We have just two weeks left in the fantasy football season, and the stakes have never been higher. If you were lucky enough to earn a bye week and avoid the soul-crushing week 15 games, congratulations! You’re not off the hook just yet. This time of year, both you and your opponent have quality players. Projections may even say your matchup is projected to be close. In reality, one or two moves can decide whether you walk away a fantasy football champion or left holding the bag in fourth place. We’re here to make sure you are the former.
If you’ve followed this series for each of the last two years, you’ll be familiar with the overall structure. We’ll list the top 32 QBs, 60 RBs, 60 WRs, and 30 TEs each and every week along with some detailed analysis on a few standout plays. This year, I’ve collaborated with DLF’s Peter Howard to give you some additional data and rankings. In each section, you’ll mine my (@FFzinger) rankings along with Peter’s, presented in order of our average ranking. Any QB or TE not ranked in each of our top 30 was given a ranking of 35, and the same is true with RBs/WRs given 65. You’ll also find a Tier associated with each player, which is defined mathematically based on the gaps from one player to the next to define a relative “Tier” within our rankings. Finally, you’ll find a write-up from both Peter and me highlighting a particularly good play for the upcoming week in our rankings.
To generate this list each and every week, Peter and I examine team trends, Vegas over/unders, implied points, pace of play, among various other factors to build a projection for each player and subsequently adjust rankings for upside and more detailed matchup specifics. Among the rankings, there will surely be some that surprise you or that you may disagree with. At the end of each position section, I’ll give you my thoughts on some players who perhaps are ranked higher/lower than you might expect and insights as to why they are a good/bad play this week. Ultimately, these rankings should help your start/sit dilemmas and ensure you have the requisite resources to make an informed decision.
Without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s positional rankings!
FFzinger Highlight Player: Jalen Hurts, QB PHI
Hurts usually doesn’t need his own mention as a fantastic QB play on the week. The second-year QB ranks fourth in fantasy points per game on the season thanks in large part to his ability in the rushing game. He deserves a specific mention here in case any dynasty managers are concerned from his last game against the Giants in week 12, where he threw three interceptions in a forgettable performance. Coming off his injury, Hurts showed no signs of slowing down in the running game with eight attempts and should be started as a mid-range QB1 on the day. The Giants continue to rank in the bottom-half in fantasy points allowed to QBs, and the Eagles have a fantastic implied team total of 26 points as 10.5 point home favorites. Don’t let one game in the past scare you off Hurts this week.
Pahowdy Highlight Player: Matt Ryan, QB ATL
Yeah, I don’t like it either but to save writing another “Taysom Hill can run” type entry, I’m going with Ryan this week. He’s not a top-12 quarterback, despite his 13 points in week 15 (the most he’s scored since week nine) but I still think he could be a desperation start for some teams. The team is a home favorite against Detroit this week who – despite only allowing four top-12 quarterback weeks in 2021 – have pressured quarterbacks 5% less than the league average and an average of 250 passing yards and 1.5 passing touchdowns. It’s not great but he’s at least startable (I have him ranked s QB16 this week) and we can hope Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts (who has only caught one touchdown for his 847 receiving yards right now!) can maybe drag him and your team closer to the finish line.
|RB||Melvin Gordon III||@LV||20||65||42.5||7|
FFzinger Highlight Player: David Montgomery, RB CHI
If you’ve made it this far in your fantasy football season, you likely have some good options at running back. While Montgomery hasn’t necessarily been a plug-and-play weekly fantasy starter on a dismal Bears offense, he has been the team’s true bell-cow back when healthy. Since returning from injury, Montgomery has yet to see fewer than 15 total touches and exceeded 20 touches in three of his last four games. Going up against the Seattle Seahawks – who have been the second-best opponent for fantasy football running backs this season – that high touch count should translate to fantasy football success for Montgomery. The third-year back has commanded at least six targets in each of his last three games, showing the signs of a dual-threat running back that could be a true week winner. Start him with confidence as an RB1 in your fantasy football semi-finals.
Pahowdy Highlight Player: Jeff Wilson Jr, RB SF
The best running back on the 49ers is the healthy one. This week it’s Wilson. Only 30% of expected points produced against Tennessee have gone to the rushing game, however, and they have only allowed three top 12 running back weeks this season. That makes him much more of an RB2 in this matchup and I have him projected as the RB21 on the week. However, in the season that is the injury hellscape of 2021 that makes him an easy start this week for a lot of teams.
|WR||Amon-Ra St. Brown||@ATL||20||11||15.5||3|
|WR||Odell Beckham Jr.||@MIN||30||26||28||5|
|WR||Laviska Shenault Jr.||@NYJ||58||52||55||9|
FFzinger Highlight Player: Jaylen Waddle, WR MIA
Waddle has been a target monster in his rookie season, clearly establishing himself as the alpha receiver on an overall weak Dolphins offense. Part of what we look for each week is a high implied team total, and the Dolphins certainly don’t have that in week 16 with just 18 points. However, Waddle continues to command significant opportunity and succeed when called upon. The rookie has at least eight targets in seven of his last eight games and has surpassed 15 fantasy points in six of those games. Waddle and the Dolphins take on the New Orleans Saints in week 16, who allow the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Waddle is a clear high-end WR2 or even better in both dynasty league rankings and week 16 start/sits.
Pahowdy Highlight Player: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR DET
Because of course, it is. St. Brown is projected as a top-12 wide receiver play this week in PPR. Atlanta has allowed a 70% completion percentage in 2021 and offenses haven’t had much trouble moving the ball against them. St. Brown, averaging a 35% target share over the last three weeks and no less than 11 targets over that span, is likely going to see the majority of pass attempts this week and is expected to have a safe floor on volume alone. Now, we can argue if this is a product of “no one else being there” or St. Brown himself this off-season. For now, all we know is he is very difficult to sit in this situation in week 16.
FFzinger Highlight Player: Jared Cook, TE LAC
Even in the high-powered Chargers offense, Cook has been quiet for most of the fantasy football season. As TE18 on the year, fantasy managers aren’t clamoring to start him in the fantasy playoffs. While his overall lack of production is concerning, Cook has been seeing consistent targets from Justin Herbert. The veteran tight end has had just one game since the team’s week seven bye of fewer than four targets. Combining a solid target floor, a good matchup against the Houston Texans who rank ninth-worst against opposing tight ends on the season, and a stellar team implied team total of 27.75 points, Cook is a desperation option as a borderline TE1 option. He dropped an easy touchdown last week and should see more opportunities to find the endzone in week 16. If you’re scrambling for a TE without TJ Hockenson or Darren Waller, Cook is a solid start.
Pahowdy Highlight Player: Cole Kmet, TE CHI
If a tight end doesn’t at least finish in the top 12, they are essentially a bust (and sometimes they can “bust” for overall points despite being in the top 12 because the tight end position stinks sometimes). Kmet, despite Jimmy Graham’s constant ability to score touchdowns, has outperformed Graham in PPR points in three of the last four weeks, and two of those weeks were for more than 12 PPR points. What’s more, he’s been out-targeting him at an even larger pace, having a 15% target share or more over the last four weeks (Graham has been under 10 each of the last four) and over 20% twice in that time. Kmet has 490 receiving yards on the season and no touchdowns. I think he offers the kind of upside we need at the position if you don’t have a more “locked-in” starter already.
That concludes this week’s rankings article! If you’re wondering about a player we didn’t dive into detail about, feel free to reach out to me or Peter Howard @PaHowdy on Twitter. Best of luck this week, and we’ll be back next week with more positional rankings.