Waiver Wire Watch: Week 16

Dec 20, 2021
Waiver Wire Watch: Week 16

Week 15 welcomed the fantasy playoffs to most leagues, as well as a heavy dose of scheduling chaos. This was the first week of the year with massive Covid-19 implications, as multiple games were forced to be shifted on the schedule due to outbreaks among the players and staff. It put fantasy managers in a pinch, so hopefully you were able to survive and advance. (I’d imagine you did if you’re still reading this article.) Below is our best effort at sifting through the chaos to offer some worthy waiver-wire pickups for Week 16. Check back as the week progresses, especially early, as we will try to keep this up-to-date as best we can.

Recommendations are based on a PPR-scoring, four-point passing touchdown, 12-team league, with roster percentages coming from Yahoo. Typically, we will not be writing up players who are rostered in over 50% of leagues. We may include them on the lists, though, as a friendly reminder to scan your waiver wire for those names. Free-agent budget recommendations are based on a standard $100 budget for the season. I try to mention when a player is a better streaming play (short-term/one-week starter) versus a long-term addition. Lastly, the great John Paulsen will edit this article every week and adjust rankings (and prices, starting next week), if necessary. Essentially, you’re getting two minds collaborating on this piece instead of one, so lucky you.


  1. Tyler Huntley, Ravens, 4% rostered ($5)
  2. Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins, 47% rostered ($4)
  3. Carson Wentz, Colts, 50% rostered ($3)
  4. Justin Fields, Bears, 25% rostered ($3)
  5. Cam Newton, Panthers, 22% rostered ($2)
  6. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers, 40% rostered ($1)
  7. Drew Lock, Broncos, 0% rostered ($1)
  8. Mac Jones, Patriots. 33% rostered ($1)
  9. Davis Mills, Texans, 2% rostered ($1)
  10. Baker Mayfield, Browns, 28% rostered ($1)
  • Lamar Jackson might return next week, but if the Ravens hold him out for another game Huntley is an excellent streaming option, even though he’ll face a tough Bengals defense. Huntley looked like a seasoned veteran against a good Packers defense on Sunday, throwing for 215 yards with two touchdowns, while rushing for 73 yards and two more scores. His rushing ability is what makes him a high-value streamer.
  • Tua has two touchdown passes in three of his last four games, but has crossed 250 passing yards just once in that span. Tua has a tougher matchup against the Saints, but their defense isn’t at full strength so Tua should still offer a decent fantasy floor.
  • Wentz threw just 12 passes in the win over the Patriots on Saturday night, with one touchdown and one pick. He’s thrown at least one touchdown in four straight games, but crossed the 160-yard passing mark in just one of those games. Next up is a matchup that could require Wentz to sling it more frequently, as the Cardinals will host the Colts. The Cardinals were surprisingly torched by Jared Goff (216 yards, 3 TDs) in Week 15.
  • Fields threw for 285 yards, one touchdown, and added 35 yards on the ground. The Bears offense shot itself in the foot multiple times. Fields' rushing ability makes him a decent streamer next week, even in a less-than-ideal matchup against the Seahawks.
  • Newton threw a ghastly interception late against the Bills, but otherwise put up a solid fantasy outing with 156 passing yards and a touchdown to go along with 71 rushing yards and a touchdown. He faces the pass-funnel Buccaneers next week, so here’s hoping that he can pick up the passing attack a little more.
  • Garoppolo has been solid of late, throwing for two touchdowns in two of his last four games, with 230-plus yards in each. His ceiling is limited, though, as the 49ers bully offense is built on the run. He has a decent matchup against the Titans for those in a pinch, though.
  • Lock was a bit of a rollercoaster filling in for Teddy Bridgewater, who could miss time after suffering a head injury. He did throw a touchdown in relief, and will face a very beatable Raiders defense in Week 16.
  • Game script forced Jones to throw a ton on Sunday, as he fell behind by double digits early to the Colts. He played well, throwing for 299 yards, two scores, and two interceptions. He’ll face a tough test next week against the Bills stout pass defense, though.
  • Mills threw for 209 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception against the Jaguars. Since taking back over as the starter he’s averaged over 250 yards per game, with three touchdowns to one interception. He may be a decent streamer next week trying to match the high-powered Chargers offense.
  • If Mayfield returns under center next week, he is available in plenty of leagues, but faces a tough test against a surprisingly stingy Packers defense that is getting reinforcements back from injuries, such as superstar cornerback Jaire Alexander. Baker is a floor play with some upside if the Browns are forced to try and keep pace with the Packers’ elite offense.

Running Backs

  1. Ronald Jones, Buccaneers, 34% rostered ($15+)
  2. Jeff Wilson Jr., 49ers, 55% rostered ($15+)
  3. Duke Johnson, Dolphins, 1% rostered ($13)
  4. Craig Reynolds, Lions, 13% rostered ($10+)
  5. Justin Jackson, Chargers, 5% rostered ($13)
  6. Dontrell Hilliard, Titans, 37% rostered ($7)
  7. D'Ernest Johnson, Browns, 23% rostered ($5)
  8. Devontae Booker, Giants, 24% rostered ($5)
  9. Jordan Howard, Boston Scott & Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles 9%/19%/13% rostered ($1)
  10. Ameer Abdullah, Panthers, 8% rostered ($1)
  11. Rex Burkhead, Texans, 10% rostered ($1)
  • Leonard Fournette suffered a hamstring injury against the Saints, and could miss time as he recovers from that and an ankle injury, Jones saw 10 touches with Fournette sidelined, seven more than Ke'Shawn Vaughn. RoJo looks to have a chance to be a fantasy playoff hero if Fournette misses multiple games.
  • Wilson is technically over our usual roster threshold, but he went for over 100 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. If he’s still available in your league and you’re still alive in the postseason, make Wilson a top priority as Elijah Mitchell (knee) could miss Week 16 as well. Mitchell has cleared the concussion protocol but still has some swelling in his knee.
  • Duke Johnson being a top-scoring fantasy running back in December of 2021 was not on my bingo card, but here we are. Johnson took his 22 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns, adding one reception for 20 yards. Johnson’s massive, surprising workload was due in part to Myles Gaskin being on a pitch count after returning from the Covid-19, but after this production, the Dolphins may not be able to stop feeding him the ball. Earlier in his career he was a pass-catching specialist, so his dual-threat potential makes him a top add this week.
  • Reynolds is apparently "the guy" in Detroit now, after following up his 11-83-0 outing last week with an impressive 26-112-0 display in the Lions’ upset win over the Cardinals. As long as Jamaal Williams (Covid) and D'Andre Swift (shoulder) don’t return, Reynolds will have RB2 upside the rest of the way.
  • This marked the second straight week Jackson (14) and Joshua Kelley (seven) combined for over 20 touches, and this was with Austin Ekeler handling 16 of his own. Ekeler isn’t quite 100% yet, but the mini bye following Thursday Night Football might help. If he still isn’t fully recovered by next Sunday, Jackson and Kelly will have some appeal as RB3s or flex options in deeper leagues.
  • D'Onta Foreman suffered a foot/ankle injury in the fourth quarter, but came back in shortly thereafter. If Hilliard had 12 touches (nine rushes, three receptions) prior to Foreman’s injury. We're only a few weeks from Hilliard's 12-131-1 performance against the Patriots, so he has some upside with a more substantial workload.
  • Kareem Hunt landed on the Covid-19 list and might be in jeopardy of missing next week’s game against the Packers as well. Johnson carried the ball just once for -2 yards, but he did see four targets, catching all of them for 17 yards. He will only be a starting option if Nick Chubb misses time, such as landing on the Covid-19 list.
  • Booker trails Saquon Barkley in the touch pecking order, but he is showing more burst than his generational backfield mate lately. Booker took his 10 touches for 82 yards against the Cowboys, while Barkley’s 19 touches netted him 74 total yards. Booker could see more work moving forward and has some RB3/flex appeal.
  • Howard saw 15 carries, while Gainwell saw one target. With Miles Sanders, this is a less diverse backfield in how the touches are divvied up, but this group are solid stashes for the fantasy playoffs.
  • Abdullah was out-touched by Chuba Hubbard, but Abdullah had the edge in the passing game, catching all four of his targets for 48 yards and a touchdown against the Bills. He might be a dart throw in PPR leagues, as the Panthers will likely need to throw a lot to hang with the Buccaneers next week.
  • Burkhead handled 17 touches, but didn’t even hit 50 total yards on those opportunities. There is not much upside to starting a Texans running back, but at least Burkhead seems to have some volume in his favor.

Wide Receivers

  1. Gabriel Davis, Bills, 3% rostered ($8)
  2. Amon-Ra St. Brown & Josh Reynolds, Lions, 29%/10% rostered ($6)
  3. Russell Gage, Falcons, 53% rostered ($6)
  4. Allen Lazard, Packers, 4% rostered ($5)
  5. Tyler Johnson, Buccaneers, 1% rostered ($5)
  6. Mecole Hardman & Byron Pringle, Chiefs ($3)
  7. K.J. Osborn, Vikings, 46% rostered ($3)
  8. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Browns, 14% rostered ($2)
  9. Marquez Callaway, Saints, 23% rostered ($1)
  10. Laquon Treadwell, Jaguars, 2% rostered ($1)
  11. Rashod Bateman, Ravens, 42% rostered ($1)
  12. Antoine Wesley, Cardinals, 0% rostered ($1)
  • Davis was our No. 2 WR pickup (after K.J. Osborn) in last week's Waiver Wire Watch and he delivered. His usage has surged with Emmanuel Sanders out, as he’s gone 5-43-1 and 5-85-2 over the last two weeks, and he caught a touchdown the week prior as well. Davis is eating with defenses focusing on Stefon Diggs, and he’ll be in the WR3 mix as long as Sanders remains sidelined.
  • Gage has become the Falcons’ No. 1 wideout, posting a solid 8-91-1 line against the 49ers. He’s caught at least four passes in five straight games, with 60-plus receiving yards in four of those. He offers a reasonable PPR floor as a WR3/4.
  • St. Brown’s last three games have established him as a bona fide starting fantasy wide receiver, as he’s gone 8-73-0, 10-86-1, and 8-90-1 most recently, with over a 30% target share in that span. Reynolds has 16 catches in his last four games for 259 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions have finally found a 1-2 punch at receiver, and fantasy managers should be taking more notice. T.J. Hockenson is done for the year and D'Andre Swift remains out, so there a lot vacated targets up for grabs.
  • Lazard was close to having a big fantasy day, but Aaron Rodgers overthrew him on what should have been an easy touchdown and he just missed making a spectacular catch on another. Lazard’s four targets were fourth-most on the team, but he did miss a little time after landing awkwardly after that missed touchdown. He’s a decent dart throw next week against the Browns. Update (12/21): Marquez Valdes-Scantling was placed on the Covid list, so Lazard's role could expand this week.
  • Mike Evans and Chris Godwin suffered injuries on Sunday night, opening up chances for Johnson to shine. He caught four of his seven targets for 41 yards as the Bucs offense was shut out. He'll have a chance for a much bigger workload next week, especially if both Evans and Godwin miss the Week 16 game against the Panthers. (Antonio Brown is likely to return and serve as the team's WR1 if both Godwin and Evans are out.)
  • Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were placed on the Covid list on Tuesday. If one or both players are unable to get cleared then the outlook for both Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle would improve.
  • Osborn couldn't find much work against the Bears, even with Adam Thielen out and the Bears being down pretty much their entire starting secondary. He did catch all three of his targets though, for 21 yards. He'll s.
  • Peoples-Jones led the Browns in targets against the Raiders with eight, catching four of his Nick Mullens passes for 48 yards (both also team highs). He could see plenty of volume next week against the Packers.
  • Callaway was this week’s winner of Taysom Hill targets, catching six of his nine for 112 yards. It is hard to trust the Saints pass-catchers when the man throwing them the ball is so inconsistent.
  • Treadwell is quietly averaging seven targets, four-plus receptions, and over 50 receiving yards per game over the last month. That’s not week-winning production, but those in deeper leagues might appreciate that relatively safe PPR-based floor.
  • Just when I thought it was looking like Tyler Huntley had eyes for Bateman, the rookie nearly pulls a disappearing act, seeing just two targets against the Packers. Bateman is talented enough to warrant adding, but his volatile usage might make him tough to trust in a starting playoff lineup.
  • Wesley saw a surprising eight targets against the Lions, catching three for 19 yards. The majority of Kyler Murray’s targets went elsewhere, so this is likely more of a one-week aberration than something to bank on moving forward (absent another injury to the Cardinals’ pass-catchers).

Tight Ends

  1. Tyler Conklin, Vikings, 48% rostered ($3)
  2. Foster Moreau, Raiders, 21% rostered ($2)
  3. Gerald Everett, Seahawks, 31% rostered ($2)
  4. Cole Kmet, Bears, 26% rostered ($2)
  5. Albert Okwuegbunam, 1% rostered ($2)
  6. Evan Engram, Giants, 32% rostered ($2)
  7. James O'Shaughnessy, Jaguars, 1% rostered ($1)
  8. Ricky Seals-Jones & John Bates, Washington, 15%/0% rostered ($1)
  • The Vikings surprisingly went run-heavy against a depleted Bears' secondary, so there weren't many chances for Conklin, who caught just one ball for seven yards on three targets. He'll look to rebound against the Rams next week.
  • Moreau was heavily involved against Cleveland, catching seven passes for 65 yards on nine targets. As long as Darren Waller remains out, Moreau will be a viable fantasy streamer. He plays the Broncos next week.
  • Everett caught a touchdown last week and may see extra work as long as Tyler Lockett remains on the Covid list.
  • Kmet actually cashed in on his primetime targets this week, going 6-71-0 on nine looks. He remains a strong streamer when the Bears play the Seahawks next week..
  • Noah Fant played against the Bengals, but Okwuegbunam led the team with 58 receiving yards on three catches (four targets). He’s really only viable if Fant is out, though, as this feels unsustainable.
  • Engram caught four of his five targets for 33 yards. His upside was already capped in the Giants offense, and it has been lowered with Mike Glennon and/or Jake Fromm throwing the rock.
  • O’Shaughnessy caught all four of his targets for 60 yards, his best outing over the last three weeks. He’s a low-end streamer but this is a positive development following the departure of Urban Meyer.
  • Seals-Jones was healthy enough on Tuesday, seeing seven targets and catching four for 29 yards. He'll be a solid streamer against the Cowboys next week.
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