Waiver Wizard 2019 Week 16

By Evan Tarracciano
Evan Tarracciano Madness? No! This was…. Week 15!!
Due to an overwhelming number of points being scored across the board in the NFL during Week 15, a quick glance over the “top performers” reveals some truly eye-popping statistics. Thankfully for Fantasy players, the vast majority of all tier-one options came through in the clutch and did their part to propel teams towards championship week. Christian McCaffrey continued his torrid MVP-esque
pace, rushing for 87 yards and two scores on the ground, coupled with eight receptions for another 88 yards in the air. Lamar Jackson maintained his absurd statistical breakout, passing for five touchdowns and adding another 86 yards rushing on the ground. Thanks in part to a disputed call the play prior, Julio Jones finished with 13 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the formidable San Francisco 49ers defense.

The list goes on.
While it is nice to reflect upon those performances last week, the past is officially in the past at this point in time, and Fantasy owners have more pressing matters to focus on. Were any of the breakout numbers last week repeatable from players who were started in the FLEX position? Are there any players worth spending the remainder of one’s FAAB on, and if so, are they considered an immediate start? Are there any tips or tricks that owners can utilize to give them a better chance of bringing home the bacon? Let’s dive in.

FLEX options worth considering

Greg Ward Jr. (WR – Philadelphia Eagles) – The Eagles will take on the Dallas Cowboys in perhaps the matchup of the week on Sunday, with the winner claiming the NFC East title and the loser being formally knocked out of the playoff picture. Though Ward Jr. isn’t a household name by any stretch, injuries at the wideout position to both Alshon Jeffery (foot) and Nelson Agholor (knee) have forced him to be featured in a prominent role of late. His seven receptions last week against the Washington Redskins accounted for every one at the position – and perhaps even more importantly, he finished only behind Zach Ertz in terms of targets. In such a do-or-die contest, owners can safely expect Carson Wentz to look his way often. Dallas is a top-ten option against the pass in 2019, allowing just 220 yards through the air each week. Look for Ward to see a fair number of targets with decent production. He’s worth starting in the FLEX spot in 12-team PPR leagues. Anthony Miller (WR – Chicago Bears) – At this point, I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what Fantasy owners are waiting for out of Anthony Miller. His early-season struggles are behind him at this point, and the Bears have implemented a more balanced attack with run:pass. These factors have led to a sharp uptick of receptions and targets – Miller has six or more catches in four of the past five weeks, and nine or more targets in those contests. The Bears square off against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16 – a matchup in which they are almost certainly going to be playing from behind in perpetuity. Miller’s ownership needs to be substantially higher than the 25 percent it currently sits at – I would start him with confidence as a WR3/FLEX option in all formats this week. Breshad Perriman (WR – Tampa Bay Bucaneers) – To borrow some lyrics from the 70’s rock group “Boston” –

“Don’t look back

A new day is breakin’

It’s been too long since I felt this way

I don’t mind where I get taken

The road is callin’

Today is the day”.

Those who continue to dwell on Perriman’s lack of productivity throughout his injury-riddled career – your loss at this point. Yes, to date he has been a major bust since entering the league. That aside, how can only simply ignore what has occurred the last two weeks in Tampa Bay? The Bucs are likely to be without both of their top wideouts in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, making Perriman the de-facto No.1 option for Jameis Winston to target. The team faces the Houston Texans secondary, who is currently tanked… er, ranked 28th in the NFL allowing 266 passing yards per game. Tampa Bay struggles to run the ball, and it is clear that the coaching staff is comfortable letting Winston both dig in and crawl out of his own grave every week. In terms of volume, Perriman is unlikely to see double-digit targets based upon his status as the deep threat, but every reception he makes has the chance of a score. Yes, I’m officially sold at this point. In non-PPR leagues I’d be willing to start him in nearly all formats.

Mike Boone (RB – Minnesota Vikings) – Owners who were unaware that Alexander Mattison was ruled out this past week were likely wondering who the heck No.23 was, and why he was on the field so much. After Dalvin Cook re-injured his shoulder Boone was forced into action for the team, and he performed admirably – averaging 4.3 YPA and two scores en route to victory. My endorsement of Boone hinges on two extremely obvious factors – the health status of the players in front of him. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday Night that he would be “surprised” to see Cook back on the field at any point during the regular season, and Mattison was incapable of practicing at all last week due to an ankle injury. If Mattison is sidelined yet again than Boone can be regarded as a RB2 in a plus-matchup against the Green Bay Packers. In addition to being a physical runner, Boone is also a capable pass catching option, further adding to his floor.

Tyler Higbee (TE – Los Angeles Rams) – This isn’t a difficult one to justify. The tight end position is a desolate wasteland, so adding anyone capable of 100 receiving yards who is owned in less than 60 percent of leagues (somehow) is an easy recommendation. If Gerald Everett remains out, and we have heard little out of Los Angeles to suggest he is all of a sudden recovered, start Higbee with confidence.

New York Jets DST – You can go to other websites that will tout some of the easiest recommendations for Week 16, notably the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

This is the Diehards! The Jets are owned in less than 30 percent of leagues and square off against the Pittsburgh Steelers – a matchup that promises one of the lowest over/under odds out of Las Vegas this year. Sure, the Steelers will be a popular start by many championship caliber teams – but for those who have been streaming at the position in 2019, I like this pickup.

The Steelers quarterback situation is an utter disaster with Duck Hodges behind center, and outside of Diontae Johnson they have few weapons on the outside. James Conner is now back and healthy, but the Jets are an above-average defense against the ground, and the game is also in New Jersey.

Tips and Tricks

Now that we have reached the final week in most leagues, in redraft formats it is acceptable at this point to drop any handcuff options that you have been holding onto this year. This list includes:

Malcolm Brown (Rams)

Reggie Bonnafon (Carolina Panthers)

Ryquell Armstead (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys)

Wayne Gallman (New York Giants)

Justice Hill (Baltimore Ravens)

Darrel Williams/Mecole Hardman (Kansas City Chiefs)

As in-game substitutions are obviously unavailable, rostering anyone who won’t crack your starting roster isn’t worth holding onto. I’m perfectly find dropping any of the above-named options for waiver wire targets – especially in the situation where your team is favored to win, and you can block your opponent from adding upside.

For teams participating in the championship, examine not only your roster, but your opponent as well. Which players do you think that they will have an eye on from the waiver wire? If they are weak at a given position or have players that are questionable with injuries, grab all available options away from them to ensure victory.

As an oddity this week, there is no Thursday night game, and instead there are three games on Saturday. Every team playing that day has a number of Fantasy-relevant players upon it, so make sure that you are patient with practice reports and news from beat reporters that you can trust (I emphasize that point since some work directly for the franchises and put out puff pieces and information to spread rumors).

Be patient with setting your roster – don’t worry about locking anything early. In fact, leaving your FLEX spots open to leave your opponent guessing who you will start or sit is an interesting tactic this week. Play some mind games!
“Start your studs” is the phrase that players will see and hear plenty this week. To put it simply – trust the players that carried you this far. Borrowing a phrase that I enjoy from Jeff Ratcliffe over at Pro Football Focus, don’t become subject to “paralysis by over analysis”. No-brainer options are referred to as such for a reason! If in the event you are struggling with lineup decisions, waiver wire grabs and how much to bid or anything else this week, shoot me a message over on Twitter and I’ll be happy to lend a hand!

Best of luck to all this week – I’m proud of you for getting this far and I sincerely hope that my advice has helped you in some fashion this year.