By Pat Pitts
It’s Championship Week for anyone left in their fantasy leagues! No, I do not recognize Week 17 as a Championship Week because too many teams are on different paths making the usual starters irrelevant while numerous backups see playing time for the first time all season. If you made it this far, congratulations, but the job is not done. So here are a few potential pick ups or even starters for your Week 16 lineups.
Jalen Hurts (Rostered in 33% of ESPN leagues and 39% of Yahoo leagues)
Doug Pederson has already named Jalen Hurts the starter for the Eagles Week 16 matchup against division rival Dallas. Hurts had his best game in the NFL so far in Week 15, throwing for 336 yards and 4 total touchdowns (three passing/one rushing). Hurts finished the week as the top scorer across all fantasy football leagues. He is a must snag this week off of the waiver wire.
Marcus Mariota (Rostered in <1% of ESPN leagues and 1% of Yahoo leagues)
Derek Carr suffered a groin injury on Thursday night launching Mariota into the starting role. He shocked the world throwing for 226 yards and a touchdown along with 88 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. The Raiders have a Saturday showdown with the Miami Dolphins, which doesn’t bode well for Mariota, but if you relied on Carr throughout the playoffs Mariota may be your best insurance policy.
Tua Tagovailoa (Rostered in 25% of ESPN leagues and 21% of Yahoo leagues)
Tagovailoa finished with over double digit points for the 3rd straight week, and went nuclear with the rushing game, finding the end zone twice with his legs, along with 154 total yards. Tagovailoa plays a broken Raiders defense that is missing a lot of key players in its secondary. I would pick up and start Tua with confidence this week, he knows a thing or two about championship games.
Tony Pollard (Rostered in 34% of ESPN leagues and 46% of Yahoo leagues)
If you were watching the Breakfast Blitz this week on Twitter, you would have seen me make the pick up of the season. Zeke was ruled out this week making Pollard the starter. Pollard’s final stat line of 12 carries for 69 yards and two touchdowns as well as six receptions for 63 yards, was the best fantasy point total performance of the week for the RB position. Zeke may be questionable against the Eagles, so Pollard must be picked up in every league.
Salvon Ahmed (Rostered in 24% of ESPN leagues and 34% of Yahoo leagues)
Ahmed has been extremely productive for fantasy managers in Myles Gaskin’s absence and Sunday was no different as Ahmed tallied his first 20-point fantasy game of the season. Ahmed has been a solid RB2 when he is on the field, which makes him a safe pick up this week off the wire.
Le’Veon Bell (Rostered in 58% of ESPN leagues and 54% of Yahoo leagues)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire left Week 15 with an ankle and hip injury, opening the door for Bell to unlock his former abilities against a horrendous Atlanta Falcons defense. If CEH is unable to go, Bell is automatically a high-end RB2 with upside that should be a TOP priority for your waiver claims this week.
Zach Pascal (Rostered in 1% of ESPN leagues and 5% of Yahoo leagues)
Pascal made the most of his opportunities in Week 15, catching five passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns, which earned him the title of WR5 overall for the week. The Colts get a date with a struggling Steelers team, where Indy will be looking to score early and often, making Pascal a top FLEX candidate in Week 16.
Kendrick Bourne (Rostered in 1% of ESPN leagues and 7% of Yahoo leagues)
Bourne had his best performance of the season in Week 15, catching all four of his targets for 86 yards and found the end zone on a ridiculous Hail Mary. The 49ers would benefit if C.J. Beathard took over at QB, but Bourne is a sneaky FLEX option against the Cardinals in a divisional showdown.
Greg Ward (Rostered in 4% of ESPN leagues and 3% of Yahoo leagues)
Greg Ward has developed incredible chemistry with Jalen Hurts, as Hurts targeted the former QB five times, resulting in four catches for 15 yards and two touchdowns. With the last two weeks of the season approaching, and the Eagles somehow still alive in the playoff hunt, he’s worth a look as a WR3/FLEX on your Championship roster against a bad Cowboys team.
Austin Hooper (Rostered in 50% of ESPN leagues and 48% of Yahoo leagues)
Hooper finally scored a touchdown in the Browns Week 15 win against the Giants, giving him a double-digit fantasy performance for the first time since Week 4. The Browns are still fighting for a divisional title and will need all hands on deck against the lowly Jets (who finally won a game). Hooper could end up being a league winner following a disappointing season overall.
Dawson Knox (Rostered in 1% of ESPN leagues and 2% of Yahoo leagues)
The Bills are still fighting for the #1 seed in the AFC, so just like the Browns with Hooper, the Bills will need every option ready for Josh Allen. The Patriots just lost the heart of their defense with Stephon Gillmore suffering a season-ending injury against the Dolphins. Knox will be on the TE2 radar and could be a sneaky plug and play for Week 16.
Tyler Higbee (Rostered in 45% of ESPN leagues and 50% of Yahoo leagues)
Higbee was one of the few bright spots for the Rams in their loss to the Jets in Week 15, snagging four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Rams are in a battle for the NFC West in Week 16 against a Seahawks defense that has been up and down all year, but Higbee should be picked up this week and treated as a high-end TE2.
It's now or never, so go out there this week and construct the best lineups to bring home the hardware. Be sure to tweet 4th And Goal your winning matchups over the weekend. Bring it home!