Fantasy Football: Early pickups for Week 17

Rex Burkhead, RB, Houston Texans (13 percent rostered)

Imagine this scenario. Imagine you make it to the 2021 fantasy semifinals, but you've lost one or more of your running backs to injury or COVID-19 or a combination of the two.

You scour the waiver wire, one that's been left bare all season. But then you see Rex Burkhead there, a "starting" running back who's had little fantasy relevancy yet is walking into a plus matchup in Week 16.

You're desperate for help at the position, so you add him and hope for the best.

And then Burkhead wins your fantasy matchup and carries you to the championship round.

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It sounds wild, yet that scenario may have been a reality for some fantasy managers in Week 16. Burkhead's Texans not only shocked the Chargers en route to a 41-29 victory, but Burkhead was the engine behind it. The veteran rushed 22 times for a whopping 149 yards and scored two twice.

You can chalk this up to the matchup but it's also hard to ignore. Considering how COVID-19 is impacting the league, many fantasy managers could probably use Burkhead's help next week, especially with the Texans' offense looking more and more competent (they've scored 71 points the last two weeks).

Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Buffalo Bills (1 percent rostered)

The Buffalo Bills may have beaten the Patriots and exacted revenge, but they went into the game depleted on offense. Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis were both ruled out due to COVID-19, so it was next man up in the passing game.

Enter: Isaiah McKenzie.

Talk about stepping up. McKenzie was not only second on the team in targets (12) behind Stefon Diggs, but he converted 11 of them for 125 yards and a touchdown!

With Davis already ruled out for Week 17 and Beasley's status up in the air, McKenzie should be on the radar for any fantasy team in need of receiver help or looking for an upside FLEX play in the championship round. McKenzie and the Bills will take on the hapless Falcons secondary in Week 17.