Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston – In Week 15 against the New York Jets, Deshaun Watson threw for at least 290 passing yards (294, to be exact) for the first time since Week 5. He also threw two touchdown passes and ran for 26 yards, bringing his fantasy point total to 22.6 on the day. That performance marks the eighth time this season where Watson has totaled at least 20 fantasy points. He enters Week 16 averaging 20 fantasy points per game, which ranks ninth among quarterbacks. He’s having a solid season after missing the bulk of his rookie season a year ago with a torn ACL. In Week 16, Watson will go up against a Philadelphia secondary that has allowed 1,241 passing yards in the last four weeks (31st in the NFL), and a total of 4,182 passing yards this season (also 31st) in the NFL). It’s a highly favorable matchup for the Houston offense, so be sure to keep rolling with Watson in your starting quarterback spot. View him as a mid-level QB1 for the rest of the season.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati – Joe Mixon went absolutely bonkers in Week 15. He ran for a season-high 129 yards on 27 carries and scored two rushing touchdowns in Cincinnati’s 30-16 win over Oakland. His 29 point per reception (PPR) league fantasy point performance was the second-best fantasy performance of the season for the second-year player out of Oklahoma. Mixon enters Week 16 averaging 16.3 PPR points per contest, which ranks tied-11th among running backs in PPR formats. He has run for at least 80 yards in each of the last four games and has totaled at least 18 PPR points in seven games this season. He’s been playing well despite not much optimism surrounding the Cincinnati organization. A Week 16 matchup against a Cleveland defense that has allowed 104 rushing yards per game (24th), 14 rushing touchdowns (tied-29th), and an average of 26.9 PPR points per game (25th) to opposing running backs is another prime opportunity for Mixon to have a 25-plus point performance and propel his fantasy owners to a championship. View him as a low-end RB1 with mid-level RB1 upside for the rest of the season, and don’t be surprised when he finishes the season as a Top 10 PPR running back.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota – Now THAT is the Dalvin Cook fantasy owners expected him to be for the entirety of the 2018 season. Dalvin Cook had his best fantasy performance of the season this past week. He ran for a whopping 136 yards on 19 carries with two rushing touchdowns, and chipped in with one reception for 27 yards, bringing his PPR fantasy point total to 31.3 on the day.
Here’s a quick story about one of my leagues that I wanted to share with my readers because, well, who doesn’t like talking about their own teams? Heading into Week 10, I was 6-3 in my 14-team PPR league and was looking to bolster my lineup for a championship run. At the time, I owned Sony Michel and Allen Robinson, both of whom had been performing decently enough to where they had some trade value. However, I did not think Michel and Robinson were capable of leading my team to the promised land. I wanted to make a move for a player that had upside. I reached out to the Dalvin Cook owner (who was 4-5 and in desperate need of wins to stay in playoff contention) and offered him Michel and Robinson for Dalvin Cook and Stephen Gostkowski. With Cook on a bye that week and the massive uncertainty of how he’d perform coming back from injury, the trade made sense for him, and for me. Cook was just coming back from the world’s worst hamstring injury, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about how he’d fare for the remainder of the season. But I knew the upside with Cook was unlike any other player I could acquire for that cost and knew that Cook was the type of running back who could propel my team to the promised land if he played at the level of which he was capable. It was a risky move on my part, but you can’t win a fantasy championship without taking some risks. Well, folks, here we are in Week 16, and I am now in the championship in that league thanks in large part to Cook’s dominant performance this past week. Oh, and Sony Michel and Allen Robinson combined for 14.3 PPR points this week, by the way. I share this story with all of you not to toot my own horn, but to remind all fantasy players that it takes a bunch of transactions (waiver wire moves and trades) over the course of the 16-week fantasy season to win a championship. Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on a trade if you think it will benefit your team in the short or long-term. As I said above, it’s difficult to win a championship without taking some risks. They’re not all going to work out, but that’s OK because the ones that do in fact work out and end up resulting in a championship make it all worth it.
Heck, I might as well also tell everyone that, prior to Week 9, I traded Aaron Jones and Doug Baldwin for Golden Tate and Keke Coutee in another league where I had tremendous running back depth and was thin at wide receiver. Baldwin wasn’t playing well, and I expected Tate to be highly valuable in Philadelphia. That trade cost me a win in the first round of the playoffs in Week 14. Again, not every trade is going to work out for you. But, just like walking up to the best-looking girl in the bar, the fear of striking out shouldn’t deter you from taking that chance, because the joy of a trade working out in your favor (going on a date with that girl) makes it all worth it in the end.
Cook has tallied at least 16.5 PPR points in each of his last four games and seems poised to have another dominant performance in Week 16 against a struggling Detroit defense. Detroit’s defense ranks 26th in rushing yards allowed per game (106), and 19th in average PPR points allowed per game (25.7) this season. View Cook as a low-end RB1 with mid-level RB1 upside for the rest of the season.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina – Christian McCaffrey is having a remarkable sophomore season in 2018. He enters Week 16 with 360.7 total PPR points, which ranks second among all running backs and third among all players. On Monday Night against New Orleans, McCaffrey ran for 53 yards on 15 carries, caught eight receptions for 67 yards and threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to a backup tight end, which resulted in a 26 PPR point performance. He has tallied at least 26 PPR points in six of the last seven games (think about that!) and is a bona fide fantasy stud through and through. He is likely on many championship rosters heading into a Week 16 contest against an Atlanta defense that has been atrocious when it comes to defending the running back position this season. Atlanta’s defense has allowed 106 receptions to running backs this season, which ranks 32nd in the NFL through 15 weeks. Atlanta has also allowed 879 receiving yards to running backs, which also ranks 32nd. Because of Atlanta’s ineptitude on defense, expect another dominant performance out of your elite running back and view him as a high-end RB1 for the rest of the season.