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It’s Week 16; do you know where your fantasy football team is? If it’s still playing games that means something, congratulations! You’re among the chosen few still alive. Most leagues have their championship matchups in Week 16, but some wait until Week 17. Either way, the games are kind of important at this point.
It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway — if you’re still playing, you did something right, so there’s no reason to crazy with lineup changes. Still, Week 15 saw A.J. Green, Danny Amendola, Alshon Jeffery and Ted Ginn Jr. all suffer injuries of varying degrees, so now is not the time to get lazy.
Andrew thinks, if you can make a savvy waiver pickup, it could mean the difference between a fantasy league title and an offseason fraught with second-guessing.
Championship Wide Receivers - Waiver Wire Targets
Kamar Aiken - WR, BAL - 39% owned on Fleaflicker
Few receivers have become as consistent on a week-to-week basis as Aiken. It’s true, we swear! Consider this: Aiken has at least five receptions in seven straight games, and at least 50 yards in six of those games. He’s coming off his best outing of the season, an eight-catch, 128-yard game in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
If you can still scoop Aiken up, particularly in PPR leagues, do it this week. He draws a favorable home matchup against Pittsburgh, a team with a high-powered offense and a beatable secondary. Baltimore is likely to be trailing, and thus throwing plenty. Bet on Aiken to at least hit his five-catch, 50-yard benchmark with potential for much more.
Eddie Royal - WR, CHI - 24% owned on Fleaflicker
Royal returned two weeks ago after missing five games with a knee injury. He finished with 31 yards on five catches, his most since Week 6, in Chicago’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings this past weekend. The five receptions (and six targets) are encouraging for those seeking PPR help, but Royal will get a major bump in value if Jeffery is sidelined in Week 16.
The oft-injured Jeffery left Sunday’s game with a hamstring issue. The Bears are officially eliminated from the playoffs, so there’s little incentive to rush Jeffery back if he’s not 100 percent. Combine that with the season-ending injuries to Marquess Wilson and tight end Martellus Bennett, and suddenly Royal becomes the top target for Jay Cutler.
DeVante Parker - WR, MIA - 25% owned on Fleaflicker
It’s been a slow buildup for Parker in his rookie season, but he’s finally showing the flashes of talent that made him the No. 14 overall pick this past April. The former Louisville standout finished with four catches for a career-high 87 yards in Sunday’s loss to the San Diego Chargers. He’s eclipsed 60 yards in three of his last four games, and scored twice over that same stretch.
As another postseason-less season winds down in Miami, Parker should get extended playing time as the focus shifts toward 2016 and beyond. The Dolphins host the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16, a team that’s allowing 276 passing yards per game (29th in NFL). Parker remains an intriguing option in deeper leagues.
Jermaine Kearse - WR, SEA - 10% owned on Fleaflicker
The Seahawks’ passing attack is, quite simply, playing at an unstoppable pace. Over the last five games, quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown 19 touchdowns against zero interceptions. Read that again — not a single interception! The biggest beneficiaries have been Doug Baldwin and rookie Tyler Lockett, but Kearse has quietly put together back-to-back seven-catch games.
Kearse led Seattle with 110 yards on a team-high eight targets in Sunday’s rout of the Cleveland Browns. If you were wondering whether the Seahawks’ offense could support three starter-level receivers in the fantasy world, the answer has been yes. The Seahawks now host the St. Louis Rams, the same team Kearse piled up eight catches for 76 yards against back in the season opener.
Devin Funchess - WR, CAR - 22% owned on Fleaflicker
Outside of tight end Greg Olsen and Ginn (at least lately), the Panthers have marched to 14-0 without relying on a consistent target in the passing game. Jerricho Cotchery, Corey Brown and Funchess all get into the mix to varying degrees each week. For Carolina, it’s ideal. For fantasy owners, it’s confounding.
Funchess, despite limited touches, has scored a touchdown in three of the last five games, including Sunday’s wild win over the New York Giants. Should Carolina wrap up home-field advantage in the playoffs, which it could do with a Week 16 win against Atlanta, players like Ginn and Olsen could conceivably play less. That would likely mean additional targets for Funchess, so he’s worth adding as an insurance policy if you own other Panthers pass-catchers.
Jeremy Butler - WR, BAL - 1% owned on Fleaflicker
If you’re dipping into the Ravens’ player pool for a wide receiver, Aiken is the one you’ll want. But Butler has also been on a nice little streak. One week after catching seven passes for 72 yards against Seattle, Butler finished with three catches for 60 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Baltimore’s injury-ravaged offense faces Pittsburgh in Week 16. In what will almost assuredly be a loss, the Ravens should be playing from behind. This will give Butler plenty of chances to rack up catches underneath against a soft Steelers secondary. He’s worth looking at in deeper leagues.
Keshawn Martin - WR, NE - 4% owned on Fleaflicker
Martin had just three catches for 26 yards in Sunday’s win against the Tennessee Titans. Those numbers aren’t worth writing home about, but the bigger news is that Amendola left the game with a knee injury. If Amendola is unable to play Sunday against the New York Jets, and Julian Edelman still isn’t able to make it back, then Martin is poised to assume the No. 2 wide receiver spot behind Brandon LaFell.
While LaFell, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back James White would all likely see more targets than Martin, even the fourth option in a Tom Brady-led offense has value. Martin could be a sneaky add in deeper leagues, but monitor the statuses of Amendola and Edelman as the week proresses.