Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups, Week 16: Priority adds to help you survive and advance in the playoffs

At this stage in your fantasy football season, losing simply is not acceptable. We can't have it. Let's get this next win, people. Each week around here, we identify a collection of priority pickups available in at least 50% of Yahoo leagues and approved for immediate use. It's time to empty the FAB wallet when you have a positional need, so we are dispensing with the spending recommendations as we enter the fantasy semifinals. Do what you have to do — and spend whatever it takes — to advance to Championship Week.

Running backs

Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs (41% rostered)

McKinnon caught one touchdown pass on Sunday and shoveled another, collecting a few cheap fantasy points on this classic Reidian goal-line nonsense:

Isiah Pacheco is trending toward a return in Week 16, but he, of course, can coexist just fine alongside McKinnon. Both backs were excellent in the closing weeks last season; McKinnon was utterly ridiculous, making nine house calls in the final six games in 2022. He's a circle-of-trust weapon for Patrick Mahomes and generally on the field in high-value scenarios.

As you may have noticed, this year's Chiefs have a dearth of reliable playmakers on offense, so McKinnon's reemergence has been a welcomed development. His upside in any given week is too significant to leave him unrostered.

Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders (16%)

White gave us a solid proof-of-concept game on Thursday night, delivering 85 total yards and one score while generally demonstrating that he can serve as a capable featured back in the absence of Josh Jacobs. White's usefulness moving forward is obviously tied to another player's health, but he should certainly be rostered by anyone with Jacobs on their squad. He typically wins with power more than flash, which made him the prefered goal-line option in Week 15.

If Jacobs can't return for the KC matchup this week, White is a lock for a beefy workload.

Chase Brown, Cincinnati Bengals (20%)

Brown has impressed in each of the past three weeks since his return from IR, which, of course, is no surprise to anyone who watched him carve up the Big Ten last season while at Illinois. It's wild that Brown had to wait until the fifth round to hear his name called, but, hey, things are working out just fine.

On Saturday, the rookie gained 51 yards on 10 touches, with three receptions included. Brown has been almost unfair as a weapon in the screen game for Cincinnati. He was forced to make a visit to the blue tent in the win over Minnesota, but he eventually returned to the field. Two weeks ago, Brown was sensational against Indy, gaining 105 total yards on 11 touches and turning a short catch into a 54-yard score. Assuming Brown is good to go in Week 16, he's a viable flex in deeper leagues. This is an ascending player with a meaningful role.

Additional RBs on the wire

  • Justice Hill regains his lost fantasy value following the ugly, unfortunate knee injury suffered by Keaton Mitchell. Gus Edwards is long gone in most leagues (78% rostered), but Hill is likely available and he's headed for a jump in workload.

  • Arthur Smith seems determined to keep Tyler Allgeier at least somewhat relevant in fantasy, as the second-year back outgained and out-touched Bijan Robinson in Sunday's disastrous loss. Robinson was holstered after losing a fumble, a classically old-school coaching move that punishes the team more than the player.

  • Trey Sermon and Tyler Goodson proved to be a shockingly effective backfield platoon for the Colts after Zack Moss checked out with an arm injury on Saturday. If Moss and Jonathan Taylor are both sidelined at Atlanta in Week 16, we're probably getting a two-man committee from Indy. I'd slightly prefer Goodson, but I am also a known Iowa apologist.

  • Just a reminder to scoop up the direct backup to your fantasy roster's seemingly irreplaceable RB1, whoever that might be. D'Ernest Johnson, Rico Dowdle, Jordan Mason, et al. This is how we stumble into a Ty Chandler or Zamir White situation.

Wide receivers and tight ends

Noah Brown, Houston Texans (40%)

It wasn't pretty for the Texans with Case Keenum at the controls on Sunday, but at least Brown was fed early and often. He had six catches for 68 yards at half, finishing with eight for 82 and snagging a late score:

With Tank Dell out for the year and Nico Collins still dealing with a calf issue, Brown's receiving services are obviously needed. C.J. Stroud will presumably be cleared to return for the upcoming matchups with Cleveland and Tennessee, which means Brown is back in our plans. He has a pair of games this year with 150-plus receiving yards, so his ceiling with Stroud behind center is clearly high.

Curtis Samuel, Washington Commanders (37%)

Over Samuel's last three games, he's been targeted 26 times, catching 18 passes for 206 yards and two scores. Both of the touchdown receptions were recorded on Sunday — one from Sam Howell, the next from Jacoby Brissett. When Samuel is healthy, he's simply a problem. His team's upcoming matchups are problematic (at NYJ, SF), but it's a well-established fact that Washington will never stop throwing. Volume is basically guaranteed.

Other priority WRs and TEs

  • Jameson Williams didn't make much fantasy noise on Saturday night, what with Sam LaPorta handling most of the scoring. But Williams did see a career-high seven targets while playing 45 snaps, usage that suggests a mega-week could be on the horizon. With an ADOT of 16.2, any completion to the second-year burner has big-play potential.

  • Tyler Boyd should be in line for additional targets with Ja'Marr Chase's shoulder injury looking like it will prevent him from playing in Week 16, same goes for tight end Tanner Hudson and various others.

  • Dontayvion Wicks is coming off his busiest game of the season (6-97), but he's wowed at various points throughout the year. Sunday's performance was actually his seventh game with 40 or more receiving yards. With Christian Watson (hamstring) and Jayden Reed (toe) both dealing with injuries, Wicks could see an uptick in targets at Carolina in Week 16.

  • Josh Palmer managed to reach triple-digit yardage on Thursday, thanks to a long busted coverage touchdown in an otherwise ugly game for the Chargers. Palmer is now healthy and back on the fantasy radar for the garbage-time portion of LA's season.

  • Rashid Shaheed had a relatively quiet week in his return from injury (3-36), but that's not unusual for a volatile big-play threat. At least we know he's healthy and back to a normal snap count (36 on Sunday).

  • Tucker Kraft has been a revelation in Green Bay, giving us a weekly highlight and/or touchdown. He found the end zone again on Sunday, finishing with four catches for 57 yards (and one regrettable hurdle).


Jake Browning, Cincinnati Bengals (47%)

Another week, another clinic from Browning. He just threw for 324 yards and two scores against a Vikings defense that had only given up one passing touchdown in its previous three games. Browning has produced seven combined TDs over the past three weeks and he's clearly playing with extreme confidence. Cincinnati is preparing to face a reeling Pittsburgh defense, so you shouldn't sweat the matchup.

Ja'Marr Chase (shoulder) isn't likely to face the Steelers, but Browning is a respectable starting option even without his team's top receiver. It helps to have this uncontainable beast as your No. 2 option.

Nick Mullens, Minnesota Vikings (4%)

Mullens was mostly a mess on Saturday afternoon, tossing two picks and multiple shoulda-been interceptions. He also had a pick-six negated by penalty. It was quite a journey. But when you get to throw to guys Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson and Jordan Addison, sometimes even your worst decisions can lead to positive results:

Mullens finished with 303 passing yards on Saturday, each of them a small miracle. He's in a friendly spot at home in the week ahead against a Detroit pass defense that's allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs.

You'll never feel as alive as you do when starting Mullens in the fantasy playoffs. For the desperate, he's a great decent playable option (but maybe don't watch).

Additional QB approved for use

  • Like Mullens, Gardner Minshew didn't exactly put on a clinic in Week 15, yet he delivered a useful fantasy total nevertheless. Minshew had a few misfires, plus he led his best receiver into a concussion, but he managed to throw three TD passes against the Steelers. He gets a favorable matchup this week at Atlanta.

  • Joe Flacco is coming off an often-hideous 374-yard game, but he persevered and eventually pulled out an improbable win. He's traveling to Houston this week for a not-too-intimidating matchup, so he remains in play for superflex purposes.

Defense/Special Teams

Denver Broncos (47%)

The Broncos face the Patriots and Chargers over the next two weeks, so ... well, you really shouldn't need much additional information. It's an ideal schedule for fantasy purposes. Denver has also produced 24 takeaways this season and the unit has 17 sacks over their past four games. Yes, they were stomped into dust by Detroit, but we can trust this group in matchups against Bailey Zappe and Easton Stick.