Fantasy Football Week 16 Fades & Busts

Terry McLaurin #17 of the Washington Commanders
Terry McLaurin had a huge game in Week 15, but don't count on a repeat. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Getty Images)

Just because a player is listed as a “fade” doesn’t mean they are automatic sits. As the adage goes, “Always start your stars.” What a “bust” designation does mean, however, is that you’ll want to consider higher-upside options in the flex.

Welcome to Week 16, fantasy football managers! If you’ve made it this far in the season, surviving last week’s slew of stud stinkers, you’ve probably got some pretty solid instincts for making start/sit decisions on your own. However, in case you need some help setting those lineups in a crucial week, we’ve got you covered. Here are six players to consider fading in Week 16 fantasy football lineups.

Bust: Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers

In his first season as an NFL starter, QB Jordan Love has proven to be a viable streaming option for fantasy football managers, scoring 20+ fantasy points in six different outings to this point in the season (including three of the last five games). He enters Week 16 ranked as the overall QB8 on the season, including a top-12 finish in five of the past six games. In Week 16, the Packers will travel to take on the Carolina Panthers, which sounds like an easy enough matchup on paper considering they’re tied for the second-lowest point differential in the league (10.1).

However, fantasy managers may want to temper expectations for Love in Week 16.

Though the Panthers' secondary isn’t a particularly frightful one, matchups against the Panthers have not exactly been conducive to passing volume for opposing quarterbacks. In fact, Carolina has faced a league-low 397 pass attempts and a 53.8% pass percentage this year. Despite allowing the ninth-highest passing touchdown rate in the league (4.0%) and the ninth-lowest interception rate (1.9%), that lack of volume has resulted in the second-fewest fantasy points per game in the league allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Unless the Panthers are able to keep this game a bit closer than one would expect, Love may not see enough passing volume to be a viable option in Week 16.

Bust: Jerome Ford, RB, Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Ford held a workhorse role through the first two months of the season, but unfortunately for fantasy managers, that role has been dwindling of late. Over the past five weeks of the season, Ford is averaging just 13 touches for just over 56 yards per game, averaging out as the RB26 in fantasy points per game over that span. In that time, it seems the gap between Ford and veteran Kareem Hunt has closed a bit, as Hunt has had just 14 fewer touches than Ford over the past five weeks.

Now, the Browns will be tasked with facing the Houston Texans, whose run defense has been a force to be reckoned with this season. They’ve allowed opposing rushers just 3.5 yards per carry (second-fewest), including the eighth-lowest explosive run rate (10.5%) and sixth-fewest rushing yards after contact per attempt (2.6) allowed this season. That’s translated to some rather inefficient outings on the ground, having not allowed a single running back 90 or more rushing yards in a single game this season. Beware of Ford’s recent decline in work paired with the potential for a very inefficient outing against the Texans that could leave fantasy managers high and dry in Week 16.

Fade: Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams was off to a relatively slow start in his return from a torn ACL early on in 2023. However, over the past couple of months, he’s officially earned the title of “bona fide workhorse,” totaling 18 or more touches in all but three matchups dating back to the end of November. That hasn’t necessarily translated to a ton of fantasy points, however, as he's ranked as the overall RB29 since Week 8 despite ranking seventh among running backs with 139 total touches in that span. Since then, Williams has averaged just 0.57 fantasy points per touch — 39th out of 44 running backs with 50 or more rush attempts in that span.

In Week 16, the Broncos will play host to the New England Patriots, whose season may be over, but their defense is more than capable of shutting down opposing running backs. Running backs have averaged just 3.27 yards per attempt against the Patriots this season (second-fewest). Though Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon managed to combine for just under 33 fantasy points in Week 15, the bulk of their fantasy points came on the back of work in the receiving game — a role which Williams has been forced to split with teammates Samaje Perine and Jaleel McLaughlin. Though it’s difficult to consider sitting a running back that’s seen such significant volume, fantasy managers should be wary that this could be another inefficient day for Williams.

Bust: Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders

Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin is coming off his best game of the season, posting a 6-141-1 line that landed him as the overall WR3 for the week. However, fantasy managers should probably be tempering expectations for a repeat performance. In Week 16, the Commanders will travel to the great state of New Jersey for a showdown against the New York Jets, whose secondary continues to be one to fear. Though the Jets just gave up a big outing to Jaylen Waddle in Week 15, this has generally been a matchup to avoid, as their secondary has the fourth-highest contested target rate (18.1%), is tied for the fifth-lowest touchdown percentage (3.3%) and the seventh-highest defensive success rate on targets to wide receivers (53.6%) per NFL Next Gen Stats.

Just last week, Commanders quarterback Sam Howell was benched in favor of Jacoby Brissett with 9:05 left in the fourth quarter. McLaurin would go on to catch each of his three targets for 93 yards and a touchdown – meaning McLaurin scored 16 of his 23.1 fantasy points (half-PPR) from a quarterback HC Ron Rivera has already confirmed won’t be starting in Week 16.

Pair that with the challenging matchup, and it seems likely that McLaurin could set fantasy managers up for a potential trap game.

Fade: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins hasn’t exactly had the highest upside this season for fantasy football, having notched a top-12 finish in just four of 14 matchups to this point in the season. Considering two of those four instances came over the past three weeks, fantasy managers may have a hard time considering sitting Hopkins in Week 16 against the Seattle Seahawks. Given the Titans' current situation at quarterback, however, fantasy managers may want to consider other options with a higher ceiling.

Rookie quarterback Will Levis suffered an ankle injury in Week 15, which held him out of practice early in the week … meaning QB Ryan Tannehill would take reps with the first team. Though Hopkins was a top receiving option for Tannehill in his time as a starter this year, Hopkins’ upside for fantasy was quite limited, failing to score a touchdown thrown from Tannehill yet this season. Outside of Week 5, where Hopkins posted eight catches for 140 receiving yards yielding a finish as the WR8 on the week, here’s a look at his weekly finishes with Tannehill under center, respectively: WR29, WR62, WR58, WR39, WR83.

The Seahawks’ secondary has had its ups and downs this season, but between Devon Witherspoon, Riq Woolen and Julian Love, they do have some solid weapons who could force a down week from the veteran wideout in a crucial one for fantasy managers.

Fade: Isaiah Likely, TE, Baltimore Ravens

Since Mark Andrews was announced out for the season with an ankle injury, second-year Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely has stepped up in a big way for the team and fantasy football managers alike. Likely has finished as a top-five tight end in each of his two games since the Ravens’ Week 13 bye, leading the team with 13 targets, 10 receptions and 153 receiving yards over the past two weeks, including a touchdown in each of those outings.

This week, things might look a bit more difficult for Likely, facing the San Francisco 49ers on the road, who have been a challenging matchup for opposing tight ends for most of this season. Despite having faced the seventh-most targets against opposing tight ends this season, the 49ers have allowed the 11th-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. They’ve allowed just three different tight ends to score 10 or more fantasy points (half-PPR) this season, including elite options Trey McBride and T.J. Hockenson, both of whom had 11+ targets in those outings.

Expect the Ravens to utilize all of their weapons — and not emphasize Likely — in order to spread out this challenging defense, including a potential emphasis on WR Zay Flowers, who’d been largely left out of the game plan in Week 15’s win over the Jaguars.