Best Fantasy Waiver Wire Pickups Week 16: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Trey Sermon among breakout RBs

Big injuries and surprise breakouts were all over the place last week, giving us plenty of fodder for our top Week 16 fantasy waiver wire pickups and free agent adds. It’s likely to be a RB-heavy week on the wire, as guys like Ty ChandlerClyde Edwards-HelaireTrey Sermon, Zamir White, and Jerick McKinnon all had big games and remain relatively underowned across the fantasy landscape.

More running backs populate our full waivers list, including Tyler AllgeierChase BrownTyjae SpearsChris Rodriguez Jr., and the entire Bears’ backfield. We also have some boom-or-bust wide receivers, such as Curtis SamuelJosh Palmer, Dontayvion Wicks, Jameson WilliamsTyler Boyd, and Noah Brown. There’s also one major lotto ticket at QB (Aaron Rodgers). Of course, we have our usual array of potential streamers at QB, TE, and D/ST, which can be found at the end of the list. Bottom line: If you have a hole in your lineup at any position in Week 16, we have someone who can help you.

Much like last week, there’s no real point in holding back your waiver claims, no matter how high they are. Sure, you might wish you had the top claim next week, but you have to make it there first. Most weeks, one of the RBs, like Chandler, Edwards-Helaire, or Sermon, would be the top claim, but in the fantasy playoffs, it’s all about what your team needs. If you need another position more and feel one player stands above the rest, don’t feel bad about using a high claim on him.

If you’re set at every position for this week, you should look ahead to Week 17 and get your streamers in free agency. If you’re set for the next two weeks, then you can always try to play defense against your opponent and poach their potential pickups. However, with so many similar options at every position, you might wind up playing yourself.

Top fantasy football waiver wire pickups for Week 16

Unless otherwise noted, only players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues are considered.

Ty Chandler, RB, Vikings. Chandler filled in admirably for Alexander Mattison (ankle) against Cincinnati, rushing 23 times for 132 yards and a TD and adding another 25 receiving yards on three catches. Mattison is no sure thing to play against the Lions next week, so Chandler should be owned in far more than the 52 percent of Yahoo leagues he’s currently owned in. Consider him an RB2/flex despite the unfavorable matchup.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire & Jerick McKinnon, RBs, Chiefs. We told you to pick these guys up last week, but most fantasy owners weren’t feeling it. That should change after both had a big Week 15. Edwards-Helaire led the Chiefs’ backfield with 17 touches, 101 total yards, and a TD, while McKinnon chipped in with seven touches, 30 total yards, and two total TDs, one via reception and one via pass. With Isiah Pacheco (shoulder) extremely iffy for Week 16’s showdown with the Raiders, both CEH and McKinnon could find themselves in fantasy lineups again. Edwards-Helaire has the higher floor as a potential RB2, and McKinnon has legit flex value.

Zamir White, RBs, Raiders. With Josh Jacobs (quad) on the sideline in Week 15, White led the way in the Raiders’ backfield, rushing 17 times for 69 yards and a TD and adding another 16 receiving yards on three catches. Positive game script certainly helped, so fantasy owners shouldn’t expect 20 touches against the Chiefs next week if Jacobs is out again, but White is still worth adding in all formats. 

Trey Sermon & Tyler Goodson, RBs, Colts. Zack Moss (arm) exited late in the first half, opening the door for Indy’s backup RBs to shine. Goodson made noise early, racking up 69 yards on 11 carries, but Sermon took over late, rumbling for 88 yards on 17 carries. The Colts’ backfield is completely up in the air heading into next week, as both Moss and Jonathan Taylor (thumb) are questionable to play. If it looks like both will be out, Sermon gets the slight nod based on his volume this week, but both backs are worth adding and considering as flexes against the Falcons.

Tyler Allgeier, RB, Falcons. Allgeier’s ownership has dropped to 48 percent, but after a 14-carry Week 15 (seven more carries than Bijan Robinson), he deserves to be owned in more leagues. The production hasn’t been great, but any RB getting that many opportunities — especially with some around the goal line — is worth owning. He’ll be a solid flex in a highly favorable matchup against the Colts next week.

Curtis Samuel, WR, Commanders. Samuel continued his late-season surge with a 5-41-2 line against the Rams in Week 15. Over the past three games, Samuel has caught 18-of-26 targets for 206 yards and two TDs. Even in a brutal matchup against the Jets next week, Samuel can work as a flex thanks to his versatility and Washington’s pass-heavy attack.

Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Commanders. Rodriguez led the Commanders in carries (10) with Brian Robinson Jr. (hamstring) on the sidelines. It resulted in a relatively modest 35 yards, but if Robinson is out again next week, he should do better in a more favorable matchup against the Jets.

D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson, & Khalil Herbert, RB, Bears. It was a miserable day on the ground for the Bears against the Browns, but things will be much better in Week 16 against the Cardinals. Only the Broncos allow more fantasy points to RBs than Arizona, so at least one of Foreman, Herbert, and Johnson will have flex value. It’s tough to guess which one, though, as all had either five or six carries in Week 15. Only Johnson was halfway decent (36 yards), but Chicago usually gives Foreman or Herbert the first crack at things. We’d prioritize Foreman, but obviously, this is a complete roll of the dice in every sense.

Josh Palmer, WR, Chargers. Palmer was one of the few bright spots for the Chargers in Week 15, catching all four of his targets for 113 yards and a TD. With Keenan Allen (heel) banged up, Palmer could continue operating as L.A.’s WR1, giving him at least flex value next week against Buffalo.

Chase Brown, RB, Bengals. Brown totaled just 51 yards on 10 touches against the Vikings, but as long as he gets double-digits, he has a solid ceiling thanks to his speed and elusiveness. A favorable matchup against the Steelers awaits in Week 16, giving Brown flex value in 12-team leagues.

Tyjae Spears, RB, Titans. Like Brown, Spears is a big-play change-of-pace back who had a relatively quiet Week 15 (10 touches, 37 total yards), but with a much more favorable matchup in Week 16 against Seattle, he should be back on the flex radar in PPR leagues.

Noah Brown, WR, Texans. Brown managed to have a solid game (8-82-1) against the Titans with Case Keenum under center, and he’ll likely remain the WR1 as long as Nico Collins (calf) is out. Even in a tough matchup against Cleveland next week, he has flex potential.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals. Ja’Marr Chase separated his shoulder late in Cincinnati’s loss to the Vikings. Boyd will have a bigger role as long as Chase is out, making him a potential flex against Pittsburgh next week.

Dontayvion Wicks, WR, Packers. Wicks might only have value if Christian Watson (hamstring) or Jayden Reed (toe) is out next week, but after back-to-back games with at least six targets (including a 97-yard outing in Week 15), he has to be on deep-league radars. The Panthers are statistically solid against the pass, but Wicks still has boom-or-bust flex appeal in Week 16.

Jameson Williams, WR, Lions. Normally, Williams gets included on waivers’ lists after he scores a long TD, but this week, it was because of his overall usage. Williams caught just four passes for 47 yards against Denver, but he had a career-high seven targets. For the first time in his young career, he looked like a “real receiver” and not just a gadget player who makes the occasional big play. If this trend continues, he could have legit flex value over the next two weeks against the Vikings and Cowboys.

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Rams. After his two-catch, 44-yard, one-TD performance against the Commanders, Robinson has now scored in three straight games. Tutu Atwell (concussion) was out last week, which helped, but Robinson still clearly has a key role in L.A.’s offense. Consider him a deep-league flex against the Saints.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Jets. Rodgers (Achilles) is expected to be medically cleared to return in Week 16, so it’s up to him and the Jets whether they want to risk it for virtually no reward. If Rodgers is back, he’ll immediately become a legit starting option against Washington’s league-worst pass defense, making for an improbable Christmas miracle for anyone who stashes Rodgers on their bench.

Top fantasy QB streamers for Week 16

Jake Browning, Bengals (@ Steelers). Browning doesn’t have a statistically great matchup, but he’s posted 953 yards and seven total TDs over the past three games. Gardner Minshew just threw for 215 yards and three TDs against the Steelers, so Browning has a high floor and solid ceiling.

Gardner Minshew, Colts (@ Falcons). Minshew has averaged 255.7 passing yards and two TDs over the past three games, and against a Falcons’ defense that entered Week 15 allowing the 11th-most fantasy points to QBs, he should be able to post similar numbers, if not better.

Joe Flacco, Browns (@ Texans). Flacco played well in his first three starts for Cleveland, and now he’ll play in perfect indoor conditions against a Texans’ defense that entered last week allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to QBs. Another solid game is on the way.

Derek Carr, Saints (@ Rams). Carr’s ceiling never seems high, but with a matchup against a Rams’ defense that entered last week allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs, he has to be considered if you’re in a bind at QB this week.

Tommy DeVito, Giants (@ Eagles). Are you really going to trust DeVito with your season on the line? Probably not, but he gets the best possible matchup for a QB, so he has to at least be considered.

Zach Wilson or Trevor Siemian, Jets (vs. Commanders). Similar to DeVito, using Wilson in the fantasy football playoffs won’t be easy, but the Commanders allow the most passing yards and second-most fantasy points to QBs. You could do worse if Wilson (head) or Siemian gets the start.

Top fantasy TE streamers for Week 16

Hunter Henry, Patriots (@ Broncos). No team allows more fantasy points to TEs than the Broncos, so Henry is almost guaranteed a decent floor, especially after his monster Week 15. Obviously, the ceiling is high, too. The only concern is a thigh/knee injury that knocked him out of Week 15, so if it looks like Henry will be out, pivot to Mike Gesicki.

Cade Otton, Buccaneers (vs. Jaguars). Otton has been up and down this year, but he’s often had success in favorable matchups. The Jaguars entered Week 15 allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to TEs, so this definitely qualifies as favorable.

Logan Thomas, Commanders (@ Jets). Thomas is never a sure thing, but the Jets have struggled against TEs all year, allowing 10 fantasy points per game to the position. This is a good spot for Thomas to get back on track. 

Tyler Higbee, Rams (vs. Saints). Higbee is often a third or fourth option in the Rams’ offense, but he had a two-TD game recently, showing his upside. The Saints allow the 11th-most fantasy points to TEs, so Higbee has a decent outlook this week.

Juwan Johnson, Saints (@ Rams). The Rams entered last week allowing the third-most fantasy points to TEs, giving Johnson, who scored last week on his two targets, some deep-league appeal.

Top fantasy defense streamers for Week 16

Green Bay Packers (@ Panthers). The Panthers have been in the top five in fantasy points allowed to D/STs all season, and the Packers are good enough to take advantage.

Denver Broncos (vs. Patriots). Denver’s defense isn’t great, but the Patriots’ offense is even worse. Over the past five games, the Pats have scored 51 total offensive points and allowed 18 sacks and eighth takeaways. Denver will rack up some points in a home prime-time game.

Houston Texans (vs. Browns). Joe Flacco came back to Earth a little bit last week, reminding us that he’s no stranger to sacks and interceptions. The Texans can post solid numbers back at home after a seven-sack day on the road last week.

Detroit Lions (@ Vikings). Nick Mullens played pretty well last week, but he threw two INTs and had a pick-six called back because of a penalty. He’ll make mistakes, and the Lions can take advantage, especially if C.J. Gardner-Johnson (pec) returns as rumored.

Seattle Seahawks (@ Titans). Sacks and killer INTs continue to plague Will Levis (leg), so if you need a D/ST, Seattle has boom-or-bust appeal. If Levis (leg) is out, a rusty Ryan Tannehill is just as appealing.

Chicago Bears (vs. Cardinals). The Bears defense has been playing better recently, especially against the run. With Kyler Murray banged up, the Bears could feast in a cold-weather game against Clayton Tune and the Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals (@ Bears). The Bears tend to give up a lot of fantasy points to D/STs no matter who is under center, and even though the offense has more firepower with Justin Fields, he’s also prone to sacks and turnovers. The Cardinals’ D/ST always has a low floor, but the ceiling is relatively high this week.

Washington Commanders (@ Jets). The Commanders’ defense has been Swiss cheese lately, so this pick is only for the brave. That said, Zach Wilson is known for bad sacks and ugly INTs, so as long as Wilson (or Trevor Siemian) starts, there is a high ceiling if you can stomach the equally low floor.

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