Antonio Brown, Chase Claypool, DeVonta Smith, Christian Kirk, More Expert Fantasy Start/Sit Advice For WRs
Getty Images. Pictured: Bucs WR Antonio Brown, Steelers WR Chase Claypool, Eagles WR DeVonta Smith
Setting your lineups can be difficult, especially with COVID-19 outbreaks galore and the fantasy football semifinals upon us.
Below you will find some wide receivers I like, as well as some I don’t like for Week 16 based on matchups, injuries, trends and more.
Be sure to consult our experts’ real-time rankings for fantasy football start/sit advice on any COVID- or injury-impacted players.
Fantasy WRs To Start/Sit In Week 16
Antonio Brown, Buccaneers at Panthers
Brown fell off the face of the Earth after a blazing-hot start. Fans haven’t seen the wideout since Week 6 due to an ankle injury and a false COVID-19 vaccine card scandal. Prior to his absence, Brown was the WR7 in half PPR on a per-game basis.
He is slated to return this week against the Panthers, which comes at a great time as the Bucs are reeling from the loss of Chris Godwin (knee) and Leonard Fournette (hamstring). They could also be without Mike Evans (hamstring), who did not practice on Wednesday.
Brown immediately vaults into the high-end WR2 conversation with WR1 upside, even against the Panthers, who have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to receivers this year.
Verdict: Start as WR2
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions at Falcons
St. Brown recorded his third straight stellar performance in a tough Week 15 matchup against the Cardinals, catching 8-of-11 targets for 90 yards and a touchdown — his second in three games. He’s the WR8 in half PPR on a per-game basis over that span.
He has been stellar as the Lions’ No. 1 option with tight end T.J. Hockenson done for the year and is inching his way into must-start territory. This week, the Lions face the Falcons, who rank fourth-worst against fantasy wide receivers. Assuming quarterback Jared Goff makes it off the COVID-19/reserve list, St. Brown should be a locked-in WR2 this week.
Verdict: Start as WR2 if Jared Goff is active
Russell Gage, Falcons vs. Lions
It wasn’t immediate, but Gage has slowly come on as the WR1 in the Falcons’ offense with Calvin Ridley out. Since their bye, Gage is averaging 7.6 targets per game and is WR25 in half PPR on a per-game basis.
He’s coming off of his best game of the season in which he caught 8-of-11 targets for 91 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers — good enough for 19 fantasy points and a WR7 finish this week. He is a solid WR3/flex play this week against the Lions.
Verdict: Start as WR3
Christian Kirk, Cardinals vs. Colts
Kirk has been a bit feast-or-famine this season, competing for targets in this crowded offense. He dominated as the No. 1 receiver with DeAndre Hopkins out for the rest of the fantasy playoffs and saw a team-high 12 targets. Kirk caught nine passes for 94 yards and a touchdown — good enough for 20 fantasy points in half PPR and a WR5 finish.
The Cardinals face the Colts, whose defense has been middle-of-the-road against the pass. I expect the team to bounce back in a big way, which should vault Kirk into the WR3/Flex conversation once again.
Verdict: Start as WR3/Flex
DeVante Parker, Dolphins at Saints
Parker performed well as the Dolphins’ WR1 last week at home against the Jets. He caught 4-of-8 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown — good enough for 15 fantasy points and a WR13 finish in half PPR. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa struggled in the contest without his star wideout Jaylen Waddle.
Parker’s role should remain solid, even with Waddle likely to return for this enticing Week 16 matchup against the Saints, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to receivers. Start Parker as a WR3 with upside.
Verdict: Start as WR3
Darnell Mooney, Bears at Seahawks
Mooney has cooled off since Justin Fields returned from his rib injury. He had a nice, three-game stretch with three touchdowns and two 100-receiving yard games, but has not crested the double-digit point mark over the last three weeks.
He was unable to capitalize on a soft Week 15 matchup against the Vikings’ sad secondary and caught 5-of-7 targets for 63 yards (though, to his credit, he did have a very close almost-catch in the end zone).
I expect him to struggle this week against the Seahawks, who have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to receivers this year.
K.J. Osborn, Vikings vs. Rams
Osborn was a valuable fantasy asset for a couple games with Adam Thielen sidelined with a high-ankle sprain. He scored in back-to-back games in Weeks 13 and 14, but disappointed in Week 15 against the Bears. He caught all three of his targets for 21 yards and finished as WR67 in half PPR.
Osborn has next to no value with Thielen trending toward returning and against the Rams this week, making him a firm sit for me assuming Thielen plays.
Chase Claypool, Steelers at Chiefs
Claypool was brutal last week in what should have been a positive matchup against the Titans. He did post one of the more interesting stat lines of the year, recording zero catches on two targets for 12 yards and one rush for seven yards, finishing as WR91 for the week in half PPR.
This week, the Steelers face the Chiefs, whose defense has turned a corner and now ranks 11th-best against fantasy wideouts. I wouldn’t trust any player not named Najee Harris or Diontae Johnson on the Steelers. Claypool is a boom-or-bust flex play this week.
DeVonta Smith, Eagles vs. Giants
Smith had a fantastic two-game stretch in Weeks 9 and 10, recording 182 receiving yards and three touchdowns over that span. Since then, Smith is WR88 in half PPR on a per-game basis and has not crested the double-digit point mark.
The main issue is his target share: He has not seen more than six targets since Week 7 in Las Vegas, as the team seems determined to spread the ball around and hammer the run game.
The Eagles face the Giants, who have been below-average against receivers, but you cannot trust Smith for consistent production. He is a dart throw flex play at best in Week 16.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers at Titans
Aiyuk has to be one of the most frustrating players for fantasy this season. On the heels of a 10-target, 16-fantasy point game in Week 14, Aiyuk was a complete dud in what should have been a cakewalk matchup against the Falcons’ awful pass defense. He caught just one of two targets for 36 yards and finished as WR61 for the week in half PPR.
He has a juicy matchup on deck against the Titans, who rank second-worst against fantasy receivers. I, for one, am sparing myself from this Aiyuk emotional rollercoaster and am leaving him on my bench.
He is a WR3/flex with downside this week.
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