Every week this season, our Yahoo fantasy football crew has revealed their boldest predictions for the action ahead. With the fantasy championships about to kick off in most leagues, our analysts look into their crystal balls to see which players will shock the world. It’s time to get bold for Week 16!
Hollywood Higgins ready to put on show
Matt Harmon: As Baker Mayfield has gone, so has Rashard Higgins. The Browns starter is fourth in EPA per play over the last three weeks as he’s been white-hot with the system clicking all at once and his own play calming down. His top outside receiver in Rashard Higgins has totaled 239 yards and scored twice in this three-game run for Mayfield. These two share great chemistry and he’s been targeted 24 times over that span. We know that when Mayfield has time and isn’t scrambled by pressure, he can spray the ball all over the field.
That’s why the news of Quinnen Williams being placed on IR ahead of this matchup with the Jets is huge. Williams has emerged as a difference-making disruptor. Without him, Mayfield should have all the time in the world to get the ball downfield against this woeful secondary and find Higgins, who leads the team in yards and sports a 14 air yards per target mark since Week 7 (when Odell Beckham went down).
Another Brown worth trusting in Week 16
Andy Behrens: If you didn’t treat yourself to either Travis Kelce or Darren Waller on draft day, then there’s a decent chance you’ve struggled to find acceptable options at tight end throughout the fantasy season. Well, the Jets defense is here to help. New York has allowed a ridiculous 13 receiving scores to opposing tight ends this year, and it’s mostly been a rogues gallery of players: Mo Alie-Cox, Jordan Reed (twice!), Adam Shaheen (twice!), Will Dissly, etc.
This week, Austin Hooper and the Cleveland Browns get a shot at the Jets. Hooper has found the end zone in two of his last three games and he’s coming off a 5-catch, 6-target game against the Giants. He has a path to a top-five positional finish in Championship Week. If you have a need, get him in your lineup.
Situation right for Hardman to deliver
Dalton Del Don: Mecole Hardman is more of a flier (or DFS tournament play), but he saw nine targets and ranked third in air yards (152) last week, and Sunday he gets an Atlanta defense that’s allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Kansas City has the highest implied total this week, and Tyreek Hill has been missing practice while dealing with a hamstring injury (and Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out), so Hardman is a sleeper candidate to finish as one of the biggest fantasy playoff heroes this week.
Overlooked defense you should stream
Scott Pianowski: I’m chasing at defense, because the Rams were a spectacular failure last week against the Jets. That game will live in infamy (mostly on the Jets side; bye bye, Trevor Lawrence). Still, I have to mention that the Washington Football Team defense is lagging in roster percentage (around 38 percent), and it’s in a good spot against struggling Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers. If you survived despite the Rams debacle, this is the week you pivot to WFT. (If you prefer a sleeper from a field position, I like the odd but enjoyable connection between Jalen Hurts and Greg Ward. Let’s call for another Ward touchdown in Week 16.)
Desperation tight end play to consider
Liz Loza: Sir Behrens makes an excellent point about Austin Hooper returning in Week 16 on his early-season investment. But if you weren’t so lucky as to retain the former Falcon then maybe go vintage with Tyler Eifert. Third in team targets last Sunday, Eifert converted three of four balls, recording his highest yardage total (51) of 2020 in Week 15 with Gardner Minshew, once again, under center. This Sunday he’ll face off against a Bears defense that’s allowed the second-most fantasy points to the position (77.5 yards per week and a total of 4 TDs over the last four weeks).