Colts running back Jonathan Taylor suffered a sprained ankle injury on the third offensive play of the game Saturday against the Vikings. He did not return and is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Taylor’s fantasy season was disappointing to say the least, as he averaged only 13.3 points and had just two games with 20-plus.
Following Taylor’s injury, Zack Moss (rostered in 0.7% of ESPN leagues) and Deon Jackson (11.9%) rotated at running back for the Colts. The situation could become even more complicated for fantasy managers if Jordan Wilkins (0.0%) is activated from the Colts’ practice squad in his place. During Taylor’s last absence, Wilkins served as the backup behind Jackson.
My first choice on the waiver wire would be Moss, who finished Saturday with 81 rushing yards on 24 attempts and played 67% of snaps. With matchups against the Chargers and Giants, Indianapolis has one of the most favorable schedules for running backs in Weeks 16-17. Moss is firmly on the RB2 radar and could be a league-winning acquisition for fantasy managers who take a calculated risk. Why a risk? Well, it cannot be emphasized enough that the Colts backfield could still become a three-man committee.
Here are some other RB options to consider if you have to replace Taylor.
James Cook, Buffalo Bills (47.4%): Cook and Devin Singletary have been used interchangeably for the past three weeks, which is frustrating for fantasy managers. Cook played 28 snaps against the Dolphins, while Singletary played 46. When you look at routes run, both are active receivers out of the backfield. Cook, however, has scored 12-plus fantasy points in two of his past three games. Cook should be on your radar in Week 16 as Chicago allows the seventh-most RB fantasy points per game.
Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons (33.5%): Allgeier posted a season-high 22.6 fantasy points in Desmond Ridder’s first career start. In 10 of his 13 games this season, he has had double-digit touches. Allgeier leads the Falcons in rushing attempts, rushing yards and rushes of over 20 yards. He’s also the only running back on the team with at least 20 attempts not to have fumbled. With Caleb Huntley likely out for the season because of an ankle injury, Allgeier should continue to play an important role in the Falcons backfield. With upcoming matchups against the Ravens and Cardinals, Allgeier is a strong flex option who can provide managers with a high floor.
Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers (25.9%): It is possible that Hubbard takes over as the Panthers’ lead running back after D’Onta Foreman’s recent struggles. Sunday against the Steelers marked Foreman’s fourth game in six weeks with 3.5 yards or less per rushing attempt. Over that time, he has scored double-digit fantasy points only twice. Hubbard played 63% of snaps against the Steelers, with a high percentage of them on early downs. In passing situations, he remains the team’s primary running back. Against a Lions defense in Week 16 that has allowed the second-most total yards per game, Hubbard can be viewed as a high-end flex option.
Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears (27.6%): Herbert has been on injured reserve since mid-November but could return to the Bears lineup in Week 16 against the Bills. David Montgomery and Herbert had been working together in the backfield before Herbert’s hip injury. Against the Bills in Week 16, Herbert is not a recommended start, but against the Lions in Week 17, he could be utilized as a flex option. Herbert has had double-digit touches in six games this season, with double-digit fantasy points in five of them — including three games of over 15 points. The Bears lead the league with 34.6 rushing attempts per game.
Royce Freeman, Houston Texans (0.0%): After being promoted from the practice squad Saturday, Freeman led the Texans backfield in both rushing attempts (11) and rushing yards (51). There’s no doubt Houston’s backfield is a fluid three-back committee with Rex Burkhead and Dare Ogunbowale, but managers in deeper formats should consider stashing Freeman to see how things unfold. Starting Freeman against the Titans in Week 16 would be a bad idea, but when he faces the Jaguars in Week 17, he should be a much better play. Jacksonville has allowed the 11th-most RB fantasy points.
Let’s take a look at our recommended Week 16 ESPN Fantasy waiver wire adds at the other skill positions.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (57.8%): Jones has the reputation of being a game manager and, to be candid, he does have to fill that role for the Giants sometimes as he did Sunday. Even so, five of Jones’ past six games have seen him score 17-plus fantasy points. In Weeks 16-17, the Giants will face the Vikings and Colts, which is great news for managers struggling at the QB position. For managers looking to stream Jones, both matchups are very favorable.
Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos (39.9%): Wilson did not play against the Cardinals on Sunday. Even though he reportedly made it through the league’s concussion protocol, Wilson was given additional rest by the Broncos. The veteran quarterback is tied to a Denver offense that ranks 27th with 316.1 total yards per game and he ranks as QB32 with 15.6 points per game. In Week 14, however, Wilson posted 25.5 fantasy points against the Chiefs, one of his best performances this season. If you need a quarterback, it would be wise to proactively pick up Wilson since he faces Kansas City again in Week 17. The Chiefs’ defense has allowed the fourth-most QB fantasy points.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers (8.0%): After missing the Sunday game against the Panthers, there is a strong chance Pickett will be available in a favorable matchup against the Raiders in Week 16. Until Week 14 when he suffered a concussion, Pickett had scored 12-plus fantasy points in four straight games , including two with at least 16. Pickett also surpassed six rushing attempts in three of those four games. The Raiders defense has allowed the seventh-most QB fantasy points.
Zach Wilson, New York Jets (7.0%): Wilson had his best fantasy performance of the season Sunday against the Lions, scoring 19.3. Because the Jets play again Thursday night, Mike White won’t have much time to recover from the rib injury that kept him out for Week 15. Wilson is likely to start again, facing a Jaguars defense that has allowed the fifth-most QB fantasy points.
Quick hits: In two of his first three games, Brock Purdy (22.6%) has scored 16-plus fantasy points. Purdy has a very high floor in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, given the playmakers who surround him.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns (50.8%): This season, Peoples-Jones continues to play a high number of snaps and run a lot of routes. Peoples-Jones has scored double-digit fantasy points in nine of his past 11 games, including two with 17-plus points. He caught the game’s only touchdown Sunday against the Ravens and has amassed 19 total targets over the past three weeks. He’s a very good flex option.
Demarcus Robinson, Baltimore Ravens (8.1%): Robinson has emerged as the Ravens’ top receiver since the team’s bye week. Four of the past five games have seen him reach or exceed six targets and score double-digit fantasy points. Since the Ravens rank seventh in rushing yards per game, it’s hard to trust any of their receivers, but Robinson will face a Falcons defense in Week 16 that has allowed the fifth-most WR fantasy points per game. He can be viewed as a flex option by managers in deeper formats.
Darius Slayton, New York Giants (42.2%): Slayton has accumulated only 10 targets and 13.5 fantasy points over the past two games. However, during his previous eight he reached double-digit fantasy points six times. Slayton should bounce back against the Vikings’ struggling secondary. He can be viewed as a flex option.
Chris Moore, Houston Texans (17.4%): Moore continues to operate as the Texans’ No. 1 receiver with Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins sidelined by their respective injuries. Moore has amassed 20 targets over his past two games. So, despite his low 8.2 fantasy points Sunday against the Chiefs, he is on the flex radar in Week 16 against a Titans defense that has allowed the most WR fantasy points.
Richie James, New York Giants (1.2%): James has accumulated only 26 targets since Week 11, but he has still managed to score 13-plus fantasy points in three of his past five games. James is on the flex radar against a Vikings defense that allows the third-most WR fantasy points and he can be viewed as a flex option.
Marquise Goodwin, Seattle Seahawks (1.0%): Tyler Lockett broke a bone in an index finger Thursday night against the 49ers and will be out for the remainder of the fantasy football season. Goodwin will take over as the Seahawks’ No. 2 receivers. Seattle has upcoming matchups against the Chiefs, Jets and Rams. Kansas City’s defense has allowed the sixth-most WR fantasy points. For his career, Goodwin has been targeted at least five times in 33 games, averaging 3.5 receptions and 57.5 receiving yards in those games. Goodwin can be viewed as a flex option in deeper formats.
Quick hits: Hunter Renfrow (30.4%) only played 42.6% of snaps and finished with three targets Sunday against the Patriots in his first game since being activated from IR. Against a weak Steelers secondary in Week 16, he could see more snaps and targets. … DJ Chark (30.6%) and the Lions had a difficult matchup Sunday against the Jets secondary. He should have more success against the Panthers in Week 16.
Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans (14.8%): The rookie tight end has been targeted 16 times over his past three games and scored double-digit fantasy points in each. Okonkwo leads all tight ends in yards per route run, although he has had to split both snaps and routes run with Austin Hooper all season long. Okonkwo is on the TE1 radar against the Texans in Week 16 as one of the top targets in the Titans’ passing game.
Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints (15.6%): On Sunday, Johnson (ankle) returned to action for the first time since Week 12. Despite playing only 50% of snaps and running 13 routes against the Falcons, he led the Saints with six targets. Johnson caught four of them for 67 yards and two touchdowns. The past seven games in which he has played have seen him score seven receiving touchdowns, which leads the Saints this season. Even though he’s very TD-dependent, Johnson remains on the TE1 radar because the position’s landscape is as barren as a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Quick hits: Jordan Akins (0.6%) has had five-plus targets in three of the past four games for the Texans. … Robert Tonyan (24.6%) is in a great spot against the Dolphins in Week 16. Miami’s defense has allowed the third-most TE fantasy points. … Although both players ran a similar number of routes, Cade Otton (6.4%) played more snaps than Cameron Brate against the Bengals on Sunday. The Buccaneers face the Cardinals in Week 16. Arizona’s defense has given up the most TE fantasy points.