Should You Start Rashee Rice or Jaylen Waddle in Fantasy Football in Week 16?

Rashee Rice and Jaylen Waddle are two great fantasy football WR options -- which of the two emerging young WRs is the better start in Week 16?

We’re diving into the outlooks for Rashee Rice and Jaylen Waddle in fantasy football for Week 16. Who is the better wide receiver to start this week?

Should You Start Rashee Rice or Jaylen Waddle This Week?

The Pro Football Network Start/Sit Optimizer says Waddle is the player to start. His projected 12.8 points include 4.0 receptions, 71.2 yards, and 0.4 TDs. That doesn’t seem like a big stat line, but it outperforms the PFN Consensus Projection for Rice (11.1 points).

However, when you isolate my rankings, I see Rice outperforming Waddle due to volume and role in the offense. Look, Waddle likely carried teams in the playoffs last week, but that was without Tyreek Hill. With Hill back, give me the Chiefs WR1 over the Dolphins WR2.

Fantasy Outlook for Rice This Week

Rice has officially arrived full time, and it’s a beautiful sight for fantasy managers and Chiefs fans alike. After being used cautiously to start 2023, Rice has seen a dramatic increase in his place in the Chiefs’ WR room.

Going back the last four weeks, Rice has seen nine or 10 targets in every game. In his last two weeks, he’s been playing over 85% of snaps to go along with the targets. It took a while, but the Chiefs realized that Rice and Travis Kelce are the two primary pass catchers that Patrick Mahomes needs to run at least a competent offense.

This Raiders’ matchup on Christmas Day may look like a fine one, but the week of the Rice breakout was the Chiefs’ first game against Las Vegas. So we’ve already seen Rice go off to the tune of 10 targets, eight catches, 107 yards, and a TD. It’s not a game to shy away from or worry about the Chiefs not needing to use Rice.

Rice should continue his positive trend this week and feels like a lock for around eight catches. Given his 11 yards per catch, that puts Rice at just shy of 90 yards and a strong possibility of a TD, given he catches one on an average of every 10 receptions.

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They scheme him up near the goal line as a stronger runner with the ball in his hands.

All this to say, Rice feels much more likely to score 15 points this week, and that projection probably makes Rice a borderline WR1 for the week. Now, let’s examine Waddle’s outlook.

Fantasy Outlook for Waddle This Week

Waddle had what was his best fantasy output of 2023 in Week 15. It’s hard not to couple that with the fact that Hill missed the game, though. Surprisingly, his target volume didn’t change all that much, just the output of his production.

Waddle caught eight of the nine balls thrown his way for 142 yards and a score in the game. That is fantastic, especially in a tough matchup against the Jets defense. The Dolphins face another stiff test in Week 16 when the Cowboys come to town.

The hard part of facing the Cowboys, after watching them get destroyed by the Bills, is that, right now, the best bet is to run the ball against them. Jonathan Hankins’s absence destroyed their run defense and allowed James Cook to carve them up.

I’d expect a smart coach like Mike McDaniel to lean into that weakness and use the strong Miami rushing attack to beat a good Cowboys team.

Teams tend to copy game plans, and until Dallas shows they can stop the run, expect them to get attacked there. With Hill back as the primary passing option and a strong run game, will the Dolphins need Waddle?

The simple answer is not to the same extent as in Week 15. Look for a lot of Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane this week and less Hill and Waddle.

Waddle is absolutely in play as a WR2/3 with WR1 upside, but the risk is much higher on him for a similar level of upside to Rice. That just isn’t worth the gamble in most, if not all, situations.

Looking to make a trade in your fantasy league? Having trouble deciding who to start and who to sit? Setting DFS lineups? Check out PFN’s Free Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer, Start/Sit Optimizer, and DFS Lineup Optimizer to help you make the right decision!

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