As you continue your drives to fantasy championships, our weekly rankings are continually being updated. They will once again provide you with a dependable resource to make those difficult lineup decisions. Here is a look at some players that I believe could boost your scoring during this always critical Week 16, if you are willing to utilize sleepers in your starting lineups.
Ryan Tannehill at Bills
He only generated 11 TDs during Miami’s initial eight contests, but the second-year signal caller has been increasingly productive in recent weeks. Tannehill has accumulated 12 scoring throws since Week 10, amassed eight in the past three weeks alone, and has manufactured multiple TDs in three consecutive contests. This week’s matchup with Buffalo provides Tannehill with an excellent opportunity to extend that streak, and to exceed 300 yards for the fourth time in five games. The Bills have surrendered 27 TDs through the air, including two during their Week 15 win at Jacksonville. It will be essential that Tannehill deliver the ball quickly, in order to avoid a relentless pass rush that has already generated an NFL best 49 sacks. But he accomplished that against New England in Week 15, and is fully capable of replicating that feat this week. He has also connected with Mike Wallace for at least 82 yards in three of the past four games, and should find success in locating his primary receiving weapon once again.
Alex Smith vs. Colts
In Week 11, Kansas City’s defense began a three game regression that forced the Chiefs to depend upon Smith far more extensively than was necessary prior to that time. He has responded by guiding their passing attack with surprising effectiveness, which has elevated him into the conversation regarding low end QB1 options. 14 of his 23 TD passes have been generated in the past five contests, as Smith has produced at least two scoring throws in every game during that span. He has also averaged 248 YPG, while surpassing 287 yards three times. That level of success should continue this week, when he lines up against a Colt pass defense that allowed 12 TDs in six games, before holding Houston’s flawed offense to three points in Week 15. Even though he still possesses limitations, Smith's potential output includes a lofty ceiling, as a result of the yardage that can be accumulated through frequent connections with Jamaal Charles. While it will be difficult for the duo to generate five TDs again this week, Smith should still be highly productive.
Jordan Todman vs. Titans
Todman entered Week 15 with just 43 rushing attempts all season, but Maurice Jones-Drew’s hamstring issue thrust him into a prominent role during Jacksonville’s matchup with Buffalo. He took full advantage of the 25 carries that he was allotted by generating 109 yards. The second year back was also targeted with a team high eight passes, and responded by collecting four of them for an additional 44 yards. His viability in Week 16 will be largely dependent upon Jones-Drews’ health. But he should have performed with sufficient effectiveness to garner a continued role in the Jaguars’ attack. Particularly since there is little need to subject MJD to further injury. Todman will have an enticing matchup versus a Tennessee defense that is vulnerable to opposing rushing attacks. The Titans rank just 23rd in that category, and the 20 TDs that they have yielded on the ground represents the NFL’s second highest total. Todman has an excellent chance to help his owners earn championships, in just his second career start.
DeAngelo Williams vs. Saints
The eighth-year back has not been highly involved in fantasy conversations this season, other than the occasional reminder to consider alternative options when determining your starting backs. But any owners who are looking for a sleeper candidate due to injury or concern regarding your opponents’ potential for scoring, could receive a boost from Williams. He just generated a season high 168 total yards against the Jets in Week 15, including 81 on the ground. It was his best output since Week 3, and was highlighted by a 72-yard catch and run that resulted in his first TD as a receiver all season. This week, he has the opportunity to deliver another favorable performance against a 21st ranked New Orleans run defense that allows 116 YPG. When these teams lined up in Week 14, he amassed 52 yards on 13 attempts. But his workload should be more sizable during this rematch, as Jonathan Stewart knee injury should sideline him once again. That situation should be monitored, and anyone who utilizes Williams must accept the reality that Mike Tolbert will pilfer some of the carries. But Williams should capture the vast majority of touches, and he is more likely to supply an acceptable number of points than many other backs who are held in greater regard.
Cordarrelle Patterson at Bengals
A combination of factors formulated a low ceiling for Patterson’s production throughout much of the regular season. Not only was he extremely raw, but severe deficiencies at QB, and questionable use of personnel by Leslie Frazer and OC Bill Musgrave kept Patterson from generating favorable output. But his role has increased sizably in recent weeks, with 38 of his 66 targets having occurred during Minnesota’s past five contests. As a result, 22 of his 40 receptions have been collected during that span. He has also carried the ball in three straight games, which has enabled him to amass 48 yards on five attempts. He has taken advantage of the enhanced workload, by discovering the end zone in three consecutive contests. That streak could easily continue this week, despite the formidable nature of Cincinnati’s seventh ranked defense. Patterson is somehow available in 91% of all ESPN leagues. That makes him makes him a worthy waiver wire addition, that can quickly ascend into the starting lineups of any owner who is searching for upside at WR3.
Rueben Randle at Lions
If some amalgamation of the concussion and the sprained knee that Victor Cruz suffered in Week 15 keeps him affixed to the sideline during New York’s visit to Detroit, Randle’s role will expand dramatically. While his utilization and output have been equally sporadic this year, he has averaged 69 YPG when Eli Manning has targeted him at least six times. Plus, he actually leads the team with six receiving TDS. It is important to remember that Manning has routinely failed to take advantage of favorable matchups throughout the season, possesses a horrific TD/INT ratio of 16/25, and just tossed five INTs in Week 15. However, the Giants will need to rely upon their challenged aerial attack in order to have any hope of progressing downfield, as the Lions’ fourth ranked run defense will smother all attempts to establish an effective ground game. Any owners who believe that they need an alternative at WR3, can consider Randle. Providing that Cruz is indeed unavailable.
Martellus Bennett vs. Eagles
Bennett has not been among the unquestioned TE1 options throughout the regular season. However, he remains sufficiently involved in Marc Trestman’s aerial attack to merit consideration for your lineups. He has received at least six targets in five of Chicago’s past seven contests, including the six that he garnered in Week 15. He responded by catching every target, and accumulating 71 yards. That was his best yardage total since Week 4, and served as a reminder that he could provide needy owners with a feasible alternative during this crucial week. The Eagles have not been particularly charitable to opposing TEs this season. But for owners who remain disenchanted with their current starter, Bennett should receive enough opportunities to deliver fantasy points that boost your overall scoring total.
Zach Miller vs. Cardinals
Arizona’s perpetual struggles when attempting to cover opposing TEs has been discussed repeatedly in this column, and it provides the basis for Miller’s ascension into sleeper status. The Cardinals have surrendered the most yardage, and the highest number of TDs to the tight end position, and those numbers far exceed the second worst unit. Even though Miller’s target totals have often been underwhelming, he is a reliable and productive target when given the opportunity. He did accumulate five receptions for 86 yards and a TD when Russell Wilson delivered eight passes in his direction during Week 13. Wilson eschews the process of continually feeding one weapon the ball, and chooses to consistently locate whomever is open. This week, that should be Miller on a frequent basis, which should produce favorable results for the seventh-year TE.