As we do each week, we recap the week's best and worst from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET (and, when applicable, Sunday Night Football) games for our picks.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans: Well, what do you know? It's a throwback to his great performances of 2017, and he saved it for the fantasy finals! Watson's 36.5 fantasy points were second-most among all players from the 1 p.m. ET games and exceeded the 35.5 points he scored in 2017 Week 5 for the best single-game performance of his 22-game, 21-start NFL career. Watson has 473.0 points in those 21 career starts, which is the most that any quarterback in history has had through that many starts, exceeding the 457.4 points Cam Newton recorded. Watson was started in 52.7 percent of ESPN leagues, ninth-highest among quarterbacks in Week 16.
C.J. Anderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams: No Todd Gurley II, no problem. Anderson stepped in as the Rams' leading running back on Sunday with Gurley (knee), scoring 23.2 PPR fantasy points on 20 rushing attempts and a 1-for-3 performance catching his targets. It was Anderson's best single-game score since 2017 Week 2 (30.4), back when he was a member of the Denver Broncos. This was his first game as a member of the Rams, after he had been released by the Carolina Panthers in mid-November, then signed by the Rams this past Tuesday. Anderson was the fourth most-added player in ESPN leagues in the past seven days, added in 33.8 percent, and he was started in 19.1 percent. Those who were swift enough to add him, then bold enough to start him after news broke that Gurley wouldn't play, reaped quite the reward. Of the hundreds of thousands of fantasy managers who rode Gurley to their league's championship game, roughly 30 percent added and started Anderson in Gurley's place. Another five percent added Anderson, but failed to swap him in for Gurley in time.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Speaking of throwbacks, Rodgers' 42.9 fantasy points reminded his managers of his days of old, carrying teams to championships all by himself, as that was the second-best single-game score in any of his 157 career NFL starts, trailing only the 45.9 points he scored in 2011 Week 4. The overtime period, in which Rodgers completed a game-winning touchdown pass to Davante Adams, had a good amount to do with it, but Rodgers scored well more than 30 points during regulation, and he tied his personal best with two rushing touchdowns (also that 2011 Week 4 game). Due perhaps to what has been an inconsistent season for Rodgers, he was started in only 59.9 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 16, seventh-highest among quarterbacks.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: He has played 130 games in his NFL career, and only twice before did Brown score more than the 44.5 PPR fantasy points he had on Sunday (46.9, 2015 Week 15; and 45.6, 2015 Week 9). As with Rodgers, it was a throwback to Brown's big, win-your-matchup-on-his-own performances of seasons past, and it gave him 22 career games of at least 30 points, which is fifth-most all-time among wide receivers. Brown now has 323.7 points for the season, giving him a sixth consecutive season with at least 300 points. He's the first wide receiver in history to have six such years in a row, and he's only one season away from Jerry Rice's all-time record for 300-point seasons (7).
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: For the seventh time in his past eight games, McCaffrey scored at least 25 PPR fantasy points, with his 29.8 points leading all running backs from the 1 p.m. ET games. That gave McCaffrey a league-leading -- among all players -- 247.8 points during that eight-game span, with Ezekiel Elliot (202.7 points) a distant second on that list. McCaffrey has been carrying his fantasy teams throughout the second half, appearing on playoff rosters in 59.8 percent of ESPN 10-team standard leagues and 35.4 percent of finalists' rosters in those same formats. It was a great sign to see him maintain this level of success with the past week's news that Taylor Heinicke would be the Panthers' starting quarterback in Cam Newton's (shoulder) absence.
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: His 35.0 PPR fantasy points gave him a second game out of his past seven with at least that many and pushed his season total to 275.8 points, giving him a temporarily lead at the position over Travis Kelce that Kelce reclaimed with his own 10.4 points on Sunday Night Football. What's more, Ertz's Eagles rallied to win on a walk-off field goal, keeping their Week 17 game relevant and assuring that he'll be one of the best fantasy players at his position in that game as well. Through 15 team games of any season in history, only two tight ends scored more than Ertz's 275.8: Rob Gronkowski (300.1 in 2011) and Jimmy Graham (285.4 in 2013).
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings: Where has this been all season? Rudolph's 33.2 PPR fantasy points not only represented a season best for him but also set a new career high, exceeding the 28.7 points he scored in 2016 Week 17. Remarkably, he was started in 40.7 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 16, despite his having scored fewer than 10 points in nine of his previous 10 games entering the week. That perhaps illustrates the number of injuries and disappointing performances seen across the position this season.
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: That Foles magic seems like it's back, as he scored 30.9 fantasy points in leading his Eagles to a two-point victory over the Houston Texans, keeping them in the wild-card hunt. Here's a curious fact, considering his 2017 magic: This was Foles' fifth career game worth at least 30 points, but the previous four occurred in 2012-13 -- not in 2017 after he took over for the injured Carson Wentz. Foles was started in 10.2 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 16, 19th-highest among quarterbacks, and since he'll be one of the few on the board with motivation to play a full 60 minutes at a high level, he probably will and should be regarded as at least a high-end QB2 against the Washington Redskins.
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets: The Jets' biggest offensive star of Sunday's game, Anderson scored a season-high 29.0 PPR fantasy points on 13 targets in an overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers. That trailed only the 32.6 points he scored in 2017 Week 12 among any of his 45 career NFL games. It re-established Anderson as Sam Darnold's go-to guy in the Jets' passing game, as Anderson now has a receiving touchdown in three consecutive games and a total of 69.2 points in that three-game span. He was started in 29.7 percent of ESPN leagues, 25th among wide receivers, and should be active in a similar percentage (if not greater) in what should be a pass-heavy game against the New England Patriots in Week 17.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers wasn't the Packers' only offensive star. Williams' 27.6 PPR fantasy points were the third-most he has scored in 31 career NFL games, trailing only his 30.8 points in 2017 Week 14 and 29.5 points in 2017 Week 12, with the common bond across those three games being those in which Aaron Jones was absent (2017 Week 14 and Sunday's game) or a minimal part of the game plan (2017 Week 12). Williams should continue to absorb a hefty starter's workload, and he'll get an even more favorable matchup in Week 17 than he had on Sunday, as he'll battle the Detroit Lions.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns: Although his 25.0 fantasy points hardly led the way at his position -- he finished the 1 p.m. ET games fifth-best at his position, behind Rodgers, Watson, Foles and Sam Darnold -- Mayfield makes the list in part for his beneath-the-radar strong play of late. He has four games worth 20-plus points in his past nine, totaling 167.2 points in that span, which places him among the top-10 scoring quarterbacks in that time. For the season, Mayfield has 219.1 fantasy points, which is the seventh-best total by any rookie quarterback in history -- and while he stands little chance of moving up on that list in Week 17, with a more than 55-point gap between him and No. 6 Jameis Winston, it's worth pointing out that Mayfield has done this in only 13 games (12 of them starts), whereas the names ahead of him on the list each had 15 starts as rookies.
Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams: For the third time this season but first time since Week 4, Woods scored 20-plus PPR fantasy points, his 28.4 points on Sunday third-most through the 4 p.m. ET games. Woods has enjoyed an excellent season, with 14 consecutive games scoring at least 12.0 points, giving him 261.1 total to vault into the top 10 among wide receivers. Assuming the Rams' Week 17 game is relevant to their earning a first-round playoff bye, making it more important that the team play its starters, Woods matches up well against the San Francisco 49ers and would be a high-end WR2.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: He was one of the many quarterbacks who stepped up with huge point totals in Week 16 -- eight scored 25-plus through Sunday's games -- as Roethlisberger's 29.6 fantasy points led the position from the 4 p.m. ET game block. It was his best score in a road game since 2012 Week 3 (32.2), further exposing the fallacy that is his "home/road split," as he now has six road games out of eight worth 20-plus points this season, compared to only three in seven home games. Roethlisberger was started in 70.5 percent of ESPN leagues, fourth-highest among quarterbacks.
Elijah McGuire, RB, New York Jets: Another of the week's most-added players in ESPN leagues, added in 38.8 percent (second-most behind only Jamaal Williams' 66.2 percent), McGuire scored 23.5 PPR fantasy points in what was his third consecutive game worth 14-plus. He has touchdowns in three straight. McGuire should still be a worthwhile RB2/flex despite what might be a more pass-oriented game against the New England Patriots in Week 17.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: One of the eight quarterbacks to score 25-plus fantasy points on Sunday, Patrick Mahomes' 28.2 points gave him a 10th game with at least 25-plus this season. He now has 399.7 points through 15 games, most by any player this season and second-most by any quarterback in NFL history. Mahomes needs 10.4 points in order to pass Peyton Manning's single-season record 410.0, set in 2013, and Mahomes will probably get every chance to do so in a game against the Oakland Raiders that is much more important to the Chiefs now that they are tied with the Los Angeles Chargers (11-4) for the AFC West lead.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: His 5.0 fantasy points represented not only his worst single-game total of 2018 but also the 14th-worst score in any of his 266 career NFL starts. Brady hadn't had a game this poor in fantasy terms since 2014 Week 17 (4.1), a game he exited early as the team had already wrapped up its playoff positioning, and his next-most recent game with a lower score came in 2014 Week 4 (4.4). Credit the Buffalo Bills' defense, as they haven't allowed an opposing quarterback to score even 15 points since Week 7 and have held the position to an average of 12.0 points in 2018, best in the league. The Bills face Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: For the fourth time in his 114-game NFL career, he was shut out on the fantasy scorecard. Unlike the past two times it happened, Sunday's result wasn't the product of an early departure due to either injury or the Patriots having already wrapped up their postseason seeding. Gronkowski failed to haul in any of his three targets, and he was kept on the sideline for more snaps than usual in this one. He simply has not had a good season, with six games scoring fewer than 10 fantasy points, and after a 2017-18 offseason in which retirement rumors swirled, you can be sure those rumors will ring even louder after this season.
Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys: His 6.0 PPR fantasy points on five targets were his fewest in any of his eight games since his trade to the Cowboys and gave him back-to-back weeks with fewer than 10 points after he scored a season high -- that's among all players in any week -- 49.7 points in Week 14. They continued to illustrate an unpredictable pattern to Cooper's performances throughout his career, though he faces another favorable matchup against the New York Giants in Week 17 and might yet rebound. He was started in 92.8 percent of ESPN leagues on Sunday, eighth-highest among wide receivers.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears: He picked a bad week to be held silent, as his 2.9 PPR fantasy points on six rushing attempts and one target (he caught it) was his second-lowest score in any of his 15 games all season (2.3, Week 9). Cohen could be found on 23.4 percent of ESPN finalists' rosters, so this performance probably put a good number of teams in a tough spot, especially considering he was started in 72.9 percent of ESPN leagues overall (14th-highest among running backs). He's going to be a shaky option for Week 17, considering the difficult matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
Josh Adams, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: For the fourth consecutive week, Adams was held beneath 10 PPR fantasy points, and his 0.1 points on 11 rushing attempts and one receiving target were easily his worst output since he moved into a more prominent position in the Eagles' backfield. That Darren Sproles had 19.8 points on his nine carries and 3-for-6 performance catching his targets will only further cloud Adams' role entering the regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins. Adams is a low-end flex consideration at best.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: His 5.1 PPR fantasy points represented the fourth time in his past seven games that he was held beneath 10 points, and while a groin injury that cut his day short had quite a bit to do with the quiet effort, it's worth pointing out that he had 10 rushing attempts and a receiving target before his departure. Coleman's fantasy managers started him in 51.0 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 16, which ranked among the 20 most-started running backs (18th, to be exact), so this probably let down quite a lot of people in their finals. If he's healthy enough to play in Week 17, he'd get a more favorable matchup in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at least.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Make that back-to-back weeks in which Brate has scored fewer than three PPR fantasy points, with his 2.8 points on Sunday coming on the heels of a 1.9-point Week 15, hinting that the latter wasn't entirely matchups-driven -- remember, he was facing the stingy Baltimore Ravens in that one, but he faced the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Brate just hasn't had the level of chemistry with Jameis Winston that he had in seasons past, and he shouldn't be active in as many as the 34.3 percent of ESPN leagues (12th-highest among tight ends) that he was on Sunday.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers: For the first time all season, Rivers was held beneath 13.5 fantasy points in a game, with his 3.3 on Saturday night representing his worst single-game score since he had minus-2.2 in 2014 Week 9. It continued what has been a miserable pattern of performances by quarterbacks facing the Baltimore Ravens, as in the past five weeks combined, Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Patrick Mahomes, James Winston and Rivers have scored only 45.8 fantasy points against them. It's something to keep tucked away if you're counting on Baker Mayfield, the Ravens' Week 17 opponent, in your finals matchup. Despite the poor matchup, Rivers was started in 50.6 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 16, 10th-highest among quarterbacks.