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Updated 12/26 at 11:45 AM ET.
Week 16 Receivers
WR Notes: There is no Chiefs pivot if Tyreek Hill fails to gain clearance from the COVID-19 list. None of Byron Pringle, Josh Gordon or Mecole Hardman have proven up to the WR4 task. The Chiefs’ pivot will likely be to the run game. … In normal times, we might fear the Chargers being 10-point road favorites would take the wind out of Keenan Allen’s WR1 sails. Without Austin Ekeler, however, the Bolts are going to need Allen’s “extension of the running game” receptions more than they have all season. … Deebo Samuel saw more than four targets for the first time in a month last Sunday. Of course, it was only five. Astoundingly, Samuel has found the end zone on the ground six times in his past five starts. It feels unsustainable, but thus far, no one has been able to prevent Samuel from finding the edge in the red zone. … Firmly distanced from Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in the Cowboys’ receiver corps, CeeDee Lamb has caught at least six passes in three of his past four appearances. That includes 7-of-10 against the Football Team two weeks ago. WFT does not have the bodies to stop Lamb at this point.
DK Metcalf continued to display anti-chemistry with Russell Wilson in Week 15. For his part, Wilson’s arm did not appear capable of delivering Metcalf deep balls down the field. His finger has to still be an issue. With Tyler Lockett likely — hopefully — to gain clearance from the COVID-19 list, it should be Lockett who immediately resumes running as a compromised Wilson’s top target vs. an undermanned Bears secondary. … I am going whole hog on Antonio Brown’s return ranking with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans on the shelf. The only upside of Brown’s three-game suspension is that it gave him far more time than a football player would typically get to return for his ankle injury. Whereas nearly 100 percent of players are brought back too soon, we can have confidence Brown is healthy. When that has been the case this season, Brown has cleared 90 yards in 3-of-6 contests. … I am also showing no fear with Jaylen Waddle’s return rank despite last week’s Duke Johnson outburst and DeVante Parker’s rare good health. Waddle has secured eight-plus receptions in four of his past five games. Tua Tagovailoa was lost without him against the Jets. He will go back to the well in New Orleans.
In the upset of the century, A.J. Brown (chest) and Julio Jones (hamstring) will be healthy at the same time for Thursday’s game against the 49ers. Brown’s absence has been palpable. I am gambling on an immediate, massive re-commitment. As for Jones, he has lost all WR3 benefit of the doubt, and is barely a compelling WR5. … It was a fantasy semifinals from hell for Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins managers. They have an immediate get-right spot in a Ravens defense that can’t contain anything down the field. If you survived last week’s 1.3 and 4.3 point totals, help should be on the way. … With Brandin Cooks on the COVID-19 list, it will be rookie Nico Collins’ time to shine … as a low-end WR4. Collins has shown the ability to compile the rare times he has been funneled looks. The Chargers have not been as pass-game foreboding over the past month. … Hunter Renfrow finally put up a dud in Cleveland. Poor timing, but with Darren Waller (knee, back) still not practicing, we don’t fade Renfrow’s recent production. The Raiders need his targets like whoa.
We are burning the Cardinals’ Week 15 tape, but with Rondale Moore (ankle) joining DeAndre Hopkins on the shelf, we can count as Christian Kirk and A.J. Green as WR2s. A narrowed offense does wonders for fantasy consistency. … With no T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift to fight for middle-of-the-field, short-area looks, Amon-Ra St. Brown has feasted to the tune of 26 receptions over his past three games. He’s also notched at least four grabs in six straight contests. The Falcons permit more WR fantasy points than all but three teams. The dots connect. … Speaking of dot connecting, Gabriel Davis in Emmanuel Sanders (knee) and Cole Beasley’s (COVID-19) absence. The only thing keeping Davis out of the top 20 is his bottom-three matchup with the Pats. Despite the downside, Davis’ boundary and red zone work makes him a WR2 this week no matter the opponent. … Much like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Russell Gage has become too big to fail as a compiler. Matt Ryan has nowhere better to send these looks. It seems almost impossible that Gage will finish with fewer than 6-8 grabs vs. Detroit.
It has been a frustrating few weeks for Brandon Aiyuk, but the pass-funnel Titans present a solid rebound opportunity. … The Vikings have become an “everything” funnel, but no team hands out more receiver fantasy points than Mike Zimmer’s squad. Back in the slow of things after last week’s COVID-truncated preparation, Odell Beckham is a solid WR3, with Van Jefferson not far behind. … Marquez Valdes-Scantling is another would-be fantasy semifinals hope who is now on the COVID-19 list. With Allen Lazard, you are hoping and praying for five catches and 60 yards as a WR4. It is quite possible the Pack simply try to dominate the game on the ground against the beleaguered Browns. … Laquon Treadwell is averaging 5/60 over his past four outings. I don’t make the rules. … Marvin Jones also deserves another WR4 look vs. a Jets defense that just bleeds production down the field. … Kadarius Toney is back from the COVID-19 list but evidently still not over his marathon oblique issue. … Tyler Johnson seems firmly ahead of Scotty Miller on the Bucs’ second-string depth chart.