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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 16

By Matt Schauf 3:05pm EST 12/19/23

Waiver Wire Targets 

You’ll notice a different look to this week’s waiver wire pickups.

Why? Because this is a different time of the season. It’s not about what type of league you’re in. It’s all about what you need this week (and maybe next).

So we’re just going by position this week. We’re not specifying league type or even digging into drop candidates.

What player(s) should you add this week? Whatever will help you advance to and then win the championship round.

Who should you drop? Anything you don’t need that also won’t help an opponent.

TIP

Want to know EXACTLY who we'd recommend grabbing in YOUR league? Check your Free Agent Finder.

 

Quarterback

Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mayfield’s scoring explosion against the Packers is an outlier vs. the rest of his season. His 381 yards, in particular, finished markedly higher than any of his totals from the previous three weeks:

  • 144 at Atlanta
  • 202 vs. Carolina
  • 199 at Indy

You shouldn’t expect a similar performance in Week 16. But Mayfield has finished 14th or higher among fantasy QBs in seven of the past nine weeks. That included five top-12 performances.

Now comes a Jaguars D that’s been the sixth-best QB matchup by our adjusted fantasy points allowed.

Mayfield has a good shot at reaching the top 12 once again.

Joe Flacco, Cleveland Browns

Since taking over as the Browns starter in Week 14, Flacco ranks second among QBs in passing yards per game (313) and has thrown 2+ TDs in each of his three games.

He brings turnover risk, with 5 INTs and 2 fumbles (one lost) over those three games. But Flacco’s making up for that with high passing volume (44+ attempts in each game).

This week brings a positive matchup with the Texans, who rank fifth-friendliest to QBs in adjusted fantasy points allowed and 23rd in pass-defense DVOA.

 

Running Back

Justice Hill, Baltimore Ravens

Keaton Mitchell’s ACL tear returns the backfield to Gus Edwards and Hill. We’d grab Edwards first where available, given his much stronger production this season. But Edwards entered this week already rostered in 70% of Sleeper leagues and 78% of Yahoo leagues.

Hill has reached double-digit carries in a game just twice this year but has commonly worked ahead of Edwards in passing situations. Hill also regained some playing time vs. Edwards before Mitchell went down.

Expect something near an even split the rest of the way, with Hill no more than an RB3-level candidate. Obviously, an injury to Edwards would add upside.

Trey Sermon, Indianapolis Colts

Sermon stepped in for injured teammate Zack Moss (shoulder) and thrived in Week 15 vs. the Steelers, accumulating 88 yards on 17 carries.

Fellow back Tyler Goodson contributed as well (11 carries for 69 yards, 2 catches for 10 yards), playing slightly behind Sermon. 

Moss says he’ll try to play through the shoulder issue this Sunday against the Falcons. And Jonathan Taylor has a chance of returning from his thumb injury.

Sermon’s worth a stash where possible while we wait on the status of Moss and Taylor. He’ll be our highest-ranked Colts RB if Moss and Taylor sit.

If you'll need one among Hill and Sermon to start for you this week, try to pick up both -- or others from our Week 16 RB rankings.

  

Wide Receiver

Noah Brown, Houston Texans

Despite playing without C.J. Stroud (concussion), Brown recorded an 8-82-1 receiving line last week vs. Tennessee. He easily led the team in target share (30.5%) with Houston down Nico Collins and Tank Dell. 

Dell’s out for the year, but Collins could be back for Week 16. He hit last weekend questionable despite missing all three practices. We’ll see about his status this week.

Collins’ continued absence plus Stroud’s return would make Brown intriguing for Week 16 despite a tough matchup with Cleveland. He’ll look good in a much better matchup with Tennessee the week after, even if Collins plays.

Dontayvion Wicks, Green Bay Packers

Wicks tallied a season-best 6-97 line last week vs. Tampa Bay. He benefited from the absence of Christian Watson, and there's no firm timeline on Watson’s return from a hamstring injury.

We’ll also need to monitor the status of Jayden Reed, who suffered a toe injury vs. the Bucs.

Assuming at least Watson remains out, the runway will remain clear for Wicks to perform as a deep-league WR3/FLEX against Carolina. 

Note: The rookie has now hit 40 yards in five of his past six matchups. 

Demario Douglas, New England Patriots

Last week, Douglas returned from a concussion to post 3 catches for 33 yards against the Chiefs. Nothing thrilling, but note that Hunter Henry left the game with a knee injury.

Recall that prior to his concussion, Douglas snagged 4+ catches in five straight. The schedule isn’t great, but the rookie should remain a go-to target for upcoming matchups vs. Denver and Buffalo.

Rashid Shaheed, New Orleans Saints

Shaheed’s Week 15 return from a thigh injury produced only 6.6 PPR points. Still, there’s reason for optimism moving forward.

Derek Carr is coming off arguably his best game of the season. He did it without Chris Olave, who missed practice all last week and remains questionable for Thursday night vs. the Rams. The short turnaround might ultimately play against Olave and add some target upside to Shaheed.

The Rams matchup looks slightly favorable. After that, New Orleans heads to Tampa Bay for one of the best WR matchups league-wide.

Joshua Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers

Palmer tallied 4-113-1 in his first game alongside Easton Stick. That game marked his return from a Week 8 knee injury.

The big draw going forward is the potential absence of Keenan Allen, who has averaged 11.5 targets per game. He missed last week’s blowout loss, and there’s no incentive to rush him back with Los Angeles out of the postseason mix.

We’d simply keep expectations in check for Palmer. The next two weeks produce a pair of negative matchups (Buffalo, Denver).

  

Tight End

Tucker Kraft, Green Bay Packers

Kraft racked up 57 yards and a score last week vs. Tampa Bay. He's been playing full-time snaps in a Packers offense that's missing Luke Musgrave and Christian Watson. 

We’ll see if Watson returns for Week 16. But there’s no doubt this Sunday looks favorable from a scoring perspective. The Panthers have allowed 24.9 points per game.

Week 17 brings up a slightly negative matchup vs. Minnesota.

  

Defense/Special Teams

Denver Broncos

The Broncos face off against the Patriots and Easton Stick-led Chargers over their next two games.

The Patriots have allowed 3.6 sacks per game over just the past five contests. Their mini-outburst on offense at Pittsburgh in Week 14 marks the only time in the past seven games that they’ve topped 17 points and the only game of 300+ total yards since their Week 11 bye.

The Chargers turned the ball over five times in Stick’s first start, giving them 11 over just the past four contests. They’re averaging just 11 points over that same span.

Denver has generated 17 sacks over its past four games and should give both opponents trouble in that area.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are coming off a terrible defensive outing against Baker Mayfield and the Bucs. Fortunately, they get about as safe a matchup as you can find this week.

The Panthers present the fourth-best scoring matchup for defenses by our fantasy points allowed for the season. And they’ve scored 10 points or fewer on offense in four of the past five games.

Green Bay did, at least, sack Mayfield five times in Week 15. That marked the Packers’ third game of 3+ sacks in four weeks. Bryce Young, meanwhile, sports the third-highest sack rate among qualifying QBs (fourth-highest if you pull in Tommy DeVito).

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts aren’t as widely available as the previous two defenses, but they sport plenty of upside.

Indy has delivered 12+ fantasy points in five of its past six games, by ESPN scoring. That six-game span has included 25 sacks and 13 takeaways.

This week sends them to Atlanta, where the Falcons have presented the league’s eighth-best scoring matchup for fantasy defenses by our adjusted fantasy points allowed.

Indy also looks like a nice Week 17 option against a Raiders offense that ranks ninth in that category – assuming this week proves that Vegas’ offensive explosion against the Chargers was a fluke.

If the Colts are available in your league and you need a two-week solution, feel free to prioritize them over the Packers.

  

Dynasty Stash

Andrei Iosivas, WR, Bengals

Bengals WRs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are set to hit free agency in March. 

Both figure to be expensive, and thus look like strong candidates to leave. And that would mean opportunity for Iosivas (a sixth-round rookie) and fourth-round classmate Charlie Jones.

Iosivas gets the nod here because he’s only 25% rostered in Sleeper dynasty leagues (Jones sits at 40%).

The Princeton rookie looks like the best in-house replacement for Higgins. At 6’3, 205 pounds, Iosivas showed excellent overall athleticism at the NFL Combine. And he has already flashed in 2023, scoring twice on only 6 catches. 

Of course, Iosivas’ volume was always likely to stay low in Year 1. We’re talking about a two-year starter at Princeton. Still, if the Bengals can harness his raw ability, Iosivas has a shot at fantasy relevance over the next couple of years.

 

Season-Winning Strategy

Your waiver wire strategy needs to fit your overall plan to win your season. Matt and Jared talk more about that in this video.

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