Week 16 Waiver Wire: Fantasy Football's Top Pickups and Breakout Candidates

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2021

Week 16 Waiver Wire: Fantasy Football's Top Pickups and Breakout Candidates

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    Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

    With the fantasy football playoffs in full swing, managers should target a pair of wide receivers who had standout performances in Week 15.

    For the most part, you're going to stick with key starters who helped you reach the postseason, but always leave room for players on a hot streak in the flex spot. On Sunday, a rookie and a second-year wide receiver might've caught your attention as they continued to blossom late in the season. 

    Going forward, a playoff-caliber team could scale back touches for a top fantasy running back, which creates opportunities for a backup ball-carrier who just had his busiest outing of the season. 

    Let's take an early look at eight high-end pickups and potential breakouts for Week 16 and the fantasy football playoffs. All the selections are rostered in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Top Breakout Candidates and Pickups for Week 16

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    Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage
    Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell GageLachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (47 percent rostered)

    Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans (41 percent rostered)

    Craig Reynolds, RB, Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (13 percent rostered)

    Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans (5 percent rostered)

    Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions (50 percent rostered)

    Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (29 percent rostered)

    Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (19 percent rostered)

    James O'Shaughnessy, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (2 percent rostered)

Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    On Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Justin Jackson led the Los Angeles Chargers in carries (13) and rushing yards (86). Running back Austin Ekeler went into that matchup with an ankle injury and finished with 12 rush attempts for 59 yards and a touchdown. 

    In Week 15, Ekeler only played 34 percent of the offensive snaps while Jackson lined up for 54 percent of the snaps. Managers shouldn't pull the former out of their lineups because of his reduced workload, but they should search the waiver wire and free-agent pool for the latter.

    If the Chargers jump out to an early lead over the Houston Texans (3-11) next week, Jackson could have a busy outing, handling the bulk of the carries.

    Averaging 6.6 yards per carry against the Chiefs, Jackson can make the most of 10-12 touches against the Texans, who allow the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. He's an intriguing flex option for Week 16.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

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    Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

    In two of the last three weeks, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for three touchdown passes in a game. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has benefited from the signal-caller's improved play in recent outings. 

    In a stunning 30-12 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, St. Brown led the Lions in targets (11), receptions (eight) and yards (90). He also scored a touchdown on a 37-yard catch.

    For each of the last three games, St. Brown has racked up at least eight receptions and 50 yards. He's clearly built a strong rapport with Goff that's translated to fantasy scoring, so managers should pick him up for a boost through the playoffs.

    On Sunday, St. Brown had a strong outing against the Cardinals' fourth-ranked pass defense. He should fare well in a matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, who tied for eighth in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers going into Week 15.

Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills

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    Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

    In Week 15, Gabriel Davis had his best fantasy output of the season, scoring 25.50 points for managers in point-per-reception leagues. He finished with five receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers, leading the Buffalo Bills in all three receiving categories.

    With wideout Emmanuel Sanders out because of a knee injury, Davis took advantage of more opportunities in the passing game. He tied with star wide receiver Stefon Diggs in targets (seven) Sunday.

    Next week, Davis will face the New England Patriots' stingy pass defense, which ranks third in yard allowed, though he just had a standout performance against the Panthers' No. 1-ranked unit.

    In Week 13, Davis started his scoring streak with the Patriots. Since then, he's hauled in four touchdown receptions. Keep him active in starting lineups as a WR3 or a high-end flex option while he's hot.

James O'Shaughnessy, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Since his Week 12 return from an ankle injury, James O'Shaughnessy has become a consistent contributor in the Jacksonville Jaguars' passing attack. He's commanded 21 targets over the last four outings.

    On Sunday against the Houston Texans, O'Shaughnessy hauled in all four of his targets for a season-high 60 yards, leading the Jaguars in the latter receiving stat category.

    Next week, O'Shaughnessy gets a favorable matchup with the New York Jets, who tied for fifth in fantasy points allowed to tight ends going into Week 15.

    Managers who need help at the tight end position amid a playoff run should add O'Shaughnessy to their priority list. He's garnered rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence's trust, so expect him to have opportunities to rack up yards and score touchdowns in the remaining weeks of the season.


    Fantasy scoring and points allowed provided by FantasyPros.

    Maurice Moton is an NFL and Fantasy Football columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton. 


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