Fantasy Football Week 16 Rankings: Projections and Matchups to Love

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2021

Fantasy Football Week 16 Rankings: Projections and Matchups to Love

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    If you have a fantasy football lineup to set this week, you've most likely made it to your league's playoffs. Congratulations! And yet, what a treacherous road ahead this week. 

    The new omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge has hit the NFL hard, with multiple big names on multiple teams projected to be out this week because of health and safety protocols, not to mention due to other injuries. 

    Just some of the players who may be riding your bench include:

    • Kansas City's top weapons Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, though there is a chance they could come off the COVID-19 list before their game Sunday.
    • Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler.
    • Houston Texans wideout Brandin Cooks.
    • Seattle Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett, who is on the COVID-19 list but could return this week.
    • Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook.
    • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is still recovering from an ankle injury.
    • Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and teammate Chris Godwin, whose season is over after suffering a torn ACL. 

    Needless to say, you have some decisions to make. We'll go over some projections for healthy players for Week 16 whom you could either start off your bench or, depending on your league depth, potentially even pick up on waivers. 

    Note that all projections are for points-per-reception leagues and from FantasyPros, where you can also see this week's full position rankings. We've highlighted just a few must-starts below.

Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    If Leonard Fournette's hamstring injury keeps him out of the Buccaneers' Sunday action against the Carolina Panthers, the team will be all-in on Ronald Jones II...and you should be, too. 

    When Fournette was out injured for four games last year, Jones came in to the tune of 78 carries for 410 yards and three rushing touchdowns.

    Also last season, in Week 10, even with Fournette healthy, Jones put together a spectacular 23-carry, 192-yard, one-touchdown game against the Panthers.

    Now, Jones faces the Panthers again, and it's a terrific matchup; Carolina's run defense ranks 23rd in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average)

    Jones won't net you much in the passing game, but if he's on your bench, he deserves a spot in your lineup on Sunday. 

    Projection: 16.4 carries, 71 rushing yards, 0.6 rushing TD, two catches, 13.1 receiving yards, 15.2 points

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    With both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill on the COVID-19 list, expect the Chiefs to lean on the ground game and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He's No. 14 on FantasyPros' Week 16 rankings, expected to bring in 13.8 points. 

    Edwards-Helaire has been up and down this season, but it's hard not to love his matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Two weeks ago, the Steelers let the Vikings' Dalvin Cook run all over them to the tune of 205 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Last week, Pittsburgh gave up another 108 ground yards to Tennessee's D'Onta Foreman.

    If you're lucky enough to have Edwards-Helaire on your bench, he's a must-start this week. 

    Projection: 12.5 carries, 54.3 rushing yards, 0.3 rushing TD, 2.2 receptions, 17.6 receiving yards, 0.1 receiving TD, 13.8 points

Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Given the state of the world in fantasy football right now, with so many running backs either on their team's COVID-19 list or suffering from other injuries, in all likelihood, this is the position on your roster in need of the most help. 

    Austin Ekeler was injured last week in the Chargers' bout against the Chiefs, and now he's on the COVID-19 list. Justin Jackson came to the rescue last week, with 13 carries for 86 yards on 43 total snaps. 

    Now that he'll be an integrated part of the game plan, expect the Chargers to lean on Jackson even more and get him involved in red-zone situations. 

    What's more, Jackson has a juicy matchup against the Houston Texans' porous run defense. On the season, the Texans have given up the most rushing yards per game to opponents, with 145.0 on average, according to In their last three matchups, they've given up 179.3.

    Jackson may actually be available on waivers in your league, so be sure to roster him if possible. 

    Projection: 10.4 carries, 49.4 rushing yards, 0.4 rushing TD, 1.8 catches, 14.2 receiving yards, 0 receiving TD, 9.9 points