Fantasy Football Week 16 Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 15:  Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on December 15, 2013 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Round 2 of the 2013 fantasy football playoffs is almost complete, and owners have begun shifting their focus to the Week 16 position-by-position rankings to find out which players will help cement a championship.

After a wild week that saw Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles have one of the biggest fantasy performances in NFL history—amassed over 200 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns—owners are desperate to decipher which stars will explode this week.

Here are my top-10 rankings at every position to help you make the toughest game-day decisions in such a pivotal week of the season.

*Based on standard-scoring leagues. Points against stats via Yahoo! Sports.

 

Quarterbacks

Week 16 Quarterback Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Peyton ManningDenver BroncosHouston Texans27
2Drew BreesNew Orleans SaintsCarolina Panthers25
3Philip RiversSan Diego ChargersOakland Raiders25
4Tom BradyNew England PatriotsBaltimore Ravens24
5Andrew LuckIndianapolis ColtsKansas City Chiefs22
6Tony RomoDallas CowboysWashington Redskins22
7Matthew StaffordDetroit LionsNew York Giants21
8Cam NewtonCarolina PanthersNew Orleans Saints19
9Alex SmithKansas City ChiefsIndianapolis Colts19
10Nick FolesPhiladelphia EaglesChicago Bears18

Quarterback Notes

If you made it this far in the fantasy postseason, that likely indicates you have one of the top quarterbacks in the sport. If you have a player like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers or Andrew Luck, start them without hesitation.

Whether it’s the high-octane play of their offense or a favorable matchup, perennial fantasy powerhouses Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton are also worth a start in every formatted league this week.

The biggest surprises in the top 10 are both Andy Reid protégés, Alex Smith and Nick Foles.

Smith has been a force in Kansas City, throwing for 14 touchdowns over the last four weeks and trailing only Manning in the overall rankings during that stretch. Fantasy players should continue playing Smith’s hot hand.

Philadelphia may have been defeated Sunday, but Nick Foles has been one of the most explosive fantasy players in 2013. With 428 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s loss to Minnesota, Foles should find even more success against a Chicago Bears team that gives up an average of 15.77 fantasy points to opposing QBs.

 

Running Backs

Week 16 Running Back Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Jamaal CharlesKansas City ChiefsIndianapolis Colts22
2LeSean McCoyPhiladelphia EaglesChicago Bears20
3Marshawn LynchSeattle SeahawksArizona Cardinals18
4Knowshon MorenoDenver BroncosHouston Texans18
5DeMarco MurrayDallas CowboysWashington Redskins17
6Matt ForteChicago BearsPhiladelphia Eagles16
7Eddie Lacy Green Bay PackersPittsburgh Steelers16
8Zac StacySt. Louis RamsTampa Bay Buccaneers15
9Ryan MathewsSan Diego ChargersOakland Raiders15
10Le'Veon BellPittsburgh SteelersGreen Bay Packers14

Running Back Notes

Before the focus can turn to Week 16’s projected outcomes and point totals, fantasy owners must reflect on the awe-inspiring five-touchdown performance by Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles.

If you have Charles on your roster, you likely made the championship game due to his performance; if you don’t have him on your team and you still made the finals, your only hope is that the Indianapolis Colts slow him down Sunday.

Charles earns the No. 1 spot without question, but the rankings get convoluted after that. With Adrian Peterson missing last week’s game and being listed as questionable for Week 16, LeSean McCoy has slid into the No. 2 spot, and the rest of the running backs have moved up as well.

Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) carries the ball during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Other must-start RBs include Marshawn Lynch, Knowshon Moreno, DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte and Eddie Lacy. Each of these backs has been successful this season and has added to your run this far in the postseason.

The three underrated stars to watch for this week will be Zac Stacy, Ryan Mathews and Le’Veon Bell. If you have any of these players on your bench, do whatever it takes to get them into an RB2 or Flex spot.

 

Wide Receivers

Week 16 Wide Receiver Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Calvin JohnsonDetroit LionsNew York Giants23
2Dez BryantDallas CowboysWashington Redskins21
3Josh GordonCleveland BrownsNew York Jets20
4Demaryius ThomasDenver BroncosHouston Texans19
5A.J. GreenCincinnati BengalsMinnesota Vikings19
6Brandon MarshallChicago BearsPhiladelphia Eagles18
7Antonio BrownPittsburgh SteelersGreen Bay Packers18
8DeSean JacksonPhiladelphia EaglesChicago Bears16
9Alshon JefferyChicago BearsPhiladelphia Eagles15
10Julian EdelmanNew England PatriotsBaltimore Ravens15

Nov 28, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) after the game against the Green Bay Packers during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. Detroit won 40-10. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver Notes

One of the most consistent positions in fantasy football this season has been wide receiver. While the overall numbers are down, each of the stars who made the top-10 rankings this week can be counted on to get several catches and to contend for the occasional touchdown on a weekly basis.

The top spot belongs to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson until another receiver proves that they can produce bigger catches on a more consistent basis or a defender in the league finds the recipe to stop Megatron.

There are plenty of other fantasy juggernauts like Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson who are bona fide starts each week, but the focus has turned to the bottom of the top 10.

The two biggest surprises over the last four weeks has been the successes of Alshon Jeffery and Julian Edelman. Jeffery has emerged as a viable No. 2 receiver in Chicago and has showcased his circus-like skills on a weekly basis. Edelman is coming off a game in which he totaled 13 receptions for 139 yards and one touchdown.

Both men are worth a start this week.

 

Tight Ends

Week 16 Tight End Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Jimmy GrahamNew Orleans SaintsCarolina Panthers20
2Julius ThomasDenver BroncosHouston Texans19
3Jason WittenDallas CowboysWashington Redskins18
4Tony GonzalezAtlanta FalconsSan Francisco 49ers18
5Vernon DavisSan Francisco 49ersAtlanta Falcons17
6Dennis PittaBaltimore RavensNew England Patriots17
7Jordan CameronCleveland BrownsNew York Jets16
8Greg OlsenCarolina PanthersNew Orleans Saints15
9Coby FleenerIndianapolis ColtsKansas City Chiefs13
10Martellus BennettChicago BearsPhiladelphia Eagles13

Tight End Notes

The tight end position has been incredibly frustrating this season. Not only has almost every player failed to perform consistently—even No. 1 overall player Jimmy Graham was limited to just two catches in Week 15—but injuries have also played a role in the lack of success.

That’s why reliability rules in Week 16.

Graham remains the top TE due to his rapport with Drew Brees and the fact that he burned the Carolina Panthers for two touchdowns in their first meeting. Other players worth a start this week include Julius Thomas, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, Vernon Davis and Jordan Cameron.

While Greg Olsen, Coby Fleener and Martellus Bennett are all fringe top-tier starters worth a shot Sunday, the biggest focus of Week 16 will be how Dennis Pitta continues to round into shape with the Baltimore Ravens.

It’s clear that quarterback Joe Flacco loves Pitta and will look to him early and often, and the owners who lost Gronkowski to season-ending surgery and placed their confidence in the Ravens’ tight end should begin to see it pay major dividends immediately.

 

Defense/Special Teams

Week 16 Defense/Special Teams Rankings
RankTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Seattle SeahawksArizona Cardinals18
2San Francisco 49ersAtlanta Falcons16
3Kansas City ChiefsIndianapolis Colts15
4Carolina PanthersNew Orleans Saints14
5Arizona CardinalsSeattle Seahawks14
6Baltimore RavensNew England Patriots14
7Pittsburgh SteelersGreen Bay Packers13
8Miami DolphinsBuffalo Bills12
9Cincinnati BengalsMinnesota Vikings10
10Tampa Bay BuccaneersSt. Louis Rams10

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 15:  Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after recovering a fumble against the Oakland Raiders during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum on December 15, 2013 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/G
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Defense/Special Team Notes

Now is not the time to get fancy with your defense and special teams. If you are reading rankings in Week 16, it’s likely because you made it or are fighting to make it to the championship round of your fantasy league.

Start the best possible defense you can in the top 10.

The Seattle Seahawks proved once again why the team deserves the No. 1 ranking this week, but strong performances from San Francisco and Kansas City have the team’s spot as the undisputed No. 1 defense in the league ready to fall.

If an owner doesn’t have one of the defenses on this list and can’t pick them one up off waivers, check out matchups and pick the team playing the least imposing offensive unit.

 

Kickers

Week 16 Kicker Rankings
RankPlayerTeamOpponentProj. Points
1Matt PraterDenver BroncosHouston Texans16
2Dan BaileyDallas CowboysWashington Redskins14
3Steven HauschkaSeattle SeahawksArizona Cardinals12
4Stephen GostkowskiNew England PatriotsBaltimore Ravens11
5Phil DawsonSan Francisco 49ersAtlanta Falcons11
6Justin TuckerBaltimore RavensNew England Patriots10
7Robbie GouldChicago BearsPhiladelphia Eagles10
8Adam VinatieriIndianapolis ColtsKansas City Chiefs9
9Blair WalshMinnesota VikingsCincinnati Bengals9
10Mason CrosbyGreen Bay PackersPittsburgh Steelers9

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 08: Kicker Steven Hauschka #4 of the Seattle Seahawks kicks a 31-yard field goal against the San Francisco 49ers with Jon Ryan holding in the fourth quarter on December 8, 2013 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Kicker Notes

Matt Prater still holds the No. 1 spot in the kicker rankings, but it is far from a lock. With consistent studs like Steven Hauschka, Stephen Gostkowski and Justin Tucker all with the ability to outscore each other, there are several safe routes at the kicker position this week.

Each kicker on the list deserves credit, but with San Francisco dominating lately and playing some of its best football of the year, Phil Dawson has emerged as an elite fantasy player.

Remember that when setting your starting lineup.