Fantasy Football: 10 biggest reactions to NFL Week 16

Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) rushes during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Allgeier takes over the Atlanta Falcons backfield: Allgeier has run the ball 35 times over the past two weeks and taken a stronger hold on the starting job in Atlanta.

Treylon Burks’ role expands for the Tennessee Titans: Burks returned to the Titans' lineup after suffering a concussion two weeks ago and played more than 70% of offensive snaps for the first time.

Shane Zylstra scores three touchdowns: The Detroit Lions‘ rotational tight end scored three times, but that might not be a sign of things to come.

Estimated Reading Time: 10 mins

PFF's fantasy football recap focuses on player usage and stats, breaking down all the vital information you need to achieve fantasy success in 2022. Here, we touch on players who are only relevant in fantasy football.

These are my 10 biggest reactions to the games from the Saturday and Sunday slate. To get a more in-depth breakdown, check out my full Saturday recap.

Tyler Allgeier takes hold of the Atlanta Falcons’ backfield

Allgeier was the clear top player in the Falcons' backfield for the first time since Cordarrelle Patterson returned from injury.

  • He ran the ball 18 times for 74 yards and added four catches for 43 receiving yards.
  • He’s typically been the Falcons' primary receiving back, but this was the first time in months that he also played a majority of snaps on early downs and in short-yardage situations, even though they weren’t converted to touchdowns.
  • His quality of play has been consistent in recent weeks. He’s averaged 5.8 yards per carry since Week 11.
  • The Falcons play the Arizona Cardinals next week. This is a much better matchup, as the Falcons could be playing from ahead, and Arizona has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
  • The combination of Allgeier’s increased role and the matchup could make Allgeier the top waiver wire option at running back for the week, barring an injury in a later game.
  • He’s also done enough to potentially keep the starting job in 2023.

Monitor Aaron Jones’ health

Jones was limited in every practice since before the Packers' Week 10 game. He’s appeared on the injury report with ankle, shin, glute and knee injuries at various times over the past seven weeks.

  • He was also spotted on the sideline getting checked out by the trainer during the game.
  • This was the likely reason for his reduction in playing time. He was taken out of the game for large chunks at a time, most notably for a 13-minute stretch in the third quarter.
  • He was held to 25 yards on six carries and two catches for nine yards.
  • This led to more snaps by A.J. Dillon, but he wasn't necessarily more productive.
  • Dillon scored a touchdown but was held to 3.3 yards per carry. The Packers largely stuck with the passing game.
  • Patrick Taylor Jr. played two snaps in the third quarter during Jones’ largest absence, as well as the three kneel-downs to end the game.
  • We'll have to watch the practice reports this week before deciding how to handle the Packers’ running backs in start/sit decisions.

Khalil Herbert’s return

Herbert was activated off injured reserve after suffering a hip injury in Week 10.

  • Herbert received more playing time than expected, playing a little more than he had in the games leading up to his injury.
  • Typically, David Montgomery plays 100% of the Chicago Bears‘ snaps on their first two drives, but Herbert began seeing some snaps on the second drive.
  • Herbert took all of the snaps on the third drive, as was the case before the injury.
  • The two backs were used interchangeably despite the fact that Herbert has performed better as a rusher and Montgomery better as a receiver over the past two seasons.
  • The significant playing time didn’t necessarily lead to more touches or production. He managed just seven rushing yards on six carries, and he lost four yards on two receptions.
  • That lack of touches and production likely means he can be left on the waiver wire, but there is at least a chance he could have a huge Week 17 against the Detroit Lions‘ defense after how they performed against the run in their Week 16 outing.

Christian McCaffrey’s frustrating usage

McCaffrey touched the ball only 17 times, while his backup handled the ball nine times.

  • In previous games where McCaffrey’s touches were limited, it was because the backup played a lot in the second half while the San Francisco 49ers had a comfortable lead.
  • This week, he lost a few carries here and there throughout the game.
  • He ran the ball only three times in the first quarter, which was his fewest in a first quarter since Week 8.
  • Tyrion Davis-Price was the primary backup Saturday. Jordan Mason had been the backup, but he was added to the practice report Thursday due to a hamstring injury.
  • Davis-Price also ran the ball three times in the first quarter. The 49ers' backup running backs had only four carries in first quarters from Weeks 8-15.
  • The run game, in general, wasn’t effective against a strong Commanders run defense, outside of a 71-yard breakaway by wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud III.
  • The 49ers' running backs have a much more favorable matchup next week against the Las Vegas Raiders, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season.
  • McCaffrey should be able to put up big numbers even if a backup also takes several carries next week, but this will be a concern for 2023.

Treylon Burks’ return

Burks suffered a concussion in Week 13, causing him to miss Week 14.

  • He played more than 75% of offensive snaps for the first time in his NFL career.
  • He played 14 of a possible 18 snaps in 12 personnel, which made the difference for him compared to previous weeks.
  • He reached 10 snaps in 12 personnel once (Week 3) prior to his first major injury of the season and hadn’t regained those snaps when he returned in Week 10.
  • Those snaps came at the expense of Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.
  • This didn’t necessarily lead to more production. He didn’t catch either target, and the Tennessee Titans‘ passing game was held under 100 yards total.
  • Burks had a 15-yard carry.
  • The Titans have a much more favorable matchup against the Dallas Cowboys next week.
  • Dallas has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, and the Titans will likely need to pass a lot more in that game.

Khalil Shakir usurps Isaiah McKenzie on pass routes

Shakir has cut enough into McKenzie’s snaps in the slot to have run more pass routes.

  • Shakir has been the primary backup outside receiver since Jake Kumerow was injured, as well as the primary backup slot receiver.
  • Cole Beasley was in for the first three-receiver set for the second straight game, likely out of respect for the veteran, but he barely played once again.
  • McKenzie remained the primary slot receiver in the first half, but Shakir took the majority of snaps from the slot in the second half.
  • This didn’t lead to much production, with Shakir catching a five-yard pass and McKenzie going without a reception.
  • This is unlikely to matter much for fantasy purposes next week but could play into daily contests throughout the rest of the season and the playoffs.
  • This also opens a path for Shakir to be the Buffalo Bills‘ primary slot receiver in 2023, which could give him some fantasy value.

Kadarius Toney’s role expands

Toney returned from injury last week and saw his role increase in Week 16.

  • Toney played only five offensive snaps last week after missing Weeks 12-14.
  • He and Skyy Moore were competing for snaps in Weeks 10-11 at WR4 on the depth chart.
  • Toney was slightly ahead of Moore in this game. His increase in snaps largely came at the expense of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, whose snaps have slowly but surely been on the decline.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t get much production out of their wide receivers, in general, against the Seahawks. Their top three receivers in receiving yards were all non-wide receivers.
  • Toney caught a touchdown pass, and Justin Watson and Valdes-Scantling were held without a catch.
  • Mecole Hardman recently returned to practice and could rejoin the active roster before the Chiefs’ next game. This would further complicate the receiving room.
  • The only spot that seems secure is JuJu Smith-Schuster’s at the top of the depth chart.

Isaiah Hodgins had the game of his career

Hodgins caught eight passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.

  • Hodgins joined the New York Giants in Week 10 off waivers from the Buffalo Bills after New York traded away Kadarius Toney.
  • He instantly became a rotational player for New York thanks to his familiarity with the offense, fighting for snaps with Kenny Golladay on the outside.
  • Hodgins consistently gained 25-45 receiving yards a game.
  • He slowly but surely became the clear starter over Golladay. This led to him playing at least 89% of offensive snaps in each of the past three games.
  • Hodgins was helped by a game script that forced New York to pass and a Vikings defense that has allowed the second-most receiving yards to wide receivers this season.
  • Slot receiver Richie James Jr. also had his best game in a Giants uniform, with eight receptions for 90 yards.
  • It will be much harder to trust these receivers next week against the Indianapolis Colts. The game script will likely be in the Giants’ favor, allowing them to run, and the Colts have allowed the fifth-fewest receiving yards to wide receivers this season.
  • There is at least a chance Hodgins could be a starter for New York next season due to the lack of solid receiver options in free agency.

Pat Freiermuth bounces back

Freiermuth’s playing time has been on the decline in recent weeks, but that trend sharply changed this week.

  • Freiermuth had been the Steelers' primary receiving tight end all season, but he was losing snaps on early downs in 11 personnel to Zach Gentry in recent weeks.
  • This led to Gentry playing more offensive snaps than Freiermuth last week, and Freiermuth was held without a target.
  • Freiermuth not only took most of the early-down snaps in 11 personnel, but he played more than he used to earlier in the season from this personnel grouping.
  • Gentry had a clear hold on snaps in 21 personnel prior to Saturday night. Freiermuth played only one snap from that personnel grouping all season.
  • Freiermuth took both of the snaps from that personnel group Saturday.
  • He still played the clear majority of third downs and snaps in two-tight end sets, as usual.
  • This led to seven catches for 66 yards and is a promising sign he will continue to be one of the better fantasy tight ends.
  • He can remain in fantasy starting lineups next week, and there is less to worry about with Freiermuth for 2023.

Shane Zylstra with the hat trick

Zylstra had eight career catches coming into Week 16 and out of nowhere scored three touchdowns.

  • He caught five total passes for 26 yards and the three scores.
  • The Detroit Lions have used a committee approach at tight end since trading away T.J. Hockenson.
  • They have typically used Brock Wright and Garrett Griffin in two-tight end sets — Wright in one-tight end sets on early downs and Zylstra as the tight end on third downs and in two-minute drills.
  • This usage remained true in Week 16. The Lions even ran eight plays in three-tight end sets, and half the time Zylstra wasn’t one of those three tight ends.
  • Two of Zylstra’s three touchdowns came from three-tight end sets despite him not always playing in that personnel grouping.
  • Zylstra will likely be the Lions’ top receiving tight end over the rest of the season, but he doesn’t see enough playing time to seriously consider him in fantasy football next week.
  • The Lions in Week 17 play the Chicago Bears, who have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season.


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