Three of the top Week 16 fantasy waiver wire pickups and free agent adds are legit breakout wide receivers who could have major impacts on the final two rounds of the fantasy football playoffs. Those would be Gabriel Davis, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Russell Gage. Two of the other top pickups, at least based on initial glance at the box scores, are running backs who probably have little value beyond this week. Those would be Duke Johnson and Craig Reynolds. However, at this point in the season, even flash-in-the-pans can’t be overlooked because you never know who will stick in lineups, but Johnson and Reynolds won’t have as much value as Samaje Perine if Joe Mixon’s injury is serious.
Our full free agent list doesn’t feature many guys who should necessarily be picked up because of their high levels of production or talent. It’s more about opportunities and matchups. With the recent rash of players going on the reserve/COVID list, not to mention the usual amount of injuries, having capable backups in favorable matchups at every position will be key. That’s why we have a slew of Week 16 streamer suggestions at QB, WR, TE, and D/ST(and the rare RB streamer suggestion), which can be found at the end of this list.
It’s tough to single out a “top” waiver pickup at this point, as it really comes down to what you need or what you’re trying to block your opponent from getting. There’s no need to “save” waiver claims if you’re in the fantasy semifinals, so if you need a WR, grab Gage, St. Brown, or Davis. If you need an RB, Perine might be your guy. Johnson and Reynolds likely aren’t worth waiver claims (see below), but they are priority free agent pickups. Chances are, we’ll hear about a key RB injury or COVID situation on Monday or Tuesday, propelling another unsuspecting backup into the fantasy spotlight.
That’s who it always goes at this time of year, so the key is to stay alert and be ready to pounce. Also, make sure you’re maximizing every roster spot. If that means rotating streamers/handcuffs each week, then that’s what you have to do. You never want to give up a player who could have legitimate value to someone else, but with the possibility of more games getting rescheduled and your starters potentially going on the reserve/COVID list in the meantime, you have to always have pivots ready to go.
UPDATE: With Leonard Fournette injuring his hamstring on Sunday night, Ronald Jones is another potentially top pickup.
Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 16
Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues considered.
Leonard Fournette was “questionable” coming into Week 15 because of a sore ankle, and he wound up exiting in the third quarter of Sunday night’s game because of a hamstring injury. It’s possible, maybe even likely, he’ll miss at least Week 16 against Carolina. If he does, Jones will handle the bulk of the Bucs carries. He likely won’t see as many targets as Fournette does, but 15-plus carries and a handful of goal-line opportunities is enough to make Jones a solid RB2/flex. — Matt Lutovsky
Jackson was productive in Week 15 while Austin Ekeler (ankle) had his touches dialed back some, presumably because of an ankle injury. Jackson carried 14 times for 84 yards and caught his only target for 13 yards. Was it a spectacular fantasy outing? No, but he’s one of the most valuable handcuffs down the stretch, so he should be rostered, at least by Ekeler owners. — Jackson Sparks
UPDATE:Austin Ekeler was rumored to be on the reserve/COVID list on Monday. If he’s held out in Week 16, Jackson would be set for heavy touches in a favorable matchup against the Texans.
Davis continued his scoring streak in Week 15, catching five passes for 85 yards and two TDs. With Emmanuel Sanders (knee) dinged up, Davis should continue to see significant snaps, and his red-zone rapport with Josh Allen always makes him a candidate for a big game. Next week’s matchup against New England isn’t the best (though he did score against the Pats in Week 13 despite some of the worst weather we’ve seen all year), but his Week 17 matchup against Atlanta will make him a borderline must-start. — ML
St. Brown continued his sizzling conclusion to the season with eight catches for 90 yards and a score against Arizona. He’s had at least eight catches and 11 targets in three straight games, totaling 259 yards and two TDs in that span. With an elite matchup against the Falcons next week, St. Brown will be a borderline must-start, at least in PPR leagues. He’ll be in play in Week 17 against a Seahawks defense that gives up a lot of passing yards, too. –ML
Gage is still available in roughly half of Yahoo leagues, but after his fourth straight solid performance, his ownership numbers should really climb. Gage hauled in eight-of-11targets for 91 yards and a TD against the 49ers, giving him either 100 yards or a TD in three of his past four games. With a highly favorable matchup against Detroit on tap,Gage will be a solid WR3, and he even has a solid PPR floor in a tougher matchup in Week 17 against Buffalo. –ML
Joe Mixon was helped off the field after suffering a left ankle injury late in Cincinnati’s game against Denver, and though he was seen jogging a few minutes later, his status for Week 16 is definitely up in the air.Few backs have received consistent volume like Mixon this season, and Perine would presumably receive the bulk of that work if he’s starting against the Ravens next week. Perine has had his moments the past couple years with the Bengals, including a 136-yard, two-TD effort in extensive playing time in Week 16 last year. Chris Evans would also be mixed in, but Perine is the back to own if Mixon can’t go. –ML
Like Johnson, Reynolds has taken advantage of a surprise opportunity. With his 27-touch, 117-yard performance in Week 15, he hit at least 99total yards for the second straight week as the lead back in place of D’Andre Swift (shoulder) and Jamaal Williams (reserve/COVID). Swift might be done for the year, but Williams seems likely to return in Week 16. Either way, Reynolds has earned more playing time and will be at least worth stashing with highly favorable matchups against Atlanta and Seattle coming up. –ML
With Austin Ekeler placed on the reserve/COVID list on Monday, it’s possible he’ll be out for Week 16’s game against the Texans. If so, Kelley would be in position for 10-plus touches. If they’re the right touches, i.e. at least a couple around the goal line, he could have flex value. He’s worth adding on the chance both Ekeler and Justin Jackson are on the reserve/COVID list through the weekend. — ML
Johnson enjoyed an impressive performance as the Dolphins’ lead back in Week 15 (22 carries, 107 yards, two TDs), but his moment in the Miami sun could be short-lived. It’s likely he saw the bulk of the playing time because Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed had missed the entire week of practice while on the reserve/COVID list. On top of that, Phillip Lindsay is currently on the reserve/COVID list, and Malcolm Brown (quad) is still on the IR. All four would likely be ahead of Johnson on the depth chart when active and better prepared, so while it’s possible Johnson earned moreplaying time next week in a tough matchupagainst the Saints, we wouldn’t bet on it. As such, he’s likely not worth a waiver claim, but it’s not a bad idea to grab him as a free agent just to be safe. –ML
MVS caught five-of-seven targets for 98 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens, and since he’s had some stellar performances in recent weeks, he can be used as a boom-or-bust option heading into a matchup with the Browns. Cleveland is a strong defense against fantasy WRs, but he’s the type of player who can be productive in any matchup thanks his QB and big-play upside. –JS
Reynolds caught all six of his targets for 68 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals, and this Lions’ passing offense has come to life as Reynolds and Amon-Ra St. Brown have come alive. Reynolds is in another good spot in a matchup with Atlanta in Week 16, and he’ll follow that up with a tilt against a Seahawks defense that gives up a lot of passing yards. –JS
Guyton’s fantasy point total was nothing to get excited about against the Chiefs after posting a 2-10-1 line, but with a TD in three straight games, he’s obviously a scoring threat every week. If nothing else, he’s proven to be productive if either Keenan Allen or Mike Williams has to miss a game. We’re almost at the end of the season, so it could be a smart move to drop players that have been collecting dust on your bench all season and stash guys with real upside — like Guyton will have next week against Houston. –JS
We’ll see what the Eagles’ backfield situation looks like on Tuesday, but last time we saw Howard, he was productive on the ground and acting as the primary red-zone back for Philly. The rest of the Eagles’ schedule is against AFC East opponents, so perhaps he’ll find the end zone a few more times before it’s all said and done. –JS
Osborn doesn’t play until Monday, but he’ll continue to have flex appeal so long as Adam Thielen (ankle) remains out. If Thielen returns, Osborn loses his appeal, but chances are he’ll look good again in a favorable matchup against the Bears. –JS
The Saints’ secondary has struggled all season, and since Tua is among the league leaders in pass attempts per game, he can always produce a nice fantasy outing in a favorable matchup. He had a merely decent outing against the Jets in Week 15, but we think he’ll keep the overall momentum rolling into a more favorable matchup with New Orleans in Week 16. –JS
We understand if you laugh at the idea of streaming Goff this late in the fantasy playoffs, but a matchup with Atlanta in Week 16 is a promising spot for him to deliver. After all, he’s had decent fantasy days against Chicago, Minnesota, and Arizona in three of the past four weeks, so why can’t he replicate that success against a top-five matchup for QBs? –JS
UPDATE:Goff was placed on the reserve/COVID list on Monday, putting his status for Sunday’s game up in the air.
Kansas City’s defense looks very strong right now, but it still ranks as the seventh-worst unit against fantasy QBs. Roethlisberger is top three in the league in passing attempts, so we know he can get it done with volume — as he demonstrated in his 300-yards, three-touchdown performance against the Vikings. He followed it up with a disappointing performance against the Titans, but Roethlisberger is a potentially high-risk, high-reward play in Week 16 (emphasis on “high risk”). –JS
Tennessee’s secondary has been generous to streamer-level QBs, and from Weeks 9 to 14, Jimmy G wasthe QB5. Some might be surprised by that, but it’s not too difficult to believe when you consider the strong offensive weapons he has to work with. The Titans boast a strong run defense, but it has a secondary that can be picked apart in this matchup.–JS
Matty Ice obviously hasn’t been consistent, but can you trust him in a matchup with Detroit? While a lot of teams can blow out the Lions on the ground, it feels like Atlanta will have to do it, at least in part, through the air. Detroit can likely keep this somewhatcompetitive anyway, so Ryan should have plenty of opportunities for touchdowns, if nothing else. Yes, he wasn’t great against the 49ers’, but Detroit’s defense, despite a shockingly good performance against Arizona, is worse in every way. –JS
Fields is showing signs of life with rushing upside and improved passing, so although Seattle isn’t the best matchup on paper, we have to consider him. If he continues to rush for 50-plus yards/game, he’ll have sneaky upside the rest of the way. This is the upside we’ve alluded to and hoped for all season with Fields and Trey Lance. –JS
We’re still waiting on Burkhead to deliver, but he’ll match up with the Chargers, who have given up the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs thus far. Don’t sit anyone in the RB2 range for him, but he has potential as a streamer or emergency RB next week after he led the Texans’ in touches once again in Week 15 (17 touches, 47 yards). –JS
Now that Urban Meyer is out of town, Treadwell’s days of being the No. 1 WR in Jacksonville could be over, but since he remained a big part of the Jags’ offense in Week 15 (six catches, nine targets), he’ll draw some flex appeal in a matchup with the Jets. –JS
Crowder caught four-of-seven targets for 30 yards against the Dolphins, and while that obviously didn’t net a great fantasy performance, the matchup with Jacksonville next week is once again attractive. He has a decent PPR floor heading into Week 16, and his ceiling is higher than he’s shown lately. —JS
Berrios only totaled three touches against the Dolphins, but since he had a 10-target performance in Week 14 and scored a touchdown in Week 15, he can be viewed as a deep league streamer in a matchup against the Jaguars in Week 16. –JS
O’Shaugnessy has drawn 21 targets in the past fourweeks, and since Trevor Lawrence obviously loves throwing to tight ends, he might have one of the safest floors among all streamers. He was semi-productive on only three catches in a solid matchup with Houston, and the Jets have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to TEs, so surprise your opponent with O’Shaugnessy if you need a TE. –JS
Baltimore is the third-worst defense against fantasy TEs, so we’re on to another week of Uzomah being a high-risk, high-reward streamer. It’s the playoffs — shoot for upside. We knew he’d do next to nothing against the Broncos (three catches, 18 yards), so that doesn’t affect our stance here. –JS
Justin Fields is playing much better, and Chicago’s Week 16 opponent, Seattle, has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Although Kmet’s floor is non-existent, we have to consider him since he’s been productivea few times this year., including in Week 15 against Minnesota. –JS
We’ve basically decided to stop mentioning Engram as a streamer, but since Week 16 opponent Philadelphia allows the mostfantasy points to tight ends, it’s tough to write him off completely. He at least showed some good signs against Dallas with fourcatches on five targets despite awful QB play.–JS
We hope RSJ will havea nice outing against the Eagles in Week 15 and willcarry in some nice momentum into a neutral matchup with Dallas. He busted against Dallas a few weeks ago, but it was his first game back from injury, and Taylor Heinicke had his worst game to date. –JS
This is a top option among all D/STs, especially if Daniel Jones (neck) can’t play. Even if he does, the Eagles’ defense has enough talent to make plays and generate sacks against one of the worst offensives in football. –JS
Houston is playing better with Davis Mills at QB, but the Chargers can still generate some presuure and force the rookie into some mistakes. Houston also doesn’t have a good enough running game to take advantage of L.A.’s biggest defensive weakness. — ML
Seattle can be viewed as a boom-or-bust DST against Chicago. The boom will happen if Justin Fields has another “rookie” performance, but if Fields plays to his upside, Seattle will bust. The options are limited this week, but thereprobably won’t be a ton of people in the market for a DST streamer. –JS
The Bengals are a solid option if Lamar Jackson (ankle) can’t play, but even if he does, the interceptions should keep pouring in. Cincinnati quietly has a great pass rush, and Jackson will be hobbled to some extent. –JS