Welcome to fantasy finals week. Thanks so much for reading this column all season. Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes. Anybody can tell you to start the Deshaun Watsons, Mark Ingrams, and Keenan Allens of the world. That’s not what I’m doing here. I’m looking deeper at legitimate mostly-borderline candidates who owners may truly be contemplating using in lineups. Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean I advocate playing some of these guys over your weekly studs.
Start of the Week: Jameis Winston vs. Texans: Fantasy’s overall QB4 through 15 weeks, Winston followed the same practice routine this week as he did last week before starting against the Lions, doing virtually nothing the first day of the week before throwing tennis balls Wednesday and then practicing in full Thursday. He drew a questionable tag on the injury report but is fully expected to be under center against the Texans, who are 26th in pass-defense DVOA, 28th in passing yards allowed, 23rd in opponent completion percentage, 22nd in opponent yards per attempt, 28th in passing touchdowns allowed, 25th in interceptions, 27th in opponent QB rating, 28th in adjusted sack rate, and 30th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Since Houston’s Week 10 bye, Ryan Tannehill (279 yards, 2 TDs, 1 rushing TD, QB4), Drew Lock (309/3/QB7), Tom Brady (326/3/QB5), and Lamar Jackson (222/4/QB2) have all met or greatly exceeded expectations, with Jacoby Brissett (129/0/1/QB16) as the lone exception in that span. Winston has multiple touchdowns in 9-of-14 games this season with at least 300 yards in 10 of his last 12 contests. He’s on an absolute heater at the moment, too, coming off back-to-back 450-yard and four-TD games against the Colts and Lions. Winston’s wideout corps has been gutted by hamstring injuries, losing all three of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Scotty Miller, but there’s still enough around Winston with Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate to propel Winston to another big week in a cake matchup. This game’s 49.5-point total is the third-highest on the board with major shootout potential Saturday afternoon. The Bucs are No. 2 in offensive plays per game.
Ryan Tannehill vs. Saints: Since taking over as starter in Week 7, Tannehill is the overall QB5 in fantasy points per game and is coming off the QB4 day against the Texans last week with 279 passing yards and two scores along with a rushing touchdown. This is a massive game for the Titans in their chase for a playoff spot, and the Saints have played one outdoor football game since October 20. New Orleans is No. 10 in pass-defense DVOA, 17th in passing yards allowed, 12th in opponent completion percentage, No. 9 in opponent yards per attempt, 20th in passing touchdowns allowed, 14th in interceptions, 14th in opponent QB rating, and 23rd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. However, the Saints’ defense took some major hits two weeks back, losing starting DE Marcus Davenport (foot) and DT Sheldon Rankins (Achilles’) to season-ending injuries. Jacoby Brissett was unable to make them pay last Monday night, but this Tennessee offense is firing on all cylinders and should be able to put points on the board. Jimmy Garoppolo hung 349 yards and four touchdowns on the Saints in Week 13. Matt Ryan put up 312 yards and two scores in Week 12. And Kyle Allen posted 256 yards and three touchdowns in Week 11. The Saints know they have issues on the back end, and they’re trying to plug a hole with the claiming of CB Janoris Jenkins off waivers from the Giants this week. He should eventually overtake burn victim CB Eli Apple opposite Marshon Lattimore. Saints-Titans has the second-highest total of Week 16 at 50.5 points. Tannehill’s hot play combined with the Saints’ defensive losses and the high-scoring nature of this game make him a rock-solid QB1. He’s gotten fantasy teams this far, and there’s no reason to pull the plug now.
Kyler Murray at Seahawks: Murray has four multi-touchdown games over his last six outings and is the overall QB11 in fantasy points per game on the year. Seattle checks in at a strong 12th in pass-defense DVOA, but this defense is 29th in passing yards allowed, 18th in opponent completion percentage, 21st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 31st in adjusted sack rate, and 31st in pass attempts faced per game. The Cardinals run the fastest-paced offense in the NFC and go into Seattle as significant 9.5-point underdogs, suggesting they’ll be chasing on the scoreboard. Game script should set Murray up for one of his higher-volume passing afternoons. The draw here is the 51-point total, Murray’s dual-threat ability, and his improved play late in the season. He has a trio of three-score games to his name over the Cardinals’ last nine contests. Murray should be fired up as a back-end QB1 with upside if this game gets some shootout legs to it. There are better QB plays, but Murray is certainly someone we can win with.
Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Bengals: Since Week 8, Fitzpatrick is the overall QB13 in fantasy points per game. He has three QB7-or-better performances over the last four weeks with the outlier being a QB19 day against the Jets when the Dolphins settled for seven Jason Sanders field goals for all 21 of their points. Fitzpatrick has unlocked DeVante Parker and is still making do without Preston Williams (torn ACL) after losing him weeks ago. The Bengals are 27th in pass-defense DVOA, 30th in opponent yards per attempt, 29th in interceptions, 27th in opponent QB rating, 28th in adjusted sack rate, and 24th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. This defense has played much better of late, holding Tom Brady, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Mason Rudolph/Devlin Hodges, and Derek Carr to subpar performances, but that isn’t exactly a murderer’s row of passing attacks. This Dolphins Offense isn’t great by any means either, but Fitzpatrick is a total YOLO-mode quarterback who can obviously fill up a box score. He’s not a bankable QB1, but his upside is undeniable in a plus home spot in a game with a 46.5-point total, fourth-highest of Week 16, that is currently a pick’em, suggesting shootout potential. Fitzpatrick is capable of a top-five week but just as easily could finish outside the top 20.
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Josh Allen at Patriots: Allen has been a great fantasy quarterback much of the season, but his schedule took a turn for the worst as soon as the fantasy playoffs hit, and he wraps up the daunting three-game stretch with New England this Saturday after putting the QB29 and QB17 weeks up against the Ravens and Steelers in Weeks 14 and 15. The Patriots remain No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 2 in passing yards allowed, No. 1 in opponent completion percentage, No. 1 in opponent yards per attempt, No. 1 in passing touchdowns allowed, No. 1 in interceptions, No. 1 in opponent QB rating, No. 9 in adjusted sack rate, and No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Allen was hurt when these two teams met back in Week 4 after going 13-of-28 for 153 scoreless yards and three interceptions. He did rush for 26 yards and a score to save his day some as the QB21 that week. New England has shut down every quarterback it has faced aside from Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. Allen has that dual-threat ability both Watson and Jackson possess, but he’s not at their levels as a passer. Allen has the arm talent, but asking him to go into Foxboro is real tough. Buffalo’s implied team total of just 15.25 points is the lowest of all 32 teams in action this week. Allen is best left for two-QB leagues and should be dropped in redraft leagues that end after Week 16.
Jared Goff at 49ers: There was belief that Goff had turned around his season after posting the QB7 numbers Weeks 13-14, but the Rams cratered out in Dallas last week where Goff missed a number of open throws and was under intense pressure behind a leaky offensive line. Goff bruised his thumb but will be fine to play in a must-win game for the Rams this week. He’ll be asked to go into the Bay Area against a Niners unit that is No. 2 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 1 in passing yards allowed, No. 4 in opponent completion percentage, No. 2 in opponent yards per attempt, No. 10 in passing touchdowns allowed, No. 5 in opponent QB rating, No. 1 in adjusted sack rate, and No. 6 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Goff had arguably the worst game of his career when the Rams hosted the 49ers in Week 6, going 13-of-24 for 78 yards (3.25 YPA), four sacks taken, and two fumbles in a 20-7 loss. Asking him to now go on the road against this same defense with a banged-up thumb is a tall, impossible task that we shouldn’t want any part of for fantasy. The Rams’ implied total of 19 points is the week’s fourth-lowest. Top CB Richard Sherman (hamstring) will also be back after missing Week 15.
Baker Mayfield vs. Ravens: Mayfield has been held to 249 yards or fewer in nine of his last 11 games and has just three 300-yard passing days on the year. He has the same amount of multi-touchdown games as multi-interception games (4) as a sophomore. The Ravens have been a totally different defense since acquiring CB Marcus Peters at the trade deadline and getting CB Jimmy Smith back from injury. Baltimore is No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 7 in passing yards allowed, No. 2 in opponent completion percentage, No. 5 in opponent yards per attempt, No. 2 in passing touchdowns allowed, No. 3 in opponent QB rating, and No. 3 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. The Browns upset Baltimore way back in Week 4, 40-25, but that was before the Peters trade. Mayfield had his most passing yards of the season (342) that day but still tossed just one touchdown as the QB14. He’s been a colossal fantasy bust as the QB26 on the year in points per game. Fantasy finals week is no spot to go back to Mayfield as a streamer. Cleveland’s implied total of 19.5 points is the week’s seventh-lowest. Baltimore hasn’t allowed a top-12 fantasy quarterback since Patrick Mahomes in Week 3.
Start of the Week: Marlon Mack vs. Panthers: Since returning from his hand injury in Week 14, Mack has a combined 24-57-1 rushing line with zero catches in back-to-back road games against the Bucs and Saints. Tampa Bay plays elite run defense, and Mack was quickly phased out of the offense this past Monday night in New Orleans with the Colts getting obliterated on the scoreboard. Week 16 presents a massive get-right spot for Mack as a potential league-winner. Carolina is dead last in run-defense DVOA, 30th in rushing yards allowed, dead last in opponent yards per carry, dead last in rushing touchdowns allowed, and dead last in fantasy points given up to running backs. Since their Week 8 bye, the Panthers have surrendered monster games to Tevin Coleman (11-105-3 and 2-13-1 receiving) and Raheem Mostert (9-60-1), Derrick Henry (13-63-1 and 3-36-1 receiving), Aaron Jones (13-93-3), Latavius Murray (7-64-1), Derrius Guice (10-129-2) and Adrian Peterson (13-99-1), and Chris Carson (24-133-2). The Panthers are 25th in opponent plays per game, and the Colts’ implied team total of 26.5 points is the fourth-highest of the week. Mack should be started with confidence.
Phillip Lindsay vs. Lions: Hyped as an upside play last week in a plus on-paper matchup with the Chiefs, Lindsay recorded a season-low seven carries for 32 scoreless yards and no catches on just 39% of the snaps in a snow-covered 20-point loss at Arrowhead. The game quickly got away from the Broncos, putting Lindsay behind the eight ball in that one. But he’s in a nice rebound spot at home against a Lions team that is 18th in rushing yards allowed and 29th in fantasy points given up to running backs. Lindsay remains the back to play in Denver ahead of Royce Freeman, and the Broncos are seven-point home favorites, shifting game script back in Lindsay’s favor. Meanwhile, the Lions are 31st in opponent plays per game. Run defense isn’t necessarily Detroit’s defensive issue, but volume should be on Lindsay’s side far more than it was a week ago, while Drew Lock and Courtland Sutton are also in the fantasy mix here. Lindsay should flirt with 15-plus carries, but his pass-game role has shrunk since Lock took over due to the rookie’s ability to push the ball down the field, unlike Joe Flacco and Brandon Allen.
Raheem Mostert vs. Rams: Mostert was again the clear-cut No. 1 back in this backfield last week in the 49ers’ loss to the Falcons, playing 53% of the snaps, scoring a touchdown, and handling 15-of-23 touches between he, Matt Breida, and Tevin Coleman. Breida also fumbled twice, paving the way for Mostert to continue to lead this group, while Coleman has long been a non-factor with the ball in his hands. The Rams are No. 6 in run-defense DVOA, but they check in at 23rd in rushing yards allowed and 19th in fantasy points surrendered to running backs. When these two teams met back in Week 4, Coleman was still the top dog, and he handled 20 touches in a 13-point road win, scoring a touchdown. The Niners are now 6.5-point home favorites, suggesting game script will again be on the side of the 49ers’ rushing attack. Mostert should be fired up with confidence as an RB2 with upside in terms of volume and touchdowns against a Rams team on its last life in a must-win scenario. San Francisco is the top rushing team in the NFC and 10th in offensive plays per game facing an L.A. unit that is 30th in opponent plays per contest. Mostert has been a legit league-winner over the last month. San Francisco’s implied team total of 25.5 points is eighth-highest on the 16-game slate.
Kenyan Drake at Seahawks: Drake exploded for the overall RB1 week last week, pouring 146 yards and four touchdowns across 23 touches on the hapless Browns. He was in on 75% of the snaps while David Johnson and Chase Edmonds have been mostly eliminated from the offense. Drake is making himself some serious money before heading into free agency come March. He gets another plus draw against a Seattle team that is 22nd in run-defense DVOA, 15th in rushing yards allowed, 23rd in opponent yards per carry, 30th in rushing touchdowns allowed, and 18th in fantasy points surrendered to running backs. Since their Week 11 bye, Christian McCaffrey (19-87-2 and 8-88 receiving), Todd Gurley (23-79-1 and 4-34), Dalvin Cook (9-29-1 and 3-35 pre-injury), and Miles Sanders (12-63 and 3-23) have all had strong games against the Seahawks. Like those four backs, Drake is a clear-cut No. 1 runner on his team and not part of a committee approach, giving him major volume upside in a game the Cardinals are likely to be chasing points. Since joining the Cardinals, Drake is averaging 4.5 targets per game and over 3.6 catches. This game’s 51-point total is the highest on the Week 16 slate.
Carlos Hyde at Bucs: Hyde registered his third 100-yard game of the season and found the end zone for the fifth time last week in the road win over the Titans, but he was again held without a catch on zero pass-game targets. No running back relies more on his rushing numbers for his fantasy output. Hyde is enjoying the best season of his career, but this is a really tough Week 16 spot on the road against the Bucs’ No. 1 run defense. Tampa Bay is No. 1 in DVOA and rushing yards allowed and No. 2 in opponent yards per carry and fantasy points given up to running backs. Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea plug holes inside, and the Bucs’ speedy linebackers are sideline-to-sideline tackling machines. Wes Hills scored a pair of touchdowns for the Lions last week, but otherwise was held in check with 21 yards on 10 carries. That’s the kind of game Hyde can easily fall into, but it’s pretty unlikely. Marlon Mack visited the end zone the week before but was held to 38 yards on 13 attempts. And the week before, Leonard Fournette was limited to 14-38-0 as a runner. Chris Carson is the only back to have topped 75 yards rushing against the Bucs this season, and several high-profile backs have been held below 40 yards. Hyde is a terrifying Week 16 fantasy proposition as a touchdown-or-bust runner.
Patrick Laird vs. Bengals: In his three games atop the depth chart as the default No. 1 back, Laird has parlayed a 63.1% snap share into rushing lines of 10-5-1 > 15-48-0 > 12-46-0, but the good news is he’s buoyed his floor with 10-89-0 on 15 targets as a receiver. Laird is a natural pass-catcher, but he’s shown little to nothing as a runner. Rookie Myles Gaskin ended up playing a season-high 48% of the snaps last week, turning in a 9-43-0 rushing line with 2-29-0 as a receiver. He’s earned himself a longer look as the more natural runner of the two, and this backfield looks headed for a potential even split with Gaskin playing on early downs and Laird in pass-game situations. The Bengals are bad against running backs, surrendering the third-most fantasy points to the position, but if we project Laird to lose a significant amount of his rushing touches, then that will obviously greatly lower his floor. He’s just difficult to trust at this stage of the fantasy season as a bad runner with uncertain volume due to Gaskin’s emergence.
Kareem Hunt vs. Ravens: Since joining the Browns off suspension in Week 10, Hunt is averaging 11.3 touches per game and is the overall RB22 in half-PPR formats. A good chunk of that production is coming as a receiver, with 30 catches on 36 targets. Hunt is essentially pulling double-duty as Nick Chubb’s change-of-pace and the Browns’ No. 3 receiver as Baker Mayfield’s outlet. Hunt has been ultra reliable as an RB2 every week, but this spot against Baltimore lines up as maybe his toughest to date. The Ravens have allowed the fewest catches for the third-fewest yards and just one touchdown to running backs in the pass game. A large chunk of Hunt’s production comes via that department. Hunt can still make noise as a runner, but Chubb has out-carried him 116-38 since Hunt came off suspension. A difficult draw in the pass game combined with his low volume as a runner and the Browns’ implied total of just 19.5 points make Hunt a shakier fantasy play in finals week. Cleveland also plays at the sixth-slowest offensive pace while the Ravens are No. 2 in opponent plays per game.
Start of the Week: Tyler Lockett vs. Cardinals: Of course, Lockett was written up as a “sit” in this space last week but then went off for 8-120-1 on nine targets against the Panthers, turning in the week’s WR6 performance. He admitted after the game that he was finally back healthy again after battling an illness that cost him 10 pounds. Lockett has been extremely boom-or-bust most of the season with three monster 100-yard games and four of his seven touchdowns in those three contests. But now that’s he’s allegedly healthy and entering another prime on-paper spot against the Cardinals, this looks like a great time to go back to Lockett. Arizona is 28th in pass-defense DVOA, 32nd in passing yards allowed, and 21st in fantasy points given up to wide receivers while allowing the most plays per game. Slot WRs Cooper Kupp (6-65-1), Kendrick Bourne (4-31-1), Chris Godwin (6-74), Emmanuel Sanders (7-112-1), and Golden Tate (6-80) have all given the Cardinals fits over the last two months. The Cardinals recently released veteran slot CB Tramaine Brock and have turned to rookie burn victim Byron Murphy on the inside. Murphy is Pro Football Focus’ No. 123 cover corner out of 124 qualifiers and has surrendered a position-worst nine touchdowns in his coverage this season. Seattle’s implied team total of 30.25 points is the highest of the week. Lockett would seem to have a safer floor than usual in this spot with his normal sky-high upside as a WR1/2.
Will Fuller at Bucs: Fuller has been in and out of the lineup this season due to various injuries, but he was able to avoid setbacks in his return from a hamstring strain last week en route to a 5-61 effort on seven targets against the Titans. Fuller is all systems go for Saturday’s potential eruption spot against the Bucs’ putrid pass defense. Tampa Bay is 30th in passing yards allowed and dead last in fantasy points surrendered to wideouts. Marcus Johnson (3-105-1), Zach Pascal (5-74-1), Calvin Ridley (6-85-1), Russell Gage (8-76), Julio Jones (5-68), Michael Thomas (8-114-1), Ted Ginn (2-14-1), Christian Kirk (6-138-3), and Andy Isabella (3-78) have all met or exceeded expectations against the Bucs over the last six weeks. Fuller has speed for days and is a threat for 100-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in dream spots like this. With a 49.5-point total, Texans-Bucs has major shootout potential between two elite passing offenses.
Breshad Perriman vs. Texans: Mike Evans went down with a season-ending hamstring strain early in Week 14 against the Colts, and Perriman has been the major beneficiary. He’s been in on 132-of-153 snaps (86.3%) over the last two weeks and turned in receiving lines of 3-70-1 and 5-113-3 on 11 targets. Perriman was the overall WR1 last week against the Lions in a true nuclear effort. Like Will Fuller above, Perriman has all the long speed to burn. Paired with coach Bruce Arians and Jameis Winston makes him a perfect match in this offense that likes to push the ball down the field. The Texans are 26th in pass-defense DVOA, 28th in passing yards allowed, and 20th in fantasy points given up to opposing wideouts. Outside speed threats A.J. Brown (8-114-1), Tyrell Williams (3-91-1), Zach Pascal (6-106-2), T.Y. Hilton (6-74-1), Tyreek Hill (5-80-2), Calvin Ridley (5-88-1), Chris Conley (4-73), D.J. Chark (7-55-1), and Ted Ginn (7-101) have all had major success against this Houston pass defense. Perriman doesn’t project for No. 1 receiver volume, but he doesn’t need to be funneled heavy targets to make an impact in the box score. He can score from anywhere on the field and has major speed advantages over the Texans’ outside cornerbacks. Perriman should again be fired up as an upside WR2/3.
Tyler Boyd at Dolphins: Since Andy Dalton took back over as starter in Week 13, Boyd is averaging a team-high 7.7 targets per game with receiving lines of 5-59-1 > 5-75 > 3-26 against the Jets, Browns, and Patriots. We can throw the 3-26 against New England out the window. This matchup with the Dolphins is much easier on paper. Miami is dead last in pass-defense DVOA, 24th in passing yards allowed, and 31st in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Dolphins slot CB Jomal Wiltz is Pro Football Focus’ No. 107 cover corner out of 124 qualifiers. Slot types Sterling Shepard (9-111), Golden Tate (1-51-1), Jarvis Landry (10-148-2), Jamison Crowder (8-83-1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (5-103-1), Cole Beasley (3-16-1), and Willie Snead (2-41-1) have exposed the Dolphins for big games. Boyd is ninth in the NFL in targets through Week 15 and should be played strictly on volume alone. The Dolphins are 24th in opponent plays per game, and this 46.5-point total, the fourth-highest of the week, has shootout written all over it.
John Brown at Patriots: Brown halted his two-game skid of back-to-back 3-26-0 games with a 7-99 effort against the Steelers last Sunday night. Over the course of the year, not many wideouts have been as consistent as Smokey, who has already set career highs in catches and yards while staying healthy for the second straight season. It’s just been a murderer’s row of opponents for the Buffalo passing game in recent weeks. And Brown figures to draw Stephon Gilmore’s shadow coverage in this one. Gilmore is Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 cover corner, and the Patriots are No. 1 in pass-defense DVOA, No. 2 in passing yards allowed, and No. 1 in fantasy points given up to wideouts. Only three receivers have scored touchdowns against the Patriots all season. Brown was held to 5-69-0 on 11 targets when these two teams met in Week 4, turning in the WR29 performance. Brown can beat any corner over the top for a long touchdown, but the odds are greatly reduced against Gilmore and this pass defense. Buffalo’s implied team total of 15.25 points is easily the lowest on the Week 16 slate.
Odell Beckham vs. Ravens: Wrapping up easily the worst season of his career to date, OBJ has failed to deliver in a number of favorable spots this year. Headed into the final week of the fantasy season, Beckham is currently the overall WR47 in half-PPR points per game. He’s barely hanging on as a WR4 in 12-team leagues and has just two touchdowns to his name. The Ravens present one of the stiffer matchups OBJ will have seen, coming in at No. 4 in pass-defense DVOA and No. 7 in passing yards allowed. Beckham was eliminated from the box score in Week 4 when these division rivals clashed, finishing with 2-20-0 on seven targets, even with the Browns pulling off the upset in a 40-25 win. Cleveland is implied to score just 19.5 points this time around, and Baltimore has since added Marcus Peters to its secondary. OBJ figures to see a lot of Peters and Jimmy Smith on the outside while Jarvis Landry battles Marlon Humphrey in the slot. Peters is Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 cover corner out of 124 qualifiers and will be amped up for this individual battle. Beckham simply can’t be trusted right now.
Kenny Golladay at Broncos: David Blough got off to a scorching start to his career in his Thanksgiving start against the Bears, picking apart Chicago for multiple big gains early in the first half. A couple of those went to Golladay, who finished with 4-158-1 on five targets in that eventual loss. He scored again in Week 14 against the Vikings with 6-58-1 but bottomed out with 3-44-0 last week in a mouthwatering matchup against the Bucs. It left a sour taste in the mouths of Golladay’s fantasy owners, as Blough hasn’t been good at all since that first half versus Chicago. The Lions now get to travel to Denver as significant underdogs. The Broncos are 14th in pass-defense DVOA, 10th in passing yards allowed, and No. 8 in fantasy points surrendered to wideouts. Detroit’s implied total of 15.5 points is second-lowest of the week, and Golladay figures to see the most of No. 1 CB Chris Harris. Harris has been beatable this year, but it’s hard to trust Blough to make the necessary throws to beat him.
Start of the Week: O.J. Howard vs. Texans: After a dreadful first three months of the season, Howard has strung together three straight productive games with receiving lines of 5-61 > 4-73 > 4-46 on six targets per game. He has just one touchdown on the season but is obviously due for better end-zone luck in the near future. With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Scotty Miller all out with hamstring injuries, Jameis Winston admitted he’s going to need more from Howard and Cameron Brate in the passing game. Howard is dominating snaps with at least 83% of the downs in three straight weeks and gets a Texans Defense that is 25th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Jonnu Smith (5-60), Noah Fant (4-113-1), Jeff Heuerman (1-8-1), Eric Ebron (4-44), and Mark Andrews (4-75-1) have all produced since Week 10 against Houston. The Bucs are No. 2 in offensive plays per game. With the injuries at receiver and Howard’s playing-time clip, that should give him enough of a floor to put up a useful fantasy score.
Jack Doyle vs. Panthers: Doyle has played heavy snaps since Eric Ebron went on injured reserve ahead of Week 13. Doyle put up 6-73-1 against the Titans three weeks back but has been held to scoreless 2-27 and 2-21 days against the Bucs and Saints in Weeks 14-15. Doyle has seen a total of 22 targets in the three games sans Ebron, so the volume is there, and only four tight ends have ran more pass-game routes in that span. Doyle is on the field a ton and running routes. That’s what we’re looking for in tight ends. The Panthers have suffocated tight ends for the fifth-fewest fantasy points, but we’re going to chase the volume and snap share along with the Colts’ implied team total of 26.5 points, tied for the fourth-highest of Week 16.
Jonnu Smith vs. Saints: A true every-down tight end since Delanie Walker went down in Week 7, Smith’s production has been ultra sporadic with a pair of 0-0 days to go with three 60 yards and/or one-touchdown games mixed in there. Smith’s 2.16 yards per route since Week 7 is ninth-best among all tight ends, and he even was given a straight handoff last week against Houston, turning it into an explosive 57-yard run. Smith needs to be funneled the ball more, and with slot man Adam Humphries (ankle) still not practicing, that should lead to more looks between the hashes for the tight end. The Saints are No. 8 in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but like Jack Doyle above, Smith is on the field too much to ignore in fantasy, especially given the 50.5-point total for Saints-Titans, good enough for second-best of the week.
Jacob Hollister vs. Cardinals: Hollister is the tight end who gets to face the Cardinals in fantasy title week. Arizona has surrendered the fourth-most catches for the most yards, most touchdowns, and most fantasy points to tight ends this season. The Cardinals have hemorrhaged 15 touchdowns to the position while the next closest team has given up nine. Hollister has played roughly 75% of the Seahawks’ snaps since Week 9. Ricky Seals-Jones (3-29-2), Tyler Higbee (7-107-1), Ross Dwelley (4-14-2), O.J. Howard (4-47-1), George Kittle (6-79-1), Taysom Hill (3-63-1), Rhett Ellison (2-33-1), Austin Hooper (8-117-1), Will Dissly (7-57-1), Greg Olsen (6-75-2), Mark Andrews (8-112-1), and T.J. Hockenson (6-131-1) have all blasted this defense in 2019. Hollister should have plenty of chances to make some plays. Seattle’s implied total of 30.25 points is the highest on the board for Week 16.
Due to the lack of quality talent at tight end, it’s impossible for me to argue against anyone at the position. It’s a total crapshoot, and all we’re looking for among streamers are ones who can maybe fall into the end zone. Predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football. Just finding a tight end who is on the field enough and runs plenty of routes is hard enough.