Fantasy Football Week 16 Rankings: Projections and Matchups to Love

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 20, 2019

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

It all comes down to this.

Hopefully, your fantasy football league has entered championship week. Even if it hasn't, though, the same win-or-go-home stakes apply.

In other words, proper lineup management has never been more important. And since bye weeks are but a distant memory, exploiting favorable matchups might be the most critical piece of that process.

So after compiling our top-10 rankings at the three marquee offensive spots, we'll single out a player at each with a matchup we love and project his Week 16 output.

                             

Quarterback

1. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns

2. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

4. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears

5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans

6. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Houston Texans

7. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

9. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints

10. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

             

Quarterbacks don't come any hotter than Jameis Winston. Few matchups are more favorable than the Houston Texans pass defense.

Sounds like a championship-winning combination, doesn't it?

The stat sheet tends to think so. Winston is on a wild run, having thrown for 914 yards and eight touchdowns over only the past two weeks. Houston's defense is falling apart. The Texans surrender the third-most fantasy production to the position, per Yahoo Sports, as they have given up more than 24 fantasy points to four of the last five quarterbacks they've faced.

Winston is on such an absolute heater that he could cool off and still post monster numbers. That's what our projections see, as we're penciling him in for 321 passing yards and three touchdowns.

                  

Running Back

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts

2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants at Washington Redskins

3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

4. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins

5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans

6. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints

7. Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers

8. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens

9. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons

10. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

               

Assuming nothing becomes of the calf injury that landed Joe Mixon on Thursday's injury report, he's about to eat like he just sat down at a holiday feast.

The Miami Dolphins struggle at most things related to defense. They have coughed up 435 points on the season, and no one else has cleared the 400-point mark. They have looked especially vulnerable on the ground, as they allow the second-most rushing yards per game and the third-most fantasy points to running backs.

If Mixon is healthy, the gears should be greased for him to continue his late-season sprint to the finish line. He has more scrimmage yards over the past two weeks (342) than fantasy MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey (310).

Between Mixon's matchup and hot streak, he has a chance to the highest-scoring running back on the slate. We're projecting him for 126 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards and a touchdown.

                     

Wide Receiver

1. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans

2. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

5. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

6. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders

7. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

8. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears

9. DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts

10. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals

           

Over the injuries and illness that sent him through a brutal four-game stretch, Tyler Lockett is back to rubbing elbows with the NFL's elite pass-catchers.

He collected eight of his nine targets Sunday, totaling 120 yards and a score against the Carolina Panthers. Our crystal ball, and the one owned by ESPN's Matthew Berry, all see another statistical eruption on deck for Lockett.

"[He] faces an Arizona team that allows the third-most catches and fifth-most yards to WRs this season," Berry wrote. "They also allow the most receptions and yards to the slot. Lockett has six touchdown receptions in six home games. ... I think he has a massive game."

While the yardage totals haven't jumped off the page, it's worth noting Lockett has caught 11 of 12 targets in three matchups with the Arizona Cardinals since the start of last season. Assuming the Cardinals can put points on the board—oddsmakers have assigned it a 51-point over/under, per Caesars Sportsbook—the Seattle Seahawks will pass enough for Lockett to impress across the board. We have him down for seven receptions, 97 yards and a touchdown.

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