go down as one of the most critical players in fantasy football in 2021, but he’s struggled down the stretch. Week 16 was no different, as he rushed for just 14 yards on seven carries and caught just one pass. If not for a touchdown, Patterson would’ve been a total dud.

What should we do from here? I’m wondering if Patterson is dealing with an injury, as his usage and production just hasn’t been the same the last two weeks. And things won’t get any easier for Patterson as he squares off with a stout Bills defense next weekend. Patterson feels like a hard to trust RB2 in Week 17.

4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been a disappointment all season, and he disappointed fantasy players who needed him in Week 16. CEH left the game with a collarbone injury, and he likely won’t make an impact on the rest of the fantasy football season.

What should we do from here? Get Darrel Williams on your roster if he’s available in your league. Williams succeeded when relieving CEH earlier in the season. Derrick Gore also might be worth consideration, as he had some nice moments as Kansas City’s No. 2 back.

5. Tyreek Hill 

Many fantasy players gave out a sigh of relief when Hill cleared COVID protocols late last week. However, Hill didn’t deliver much production Sunday, catching just two passes for 19 yards. It was the Byron Pringle show instead, as he caught seven passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

What should we do from here? Perhaps Hill wasn’t 100% after coming back from the virus so quickly. But I’d expect his production to return to what we expect next week against Cincinnati with a week to rest up. As for Pringle, I wouldn’t consider him an option next week with Hill and Travis Kelce expected to both be out there next week.

Week 16 By the Numbers 

9: Nine different receivers put up at least 100 yards last week.

15: Antonio Brown‘s targets in Week 16, something that might be replicated next week if Evans sits out again.

91: Zach Wilson‘s rushing yards in Week 16, the most among all QBs.

127: Chase Edmonds‘ total yards in Week 16 with James Conner sidelined.

131: Sony Michel‘s rushing yards in Week 16. With Darrell Henderson suffering another knee injury, this backfield is Michel’s for the rest of the season.

149: Rex Burkhead‘s rushing yards in Week 16… what?

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