Week 16 fantasy football winners and losers: Todd Gurley makes history

Todd Gurley is making fantasy football history at the most important time of the season. AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

Happy holidays, Todd Gurley's fantasy football managers! What a gift he's given you.

The third-year Los Angeles Rams running back put together another carry-his-teams-on-his-back performance on Sunday, scoring 49.6 PPR fantasy points. It was the second consecutive week that he scored at least 45, making him the first player to do that in back-to-back games since at least 1950.

That's big news considering how commonly found Gurley was on ESPN finalists' rosters: He was on them in 39.2 percent of leagues, second most among all players behind only Alvin Kamara (48.3 percent), after having steered his teams to the playoffs in 65.1 percent of leagues before that, the third-highest percentage among all players.

As we do each week, we recap the week's winners and losers from a fantasy perspective, complete with applicable game and historical data. Check back after the conclusion of the 1 and 4 p.m. ET games for our picks of the week's best and worst.


Todd Gurley II, RB, Rams: Naturally he tops the list, and the Gurley fun facts hardly stop with the one above. His 49.6 PPR fantasy points set a new career high, one week after he had set his previous personal best, and they gave him a whopping 123.1 points in Weeks 14-16, which are the first three out of four traditional playoff weeks in ESPN leagues (not to mention the entirety of the traditional playoffs in a lot of other leagues). During the bye-week era -- 1990 forward -- no other player has scored that many:

Gurley now has a commanding lead in PPR fantasy points for the season, with 383.3, which is already the 20th-best total by any running back in NFL history with one game to play. His 319.3 non-PPR points are 21st-best. With the Rams clinching the NFC West title on Sunday and standing little chance at earning a first-round bye, however, Gurley might play sparingly in Week 17.

Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots: He saved his best for when it counts most in fantasy, as his 32.3 PPR and 27.3 non-PPR fantasy points on Sunday both set new personal bests, easily exceeding his 23.8/17.8 of 2015 Week 2. Lewis was started in 67.3 percent of ESPN leagues, 15th highest among running backs and representing the fifth consecutive week that he was started in at least 60 percent of leagues.

Jared Goff, QB, Rams: Gurley wasn't the Rams' only fantasy star on Sunday. Goff continued his breakthrough season with 25.44 fantasy points of his own, his third game of at least 25 since the Rams' Week 8 bye (and fourth with at least 300 yards and two touchdowns passing). He was started in 38.9 percent of ESPN leagues, only 13th highest among quarterbacks, but fantasy teams recognized this as one of his more favorable matchups, as it was his third-highest start percentage of his career (54.6 percent, Week 10; 43.9 percent, Week 13, both this season).

Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: He saw his start percentage in ESPN leagues dip to just 5.2 percent on Sunday after Joe Mixon was declared active for the game, but Bernard benefited from Mixon's subsequent ankle injury in the first quarter, scoring a career-high 29.8 PPR fantasy points. His 22.8 non-PPR points, however, fell just shy of his 2014 Week 2 total of 22.9. Should Mixon miss Week 17, Bernard would be one of the better additions, with potential low-end RB2/high-end flex appeal.

C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos: For the third consecutive week, he had at least 20 touches, and on Sunday he turned his 23 into 28.3 PPR and 21.3 non-PPR fantasy points. Those were his best single-game totals since Week 2 (30.4 and 27.4). Anderson's start percentage rose this week along with his recent usage uptick, as his 42.2 percent rate was his highest since Week 9 (54.3).

Antonio Gates, TE, Los Angeles Chargers: For the first time since 2016 Week 16, Gates scored at least 20 PPR fantasy points, his 20.1 leading all tight ends during the 1 p.m. ET games. He had played 15 games between 20-point performances, most of that the result of the Chargers' increased usage of and focus upon young tight end Hunter Henry. With Henry now sidelined for the season, however, Gates found himself rostered in 16.7 percent and started in 9.6 percent of ESPN leagues on Sunday, up significantly from 3.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, in Week 15. Gates gets another outstanding matchup to conclude his season in Week 17, facing the Oakland Raiders.

Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions: He came awfully close to his previous personal bests in fantasy points on Sunday, scoring 19.3 using PPR and 14.3 using non-PPR scoring, with those both falling just short of his 19.9/14.9 in 2015 Week 7. It gave Ebron a third consecutive week with at least 14.3 PPR fantasy points, marking just the second time in his career he has had a streak of that length (also 2016 Weeks 8-11).

Jakeem Grant, WR, Miami Dolphins: Would you believe that he was started in 0.03 percent of ESPN leagues on Sunday? Hey, someone reaped the benefits of his unexpectedly good performance, as he scored 21 PPR fantasy points, second most among wide receivers from the 1 p.m. ET games. Grant's six targets still ranked tied for third (with Kenny Stills) among Dolphins wide receivers, so don't consider it a trend just yet.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: For the 32nd time in his 14-year, 217-game career, Fitzgerald scored more than 25 PPR fantasy points, moving him into a tie for seventh-most all-time among wide receivers. His 27.7 points also gave him 247.9 for the season, giving him a ninth season in his career with at least 240. Among wide receivers, only Jerry Rice (14) had as many or more such campaigns.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers: He scored a career-high 21.98 fantasy points, a feat that's all the more impressive if you consider he did it against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who entered the week having allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (9.4). Garoppolo's score was actually the most by any quarterback against the Jaguars all season -- Russell Wilson's 21.84 from Week 14 was the previous high. Despite the tough matchup, Garoppolo was started in 8.2 percent of ESPN leagues, and those bold enough to fall within that group were rewarded handsomely.


Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Considering his career success against the New Orleans Saints -- he entered Sunday's game having averaged 24.0 PPR and 20.2 non-PPR fantasy points in his past six games against them -- Freeman's output against them this time was particularly disappointing. He scored just 5.6 PPR and 3.6 non-PPR fantasy points, and despite his getting only 11 carries and 13 touches, it can't be said that he was lacking in opportunity. Freeman received three goal-line opportunities -- rushing plays within 3 yards of the goal line -- and failed to convert on all three, including a lost fumble on one. He was the eighth-most started running back in ESPN leagues (92.8 percent).

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings: After scoring 51.5 non-PPR fantasy points the past five weeks combined, second most among tight ends, and 69.5 PPR points, fourth most at the position, Rudolph tallied a quiet 0.6 and 1.6 in either format on Saturday night. Both were his second-lowest scores of 2017, and came at a most inopportune time -- the fantasy championships, a week during which he was started in 58.7 percent of ESPN leagues.

Case Keenum, QB, Vikings: It was the wrong week for him to set a new career high for ESPN start percentage (41.5), as Keenum delivered just 9.36 fantasy points for his teams on Saturday. It was his lowest score since Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens, and to give you a sense of how much more popular Keenum has become in fantasy in the nine weeks since, he was on only 11.0 percent and started in just 3.0 percent of ESPN rosters in Week 7. He is currently rostered in 69.0 percent of leagues.

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers: After he put forth a massive, 26.6-point PPR fantasy score in Week 15, Olsen saw his start percentage in ESPN leagues soar, going from 22.8 percent then to 74.7 percent on Sunday. That made him the fifth-most started tight end of Week 16, but Olsen delivered his teams only 5.7 PPR and 2.7 non-PPR fantasy points. As a result, he'll be difficult to trust entering Week 17.

Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: After totaling 38.1 PPR fantasy points in his first three games since returning from suspension, Gordon finally suffered a quiet day on Sunday, scoring just 3.9 on his eight targets. That was his fifth-worst single-game total out of 39 in his career. Gordon was started in 43.3 percent of ESPN leagues.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers: He couldn't muster a solid fantasy point total in either of his two games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who entered Week 16 having allowed the most PPR fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (40.7), and while one could attribute Funchess' Week 8 score to his being second in the pecking order behind Kelvin Benjamin, that excuse wasn't available on Sunday. Funchess, who was listed as questionable with a shoulder injury yet suited up, scored just 4.1 PPR fantasy points on four targets, the second consecutive week he scored fewer than five.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots: Speaking of wide receivers who posted poor fantasy point totals in both games against a divisional opponent this season, Cooks struggled on Sunday for the second time against the Buffalo Bills in 2017. His 4.5 PPR fantasy points represented his second-worst single-game total of the season, behind only his 4.2 of Week 13, also against the Bills. Cooks was started in 84.7 percent of ESPN leagues, seventh highest among wide receivers in Week 16.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys: Well, there goes the "Ezekiel Elliott's absence is making it easier to defend Prescott" excuse. In Elliott's return to the lineup, Prescott scored a mere 5.38 fantasy points, his third game of fewer than 10 in his past six and fourth in his past nine. Prescott was started in 48.7 percent of ESPN leagues, ninth-highest among quarterbacks. He'll be a shaky starter in Week 17 facing the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys: Prescott's performance pulled down Bryant's, as the wide receiver scored a season-low 5.4 PPR fantasy points. Bryant was started in 80.6 percent of ESPN leagues, 13th-highest among wide receivers. His matchup isn't much more favorable in Week 17 against the Eagles, though the prospect that the Eagles could rest some of their defensive regulars should at least keep him WR2-worthy.