In case COVID hasn’t presented enough issues to the player pool, Week 16 of the fantasy football season hit the running back position hard. James Robinson tore his Achilles and he’s done for the year, Clyde Edwards-Helaire hurt his shoulder (likely out for the rest of the regular season), Darrell Henderson hurt his knee and Miles Sanders broke his hand. Some of the brighter spots of Week 16 included Mark Andrews proving that he’s quarterback-proof as he posted over 100 receiving yards and scored for the third straight week. Dak Prescott had an incredible bounce-back week throwing four touchdown passes and Joe Burrow joined him in that category and threw for 525 yards. We also saw the return of A.J. Brown, who caught 11 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown and one of the most coveted waiver wire pickups over the last few weeks, Justin Jackson, ran in two touchdowns and caught eight passes.
As we gear up for our fantasy football championships, here is the latest Fantasy Football Stock Watch Report.
Sony Michel, RB LAR: After Darrell Henderson came off of the COVID list heading into Week 15, the Rams decided to give Michel 12 more carries than Henderson. In Week 16, the Rams again rolled with Michel and by the time Henderson received a carry, he got hurt after it. As we await Henderson’s fate for Week 17 and beyond, regardless of whether or not he is active, Michel (as the healthy running back of the two) should continue receiving the majority of the touches. Between the quad strain, COVID and now this knee injury, the Rams have to play it safe with Henderson. Michel has carried the ball 20 or more times in three of his last four games and he’s posted two games of at least 120 yards rushing during that span. He’s run for no fewer than four yards per carry during that stretch as well. The Ravens are a hard team to run on, just ask Nick Chubb, but with all that we’re dealing with regarding players being out because of injuries and COVID, we have to rely on volume and we know that Michel will get it, even in tough matchups.
Ronald Jones, RB TB: With fantasy football championships on the line in Week 17, Jones walks into an excellent matchup against the Jets. Tom Brady threw 30 passes in a blowout win against the Panthers and the Buccaneers should be able to do the same against the Jets. If Brady throws a few early touchdown passes, they could ride out Jones for the rest of the game. The Jets have allowed a league-high 22 touchdowns run in on them this season and they’ve let up the fourth-most rushing yards for the season. In games in which Jones has received seven or more carries, he’s scored a touchdown in three of his last four outings. He’s logging 4.4 yards on the ground per carry this year. The good news for Jones is after the Jets he has another date with the Panthers and his volume of carries should be safe and secure with another expected sizable lead. Ke’Shawn Vaughn is still hanging around and he’ll be fed a few carries, but Jones will continue to be on the field more than him.
Tyler Boyd, WR CIN The Bengals offense has been strong and they’ve scored the fourth-most points in the AFC. Joe Burrow has been on fire in recent weeks completing over 73 percent of his passes in three of his last five contests. He’s thrown seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his last three games. Boyd caught two of those touchdowns and has now scored in back-to-back weeks. Boyd has produced 85 receiving yards or more in three of his last four games. The Chiefs are up next for Boyd and the Bengals and they’ve won their last eight games and have been playing better defense, but Burrow should be able to break through a bit and he has a lot of weapons. After having a very shaky middle of the season from a production standpoint, Boyd has proven that he can be trusted and has secured double figures in PPR leagues (six points per touchdown reception) in five of his last six games.
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB ATL: He’s been the top waiver wire pickup of the season, and a cheat code for those playing on Yahoo! because he qualifies at both running back and wide receiver, but he hasn’t been producing as many points over his last couple of matchups. This is a problem because Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said a few weeks ago he’s going to start managing the workload of some of the Falcons' veteran players and it’s looking like he’s following through with it because for the second straight week, Patterson has received just two targets in the Falcons passing game. Matt Ryan has thrown fewer than 30 passes four times in his last six games. When it comes to Patterson’s work in the ground game, after receiving 11 carries in Week 15, he was fed the rock seven times in Week 16. Between the two games, he secured 32 rushing yards collectively and even though he’s run in a score in two of his last Three games, he’s run for 3.6 yards per carry or worse in his last three battles. Patterson has the Buffalo Bills in Week 17, who aren’t the easiest to run on and have surrendered the third fewest receptions to running backs this year. They’ve also only given up five scores to wide receivers.
Devonta Freeman, RB BAL: Freeman has rushed for 4.2 yards per carry for the season, but since Week 10, he’s run for 3.7 yards per carry or worse and the Ravens coaching staff is starting to realize that to where he’s seeing fewer opportunities as a result. Freeman has received six carries in both of his last two matchups and we’ve seen his snap percentage drop over the last few weeks as well. He’s inconsistently being utilized in the Ravens' passing attack. It’s understandable that Baltimore was down big to Cincinnati and they had to throw, but the Packers game the week before was close and he was barely used. Latavius Murray received more carries than Freeman in Week 15 and one less carry than him in Week 16. The Rams are tough against the run and even though they do let up passes to running backs, we can’t trust that Freeman will receive multiple targets. It’s very dangerous starting him in Week 17.
Chase Claypool, WR PIT: Claypool has one touchdown reception all year and we’ve seen him catch four passes or fewer in six of his last eight games. He’s receiving an inconsistent amount of targets and last time out against the Browns he caught four passes for 45 yards. The Browns have ranked in the middle of the league at defending wide receivers. Claypool normally receives 15.5 percent of the Steelers target share, but he hasn’t exceeded 14 percent in three of his last five battles. Both Najee Harris and Ray-Ray McCloud have received a bigger percentage of the team’s targets than Claypool in the Steelers last two games. Even James Washington is on Claypool’s tail when it comes to targets. The issue is that after Diontae Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger divides up the rest of the targets to multiple players and that becomes even more convoluted when Pat Freiermuth is back out on the field. Claypool produces 62 receiving yards per game and he’s exceeded that number just one time in his last four games.