Every league has them. No matter if the league is deep with 12 or 14 teams or has just eight to 10 fantasy owners, each league features unheralded players.
Whether those players are sitting on the bench or out on the waiver wire, it might be time to start trusting them in crunch time—otherwise known as the fantasy playoffs.
For fantasy owners in the Super Bowl, trying to advance to that point after this week or simply attempting to avoid winning the notorious "Toilet Bowl" or something equivalent, here are the sleepers who will have great performances in Week 16.
Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Miami Dolphins
According to NFL.com fantasy, Ryan Tannehill is still only owned in 13.7 percent of leagues. For those who haven't been watching, Tannehill has led the Miami Dolphins to three straight wins and has scored 20 or more fantasy points during that stretch.
To say he's been playing well would be a massive understatement. This week, Tannehill faces a Buffalo Bills team that ranks sixth in the league in terms of passing yards per game, but their shortcomings in the red zone has led them to allow 27 touchdowns on the season, which ranks 27th in the NFL.
The quarterback position is one of the deepest in fantasy this year, but Tannehill will likely end up with 20 or more points this week. For fantasy owners in need of a spot start in a crucial time, Tannehill looks like a great option.
Prediction: 22 points
Bobby Rainey, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bobby Rainey has been up and down since his first game in Week 10, so this week he'll be up. OK, maybe it's not that simple, but it certainly appears that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tailback has as good a chance as anyone to put up huge points for fantasy owners this week.
The St. Louis Rams' rushing defense ranks 12th in the NFL in yards per game on the ground, but their 17 rushing touchdowns allowed this season puts them at 28th in the league ahead of teams like Jacksonville and Washington—both atrocious rushing defenses.
Rainey's three points in last week's contest against the San Francisco 49ers came just one week after he broke off the longest run in Bucs history, according to the team's official Twitter account:
If Rainey is on the bench or somehow still out on the waiver wire—he is a starting running back, after all—it's time to put him in the lineup as either an RB2 or flex player.
Prediction: 14 fantasy points
Julian Edelman, wide receiver, New England Patriots
While it may seem like I'm stalking Julian Edelman after the amount of praise given to him over the past few weeks, he hasn't let fantasy owners down during that stretch. But still owned in less than 60 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues, the New England Patriots slot receiver remains a sleeper who isn't getting his due.
Let's put everything together and see why Edelman is a great start this week. The Patriots quarterback is still Tom Brady. They are without Rob Gronkowski for the season and have been without Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins for the last two weeks due to injuries.
Who is the best sleeper for Week 16?
Then there's the fact that Edelman was targeted an astounding 19 times for 13 receptions, 139 yards and a touchdown in Week 15 against the Dolphins. Now the Patriots will be facing a Baltimore Ravens team that has allowed the 15th-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
While the Ravens were able to shut down Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson on Monday night for just 98 yards and no touchdowns, it wasn't all due to their coverage, as the video below proves.
If Edelman can find ways to get open in the middle of the field again as he did against Miami, expect the receiver to go off for another big game. Though he might not finish with another 20-point performance, Edelman should put up more steady numbers for fantasy owners.
Prediction: 15 points
Charles Clay, tight end, Miami Dolphins
Remember that quarterback from the beginning of the article? Well, one of his favorite targets has been Charles Clay this season. Tannehill didn't target Clay many times against the Patriots because there were too many options over the top in that game.
Clay was only targeted twice but came away with a huge catch at the end of the game to convert a fourth down to continue a late drive to win the game. The Dolphins' official Twitter account explained the huge play on Sunday:
1st down Dolphins as Charles Clay picks it up after making a few Patriots miss. #NEvsMIA— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 15, 2013
Expect a reward to come Clay's way this week, with Clay likely returning to be one of Tannehill's best options, especially in the red zone. As mentioned in the Tannehill explanation, the Bills rank 27th in passing touchdowns allowed this season despite holding teams to just 219 yards through the air per game.
Despite his shortcomings during Week 15, expect a huge performance from Clay once again in Week 16 with him touching paydirt at least once against the Bills.
Prediction: 11 points