Most fantasy football leagues are onto the playoff semifinals in Week 15. The owners who are still alive in the chase for a fantasy championship are surely going to be focused on making perfect start ’em, sit ’em calls in the upcoming week. While that’s obviously the most important thing for managers to do at this point, it’s still vital to look ahead to Week 16 and preemptively add some matched-based-streamers off the free agent waiver wire who could help you take home a title.
With fewer owners still alive, there’s less competition for free agents, but if you have players on your team that you know aren’t going to be playing this week or next, you should drop them and bolster your depth with potential starters in favorable matchups. At the very least, you could pick up some players to block your potential opponents from getting them.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Watchlist
Reminder: This list was put together in the lead-in to Week 15, looking forward to the players that could be waiver-wire targets to scoop before the season starts to use in future weeks. If you have a roster spot to play with, these are options you could pick up early to beat the waiver buzz.
All these players are below 50-percent ownership on Yahoo unless otherwise specified.
Week 16 Waiver Wire Watchlist: Quarterback
Baker Mayfield, Browns @ Jets (44)
There’s no better streaming option than Mayfield in Week 16. Mayfield is heating up at exactly the right time, and has averaged 331.7 passing yards and three TDs over his past three games. He gets to take on the hapless Jets in the penultimate game of the Browns season, and with the team fighting for playoff positioning, Mayfield should be fully unleashed. The Jets have allowed the second-most fantasy points to QBs this year, including a league-high 28 passing TDs. He should have another shot at three scores in this contest.
Jalen Hurts, Eagles @ Cowboys (29)
Hurts looked good in his first start for the Eagles and was able to log over 100 yards on the ground against a tough Saints defense. He’ll take on the Cowboys in Week 16, and though it’s a divisional rivalry game on the road, Hurts should have a good chance to succeed. The Cowboys have allowed the eighth-most rushing yards to QBs this season (273), and they will likely have trouble containing Hurts, Miles Sanders, and the Eagles’ passing game. That means Hurts could have a shot at being a QB1.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins @ Raiders (21)
As the season has gone along, Tagovailoa has seemingly improved each game, and he’ll get a nice matchup to close out the fantasy season. Tua is taking on a Raiders defense that has struggled against QBs of late. They have allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to the position on the season, including at least two passing TDs in five of their past six games. Tua should have a chance to throw for a couple of scores, so feel free to scoop him up as a potential streamer.
Mitchell Trubisky, Bears @ Jaguars (12)
Trubisky may scare some away, but the fact is that he has done well against weaker defenses this year, and he has at least three TD passes in three of his six starts and is averaging about 24 rushing yards per game. The Jaguars are one of the worst passing defenses in the league and are tied for the most passing TDs allowed (28) while also allowing 3,643 passing yards (fifth most). Trubisky should have a chance for another multi-TD game in this one, so feel free to trust him if the waiver wire is thin or if you’re in a two-QB league.
Drew Lock, Broncos @ Chargers (12)
Lock is definitely a riskier play given his penchant for turnovers, but he does have the talent needed to make big downfield throws, as we saw in Week 14 against the Panthers. In Week 16, Lock will take on the Chargers, a team that he threw for 248 yards and three TDs against earlier in the year. The Chargers have allowed multiple TDs to QBs in nine of their past 10 games.
Week 16 Waiver Wire Watch List: RB
Jeff Wilson Jr., 49ers (43)
With Raheem Mostert dealing with an ankle injury, Wilson could emerge as the starter for the 49ers if Mostert misses time or is limited. Wilson has performed well this year, averaging 4.1 yards per carry in a limited role, and he had a 127-yard, three-TD game against the Patriots earlier this season. The 49ers are taking on the Cowboys in Week 15 and Cardinals in Week 16. The Cardinals have been middle-of-the-pack against RBs this year, but if the volume is there for Wilson, he could be an RB2/flex candidate. Scoop him up now before he becomes the must-add waiver-wire player of the week.
Gus Edwards, Ravens (39)
In his past three games, Edwards has averaged just eight touches, but he has logged at least 100 yards or a TD in all of his outings. He is efficient and should continue to see action near the goal line given how effective he has been in that area. The Ravens are playing the Giants next week, and though the Giants defense has improved lately, they have allowed the 10th-most rushing yards to RBs this season, including 653 receiving yards to the position (second most). Receiving is not Edwards’ strong suit, but he should still do some damage in this matchup.
Lynn Bowden Jr., Dolphins (26)
Bowden is eligible as both an RB and a WR, so he fits into two categories on this list and should do well in a revenge game against a Raiders team that drafted him in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft only to give up on him shortly thereafter. Las Vegas has allowed the third-most fantasy points to RBs and the 11th-most fantasy points to WRs on the season. Wherever Bowden lines up, he’ll have a chance to make some plays and be a viable flex. If he gets some carries, he could score on a Raiders defense that has allowed 16 rushing TDs to RBs this year, tied for the league lead.
LeSean McCoy, Buccaneers (2)
With Ronald Jones (finger/COVID) banged up and Leonard Fournette having been a healthy scratch the week before, McCoy could be in line for a bigger role in the Bucs’ offense. Even if Jones can return to action in Week 16, the Bucs are taking on the Lions, a team that has allowed the most fantasy points and total TDs (23) to RBs this year. McCoy could certainly score thanks to his shifty playmaking ability, so feel free to grab the veteran now, especially if you own either Jones or Fournette.
Samaje Perine, Bengals (2) | Trayveon Williams, Bengals (0)
The Bengals RB room is a mess right now with Joe Mixon (foot) having been sidelined and veteran Giovani Bernard having regressed as the year has gone on. That said, the Bengals are taking on the Texans in Week 16, and Houston has allowed more rushing yards to RBs on the season than any other team (1,790). That could open up the door for Perine or Williams to break through. Perine had 10 carries for 32 yards last week against the Cowboys while Williams had 12 for 49. Both are worth stashing just in case one emerges as a starter ahead of this excellent matchup.
Week 16 Waiver Wire Watch List: WR
Emmanuel Sanders, Saints (40)
Sanders is playing on Christmas Day against the Vikings, and it’s possible that Drew Brees (ribs) could be back, which would give Sanders a higher ceiling. Even if Brees is out, Sanders is taking on a Vikings defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to WRs this year, including the second-most wide receiver TDs. That’s enough to make him a potential WR3/flex depending on who the QB is.
Allen Lazard, Packers (37) | Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers (23)
In Week 16, the Packers are facing the Titans, who have allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to wideouts this year. That will make big-play threats like Lazard and Valdes-Scantling valuable in this matchup. They have been boom-or-bust players this year, but they have largely done well against lower-level competition. The Titans should qualify, so these two can be added as potential flex options.
Jalen Reagor, Eagles (21) | Greg Ward, Eagles (3)
The Cowboys have allowed a league-high 22 TDs to receivers on the season. Reagor led the team in receiving last week with 46 yards while Ward was second on the team in targets with five. Both will have a chance to continue to establish a connection with Jalen Hurts, and if Reagor can break a long play against the Cowboys and Ward can continue to rack up targets, these two should have a chance to be worthwhile plays in a good matchup.
Breshad Perriman, Jets (19) | Denzel Mims, Jets (8)
So far this season, the Jets offense has been very up and down, but they’re getting a chance to take on the Browns in Week 16. Cleveland just gave up 47 points to the Ravens and has had issues in the secondary this season, especially with Denzel Ward (calf) missing a handful of games. They have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to WRs on the year, so Perriman and Mims will have a chance to emerge as decent, albeit risky, starters in this one.
Rashard Higgins, Browns (18) | Donovan Peoples-Jones, Browns (1)
Higgins has started to come on of late for the Browns and has averaged six catches, 81.5 yards, and a TD in his past couple of games. Meanwhile, Peoples-Jones has averaged 83 yards per game during the span, albeit on only five total catches. Both will have a chance to be effective against a weak Jets secondary that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs this year.
Anthony Miller, Bears (17) | Darnell Mooney, Bears (10)
If we’re willing to trust Mitchell Trubisky as a streamer against the Jaguars, we’re willing to trust his receivers, too. Miller and Mooney haven’t been consistent this year, but Mooney just caught a TD while Miller is averaging 5.4 targets per game. If the Jaguars focus on trying slow down Allen Robinson, Miller and Mooney should be open for plenty of catches and potential deep balls. They aren’t consistent, but they can each be started, as one could pop off and have a huge day in a favorable matchup.
Week 16 Waiver Wire Watch List: TE
Austin Hooper, Browns (51) | Harrison Bryant, Browns (2) | David Njoku, Browns (1)
You can trust the Browns starting tight end in Week 16, whoever that may be. They are taking on the Jets, who lead the league in TDs allowed to TEs (12) and fantasy points allowed to the position. Hooper is dealing with a neck injury, but if he’s back, he should have a chance to be a top-10 TE in Week 16. If not, both Bryant and Njoku will get targets and have TD upside. Keep an eye on Hooper’s injury, but feel free to add any of these players if you’re streaming TEs.
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (20)
Schultz saw a season-low three targets against the Bengals, but he still managed to catch them all and put up 34 yards in a good matchup. He is averaging 5.6 targets per game this season and will get to take on an Eagles team that has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to TEs. Schultz had six catches for 53 yards the last time these two teams met, and that was with Ben DiNucci at QB. He should be better off with Andy Dalton leading the charge.
Cole Kmet, Bears (9)
Kmet has taken over as the top tight end in the Bears offense and has played at least 70 percent of the offensive snaps in four straight games. He also has seen back-to-back games with seven targets, so the volume is there for him. The Jaguars are a good matchup for Kmet, as Jacksonville has allowed 10 TDs to the TE position, good fro the second most in the NFL. So long as Jimmy Graham doesn’t vulture a scoring opportunity from him, Kmet should have a shot at being a top-12 play.
Tyler Eifert, Jaguars (6)
The Bears have a good defense, but they have been weak against TEs this year. They have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position, making Eifert an under-the-radar streaming option. Eifert has averaged 3.3 catches and 28.8 yards in his past four games, but the upside is there for much more this week.
Jordan Akins, Texans (4)
If you can get over the fact that Akins has dropped three TDs in his past three games, he could end up being a nice play here. The Texans are facing the Bengals in Week 16, and Cincinnati has allowed 867 yards to TEs on the year. Akins has had a couple of big games this year, and this will be another chance for him to put up 55-plus yards.
Week 16 defense streamers and sleepers
Washington Football Team (35) | Week 16 opponent: vs. Panthers
Los Angeles Chargers (30) | Week 16 opponent: @ Broncos
Arizona Cardinals (29) | Week 16 opponent: vs. 49ers
Carolina Panthers (28) | Week 16 opponent: @ Washington
Philadelphia Eagles (27) | Week 16 opponent: @ Cowboys
Owners streaming defenses will surely be happy with the Week 16 streaming options. They are plentiful, and per usual, the best strategy is to target bad offenses.
The Panthers offense doesn’t necessarily qualify as bad, but Washington’s defense is strong enough to score fantasy points against anyone. They have one of the fiercest pass rushes in the NFL, and while the Panthers have a solid offense, Teddy Bridgewater could make some mistakes under pressure. Either way, Washington has a high sack floor and should be able to get to him quite a bit with Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Co.
Meanwhile, the Chargers defense hasn’t been great, but they are taking on a Broncos offense that has turned the ball over a league-high 29 times entering Week 15. The Chargers can pressure Drew Lock, and if he has one of his off games, the Chargers could easily force some turnovers or maybe even get a defensive score.
Like the Chargers, the Cardinals and Panthers defenses are all about the quarterbacks they’re facing. Arizona gets to play against Nick Mullens and a scuffling, banged-up 49ers offense. With Haason Reddick coming on as a pass rusher, Mullens should be under a lot of heat.
Meanwhile, the Panthers get to take on a Washington offense that has averaged the third-fewest yards in the league and has struggled to score on offense in recent games. Plus, Alex Smith (calf) may not be 100 percent for that contest.
Finally, the Eagles are second in the NFL in total sacks and are taking on Andy Dalton’s Cowboys. The Cowboys have played better of late, but their offensive line is not what it once was thanks to injuries. They should get some heat on Dalton and have a high sack floor in what could be a sloppy, defense-friendly game.