Top fantasy takeaways from Week 16's action
This one’s almost in the books, with just one game remaining in the 2016 fantasy football season for most season-long leagues. Ordinarily, this column recaps the big stats from each game with an eye toward next week. With next week really only relevant for the DFS crowd and a fraction of season-long leagues, we’re going to instead took to some performances that could give us insight into the 2017 fantasy football season.
1. Starting your studs works.
Entering the week, there was a lot of apprehension among fantasy owners about Aaron Rodgers and David Johnson. Both were the fantasy leaders at their respective positions, but also had bad matchups. As the saying goes, though, you start your studs in the playoffs. Rodgers went out and had his best statistical day of the season, recording 347 yards and four scores. He finished as the No. 1 quarterback for the week. Johnson also topped his position with 134 scrimmage yards and three scores, becoming the first player to top 20 total touchdowns since LeSean McCoy did so back in 2011.
2. Sammy Watkins goes deep.
It was probably too little, too late for many Watkins owners, but the Bills receiver led the week in deep-ball targets (passes traveling 20-plus yards in the air), with five. He caught three for 111 yards and a score. Only Minnesota’s Adam Thielen had more yards on deep-ball targets (127) this week. Watkins only played in seven games this season, but over the last month, he’s been a top-15 fantasy option. This is hopefully a glimpse of what we can expect out of him in 2017. Remember, Watkins is just 23 years old, and is still very much on the upslope of his career.
3. Jay Ajayi does it again.
After coming back to earth down the stretch, Ajayi exploded in Week 16 for his third 200-yard game of the same. That performance puts him in elite company. Only three other backs have three or more 200-yard games in a single season. Earl Campbell did so four times in his 1,900-yard 1980 season, Tiki Barber notched three in 2005, and O.J. Simpson did so three times in 1973 when he topped 2,000 yards. Ajayi currently ranks sixth in the league with 1,213 rushing yards. It will be tough to not consider him an RB1 entering next season.
4. Redemption for Allen Robinson and Todd Gurley.
Sure, it’s another case of these performances coming too late for fantasy owners, but both Gurley and Robinson were top-12 fantasy performers for the week. Gurley didn’t put up monster numbers, but managed to find the end zone to go along with 87 scrimmage yards. Robinson caught 9-of-12 targets for 147 yards. He exits the week tied for ninth among receivers in targets. Both players have been widely labeled as busts in the fantasy community, which likely means they’ll come at a draft day discount. Consider Robinson and Gurley among the top 2017 post-hype sleepers.
5. Letdown for Ty Montgomery, but his long-term outlook is still positive.
Following his breakout Week 15 performance, many—including this writer—were all in on Montgomery this week. Well, that didn’t work out so well, as Montgomery managed just 23 yards on nine carries and added four catches for 17 yards. He failed to force a singled missed tackle, and struggled mightily as a pass blocker. With Eddie Lacy set to be a free agent in 2017, the Packers have an interesting decision on their hands at the running back position. Despite the down performance, there’s certainly a chance that Montgomery enters next season as the lead back. A lot will happen between now and September, but Montgomery is a strong hold in dynasty leagues.