The Fantasy Football Matchups Column returns for Week 16 of the 2021 NFL season. The column will break down key matchups for the most important players each week to provide tips for NFL DFS, player prop bettors and season-long fantasy football setting lineups on Yahoo, ESPN, Sleeper and CBS. Let us dive into the all the NFL DFS tips matchups and daily fantasy football lineup decisions.
Week 16 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups & Player Props
Quarterback: Josh Allen
Allen had just 210 passing yards on just 6.2 yards per attempt last weekend against the middling Carolina Panthers. That marked Allen’s third straight game, and fifth time in seven games, that Allen has failed to reach even 6.5 yards per attempt this season. Allen may have had his fantasy day saved by three touchdown passes, but if the Bills are to have any hope of making noise in January, Allen must find a way to play more efficiently on a per-play basis. He’s thrown seven interceptions in the last six games alone. Clearly still hampered by a foot injury he suffered in Week 14, Allen rushed for just 24 yards, his lowest rushing total in four weeks. And worst of all, the Bills’ passing volume is down significantly over the second half of the season, as Buffalo has opted for 35 pass attempts or less in five of their last six games. This week, Allen and the Bills face the New England Patriots, a team that, with the help of the weather, completely stymied the Bills’ offense in the first meeting between these two squads. While Allen and his receiving weapons make for interesting DFS tournament plays, and have a fairly high ranking in our top stacks tool, our player props tool suggests Allen won’t be getting to a ceiling fantasy score through passing volume, as our projections highly suggest grabbing the under on Allen’s pass completions prop line of 22.5, a number he fails to hit in 60% of our simulations.
Quarterback: Matthew Stafford
Despite the Rams picking up a fairly easy win last week, moving them into a tie for first place in the NFC West, Matthew Stafford didn’t have a very impressive outing against the Seattle Seahawks’ middling pass defense in Week 15. Stafford may have completed over 70% of his passes, something he’s only done five times this season, but his 244 passing yards were his lowest amount since Week 10, as were his 2 passing touchdowns. Still, Stafford finished Week 15 with a healthy 8.2 yards per attempt, and now ranks number one in the NFL in adjusted yards per attempt this season. He ranks top-ten in the league in deep ball completion percentage, completion percentage while pressured, and ranks top-3 total EPA in total QBR, strongly suggesting head coach Sean McVay has a valid point that Stafford is a legitimate pro bowl snub this season. This week, Stafford and the Rams’ passing attack face the Minnesota Vikings, who are quickly turning into one of the worst pass defenses in the entire NFL. They rank 26th in yards allowed per pass attempt, dead last in schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing wideouts, and 31st to opposing quarterbacks, which is why our projections think Stafford should smash his current passing yards prop of 281.5 passing yards. Our simulations suggested Stafford reaches that number nearly 70% of the time.
Running Back: Joe Mixon
Since going on an absolute tear in Weeks 9 through 12, Mixon has slowed-down significantly over his last three starts, failing to top 70 total yard and scoring less than ten fantasy points in all three contests. Mixon’s usage is also down of late, as he hasn’t topped 20 total opportunities, a number he’s hit in 50% of his games thus far, in that same three game span. But Mixon remains one of the most involved running backs in the NFL when the Bengals are in neutral game scripts. He ranks seventh in the NFL in opportunity share and second in the league in total rush yards. He’s averaging over 78 yards per game on the ground alone this season, and he ranks top-five in the NFL rushes of ten yards or more and in evaded tackles per touch. This week, Mixon and the Bengals are three-point favorites at home against Baltimore, and while Baltimore has been more susceptible through the air than via the ground attack, our projections still see Mixon getting close-to his season average in rushing yardage, which suggests Mixon’s current rushing yards prop line of 67.5 yards makes little sense, even against Baltimore’s stout defensive line. Mixon reaches that mark on the ground in nearly two-thirds of our simulations this Sunday.
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Running Back: Javonte Williams
For a brief moment a few weeks ago, it looked like the Broncos would choose to unlock Williams, their second-round pick in the 2020 draft, but recent games have proven otherwise as veteran back Melvin Gordon has still earned nine more rush attempts than Williams since he returned to the lineup three weeks ago. While Williams is playing on more snaps at this point, averaging a 53% snap share since Week 14 compared to Gordon’s 45%, Gordon has seen a stunning five times the amount of red zone touches as Williams during that same span. From a fantasy football perspective, this is a worst-case-scenario 50/50 timeshare with Williams, clearly the more elusive back this season, languishes on the bench while Gordon receives valuable goal-line work. One area where Williams seems to have pulled-ahead of Gordon, however, is in the Broncos’ passing attack, as Williams has seen five more targets than Gordon since Gordon’s return from injury. In spite of a solid matchup against Las Vegas’ below league-average defense, DFS projections aren’t necessarily bullish on either player, but we’re very bullish on the over for Williams’ middling receptions prop of just 2.5. We think he’ll nab at least three passes from Drew Lock in Week 16, which suggests a solid 57% win probability on the over for Williams this weekend.
Wide Receiver: Courtland Sutton
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has already been ruled out for the Broncos’ Week 16 against the Las Vegas Raiders, meaning Drew Lock will be in-line to start for Denver this Sunday afternoon. With both teams in a must-win situation, sitting one-game back of the final playoff spot in the AFC, expect both the Raiders and Broncos to play aggressively offensively, which should lead to Lock targeting Courtland Sutton much more often than Bridgewater has throughout this season. Sutton, a former second-round pick, has been a relative non-factor in the Denver offense this season, topping 60 yards receiving just four times this season, and zero times since Week 7. After having three games with double-digit targets in his first six starts, Sutton has failed to earn even six targets in 75% of his games since that point. And despite having just 12 yards receiving last Sunday, we saw Sutton receive 100-plus air yards for the second time in three games. That should happen once again against Las Vegas’ mediocre pass defense, that ranks third-worst in the NFL in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses. While Sutton makes for a mediocre DFS play this week, his modest 26.5 receiving yards prop line this Sunday is simply too low with Lock at the helm, and our projections indicate the over for Sutton is one of the highest-ROI bets on the slate.
Wide Receiver: Tyler Boyd
While fellow receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins have stolen much of the spotlight from him this season, Tyler Boyd has had yet another relatively productive season for the Bengals, averaging double-digit fantasy points per game for the third straight season. Boyd ranks first in the NFL in total slot snaps, and despite ranking third on his team in targets, ranks 34th among all wideouts with 83 looks this season. And while his efficiency has been down this season, we’re seeing Boyd as sure-handed as ever this season, as his true catch rate, which factors-out uncatchable passes, sits at 98.4%, ninth-best among all wide receivers. Having secured and least five targets and ten-plus fantasy points in four of his last five games, Boyd makes for an extremely interesting tournament play in DFS, especially against a Ravens’ defense that ranks bottom-five to opposing wide receivers in per-play efficiency. If Boyd gets his typical six to eight targets, he could easily shoot well over his current receptions prop line of 3.5. We have him projection for nearly five catches this weekend, and our latest run of simulations have Boyd hitting four or more catches 63% of the time.
Wide Receiver & Tight End: Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox
Cole Beasley has been placed on the COVID-19 list and has already been ruled out for Sunday’s must-win game against the Patriots. Emmanuel Sanders missed last week, and is looking like a relative long-shot to suit-up this Sunday. And while Stefon Diggs is still available, and should gobble-up his typical 20% or more of team targets, we could see Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox each command a 15% or higher target share as well. The matchup is less than ideal, and the Patriots rank number in both PFF team defensive grades and schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing offenses, but Buffalo, who passes 38 times per game, the fourth-highest rate of any team in the NFL, won’t completely abandon their preferred game plan. Since Week 12, Knox ranks third on the team with 20 total targets, and Davis is right behind him, having earned 19, including a season-high seven looks a week ago against the Panthers. And while both players make for compelling DFS options this Sunday, our player props tool feels strongly that betting on Gabriel Davis looks like the stronger play this Sunday. Our projections indicate Knox may fall short of his 38.5 receiving yards prop line, while also suggesting Gabriel Davis could shoot well over his 45.5 receiving yards prop line. The latest run of simulations have Davis reaching that mark nearly 60% of the time.
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