Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Week 16 WR/CB matchups and TE breakdown

Arlington, Texas, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) runs for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Week 16 (and holidays)! I've broken down the WR/CB matchups all season long with a focus on figuring out who could be facing shadow coverage as well as the best and worst overall situations. We have now reached the final boss: It’s championship time.

What follows is a look at the WRs and TEs from all 32 teams with an emphasis on their usage and matchup. The following tables denote snap rate data by alignment, target share, air yard market share, yards per route run and yards allowed per coverage snap.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Vikings Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Justin Jefferson 73 202 4.43 2.65 Janoris Jenkins 70 190 1.11
R Adam Thielen 74 200 1.84 Marshon Lattimore 72 192 4.36 1.37
S Chad Beebe 70 183 0.84 Chauncey Gardner-Johnson 72 208 4.48 1.05

Projected shadow matchups: Justin Jefferson vs. Janoris Jenkins, Adam Thielen vs. Marshon Lattimore

WR/CB breakdown: What else is there to say about Jefferson? All the first-year talent has done through 15 weeks is put together one of the most impressive rookie campaigns we’ve seen from a wide receiver. He finds himself near the top of the ranks in just about every metric among all rookie wide receivers with at least 50 targets in a season since 2010:

  • PFF receiving grade: 90.7 (No. 2 among 97 qualified WRs)
  • Receiving yards: 1,182 (No. 2)
  • Yards per route run: 2.65 (No. 3)

Continue to fire up the stud rookie receiver as a borderline WR1; he’s capable of making this a long afternoon for Jenkins.

I agree with the sentiment that Jefferson deserves to be ranked ahead of Thielen at this point. However, this is more of a hat tip to the rookie being an absolute baller than an indictment on Thielen, who has already racked up 13 receiving scores this season.

Perhaps the Saints change up their history of having Lattimore shadow Thielen. Either way, this is a matchup the Vikings’ veteran wideout has a history of winning.

You didn’t get to the fantasy championship by sitting guys like Jefferson and Thielen. Credit to the Saints for allowing the 10th-fewest PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers, but both of the Vikings’ top two talents have enough fantasy-friendly opportunity and raw talent to continue to be started with confidence in lineups of all shapes and sizes.

TE breakdown: Irv Smith Jr. (3 receptions-37 yards-0 TD) didn’t exactly stuff the stat sheet with Kyle Rudolph sidelined (foot) in Week 15, but the second-year tight end did post an elite 82% snap rate. I’m going back to the well with Smith as a legit top-12 option at the position as long as Rudolph remains out.

Last week, Smith set a season-high mark for snaps in the slot or out wide (19); his combination of size (6-foot-2 and 242 pounds) and speed (4.63-second 40-yard dash) makes him too big for corners and too fast for linebackers. 

Saints Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Juwan Johnson 76 231 4.58 0.23 Cameron Dantzler 74 185 4.64 1.44
R Emmanuel Sanders 71 180 4.4 1.82 Chris Jones 72 200 4.57 1.82
S Tre'Quan Smith 74 210 4.49 1.12 Jeff Gladney 72 183 4.48 1.58

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Drew Brees threw the ball 34 times in his first game back from injured reserve, yet somehow didn’t target a single player more than six times. The leader of the pack was obviously Alvin Kamara with Michael Thomas (ankle, IR) sidelined, while Emmanuel Sanders (5 targets) and Jared Cook (5) were the next most involved.

Tre'Quan Smith (ankle) should be considered questionable for Friday, but either way, Sanders is the only truly viable fantasy option in this winnable spot. The Vikings' defense has given the Saints so much trouble in January in recent years, but the unit is a shell of its former self at the moment:

  • Yards per attempt allowed: 7.58 (No. 25)
  • Explosive pass-play rate allowed: 15.8% (No. 26)
  • Passer rating allowed: 104.4 (No. 24)
  • Pressure rate: 22.2% (No. 31)

This offense simply doesn’t have that high of a ceiling without Thomas in the picture, but an indoor matchup against this middling-to-poor secondary shouldn’t bring out the worst of Brees and company. Sanders is my fantasy WR30 on the week — ahead of notable names such as Chase Claypool, T.Y. Hilton and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

DFS Showdown-ers should note that while Juwan Johnson dominated snaps, Lil’Jordan Humphrey will replace Smith if he’s sidelined. I prefer Humphrey to save some cash, but neither complementary wideout is a realistic season-long option. 

TE breakdown: Jared Cook was struggling to post even a 40% snap rate for weeks, but he’s seen at least four targets in three straight games and scored twice. Still, the 33-year-old tight end hasn’t shown off much more than solid red-zone ability this season, making him more of a touchdown-dependent TE2 than someone who fantasy managers should actively be looking to squeeze into lineups.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions

Buccaneers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Mike Evans 77 231 4.53 1.52 Mike Ford 72 194 0.39
R Antonio Brown 70 181 4.56 1.88 Amani Oruwariye 73 205 4.47 1.39
S Chris Godwin 73 209 4.42 1.71 Justin Coleman 71 190 4.53 1.15

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Tom Brady’s 390 yards and two scores in Week 15 demonstrated the sort of upside involved in this passing game. Each of Mike Evans (6-110-0), AB (5-93-1) and Chris Godwin (4-36-1) made the most of their limited opportunities. We don’t usually see many offenses enable three fantasy-relevant wide receivers, but the Buccaneers offer the right mix of pass-game volume and talent at the position to make it work.

Up next is another smash spot against a Lions secondary that is all sorts of bad and banged up. Jeffrey Okudah (shoulder, IR) and Desmond Trufant (hamstring, IR) are sidelined indefinitely, while Mike Ford (foot) and Darryl Roberts (hip) are also banged up. The remaining pieces look too small to handle Evans or Godwin, and too slow to deal with Antonio Brown downfield. Fire up each of the Buccaneers’ stud wide receivers as top-25 options in a matchup certain to produce plenty of points.

TE breakdown: Rob Gronkowski hasn’t shown off much of a floor since the Buccaneers added AB to the table in Week 9, posting 1-2-0, 2-51-1, 2-25-0, 6-106-0, 1-2-1 and 3-29-0 receiving lines. The TE17 in PPR points per game isn’t a must-start option at this point in the season.

Still, the matchup is perfectly winnable, and the ex-Patriots tight end is one of just nine players with double-digit targets inside the 10-yard line this season. Fire up Gronkowski as a touchdown-dependent TE1.

Lions Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Mohamed Sanu 74 215 4.62 1.14 Jamel Dean 73 206 4.3 0.7
R Marvin Jones Jr. 74 198 1.41 Carlton Davis 73 206 4.53 1.35
S Danny Amendola 71 190 4.58 1.92 Sean Murphy-Bunting 72 195 4.42 1.51

Projected shadow matchups: Marvin Jones Jr. vs. Carlton Davis

WR/CB breakdown: Jones is the only realistic fantasy option in a matchup that could feature Matthew Stafford (ribs) running for his life for much of the afternoon. The good news is Tampa Bay should try to match Davis with Jones, who is one of just six wide receivers with at least 70 yards since Week 8 when Kenny Golladay (hip) was injured.

Davis had some early success this season, but he’s hardly a matchup to fear:

It’s not an ideal matchup for Jones, as Davis has the sort of size to go toe to toe with him. Still, volume trumps all in fantasy land, and Jones has plenty of it. Continue to fire up the veteran wide receiver as a borderline WR2 while Golladay remains sidelined.

TE breakdown: Week 15 was just the second time all season that T.J. Hockenson failed to either clear 50 receiving yards or find the end zone. The good news is that he continued to post an 80%-plus snap rate and remains locked in as the offense’s No. 2 pass-game option.

The Buccaneers have allowed the eighth-most PPR points per game to opposing tight ends, so lock in Hockenson as the rock-solid TE1 he’s been for the majority of 2020.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

49ers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Brandon Aiyuk 73 206 4.5 1.79 Patrick Peterson 73 203 4.31 1.11
R Richie James Jr. 69 185 4.48 1.89 Dre Kirkpatrick 74 196 4.5 1.39
S Kendrick Bourne 73 203 4.68 1.43 Byron Murphy 71 190 4.55 1.3

Projected shadow matchups: Brandon Aiyuk vs. Patrick Peterson

WR/CB breakdown: Peterson didn’t shadow Week 1 with both Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel (hamstring) sidelined. However, look for Peterson to chase Aiyuk around the field this Saturday with limited success.

Peterson has fared well against some of the more physical receivers he’s been asked to shadow over the past two seasons, but the likes of Terry McLaurin (7-125-1), Stefon Diggs (10-93-1), Emmanuel Sanders (7-112-1) and Robert Woods (7-67-1) have proven this isn’t a matchup to fear.

Aiyuk has handled 10, 13, nine, 16 and 13 targets in his past five games. The likelihood that George Kittle (foot, IR) returns and plays through the pain hurts Aiyuk’s upside a tad, but there should still be enough targets to go around for both. Fire up Aiyuk as a true fantasy WR1. Does that sound crazy to you? It shouldn’t. Aiyuk is the WR13 in PPR points per game this season.

Credit to Kendrick Bourne for reeling in a meaningless Hail Mary at the end of Week 15, but there’s just too low of an overall ceiling in this offense to waste valuable fantasy assets on the complementary receivers.

TE breakdown: Kittle’s potential return would obviously leave both Jordan Reed and Ross Dwelley firmly out of the fantasy conversation. There’s also little reason to not trust Kittle in his first game back. The man caught 15-of-15 targets for 183 yards and a score in his first game back from injury in Week 4. Unless you have Travis Kelce or Darren Waller, Kittle needs to be starting in fantasy lineups if active.

Cardinals Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L DeAndre Hopkins 73 212 4.57 2.44 Ahkello Witherspoon 74 195 4.45 0.93
R Christian Kirk 71 200 4.47 1.18 Richard Sherman 75 195 4.54 0.43
S Larry Fitzgerald 75 218 4.48 0.96 K'Waun Williams 69 185 1.02

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: DeAndre Hopkins leads the NFL in receiving yards and has ripped off 8-52-1, 9-136-0 and, most recently, 9-169-1 receiving lines on an absurd 35 combined targets over the past three weeks. One of just five wide receivers averaging at least 19 PPR points per game, Hopkins earned matchup-proof WR1 treatment a long time ago. Don’t be surprised if we see another blowup against a 49ers defense that allowed him to catch 14-of-16 targets for 151 yards back in Week 1.

Christian Kirk hasn’t surpassed 50 yards or found the end zone since Week 9. Sheesh. Credit to Larry Fitzgerald for reeling in a tough touchdown in the back of the end zone last week, but that was just his first score all season. He’s yet to gain more than 62 receiving yards in a game. Neither is a realistic fantasy option with so much of this passing game simply flowing throw Nuk.

TE breakdown: The Cardinals have started to get Dan Arnold more involved in recent weeks; it’s just so tough to count on anyone in fantasy land when they’re playing fewer than 40% of the offense’s snaps. Arnold is a talented receiver who clearly has some chemistry with Kyler Murray, but we still can’t trust him as long as Darrell Daniels and Maxx Williams remain every bit as involved in the offense.

Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders

Dolphins Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Malcolm Perry 69 185 4.63 0.66 Keisean Nixon 70 193 1.89
R Mack Hollins 76 221 4.53 1.1 Trayvon Mullen 74 199 4.46 1.24
S Lynn Bowden Jr. 71 199 1.35 Lamarcus Joyner 68 191 4.55 1.25

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: I wrote the following about this Dolphins offense last week:

“The only potential fantasy option in this offense is fantasy RB/WR hybrid Bowden, who has caught 11 of 13 targets for 123 yards over the past two weeks to go along with 13 rushing yards and an incompletion. The Dolphins don’t have much of a choice but to feature their Swiss Army knife at this point; Bowden is a legit upside WR3 this week and worthy of strong consideration as a spot starter thanks to his position versatility across the industry.”

The same holds true in Week 16 as long as DeVante Parker (hamstring, Jakeem Grant (hamstring) and Mike Gesicki (shoulder) remain sidelined. The Dolphins asked Tua Tagovailoa to throw the ball just 26 times last week with basically all of his relevant receivers sidelined, and Bowden was the only wide receiver with more than three targets. Fire up the rookie once again as an upside WR3 in a seldom-seen first-year revenge game.

TE breakdown: Durham Smythe put together a respectable 5-40-0 receiving line with Gesicki sidelined last week, but he ultimately split snaps with Adam Shaheen. Neither player is a realistic fantasy option if Gesicki remains sidelined. I’m also hesitant to trust Gesicki in his first game back from a shoulder injury that could limit his snaps and ability to catch the ball. Treat him as more of a touchdown-dependent TE2 than upside TE1 if active.

Raiders Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Zay Jones 74 200 4.45 0.84 Byron Jones 72 205 4.49 1.29
R Nelson Agholor 72 198 4.42 1.78 Xavien Howard 73 192 4.58 1.24
S Hunter Renfrow 70 184 4.59 1.91 Nik Needham 72 203 1.47

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Marcus Mariota had the following target distribution with Derek Carr (groin) sidelined for all but five passes in Week 15:

Agholor is the only Raiders wide receiver that we can start with any level of confidence, but this isn’t the best matchup to expect a high-end performance. The Dolphins boast a pair of outside corners who are plenty capable of hanging with the much-improved wideout. Agholor is a boom-or-bust WR3 regardless of who winds up under center this week.

Henry Ruggs III (COVID-19, IR) wouldn’t be a recommended fantasy option if active this week with so much of the offense running through the tight end position.

TE breakdown: Waller has ripped off 13-200-2, 7-75-0 and 9-150-1 lines on an asinine 39 combined targets over the past three weeks. Credit to the Dolphins for limiting opposing tight ends to the eighth-fewest PPR points per game, but c’mon people — Waller is locked in as fantasy’s No. 2 tight end regardless of the matchup. This sort of pass-game opportunity simply isn’t available for any other player at the position outside of Travis Kelce.

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens

Giants Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Darius Slayton 73 190 4.39 1.47 Anthony Averett 71 178 4.36 1.57
R Sterling Shepard 70 201 4.48 1.58 Marlon Humphrey 72 197 4.41 1.13
S Golden Tate 70 197 4.42 1.28 Tramon Williams 71 191 0.62

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Colt McCoy has contributed a total of 9 passing yards on his two TD drives as the Giants’ starting QB. Daniel Jones (ankle, hamstring) ranked 24th at the position in fantasy points from purely passing production before suffering hamstring and ankle injuries. Shepard hasn’t scored or reached even 75 yards since Week 7, Slayton’s scoreless drought extends to Week 6, and Tate hasn’t gained even 50 yards in a game all season. Stay the hell away from this passing “attack” against the Ravens’ blitz-happy defense. 

TE breakdown: Evan Engram is perhaps the single most disappointing fantasy asset this season, considering the often-injured TE has somehow not missed a single game all year. He popped off with 5-48-1 and 6-129-0 lines in Weeks 9 and 12 but otherwise hasn’t surpassed 65 yards or found the end zone as a receiver. Engram is outside of my top 12 players at the position this week; nobody is safe inside this atrocity of a passing game.

Ravens Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Dez Bryant 74 220 4.52 0.8 Isaac Yiadom 73 190 4.52 1.24
R Marquise Brown 69 170 1.77 James Bradberry 73 212 4.5 0.82
S Willie Snead IV 71 205 4.62 1.49 Jabrill Peppers 71 213 4.46 1

Projected shadow matchups: Marquise Brown vs. James Bradberry

WR/CB breakdown: Dez caught it! You love to see it. Anyway, Brown is the only realistic fantasy option in this offense. The artist known as Hollywood has ripped off 4-85-1, 5-39-1, 2-50-1 and 6-98-0 receiving lines in his last four games after mostly being left for dead by fantasy managers following an up and (mostly) down first 11 weeks of the season. Bradberry is anyone’s idea of a stud corner, but the Giants’ zone-heavy defense makes this less of a one-on-one matchup to fear than it might be in another scheme.

Don’t go crazy, but Brown has earned his way back into fantasy’s top 30 WRs. He’s still a boom-or-bust WR3; just realize we’ve seen more of the former than the latter in recent weeks.

TE breakdown: Mark Andrews somewhat surprisingly has eight or fewer targets in all but two games this season. The results have hardly been bad: Andrews is the TE4 in PPR points per game this season. Still, this lack of a true No. 1 receiver-level workload is what causes such a gap between the position’s top three options and Andrews. The Giants deserve credit for being one of just eight defenses to allow fewer than five scores to opposing TEs this season, but Andrews earned weekly matchup-proof top-five treatment a long time ago.

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs

Falcons Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Russell Gage 72 184 1.52 Bashaud Breeland 71 195 4.62 0.77
R Calvin Ridley 73 190 4.43 2.46 Charvarius Ward 73 200 0.85
S Brandon Powell 68 181 0.54 L'Jarius Sneed 73 193 4.37 0.88

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The prophecy has come true: 2020 Ridley has been every bit the fantasy stud that Chris Godwin was in 2019.

Ridley has scored and/or surpassed 100 yards in all but three games this season. Madness. Continue to fire up the souring third-year receiver as a top-10 option at the position. After all, the man has produced at least 14 PPR points in 17 career games with at least eight targets.

Obviously, Julio Jones (hamstring) needs to be in fantasy football lineups of all shapes and sizes if he tries to gut it out. I’m inclined to fade this group otherwise. We’ve seen Matt Ryan play well without his No. 1 WR for all of four quarters this season, and the Chiefs have been the league’s third-stingiest defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position.

Gage is fine as a low-end WR3 if Jones remains sidelined; just don’t expect an offensive explosion from an offense that hasn’t put up 30 points against anyone other than the Raiders since Week 9. 

TE breakdown: Hayden Hurst found the end zone in Week 15, but the 4-21-1 performance marked his fifth consecutive game with fewer than 50 receiving yards after he cleared that mark in six of his first nine contests. Ryan simply hasn’t gone out of his way to get the TE involved all season, even with Jones out of the picture. Try to find a better option with the fantasy championship on the line; Hurst isn’t more than a low-end TE2 at this point.

Chiefs Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Demarcus Robinson 73 203 4.59 0.9 Kendall Sheffield 72 193 2.16
R Sammy Watkins 73 211 4.43 1.34 A.J. Terrell 73 190 4.42 1.62
S Tyreek Hill 70 185 2.17 Isaiah Oliver 72 210 4.5 1.69

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Hill (hamstring) didn’t practice on Wednesday. The Chiefs would need a minor miracle to *not* clinch the No. 1 seed; it wouldn’t be surprising to see them rest their elite field-stretching WR if he’s not at 100% come Sunday.

It could truly be Mecole Hardman Szn if Hill ultimately doesn’t suit up. We were tricked into thinking this would be the case earlier in the year when Watkins missed time, but Robinson and even Byron Pringle ultimately worked ahead of Hardman.

Still, this time around could be different. Hardman posted snap rates of 73%, 63%, 63% and 61% in four games with Hill sidelined last season. Mahomes truly loves throwing the rock to the Chiefs’ speedy second-year receiver:

It’s tough to trust any single WR too much if Hill is ultimately sidelined, but this cake matchup against the league’s second-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position is too appetizing to not take the risk. Both Watkins and Hardman would be upside WR3 options in Week 16 if Hill is ultimately sidelined, and I lean toward Hardman emerging as the more productive WR. Obviously, Hill needs to be started with confidence if healthy enough to suit up.

TE breakdown: Travis Kelce is on his way to joining Tony Gonzalez as the only players at the position to rack up five seasons as the PPR TE1 since 2000. Absolute madness. Continue to fire up the 31-year-old baller as a high-end skill-position player, not just TE. Dwain McFarland noted on the Wednesday edition of The PFF Fantasy Football Podcast: Kelce has the fifth-most PPR points regardless of position.

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets

Browns Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Donovan Peoples-Jones 74 208 4.48 2.36 Blessuan Austin 73 195 0.98
R Rashard Higgins 73 198 4.64 2.03 Bryce Hall 73 200 1.13
S Jarvis Landry 71 196 4.77 2.13 Javelin Guidry 69 193 4.29 1.18

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The Jets have posted the fifth-highest rate of passes faced with at least eight defenders in the box. They’re a “good” run defense because they devote the resources necessary to stop opposing rushing games. Of course, it’s 2020, so this strategy has resulted in the league’s 28th-ranked scoring defense.

All Baker Mayfield has done recently is ball the hell out:

  • Week 12: 19/29, 258 yards-2 TD-0 INT
  • Week 13: 25/33, 334-4-0
  • Week 14: 28/47, 343-2-1
  • Week 15: 27/32, 297-2-0

Landry has posted 8-143-1, 8-62-1, 6-52-0 and 7-61-1 lines with at least eight targets in every game during this stretch; he’s a legit top-24 option at the position this week against the Jets’ bottom-three defense in yards per attempt and explosive pass play rate allowed to targets aligned in the slot.

Higgins and (to a lesser extent) Peoples-Jones have also emerged as legit upside WR3 options during Mayfield’s hot stretch. This Jets defense has allowed the sixth-most PPR points per game to opposing WRs; don’t be afraid to take a chance on Higgins or even Peoples-Jones as a desperate dart throw this week if you need one.

TE breakdown: Austin Hooper’s 5-41-1 performance marked his first game with more than three receptions since Week 6. Don’t count on a repeat performance in an offense that frequently keeps David Njoku and Harrison Bryant involved, as well. Don’t get me wrong, the matchup is golden: nobody has allowed more PPR points per game to opposing TEs this season. Still, this is essentially a three-TE committee; Hooper is nothing more than a TD-dependent TE2.

Jets Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Breshad Perriman 74 215 1.41 Terrance Mitchell 71 191 4.63 1.12
R Denzel Mims 75 215 4.38 1.71 Denzel Ward 71 190 4.32 0.94
S Jamison Crowder 69 177 4.56 1.78 Kevin Johnson 72 185 4.52 0.98

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: In Adam Gase’s eyes, Sam Darnold purely exists to receive the ball from the center and stick it into Frank Gore’s gut 20-plus times per game. There’s always a chance that Crowder gets fed targets and winds up with a PPR-friendly effort, but he’s carried such a low floor recently. Overall, Crowder’s 6-66-0 line in Week 15 marked the first time he surpassed five receptions or 50 receiving yards since Week 6. Don’t chase points in the league’s single worst scoring offense; I’m out on the Jets as a whole this week.

TE breakdown: Chris Herndon posted a 3-48-0 receiving line last week. I literally cannot wait to back him as a post-Gase breakout star in 2021. Seriously, the amount of 20th-round best-ball picks I will devote to Herndon this offseason will border on insane. Good times ahead, just not in 2020.

Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars

Bears Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Allen Robinson II 75 211 4.6 2.09 Greg Mabin 73 200 1.53
R Javon Wims 76 215 4.53 0.45 Chris Claybrooks 72 170 1.5
S Darnell Mooney 71 175 4.38 1.08 Tre Herndon 71 185 1.19

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Mitchell Trubisky has been dealing (for him) recently, although we’ve continued to see this passing game struggle to hit the long ball. Overall, Trubisky is just 3-for-25 on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield, with one TD, three interceptions, zero drops and a league-worst average of 2.9 yards per attempt.

Somehow, A-Rob has once again overcome poor QB conditions and is the WR12 in PPR points per game through 15 weeks. There’s little to no reason why the Jaguars should be able to slow him down; they’re one of just 10 defenses allowing at least 40 PPR points per game to the position. Only the Falcons have allowed more yards per attempt to targets aligned on the outside of the formation; fire up Robinson as the volume-induced WR1 that he’s been all season.

Mooney is the only other receiver worth highlighting. The rookie has shown off a fantasy-friendly combination of route-running and field-stretching ability, and he played a season-high 23 snaps in the slot last week, since Anthony Miller has been randomly benched again. Sad, but this gives Mooney a bit more of a ceiling than we saw before. Don’t freak out: Mooney has fewer than 70 yards in every game this season. Still, this matchup warrants boom-or-bust WR4 treatment; it’s usually been good for fantasy business to start complementary options against the likes of the Jets, Jaguars, Raiders, etc. 

Wims played just 33% of the offense’s snaps last week. He’s not a realistic fantasy option.

TE breakdown: Cole Kmet played every single snap in Week 15; he’s fully supplanted Jimmy Graham as the starting TE, but the Bears have still played the veteran for at least 24 snaps in every game this season. There’s too low of an overall volume floor in this passing game to fire up either with much confidence this week. Gun to my head, gimme Kmet, but man, the better question is to ask what you did to get into this sort of mad hypothetical start/sit situation in the first place. Try to stay away if you can help it.

Jaguars Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L D.J. Chark Jr. 76 198 4.34 1.44 Kindle Vildor 71 180 4.44 1.44
R Laviska Shenault Jr. 74 220 4.58 1.5 Kyle Fuller 71 190 4.49 0.75
S Keelan Cole 73 194 1.17 Duke Shelley 69 180 1.71

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The 1-13 Jaguars are splitting reps between Gardner Minshew and Mike Glennon in practice. I truly believe Chark is talented enough to be a fantasy WR1 one day, while Shenault and Cole have flashed throughout 2020. With that said: don’t touch this offense with a 10-foot pole. They join the Giants, Bengals, Jets and Patriots as the only five teams implied to score fewer than 20 points this week (FantasyLabs). The far from ideal matchup further complicates matters; just avoid this entire offense, please. I don’t ask for much.

TE breakdown: Please read the last two sentences of the previous paragraph.

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

Bengals Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L A.J. Green 76 210 4.48 0.99 Vernon Hargreaves III 70 204 4.5 1.48
R Tee Higgins 76 215 1.76 Keion Crossen 70 185 0.62
S Tyler Boyd 74 203 4.58 1.71 Eric Murray 71 199 4.49 1.29

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Ryan Finley heroically completed seven of 13 passes for 89 yards and one TD (to Giovani Bernard) during the Bengals’ upset victory over the Steelers. Higgins has looked like one of the better WRs from the talented 2020 class, AJG hasn’t been total dust in recent weeks and Boyd broke free on a dope double-move for a potential score last week before being underthrown and subsequently concussed. It’s easy to see a scenario where this passing game take a legit leap forward in 2021 once Joe Burrow (knee, IR) is back under center. For now, please stay the hell away.

TE breakdown: It’s Week 16. I don’t even have a small sample/Drew Sample joke in me anymore. Don’t do it.

Texans Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Brandin Cooks 70 183 4.33 1.76 William Jackson 72 196 4.37 0.99
R Chad Hansen 74 202 4.53 1.74 Darius Phillips 70 190 4.54 1.07
S Keke Coutee 71 180 4.43 1.56 Mackensie Alexander 70 192 1.33

Projected shadow matchups: Brandin Cooks vs. William Jackson

WR/CB breakdown: The Texans’ franchise QB (again) fell victim to one of his teammates lacking ball security inside the Colts’ 5-yard line in the waning moments of a one-score game. Don’t let the Texans’ 4-10 record distract you from the reality that Deshaun Watson has played better than ever in 2020 despite absence of DeAndre Hopkins and more recently Will Fuller (suspension):

  • 2017: 64.1 PFF passing grade, 19-9 TD-INT, 7.6 YPA, 60.8% adjusted completion rate 
  • 2018: 81.1 PFF passing grade, 26-10 TD-INT, 8 YPA, 74.2% adjusted completion rate 
  • 2019: 76.5 PFF passing grade, 26-14 TD-INT, 7.5 YPA, 74% adjusted completion rate 
  • 2020: 90.4 PFF passing grade, 27-6 TD-INT, 8.6 YPA, 77.2% adjusted completion rate

Cooks has caught at least four passes in every game since Week 5 but hasn’t found the end zone since Week 9. It’s probably asking too much to consider him more than an upside WR3 against Jackson, who deserves credit for largely holding the likes of T.Y. Hilton (1-11-0), Terry McLaurin (5-84-0), Darius Slayton (0-0-0), DeVante Parker (4-35-0) and Amari Cooper (4-51-1) in check this season.

Hansen has posted 5-101-0, 7-56-0 and 2-55-1 receiving lines, and Coutee 8-141-0, 3-24-1 and 5-53-1, in the post-Fuller “era.” It’s tough to feel overly confident about the prospects of either backup WR, but we know Watson is going to put up production somewhere. Each of these receivers join the likes of Rashard Higgins and Darnell Mooney as fantasy-viable darts, although I’d prioritize these Texans options thanks to the presence of a truly elite QB under center.

TE breakdown: Jordan Akins makes the most out of his opportunities, but he continues to lose too many snaps to both Darren Fells and Pharaoh Brown to be considered anything more than a low-end TE2. Last season the Texans utilized far more two-TE formations without their top receivers than they had in 2020; try to avoid this crowded position group if possible.

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

Colts Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Michael Pittman Jr. 76 220 4.52 1.39 Steven Nelson 71 194 4.49 0.91
R T.Y. Hilton 70 183 4.34 1.79 Joe Haden 71 195 4.52 1.12
S Zach Pascal 74 219 4.55 1.29 Mike Hilton 69 184 1.45

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: This passing game is so spread out on a consistent basis that only marquee matchups should seriously be approached in fantasy land. Only four offenses have failed to feed the WR position at least eight targets in more than eight games this season: Ravens (4), Saints (6), Eagles (6), Raiders (8) and Colts (8). Each of those other offenses have either a target hog RB or TE that takes away from the WR group; the Colts have more committee situations at those positions as well to further lower the ceiling of everyone involved.

The Steelers defense isn’t invincible; we just don’t want to take a chance on a WR likely heading for around five targets in anyone’s idea of a tough matchup. Each of Pittman, Hilton and most recently Pascal have had solid stretches throughout the season; it’s just next to impossible to predict when one particular receiver will go off. Pass.

TE breakdown: We could get behind any of Jack Doyle, Trey Burton or (especially) Mo Alie-Cox if one of the players were to miss time, but snaps and targets are spread too thin to seriously consider starting any of them when each is healthy. Pass.

Steelers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Diontae Johnson 70 183 4.6 1.7 Xavier Rhodes 73 218 4.43 0.94
R Chase Claypool 76 227 4.42 1.96 Rock Ya-Sin 72 192 4.51 1.7
S JuJu Smith-Schuster 73 215 4.54 1.22 Kenny Moore II 69 190 1.3

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: It’s truly wild how far JuJu has fallen off with the ball in his hands compared to what we saw during his first two seasons in the league. I realize not having Antonio Brown around hasn’t helped matters, but it wasn’t that long ago that the dude was one of the more electric YAC-sters in the league.

And then we have Johnson, who has continuously impressed with his route-running ability and after-the-catch goodness over the past two seasons. The problem: The stone-handed second-year WR literally finds himself grouped with Larry Fitzgerald, N’Keal Harry, Greg Ward and A.J. Green as the league’s only five WRs to average fewer than six yards per target this season (minimum 50 targets). I’ve always believed Johnson was #good based on my own two eyes; it’s just becoming increasingly difficult to make a statistical argument that conveys that same conclusion. Of course, there was once a time when Davante Adams was also perceived as a WR that could overcome a lack of efficiency and troubles with drops.

Chase Claypool (66% snaps) worked ahead of James Washington (42%) against the Bengals, but Johnson (82%) and JuJu (91%) were the main two receivers. The rookie has looked like the offense’s best WR for most of the season, but it’s now been four weeks since we’ve seen a trip to the end zone and 11 since he went for over 100 yards.

Johnson has continuously been treated as the No. 1 pass-game option this season and deserves to be fired up as an upside WR2 in any league that rewards even half a point per reception. Otherwise, I’m inclined to stay away from this blundering passing “attack” against the league’s fifth-best defense in contested target rate.

TE breakdown: Eric Ebron (back) shouldn’t be trusted in the fantasy championship even if he tries to play through the pain. Vance McDonald posted a 92% snap rate in his absence last week and wasn’t targeted. Throw in the reality that the Colts field the league’s fifth-best defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to the position, and I’m out.

Carolina Panthers at Washington Football Team

Panthers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L D.J. Moore 71 215 4.42 2.27 Kendall Fuller 71 198 0.99
R Robby Anderson 75 190 2.1 Ronald Darby 71 193 4.38 1.38
S Curtis Samuel 71 195 4.31 1.63 Jimmy Moreland 70 179 1.08

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Both Moore *and* Anderson have established themselves as stud WRs this season:

  • Moore: 79.6 PFF receiving grade (No. 19 among 74 qualified WRs), 2.27 yards per route run (No. 11), 6.7 yards after the catch per reception (No. 4)
  • Anderson: 77.9 PFF receiving grade (No. 22), 2.1 yards per route run (No. 17), 5.7 yards after the catch per reception (No. 12)  

The PPR WR21 and WR24 can continue to be fired up as low-end WR2s against the Football Team; just don’t expect a performance in their upper range of potential outcomes against the league’s fourth-best defense in PPR points per game allowed to the position.

Samuel has at least nine targets in four of his past six games and is always good for a few rush attempts per week. The Panthers join the Texans and Steelers as the league’s only three passing games to enable three top-36 WRs in PPR points per game. The Panthers’ slot WR/RB hybrid is a high-floor WR3, although Samuel will face the teeth of this secondary considering nobody has allowed fewer yards per attempt on targets aligned in the slot than the Football Team (6.3) this season.

TE breakdown: The Panthers’ TE room has a league-low 205 receiving yards this season. Don’t do it.

Football Team Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Terry McLaurin 72 208 4.35 1.91 Donte Jackson 70 180 4.32 1.13
R Cam Sims 77 214 1.22 Troy Pride Jr. 72 190 4.4 1.25
S Isaiah Wright 74 220 0.88 Jeremy Chinn 74 211 4.45 0.65

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Dwayne Haskins (partying in a strip club while not wearing a mask) is slated to start if Alex Smith (calf) is again sidelined. McClaurin is an upside WR2 either way, but the second-year receiver is quickly building a case as his generation’s Andre Johnson/Allen Robinson, AKA an exceptionally talented WR who is routinely forced to battle through mediocre QB play.

McLaurin is the only WR we care about in this offense against the league’s eighth-best defense in fewest PPR points per game allowed to the position. The Football Team’s undisputed No. 1 pass-game option hasn’t had the best final stretch of the season; he remains the WR19 in PPR points per game. Fire up McLaurin as the volume-induced WR2 that he’s been virtually all season.

TE breakdown: Logan Thomas has rocked out to the tune of 4-20-1, 9-98-1, 6-43-0 and 13-101-0 receiving lines over the past four weeks. Only Darren Waller and Travis Kelce have more PPR points over this stretch; fire up Thomas as a legit upside TE1 against the Panthers’ bottom-10 defense in receptions, yards and TDs allowed to the position.

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers

Broncos Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Tim Patrick 77 210 1.74 Michael Davis 74 196 1.18
R Jerry Jeudy 73 192 4.45 1.52 Casey Hayward Jr. 71 192 1.36
S K.J. Hamler 69 173 1.18 Chris Harris Jr. 70 199 1.24

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Drew Lock is one of the league’s more volatile QBs; he presents a much wider range of positive and (mostly) negative outcomes than your typical meh-to-bad signal-caller. Still, last week produced a new low in terms of enabling his WRs, as none of Hamler, Jeudy or Patrick managed to reach even 20 receiving yards. Lock will have better days that could come as soon as this Sunday; he did throw for 248 yards and a trio of scores against this very defense back in Week 8. Still, the incredibly low floor associated with everyone involved leads me to recommend fantasy football managers to stay away from all of these WRs if you can help it.

TE breakdown: Noah Fant is a bit of an exception, as the 23-year-old talent caught eight of a season-high 11 targets for 68 yards and a score in Week 15. Playing through the pain all season, Fant looked healthier than normal after missing most of Week 14 due to an illness. The Chargers are one of just 11 defenses to allow at least 14 PPR points per game to opposing TEs; treat Fant as a low-end option at the position this week thanks purely to his potential high-end talent. Overall, only Darren Waller, Travis Kelce and George Kittle have more yards after the catch than Fant over the past two seasons. 

Chargers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Mike Williams 76 220 1.39 Michael Ojemudia 73 199 4.45 1.46
R Jalen Guyton 73 202 0.91 De'Vante Bausby 74 190 1.6
S Keenan Allen 74 211 4.58 1.91 Will Parks 73 194 1.07

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Justin Herbert barely had the services of Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (back) last week. It didn’t matter, as the rookie posted his seventh game with at least 300 passing yards of the season. The mark passes Andrew Luck for the most such games by a first-year player in NFL history.

Herbert threw for 289 yards and a trio of scores against this Broncos defense back in Week 8. Yes, the Chargers lost and Herbert threw three interceptions. Also yes, the frontrunner for rookie of the year honors forces defenses to account for every square inch of the field thanks to his rocket arm and gym-rat-induced mobility.

Ideally, Allen and Williams will be healthier after having an extra long week of rest. The latter receiver will be a boom-or-bust WR4 if active, while Allen is a bit tougher to trust. Last week was weird; Allen literally yelled into a camera “don’t sit me” in an effort to encourage fantasy managers to play him. The resulting limited workload featured a clearly hobbled Allen functioning at far less than 100%. Allen is my WR14 on the week; both Tyron Johnson and Guyton would be elevated to upside WR3 status if the Chargers’ longtime No. 1 WR is ruled out.

TE breakdown: Henry has caught at least five passes in three of his last four games after failing to do so even once in Weeks 4-11. Treat the TE11 in PPR points per game as such inside of an offense implied to score a solid 26 points.  

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Eagles Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Alshon Jeffery 75 218 4.48 0.76 Trevon Diggs 74 207 1.68
R Jalen Reagor 71 195 4.47 1.29 Chidobe Awuzie 72 202 4.43 1.48
S Greg Ward 71 186 0.91 Jourdan Lewis 70 195 4.54 0.86

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: The concern after Jalen Hurts’ NFL debut was whether or not he could keep pace in a game featuring a negative game script that would force him to continuously throw the ball. Well, it’s safe to say this is no longer something fantasy football managers need to worry about.

The problem in fantasyland is that the Eagles are literally rotating five WRs, none of whom played even 65% of the offense’s snaps last week. The only WR that is even somewhat worthy of a dart throw is Reagor, but even that’s iffy after the rookie exited early last week due to an ankle injury. Try to avoid this passing game if you can; it’s unlikely the Eagles have much of an issue running the ball to their heart’s desire against the Cowboys’ league-worst defense in yards before contact allowed per rush.

TE breakdown: Both Dallas Goedert (88% snaps) and Zach Ertz (75%) are playing ahead of any WR on the Eagles. The former had two chances to come down with the game-tying score in the games final minutes, while the latter turned in a game-high nice yards and had seven targets. Ultimately, both are nothing more than high-end TE2 options as long as this offense 1) leans on the run, and 2) spreads things out so evenly through the air.

Cowboys Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Michael Gallup 73 198 4.51 1.24 Kevon Seymour 72 185 4.39 1.13
R Amari Cooper 73 210 4.42 1.79 Michael Jacquet III 74 201 2.77
S CeeDee Lamb 74 191 4.5 1.85 Nickell Robey-Coleman 68 180 1.33

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Darius Slay (concussion) will likely follow Cooper around the field if active. Either way, that matchup isn’t Cooper’s primary concern. The issue is the Cowboys’ train wreck of an offensive line against the Eagles’ very good pass rush. Andy Dalton has been OK for roughly 12 quarters this season against the 49ers (No. 24 in pressure rate), Bengals (No. 32) and Vikings (No. 31). Don’t expect this “success” to continue against the Eagles (No. 4).

Let’s say I’m wrong and America’s Team keeps on winning; Dalton has thrown just 32, 23 and 33 passes in his three wins as a starter this season. Each of these WRs are talented, but we’ve seen exceptionally low floors from each of Cooper (2-10-0 in Week 15), Lamb (5-21-0 in Week 12) and Gallup (2-23-0) since Thanksgiving, let alone dating back to when Dak Prescott (ankle, IR) was originally sidelined in Week 5.

Cooper remains the Cowboys’ No. 1 pass-game option and has a history of balling out at Jerry World; just this matchup isn’t as juicy as the Eagles’ banged-up secondary would make you believe due to likely issues this offense will face at the line of scrimmage. I’d try to find better WR4 options than either Gallup or Lamb for the same reasons.

TE breakdown: Dalton Schultz has two scores and one game with more than 50 yards since Week 4; don’t do it.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Rams Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Josh Reynolds 75 196 4.52 1.25 D.J. Reed Jr. 69 188 4.51 1.2
R Robert Woods 72 195 4.51 1.72 Shaquill Griffin 72 198 4.38 0.97
S Cooper Kupp 74 208 4.62 1.94 Ugo Amadi 69 201 4.51 0.95

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Jared Goff has looked borderline broken for various stretches of the 2020 season. Somehow, both Woods and Kupp have persevered enough to each post top-26 production in terms of PPR points per game. Woods (WR14 in PPR points per game) has been more consistent than Kupp (WR26) thanks in large part to a 22-152-2 rushing line. Dual-threat producers are a cheat code a pretty much any position in fantasyland, and Woods joins Curtis Samuel as the only WRs with at least 20 rush attempts this season.

The Seahawks are in one of those weird positions where their defense has undoubtedly been playing better in recent weeks, but it’s also hard to say that they’ve faced any truly lethal passing attacks since squaring off with the Bills in Week 9. Overall, the Seahawks have allowed the following production over their past six games:

  • Week 10 at Rams: 23 points, 283 pass yards
  • Week 11 vs. Cardinals: 21 points, 257 pass yards
  • Week 12 at Eagles: 17 points, 180 pass yards
  • Week 13 vs. Giants: 17 points, 100 pass yards
  • Week 14 vs. Jets: 3 points, 116 pass yards
  • Week 15 at Football Team: 15 points, 269 yards

It’s unlikely the Seahawks are truly a pass defense to be reckoned with, but it’s also clear they’re at least good enough to not be lit on fire against every offense they face. Treat Woods and Kupp as the low-upside WR2 options that they’ve largely been all season in a matchup that could yield high-end performances from both if Goff manages to get his head out of his ass for any extended amount of time come Sunday.

TE breakdown: Tyler Higbee (83% snaps) worked well ahead of Gerald Everett (46%) last week and posted a plenty solid 4-67-1 receiving line. Still, Week 13 is the only time all season both tight ends had at least five targets in the same game. Neither is anything more than a touchdown-dependent TE2 with this sort of split usage, even in this sort of prime matchup. 

Seahawks Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L D.K. Metcalf 75 229 4.33 2.22 Jalen Ramsey 73 208 4.41 0.5
R David Moore 72 215 1.35 Darious Williams 69 187 0.82
S Tyler Lockett 70 182 4.4 1.68 Troy Hill 71 183 4.55 1.06

Projected shadow matchups: D.K. Metcalf vs. Jalen Ramsey

WR/CB breakdown: Russell Wilson had multiple completions of 20-plus yards in every game up until Week 14 (1) and Week 15 (0). Hell, the man racked up at least three such completions in all but four of his first 12 games of the season. The Seahawks have struggled to create explosive plays through the air after largely doing nothing except that during the first two months of the year.

Up next is a Rams defense that has limited him to fewer than 275 passing yards in nine consecutive matchups. Things have been particularly rough recently, with Wilson limping to 248-0-2 and 245-0-1 passing performances in his last two matchups against the Seahawks’ NFC West rival.

Metcalf has posted 6-78-0 and 2-28-0 receiving lines on a total of just 10 targets in Ramsey’s shadow coverage over the past two seasons. We really haven’t seen a corner truly shut down Metcalf, but Wilson has rather consistently refrained from peppering him with targets when matched by bigger-bodied corners like Ramsey, Patrick Peterson and James Bradberry. You didn’t make your fantasy football championship to sit Metcalf; just realize a vintage boom game likely isn’t on the table against PFF’s No. 3 ranked cornerback in fewest yards allowed per cover snap.

TE breakdown: Jacob Hollister scored last week but continued to lose snaps to Will Dissly. They combined for just two targets; try to find a better option at the position unless one is randomly ruled out before game time.

Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers

Titans Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L A.J. Brown 72 226 4.49 2.5 Kevin King 75 200 4.43 1.22
R Corey Davis 75 209 2.86 Jaire Alexander 70 196 4.38 0.66
S Cameron Batson 68 175 0.7 Chandon Sullivan 71 194 4.6 1.16

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Both AJB (WR8 in PPR points per game) and Davis (WR17) have functioned as top-20 producers at the position this season. They’re both incredible talents, but credit also needs to be handed out to Ryan Tannehill, who has been anyone’s idea of a top-10 QB this season:

  • PFF passing grade: 90.3 (No. 5 among 42 QBs with 100 dropbacks this season)
  • Yards per attempt: 8.1 (No. 5)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 77.2% (No. 17)
  • QB rating: 110.4 (No. 4)

The only concern this week is (another) prime matchup against a defense that shouldn’t be able to slow down Derrick Henry. Volume will probably be a bit of a hurdle, and the Packers deserve credit for having allowed the seventh-fewest PPR points per game to opposing WRs.

Still, neither receiver should have to deal with Jaire Alexander for too many consecutive snaps considering the Packers haven’t asked PFF’s No. 2 highest-graded CB to shadow a single WR since Week 7. Treat AJB as the WR1 he was born to be, while Davis can continue to be safely fired up as a low-end WR2. This one could turn into a shootout: The Titans-Packers’ 56-point game total is easily the highest mark of Week 16.

TE breakdown: Jonnu Smith posted an elite 93% snap rate last week, setting nine-week highs in receptions (5) and yards (52) along the way. The freakishly talented TE is always a candidate to lose red-zone targets to the Titans’ never-ending group of backups at the position, but Smith’s every-down role keeps him firmly on the TE1 borderline. Still, start/sit questions with similarly ranked options should probably go to the other player; the Packers are one of just four defenses to allow 10 or fewer PPR points per game to opposing TE groups. 

Packers Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Marquez Valdes-Scantling 76 206 4.37 1.39 Tye Smith 72 195 4.6 1.21
R Davante Adams 73 215 4.56 2.86 Malcolm Butler 71 190 1.25
S Allen Lazard 77 227 4.55 1.88 Desmond King II 70 200 0.76

Projected shadow matchups: Davante Adams vs. Malcolm Butler

WR/CB breakdown: Adams posted a 7-42-0 line on 10 targets last week, ending his eight-game scoring streak and marking the first time all season that he finished with fewer than 50 yards in a game that wasn’t influenced by injury.

Whatever. This sentiment is particularly true in a likely shadow date with Butler, who has held up reasonably well in one-on-one matchups this season, but he hasn’t faced a true elite talent like Adams that has also received high-end volume:

Fire up Adams as the top overall WR that he’s been all season. We can also treat Lazard as an upside WR3 after he out-snapped MVS for the first time since returning from injury in Week 11. I’d refrain from risking much of anything on Valdes-Scantling, who has goose-egged in three of his last four games.

TE breakdown: Robert Tonyan has scores in five consecutive games. He’s caught 49 of 55 targets on the season with 10 scores, almost doubling the amount of incompletions thrown his way in scores. Madness. Only nine defenses have allowed more TDs to the position than the Titans; continue to fire up Tonyan as a TD-dependent TE1 that doesn’t seem to know how to do anything else.

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

Bills Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Stefon Diggs 72 191 4.46 2.4 Jason McCourty 71 195 0.79
R Gabriel Davis 75 212 4.54 1.13 J.C. Jackson 73 198 4.46 1.06
S Cole Beasley 68 174 2.2 Jonathan Jones 70 190 4.33 1.44

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Before 2020 Josh Allen had never thrown for even 300 yards in a game. His seven games with at least that many yards trails only Deshaun Watson (8) and Aaron Rodgers (9) this season.

Of course, much of the credit for the improvement should be given to Diggs, who has helped transform the Bills’ QB1 on deep balls.

  • 2018: 63 attempts, 580 yards, 9.2 YPA
  • 2019: 68 attempts, 589 yards, 8.7 YPA
  • 2020: 62 attempts, 855 yards, 13.8 YPA

Diggs joins DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley, Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams as the only WRs averaging at least 19 PPR points per game this season. The absence of Stephon Gilmore (knee) could result in coach Bill Belichick double-teaming the Bills’ stud WR; in Week 7 the Patriots chose to shadow John Brown with Jason McCourty in order to devote extra attention to Diggs. He still managed to post a perfectly fine 6-92-0 line; just realize it’s rare to see any skill-position talent flirt with the higher range of their potential outcomes against Belichick and company, even if the 2020 version of this defense is far more tame than in past years.

Allen peppered Beasley with 25 combined targets against this defense in 2019, but a run-first attack against this defense back in Week 8 produced just two pass-game opportunities for the offense’s veteran slot receiver. Beasley has earned every-week WR3 treatment at worst, but there’s a low floor here if we see this offense embrace their same (successful) game plan from the first matchup. 

The return of Brown (ankle, IR) would render both him and Davis as non-viable fantasy assets due to the potential for limited snaps. Davis is more of a boom-or-bust WR4 anyway if Smokey remains sidelined.

TE breakdown: Dawson Knox has resumed making usually one great play per week and has three TDs in his last four games. Still, the ceiling here remains extremely low: Knox hasn’t reached even 40 receiving yards in a game this season. I’m bullish on Knox’s future, but not in Week 16. Find a better option at TE with the fantasy championship on the line.

Patriots Offense
WR Player Height Weight Speed YPRR CB Height Weight Speed YPRR
L Damiere Byrd 69 180 1.4 Levi Wallace 72 179 4.63 1.16
R N'Keal Harry 74 228 4.53 1.08 Tre'Davious White 71 192 4.47 0.94
S Jakobi Meyers 74 203 4.63 2.32 Taron Johnson 71 192 4.5 1.51

Projected shadow matchups: None

WR/CB breakdown: Cam Newton has fewer than 210 passing yards in all but three games this season. Meyers is the only WR here that deserves even a small amount of consideration, but even then we’re talking about a player that hasn’t scored a receiving or rushing TD all season. There’s no reason to mess around with anybody involved in this Patriots offense against a Bills defense that ranks ninth in EPA/play since returning from their Week 11 bye. Pass.

TE breakdown: Only the Panthers’ TE room has fewer receiving yards than the Patriots. Pass.

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