NFL Week 16 Recap - The Fantasy Usage Model

Dec 26th 2023

Hayden Winks

Posted every Tuesday, The Fantasy Usage Model combines my expected fantasy points model with his film notes to recap the previous week's game. An explanation of this is here, but it basically turns targets, carries, air yards, goal line touches, and other variables into expected fantasy points. We have the sickest fantasy show ever on Tuesday nights going over this column. If you have time for 1 hour of fantasy content, make it this one.

Week 16 Fantasy Points vs. Expected

These are averages from Weeks 13-16. Best viewed on desktop/laptop. Watch our YouTube show on this column. People who viewed Stats vs. Film watched for over 30 minutes last week. It's our most engaging content. It's live on Tuesday night.

The MVP should be between Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, and Josh Allen. There isn't a clear front-runner this year, so we should be comfortable not picking the most productive QB in the most stacked scheme + supporting cast room in recent memory. Lamar has lost his best weapons in a new offense and would be a deserved winner if the Ravens go 14-3 with a hypothetical win against the Dolphins next week. The ground game is efficient and diverse because of Lamar's legs. The pass game would be more productive if the pass catchers were any good (they're not). If Lamar busts down the stretch, Dak and Josh have studs for most of the season. Dak is teach tape. Josh is tape you can't teach. Fun season!

Amari Cooper is still extremely good, and he now has a QB willing to let him make a play. In 3 healthy games with Joe Flacco, Amari has 15.8, 10.7, and 23.5 expected half PPR points (WR2 overall usage) while finishing as the WR1 overall over that span. The Browns remain 1st in neutral pass rate with Flacco under center and are 1st in plays per game over the entire season. What a wild story, but the truth is: a lot of the production is sticky ...

George Pickens is still only the WR50 in usage because of the Steelers slow, balanced offense, but Week 16 was a reminder of his elite talent. That's not an exaggeration. When it's going, it's GOING for Pickens. Pickens only had 8.0 expected half PPR points, but he turned them into 33.5 with yards after catch and sideline grabs. In a very bad offense, Pickens is averaging 2.5 more points per game than his usage would indicate. Compare that to Diontae Johnson's -0.2 to get a feel for where Pickens could be in 2024 with an improved play-caller and QB.

The Rams are 1st in WR usage this month, and it's not even close. Puka Nacua (WR6 usage) and Cooper Kupp (WR5 usage) have ping-ponged huge games over that span, with Matthew Stafford legit playing like a top-5 QB in the NFL. Nacua's 19.4 expected half PPR points where his highest with a healthy Kupp, and even the veteran had a monster 21.5 expected points despite a bust in the box score. The Rams are a scary Wild Card team right now. Shoutout Sean McVay.

The Bills offense is good but frustrating. Stefon Diggs is the WR66 on WR29 usage this month (wat). James Cook was red hot but lost snaps to Leonard Fournette in Week 16, leading to just 11.6 expected half PPR points. And the rotation at TE makes neither playable. New OC Joe Brady has Buffalo 26th in neutral pass rate this month without signs of that dramatically changing. Even with all of that, Josh Allen is a fantasy stud. He's scored 39, 20, 16, and 25 fantasy points over that span. Maybe just maybe he'll be widely viewed as a 2nd-round pick in fantasy next year.

Zay Flowers had a season-high 18.5 expected half PPR points. The Ravens had the 3rd-highest neutral pass rate of Week 16 in San Francisco (shoutout Lamar), and Flowers may've also benefited from Keaton Mitchell's departure as they both have a manufactured-touch skill set ... DeVonta Smith had a long TD (not a surprise against the Giants), but he also has 6.0 and 6.3 expected half PPR points since the return of Dallas Goedert. He's very boom-bust ... It didn't pay off like we'd hoped, but Rashee Rice had a season-high 16.0 expected half PPR points in a game without Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman, and Kadarius Toney. The Chiefs are a borderline top-10 offense right now because of this WR room ... Garrett Wilson was the WR3 overall in usage in Week 16 ... Positive regression hit for Calvin Ridley, who is the WR3 overall in usage this month. We'll see if Trevor Lawrence is out now ...

I was high on Breece Hall this week against the tanking Commanders, but this was a completely unpredictable stat line. The Jets led the NFL in neutral pass rate (90%) in Week 16 with many of those passes going to Breece, who had a season-high 32.3 expected half PPR points. That's the 2nd-best usage of any player the entire season, only trailing Tony Pollard's Week 2 repeated stuffage at the goal line. He'll be a top-5 overall player in my 2024 fantasy football rankings.

The Dolphins RB room was a disappointment in the semis. Raheem Mostert didn't play in the 2nd half after a knee injury at the goal line, but he had 3 inside the 5-yard line opportunities before that. If he stayed healthy the entire game, Mostert would've eat. Without him in, De'Von Achane still couldn't get it going. Jeff Wilson was far more involved than expected, possibly to take advantage of the Cowboys' awful interior line. Achane is all flash still without the earned trust of a high-volume player. He needs the 20+ yard TD in this role, even without Mostert it appears. The rookie is the RB19 on RB26 usage since returning.

The Lions are 5th in RB usage this month, so both Jahmyr Gibbs (RB7 on RB20 usage) and David Montgomery (RB18 on RB20) are viable upside options. It was Gibbs in Week 16 with the monster performance, but there is some context as you'll see in the chart down the page. Montgomery was feasting early and then left in the concussion protocol. During that time, Gibbs went nuts and finished a drive with an inside the 5-yard line score. Maybe that would've happened anyway, but Montgomery was going to go off if he didn't miss the time he did. Thankfully he was able to return with 10 minutes to go in the game. How could you not love this tandem right now?

Aaron Jones has 17.7 and 20.2 expected half PPR points since returning from injury. One day that will really pay off (we can hope) ... Ezekiel Elliott is the RB13 on RB4 usage this month. Adjust the rankings, unless Rhamondre Stevenson is cleared this week ... Tony Pollard is too smol to be a featured back. Both legs and his full ass crossed the goal line, yet he couldn't get the ball in. What a disappointing season for the pending free agent. Pollard is the RB27 on RB14 usage this month. It's been like that for much of the season ... Bijan Robinson had a season-high 22.4 expected half PPR points after busting last week. Fantasy is pain, but we love it ... The workload was there for Devin Singletary (he was subbed out in the 3rd quarter due to scoreboard), but he simply needs CJ Stroud in the lineup to really feel comfortable as an upside RB2. That looks like the case heading into the finals, however ... Ty Chandler played 65% snaps and scored a goal-line TD to save his day, but the Vikings are 32nd in RB usage this month. He had just 7.2 expected half PPR points ... Gus Edwards has 16.2 and 10.6 expected half PPR points in his last two games without Keaton Mitchell stealing early-down work. He's back in our RB2-3 lives ... With D'Onta Foreman (personal) out, it was Khalil Herbert over Roschon Johnson on early downs. Herbert had 14.3 expected half PPR points even with the rookie stealing an inside the 5-yard line opportunity and the 2-minute drill.

Evan Engram is the TE1 overall in usage this month with Christian Kirk and Zay Jones injured, with Travis Etienne milk cartoning, and with the OL not allowing for a plentiful downfield attack. This happened in December last year, too. What a run out for him ... David Njoku, dawg ... Travis Kelce is the TE13 on TE4 usage this month, while seeing borderline career-worst numbers after the catch and at the catch point. It's been 8 games since a 14+ half PPR outing. That shouldn't be that surprising in his age-34 season ... George Kittle finished as the TE1 overall thanks to a huge yards-after-catch play in a very down week for TE scoring in general ...

Week 16 Fantasy Football Charts