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Erickson: Fantasy football waiver wire targets ahead of NFL Week 16

Dec 20, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) drops back to pass against the New York Giants during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For most fantasy football leagues, the semifinals are in the books. Jalen Hurts reminded us last week why mobile quarterbacks are cheat codes in fantasy football, and David Montgomery continues to prove all the haters wrong after posting four-straight RB1 performances. 

Still, Week 15 and the days leading up to Sunday weren’t kind in regards to injuries. Replacements may be needed for James Robinson, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Michael Gallup, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jalen Reagor, Tre’Quan Smith, Ronald Jones II, Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Thomas, Myles Gaskin, Damien Harris, Duke Johnson Jr. and Derek Carr.

With the fantasy finals on deck, the waiver wire is strictly for adding players to start this week or to block your opponent by adding at a position he or she might need. 

Let's dive into the top waiver-wire targets for Week 16 for fantasy managers looking to lock down eternal glory. This list of players includes anyone rostered in approximately 50% of Yahoo leagues or less, with deep league options at every position. I’ll also throw in some DFS takes as well, so anyone out of the playoffs can still come away with some action items.

This will be the grand finale of my waiver wire column for 2020. Combing through waivers is always a tireless grind every year, so I hope this article has helped you along the way.

QUARTERBACKS

BAKER MAYFIELD, CLEVELAND BROWNS  – 47% ROSTERED

Baker Mayfield has been #cooking ever since Odell Beckham Jr. went down in Week 7. Since that game — excluding games played in hurricanes/torrential downpours — Mayfield has the league’s best PFF passing grade (93.5), 15 passing touchdowns (first) and averaged 9.1 yards per attempt (third). He also ranks ninth in expected fantasy points per game (20.5). 

The Browns struggled to get the run game going Sunday night without stud guard Wyatt Teller, so I would expect them to have to once again lean on Mayfield to dominate the New York Jets through the air. 

New York has allowed the second-most fantasy points to the QB position this season. 

JALEN HURTS, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – 39% ROSTERED

He’s probably owned at this point, but just in case Hurts is still lingering on some waiver wires, a final call: Hurts needs to be added and started this week. The rookie has averaged over 30 fantasy points in his first two starts this season and gets his easiest matchup of the year against Dallas in Week 16.

Running QBs have destroyed Big D this season Kyler Murray (32 fantasy points), Russell Wilson (48 fantasy points), Lamar Jackson (30 fantasy points) so expect Hurts to put up another huge fantasy performance.

He’s the ultimate cheat code in fantasy football — whether the defense is playing zone or man, he will find a way to score fantasy points.

In his first two starts, Hurts has been much better throwing against zone coverage (71.3 PFF passing grade, 8.9 yards per attempt, 101.7 QBR) than versus man coverage (40.5 PFF passing grade, 4.5 yards per attempt, 89.1 QBR).

Dallas has played the third-most snaps from zone coverage over the past four weeks, so Hurts should put up a productive passing effort. The Cowboys have allowed a league-high 111.4 passer rating in zone coverage this season.

And even if Dallas smartens up and plays more man coverage, that will just lead to more rushes for Hurts. Hurts’ rushing numbers versus man looks (17 carries, 7.1 yards per attempt, 47.1% first down or touchdown percentage) vastly outweigh his rushing numbers versus zone (nine carries, 5.8 yards per attempt, 22.2% first down or touchdown percentage).

It’s a win-win situation for Hurts in Week 16. He’s priced down at the bottom of the elite tier of QBs on DraftKings this week, so he is an extremely strong play at $7K.

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