Since you are preparing to read about the Week 16 fantasy football sleepers, there is a great chance that you are playing for your league championship this week. If so, congratulations! You are on the verge of winning your fantasy Super Bowl, which will reward you for the months of research and dedication that you have placed into managing your team.
You obviously don’t require wholesale roster changes. But there are some legitimate sleepers who have not been in your starting lineup, yet might help you capture a Super Bowl. A combination of their ability and their specific matchups has propelled them into a position to enhance your scoring total should you decide to utilize them in this week’s critical matchup. You can find them listed by position below.
And for a comprehensive look at this week’s rankings by position, just click here:
Sam Bradford @ Buccaneers
While many of you own QBs who are fixtures in your lineups, there are other owners who might be searching for a one week option, despite the risk involved with playing him during your Super Bowl. Maybe you own Matthew Stafford or Eli Manning, and are uncomfortable using them based upon their performances in Week 15. Or you might own Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson, who have been viable starters in recent weeks. But you are now concerned about the daunting challenge that each of them face when their teams square off on Sunday night. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the signal callers who would qualify as sleepers simply do not possess good matchups this week. Based upon the definition of sleeper that is utilized in this column, the best candidate is Bradford. In Week 15 he established a new career high by generating 377 yards against the Vikings, while tossing three scoring passes for the first time since Week 2. While those numbers were accumulated primarily because the Rams were trailing by a significant amount, Bradford should be throwing extensively again this week. St. Louis will have difficulty running the ball against Tampa Bay’s top ranked rush defense, which only allows 83.3 YPG. But they should find success by attacking the league’s worst pass defense, as the Bucs are the NFL’s only unit permitting over 300 YPG (311). That will enable Bradford to acrue points for owners in deeper leagues.
Danny Woodhead @ Jaguars
There is often a high degree of uncertainty regarding how most skill players will be utilized in New England’s offensive approach from week to week. But there are very few legitimate options for owners who are perusing their waiver wire for RBs this week, and Woodhead is quite possibly the only available back that delivered a reasonable number of fantasy points in Week 15. He was allotted a season high 17 touches, including 12 rushing attempts. And he took full advantage of the additional workload by generating a season best 61 yards while also scoring twice. That doubled his season total of rushing TDs, and he supplemented his overall production with 23 additional yards on five receptions. Of course there is no guarantee regarding how many touches that he will be allotted this week in Jacksonville. But it is also possible that his effectiveness last Sunday Night will propel him into a viable role once again.
Ronnie Brown @ Jets
Brown will almost assuredly become the primary beneficiary of increased touches in the aftermath of Ryan Mathew's broken clavicle. Providing that Brown’s hamstring issue does not sideline him this week. If he is able to perform in New York, he becomes an enticing option as a flex, particularly in PPR leagues. He is tied for seventh among all RBs with 56 targets, and Philip Rivers has thrown at least four passes to Brown in nine different contests this season. He has taken advantage of his opportunities as he also ranks fifth at his position with 46 receptions, and sixth with 360 yards. While he would be San Diego’s RB in passing situations, he would likely split carries with both Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley, making him less attractive in standard leagues. If you are considering Brown based upon his ability to collect receptions and fantasy points, you must monitor his health as game time approaches.
Brandon Lloyd @ Jaguars
There will be understandable hesitation by some owners to start Lloyd, due to the same concern about using Patriots that was outlined when discussing Woodhead. However, Lloyd’s enhanced role during the past two games should not be overlooked. After averaging just 4.6 targets from Weeks 8-13, he has received 25 in the last two contests, including a season high 16 in Week 15. He collected 10 of those passes for 190 yards, which established new season highs in both categories. Tom Brady should launch at least 35 throws against Jacksonville’s 24th ranked pass defense on Sunday, and Lloyd could supply owners with another excellent yardage total if he is employed as a WR3.
Streater’s potential to generate big plays makes him an intriguing option for risk-taking owners. After scoring a 64-yard touchdown in Week 13, he has led the Raiders with 13 targets in the past two games. He took advantage of the increased opportunities by amassing nine receptions, and accumulating a team high 162 receiving yards. Darrius Heyward-Bey continues to exhibit deficiencies as a route runner, and remains an unreliable pass catcher. Which should enable Streater to join Denarius Moore as the team’s most targeted wideouts this Sunday. The Raiders will likely trail throughout their matchup in Carolina, forcing quarterback Carson Palmer to throw frequently. Streater should be the recipient on some of those passes if you choose to start him as a high risk WR3.
Dennis Pitta vs. Giants
It was extremely difficult to forecast what Baltimore’s offensive strategy would be in Week 15, after the team changed offensive coordinators six days before their matchup with Denver. Pitta ultimately became the team’s most productive receiver, and the most effective performer. He captured a team high 10 targets, while leading the Ravens with seven receptions, and a career best 125 yards. He also generated two touchdowns, including an impressive 61-yard score. Pitta has been a vital component in the Raven’s offense since Week 12, with 28 targets, 19 receptions and four touchdowns during that span. That trend should continue when Baltimore faces the Giants on Sunday.
Jets vs. Chargers
The Jets’ floundering offense has been a popular topic, but they have performed well on the opposite side of the ball. Not only do they rank an impressive eighth in total defense, but they also have the NFL’s second best pass defense, as the Jets are yielding just 191 YPG through the air. While they have not been as effective at stopping the run, that should not be an issue in this week’s appealing matchup with the struggling Chargers. San Diego ranks just 28th in total offense, while averaging 309 YPG. They are also 27th in rushing (93 YPG), and must attempt to establish a ground attack without Ryan Mathews. Philip Rivers has also delivered a largely disappointing season, including last week’s horrific performance at home against Carolina. Not only did he only manufacture 121 yards through the air, but Rivers also fumbled four times and suffered through six sacks. Despite the numerous factors that make the Jets an excellent play, they are still available on some waiver wires. If that is the case in your league, and you are searching for a defense to plug into this week’s lineup, snatch them up and use them.