9 route: Top 9 fantasy football waiver targets in Week 16

Derrick Henry, Titans' closer, has earned role to warrant fantasy championship week consideration

Published: Updated:
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) scores a touchdown past Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ramik Wilson, left, during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga) — Ed Zurga

Every Tuesday, Arthur Arkush shares his top nine waiver wire targets for fantasy football players. This will focus exclusively on players owned in less than 50 percent of all Yahoo! leagues.

A note of caution: just because a player is on this list, it doesn't mean readers should exhaust their claim priority and/or waiver budget. Those decisions should be based on individual roster makeup, injuries and other outside forces.

Have specific roster questions for your fantasy team? Tweet @ArthurArkush

Just missed the cut: Colin Kaepernick, Matt Moore, Cameron Meredith, Ted Ginn, Chris Hogan, Jack Doyle, Charles Sims, Justin Forsett

9. Bears QB Matt Barkley: In his two home starts against potential playoff clubs, Barkley has two 300-plus yard passing games to go along with five touchdowns and five interceptions for QB11 and QB14 finishes. Both of those outputs were padded in garbage time, but that could be the case again against a desperate Washington club with an explosive offense and dismal defense. Barkley may actually use Alshon Jeffery from jump street, too, after he was dominant late Sunday following an invisible first half back from suspension. The Bears are 3-11 and going nowhere fast, but these games mean much more to Barkley and Jeffery.

8. Jaguars WR Marqise Lee: We mentioned in last week's buzz Dave Caldwell's job security received a boost from Marqise Lee's Year Three coming out party. Coming off the most prolific receiving yardage total of his carer (5-113), Lee was blanked by a tough Houston defense, but not without an encouraging sign for a true playmaker: Lee still left his imprint on the game with a 100-yard scoring explosion on a third-quarter kickoff return. This week, Lee looks to rebound against a Tennessee secondary that's among the NFL's worst.

7. Cardinals WR J.J. Nelson: There's no greater fan of the actual 9 route than Bruce Arians, but who knew he read the author of this column, who last week said it might behoove Arians to get Nelson the ball more. Sure enough, in his first game since Michael Floyd's abrupt exit, Nelson saw double-digit targets for the second time in his career, securing five of them for 38 yards and a score. He nearly secured a second touchdown, from 50-plus yards out, but he dropped a beauty of a Carson Palmer deep ball. Nonetheless, his role, as expected, is increasing, and although the vaunted Seattle secondary is normally one to avoid, it can't hide Steven Terrell and DeShawn Shead.

6. Washington WR Pierre Garcon: Jordan Reed's separated shoulder has rendered him totally ineffective, a shame for his owners because he's destroyed Chicago in his career. But it's not a shame for Garcon, who continues to put up low-end WR3 production — not splashy but necessary. Most of the members of the Bears secondary, fantasy's fifth-worst vs. wideouts, were on their learner's permits when Garcon was breaking through with the Colts. He'll continue to take advantage of Reed's inactivity and, Sunday, the Bears' tykes.

5. Chargers TE Hunter Henry: Despite 24 fewer targets, Henry has 36 more receiving yards and two more touchdowns than future first ballot Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. In addition to his second score in as many weeks, Henry vs. Oakland had his first explosive catch in more than two months as part of a modest 3-37-1 line. There's been nothing modest about what tight ends, even underachievers like Charles Clay a week ago, have done to the Browns. Henry is Reed replacement No. 1 this week, followed closely by Vernon Davis.

4. Patriots RB Dion Lewis: He not only ran like he was all the way back health-wise Sunday in Denver, a player known more for his dynamic ability in space impressed with determination and leg drive and was rewarded with career-highs in carries (18) and yards (95), both leading a typically Blount-driven backfield. The kicker here is the Jets, for all their faults, remain tough to run on, and opting to play roulette in a Belichick backfield during championship week is nothing if not risky.

3. Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon: His first two career touchdowns have come in consecutive games — as a receiver in Week 14 and runner Sunday. Dixon has averaged 12 touches per game over his past six games, an impressive feat, buoyed by Dixon's receiving chops, when considering Marty Morninwheg's insistence on ignoring the ground game. The Steelers 'D' has been strong since shutting down Baltimore's backs in Pittsburgh's Week Nine defeat, but even Morninwheg understands the best chance at upsetting Big Ben and Co. and remaining in the playoffs is relegating that offense to the sideline.

2. Titans RB Derrick Henry: A change has happened with the Titans of late, and we're not talking about Mike Mularkey morphing into a gambler with that ridiculous two-point conversion attempt with his team trailing by one point in the final three minutes in Kansas City. Henry has become Tennessee's finisher, closing out scoring drives and games. His four touchdowns have all come in the past five games, including his first two-score affair a week ago, and he's averaging more than 10 carries over that span, beginning with a career-high 107 scrimmage yards against, you guessed it, the Jaguars.

1. Chargers WR Dontrelle Inman: Christmas comes one day early for Inman, who, after failing to reach the end zone for the first time in a month but still posting a modest 5-68 vs. Oakland, visits the Browns for championship week. (Points for using "Browns" and "championship" in same sentence?) Inman, not Tyrell Williams, has been San Diego's most productive pass catcher over the past three weeks and he hasn't fallen short of 58 yards or a score just once over the past eight games. There won't be a more comfortable claim to make this week.