Fantasy Football Long-Term Forecast: Matt Camp's Week 16 Futures Report
The NFL season is a long and winding road you must navigate on your way to a fantasy championship.
Along the way, you hit the waiver wire hoping to find the gems who can carry you to greatness, but what if those gems fizzle out along the way? How much good will does a player have if their early season performances feel like distant memories?
That might be a quandary you’re having in Week 16 when it comes to Jay Ajayi of the Miami Dolphins. In Weeks 6-7, he ran for 418 yards and three touchdowns taking over the full-time duties from Arian Foster. He came out of the Week 8 bye to run for 111 yards and another touchdown against the New York Jets. That was the last time he ran for at least 80 yards.
Ajayi looked like he’d be a league-winner after that three-game stretch, but many are struggling with the thought of using him this weekend against the Buffalo Bills since he’s run for just 215 yards and one touchdown in the last four weeks. Of course, he ran for 214 yards and a touchdown against the Bills back in Week 7.
Because Ajayi doesn’t have a large sample size of dominant performances, you’re right to consider other options with your championship on the line even if he was so important to your success earlier in the season.
Think with your head, not your heart.
Late-Week Waiver Wire
I’ve already looked at the best options from the waiver wire, but with the news and updated injury information we’ve received since, here are some useful players you can still get to help you this weekend.
Adam Thielen, MIN
Percent Owned: ESPN—25.3, Yahoo—28.0
Typically, fantasy players don’t have much patience for the players filling out the last few spots in the starting lineup. Last week, Adam Thielen saw one target and was catchless against the Indianapolis Colts before exiting with a neck injury. Luckily, Thielen has been able to practice this week, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press, and is expected to play when the Vikings travel to Green Bay.
Stefon Diggs has played through a knee injury in recent games and was limited at practice this week with a hip injury, according to Tim Yotter of Scout, so the door is open for Thielen to bounce back against the Packers. In the four games before Week 15, Thielen averaged six receptions and more than 76 yards. If he gave you 12-13 points in PPR formats as the last WR or flex spot in your lineup, he’d be a useful option.
With Diggs’ injury concerns and questions in the backfield due to Adrian Peterson’s groin and knee issues, Thielen could be in for a bigger role in Week 16.
Charles Clay, BUF
Percent Owned: ESPN—14.1, Yahoo—16.0
Reaching deep at tight end could bring you to Clay in Week 16. Over the last two weeks, he has 13 targets, 10 receptions, 124 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll have a chance to stay hot when he takes on a beatable defense in the Miami Dolphins.
They’ve given up the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends over the last month and at least six receptions to tight ends in five of their last six games. He’s not an exciting option, but few are at the tight end position.
Clear Starting Options
Dak Prescott, DAL
After three games in which he failed to throw for 200 yards, including a loss to the New York Giants in Week 14, Prescott answered the bell in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He completed 32 of 36 attempts for 279 yards and rushed for 20 yards and a touchdown. While not a major fantasy performance, it was a game he needed to shut down any talk of the Dallas Cowboys turning back to Tony Romo.
Thanks to the New York Giants’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, the Cowboys have clinched the top seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With the final two games of the season now rendered meaningless, the Cowboys don’t have much reason to risk Prescott’s health.
He should play most of the Week 16 game against the Detroit Lions, but even the slightest hint of an injury could put him on the bench for safe keeping until the playoffs.
Trevor Siemian/Paxton Lynch, DEN
While the Denver Broncos offense is clearly better with Siemian under center as opposed to Lynch, the team finds itself on the outside looking in of the AFC playoff picture following losses in three of their last four games. In last week’s loss to the New England Patriots, Siemian had 282 yards and an interception on 25-of-40 passing. He’s thrown 91 passes in the last two games out of necessity due to the score and lack of rushing attack.
Can the Broncos get by with Siemian? They won a championship with far-from-dominant QB play last season, but had a great defense and a reliable ground game. The defense is still strong, but the loss of C.J. Anderson hit hard since rookie Devontae Booker has struggled and Justin Forsett has become the lead back after joining the team just two weeks ago.
How Siemian finishes the season could go a long way in the future of the quarterback position in Denver.
Long-Term Projects/Not Ready for 2016
Carson Wentz, PHI
The Philadelphia Eagles saw their playoff chances go up in smoke after five straight losses, so Wentz’s reps during the final few games have turned into a valuable leaning experience against teams fighting for a playoff spot.
The Eagles ended their losing ways with an upset victory over the New York Giants in Week 16. Wentz connected on just 13 of 24 pass attempts for 152 yards with a touchdown and an interception in addition to 27 rushing yards on four attempts. It was the first time since Week 7 that he didn’t attempt at least 36 passes and only the second time in the last six games he didn’t attempt 40 passes.
While Wentz has shown enough promise to believe he can be a very good quarterback, the Eagles must invest in some help at wide receiver this offseason to give their young quarterback some better weapons.
Jared Goff, LA
Goff didn’t have a good trip to Seattle in Week 15. A short week against the Seahawks wouldn’t be easy on anyone, but playing in one of the toughest stadiums in the league just days after the firing of head coach Jeff Fisher made it that much more difficult. He threw for 135 yards on 13 of 25 attempts and left the game with a concussion in the fourth quarter.
According to Myles Simmons of TheRams.com, interim head coach John Fassel said Goff has been cleared from his concussion and will start against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16. It would be nice to see Goff take advantage of a beatable matchup, but this could be a busy week for Todd Gurley against one of the worst run defenses.
Clear Starting Options
Jordan Howard, CHI
Howard might play on one of the worst teams in the league, but that makes it even more impressive that he’s been one of the best players at his position both in reality and fantasy. Considering he didn’t take over a major role in the offense until Week 4, Howard’s 1,059 rushing yards are quite a feat, especially since he’s done it in 13 games (inactive in Week 1).
Last week, he carried 17 times for 90 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 23 yards. It was his ninth game with at least 99 total yards and eighth game with at least 80 rushing yards. If not for Ezekiel Elliott’s performance, Howard might be the top choice for offensive rookie of the year. From a fantasy perspective, he’s been the top pickup off the waiver wire.
Ty Montgomery, GB
It’s no coincidence the Green Bay Packers offense got back on track when they began featuring Montgomery as their lead back. Week 15 was the best performance of his young career with 162 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries while playing a season-high 84 percent of the snaps. He had just two receptions for a single yard, which shows he can be productive without playing a big role in the passing game.
Head coach Mike McCarthy’s praise of Montgomery continued this week when he told Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, “We feel there’s more to do with Ty.” As I’ve said before, teams who are playing well and in contention tend to stick with what and who is working. As a result, Montgomery has turned into a must-start fantasy option at the most important time of the season.
Thomas Rawls, SEA
The Seattle Seahawks may have dominated the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15, but they didn’t get much help from Rawls. He finished with 34 rushing yards and two receptions for five yards. If you’re looking for a positive from Rawls, he set season-highs in carries (21) and snaps (92 percent), so there’s clearly confidence in his ability to carry the load. Hopefully, he bounces back against the Arizona Cardinals this week.
Jay Ajayi, MIA
As I discussed in the introduction, Ajayi has put his fantasy owners in a tough spot for the fantasy championship. His performances early in the season were historic, and it looked like he’d be the best waiver wire pickup of the season. With 99 yards on 39 carries in the last two weeks, he’s been a massive disappointment heading into this week’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills. While he was once a no-brainer RB1, Ajayi looks like more a of low-end RB2 in Week 16.
Rob Kelley, WAS
The Washington Redskins struggled to get into any rhythm on offense in their Week 15 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Kelley was limited to nine carries for eight yards, but salvaged some of his fantasy value with a rushing touchdown and a season-high in catches (four) and receiving yards (47). Kelley hasn’t rushed for more than 63 yards in his last four games, so like Ajayi, his reliability has dipped after strong midseason performances.
Tevin Coleman, ATL
Coleman looked primed for a big game in a great matchup with the San Francisco 49ers last weekend. He set a season-high with 14 carries for 58 yards, but he had just two receptions for eight yards on two targets and failed to find the end zone. Coleman is clearly behind Devonta Freeman in Atlanta’s backfield and should be considered no more than a flex option.
Kenneth Dixon, BAL
Dixon’s lead in the Baltimore Ravens backfield didn’t last very long. In Week 15, his snaps dipped down to a seven-week low of 26 percent while Terrance West played 45 percent in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Dixon still managed a decent fantasy performance with 36 rushing yards and a 16-yard touchdown run on nine carries, but he didn’t have a reception.
The Ravens seem intent on keeping both Dixon and West regularly involved in their offense, so Dixon’s fantasy value continues to fluctuate.
Desperation Plays/Short-Term Fill-Ins
Derrick Henry, TEN
Because the Tennessee Titans have been able to rely on DeMarco Murray to carry the bulk of the workload in their backfield this season, they have the luxury of a fresh Henry down the stretch, which they are using to their advantage.
In the last three games, he has 29 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns. While the scoring has been a bit annoying for Murray owners, Henry is getting enough touches to take a look at as a flex option if you’re stuck this week to fill the last spot in your starting lineup.
Paul Perkins, NYG
The New York Giants don’t have a strong commitment to their ground game, but at least they understand Perkins gives them the most upside. In Week 16, he ran 15 times for 68 yards, both of which were season-highs. His rushing yards have increased in each of the last five games, although his snaps remain in the 37-39 percent range, which keeps him behind Rashad Jennings. That’s limited any breakout potential for Perkins.
Handcuffs/Players You Can’t Use in Their Current Roles
Devontae Booker, DEN
In just his second game with the Denver Broncos, veteran Justin Forsett has easily leapfrogged Booker in the backfield. Last week, Booker had just six carries for 17 yards and two receptions for 16 yards on three targets. Meanwhile, Forsett caught four of five targets for 16 yards and had 10 carries for 37 yards. Forsett outsnapped Booker 55-45 percent. Booker has no fantasy value for the final two games of 2016.
Clear Starting Options
Michael Thomas, NO
Thomas had to sit out Week 14 with a foot injury but returned in Week 15 to once again prove why he’s the best rookie wide receiver by a large margin. It wasn’t an easy matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, yet Thomas still managed to post seven receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. In 13 games, he has the team lead with 76 receptions, 883 yards and eight touchdowns on 99 targets.
Jamison Crowder, WAS
Crowder has cooled off at the wrong time. Over his last three games, he caught nine of 18 targets for 113 yards and a touchdown. During that same span, Pierre Garcon has 19 receptions for 215 yards and a touchdown on 26 targets, which isn’t a big deal since both players have been reliable fantasy options at the same time for the last two months.
The bigger hit to Crowder’s fantasy value may be coming from DeSean Jackson. Over the last five games, he has 19 receptions for 441 yards and three touchdowns on 32 targets, including 100+ yards in each of the last two games. The door is still open for Crowder to bounce back since Jordan Reed continues to battle shoulder issues.
Tyreek Hill, KC
Hill’s versatility was on display once again last week when he scored on a 68-yard touchdown run, but that was his only fantasy contribution against the Tennessee Titans. He didn’t catch any of his three targets and didn’t have another touch after the touchdown run. That came in a week in which Jeremy Maclin had six receptions for 82 yards on eight targets, which was one of his best games of the season.
Maclin won’t have it so easy against the Denver Broncos, so the Kansas City Chiefs may need to get creative with Hill in a tough matchup. When these teams last met in Week 12, Hill had a rushing, receiving and return touchdown, although expectations shouldn’t be quiet so high for Week 16.
Tyrell Williams, SD
It’s easy to forget Williams has been dealing with a shoulder injury because he continues to practice and play through it. However, his fantasy numbers have taken a hit over the last three weeks after being one of the most reliable targets for Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Since suffering the injury in Week 12, Williams has just eight receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown on 18 targets.
He’s too tough to bench, but expectations should be adjusted from the high level he was playing at for most of the season.
Malcolm Mitchell, NE
There was no surprise in Week 15 when Mitchell was limited to just one reception for 14 yards on his only target against the Denver Broncos. The New England Patriots couldn’t get anything going on the outside and seemed content to stay away from Denver’s great cornerbacks.
Hopefully, you can look past that game and focus on a much better matchup for Mitchell against the New York Jets this weekend. He got them for five receptions, 42 yards and two scores on seven targets in Week 12.
Desperation Plays/Short-Term Fill-Ins
Sterling Shepard, NYG
Shepard’s fantasy value has been closely tied to his touchdown production, which can be dangerous, but I still considered him a good sleeper play for Week 16 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only did he score for the sixth time in eight games, but he also had seven receptions for 61 yards on 11 targets. That’s the second-most receptions and third-most yards he’s had in any game this season. He remains in the WR3 conversation.
Cameron Meredith, CHI
Hopefully, the Chicago Bears can see the value of Meredith and his potential as a future contributor in 2017 and beyond. After flashing with a pair of 100-yard games early in the season, Meredith was quiet until the last three games. During that span, he has 18 receptions for 243 yards and a touchdown on 25 targets. That includes the nine receptions for 104 yards on 13 targets he had in last week’s loss to the Green Bay Packers.
He’s clearly a preferred target for Matt Barkley, so Meredith’s strong finish could continue this week when he takes on the Washington Redskins.
DeVante Parker, MIA
It’s difficult to expect much of Parker with Matt Moore filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill. In last week’s win over the New York Jets, Parker had one reception for 17 yards on three targets. In the last three weeks, he has just six receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. While Parker has flashed at times this season, he’s not a reliable fantasy contributor.
Tyler Boyd, CIN
Since A.J. Green went down early in Week 11, Boyd did a nice job playing a bigger role. Over the five games, Boyd totaled 23 receptions for 244 yards and a touchdown on 32 targets. Unfortunately, he flopped last week with two receptions for 13 yards on three targets in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Green said he’ll return to action in Week 16, so Boyd won’t be worth using in your championship lineups.
Long-Term Projects/Not Ready for 2016
Breshad Perriman, BAL
Perriman’s been a boom-or-bust player all year as a deep-play threat. Windy conditions in Philadelphia took him out of the mix last week, which is why he didn’t have any catches on his only target. Perriman doesn’t have more than three receptions in any game this season and topped 50 yards just once. Hopefully, his development continues heading into 2017.
Clear Starting Options
None of note.
Desperation Plays/Short-Term Fill-Ins
Hunter Henry, SD
Touchdowns have been the only reason to consider using Henry over the last month. He scored for the fourth time in the last five games in Week 15, but unlike like the four previous games when he failed to record more than two receptions or 20 yards, Henry was able to climb all the way up to three receptions for 37 yards. He has 15 red-zone targets, which is tied for third among all tight ends.
Long-Term Projects/Not Contributing Enough in Current Role
Will Tye, NYG
Tye might be the top tight end for the New York Giants, but that doesn’t translate into fantasy value. He tied season-highs in targets (eight) and receptions (five) with 23 targets in a Week 16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Tye is averaging just 7.9 yards per catch and has one touchdown all season.
Austin Hooper, ATL
With Jacob Tamme out for the last six games, Hooper’s had chances to carve out a role, but failed to do so over and over again. In Tamme’s absence, Hooper has just eight receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown on 16 targets. He’ll miss Week 16 with a knee injury, according to head coach Dan Quinn (via Kelsey Conway of AtlantaFalcons.com).
Clive Walford, OAK
Walford’s forgettable second season continued in Week 15 with just one reception for 13 yards on three targets. He hasn’t had more than four targets since Week 2 and has just one game with more than three receptions. Despite the success of the Oakland Raiders offense, Walford doesn’t have a significant role.
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