Congratulations on making it to Championship Week, people. Let's go get this ring. Every title is special, but the degree-of-difficulty has never been higher than it is in 2021.
Below, you'll find a collection of priority pickups for the biggest week of the season, all available in over 50 percent of leagues.
Wide receivers and tight ends to prioritize
Kadarius Toney, New York Giants (22% rostered)
It's been so long since we've seen Kadarius Toney that it feels like he played on one of those Victor Cruz-Hakeem Nicks teams. But, in fact, he's just a rookie. Toney had missed a month of Giants football due to a medley of injuries and a trip to the reserve/COVID-19 list, but he finally returned on Sunday, leading the team in targets (9). He caught just four balls for 28 yards, but that's a reflection of the quality of QB play for New York.
Toney flashed his silly potential and live-wire quickness back in October, when he caught 16 balls for 267 yards in back-to-back games. He's entirely playable when healthy, a good bet for double-digit targets.
Recommended offer (assuming $100 budget): What are you saving it for? You can't take these fake dollars into 2022. If you need a guy, empty the wallet.
Isaiah McKenzie, Buffalo Bills (1%)
We all knew some Bills receiver was likely to feast with both Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but few of us assumed Isaiah McKenzie was gonna be the guy. All he did in Week 16 at New England was catch 11 balls for 125 yards on a dozen targets. He got the scoring started for Buffalo with a short early catch from the slot...
Josh Allen finds Isaiah McKenzie for the first TD today 🔥pic.twitter.com/0kzbkaXjdI
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) December 26, 2021
Let the record show that Beasley hasn't produced a game this season as productive as the one just delivered by McKenzie. It's nice to have a return specialist who can step into a high-volume receiving role and repeatedly torch an excellent pass D. McKenzie's receiving services will presumably be needed this week as well, and the matchup against Atlanta has plenty of appeal.
Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers (24%)
With Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the COVID list, it was no great surprise to see Allen Lazard find the end zone in the Christmas matchup with Cleveland. By now, you've surely seen the touchdown, because it was a somewhat notable career milestone for the passer...
The pass that made history.
Merry Christmas, Aaron 🎄pic.twitter.com/EXXSp3Un6Q
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) December 25, 2021
Lazard is a mega-receiver (6-foot-5) who obviously enjoys rapport with Aaron Rodgers, and he's made five house calls on the year. If MVS can't return in Week 16 against Minnesota, Lazard definitely gets a rankings bump.
Additional WRs to consider: K.J. Osborn (he's back in our plans after Adam Thielen aggravated his ankle injury on Sunday), Byron Pringle (if you're adding him, you're really just chasing touchdowns; KC should get Travis Kelce back in the mix at Cincinnati this week), Kendrick Bourne (he had a quiet Week 16, but he's been a playmaker all season and the Jaguars are up next).
TEs deserving attention: Gerald Everett (he was relentlessly open against the Bears, making yet another house call), Foster Moreau (he's topped 60 receiving yards in back-to-back games, playing in relief of Darren Waller).
Running backs on the wire
Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans (14%)
Rex Burkhead actually entered Week 16 averaging fewer than 3.0 yards per carry, a remarkable level of inefficiency that few teams would tolerate. But the Texans are not necessarily burdened by high standards, nor do they have many viable options at running back with David Johnson sidelined by a quad injury.
Burkhead took full advantage of a soft Chargers run defense on Sunday, delivering his best performance of the season by far. He carried 22 times for a ridiculous 149 yards, with a pair of touchdowns included. His early 25-yard TD opened the scoring for Houston...
Rex Burkhead gives the Texans the lead! pic.twitter.com/fKiFm7d488
— PFF HOU Texans (@PFF_Texans) December 26, 2021
Burkhead has handled double-digit touches in five of his last six games, so workload certainly isn't a concern. He's about to face a Niners defense that's allowed 17 rushing TDs on the season. Many of us are desperate for backfield resources right now, so Rex is on the radar.
Jordan Howard and Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles (16% and 15%)
Jordan Howard returned from a multi-game knee injury in Week 15 with a 15-carry effort against the Football Team, then he saw another healthy workload on Sunday. Howard handled 11 touches against the Giants, gaining 56 total yards (but also dealing with a stinger). He somehow managed to catch a pair of passes, too, despite being notoriously useless as a receiving threat. Miles Sanders exited with a hand fracture on Sunday, so there's a decent chance we'll see plenty of Howard and Boston Scott this week in a rematch with Washington. Scott found the end zone on Sunday, per his usual against the Giants.
Offer: $9 each
Dare Ogunbowale, Jacksonville Jaguars (1%)
Dare Ogunbowale is the next man up for Jacksonville after James Robinson's season came to a cruel end on Sunday. Ogunbowale managed to convert a short score against the Jets, though he rushed for only 57 yards on 17 carries. He's been an inefficient (3.5 YPC) and mostly unspectacular runner at multiple NFL stops over the past five seasons. His odds of doing anything notable next week at New England aren't great — I'm writing him up more as a warning than as a recommendation. You'd just be hoping he might score the Jags' lone offensive touchdown.
Various other add-worthy RBs: Derrick Gore (Clyde Edwards-Helaire was sidelined by a collarbone injury on Sunday — not before giving us a highlight TD run — which creates a path to touches for Gore; X-rays were negative for CEH, so his status is TBD), Duke Johnson (it's hard to overstate how good he was in a friendly matchup against the Jets last week, rushing for 107 yards on 22 attempts).
Quarterbacks deserving attention
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers (12%)
Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a significant thumb injury in Week 16, which means Trey Lance will likely make his second career start on Sunday when the Niners host the Texans. Lance wasn't exactly surgically precise against Arizona back in Week 5 (15-for-29), but he did run the ball a whopping 16 times, gaining 89 yards. Houston's defense ranks next-to-last against the run this season (141.3 YPG), so Lance likely won't need a huge passing total in order to achieve fantasy relevance. He has a clear shot at a top-12 positional finish.
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears (23%)
If Justin Fields can manage return from his ankle issue this week, he'll face a Giants defense that was recently pummeled by Philadelphia and has given up 92 points over the past three games. Fields has averaged 201.7 passing yards and 51.6 rushing yards over his last seven starts. He also just got Allen Robinson back from the COVID list, for what it's worth.
Other QBs of interest: Davis Mills (another week, another multi-TD game for the Stanford rookie; impressively, he managed to pass for 254 and 2 with Brandin Cooks sidelined), Carson Wentz (he's only attempting 20-or-so passes per week lately, but his receiving corps is solid).
Defenses to stream
Chicago Bears (16%)
To be perfectly honest, I can find nothing particularly positive to say about the recent performance of the Bears defense. But I also can't find anything positive to say about any option the Giants are going to have at quarterback next week, so we can reasonably stream Chicago's D and hope for a takeaway or two.