Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings: Positional Overview, Guide and Advice

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 20, 2022

Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings: Positional Overview, Guide and Advice

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - DECEMBER 17: Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 17, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
    Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

    Week 16 is the fantasy football semifinals in most leagues, and the best strategy at this point is to not get too clever.

    Fantasy managers are always looking for the best sleeper throughout the year to get an edge on their opponents, but at this point, stick with what you know. The waiver wire can be good to replace an injured player like Jonathan Taylor, but don't bench a regular starter for a risky bet.

    You don't want Zack Moss to be the reason you get knocked out of the playoffs.

    Of course, there are still some close calls that could come down to matchups. Here is a position-by-position breakdown of what to expect heading into Week 16.


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    HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 18: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs drops back to pass against the Houston Texans during the first half at NRG Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    1. Patrick Mahomes, KC (vs. SEA)

    2. Josh Allen, BUF (at CHI)

    3. Jalen Hurts, PHI (at DAL)

    4. Justin Fields, CHI (vs. BUF)

    5. Joe Burrow, CIN (at NE)

    6. Trevor Lawrence, JAX (at NYJ)

    7. Geno Smith, SEA (at KC)

    8. Justin Herbert, LAC (at IND)

    9. Dak Prescott, DAL (vs. PHI)

    10. Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (vs. GB)

    11. Aaron Rodgers, GB (at MIA)

    12. Kirk Cousins, MIN (vs. MIN)

    The big story going into the week is the health of Jalen Hurts. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback is "uncertain to play" due to a sprained shoulder, adding "there's a real chance" that Gardner Minshew starts instead against the Dallas Cowboys.

    The Eagles haven't clinched the division yet, but they do have a three-game lead if they want to keep their MVP candidate fresh for the playoffs.

    However, Hurts is such a difference-maker in fantasy that you have to keep him in your starting lineup as long as he's active. If he ends up being a gametime decision, hold out hope as long as you can and replace him later.

    Hopefully there is more clarity later in the week, but fantasy managers should add a contingency option in case they need to pivot quickly. Minshew, Brock Purdy or Matt Ryan could be last-minute options if Hurts is out.

    The rest of the list features many familiar faces, with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen clearly leading the way. Justin Fields also remains a must-start despite a tough matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

    Geno Smith had multiple touchdown passes in seven straight games before throwing only one against the San Francisco 49ers last week, but he should bounce back in a high-scoring battle against the Kansas City Chiefs. He's been producing all year long and won't slow down now.

    Aaron Rodgers hasn't lived up to expectations this year, but the Miami Dolphins allow the second-most points to fantasy quarterbacks. It could lead to a quality start at the right time. Kirk Cousins and Jared Goff are other strong options for those without a top quarterback.

    There is a bigger risk surrounding inconsistent passers like Justin Herbert and Dak Prescott, with the latter also having a tough matchup. However, the talent around them is enough to remain in the QB1 conversation and likely in fantasy lineups.

Running Backs

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    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 18: Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans runs the ball during the second quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    1. Derrick Henry, TEN (vs. HOU)

    2. Christian McCaffrey, SF (vs. WAS)

    3. Austin Ekeler, LAC (at IND)

    4. Josh Jacobs, LV (at PIT)

    5. Saquon Barkley, NYG (at MIN)

    6. Dalvin Cook, MIN (vs. NYG)

    7. Nick Chubb, CLE (vs. NO)

    8. Rhamondre Stevenson, NE (vs. CIN)

    9. Aaron Jones, GB (at MIA)

    10. Tony Pollard, DAL (vs. PHI)

    11. Miles Sanders, PHI (at DAL)

    12. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (vs. PHI)

    13. Alvin Kamara, NO (at CLE)

    14. Kenneth Walker, SEA (at KC)

    15. James Conner, ARI (vs. TB)

    16. Joe Mixon, CIN (at NE)

    17. Najee Harris, PIT (vs. LV)

    18. Travis Etienne, JAX (at NYJ)

    19. Jerick McKinnon, KC (vs. SEA)

    20. J.K. Dobbins, BAL (vs. ATL)

    21. David Montgomery, CHI (vs. BUF)

    22. Latavius Murray, DEN (at ARI)

    23. D'Andre Swift, DET (at CAR)

    24. Leonard Fournette, TB (at ARI)

    25. Rachaad White, TB (at ARI)

    26. Isiah Pacheco, KC (vs. SEA)

    27. Raheem Mostert, TB (at ARI)

    28. Jamaal Williams, DET (at CAR)

    29. AJ Dillon, GB (at MIA)

    30. Tyler Allgeier, ATL (at BAL)

    31. D'Onta Foreman, CAR (vs. DET)

    32. Zonovan Knight, NYJ (vs. JAX)

    33. Cam Akers, LAR (vs. DEN)

    34. Brian Robinson Jr., WAS (at SF)

    35. Cordarrelle Patterson, ATL (at BAL)

    36. Antonio Gibson, WAS (at SF)

    Derrick Henry has been red-hot with over 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his last two games and now faces the worst run defense in the NFL in the Houston Texans. Henry has topped 200 rushing yards in four straight games against Houston, including his 219 yards and two scores in Week 8.

    If you have Henry on your roster, that might be enough to win the week alone.

    There will be tougher lineup decisions along the way, but you can trust both Dallas Cowboys running backs as Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott continue to produce at a high level each week.

    Temper expectations for Joe Mixon, who hasn't scored since his five-touchdown outburst in Week 9 and now has a tough matchup against the New England Patriots. You still don't bench him unless you have better options, but he could struggle to get into the end zone.

    Jerick McKinnon cannot be ignored after emerging as the league's best fantasy running back the last two weeks with 256 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. He had 18 touches last week and the Chiefs clearly trust him in big moments, which should lead to another big game against the Seattle Seahawks.

    J.K. Dobbins has also proved to be trustworthy after a second straight game with 120 rushing yards. Even if not fully healthy, the talent is there to go with plenty of opportunity in the Baltimore Ravens attack.

    When making your final lineup decisions, it's important to know the player's role within the offense.

    Latavius Murray has become a true starting running back for the Denver Broncos, getting enough touches to keep him in fantasy lineups. Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White are splitting work, keeping each of them lower in the rankings. Fournette gets the slight edge as the more likely to score a touchdown.

    On the other hand, the Atlanta Falcons could be too difficult to trust at this stage.

    Tyler Allgeier is coming off a huge game (139 rushing yards and a touchdown), but he hadn't topped 60 yards in any of the previous four games. Without much of a passing-game role, he could return to low numbers in Week 16 while Cordarrelle Patterson takes over in the backfield.

    It would be best to avoid the situation if there are other options.

Wide Receivers

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 11: DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a pass for a touchdown during the second quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers at Lumen Field on December 11, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)
    Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

    1. Justin Jefferson, MIN (vs. NYG)

    2. Stefon Diggs, BUF (at CHI)

    3. Davante Adams, LV (at PIT)

    4. Tyreek Hill, MIA (vs. GB)

    5. A.J. Brown, PHI (at DAL)

    6. Ja'Marr Chase, CIN (at NE)

    7. DK Metcalf, SEA (at KC)

    8. Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET (at CAR)

    9. CeeDee Lamb, DAL (vs. PHI)

    10. Jaylen Waddle, MIA (vs. GB)

    11. Keenan Allen, LAC (at IND)

    13. Garrett Wilson, NYJ (vs. JAX)

    13. Chris Godwin, TB (at ARI)

    14. DeAndre Hopkins, ARI (vs. TB)

    15. Terry McLaurin, WAS (at SF)

    16. Mike Williams, LAC (at IND)

    17. DeVonta Smith, PHI (at DAL)

    18. Tee Higgins, CIN (at NE)

    19. Amari Cooper, CLE (vs. NO)

    20. D.J. Moore, CAR (vs. DET)

    21. Christian Kirk, JAX (at NYJ)

    22. Chris Olave, NO (at CLE)

    23. JuJu Smith-Schuster, KC (vs. SEA)

    24. Mike Evans, TB (at ARI)

    25. Christian Watson, GB (at MIA)

    26. Michael Pittman Jr. IND (at ARI)

    27. Jerry Jeudy, DEN (at LAR)

    28. Drake London, ATL (at BAL)

    29. Zay Jones, JAX (at NYJ)

    30. Brandon Aiyuk, SF (vs. WAS)

    31. Diontae Johnson, PIT (vs. LV)

    32. Darius Slayton, NYG (at MIN)

    33. Adam Thielen, MIN (vs. NYG)

    34. Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE (vs. NO)

    35. Chris Moore, HOU (at TEN)

    36. Gabe Davis, BUF (at CHI)

    Justin Jefferson has been as good as advertised over the past few weeks and should remain fantasy's top receiver against the New York Giants. Stefon Diggs, conversely, has just 97 yards over the last two games combined, but he's due for a bounceback effort in Week 16.

    DK Metcalf could be in for a heavy workload with Tyler Lockett sidelined by a finger injury.

    One top player who could struggle is Ja'Marr Chase with the New England Patriots defense giving him added attention, but he is too good to take out of lineups.

    The same is true for Garrett Wilson, who has emerged as one of the top wideouts in the NFL during his rookie season and is now a clear starter in fantasy leagues.

    Fellow rookie Drake London is also trending in the right direction with seven catches for 70 yards on 11 targets with Desmond Ridder under center. It makes him a viable fantasy starter, especially in points-per-reception leagues.

    Christian Watson finally slowed down after scoring eight touchdowns in four games, but the bigger concern was his reduced role with Romeo Doubs and Allen Lazard back on the field. The upside is still there, but he might not be a must-start despite his recent production.

    It's likely time to give up on Gabe Davis, who hasn't reached double-digit fantasy points in standard leagues since Week 11. He could always catch a long touchdown pass, but there are probably safer options heading into the playoff matchup.

Tight Ends

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 18: Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Evan Engram (17) runs with the ball during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 18, 2022 at tIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    1. Travis Kelce, KC (vs. SEA)

    2. Mark Andrews, BAL (vs. ATL)

    3. George Kittle, SF (vs. WAS)

    4. T.J. Hockenson, MIN (vs. NYG)

    5. Dallas Goedert, PHI (at DAL)

    6. Dalton Schultz, DAL (vs. PHI)

    7. David Njoku, CLE (vs. NO)

    8. Evan Engram, JAX (at NYJ)

    9. Darren Waller, LV (at PIT)

    10. Pat Freiermuth, PIT (vs. LV)

    11. Gerald Everett, LAC (at IND)

    12. Chigoziem Okonkwo, TEN (vs. HOU)

    Tight end remains a wasteland outside of Travis Kelce, making anyone who gets regular targets a quality start.

    Even Mark Andrews has struggled, failing to score since Week 6, but there are few better options available if you want to replace him.

    Evan Engram has been up-and-down this year, although he has 25 targets over his last two games and could be used a lot against the New York Jets.

    Chigoziem Okonkwo has been one of the fastest risers at the position with at least four catches and 40 yards in each of his last four games. The rookie's athleticism—and the Titans' lack of quality pass-catchers—gives him a chance to post big numbers in Week 16 against the Texans.

    Dallas Goedert hasn't played since Week 10 due to a shoulder injury, but he should be in lineups if he is active on Saturday.