By Matt Citak
Well guys, the time has finally come. After a long, tiring, yet entertaining season, we have finally arrived at Week 16, aka the Fantasy Football Championship week. All of the hard work you put in throughout the entire season comes down to one final showdown, where you’ll either walk away with a championship or be left thinking about what could have been. Unfortunately we saw some big names go down with injuries in Week 15, including Antonio Brown, Rex Burkhead, Marqise Lee, and Davante Adams. If you lost one of those players (or several of them like I did), than here are a few players that can help you bring home your league championship this week.
With that said, here are CBS Local Sports’ Week 16 Top Waiver Wire Pickups.
QB Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles
We may not have seen any significant quarterbacks go down with an injury in Week 15, but Aaron Rodgers was placed on IR for Green Bay’s final two games after the Packers were eliminated from playoff contention. Well if you are searching for a quarterback to stream this week, look no further than Nick Foles. In his first game filling in for the injured Carson Wentz, Foles completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 237 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Yes, he was going up against a struggling Giants secondary missing several starters, but even so, Foles squashed any doubt that he is incapable of leading this Eagles squad in the postseason. Philadelphia will welcome the Raiders to town for a Christmas night showdown, which puts the 28-year-old QB in a great position to succeed this week. While Oakland has done a good job of shutting down opposing quarterbacks lately (only one passing touchdown allowed over the last three weeks), their loss Sunday night essentially eliminated them from playoff contention. The Raiders will have little to play for, while the Eagles are still fighting for the top seed in the NFC. Oh yeah, Oakland has also allowed four different quarterbacks to register at least 25 fantasy points against them this year. Foles has a solid chance of raising that number to five.
WR Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers
As mentioned above, the biggest injury that came out of Week 15 was the partially torn calf muscle suffered by the league’s most talented wide receiver, Antonio Brown. While the injury is only supposed to sideline Brown until the postseason, that means the All-Pro receiver will miss fantasy’s most important week. If you lost fantasy football’s No. 1 receiver, then you should pray that his teammate, Martavis Bryant, is still available on the waiver wire. Pittsburgh will need their other wide receivers to step up in Brown’s absence if they want to clinch a first round bye. Although he has been a disappointment for most of the season, Bryant actually played well after Brown left the game in Week 15, catching 4-of-6 targets for 59 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers battle the Houston Texans on Christmas Day, with Houston entering the matchup allowing the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season. Houston is coming off a beatdown by the Jaguars in which Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens combined for 11 receptions for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Don’t know who those two receivers are? My point exactly. Bryant is the top add for anyone looking for a wide receiver this week.
RB Wayne Gallman, New York Giants
Let me start by saying if James White of the Patriots is still somehow available, he should be the top waiver wire priority for anyone in search of a running back. If he’s not, then we move on to Gallman. The rookie back was mentioned in this piece last week, and after a solid performance against the Eagles, he finds his way back on here again for the Fantasy championship. For the second consecutive week, Gallman back averaged 4.9 yards per carry, taking eight rush attempts for 39 yards. He also added 40 receiving yards for the second straight game, this time on six receptions. The Giants season truly ended months ago, which means at this point in the season, New York wants to evaluate some of their young talent. Orleans Darkwa is still receiving some carries each week, but has seen his playing time decrease significantly with the emergence of Gallman. The Giants and the Cardinals will battle it out in Week 16 in what has to be considered one of the least exciting matchups of the week. Arizona has been good against the run this season, but has proven to be susceptible to running backs catching passes out of the backfield. Trusting anyone on the Giants this week will be tough given their season-long struggles, but if you need a running back this week, Gallman has some upside, especially in PPR leagues.
WR Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens
After struggling to start the season, Wallace has been quite consistent over the last six games. During that span, the veteran receiver has picked up at least 9.8 fantasy points in every game, and has at least 72 receiving yards in each of his last three contests. Jeremy Maclin left Baltimore’s Week 15 matchup against the Browns with a knee injury, and looks unlikely to suit up for this week’s tilt against the Indianapolis Colts. Indianapolis is surrendering the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers, and have allowed four different receivers to score touchdowns in the past three games. Last week the Colts allowed Brock Osweiler to complete over 70 percent of his passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns, while three Broncos receivers finished with double digit fantasy points. The Ravens need a win in order to remain in the playoff hunt. Don’t be surprised to see this Baltimore team explode for a huge win at home against the Colts.
WR Kendall Wright, Chicago Bears
Over the last two weeks, the Bears have been trusting rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky to throw the ball more than he has all season. During that stretch, the 23-year-old QB has attempted 78 passes, which is great news for all of the Bears’ pass-catching options, especially Kendall Wright. With Chicago letting Trubisky air it out more, the veteran wide receiver has enjoyed his best two games of the season, catching 17-of-24 targets for 188 yards. While you may not want your fantasy championship coming down to the arm of a rookie quarterback, Wright’s 24 targets over the last two weeks is hard to ignore. The Bears face the Browns this week, and with John Fox’s job already in serious jeopardy, you better believe Chicago will be going all-out to ensure Cleveland’s first win of the season does not come against them. The Browns’ rush defense just shut down Alex Collins last week, limiting him to 19 yards on 12 carries. Chicago will need Trubisky to step up and have a solid game if they want to come out of the holiday weekend with a victory. For that to happen, he will need to keep Wright heavily involved in the passing game, thus making the receiver a decent flex play in Week 16.
QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
This is also the second consecutive appearance for Bortles on this list, and with the way he played against Houston in Week 15, I hope you listened to me last time. The fourth-year quarterback completed an impressive 72.4 percent of his passes for 326 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions in Jacksonville’s 45-7 thrashing of the Texans. Bortles looked sharp, picking up 11.2 yards per pass attempt on the day. His Passer Rating of 143.7 marked the third consecutive game he finished with a mark above 100 while throwing multiple passing touchdowns and no interceptions, making him the first quarterback in franchise history to accomplish such a feat. It’s nerve-wracking thinking about starting Bortles in the fantasy championship, but with the way he has been playing lately, he may be your best option. The 49ers are allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year, and could allow Bortles to finish with over 20 fantasy points for the fourth time in the last five games.
WR Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars
This also needs to be prefaced by saying Dede Westbrook should be the first Jacksonville wide receiver added this week, but if he is gone, then we move to Cole. Cole had been seeing his role in the Jaguars’ offense increase over the last several weeks leading up to Week 15. The rookie receiver caught a combined 6-of-6 targets for 148 yards and two touchdowns in Weeks 13 and 14, with one score coming in each game. But after another injury to Jacksonville’s already depleted wide receiver group, Cole could be in for a big Week 16. The Jaguars lost Allen Robinson to a torn ACL in Week 1, and have been playing without Allen Hurns for the last five games due to an ankle injury. Marqise Lee had stepped up in their absence, but after he went down with an ankle injury against Houston, it was time for Cole to shine. Cole finished the game with seven receptions on nine targets for 186 yards (all career-highs) and a touchdown. The Jaguars have a plus matchup against the 49ers this week, and with Jimmy Garoppolo leading San Francisco’s offense, this has the potential of being a close game. Westbrook and Cole both make for solid plays this week, with the former having a slight edge over the latter.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.