The Market Report: Week 16

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The Market Report: Week 16

The Market Report is your one-stop Monday shop for all the movement from a big weekend of NFL football.

These are the players who stood out for fantasy-relevant reasons — the good reasons, the bad reasons, and the in-between.

This column will be posted every Monday afternoon.

UPGRADES

Players about whom we’re feeling more optimistic based on recent play or news.

Quarterbacks

None of note.

Running Backs

James Robinson (Jax) — Plenty of people in Jacksonville couldn’t wait for Urban Meyer to hit the highway, but no one more than Robinson. Meyer did all he could to move J-Rob down the depth chart by signing Carlos Hyde and drafting Travis Etienne in the first round this off-season, and he reduced Robinson’s workload in the weeks before his firing despite a lack of suitable alternatives. It was no surprise that Robinson saw his most carries in a game (18) since Week 5 and his highest snap share (84%) since Week 4 in his first game without Meyer in 2021. He turned in 18/75/1 rushing and 3/13 receiving on six targets for 17.8 FP in their loss to the Texans in Week 15. He benefited from Hyde missing with a concussion, but it appears that HC Darrell Bevell is smart enough to feature Robinson moving forward in an offense that’s devoid of offensive talent. He has another smash spot against the Jets this week, who just let the corpse of Duke Johnson go for 23/127/2 scrimmage against them in Week 15. (Tom Brolley)

Tony Pollard (Dal) — Who knows what exactly the injury Pollard is dealing with in his foot, but one week off surely did him a hell of a lot of good. Against the Giants in Week 15, Pollard carried 12 times for 74 yards and added 3/13 receiving while playing 41% of the offensive snaps. While Ezekiel Elliott did have a solid overall day for fantasy — he posted 16/52/1 rushing and 3/20 receiving on a 62% snap share — Pollard simply looked more explosive, as he has all season to this point. It’s certainly a volatile situation given Pollard’s achy foot, but as we get deeper into the fantasy playoffs, it’s clear he’s going to be in enough of a rotation to warrant weekly FLEX consideration. (JD)

Devin Singletary (Buf) — The Bills backfield has been a pit of despair for much of the last two seasons, but it appears Singletary has a stranglehold on the starting job now. Buffalo made Zack Moss a healthy scratch again on Sunday against the Panthers and Devin Singletary took command of the backfield with 23 touches, 96 scrimmage yards, and a score. Singletary’s 93% snap rate was a season-high and built off of his 82% snap rate in Week 14. Buffalo has just completely scrapped Moss from the offense and is only using Matt Breida sparingly now. Josh Allen will ultimately always be a threat near the goal-line, but Singletary is getting legitimate bell-cow usage here. Singletary is a solid RB2 over the next two weeks against the Patriots and Falcons. (GB)

Wide Receivers

Antonio Brown (TB) — AB hasn’t played since Week 6, when he suffered a pretty severe ankle injury. He might have returned by now if he didn’t also get suspended for faking his vaccination status, an incident that absolutely pissed off Bruce Arians and led many to speculate if Arians would flat-out cut the WR. But winning always matters, and on the heels of the Buccaneers losing two star WRs to injury in Week 15 — Chris Godwin with an MCL sprain and Mike Evans with a hamstring pull — the Bucs will welcome the, *ahem*, mercurial receiver back with open arms (at least Tom Brady will). As it stands, this is probably the most bizarre “upgrade” we’ve ever had in the history of the Market Report, but that’s fitting for someone who has had the career ol’ AB has had. (Joe Dolan)

Brandin Cooks (Hou) — Cooks has a fantasy pulse again since rookie Davis Mills once took over as the team’s starter in Week 14. Cooks has posted 10+ targets, 7+ catches, 100+ yards, and 18+ FP in two consecutive games after hanging 7/102/2 receiving on 10 targets for 29.2 FP against the Jaguars in Week 15. Not only has Mills’ improved play given him a shot in the arm, but the Texans are also now deploying him as the team’s primary slot WR the last two weeks with Nico Collins and Chris Conley manning the perimeter. Cooks has run 51% of his routes from the slot in the last two weeks after sitting at 30% through Houston’s first 12 games of the season. Cooks isn’t the easiest player to trust in Houston’s mostly anemic attack, but there’s reason to believe he can finish strong with his more versatile role playing with an improving quarterback. (TB)

Christian Kirk and A.J. Green (Ari) — The Cardinals flopping yesterday was just one of a million things that went wrong in Week 15. Even though Kyler Murray struggled and only scored 13.6 FP in their loss to the Lions, his top two wideouts were productive at least. In their first game without DeAndre Hopkins (knee), Christian Kirk turned in 9/94/1 on a team-high 12 targets while AJ Green had 4/64 on 8 targets. The Cardinals will look to bounce back over the next two weeks against the Colts and Cowboys and both Green and Kirk will be trustworthy WR2’s in those matchups. (GB)

Russell Gage (Atl) — Gage just continues to get it done as the Falcons top receiver. He posted another strong performance with 8/91/1 against the 49ers and is now averaging 17.1 PPR points per game across his last five contests after going 0/0 against Dallas back in Week 10. In fact, since Week 10, Gage leads the team in targets (47) while Kyle Pitts (38) is second. Gage will be on the WR2 radar next week against the Lions. (GB)

Deebo Samuel (SF) — HC Kyle Shanhan remembered that Deebo Samuel is a top-5 wide receiver in the NFL this week and finally dialed up a couple of plays to him. After catching just 1 pass in three-straight games, Deebo got 5 targets and turned in 4/60 receiving along with 6/29/1 on the ground in the 49ers easy win over the Falcons. This marked Deebo’s fifth-straight game with 5 or more carries and he has 8, 6, and 8 carries in the three games that Eli Mitchell has missed recently. San Francisco has a short turnaround this week since they play the Titans on TNF and if Mitchell misses again, then Deebo will remain heavily involved at running back. (GB)

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski (TB) — Gronk is coming off of what is likely the least efficient game of his career, catching just 2 of 11 targets for 29 yards, which might have cost you in your Week 15 fantasy matchup. But with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Leonard Fournette now all hurt — and potentially out the rest of the fantasy playoffs — where else is Tom Brady going to throw the ball but to Gronk and the returning Antonio Brown? Sunday night was a disaster for the Bucs and fantasy teams, but if you survived, Gronk is a hammer TE1 for the next two weeks. (JD)

DOWNGRADES

Players about whom we’re feeling less optimistic based on recent play or news.

Quarterbacks

None of note.

Running Backs

Austin Ekeler (LAC) — Ekeler played through his ankle injury in Week 15, and he played just enough (34% share) to come through for fantasy with 12/59/1 rushing and 4/23 receiving for 18.2 FP. He didn’ play quite enough, though, as he watched from the sideline as Joshua Kelley coughed up the rock on the doorstep of the goal-line on a third-and-goal play. He also watched Justin Jackson shred the Chiefs’ run defense with 13/86 rushing, but Ekeler still finished just two touches off of his season average of 18.2 through the first 14 weeks of the season. He unfortunately landed on the COVID list on Monday, which has him in a race to get cleared before a potential blow-up spot against a Texans’ run defense that allowed Rashaad Penny to go off for 16/137/2 rushing in Week 14. (TB)

Najee Harris (Pit) — It’s difficult to be a volatile fantasy asset when you’re guaranteed 15+ opportunities every week, but that’s where Najee is right now playing behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Harris has fallen below seven FP in two of his last four games after posting a miserable 12/18 rushing and 2/8 receiving on five targets in Pittsburgh’s victory over the Titans in Week 15. Najee is averaging just 3.6 YPC and 6.5 YPR, but he’s now up to 311 touches with an 85% snap share for the season. Najee can’t be taken out of fantasy lineups against the Chiefs this week, and he’s going to have to be involved in Pittsburgh’s passing attack with Pittsburgh entering as 10-point road underdogs. Harris has posted 20 or fewer receiving yards in four of his last five games, but at least the Chiefs are giving up the third-most receiving yards per game (58.0) to the position this season. (TB)

Michael Carter (NYJ) — Before Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, Carter was activated off of IR and coach Robert Saleh told reporters his rookie RB would have a “significant role.” With the Jets making Ty Johnson a healthy scratch on Sunday morning, it seemed all the more likely Carter would be back to toting the ball like the strong RB2 he was before his high ankle injury. Wellllll….. Carter played just 54% of the snaps and carried 8 times for 18 yards and caught a single pass for 2 yards from the checkdown-agnostic Zach Wilson. Meanwhile, Tevin Coleman (concussion) also worked back into the lineup and carried 8 times for 50 yards on a 37% snap share. While I don’t want to write Wilson’s career obituary after a messy rookie season, the fact of the matter is the Jet offense has been far more functional without him in the lineup, and that is holding down a fantasy asset like Carter, who has to be considered a mediocre FLEX at this point. (JD)

Myles Gaskin (Mia) — Gaskin returned from the COVID list just in time for a pristine matchup against the Jets, and indeed, a Dolphins RB did have a career-best game. It just wasn’t Gaskin. While Gaskin carried 10 times for 54 yards, the most YPC he’s averaged this season when toting the ball 10 or more times, he was outshined by Duke Johnson. Yes, that Duke Johnson, who had his first career game with at least 20 carries, 100 rushing yards, and/or 2 rushing TD. Unbelievable. Gaskin may have been held down a bit because his conditioning wasn’t where it needed to be, as he admitted that he did have COVID symptoms while on the list, but Johnson has certainly earned himself a bigger role here — he’s already signed to the active roster for the remainder of the season. It was the best game by a Miami RB in years (Gaskin has never run for 100 yards in a game).

Cordarrelle Patterson (Atl) — After setting the fantasy landscape on fire to start the season, C-Patt has cooled off dramatically over the last four weeks. Maybe he’s still dealing with the lingering effects of a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss Week 11? Because over his last four games, Patterson has been a shell of his former self production-wise. He’s averaging just 14.6 FPG over his last four games and his downturn has directly coincided with his role as a receiver dipping. The Falcons are using Patterson as a RB first now, which will definitely help in the long run to get a big contract this offseason, but it’s nuked his upside for fantasy. Mike Davis has run more routes (77) than C-Patt (68) over the last four games while Patterson has turned in 4 catches for 6 yards over the last two weeks. The good news is that Patterson gets the Lions putrid defense next, but without his high-volume receiving role, he falls down into the RB2 mix. (GB)

Leonard Fournette (TB) — Heartbroken Lenny. Fournette had to be helped to the locker room on Sunday night against the Saints after posting 9/34 rushing and 7/33 receiving — a line typical of his dominant 2021 season — with a hamstring injury. While the injury is not considered overly serious (see below Tweet from Ian Rapoport), we know how hamstrings can linger, and at this point those who roster Fournette need to be making backup plans for the next two weeks. That might include picking up… *gulp* *gag*… Ronald Jones. I want to die. (JD)

Wide Receivers

Chris Godwin and Mike Evans (TB) — YIKES. Godwin (knee) and Evans (hamstring) both left Sunday night’s bloodbath against the Saints with injuries, and now their availability for the rest of the regular season is in question. It appears that Godwin’s injury — an MCL sprain — is more serious, while Evans (who has had hamstring injuries in the past) is more of a day-to-day thing, but the Buccaneers have taken a massive blow as they battle for the #1 seed in the NFC. Tom Brady has been shut out for the first time since 2006, 255 starts ago, and now he’s going to have to navigate what appears to be a completely reconstructed receiving group for the time being. Fantasy players should not expect to see Godwin return to help teams. Evans needs to be watched. (JD)

Amari Cooper (Dal) — Hell of a time for the worst game of your season, Amari! In an ugly game against the Giants, Cooper posted 2/8 receiving on 5 targets. It wasn’t for lack of usage — he ran a route on 39 of Dak Prescott’s 40 dropbacks, which led all Cowboy receivers. But since Prescott came back from injury in Week 9, there’s been something off about this passing game. Cooper had 55 or more receiving yards in five of his seven games before Prescott got injured and before Cooper landed on the COVID list. Since Week 9 — which includes a two-game COVID absence for Cooper and a third limited game when his conditioning wasn’t right — Cooper hasn’t recorded more than 51 receiving yards, and he’s fallen below 10.0 FP in a PPR in four of five games. It has coincided with a slump for Prescott that both the statistics and the film back up, so there is plenty of blame to go around here, but that is no solace for those whom Cooper just cost a fantasy playoff matchup. (JD)

Jerry Jeudy (Den) — Denver’s passing game has been completely irrelevant for fantasy in recent weeks, and Jeudy is the latest player to be washed under, joining the likes of Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Noah Fant before him. He failed to secure any of his four targets in Denver’s 10-point outing against the Bengals in Week 15, and this passing attack could rest on the shoulders of Drew Lock moving forward after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a nasty head/neck injury. Jeudy is averaging 3.1/51.0 receiving on 7.1 targets per game with two TDs in 15 career contests with Lock leading Denver’s offense. It’s best to look for fantasy help in another passing game with the Broncos’ passing attack trending in the wrong direction. (TB)

Tight Ends

Pat Freiermuth (Pit) — Freiermuth left in the third quarter of Week 15 with a concussion, and his status for Pittsburgh’s Week 16 showdown with the Chiefs is certainly in doubt since this is his second concussion in three weeks. He previously landed in concussion protocol the week after Pittsburgh’s loss to the Bengals in Week 12, and he ended up playing against the Ravens in Week 13 after passing through the protocol. It would be reckless for Freiermuth to be back in the lineup this week, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s looking at a multi-game absence. It’s a shame since Muth has run off 11+ FP in six of his last eight full games. (TB)

WATCH LIST

Players whom we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but their situations demand monitoring based on recent play, injuries, or news.

Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson (Bal) — Lamar missed the Ravens game against the Packers after not practicing all week. After he couldn’t practice Friday, it was pretty clear that the Ravens had no intentions of playing him. The good news is that HC John Harbaugh said after the game that he expects Lamar to be able to go in Week 16 in their pivotal game against the Bengals. Hopefully, Lamar’s ankle injury doesn’t limit him too much if he can suit up. (GB)

Running Backs

Joe Mixon (Cin) — Mixon already had an injury scare earlier this season when he went down with an ankle issue, and he had his left leg rolled up late in Cincinnati’s victory over the Broncos. He missed the rest of Cincinnati’s second-to-last drive, but he did come out for Joe Burrow’s kneel down on the final play of the game. We’ll need to monitor Mixon’s status this week, and Samaje Perine would be the next man up if Mixon has to miss their pivotal matchup against the Ravens. Perine has had one chance to dominate the work back in Week 5 when he posted 11/59 rushing and 4/24/1 receiving on 61% of the snaps against the Packers. Mixon has seen 17+ carries in five straight games since their Week 10 so there’s a sizable role to be had in this backfield this week. Mixon posted 12/59/1 rushing and he didn’t see a target in Cincinnati’s last matchup against Baltimore back in Week 7. (TB)

Damien Harris (NE) — Harris was inactive in Saturday’s loss to the Colts with a hamstring injury suffered in Week 13, which indicates that injury was pretty damn nasty given he couldn’t heal up over the bye. However, in his stead in Week 15, rookie RB Rhamondre Stevenson laid a massive egg. He carried just 10 times for 36 yards and caught a single pass for 4 yards while playing 46% of the offensive snaps with the Pats playing from behind. Perhaps more importantly, Stevenson fumbled for the second time this year, and though he didn’t lose it, coach Bill Belichick had benched him for mistakes earlier this season. If Harris is healthy heading into a Week 16 tilt against the Bills (whom the Pats crushed on the ground in Week 13), he may lead this backfield. (JD)

D’Onta Foreman (Ten) — Keep an eye on Foreman’s health this week as he had his foot rolled up on Tennessee’s final drive in their loss to the Steelers in Week 15. Foreman returned to action after missing a few plays, but the Titans have a quick turnaround to play the 49ers on Thursday Night Football. It wouldn’t be shocking if Foreman’s foot/ankle would hold him out this week after the adrenaline has worn off. Foreman has strung together three straight games with 11+ FP and 13+ carries after posting 22/108 rushing and 2/27 receiving on three targets on just 39% of the snaps last week. He saw an opportunity on a ridiculous 80.7% of his snaps (25 of 31) against the Steelers, and that kind of usage would make Derrick Henry blush. King Henry saw an opportunity on 58.2% of his snaps (239 of 411) through eight games, and this offense will continue to run through the backfield, no matter who is back there, with Tennessee’s receiving corps decimated by injuries. Dontrell Hilliard would be the next man up as the team’s top runner with Jeremy McNichols also mixing in primarily in passing situations. (TB)

James Conner and Chase Edmonds (Ari) — After missing six weeks of action, Chase Edmonds got back to the field in Week 15 and immediately forced a timeshare with James Conner. Now, the caveat here is that Conner came into the Lions game beat up – he hurt his ankle in Week 14 and was limited in practice all week. That said, Conner played on just 44% of the snaps and got just 8 carries and 2 targets while Edmonds was on the field for 39% of the plays and got 6 carries and one target. Obviously the game got out of hand in a hurry, too, and held the Cardinals back from featuring their running backs much but Edmonds returning is definitely a downgrade for Conner. With Edmonds out, Conner handled 22 or more touches in 4-of-5 games. My guess is that Conner goes back to his previous role as the goal-line back with just a little more juice as a receiver while he and Edmonds split early-down carries. (GB)

Devonta Freeman (Bal) — On a wild Week 15 filled with tilting performances and heartbreak, Devonta Freeman’s lowly 3.4 FP game against the Packers is a far cry from the Cardinals flopping, all of the Bucs getting hurt, and Ja’Marr Chase / Amari Cooper wrecking playoff dreams. That said, Latavius Murray came out of nowhere to lead this backfield in both carries and targets against the Packers as Freeman got just 6 carries and 1 target. Maybe Freeman is dealing with some sort of minor injury that we don’t know about? Because that is the only explanation that makes sense. Murray had one carry in Week 14 while Freeman had 13. If this backfield is a timeshare to close out this year, Freeman won’t be playable in fantasy. (GB)

Eli Mitchell (SF) — Mitchell missed his second-straight game with a knee injury and a concussion and is now in a race against time to get back healthy on a short week ahead of the 49ers TNF game against the Titans. HC Kyle Shanahan said after their win against the Falcons that Mitchell will be a game-time call ahead of Thursday. Mitchell was averaging a ridiculous 28 touches per game in his three previous starts before his injuries. (GB)

Wide Receivers

A.J. Brown (Ten) — Brown is eligible to return from the injured reserve this week off of a chest injury he initially suffered back in Week 11. HC Mike Vrabel said Monday that no decision has been made about Brown’s availability for Tennessee’s Thursday night game, but Brown hinted during Tennessee’s Week 15 loss that he’s tired of watching from the sidelines. The Titans could certainly use him with Julio Jones unable to stay healthy, and Ryan Tannehill’s play has disintegrated without Brown in the lineup. Tannehill is averaging 5.6 YPA and 190.0 passing yards per game with two TDs and six INTs in four games since Brown left early in Week 11. Brown did get an extra week of rest since Tennessee’s bye fell during his IR stint in Week 13, so there’s a chance he could return for this pivotal TNF contest. (TB)

Tight Ends

None of note.

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