If you’re reading this, chances are round one of the fantasy playoffs ended in victory. While the vibes are high, Week 16 promises to be yet another nail-biting postseason battle. As it has been all year, roster depth is being put to the test; Jonathan Taylor and Jalen Hurts suffered crushing injuries this weekend. With a title so close you can taste it, plenty of players are making waves, for better or worse.
Stock Up: QB Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Care to think of a less exciting quarterback to draft than Kirk Cousins this summer? The consistently good-not-great Vikings QB had one of the highest late-round floors for any passer, but was consistently overshadowed by names like Tom Brady (*laughs*), Trey Lance (pain), and Russell Wilson (*painful laughter*). He’s rewarded managers who waited to find value at the position, a difficult task for those without an elite signal caller this year.
It hasn’t always been pretty, including a nightmarish game against Dallas, but Captain Kirk is coming up clutch at the right time. Following last Saturday’s historic comeback against the Colts, Cousins has put together back-to-back 30-point games. While pass-friendly game scripts have certainly played a role, he’s been able to feed an array of offensive weapons en route to six touchdowns and nearly 900 passing yards over the past two weeks. Currently the fantasy QB8, there’s no reason not to start Cousins once again at home against a beat-up Giants secondary.
Stock Down: WR Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals
Timing is everything in fantasy. Brown, who dominated during the first half of the year with DeAndre Hopkins suspended, returned to the Cardinals following a foot injury in Week 12. Just two weeks later, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray suffered a season-ending injury. While backup quarterbacks are typically capable of feeding number-one receivers, it’s a tall order for number-twos, especially those working their way back to health.
Brown’s paltry four-catch, nineteen-yard performance last week against the Broncos was no surprise, especially after third-string quarterback Trace McSorley entered the game. With the Cardinals season effectively over and so much turmoil at QB, it’s difficult for managers to trust Brown to return flex value, let alone WR2 production. A formidable matchup against the Buccaneers’ secondary on Christmas is even more reason to send Hollywood to the bench this weekend.
Stock Up: TE Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
Engram, a constant source of frustration while in New York, has become one of the feel-good fantasy stories of the year. In a high-powered Jaguars passing game, he’s become one of Trevor Lawrence‘s go-to pass catchers; since Week 13, he’s accumulated 24 catches, 254 yards and three touchdowns on 32 targets. That level of volume, despite a few one-catch performances this season, has elevated Engram to TE4.
While the forecast for Thursday night’s showdown against the Jets promises plenty of rain, Engram remains a must-start. With Lawrence looking his way every other dropback and the barren nature of his position, Engram is a good bet for upper-level tight-end production. The Jets’ defense is stingy, but they’ve been below-average vs. TEs all year. Should your team advance to the championship game, Engram’s exceptional run should continue against the Texans in Week 17.
Stock Down: TE Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
For every tight-end success story, there seems to be at least three other failures. Andrews, once the 1B to Travis Kelce‘s 1A at the position, has seen his fantasy stock fall off a cliff during the second half of the season. The TE2 through Week 6, Andrews has ranked as the TE10 since that point. While missing a game and Baltimore’s injury issues at quarterback haven’t made things easy, this is a shocking decline for a player many selected as early as Round 2 this summer.
In spite of his struggles, Andrews remains a lineup lock; he’s simply too talented to bench. Can we expect a resurgence to close out the season? While Lamar Jackson is unable to play this weekend, backup Tyler Huntley should make an effort to target Andrews against an Atlanta defense surrendering the fourth-most points to opposing tight ends. There is obvious risk here, especially if there are other viable tight ends on your roster, but the matchup is too enticing to sit Andrews; it’s now or never for a vintage performance.