Week 16 WR Rankings & Projections (PPR): Top WRs Going Forward and Keys to Success

Don’t come into the 2020 fantasy football season unprepared! Prepare with our complete fantasy football rankings and projections. Even if you don’t play full season fantasy we can help with our NFL DFS projections. It may seem like a daunting task but with our tools you will be able to succeed vs the competition this season.

2019 WR Fantasy Turnout

Michael Thomas has obviously had a great fantasy season and near MVP-level year, but no one saw these numbers coming. With only 4 out of 15 games in single digit fantasy points, his consistency has been unparalleled. Some sleepers who have produced like All-pro WRs include Chris Godwin (Ranked 2nd) of the Buccaneers and Kenny Golladay (Ranked 4th) of the Lions. Below is a list of the top  receivers and their fantasy production. Talents who were much higher last year such as Odell Beckham Jr, T.Y. Hilton, Tyreek Hill, and Adam Thielen find themselves on the outside looking in due to injury, quarterback play, simply poor production, among other things.

Influential Factors on WRs

While health is a huge concern for any position in football, it is not a concern to the extent for running backs or other positions. Of the top 10 fantasy ranked wide receivers, they have missed a combined total of 3 games this season. This includes the likes of Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, and Deandre Hopkins. Unless you’re dealing with the likes of guys like AJ Brown or T.Y. Hilton who’ve had several injury problems in the past, concern for injury should not be major when starting receivers.

Team matchup has a huge impact on weekly production for receivers. When facing tough secondaries like New England or the Buffalo Bills, you should take their ranking against receivers seriously. In comparison to running back and quarterback, the defensive rankings for that position have high correlation for wide receivers. When facing a team that likes to run the ball or chew time off the clock, expect receiver production to be lower in those situations as well.

Whether the overall team is good or not, the presence of a strong running game does take away the overall potential for points with receivers. Teams with a strong running game tend to not have one particularly great wideout, but instead multiple who may go off from game to game. Take the 49ers for example, who utilize a bevy of backs. They rank 2nd in number of rushes per game. As a result, their dependence or reliability on one receiver is much less likely. Their top two receivers, Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel, rank 27 and 37th respectively at their position. A team like Baltimore, who leads the league in rushes, has their top receiver, Marquise Brown, ranked 39th in fantasy. 

You may make the claim these teams don’t have Pro Bowl-type wide receivers. The Vikings, who are 3rd in rushes per game, have the likes of Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Dalvin Cook is a workhorse, and as a result, both wideouts are ranked only 16th and 49th in Fantasy. Both can be considered by many as top receivers in the game. Even looking at a lower echelon team like the Colts, their highest ranked receiver this year is Zach Pascal, ranked 43rd in fantasy with only 39 catches this year. The Colts rank 6th in rushes per game. For teams with dependable backs and a coach emphasizing the run game, fantasy potential for wideouts lessens. 

Good Matchups

Going forward, there are certain wide receivers you can absolutely trust in your fantasy playoff games. Michael Thomas is an obvious yes, with games remaining against the Titans and Panthers, both whom rank in the bottom half for defending wide receivers. Chris Godwin is iffy against a middle of the line pass defense for the Texans, but can explode at any time, with 4 games of 18 fantasy points or more. The same goes for Mike Evans, who can also explode at any time. Look for the Buccaneers to continue airing it out, with Winston throwing 40+ times for a team that has nothing to lose. 

Go all in on Deandre Hopkins, facing a last ranked Buccaneers pass defense. Amari Cooper had a subpar game last week with only 1 catch, so look for him to bounce back majorly this week in a potential playoff-clinching game against the Eagles. Davante Adams has only played 10 of 15 games this year because of injury, so he may be one of the fresher wideouts at this point in the year. With an average of about 13 FF points the past 4 weeks, he should have a good game against a below average pass defense of the Vikings.

Continued SuccessFor wideouts on a hot streak that are only trending up, that list includes DJ Moore of the Panthers, AJ Brown for Tennessee, James Washington of the Steelers, and Devante Parker for Miami. Moore and the Panthers are facing a below average pass defense of the Colts. AJ Brown and Ryan Tannehill’s connection so far has been special. If one were to not start him, the sole reason should be that the Titans are facing a tough secondary at NO. James Washington has seen a steady increase in targets lately, and they will face a below average Jets pass defense. With Ryan Fitzpatrick airing it out, look for Devante Parker to have a solid game at home against the Bengals.

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Bad Matchups

Some starting wideouts to avoid this week include Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp for the Rams, John Brown of the Bills, Julian Edleman, OBJ, among others. The Rams will face off against a hungry 49ers defense coming off 2 losses in the past 3 weeks. Jared Goff struggled in their last meeting, only having 78 total passing yards. That does not bode well whatsoever for a Rams team who is seemingly out of the playoff race. 

One very consistent receiver this year, John Brown, will meet Stephen Gilmore in a very important game for the Patriots. While he may not get locked down, he will assuredly not reach the end zone or get a huge amount of yards. In the very same game, Julian Edleman is going up against a stifling Bills secondary. With his current status as questionable, don’t expect huge numbers from him this week. OBJ has been a huge disappointment all year in fantasy and that will continue as he faces Baltimore this week.

Week 16 Fantasy Football Strategy

Besides these glaring matchup problems and trends, most receivers will get around their average this upcoming week. Given this is the 2nd to last week in the regular season, check the free agent wideouts in your league. At this point in the year, average or no-name wideouts may explode for pass heavy teams with nothing to lose such as the Falcons, Bengals, and Dolphins.

I am an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University studying economics and business. I serve as a member for the Sports Analytics Club at CMU. My interests include data analysis, fantasy, player projections, and performance evaluation.

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