Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers
Last weekend might not have been the best time of the year to dive into the bag of tricks, but considering how advanced leagues are getting with multiple flex spots and the excessive number of big-name injuries in the NFL this season, finding a few fantasy football sleepers could be exactly what you need to advance to the post-season in your league.
This article also works great for those of you who are calling it a year and are looking for some DFS Sleepers for DraftKings or Fanduel. I would also suggest checking out our Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings for more tips and advice.
Week 15 showcased a plethora of sleeper quarterbacks on the overall fantasy football scoring leaderboard. With players that include Eli Manning (4th with 27.4 points), Jameis Winston (6th with 25.8), Brock Osweiler (7th with 25.5), Nick Foles (7th with 25.5). Blake Bortles (8th with 25), Tyrod Taylor (23.2) and Joe Flacco (15th with 21.8), seven of the nine signal callers who finished in the top 15 are viewed sleepers. What does that mean? Well, entering Week 16, which is championship week in most league formats, it may be time to trust a player like Borltes or Flacco over a notable name in a bad matchup. Plus, if you’re chasing points, you more than likely need the upside. In a do or die scenario, do what do have to do to take home the gold.
Most-Productive Players from Week 15
Sleepers Week 15: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Position||Rank||Points||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 15 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Entering Week 16, some fantasy owners may be forced to shop the waiver wire due to a handful of notable injuries around the league. With players that include Aaron Rodgers (again), Antonio Brown, and Davante Adams all succumbing to injuries last week, be sure to check out Andrew Erickson’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 16 to assist you with filling the vacant holes on your fantasy rosters. You can read that here.
Week 16 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 24.2%
I’m not going to mess around here. I’m going to continue to ride Blake Bortles — the QB2 with 91.2 fantasy points since Week 12 – into a plus Week 16 road matchup against the 49ers with the fantasy championship on the line. Not only is Bortles, who was once referred to as the king of garbage time, playing well in the second half of the year, but in his past games in the before mentioned time span, he’s thrown for a 1,063-7-1 QB stat line while adding another 87 yards and two touchdowns as a rusher. Moreover, he’s putting up those outstanding numbers with a receiving corps that is realistically shorthanded compared to what he came into the season with — remember Allen Robinson?
Although Bortles is facing an improved 49ers defense on Sunday, they have played better of late against the run primary due to the emergence of Rueben Foster. However, they are still surrendering the third most fantasy production to QBs at a 19.0 FPPG rate while allowing an opposing QB to accumulate at least 19.3 fantasy points in their past 4-of-7 games, I believe Bortles is in line to reach the 20 fantasy point plateau for the fourth time in his past five games — he’s done it in his last 3-of-4. Coming off of a Week 15 outing in which he finished as the QB5 with 25 fantasy points throwing for a 326-3-0 stat line and finishing with a 143.8 QB Rating, Bortles has top-end QB1 upside in Week 15.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 5.0%
Like Blake Bortles above, I’m featuring Joe Flacco in my sleepers article for the second straight week. Why? Well in a similar fashion, Flacco has picked up his on-field performance in the second half of the year. However, rather than breaking out in his past four, the longtime Ravens’ signal caller has begun to emerge in his past three. Throwing for an 826-5-1 stat line while adding another two yards and a score on the ground, Flacco is the QB7 with 57.3 fantasy points in his past three games.
Coming off a Week 15 matchup in which he finished as the QB8 with 21.8 fantasy points, eclipsing the 20 point plateau for the first time in 2017 — he dropped a 288-1-0 stat line and another score on the ground against the Browns — Flacco is in line for his fourth consecutive productive outing Sunday in a home meeting with Indianapolis. And although Jeremy Maclin (knee) is doubtful to play with a knee injury, he’s been one of the biggest fantasy busts this season while Mike Wallace has re-emerged has Flacco’s top wideout. Therefore, his absence is seemingly meaningless. Facing a Colts defense yielding the eighth most fantasy points to QBs at a 17.8 FPPG pace — they’ve allowed at least 20.3 fantasy points to the position in their past 5-of-8 — Flacco holds back-end QB1 upside for Week 16.
Surpassing his projections expectations in five of his past eight games as well, I trust Flacco over a player like Kirk Cousins who is heading into a buzzsaw matchup with a Broncos defense that hasn’t surrendered a passing TD in their past two games, only allowing one rushing score in that time period, shutting down Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Jacoby Brissett. And while Cousins is on another level in comparison to the previously mentioned passers, the Redskins are playing with a depleted offensive line and backfield. It could be a long day for Cousins in Week 16. I would avoid him.[bctt tweet=”The #Broncos DEF has only allowed opposing QBs to throw for a combined 453 yards, 2 TD in their last 3 games” username=”GridironExperts”]
Week 16 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 31.9%
Although Christian McCaffrey is the top running back in Carolina from a fantasy perspective, Jonathan Stewart has emerged as an upside Flex option who is producing like an RB2 in the second half of the year. In fact, since Week 8, Stewart has rushed for 366 yards and six TDs on 92 carries, while being a non-factor in the passing game, which is McCaffrey’s forte. Accumulating at least 110 yards rushing or one TD in his past 5-of-7 games, Stewart is the RB19 with 69.5 fantasy points since Week 8.
Entering a favorable Week 16 matchup facing a Buccaneers defense surrendering the fourth most fantasy production to RBs at a 20.5 FPPG rate — they’ve allowed an opposing RB to accumulate at least 18.3 fantasy points in each of the past four games — Stewart is in line to bounce back from a poor showing in Week 15 in which he only totaled 36 yards on 11 touches (one reception) against the Packers. Moreover, with Robert Ayers (shoulder) already ruled out while Gerald McCoy (biceps) and Lavonte David (hamstring) are questionable to play with their respective injuries, the Tampa Bay defense could be exposed on the ground, which bodes well for Stewart’s fantasy outlook this week. Drawing at least 11 touches in all but one game in 2017, Stewart is a touchdown-dependent Flex option with RB2 upside for Week 16.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 24.9%
Although Ameer Abdullah entered 2017 with all the hype in the world, he has struggled as per usual, opening the door for Theo Riddick to emerge as the Lions’ top running back. In fact, while Abdullah was active last week, he not only fell behind Riddick on the depth chart, but he has also fallen behind Tion Green as well — Green carried the ball 10 times for 35 yards last week against Chicago. Leading all Lions’ RBs in offensive snaps with 33 — Green was second with 23 while Abdullah was third with eight — Riddick led all Detriot rushers with 61 total yards on 11 touches (three receptions), finishing Week 15 as the RB43 with 4.1 standard points and as the RB36 with 7.1 points in PPR.
Although Riddick is coming off of a rough week, he was extremely productive in the two games prior, totaling 155 yards and three TDs on 30 touches (11 catches). He was the RB9 with 33.5 points in standard formats and the RB6 44.5 points in PPR in that two game time span from Weeks 13-to-14.
Despite the lull in production last week, he accumulated at least 12.2 fantasy points in his past 2-of-3 games. As a result, I believe Riddick will bounce back and meet the double-digit fantasy points plateau in a plus Week 16 matchup against a Bengals defense that has been reeling of late. In fact, the Cincinnati defense that is surrendering the second most fantasy production to RBs at a 20.9 FPPG pace in 2017 has allowed an opposing RB to accumulate at least 182 total yards or a touchdown in each of their past three games. Facing a Bengals defense that has been especially terrible against PPR backs in recent weeks, yielding a 19-281-1 receiver stat line in a three-game time span since Week 12, Riddick is holding back-end RB2 upside for Week 16.
Week 16 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 35.5%
Since Antonio Brown (calf) is ruled out for Monday’s Christmas meeting against the Texans with a calf injury — he is not expected to return until the postseason — the door is open for both Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster to emerge as the Steelers’ top two wideouts for Week 16. However, since the rookie is holding a 63.6 percent start percentage at ESPN, he is disqualified from my sleepers article — though, you’re starting him if you roster him. Being started in 35.5 percent of leagues at ESPN, Bryant is the Pittsburgh WR I’m featuring for this week’s slate of games.
Although I’m not the biggest Bryant fan — if you followed me this offseason, you’ll remember he was one of my players to avoid this season — he is worth starting this week due to his opportunity with Brown sidelined. And while Smith-Schuster is the favorite to emerge on top, Bryant has the big-play talent to go off at any time, which makes him an intriguing fantasy option against a Texans secondary susceptible to the pass. Facing a Houston defense surrendering the second most fantasy points to WRs at a 25.1 FPPG rate — they allowed the combination of Keelan Cole, Jaydon Mickens, and Dede Westbrook to drop a 13-268-3 stat line on them in last week’s loss to the Jaguars — Bryant is a target-dependent boom or bust Flex option for Week 16.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 20.5 %
As I mentioned in the Joe Flacco blurb above, Jeremy Maclin (knee) is doubtful to play Saturday against the Colts with a knee injury, which opens the door for Mike Wallace to continue on his recent surge of production while maintaining his success in the second half of the year. In fact, catching 27-of-45 targets for 400 yards and two touchdowns in a six-game time span, Wallace is the WR31 with 52 standard points and the WR31 with 79 points in PPR since Week 9.
In his upcoming matchup against the Colts, Wallace and his team-leading 73 targets will oppose an Indianapolis defense surrendering the seventh most fantasy production to WRs at a 22.9 FPPG pace. However, while the Colts secondary has been exploited throughout the course of the season, they’ve been especially exposed since Week 9, giving up at least 12 fantasy points in four of their past six games, which bodes well for Wallace’s outlook. Hauling in at least four targets in six of his past seven games, plus while facing a Colts defense that has allowed an opposing WR to score at least one touchdown their past 6-of-7, Wallace is a touchdown-dependent WR3 with WR2 upside for Week 16.
Week 16 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 22.6%
Although it seemed like Darren Fells was emerging as the TE1 in Detroit early in the year, Eric Ebron has put those thoughts to bed in recent weeks. In fact, since Week 10, the inconsistent but talented tight end has caught 29-of-36 targets for 287 yards and two touchdowns. He is the TE8 with 38.7 points in standard formats and the TE6 with 67.7 PPR points in that six-game time span. And although the Lions are loaded with weapons that include Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Theo Riddick, I believe Ebron will continue to be effective in his upcoming favorable matchup against the Bengals.
Although Ebron’s matchup isn’t favorable on paper — the Bengals defense is yielding the 17th most fantasy points to TEs at a 7 FPPG rate — they have been soft against the position in recent weeks. In fact, they’ve allowed an opposing TE to accumulate at least 7.7 fantasy points and one touchdown in each of the past two games. Catching at least four targets or one touchdown in each of his past six games, Ebron is an opportunity-dependent TE1 with strong PPR upside in Week 16.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 7.4%
There is a trend in my Week 16 sleepers article, the Baltimore Ravens. With Joe Flacco and Mike Wallace featured above, Benjamin Watson is the third Baltimore offensive weapon I’m comfortable employing in Week 16. Why? Well, Watson is a pure matchup and opportunity option. With Jeremy Maclin (knee) out, I fully expect Wallace and Watson to continue drawing the bulk of Flacco’s targets — Watson is third on the team with 63.
Coming off of a strong Week 15 outing against the Browns in which he caught all four of his targets for 74 yards and a touchdown — Watson finished last week as the TE4 with 13.4 points — I believe Watson will be a factor in Saturday’s plus matchup against the Colts. Facing an Indianapolis defense that struggles to contain the tight end — they’ve surrendered the eighth most fantasy points to the position at an 8.2 FPPG rate –Watson, the TE10 with 21.8 fantasy points since Week 13 — he caught a touchdown in two of his past three games — is a touchdown-dependent TE2 for Week 16.
A player like Benjamin Watson is labeled a tournament-buster in DFS formats, especially with the opportunity he has in his upcoming matchup. For more extensive DFS knowledge, check out Mike Hauff’s Draft Kings Primer for Week 16. You can read that here.
Two Week 16 Fantasy Sleepers (In Case You’re Desperate)
ESPN Start-Percentage: 18.4%
I featured Rishard Matthews in my sleepers article last week as a desperation play with outstanding results. Coming off of a Week 15 outing in which he produced a 6-95-1 stat line against the 49ers, Matthews finished as the WR6 with 15.5 fantasy points on eight targets. And since Matthews is Marcus Mariota’s top pass-catcher not named Delanie Walker, I believe he will be a heavily-utilized asset in his upcoming matchup against the Rams, which could get out of hand early in Los Angeles’ favor.
Although Matthews’ matchup facing a Rams defense that is only surrendering the 27th most fantasy points to WRs at a 17.7 FPPG pace isn’t a favorable one on paper — they’ve allowed an opposing wideout to accumulate at least 11.1 fantasy points in four of their past seven games — I still believe it is a matchup that he could exploit, especially if the previously-mentioned scenario comes about and the Titans are playing catch-up. If they do, in fact, play from behind, the game-flow would work in Matthews’ favor. Facing a Rams defense that has allowed an opposing WR to accumulate at least 71 yards receiving or a TD in three of the past four games, Matthews is a game flow and opportunity-dependent Flex option in Week 16.
Dede Westbrook/ Keelan Cole
ESPN Start-Percentage: 13.9% | 10%
In a matchup opposing an improved 49ers’ run defense, I believe Blake Bortles, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole will all thrive in the passing game, even more so for the duo of wideouts with Marqise Lee (ankle) sidelined indefinitely with an ankle injury.
Although Westbrook was beginning to emerge in recent weeks, he’s been out-played and out-produced by Cole. In fact, since Week 13, while Westbrook is leading Cole in targets 19-to-15, the latter is crushing the former in production. Accumulating a 13-334-3 stat line in his past three games, Cole is the Jaguars wideout to employ over Westbrook and his 13-180-1 line entering Week 16. While Cole is the WR4 with 64.4 fantasy points in PPR scoring formats, Westbrook is the WR24 with 37 PPR points in the before-mentioned time period. However, don’t sleep on Westbrook. Averaging 12.3 FPPG in PPR, he remains a reliable fantasy option, especially with his vast target-share — he leads the team with 35 targets since making his NFL debut in Week 11.[bctt tweet=”In his past three games, #Jaguars WR Keelan Cole caught 13-of-15 targets for 334 yards and three touchdowns. He is #FantasyFootball’s WR4 with 64.4 PPR points since Week 13. ” username=”GridironExperts”]
Facing a 49ers defense surrendering the 14th most fantasy points to WRs at a 17.2 FPPG rate — they’ve allowed an opposing WR to accumulate at least 15.5 fantasy points in each of the past two games — I believe both Westbrook and Cole will be productive. While Westbrook is the stronger PPR play in the Flex, I’m viewing Cole as an upside WR3 option in standard scoring formats. I’m starting both of them with confidence in Week 16.
Thank you for reading about my sleepers for Week 15. I hope you enjoyed it! Want more? Mike Hauff and I debate fantasy football news, notes and yes, sleepers, on our show, the Faceoff, a Gridiron Experts podcast. Check it out. Oh, and before I forget, we will answer your questions on our show! All you have to do is Tweet us with your question @FFfaceoff.
Thanks for reading and Good Luck!
Anthony Cervino is a lifelong NFL enthusiast, especially of the Dallas Cowboys. He has been infatuated with the game since childhood and was introduced to fantasy football as a young teen. Back then, the league commissioner typed out the weekly newsletter and used the Daily News to tally scores. In a statistic-driven game of fantasy football, Anthony believes that sometimes you have to rely on that good ole gut instinct. Anthony resides in New Jersey where he lives with his wife, son and a pomeranian that is named Roman (after Tony Romo). When Anthony is not immersed in the NFL or fantasy football related activities, he enjoys bodybuilding and spending time with his family. Anthony is committed to giving you his best analysis and most accurate statistics to help you win championships. Don’t hesitate to tweet Anthony @therealnflguru about anything NFL or fantasy-related topics. He will always respond in a timely fashion.