Week 16 Offensive Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar plays in Week 16.

Quarterback

Jameis Winston (vs CHI) - Winston gives us a high floor with his occasional rushing score and the prolific numbers he and Mike Evans are likely to combine for, but the matchup against Chicago also provides a high ceiling. The last three quarterbacks to face the Bears have put up at least 25 fantasy points in standard scoring, and that includes Teddy Bridgewater and Blaine Gabbert. None of them threw more than 32 times, so low volume might not be a worry for Winston because the Bears allow such high efficiency to opposing quarterbacks.

Johnny Manziel (at KC) - The Chiefs matchup seems foreboding on its surface, but Tamba Hali just had thumb surgery and Justin Houston is still out. Even with a healthy Hali, the Chiefs have been generous to opposing quarterbacks lately, with every one of the last four quarterbacks they have faced except one accounting for more than one pass touchdown. The one to miss was Philip Rivers when his offense was undermanned and his stadium had the atmosphere of a funeral. Manziel’s willingness to run and the Browns’ general inability to run in a conventional way should mean that the offense will run through Manziel.

Teddy Bridgewater (vs NYG) - Bridgewater is coming off of his best fantasy game of the year, just in time for the Giants defense that has given up 18 touchdowns in the last seven games. They have also allowed five 300+ yard games and two quarterback rushing touchdowns over that span. Unfortunately, Odell Beckham’s suspension was upheld, so this game might not be as high-scoring as it could have been, but Bridgewater had a huge Week 15 on only twenty attempts.

Sam Bradford (vs WAS - Saturday) - Bradford hasn’t exactly instilled us with confidence this year, but he is coming off of his best passing output of the year against Arizona. Bradford is also facing a defense that has allowed multiple pass touchdowns to eight of the last nine quarterbacks they faced. They also allowed three to Bradford the first time the teams met in Week 4.

Running Back

Donald Brown (at OAK - Thursday) - Brown is only a flex play or desperation RB2, but beggars can’t be choosers at this time of year. The good news is that he was much more effective than Melvin Gordon III after Gordon went out with an injury last week, averaging over eight yards per carry against a defense that Gordon had run for under three yards per carry on 15 attempts up to that point. The Raiders could make this a high-scoring game and Brown should be good for at least 15 touches.

James White (at NYJ) - Monitor the status of Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman leading up to this one. There is a good chance neither one plays and White dominates the short range targets that the Patriots pass offense relies on, especially against stout run defenses with good outside corners like the Jets. White is playing well with 21 catches for 224 yards and two scores over the last three games and he should be considered a PPR special this week.

Karlos Williams (vs DAL) - Williams had missed two games with a shoulder injury, but roared back, albeit in limited fashion, last week with four carries for 41 yards. LeSean McCoy is highly unlikely to play with his knee injury, so Williams will share with Mike Gilleslee in the Bills backfield. The Cowboys are no pushovers on defense, but their offense is a sinking ship and the Bills should be able to feed their backs a high volume of touches.

Christine Michael (vs STL) - Has it really come to this? Michael is actually fantasy relevant for the final week after a long and winding road through Dallas and Washington’s practice squad back to the team that originally traded him for a late round pick. It appears that against the odds Michael enters Week 16 as the likely leader in touches in the Seahawks backfield with the Rams coming to town. Seattle is likely to control this game and have a lot of “run out the clock” carries for Michael in a win.

Alfred Blue (vs TEN) - Blue is another player that we haven’t trusted all year who still can’t be ignored in this most important weekend of the fantasy season. He got almost the full workload in a win over Indianapolis last week, and the Texans should be able to similarly hang, if not control the game against the Titans, and feed Blue 20+ carries again.

Alfred Morris (at PHI - Saturday) - Morris is perhaps the most exciting of the unlikely Week 16 running back plays. Matt Jones might be limited with his hip injury and Morris should be able to get 20+ carries against an Eagles defense that just got disemboweled by David Johnson last week. Morris should be fresh because Washington hasn’t been heavily using him this year, with only five games of 15 or more carries. A running back has scored against the Eagles in six straight games and Morris is the most likely to make it seven.

Wide Receiver

Markus Wheaton (at BAL) - Wheaton has been almost a starter in a Steeler offense that runs three-wide a large amount of the time. He has been in on at least 41 snaps in each of the last four games, and the Steelers pass offense is facing one of their best matchups of the year. The Ravens have allowed 18 touchdowns to wide receivers in the last nine games, and seven times this year they have allowed touchdowns to more than one receiver on a team. Wheaton could feast on the Ravens secondary’s weakest players.

Kamar Aiken (vs PIT) - Aiken has at least five catches in each of the last seven games, and he has scored in three of the last five. The Steelers are a good matchup both because of their occasional lapses in the secondary and the fact their high-powered pass offense often forces teams to attempt a high number of passes to keep up. Aiken is a high floor player, but garbage time potential also gives him a high ceiling.

Travis Benjamin (at KC) - Benjamin was a dud at Seattle last week, but we shouldn’t hold that against him in a much better matchup against the Chiefs. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are both banged up, so Johnny Manziel might have more room to operate and find Benjamin deep against the Chiefs. Benjamin should get a high volume of targets with Brian Hartline out for the year, and he already has a demonstrated high weekly ceiling with Manziel.

Anquan Boldin (at DET) - Boldin isn’t a high ceiling sleeper, but has at least five catches in four of the last five games, and the 49ers have absolutely nothing going in the running game. Boldin is likely to lead the team in targets and catches, giving him a solid floor in PPR leagues with the potential for garbage time adding to his ceiling. Torrey Smith isn’t 100% right now, so he’s unlikely to steal a lot of targets away from Boldin.

Keshawn Martin (at NYJ) - We’re getting really deep now, but Martin should be able to get more snaps both inside and outside if Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman can’t go against the Jets. Martin might face Buster Skrine, a top slot corner, but the emphasis on getting the ball out quickly against the Jets rush could set Martin up with a lot of targets.

Stefon Diggs (vs NYG) - Diggs is a volatile boom/bust option because of his low target totals. He has only had more than four catches once in the last seven games. On the other hand, he was sharp scoring twice last week, and that was with Teddy Bridgewater only throwing the ball 20 times. The Giants pass defense is reeling right now, having allowed four touchdowns to wide receivers last week alone.

Tight End

Will Tye (at MIN) - No Odell Beckham will make life harder for the outside receivers, but having been the most dependable secondary target for Eli Manning should give Tye a nice-sized role in Beckham’s absence. He has at least ten PPR points in each of the last five games, and the undrafted rookie has scored in each of the last two games. The Vikings haven’t given up huge numbers to tight ends, but that’s because they’ve barely faced any good ones. Eric Ebron scored in both matchups with Minnesota, and Travis Kelce had 5-88. Unless Harrison Smith is back, there will be some room in the middle of the field for Tye.

Jared Cook (at SEA) - Cook hasn’t been too loud in fantasy leagues for a while, but the Seattle matchup is actually a good one if Case Keenum is functional at all. Cook had 5-85 in the season opener against Seattle with Nick Foles at the helm, and Lance Kendricks scored in that game. The seemingly unsolvable Seattle pass defense has allowed eight touchdowns through the air to tight ends, including ones to the likes of Vance McDonald and Jermaine Gresham.

Zach Miller (at TB) - Miller is poised to be the top target for Jay Cutler in a matchup against a sometimes poor Tampa pass defense. Alshon Jeffery is banged up and might not play this week, and even if does, we’ve seen him used mostly as a decoy in this scenario before. This Bucs defense gave up 10-103-1 to Jacob Tamme and 7-79 to Brent Celek. Miller has had 5-85-1 and 6-57 since Martellus Bennett went out, and that’s without the possible target volume of being in a pass offense without Alshon Jeffery.

Eric Ebron (vs SF) - Ebron came alive against a weak Saints defense last week, and he’ll have another good shot at fantasy relevance against a 49ers defense that usually gets blown out on the road. Tight ends have scored in each of the last two games against San Francisco, including rookie Tyler Kroft last week. With Calvin Johnson banged up and seemingly playing decoy, Ebron has a better shot at red zone targets.