Only an elite group of fantasy owners is lucky enough to reach a Week 16 championship game, but the work is far from done. There is nothing more disappointing than finishing second, so no stone can be left unturned while setting your fantasy lineup.
Even teams that have made the finals are likely to have flaws, so it's possible that making a waiver-wire addition or two is an option. If that is the case, then there are actually a few players available in most leagues who could put up some monster numbers in Week 16.
Here are three players who weren't on the fantasy radar until recently but will reward you with big performances when it matters most.
He may not be Robert Griffin III, but Washington Redskins signal-caller Kirk Cousins has proven to be a skilled quarterback in limited opportunities. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan made the decision to shut RG3 down for the remainder of the season due to fear of injury, according to Mark Maske and Mike Jones of The Washington Post, which means Cousins is the main man under center for now.
It didn't take long for Cousins to make his presence felt as evidenced by his first-half stats in Week 15, courtesy of SportsCenter.
Cousins ended the day with an impressive 381 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Although the Redskins fell just short in their bid to beat the Atlanta Falcons, that doesn't matter much to fantasy owners.
The Redskins are out of it, and they are going to do everything possible to showcase Cousins. If Washington is lucky, perhaps some team will be willing to offer a high draft pick for either Griffin or Cousins during the offseason.
In addition to that, the Redskins have a dream matchup against the Dallas Cowboys' No. 32 pass defense. Dallas is allowing 297 passing yards per game and has surrendered 30 touchdowns through the air as well.
The Redskins literally have nothing to lose, and they would certainly like to ruin the playoff hopes of their chief rival. If you're having injury or consistency issues at quarterback, don't hesitate to pluck Cousins off the waiver wire and start him.
Week 16 Fantasy Projection: 325 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception
The Buffalo Bills defense has made a habit of allowing lesser-known running backs to put up big numbers against them in recent years, and it happened again in Week 15. The Bills figured that they had lucked out when it was announced that Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew would be unable to play, but Jordan Todman stepped in seamlessly.
According to Vito Stellino of The Florida Times-Union, starting the game was a dream come true for Todman.
“I feel like this has been my dream to one day be a starter,’’ Todman said. “I’ve been putting the work through the preseason and throughout the season. I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. Today was a perfect example because I had the opportunity to do that. And when my time comes, I want to make sure I’m ready for it.’’
Not only did Todman start, but he also did his best MJD impression. Todman rushed for 109 yards on 25 carries, and he added four receptions for 44 yards as well. Todman didn't find the end zone, but he was a useful fantasy commodity nonetheless. It isn't yet known what Jones-Drew's status is for this week, but the Jags may feature a heavy dose of Todman regardless so they can assess what they have moving forward.
Jacksonville will face a Tennessee Titans defense that is allowing 119 rushing yards per game and 20 rushing touchdowns overall. All of that bodes well for Todman in Week 16.
Week 16 Fantasy Projection: 122 rushing yards, three receptions for 28 yards and one touchdown
It took some time to truly get acclimated to the offense, but Minnesota Vikings rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is finally becoming a factor. Patterson has at least five catches in three of his past four games, and he has a touchdown in three consecutive games as well.
Patterson's true breakout performance came in Week 14 when he racked up 141 receiving yards and a score, and his usage figures to continue increasing.
Like the Redskins and Jaguars, the Vikings aren't playing for anything. Because of that, they can afford to expand Patterson's role. In addition to getting the ball in his hands via screen passes and reverses, expect the Vikes to put Patterson in more situations that force him to run actual routes. He has shown a great deal of potential this season, and Dan Hanzus of NFL.com believes that he has superstar written all over him.
Patterson can take the first step toward superstar status by finishing 2013 strong. Minnesota doesn't have the easiest matchup in Week 16 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Bengals have allowed 20 passing touchdowns, so receivers can do some things against them. The Bengals have also struggled in special teams coverage, which could lead to a return score for Patterson.
All things considered, Patterson should be a nice flex play on Sunday.
Week 16 Fantasy Projection: Six receptions for 88 yards, 25 rushing yards and one touchdown
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter