Trubisky should have a QB1-worthy game in Week 16
Welcome to Week 16. Most fantasy owners are now in the fantasy championships, which means they survived a brutal Week 15. If nothing else, Week 15 proved that sometimes all the research, all the stats, all the predictions can amount to nothing when players take the field. Some players are dealing with an injury, which does affect their performance.
However, in Week 16, fantasy owners want to put their best lineup out there. Trust your gut, trust your studs. At the end of the day, you’ll feel better losing with the guys that got you there than losing with a few guys just picked up off the waiver wire. That’s not to say that you should bench Jamaal Williams; rather, don’t try to get too cute.
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. You also can see how my Week 12 calls turned out at the bottom.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
Depending on league scoring, Trubisky has put up the 14th-most fantasy points among all quarterbacks — and that includes missing two games. On a points per game basis, he’s sixth. In Week 16, Trubisky faces the San Francisco 49ers in a game the Bears need to win. The 49ers give up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. A lot of those points come from Tarik Cohen, but no matter how it gets done, Trubisky succeeds. He’s ranked No. 13 for Week 16 but should finish higher than that.
Elijah McGuire, RB, New York Jets
In the past two weeks, McGuire has had 17 and 18 carries, respectively. With those carries, he has 60 and 42 yards and a touchdown in each game. He added three receptions in each game to finish with 23 and 29 fantasy points. Fantasy owners should expect a similar output in Week 16. A touchdown would be a bonus but for a running back, 12 points in PPR isn’t terrible. He’s ranked No. 24, but with a touchdown, he’ll exceed that ranking.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders
While fantasy owners typically don’t want to start anyone on the Raiders (except for Jared Cook), Nelson has been one of Derek Carr’s favorite receivers. He had the most targets on the team (eight) in Week 15. Of those, he caught six for 88 yards. He also had six receptions in Week 14. While 14 points in PPR isn’t great, it still should vault him higher than his No. 41 ranking.
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets
Somehow, Anderson has come back to life with Sam Darnold. He’s scored touchdowns in the past two games with Darnold back at quarterback. In Week 15, Anderson had the most targets on the team with 11. He caught seven of those for 96 yards. Anderson has been disappointing for most of the season, especially with respect to his average draft position, but he should exceed his No. 20 ranking.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants
With Odell Beckham Jr. likely out again for Week 16, Engram looks to continue to gobble up targets. He had 12 in Week 15, and he caught eight of them for 75 yards. The Giants face the Colts, who have only allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends, but they do give up the 10th-most fantasy points to the position. Engram is ranked No. 7, but he should exceed that, assuming ODB is out.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
While the matchup against the Detroit Lions isn’t a terrible one, Cousins has not been playing well. Part of the reason is that Adam Thielen has not been utilized. The Lions will likely try to shut down Thielen, and that does not bode well for Cousins. He’s ranked No. 15, putting him in QB2 territory, but he may finish lower than that. In the past three weeks, the most Cousins has thrown for is 215 yards. He has four touchdowns and three interceptions in that span.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers face Baltimore, who gives up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and Gordon hasn’t played since Week 12. Gordon was not listed on the final injury report for Week 16, so he should be good to go. With Austin Ekeler out, Gordon should have more work in the passing game, but in standard leagues, he should finish below his No. 11 ranking. Fantasy owners will start him, but they need to hope he finds the end zone.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
After Thielen’s streak of eight straight games with at least 100 yards came to an end, he's struggled to get it going. Over the past three weeks, he hasn’t had more than five receptions. He has one touchdown in that span. For some reason, the Vikings have gotten away from getting the ball to Thielen. Perhaps it’s better coverage by opposing defenses, but Thielen is a risky WR1. He faces the Lions in Week 16. The Lions just allowed a big game to Robert Foster, but it’s possible that Stefon Diggs is the one who has the big game. Thielen is ranked No. 9 and should finish below that.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
The Week 15 matchup against the Buffalo Bills was supposed to be a tough one. Fantasy owners who looked at that and benched Golladay ended up kicking themselves, as he had seven receptions for 146 yards. However, the week before that, he had two receptions for five yards. Golladay is hard to trust and with the prospect of seeing plenty of Xavier Rhodes on Sunday, he’s going to be hard-pressed to rise above his No. 18 ranking.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Granted, the tight end landscape is tough, but having Brate at No. 8 is also a bit high. Since Jameis Winston reclaimed the starting job in Week 11, Brate has not had more than three receptions or 36 yards in a game. He has three touchdowns in that span, making him a touchdown-dependent tight end. The Bucs face the Cowboys, who have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends this year (three of which went to Philadelphia Eagles tight ends).
Full Disclosure from Week 15
5 Up (1/5 correct)
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (Ranked: 20, Actual: 19)
Doug Martin, RB, Oakland Raiders (Ranked: 28, Actual: outside the top 50)
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens (Ranked: 33, Actual: 46)
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks (Ranked: 17, Actual: 46)
Vernon Davis, TE, Washington Redskins (Ranked: 20, Actual: 36)
5 Down (2/5 correct)
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (Ranked: 13, Actual: 1)
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers (Ranked: 19, Actual: outside the top 50)
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions (Ranked: 25, Actual: 7)
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (Ranked: 20, Actual: 17)
George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers (Ranked: 4, Actual: 11)
— 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.