Here we are…Fantasy Football Championship Week. If you’re playing for all the marbles, congratulations. I’m still alive in two of my three leagues, so I can’t wait for the games to get started. The semifinals were a bear for my teams, falling behind on Thursday night in one league and the same during the early games on Saturday in the other. Thankfully, I drafted Jaylen Waddle on all my teams this year, and he bailed me out. Like a phoenix, my squads emerged from the ashes and now playing for a pair of titles.
Looking back on Week 16, the target leaders were once again led by a pair of Vikings in Hockenson and Jefferson. In fact, most of the double-digit targets went to names we’d expect to see this late in the season, including Keenan Allen, Amon-Ra St. Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Ja’Marr Chase, Amari Cooper, Chris Godwin and DeAndre Hopkins. However, there were also several others who appear to be solidifying a positive trend, along with a few new names putting some work on tape for next season. We’ll look at both below.
Don’t forget, let me know how your matchups look and include any start/sit questions you may have. Also, tune in for the Razzball Start/Sit show, which will broadcast on Sunday this week, for any last-minute questions.
Week 16 Target Monsters/Week 17 Outlook:
T.J. Hockenson, Vikings: T.J. Hockenson was a beast with 16 targets against the Giants. His 35.9 fantasy points almost doomed one of my teams. Lucky for me, I get to face him again in my other title game this week. The Packers are top 10 versus TE, but all the other Packers opponents didn’t have Justin Jefferson pulling attention away from the inside. So if you have Hock, you’re starting him and feeling great about it.
Richie James/Isaiah Hodgins, Giants: The WR carousel for the G-men continues to spin. Last week, Richie James was at the top of the target heap with 12. Isaiah Hodgins was close behind with 11. Neither player had previously received double-digit targets. So this appears to be more of an aberration than the start of a trend. Nevertheless, James, Hodgins and Darius Slayton are hogging all the snaps at the receiver position (98%), so it’s clear one of these three will get the lion’s share of the looks against the Colts. My guess would be Hodgins (Colts give up 3rdmost fantasy points to wideout receivers), but I’m staying away from this roll of the dice if possible.
Greg Dortch, Cardinals: After a 3-game hiatus without a single target, Greg Dortch returns to fantasy relevance with a career-best 11-target day and 22+ fantasy points. If you had the foresight to start Dortch in the semi-finals, you’re flying high and probably playing for a title this week. In fact, your fellow fantasy owners should just hand over the trophy now. For the rest of us on planet Earth, Dortch was on our bench or the waiver wire. Do yourself a favor and leave him there in Week 17. Don’t go chasing last week’s points. The matchup with the Falcons may look good on paper, but in fact, Atlanta is one of the best defenses against WRs, giving up a minuscule 17.1 PPG. If you need a WR3 or Flex and looking to stream a receiver, there are many others to pick from. I’ll say it again, stay away from Dortch this week.
Allen Lazard, Packers: The number 11 has become a trend for Allen Lazard. Lazard saw a season-high 11 targets in Week 11 versus the Titans. He then saw a total of 11 targets over the next three games combined between Week 12 and 15. Finally, in Week 16, a return to 11 targets in a single game. The larger target share last week can be directly tied to his larger workload. Lazard’s snap share was greater than 90%. By contrast, his receiving mates of Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson and Randall Cobb were 61%, 39%, and 47%, respectively. While the increased target share is encouraging, I don’t blame you for being skeptical after he produced only 11.1 fantasy points. In the end, though, I suggest putting this skepticism aside and roll with him once again. The Packers host a Vikings defense ranking bottom five against slot receivers like Lazard.
Brandin Cooks, Texans: Brandin Cooks returned to the field after being a DNP for the previous three. The Texans wasted no time, targeting him a team-high nine times on 32 pass attempts in the game. The late TD made his fantasy line attractive, but overall, this was a poor game for Cooks. On the season, Cooks runs a majority of his routes on the outside but scores most of his fantasy points from the slot. Making matters worse, the QB situation in Houston remains a revolving door, with both David Mills and Jeff Driskel taking snaps in Week 16. Mills is in line to lead the Texans this week. The same David Mills has yardage games of 178, 121, 175 and 169 in each of his past four games. If all this makes you dizzy, you and I are in the same boat. The reality is Cooks retains a lot of fantasy upside, but it’s hard to put much trust in him this season.
Jahan Dotson, Commanders: Jahan Dotson has been on a roll lately. After bursting out of the gates with three TDs in the first two weeks, he virtually disappeared until Week 13. In that game, he posted nine targets (five receptions) for 54 yards and a TD. This started a trend where he’s totaled 24 targets and three TDs over the last three, including 76 yards and a score at San Francisco last week. Carson Wentz is back under center for the Commanders as they look to solidify a wildcard berth against a Cleveland defense that’s been better than average against receivers. Against the Browns’ poor rush defense, the Commander’s game plan will likely focus on the run game. When it’s time to pass, look for Dotson to reacquaint himself quickly with Wentz. He makes for an intriguing Flex play on your season-long team and is definitely in the mix for DFS.
That’s the end of my featured players. Like last week’s article, I’ll move on to my version of the two-minute drill and fire off some additional matchups that are trending for me in Week 17.
Jerry Jeudy, Broncos: Jerry Jeudy has been on a positive trend the past few weeks with nine, eight and 10 targets. These targets have translated to an average of seven receptions and 89 yards per game over the stretch. What makes this more impressive is the fact that his surge is a result of catching passes from Russell Wilson and Brett Rypien. Look for more of the same at Kansas City, with a game script suggesting Denver will have to throw to keep pace with the Chiefs. He’s been battling an ankle injury, so keep an eye on his status leading up to Sunday’s game.
Tyler Higbee, Rams: Tyler Higbee was the only other TE with double-digit targets in Week 16. The 11 targets practically matched his targets for the previous four games combined. Baker Mayfield seems to be developing a strong rapport with Higbee, connecting for over 120 yards and three TDs in their two games together. The Chargers are better than average against TEs but with few other weapons at his disposal, look for Mayfield to continue looking for his big TE this weekend.
Evan Engram, Jaguars: Evan Engram saw a drop in targets but not in fantasy production. Unlike the previous two weeks with 15 and 10 targets, respectively, Engram was only targeted eight times. He made the most of them, nonetheless, posting seven receptions for 113 yards. At this point, Engram is virtually matchup-proof. Keep rolling with the big boy to your fantasy title.
Stephon Diggs, Bills: Trending in the wrong direction is Stephon Diggs. Diggs hasn’t reached double-digit targets since Week 12 at Detroit. Over the past three, he’s averaging a measly 7.3 PPG. I get it, you’re in the title game, and Diggs is supposed to be leading your WR corp. Now you’re a bit nervous and debating if other options are better than his matchup at Cincy. I’m here to tell you to start your studs. Diggs will be ok.
Garrett Wilson, Jets: After struggling through Zach Wilson’s QB woes, Mike White is back under center for the Jets. Garrett Wilson owners everywhere are rejoicing! Wilson had some of his top achievements with Mike White at the helm, including a pair of 24+ fantasy outings in Weeks 12 and 13. Seattle is one of the stingier defenses against receivers though, allowing just 21.7 PPG (the NFL average is 32.5 PPG). Something must give here! If the Jets are going to keep their playoff hopes alive, Garrett Wilson will need to play a prominent role. I don’t see another 24+ fantasy point game for Wilson this week, but a nice floor of 12-13 fantasy points is in his wheelhouse.
Drake London, Falcons: The Falcons’ offense has shown few bright spots this season, but Drake London is front and center. Despite the switch to rookie QB Desmond Ridder, London’s output hasn’t taken a hit. Across the two games with Ridder, London has 20 total targets for 166 yards. London splits his routes fairly evenly between the slot and wideout positions. The Arizona defense is league-average against both, so look for more of the same in Week 16.
Kendrick Bourne, Patriots: Kendrick Bourne virtually came out of nowhere to receive nine targets and 25 fantasy points (six receptions for 100 yards and a TD). Prior to this game, Bourne hasn’t received more than five targets this season. His 100 yards receiving practically doubled his highest output so far as well. The Patriots would do well to make this more of a trend in the must-win game against the Dolphins. However, I’m not buying it. He may be worth an inexpensive DFS play but leave him off your championship rosters in season-long leagues.
Jerick McKinnon, Chiefs: Jerick McKinnon was limited to only three targets but converted that to over 12 fantasy points. He gets a rematch with the Broncos at home after putting up over 32 fantasy points against them in Week 14. With the solid floor and huge upside displayed over the past month, McKinnon is close to being anointed a league winner. Don’t let the lower workload in Week 16 dissuade you. If you own him, you are starting him without question.
As this is my final “Target Trends” article for the regular season, I want to thank everyone for reading my scribbles and engaging me with your start/sit questions each week. I’ve enjoyed getting to know some of you here and hope your fantasy season has been fun and successful.
I encourage you to stay with the Razzball crew for all your fantasy football needs. We will be here for your DFS plays, NFL playoffs challenges, and throughout the offseason as we do our best to make you better fantasy football competitors. Best of luck to all who are competing for fantasy titles this week. Drop a comment below and let me know what your matchup looks like.