Swing For The Fences - Week 16
by FBG Staff
December 20th, 2012

We all look for them the guys that are off the radar, the guys you can grab off of the waiver wire, even for just one week that can help your team. Sometimes it is a matchup advantage that you can see, other times it is based on injury replacements. Part luck, part science, part observation finding these hidden gems that are out there can make or break your fantasy week.

In this column, several Footballguys staff members will not only identify what players are probably floating out there in your free agency pool that could help you this week but also why. By explaining what we think and/or see, we will be able to share our views and insights into the game of fantasy football and the NFL league that we all know and love.

Each week several members of the Footballguys staff will provide their own choice for a potential sleeper of the week, or candidate sleeper for the next several weeks in an attempt to "Swing for the Fences". These players will be highly likely to be out there on your league's waiver wire, which means we will target players that are not in the Top 150-180 players on our weekly rankings list. The goal here is to find a quarterback or tight end not in the Top 20, a running back not in the Top 50 or a wide receiver not in the Top 60 on these lists. (Some liberties may be taken during bye weeks, but for the most part this will be the selection criteria). Another criteria will be using is that they are generally available (75% or more) in ESPN leagues, for example. Basically we want to identify guys you can grab in most leagues and start if you need someone.

Of course the deeper you dig the more likely that particular player will be on your waiver wire, but the deeper we look the less likely we are to find a successful choice. We will define a successful sleeper selection as a startable fantasy performance in a typical 12-team league, meaning that a quarterback or tight end must post a Top 12 score a given week, a running back must crack the Top 24, and a wide receiver must break into the Top 36 for that week's selection.

As always with predictions, we cannot guarantee that we will hit on every player, but at least you can see what our thought processes are and why we believe we found that needle in the haystack. Hopefully our selections and insights will help you each week to improve your skills in fantasy football, your appreciation of the league and matchups and of course to get your fantasy team the most points possible.

Last week had just one good call, but it is getting harder and harder this time of year. The good news is that Dennis Pitta was the #1 TE in PPR, so if you snapped him up, you probably are loving both life and this column.

Let's see about Week 16, shall we?

Jeff Pasquino's choice #1 (Week 16) Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens (Owned in 35.3% of ESPN Leagues)
Okay, I am taking a little bit of liberty here with the 25% or less owned rule, but if Dennis Pitta is available and you need a tight end, you better snap him up right away. Pitta caught two more touchdowns last week and the Ravens need every live receiver they can get if Torrey Smith misses the Giants game this week. Look for Joe Flacco to target Pitta early and often as the Ravens are using him more and more in the passing game, especially with Ed Dickson inactive last week.

Jeff Pasquino's choice #2 (Week 16) Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (Owned in 39.6% of ESPN Leagues)
Taking a little bit of liberty here with the 25% owned rule, but over half of ESPN leagues have Bradford on the waiver wire. He is about to face Tampa Bay, a team that cannot seem to cover anyone. I like his upside here and he has a shot at a 250+ yard, 2-touchdown game.

Jeff Pasquino's choice #3 (Week 16) Rod Streater, WR, Raiders (Owned in 1.8% of ESPN Leagues)
Rod Streater has had some big weeks of late, racking up seven catches, 196 yards and a touchdown in Weeks 14 and 15 combined. Last week he put up a solid five catch, 62 yard game but the Raiders did not throw that much. That should change this week against the Panthers as I expect Oakland to go back to throwing at least 35 times again in Week 16.

Jeff Pasquino's choice #4 (Week 16) Tony Scheffler, TE, Lions (Owned in 2.1% of ESPN Leagues)
Detroit needs receivers after losing Ryan Broyles (ACL) and benching both Titus Young and Mike Thomas. Brandon Pettigrew was out last week and there is no guarantee he suits up for Week 16, and even if he does, Scheffler will still get plenty of targets. Scheffler had seven balls thrown at him last week, putting him second after Johnson, and he gets a good matchup against Atlanta who struggles against tight ends.

Jeff Pasquino's choice #5 (Week 16) Brandon Gibson, WR, Rams (Owned in 13.7% of ESPN Leagues)
Brandon Gibson started with Danny Amendola back in the lineup last week, pushing Chris Givens down the depth chart. Gibson caught six of eight targets for 76 yards to lead St. Louis in receiving, making him a decent WR3 option against Tampa Bay in a very favorable Week 16 matchup.

Jeff Pasquino's choice #6 (Week 16) Mike Goodson, RB, Raiders (Owned in 2.7% of ESPN Leagues)
This is a big gamble if you do this, so keep that in mind, but if you need to roll dice at the running back position, Goodson did have a strong game last week (13 carries, 89 yards) and Goodson does face his former Carolina Panther team in Week 16. I do expect Oakland to run a lot, but Goodson could easily split time and has a revenge game upside to his story for Sunday.

Jeff Pasquino's choice #7 (Week 16) Nick Foles, QB, Eagles (Owned in 5.2% of ESPN Leagues)
Philadelphia is playing for next season already, but rookie quarterback Nick Foles is playing now for a shot to start for whomever coaches this team next year. The Eagles face the Redskins, who are susceptible to the passing game, and Foles is looking to improve on a terrible first NFL start in Week 10. Foles has shown good footwork and decision making over the last few games and he will benefit from the return of both LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek.

Jeff Pasquino's choice #8 (Week 16) Jason Avant, WR, Eagles (Owned in 1.4% of ESPN Leagues)
Jason Avant has elevated his game right when the Eagles need him. With DeSean Jackson out for the rest of the year, Avant is now healthy himself and posted a sold 4-79 receiving on five targets against Dallas three weeks ago and then a 7-133 game against Tampa Bay in Week 14. After a meager 3-44 game in Week 15, I expect Avant to see a bigger workload against a Redskins defense that is susceptible to the passing game.

So there you have it the Week 16 Swing for the Fences. Look for more each week from the Footballguys staff as we continue next week and add a few more choices.

Good luck this week.

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