When it comes to fantasy football, keep an eye on these top 10 sleepers heading into Week 16 NFL action.
Nov 29, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) catches a touchdown pass as Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Davon House (31) looks on during the second quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
It’s crazy to know that post season is right around the corner. Almost five months we drafted a team in hopes of making it to the fantasy finals. Well, congratulations as the fantasy championships are here and you are still in it to win it all.
With only one week remaining, you’re not going to want to make drastic changes to your all-star team. However, if your team fell victim to injuries, you want to switch up a flex position, or you’re living on the edge, make sure your change is worth the risk.
This week offers some great match-ups and will offer an opportunity for certain players to step up their game. Lets take a look at the top 10 sleeper picks of Week 16.
Next: 10. This Jaguar bounces back
Nov 29, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas (80) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at EverBank Field. The San Diego Chargers won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
10. Julius Thomas
Julius Thomas was barely reaching double-digit points in the first half of the season. And although he has bounced back in recent weeks, it makes him a difficult choice for owners, especially during the championships.
Last week, Thomas caught 6-of-9 targets for 79 yards in an unfortunate loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Thomas didn’t see the end zone however, in the five games prior, he saw at least one touchdown in each of his match-ups.
This week, Thomas plays the New Orleans Saints, who have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends and rank 32nd against the position. This is not the week to debate about Thomas, he has a scoreboard leader match-up.
Next: 9. This Titan will triumph
Dec 20, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (17) catches a pass over New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Dorial Green-Beckham has been a boom or bust all season. But, last week’s boom is what brings him to this week’s sleeper list.
Green-Beckham caught 6-of-9 targets for 113 yards in Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots. This is the second time within the last three games he saw over 100+ yard games.
This week’s match-up looks to be a bust on paper. He faces the Houston Texans who not only need a win to clinch the AFC South, but they rank 8th against his position. However, last week Green-Beckham posted 20 fantasy points against the New England Patriots who don’t fall far behind the Texans. Green-Beckham is a great flex sleeper in Week 16.
Next: 8. This Viking defines sleeper
Dec 10, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
8. Kyle Rudolph
Kyle Rudolph is a prime example of the word sleeper. Rudolph has only earned double-digit points in five of his match-ups the entire season.
Last week, Rudolph completed only two receptions for 21 yards. Rudolph is expected to bounce back this week as a top target for Teddy Bridgewater.
This week, Rudolph prepares to face the New York Giants who rank 31st against opposing tight ends. Before last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers, the Giants allowed the third most fantasy points to the position. There is no doubt this match-up will enable sleeper qualities in Rudolph.
Next: 7. This Redskin exploded last week
Dec 20, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (not pictured) against the Buffalo Bills in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 35-25. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
7. Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousin has exploded over the last few weeks earning owners over 30 fantasy points per game in three of his last four match-ups. However, Cousins has had his fair share of busts, some weeks he didn’t even post double-digits.
Last week, Cousins completed 22-of-28 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed once for 13 yards where he ended the play in the end zone. It’s understandable you don’t want to trust an unreliable Cousins but this week’s game offers potential for another great fantasy week.
Cousins takes on the Philadelphia Eagles, who in Week 4 allowed him over 20 points. The Eagles have also allowed the third most points to quarterbacks this season. Cousins is a firm quarterback option in this week’s final hoorah.
Next: 6. This Brown has a good match-up
Dec 20, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin (11) picks up a first down as he tackled by Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas (29) at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 30-13. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
If you own Travis Benjamin, you have either been very unhappy with his recent fantasy performance or you learned a lesson three weeks ago and threw him on your bench. Benjamin has not reached double-digit points in his last three games, including a dreadful bust last week.
In Week 15, Benjamin caught only 3-of-5 targets for 26 yards. And… that was it! But this week, Benjamin looks to bounce back in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs rank 28th against wideouts and is among the teams that allow most points to the position. Last week alone the Chiefs gave Kamar Aiken 18 fantasy points. There is no doubt this week, Benjamin is going to have a nice comeback week!
Next: 5. This Charger is coming on strong
Dec 20, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) is defended after a catch by Miami Dolphins free safety Michael Thomas (31) during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Antonio Gates has excelled in the fantasy world these last few weeks. Although Gates has earned double-digit points in his last four games, his ownership rate has dropped throughout the season which brings him to my sleeper list.
Last week, Gates caught 6-of-9 targets for 88 yards in last week’s win over the Miami Dolphins. It is expected that Gates will continue to be a top target for Philip Rivers this week.
The San Diego Chargers prepare to play the Oakland Raiders who rank 30th against opposing tight ends. This NFL veteran will close out the fantasy season with a bang in Week 16.
Next: 4. This Seahawk will thrive on the ground
Dec 20, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (32) takes the ball upfield during a game against the Cleveland Browns at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 30-13. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
When Marshawn Lynch was injured, nobody ever expected his replacement Thomas Rawls would get injured, putting the spotlight on running back Christine Michael. Michael is not a usually fantasy option, but his success late in the game assumes he will have a great week.
Michael was only recently added to the Seattle Seahawks roster, and is looking to live up to his expectations with the season ending soon. With minimal playtime, Michael managed 16 carries for 84 yards in their win over the Cleveland Browns.
Head coach Pete Carroll has stated they will continue to use the running back by committee approach, which adds more value to Michael this week. The Seahawks take on the St. Louis Rams who rank 23rd against running backs and have offered the fifth most fantasy points per game to the position. Michael is definitely Week 16 sleeper material.
Next: 3. This Chief is coming in hot
Dec 20, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Buffalo Bills in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 35-25. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Pierre Garcon has been a week by week fantasy play all season. His chemistry with quarterback Kirk Cousins has developed at the most important time of the season. And if Cousins made it to the list, Garcon has to be mentioned without a doubt.
Last week was the first game since Week 11 Garcon saw less than six targets. However, he completed 3-of-4 targets for 34 yards and a touchdown; fourth of the season.
This week, the Redskins take on the Eagles who rank 31st against the position. Also, in Week 4’s match-up against them, Garcon completed seven passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, earning owners 18 or more fantasy points. This is a favorable match-up so make sure to get Garcon on your starting lineup.
Next: 2. This defense will actually score big
Dec 20, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass under pressure from Tennessee Titans defensive end DaQuan Jones (90) in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
2. Tennessee Titans Defense/Special Teams
The Tennessee Titans defense/special teams have not shown up at all this season. Currently, they’re owned in less than 15% of fantasy leagues. However, I am confident this week that number will increase.
The Titans Week 16 match-up against the Houston Texans offers a game changer late in the season. Brian Hoyer who is going through concussion protocols, was replaced by T.J. Yates who left last week’s game with a knee injury.
What does this mean? Brandon Weeden is taking over! Weeden has not been able to get it together and an unskilled quarterback like Weeden has the potential to make the Titans defense/special teams appear among the elite in Week 16.
Next: 1. Sleeper of the week is this Chief
Dec 20, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) slides after a gain against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
1. Alex Smith
Fantasy owners don’t want to solemnly rely on quarterback Alex Smith. His fantasy performance depends on the game play and the weekly match-up, like we saw in Week 8 when he earned over 25 fantasy points against the Detroit Lions.
Last week, was no Week 8. Smith completed 21-of-25 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. His victory over the Baltimore Ravens earned owners less than 15 points last week.
Smith comes face-to-face with the Cleveland Browns defense who rank 27th against opposing quarterbacks. The Browns are a top five match-up in fantasy football for quarterbacks as star cornerback Joe Haden deals with a season ending concussion. Smith has a great opportunity to explode in this week’s match-up.