Home Articles Fantasy Football Winners & Losers: Week 16
Week 16 Fantasy Football Winners & Losers | Amari Cooper, etc.

Fantasy Football Winners & Losers: Week 16

by Steve Lawson

Welcome to another edition of “Fantasy Football Winners & Losers,” or as I am calling it this week, “The Naughty and Nice List.”

For those celebrating the Christmas season, I hope your weekend was filled with family, friends, gifts, food and joy. The Christmas and overall holiday season are magical. And I want to give some love to a key figure in it, Santa Claus.

Yup, the big man in red. Santa Claus is going to get some love for a moment.

I read something recently that hit me in a way I didn’t expect. I wish I could find the original post. It was about a child asking his dad about Santa. And it made me think, as someone who loves to hold onto the magic of life as much as possible, how I would answer if the Santa question was posed to me.

I think the way the original post said it was perfect, but I will relay the message.

The poster’s son asks him if, “Santa is real.” He feels he’s old enough to know the truth. And the father agrees.

And the father says, “Yes, Santa is real.”

But not how you think. Santa may not be the man who comes down the chimney, eats the cookies and flies with reindeer. He may not be a person at all, not anymore, at least.

But Santa is very much real. He’s the parents who give their kids gifts they dream of and know that they won’t be thanked because Santa brought them. He’s the man who brings his boyfriend his favorite snack after a hard day because he knows it will make him smile. Santa is a single mother who puts on her work clothes every day, tired or not, and goes to work for her children. Santa is the twinkle in the aging grandparent when the festivities are in full swing, and for one night, they get some of that youthful energy again, fueled by seeing their entire family around them and happy.

Santa Claus is very real. But not a person. He’s an idea, a feeling, a spirit. One that fuels us to do good, to be kind and to give to those we love, not for praise, but because we know they’ll smile.

So, to all of you, I say this. Don’t ever let Santa Claus become fake. Don’t let that idea go. Believe in him as long as you can and encourage those around you to do the same. The day that Santa Claus stops existing, the world is going to be a much sadder, colder place.

Just a thought.

But you came here for football, not necessarily life lessons.

I, however, am taking this opportunity to celebrate Festivus. It was the great philosopher Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) from “Seinfeld,” who coined the holiday Festivus, and it begins as all great holidays should… with the airing of grievances. So, we’re starting with the losers instead of the winners this week.

Fantasy football CTA

Fantasy Football Winners & Losers: Week 16

Fantasy Football Losers

Diontae Johnson (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)

I love Diontae Johnson, but it’s time for the marriage between him and the Steelers to end. Abysmal QB play has limited an incredible route runner to just the Points Per Reception (PPR) WR44 on a points-per-game basis (minimum four games played) this season. As someone who creates space in the tough spots, Johnson should be a valuable asset, but he’s hindered by maybe the worst QB room in the league.

George Pickens popped off in Week 16 against the Bengals, leaving Johnson to put up two catches for 15 yards on a 20% target share. Gross.

I want to see Johnson in a timing-based offensive system that stays on track like Miami, Dallas or basically anywhere where the receivers are able to use their route-running ability to make things happen.

Someday, right? Until then, it’ll either be Kenny Pickett or Mason Rudolph throwing him passes this season. Johnson gets a plus matchup in fantasy football championships against the Seahawks. However, it’s tough to trust him when he’s had just one WR1 finish this season (Week 9) and five finishes outside the top 45 at the position.

Tony Pollard (RB, Dallas Cowboys)

This season was gross for Tony Pollard managers. He’s been mid at best, and he did you no favors in back-to-back fantasy football playoff weeks, probably bouncing managers from title contention.

That’s been the whole season for Pollard, as he is the PPR RB22 on a points-per-game basis. Averaging a career-low four Yards Per Carry (YPC), he now faces a lot of questions about whether he can be a lead back or if he really needs that change-of-pace role to thrive.

Producing 38 yards on 12 carries and one catch for five yards in the semi-finals is not worth the first-round pick he probably cost you to draft him. His matchups don’t seem to matter; he just isn’t that dude we thought he was. He is barely a starter in fantasy football lineups at this point but will hold down the FLEX spot well enough. Still, look elsewhere for your savior in championship week.

Ty Chandler (RB, Minnesota Vikings)

Well, that was fun while it lasted. The hype for Ty Chandler was cool, and I hope you sold him off in dynasty leagues when he was worth something because he reverted back to a dud and was a huge fantasy football loser in Week 16. A touchdown saved the day, but 2.2 YPC is dreadful.

Though Chandler saw 65% of snaps against the Lions, Alexander Mattison was active, further complicating matters. From now on, he’s a bench player or a desperation FLEX play. There is not much more to say about that.

Fantasy Football Winners

Amari Cooper (WR, Cleveland Browns)

Well, I don’t know where that came from, but I like it! Amari Cooper produced 11 catches, 265 yards, two touchdowns, a two-point conversion, and a fuck-ton of points on 15 targets. Every Cooper manager will have to buy Joe Flacco a beer because he has shown that No. 2 is still that dude!

He’s gone from fringe starter to bonafide WR1 territory in since the latest QB change. After becoming just the third player to score over 50 PPR points this season, he now sits as the PPR WR12 on the season, a clear value for the mid-round pick it cost to acquire him. Despite the tough matchup against the Jets on Thursday night in Week 17, he is a must-start in fantasy football championships.

Meanwhile, maybe the city of Cleveland should consider raising money to buy out Deshaun Watson’s contract and then exile him to the land of make-believe, where he can pretend he ever had the integrity to begin with.

George Pickens (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)

George Pickens doesn’t need to block, as he’s a BEAST on the outside! We can whine about his lack of blocking effort, but he is paid to catch passes at the end of the day. No receiver in the NFL is starting because they are great blockers.

But if you can put up four catches, 195 yards and two touchdowns, you’ll start anywhere you go, especially when Rudolph is throwing the ball to you. This blowup performance came on most managers’ benches, as he was started in just 15.1% of ESPN leagues. However, it’s enough to make him at least a start consideration in fantasy football championships against a Seattle defense that’s allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing WRs over the past month.

Breece Hall (RB, New York Jets)

This is the Breece Hall we love. The second-year RB produced 95 rushing yards, two touchdowns and 12 catches (woah) for 96 receiving yards. He lands on our fantasy football winners list for the second time in three games. This gave him his seventh PPR RB1 finish of the season and his fourth finish inside the top-five at the position. He’s an every-down back who should touch the ball 20-plus times a game the rest of this season and in the future.

Hall is a fantasy football winner because managers once again have no doubts about starting the Jets RB in Week 17 despite a slightly negative matchup against Cleveland on Thursday night.

Hall has proved he is top-tier talent and someone who will only get better when Aaron Rodgers returns next season. He should be a first-rounder next season; anything less than that is a steal!

Not What It Seems: Fantasy Football Panic Meter

The following players were fantasy disappointments in Week 16, but my concern is low moving forward:

The following players were disappointments in Week 16, and I am concerned about moving forward:

Thanks for reading my Week 16 fantasy football winners and losers. I hope you have enjoyed yourself, and keep an eye out for entertainment and fantasy content from me here at In-Between Media (IBT)! For more entertainment and sports takes, find me on Twitter, @Steve_Lawson93.

*Photo Credit: Scott Galvin – USA TODAY Sports*

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