It’s the moment of truth. Week 16 marks Championship Week in fantasy football, with league trophies and bragging rights up for grabs across the nation. Whether you made it this far, or are stuck in a consolation playoff system (or still playing into Week 17 for some reason), it’s important to still monitor the waiver wire.
Once again, we had a rash of injuries in Week 15, none bigger than Antonio Brown. The best receiver in football and a transcendent superstar, Brown had the entire football world wincing when he went down with a leg injury, later being helped to the locker room. The actual injury is almost a best-case scenario — a torn calf muscle, which will cost him games, but he should return for the playoffs.
It’s a bummer that fantasy owners won’t have the overall WR1 for their title game, but it could’ve been much worse. Dynasty league players can hold tight to Brown, who should back for another dominant season in 2018.
So that was the biggest story of the week, but total disaster was averted. Here are the top five waiver wire plays in Week 16, owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
1. QB Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (30 percent)
Hey look, the 49ers found a franchise quarterback at a bargain price, and it’s completely flipped the narrative on their season. They just won their third straight game after another stellar performance by Garoppolo, who reached 300 passing yards for the second week in a row. Now, he gets his biggest test yet against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who’ve swallowed up more accomplished quarterbacks before. Jimmy G will be a boom-or-bust QB2 for owners still missing Carson Wentz.
2. WR Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars (44 percent)
I’m not particularly worried about Westbrook’s dud in Week 15 (two catches, 21 yards). Even after Marqise Lee left with a sprained ankle, Blake Bortles was content to spread the ball around, with Westbrook playing second fiddle to Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens. With Lee done until the playoffs, Westbrook should command more targets as the No. 1 receiver. He’s in a perfect bounce-back spot with the 49ers.
3. WR Mike Wallace, Baltimore Ravens (40 percent)
Wallace spent most of the year as a fantasy afterthought as the Ravens’ offense turtled up. But in the past few weeks, he’s come alive and is by far Baltimore’s most reliable receiver, especially after Jeremy Maclin suffered a knee injury in Week 15. With six catches for 89 yards against the Cleveland Browns, Wallace has emerged as a quality asset in PPR leagues. Owners can fire him up with the Ravens face the Indianapolis Colts this week.
4. RB Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (26 percent)
Jamaal Williams remains the starter for now, but Jones is slowly reminding us why he had the job to himself in October. Despite seeing just four touches, Jones turned them into 53 total yards (compared to 30 yards on 10 touches for Williams). With the Packers all but out of playoff contention, Jones is shaping up as more of a bench stash for dynasty leagues. Either way, both he and Williams have a brutal matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.
5. RB Mike Gillislee, New England Patriots (27 percent)
Maybe Gillislee will be relevant again? The Pats might not have much of a choice after losing Rex Burkhead to a knee injury. While Dion Lewis remains the starter and James White plays a role on passing downs, Gillislee will probably do what he did early in the season — come in on short-yardage downs and try to score a touchdown. That’s small consolation for owners who drafted him high in August, but Gillislee has a shot to redeem himself down the stretch.