Fantasy owners are nearing the end of their season. With no Thursday night game, owners need to be ready for four days of football (Friday football, Merry Christmas all!), which means multiple days of being aware of who is on the injury report and who is in danger of being inactive for Week 16. This is the most important week of the year for fantasy owners, so be sure you are starting your best lineup and all players are active.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status, and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
Starting Trubisky in the fantasy championship game just sounds icky. However, he has eight touchdowns in the past four games compared to three interceptions. Trubisky is at his best when he hands the ball off to David Montgomery (spoiler alert: start him this week too) but he has made plenty of plays to Allen Robinson and the other pass catchers. The Bears face the Jaguars, who need to keep losing if they want to maintain their No. 1 draft pick slot, so this should be a good game for Trubisky. He’s ranked No. 13 but may sneak into the QB1 group by the end of the week.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
With Ryan Finley at quarterback, Bernard gets more work. In Week 15, he had 25 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown. He also added one reception, but it was for a 14-yard touchdown. Overall, Bernard had an RB1 day. In Week 16, the Bengals face the Texans, who give up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. The offense is likely going to run through Bernard again (Joe Mixon has already been ruled out, so that’s not a concern) and Bernard should easily exceed his No. 33 ranking.
Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins
Gaskin is off the reserve/COVID-19 list and should be good to go for Week 16. In his absence, the team relied on Salvon Ahmed, but Gaskin should retain the lead job if he’s healthy. The Dolphins face the Raiders in Week 16, who allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Gaskin last played in Week 13 where he had 90 rushing yards and two receptions for 51 yards. He’s also had a fumble in the past two games he’s played, which should concern fantasy owners a bit. However, Gaskin is ranked No. 43 and is an RB2 this week, even if Ahmed does steal some carries.
Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, San Francisco 49ers
With Raheem Mostert shut down for the rest of the season, Wilson is the next man up. When Mostert left the game in Week 15, Wilson was able to step up and had 60 yards and a touchdown. In Week 16, the 49ers face the Cardinals. The Cardinals have allowed six touchdowns to opposing running backs in the past six games. Wilson has done well with his opportunities and fantasy owners shouldn’t be too concerned with Jerick McKinnon or Tevin Coleman. Wilson is ranked No. 40 but is an RB2 this week.
Jordan Akins, TE, Houston Texans
After Will Fuller was suspended, it seemed as if Akins would have more fantasy value. That didn’t seem to be the case until Week 15. Last week, he had five receptions for 50 yards on six targets. He also had six targets in Week 14. In Week 16, the Texans face the Bengals, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Akins is ranked No. 28, but he certainly would fall into the TE2 range this week if you are desperate for a tight end.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Stafford faces the Buccaneers in Week 16, which should be a good matchup, but because of his injuries, it is hard to trust him. In Week 15, he had 252 yards and a touchdown, playing through thumb and rib injuries. He’s going to be on the injury report heading into Week 16 as well, but he is expected to play. The Bucs allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 356 yards and three touchdowns in Week 15, but it’s hard to see Stafford hitting those numbers, especially with Kenny Golladay still out. He’s ranked No. 16 but is a low QB2.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Denver Broncos
Gordon is poised to have a #revenge game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16, but ranking him No. 13 seems a bit high. He’s certainly a solid RB2, but the two touchdowns he scored in Week 15 were his first since Week 11. Phillip Lindsay has been playing hurt, which bodes well for Gordon, but Gordon has also shown that he’s not always able to carry the load himself. The Chargers are going to try to shut him down, but don’t be surprised if Gordon gets a touchdown in this one, just not enough for almost-RB1 status.
Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
When Damien Harris was out in Week 15, Michel was the lead back and only managed 74 yards. In Week 16, Harris is expected back for the Monday night game with the Bills. Buffalo has allowed good games to opposing running backs, but it’s hard to see that happening with Michel in Week 16. He’s not going to be involved in the passing game and he’s going to share carries with Harris. He’s ranked No. 26, but he’s a low RB3.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
In the rankings, Johnson is the highest-ranked Pittsburgh pass catcher. This seems odd, although he did catch the team’s only TD pass in Week 15. However, this is going to be a tougher week for both Johnson and Ben Roethlisberger against the Colts. The Colts allow the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Johnson usually isn’t Roethlisberger’s favorite target as he has been benched because of drops. He certainly has the potential to do well, but ranking him No. 20 seems a bit high.
Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills
Knox has left the past two games with a stinger, but he has been able to practice and play through it. He’s ranked No. 16 for Week 16 against the Patriots. New England allows the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Knox’s usage just hasn’t been there. He hasn’t had more than 36 yards yet this season. He does have three touchdowns in the past four games, but he’s definitely a touchdown-dependent tight end on a team that has plenty of other pass-catching options.
Full Disclosure for Week 15
5 Up (3/4 correct)
Jared Goff, QB, Rams (Ranked: 15, Actual: 23)
Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys (Ranked: 39, Actual: 1)
David Johnson, RB, Texans (Ranked: 40, Actual: 7)
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins (Ranked: 53, Actual: DNP)
Noah Fant, TE, Broncos (Ranked: 14, Actual: 4)
5 Down (3/5 correct)
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs (Ranked: 5, Actual: 8)
Wayne Gallman, RB, Giants (Ranked: 20, Actual: 60)
Keke Coutee, WR, Texans (Ranked: 27, Actual: 26)
Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Lions (Ranked: 29, Actual: 3)
Jordan Reed, TE, 49ers (Ranked: 12, Actual: 15)
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.