Published: Dec. 20, 2015 at 11:31 p.m.
Updated: Dec. 22, 2015 at 12:48 a.m.

Week 16 fantasy football waiver wire

With the season winding down, the time to find game-changing waiver wire pickups has passed. Now is the time when fantasy owners should look to the waiver wire to backup their studs, or find players ready to exploit great matchups. I'll focus on the former in my weekly "Deep Dive" waiver wire column (published Mondays), highlighting the top high-upside handcuffs for the playoff stretch. But from here on out, in this waiver wire piece I'll try to find low-owned players in great spots for the upcoming week who can be added and started in a pinch. I've also punted the FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) suggestion portion, as at this point you should use whatever means necessary to get the players you need on your roster (or not have much of a FAAB left). Feel free to hit me up on Twitter though for more specific questions.

12 Photos Total

  • With Jonathan Stewart on the shelf, the Panthers backfield was in flux, and reports swirled all week over which back would be the "starter." Once the pads came on against the Giants, though, it was clear that rookie Cameron Artis-Payne was the leader for the early-down, and clock-killing work. He saw 14 carries and added in two receptions for a total of 93 yards. Next week, the Panthers get a rematch against the Falcons, whose run defense has been showing some cracks in recent weeks. CAP will be a solid flex play, assuming the team keeps Stewart out to heal up fully for the playoffs. 12

    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Carolina Panthers (1.1 percent owned)

    With Jonathan Stewart on the shelf, the Panthers backfield was in flux, and reports swirled all week over which back would be the "starter." Once the pads came on against the Giants, though, it was clear that rookie Cameron Artis-Payne was the leader for the early-down, and clock-killing work. He saw 14 carries and added in two receptions for a total of 93 yards. Next week, the Panthers get a rematch against the Falcons, whose run defense has been showing some cracks in recent weeks. CAP will be a solid flex play, assuming the team keeps Stewart out to heal up fully for the playoffs.

  • It's finally happening: Christine Michael is a thing in fantasy football. After getting cut by the Seahawks, Michael bounced around the league before winding back to the Pacific Northwest after Thomas Rawls went down with a season-ending ankle injury. We came into Week 15 without a clear picture as to who would lead the Seattle backfield, but after seeing Michael look good on 16 carries (which he took for 84 yards), it's looking like this will be his show moving forward. Michael gets a nice matchup in Week 16 against the Rams (in Seattle, too), and can definitely be flexed or even deployed as an RB2, given the state of the running back position. 11

    Ric Tapia/NFL

    Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks (2.8 percent owned)

    It's finally happening: Christine Michael is a thing in fantasy football. After getting cut by the Seahawks, Michael bounced around the league before winding back to the Pacific Northwest after Thomas Rawls went down with a season-ending ankle injury. We came into Week 15 without a clear picture as to who would lead the Seattle backfield, but after seeing Michael look good on 16 carries (which he took for 84 yards), it's looking like this will be his show moving forward. Michael gets a nice matchup in Week 16 against the Rams (in Seattle, too), and can definitely be flexed or even deployed as an RB2, given the state of the running back position.

  • While Brandon Bolden is now battling Joey Iosefa (yes, that's a real person) for the early-down work, James White pretty much has his role as the pass-catching specialist all to himself. He notched seven receptions on eight targets for 71 yards and a touchdown against the Titans on Sunday. Over the last three weeks he has 21 catches, 224 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with six yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. He's a must-add in PPR formats, but could be a solid flex play in standard leagues next week. The Patriots take on the Jets, which could shape up as a big game for White. The Jets are great at stopping the run, but have allowed just shy of 600 receiving yards and four touchdowns to opposing backs. 10

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    James White, RB, New England Patriots (19.5 percent owned)

    While Brandon Bolden is now battling Joey Iosefa (yes, that's a real person) for the early-down work, James White pretty much has his role as the pass-catching specialist all to himself. He notched seven receptions on eight targets for 71 yards and a touchdown against the Titans on Sunday. Over the last three weeks he has 21 catches, 224 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with six yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. He's a must-add in PPR formats, but could be a solid flex play in standard leagues next week. The Patriots take on the Jets, which could shape up as a big game for White. The Jets are great at stopping the run, but have allowed just shy of 600 receiving yards and four touchdowns to opposing backs.

  • Adrian Peterson suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, but returned to the game later. However, his owners will want to scoop up McKinnon off waivers this week just in case. McKinnon notched just 10 yards on seven carries, but did his real damage through the air, going for 76 and a touchdown on four receptions. McKinnon will still be behind Peterson in the pecking order for touches, but could see a bump up in his usage with the team leading the way for the NFC's six seed and wanting to keep Peterson fresh for the playoffs (and a crucial Week 17 matchup with the Packers. McKinnon gets the Giants in Week 16, who have given up the eighth-most receiving yards to opposing rushers. Even if Peterson is a full go next week, McKinnon could be worth a desperation flex play. 9

    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings (0.4 percent owned)

    Adrian Peterson suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, but returned to the game later. However, his owners will want to scoop up McKinnon off waivers this week just in case. McKinnon notched just 10 yards on seven carries, but did his real damage through the air, going for 76 and a touchdown on four receptions. McKinnon will still be behind Peterson in the pecking order for touches, but could see a bump up in his usage with the team leading the way for the NFC's six seed and wanting to keep Peterson fresh for the playoffs (and a crucial Week 17 matchup with the Packers. McKinnon gets the Giants in Week 16, who have given up the eighth-most receiving yards to opposing rushers. Even if Peterson is a full go next week, McKinnon could be worth a desperation flex play.

  • Speaking of desperation plays, those who had the fortitude to start Powell last week were rewarded with a solid 13.9 fantasy points, as he scored double digit fantasy points for the third straight week. Can he make it four in a row in Week 16 against the Patriots? Well, if his current usage in the offense holds up, he'll have a decent shot. Since returning from injury in Week 11, he's actually out-snapped presumed workhorse Chris Ivory 178-154, while also out-gaining him 393-365 on 32 fewer touches. Powell's ability catching passes out of the backfield helps him hang around more on third downs and in hurry-up situations. The Jets will have to keep pace with the high-powered Patriots offense, which could set up favorably as a Powell-type of game script. 8

    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets (4.9 percent owned)

    Speaking of desperation plays, those who had the fortitude to start Powell last week were rewarded with a solid 13.9 fantasy points, as he scored double digit fantasy points for the third straight week. Can he make it four in a row in Week 16 against the Patriots? Well, if his current usage in the offense holds up, he'll have a decent shot. Since returning from injury in Week 11, he's actually out-snapped presumed workhorse Chris Ivory 178-154, while also out-gaining him 393-365 on 32 fewer touches. Powell's ability catching passes out of the backfield helps him hang around more on third downs and in hurry-up situations. The Jets will have to keep pace with the high-powered Patriots offense, which could set up favorably as a Powell-type of game script.

  • Don't look now, but Wheaton has posted three double-digit fantasy outings in his last four games, including a solid 12.2 fantasy points against the league's top defense. The Steelers offense is rolling, and it's wise to get any piece of the passing offense into your lineups. With Wheaton's role increasing, his rapport with Ben Roethlisberger growing, and the Ravens up next on the schedule, he's a fine pickup to trot out in the fantasy championships next week. 7

    Don Wright

    Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (10 percent owned)

    Don't look now, but Wheaton has posted three double-digit fantasy outings in his last four games, including a solid 12.2 fantasy points against the league's top defense. The Steelers offense is rolling, and it's wise to get any piece of the passing offense into your lineups. With Wheaton's role increasing, his rapport with Ben Roethlisberger growing, and the Ravens up next on the schedule, he's a fine pickup to trot out in the fantasy championships next week.

  • Aiken has been a regular in this column basically since Steve Smith landed on IR, and that was at first primarily as a volume-based play, he's starting to turn heads as more than just a target vacuum. After posting a solid 7-90-0 line against Seattle in Week 14, Aiken exploded for eight catches, 128 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets on Sunday. Now, while much of that production came on a last-second 48-yard touchdown heave from Jimmy Clausen to end the first half, Aiken made a number of great plays throughout the game as well. He was consistently able to create separation against the Chiefs' improving corners, while also working the boundary like a Jordy Nelson clone. Aiken deserves a spot on more rosters, and will be a solid flex option against the Steelers in Week 16. 6

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore Ravens (15 percent owned)

    Aiken has been a regular in this column basically since Steve Smith landed on IR, and that was at first primarily as a volume-based play, he's starting to turn heads as more than just a target vacuum. After posting a solid 7-90-0 line against Seattle in Week 14, Aiken exploded for eight catches, 128 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets on Sunday. Now, while much of that production came on a last-second 48-yard touchdown heave from Jimmy Clausen to end the first half, Aiken made a number of great plays throughout the game as well. He was consistently able to create separation against the Chiefs' improving corners, while also working the boundary like a Jordy Nelson clone. Aiken deserves a spot on more rosters, and will be a solid flex option against the Steelers in Week 16.

  • Snead hasn't played in Week 15 as I write this column, but he finally looked fully healthy last week en route to posting a seven-catch, 122-yard day. The Saints face the Jaguars next week, whose secondary hasn't been what one might call sound in recent weeks. Snead and Drew Brees will get the added benefit of playing in the Superdome, too. Snead was on track to become an every-week flex play before injuries put him on the shelf, so owners shouldn't fear deploying him in a plus-matchup in the fantasy playoffs. 5

    Paul Spinelli/Associated Press

    Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints (16.7 percent owned)

    Snead hasn't played in Week 15 as I write this column, but he finally looked fully healthy last week en route to posting a seven-catch, 122-yard day. The Saints face the Jaguars next week, whose secondary hasn't been what one might call sound in recent weeks. Snead and Drew Brees will get the added benefit of playing in the Superdome, too. Snead was on track to become an every-week flex play before injuries put him on the shelf, so owners shouldn't fear deploying him in a plus-matchup in the fantasy playoffs.

  • Cam Newton is on fire in fantasy right now, which makes targeting his pass-catching options a smart move. Brown has had over 50 receiving yards each of the last two weeks, and got in on the scoring bonanza in Week 15 with a touchdown, too. Next up for the Panthers is an Atlanta team that was saved from slipping completely into the abyss by a win over the Jaguars. Cam and his passing attack should be able to keep rolling after a close battle with the Giants, putting Brown on the radar as a decent flex play. 4

    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Corey Brown, WR, Carolina Panthers (0.5 percent owned)

    Cam Newton is on fire in fantasy right now, which makes targeting his pass-catching options a smart move. Brown has had over 50 receiving yards each of the last two weeks, and got in on the scoring bonanza in Week 15 with a touchdown, too. Next up for the Panthers is an Atlanta team that was saved from slipping completely into the abyss by a win over the Jaguars. Cam and his passing attack should be able to keep rolling after a close battle with the Giants, putting Brown on the radar as a decent flex play.

  • The emergence of Tye as the Giants' second-best pass-catching option behind Odell Beckham Jr. came at just the right time for fantasy owners -- now they just need to take notice! Tye has had at least 70 receiving yards or a touchdown in each of the last four weeks, averaging over eight fantasy points per game in that span (and 6.25 targets per game). He offers up a safe yardage floor and has the upside of a really solid outing if he gets into the end zone. The Vikings have been solid covering opposing tight ends, but with Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith still banged up, Tye should be able to find some room to roam. 3

    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Will Tye, TE, New York Giants (0.6 percent owned)

    The emergence of Tye as the Giants' second-best pass-catching option behind Odell Beckham Jr. came at just the right time for fantasy owners -- now they just need to take notice! Tye has had at least 70 receiving yards or a touchdown in each of the last four weeks, averaging over eight fantasy points per game in that span (and 6.25 targets per game). He offers up a safe yardage floor and has the upside of a really solid outing if he gets into the end zone. The Vikings have been solid covering opposing tight ends, but with Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith still banged up, Tye should be able to find some room to roam.

  • Boy, was that five-touchdown outburst from Teddy Bridgewater unexpected! With Adrian Peterson likely still battling his ankle injury next week, the team may need to turn to Teddy even more, and he has an excellent matchup to deliver for the Vikings and fantasy owners. No secondary has allowed more passing yards to opposing quarterbacks (4,432) than the Giants, and their 28 passing touchdowns allowed is bottom-10 in the league as well. Owners streaming the position or with a signal-caller in a tough matchup might want to give Bridgewater a look. 2

    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota Vikings (55.2 percent owned)

    Boy, was that five-touchdown outburst from Teddy Bridgewater unexpected! With Adrian Peterson likely still battling his ankle injury next week, the team may need to turn to Teddy even more, and he has an excellent matchup to deliver for the Vikings and fantasy owners. No secondary has allowed more passing yards to opposing quarterbacks (4,432) than the Giants, and their 28 passing touchdowns allowed is bottom-10 in the league as well. Owners streaming the position or with a signal-caller in a tough matchup might want to give Bridgewater a look.

  • There were reports that the Washington brass had seen enough from Cousins to offer him a long-term contract this offseason. And then he went out and scored five touchdowns against the Bills in Week 15. Cousins will be a streaming candidate against the Eagles next week, though we'd like him better if he was at home. He plays FAR better at FedExField than on the road this year, averaging just shy of 10 more fantasy points per game there. Still, he can deliver in the right matchup on the road, which is exactly what the Eagles represent. Their already beleaguered secondary suffered more injuries Sunday night, setting up nicely as a unit for Kirk Cousins and co. to exploit. 1

    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins (8.6 percent owned)

    There were reports that the Washington brass had seen enough from Cousins to offer him a long-term contract this offseason. And then he went out and scored five touchdowns against the Bills in Week 15. Cousins will be a streaming candidate against the Eagles next week, though we'd like him better if he was at home. He plays FAR better at FedExField than on the road this year, averaging just shy of 10 more fantasy points per game there. Still, he can deliver in the right matchup on the road, which is exactly what the Eagles represent. Their already beleaguered secondary suffered more injuries Sunday night, setting up nicely as a unit for Kirk Cousins and co. to exploit.