Week 16 Waiver Wire: Top Pickups
Congratulations on making it to Week 16. Now prepare to blow everything up and face fantasy crunch time with spare parts.
We kid. Don't change a thing.
If you have been riding your horses, stick with them. If you have been rotating the flavors of the week and it has been working for you, continue to do so.
Bleacher Report breaks down all of the players to add, monitor and ignore every Tuesday of the season, and there is no more important week than the next. Heck, Week 16 is it in almost all leagues: championship time. Don't miss out on these potential pickups outlined in this six-part, position-by-position slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Kirk Cousins Has Starting Job and a Delectable Matchup This Week
Quarterbacks to Add
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
If you are looking at the Week 15 quarterback scoring, you are fully prepared to pick up someone to play the matchups with; the backup passers in favorable matchups ruled the past week. The best of those stopgaps has to be Cousins. Not only is he coming off 381 yards and three touchdowns, but he also faces the worst defense in football.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tennessee Titans
No one will confuse Fitzpatrick with a reliable NFL quarterback, but he has gotten the job done in fantasy, especially of late. He is coming off 402 yards and four touchdown passes, and he has a gaggle of targets to progress through in the Titans' attack, led by emerging fantasy gem Kendall Wright.
The Titans travel to Jacksonville to face the Jags, who are the third-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks. If you cannot get your hands on Jay Cutler (facing the Philadelphia Eagles), Andy Dalton (facing the Minnesota Vikings) or Alex Smith (facing the Indianapolis Colts), because they are already owned in your league—or even the aforementioned Cousins—you should consider using Fitzpatrick this week.
Quarterbacks to Monitor
Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
He has been making plays of late, but no matter how banged up the Cincinnati Bengals secondary is, you cannot like him over some of your other options at the deep quarterback position. You would be better off with your regular starter in a bad matchup than taking the risk here.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
He has scorched of late, but the Dolphins have historically been a warm-weather team that struggles in the cold. He at least has a quarterback-friendly offense to operate in, though, if you miss out on the above and the weather report for Buffalo, N.Y., on Sunday improves.
Quarterbacks to Ignore
Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers
We should expect Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) to return this week, although nothing is official at this point. The Steelers are not a great matchup for quarterbacks, necessarily, so even if Rodgers doesn't return to start, you shouldn't consider Flynn a viable option in crunch time.
EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
The rookie has run hot and cold and shouldn't be considered in crunch time, even if he did score among the top 12 starting options in standard leagues last Sunday. The Dolphins are a top-10 team against quarterbacks, so don't trust Manuel here.
Running Backs: DeAngelo Williams Suddenly Important to Fantasy Owners Again
Running Backs to Add
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
We thought he would be toast when Jonathan Stewart returned, but Stewart is now dealing with a knee issue and Williams went off for 168 combined yards and a touchdown Sunday. The New Orleans Saints were beaten up on the ground by Zac Stacy, so Williams could be in for a busy day. Williams is available in 20 percent of CBS Sports leagues.
Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
Sure, it was Donald Brown (stinger) leaving the game that gave him a good number of touches Sunday, but Richardson scored on a shovel pass before Brown left. It makes him at least viable out of necessity in the 19 percent of CBS Sports leagues in which he is available.
Jordan Todman, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags haven't ruled out Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring) for Week 16 yet, but Todman is healthy, coming off 109 yards and facing a Tennessee Titans team that has given up the second-most points to fantasy running backs this season. He looks like a solid sleeper, perhaps even if MJD is active.
Running Backs to Monitor
Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings
As much as three touchdowns in his first start make him intriguing, the fact is Adrian Peterson (foot) can return in Week 16. Head coach Leslie Frazier expects him to, according to ESPN's Ben Goessling. Also, Toby Gerhart (hamstring) might, too, relegating Asiata back to third-string. Finally, only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (two) have allowed fewer rushing touchdowns to fantasy running backs this year than the Bengals (three). Asiata needs a lot to go right to make good on a waiver claim again.
Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
The rookie was a huge prospect at Arkansas and, as Jamaal Charles' backup, he is a must-have handcuff. You cannot trust Davis as a starter against the Indianapolis Colts this week, but you might consider him a play in Week 17 as the Chiefs consider resting their linchpin for the playoffs in the season's finale—if you're playing fantasy football that week.
Running Backs to Ignore
Edwin Baker, Cleveland Browns
You cannot put a lot of stock into Baker's breakthrough, because it came against the Bears' last-ranked run defense. Also, the Jets are the third-best team against the run, and they are next up on the schedule. You should leave Baker on the pile, no matter if he starts over Chris Ogbonnaya.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers; Michael Bush, Chicago Bears; Marcus Thigpen, Miami Dolphins; and Frank Summers, Chicago Bears
These backups each reached the end zone Sunday, but they are too far down their depth charts to be real options in fantasy crunch time.
Wide Receivers: Don't Look Now, but the Vikes Have Some Viable Receiving Targets
Wide Receivers to Add
Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
We got one thing right last week, saying Jennings was going to be the better of the Vikings' two receivers. We didn't particularly like either as a start, despite the favorable matchup, though, and we were proven wrong. Both are viable starters in fantasy crunch time against a banged-up Bengals secondary that has given up five touchdown receptions to receivers in the past two weeks. Matt Cassel apparently has a lot more juice than we have given him credit for having.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
You can debate Golden Tate is the more intriguing talent, but Baldwin was more productive Sunday and he got more snaps than any Seahawks receiver, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Baldwin faces a tough matchup, but you have to like Seattle at home as it plays to clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed.
Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton is coming off a disappointing week, but one thing that has been consistent in a wacky year of fantasy football has been playing guys against the Vikings defense. Minnesota has been the second-worst team in fantasy against wide receivers, so both Jones and Sanu are sleepers to reach the end zone in Week 16.
Wide Receivers to Monitor
Andre Caldwell, Denver Broncos
You cannot consider him if Wes Welker is cleared to play, but Caldwell is coming off a two-touchdown performance when Welker was sidelined a week ago. Watch Welker's status and consider Caldwell off the scrap heap if you're real desperate in deep leagues.
Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders
We haven't been big believers of him in this space, mostly because Rod Streater and perhaps Denarius Moore (shoulder) would be ahead of him in most weeks. Moore is back, but if Holmes is labeled a starter, you could consider him in a pinch. Holmes has had a good rapport with Matt McGloin, as most former scout-team tandems tend to. You still should start Streater and Moore over Holmes in standard leagues, if you're even digging that deep into the receiver pool.
Wide Receivers to Ignore
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
We should expect Stevie Johnson to be the Bills' most productive receiver in most games, so don't completely buy into Woods' five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown last week. Also, the Dolphins are a top-10 team in fantasy against wide receivers, allowing the fewest touchdown receptions to them this season (five).
Michael Preston, Tennessee Titans
When you have Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter, Kenny Britt and Damian Williams ahead of you on the depth chart—not to mention Ryan Fitzpatrick as your quarterback—you have little chance to repeat a two-touchdown performance.
Tight Ends: Delanie Walker, Zach Miller Have the Best Upcoming Matchups
Tight Ends to Add
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Walker led all tight ends with eight receptions Sunday, totaling 53 yards and a touchdown. He is available in over one-quarter of CBS Sports leagues, and he is facing the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are fantasy's third-worst team against tight ends. This all combines to make Walker a borderline must-start option in crunch time.
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
If there has been a fantasy constant this season at tight end, it hasn't even been Jimmy Graham. It has been [insert tight end here] against the Arizona Cardinals defense. The Cards have allowed the most receptions (85), yards (1,056) and touchdowns (14) to the position in fantasy this season, and it is not close. Miller is an outstanding stopgap play, if you need one.
Tight Ends to Monitor
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
He wasn't overly productive in a bad matchup against the Detroit Lions on Monday night—Detroit has been the third-best team in fantasy against tight ends—but he is getting healthier by the week. If you miss out on one of those matchup-based plays above, the veteran Pitta is a solid fall-back option.
Pitta should be a big part of the Ravens' attack against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Expect him to total 60 yards receiving and a touchdown in a game that should get loose, especially late, with so much at stake playoff-wise.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles; and Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
You probably shouldn't consider them rookies anymore. Both have plenty of experience now, and they have done a good job putting the veterans ahead of them on the depth chart behind them in fantasy scoring. Ertz and Eifert both scored last week, but the rookies just cannot be considered as consistent and reliable as the veterans above.
Tight Ends to Ignore
Tim Wright, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You have to love what Wright did against the 49ers' tough defense Sunday. The problem we see with trusting him is the St. Louis Rams (fourth best against fantasy tight ends) are next up on the schedule. That Rams team held the likes of the New Orleans Saints' Graham to a mere two catches for 25 yards. If Graham can't do it, how can you expect Wright to? Expect him to draw plenty of attention this week.
Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers
He emerged against the woeful Dallas Cowboys defense last week, but the potential return of Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) should affect Quarless' involvement in the game plan. Rodgers is much more of a downfield passer, so we would expect him to utilize Jordy Nelson, James Jones and even Jarrett Boykin more than Quarless. Consider any of the options above before this last-resort tight end.
Defense/Special Teams: Expect the Lions to Come Roaring Back Coming off a Loss
Defense/Special Teams to Add
This is one of the best streaming plays of the week. The Lions have a great defensive line, and they are facing the New York Giants' patchwork offensive front at home, coming off a loss. The Giants are the worst team in fantasy against defense/special teams, so consider the Lions a must-add and must-start in the 60 percent of CBS Sports leagues in which they are available.
St. Louis Rams
Even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven't been terribly error-prone with rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, they haven't been that great offensively either. The Rams can get after the passer, create turnovers and score on defense in this matchup. Consider them a solid add in the 30 percent of CBS Sports leagues they are available.
Defense/Special Teams to Monitor
They have stop the run and have arguably the best shutdown corner in football in Joe Haden. They also happen to be facing a New York Jets team that is error-prone and second worst in fantasy against defense/special teams. The Browns are never a sure thing week to week, but the matchup places them among the starting options for your fantasy Super Bowl.
The Buffalo Bills have been the second-worst team in fantasy against defense/special teams, and the Dolphins have had their moments defensively this season. They at least can get after the quarterback and shut down wide receivers. Consider them a fringe play if you need a streaming option and miss out on those above.
Defense/Special Teams to Ignore
The Washington Redskins showed a lot more spunk on offense with Kirk Cousins under center last week, so you cannot read too much into their fourth-worst ranking against defense/special teams. Also, you have to be crazy to put your faith in this Cowboys defense that has been ripped so easily this year. Even Matt Flynn looked like a Hall of Famer in the second half.
Chicago Bears and New York Giants
These once-proud defensive franchises have seen better days defensively. Not only are they below the water mark for viable starting fantasy units, but they are also facing two of the more potent passing offenses on the road. You have to have a death wish to trust these units this week.
Kickers: Justin Tucker Loves Fantasy as Much as Fantasy Loves Him
Kickers to Add
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Can you believe there still are over 10 percent of CBS Sports leagues that have this kicker available? He is coming off a legendary 61-yard, game-winning field goal and a six-field-goal game in the dome. Sure, he heads back out into the wintry weather, but he is a must-start option in all leagues.
You have to love his postgame comments about coming through for his fantasy owners.
Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
We should fully expect a shootout between Tony Romo and the Washington Redskins, if only because the weak Cowboys defense makes every Romo game a shootout. Bailey will be the beneficiary again, so consider him one of the top-10 kicking options in fantasy again.
Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers
He is coming off a four-field-goal effort and will be playing Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons, who are second worst in fantasy against kickers this season. If you liked Tucker's Monday night fantasy magic, Dawson has got next in that regard.
Kickers to Monitor
Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
No one is going to confuse him with a trustworthy fantasy option, especially in crunch time and the great outdoors, but the Minnesota Vikings are the sixth-worst team in fantasy against kickers. He has that going for him, which is nice.
Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles
Just a tick below the Vikings on the list are the Chicago Bears, who are Henery's opponent this week. The Eagles have a potent offense, and this game figures to feature a lot of points. Consider Henery a fall-back option if you don't have a shot at those above.
Kickers to Ignore
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
The San Francisco 49ers have allowed the fewest field-goal attempts in football this season. The Falcons and Bryant have been far too inconsistent this season. It is a bad, bad week to keep this guy active.
Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
He has been a kicker you consider when the Colts are at home and ignore when they are on the road. This week they head to Kansas City, which is the second-best team in fantasy against kickers. No thanks.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.