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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Michael Fabiano

Top 10 Week 16 Fantasy Takeaways

The Christmas Eve slate of games came with its share of both naughty and nice stat lines. Unfortunately, many players (especially the pass catchers and kickers) were hampered by extremely cold conditions. Just ask anyone who started Saints and Browns players. Also, some of the top scorers weren’t fantasy relevant. In fact, players like Shane Zylstra, Kendrick Bourne, Isaiah Hodgins and Trenton Irwin, who haven’t even sniffed most fantasy rosters, were among the best players based on points.

On the bright side, we did see some huge performances from quarterbacks the likes of Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry also shined, and a pair of Panthers backs made mincemeat of the Lions defense. We also had a number of big-name wideouts and tight ends put up great totals that no doubt pushed fantasy fans to a title berth.

With that being said, let’s start our fantasy football whip around Saturday’s action in Minnesota, where a certain tight end gave his fantasy managers a great present.

T.J. Hockensonn comes down with the second of his two touchdown receptions Sunday against the Giants.

Matt Krohn/USA Today Sports

T.J. Hockenson delivers an early fantasy Christmas gift. One of the top players at a very thin position, Hockenson made like Santa Claus for fantasy managers with 13 catches, 109 yards, two touchdowns and 35.9 points in a win over the Giants. It’s the second time this season he’s had at least 35 points, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. His teammate, superstar wideout Justin Jefferson, also came up huge with 12 catches, 133 yards, one touchdown and 31.3 fantasy points.

George Kittle records another Purdy, Purdy good line. Kittle has broken free from his inconsistent ways, posting two touchdowns and over 20 fantasy points for the second consecutive week. He made the Commanders look like toy Christmas soldiers, beating their pass defense for 120 yards, a pair of scores and 30 points. Kittle’s resurgence has coincided with Brock Purdy’s insertion into a starting role, and it’s been helpful for fantasy managers in their quest for a league trophy.

Justin Fields can’t overcome the cold, Bills in 35-13 defeat. Fields has been one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy football since Week 6, but he didn’t meet his high standards against the Bills. Playing without a number of receivers, Fields threw for just 119 yards and was held to 11 rushing yards in the contest. His 9.9 points is his worst finish in a game since Week 3 (strangely, against the Houston Texans). If you were able to survive this stink bomb, Fields should rebound next week in Detroit.

Stefon Diggs posts another bad stat line in win over Bears. One of the elite wide receivers in fantasy football, Diggs has been anything but over the last three weeks. In that time, he’s scored a combined 22 points including just 4.6 in Chicago. While the weather was an issue and the Bills were gashing the Bears on the ground, it’s still insane that Diggs was targeted just twice in the game. I’d look for the stud wideout to rebound next week, as the Bills face Ja’Marr Chase and the Bengals.

Saquon Barkley shines for fantasy managers in loss to Vikings. The Giants lost a real heartbreaker on a 61-yard, game-winning field goal by Greg Joseph, but Barkley did help a lot of fantasy managers take home a win. He had eight catches, 133 scrimmage yards, one touchdown and 27.3 fantasy points in the game, and he’s now scored a combined 50.3 points in his last two games. His biggest play came during the fourth quarter, when Barkley busted a 27-yard touchdown run. The stud runner will face off against the struggling Colts in fantasy football championship weekend.

The fall of Nick Chubb continues in frozen Cleveland. The last four weeks have not been kind to Chubb or his fantasy managers. The talented back hasn’t put up more than 11.2 points in a game during that time, which isn’t a surprise because he hasn’t scored a touchdown. Chubb has also failed to rush for 100 yards in six of his last seven games, making him more touchdown dependent than he was earlier in the season. He’s still in the RB2 conversation, but Chubb’s lack of production over the last month likely cost many managers a chance at a title berth.

Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb deliver vs. the Eagles. Despite facing a formidable Eagles defense, Prescott and Lamb came up huge for the Cowboys and fantasy managers alike. Prescott threw for three touchdowns and scored 28.1 points, which leads all quarterbacks Sunday. Lamb was his main target, catching 10 passes for 120 yards with two touchdowns and 34 points. That led all wideouts on the afternoon slate. With a positive matchup against the Titans next on the schedule, Prescott and Lamb could become fantasy championship heroes.

Gardner Minshew leads fantasy managers to a win. Losing Jalen Hurts, the best quarterback in fantasy football, could have been seen as a death sentence. That is, of course, unless you grabbed Minshew off the waiver wire. He looked great in a loss to the Cowboys, scoring three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and a total of 22.7 fantasy points. With Hurts looking questionable to face the Saints next week, Minshew could be a fantasy starter in many league championships.

Geno Smith posts his second straight fantasy stinker. Smith has been one of the more pleasant fantasy surprises of the season, but has his carriage turned into a pumpkin? In his last two games, Smith has scored a combined 27.3 points including just 12.2 in a loss to the Chiefs. Their pass defense had previously been gashed by quarterbacks, allowing the fourth-most points to the position heading into the week. Smith also has a bad matchup next on the schedule, albeit a revenge game, against the Jets. If you don’t need him and your championship week opponent already has a solid quarterback, Smith can be dropped to your league’s waiver wire.

D'Onta Foreman, Chuba Hubbard de-claw the Lions defense. Detroit came into this week playing well against the run, allowing the fewest fantasy points to backs in the last four weeks. It meant little in Carolina, however, as the duo of Foreman and Hubbard smoked the Lions for 290 rushing yards and one touchdown. Foreman averaged nearly eight yards per rush, while Hubbard averaged more than 10. The bad news is that Foreman was considered a poor option based on his recent usage and a “bad” matchup, so he was benched in many fantasy leagues.


  • Alvin Kamara finally awoke from his statistical slumber, scoring a touchdown and 19 fantasy points in a win over the Browns. It was his first touchdown since he scored three back in Week 8, and the 19 points was also his highest total since Week 8. He’ll be an RB2 in championship week versus the Eagles.
  • Derrick Henry rushed for “only” 126 yards in a bad loss to Houston. He did find the end zone and scored 18.6 points in the contest, but fantasy managers were expecting more, as Henry had beaten Houston for over 200 rushing yards and 35 or more points in each of their previous four matchups. Henry and the Titans will look to rebound on Thursday night against the Cowboys.
  • Mark Andrews had a great matchup this week against the Falcons, but he was still a dud with just 45 yards and 7.5 fantasy points. He's now failed to score double digits in four straight games and six of his last eight, and he’s failed to score more than 12.3 points in any of those contests. After a hot start to the season, Andrews has since been a huge fantasy disappointment.
  • Rhamondre Stevenson left coal in the stockings of the many fantasy managers who started him this week, posting just 33 total yards with no touchdowns and two fumbles (one lost) against the Bengals. His 3.3 points is his worst stat line in a full game since Week 2, and it came at a tough time for fantasy managers. He will look to rebound next week when the Patriots host the Dolphins.
  • Jared Goff broke his streak of road stinkers, throwing for 355 yards with three touchdowns in a loss to the Panthers. His 25.7 fantasy points is far and away his best stat line away from Ford Field this season, and managers who have Goff and are still alive can start him next week. He’ll face the Bears at home.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business to help you win a fantasy championship!

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