The sleeper fantasy football performances of Week 16
Even if you made the finals, you might still need to go for an unsung guy. It happens.
This late in the season, there aren’t a lot of sleepers in fantasy. Or at least, if there are, they aren’t helpful to the guys in the championships. With few exceptions, the guys playing for the titles are there because their teams have been healthy, productive and consistent.
What that means is a guy in the finals likely didn’t whiff on his first-round draft pick. He wasn’t cycling through quarterbacks because he thought Colin Kaepernick would be a good investment. He didn’t bet on Trent Richardson, or Victor Cruz, or Dennis Pitta.
Most of the time.
See, I say all that, but I was in a league where I had to roll Mark Sanchez and Malcom Floyd out there in my Week 16 finals. (Also, provided Jeremy Hill doesn’t outscore C.J. Anderson by about 25 Monday night, I won!) Crap happens, even with the elite teams, and the sleepers always matter.
So here’s a look at Week 16′s surprise performances, and what, if anything we can take away from that:
Sleeper quarterbacks in Week 16
Derek Carr, OAK (214 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 16 fantasy points)
I’m still not altogether sold on Carr — he had some truly awful games earlier in the year that have me really hesitant — but he and the Raiders have both improved dramatically in recent weeks, winning three of their last five. Over his last three games, Carr has six touchdown passes against no interceptions, and he’s done it against San Francisco, Kansas City and Buffalo — three good defenses. Maybe he’s better than I gave him credit for.
Jimmy Clausen, CHI (181 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 9 rushing yards, 13 fantasy points)
I do think it’s pretty funny that Clausen has now played in 16 NFL games and has yet to throw for even 200 yards in any of them. But Sunday went more or less exactly how you’d expect — Clausen hit two of his super-studs (Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery) with touchdown passes, didn’t do much else, and it wasn’t enough for the Bears to win. Still, he’ll have those exact same weapons in Week 17, against a Minnesota defense that isn’t as good as the Detroit one he just faced. Clausen is at least interesting.
Sleeper running backs in Week 16
Reggie Bush, DET (54 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 44 receiving yards, 15 fantasy points)
Bush — who was drafted as a No. 2 running back in most leagues — came into Week 16 with exactly one game of double-digit fantasy points all season, and that was way back in Week 3. Between injury, ineffectiveness and the rise of Joique Bell, Bush had fallen out of favor in basically all fantasy leagues. So his performance Sunday was something of a flashback. Now, most of Bush’s production came in the first quarter, when Bell was benched for … something, so that’s not likely to continue. It’s nice to see Bush produce, but it’s not something you can reasonably count on.
Devonta Freeman, ATL (36 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 48 receiving yards, 13 fantasy points)
When Steven Jackson was forced from Sunday’s game, Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers filled in, and they were … well, they were fine, if not much beyond that. Freeman’s 36 rushing yards came on five carries, but 31 of those yards were on his score. In other words, take out his touchdown, and Freeman and Rodgers combined for 34 rushing yards on 15 carries, and against a pitiful run defense. So we can’t say either guy, or even both guys together, is equal to Jackson. Still, if Jackson is out for Week 17 (we don’t know yet), someone has to get the carries for Atlanta, and these two guys are basically the list. Freeman appear to have much more upside than does Rodgers.
Sleeper wide receivers in Week 16
Malcom Floyd, SD (50 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 11 fantasy points)
Eddie Royal, SD (94 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 15 fantasy points)
Royal was clearly the better option Saturday — he caught 10 passes to Floyd’s four, and until Floyd’s touchdown with 29 seconds left in the game he had been basically absent. But Floyd drew Perrish Cox in coverage for the game, and that’s a tall order. With Keenan Allen out for San Diego, these two are the ones to see more looks and, for at least one game, they did something with it.
Robert Woods, BUF (52 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 11 fantasy points)
It was almost complete garbage time that got Woods nine of his 11 fantasy points — he scored a 30-yard touchdown with a minute left that got the Bills within one score of the Raiders. Still, everything counts, and that’s now Woods’ fourth game of double-digit fantasy points this season. He spaced the four around in the season, so you can’t exactly say he’s been building or anything, but he does have reasonable upside, and that can be helpful if you grab it at the right time.
Sleeper tight ends in Week 16
Charles Clay, MIA (114 receiving yards, 11 fantasy points)
Zach Ertz, PHI (115 receiving yards, 11 fantasy points)
Both of these tight ends have spent time this season much closer to the top of the tight end rankings, only for their numbers to fall off a cliff. In recent weeks, both guys have rebounded to an extent, while the position overall has sunk, which makes both guys a little interesting again. Ultimately, both shape up as high-end TE2s at best, but that’s a lot better than they were a few weeks ago.