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Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 16: Smart Sleepers to Exploit and Lineup Advice

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 17, 2019

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 15: Breshad Perriman #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers catches a fourth quarter touchdown as Tracy Walker #21 of the Detroit Lions gives chase during the fourth quarter of the game at Ford Field on December 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay defeated Detroit 38-17. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Pounce on the right fantasy football sleeper in Week 16, and you just might wake up to a league championship.

At this stage of the game, the stakes speak for themselves. It's win-or-go-ice-fishing time, so you should do everything in your power to leave nothing to chance.

Coming here is a good start, as we're identifying our top sleeper—available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues, per FantasyPros—and making matchup-based sit-or-start calls at the three marquee offensive positions.

                   

Quarterback

Start 'Em

Philip Rivers vs. Oakland Raiders

Jameis Winston vs. Houston Texans

Ryan Tannehill vs. New Orleans Saints

                  

Sit 'Em

Jared Goff at San Francisco 49ers

Josh Allen at New England Patriots

Baker Mayfield vs. Baltimore Ravens

                  

Sleeper: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals (25 Percent Owned)

Ugly championship wins are just as delicious as the pretty ones, right?

Even for a Week 16 streamer, Ryan Fitzpatrick might be as wobbly as they come. He's just one week removed from a score-less performance, and he has the potential to put up big numbers in both the touchdown and interception columns.

But Miami's total lack of a ground game—league-worst 71.2 rushing yards per game—gifts the 37-year-old with a higher floor than you'll find in most waiver-wire options. He has topped 20 fantasy points in three of his last four games, and the only time he fell short of that mark (Week 14), he lost his top target early to a concussion (DeVante Parker).

We all know Fitzpatrick will let it fly. He's attempted at least 37 passes in each of his five games. That almost has to mean good things against a Cincinnati defense allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, per Yahoo Sports, and a whopping 8.2 yards per passing attempt (tied for second-most).

                 

Running Back

Start 'Em

Devonta Freeman vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

David Montgomery vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Adrian Peterson vs. New York Giants

                   

Sit 'Em

Carlos Hyde at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Devin Singletary at New England Patriots

James Conner at New York Jets

                 

Sleeper: Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos (39 Percent Owned)

If you prefer the mystery-box option on the waiver wire, you'll have several to choose from in Week 16. But rather than rolling the dice on the potential that one of Week 15's surprises like Mike Boone or Wes Hills can repeat the feat, why not gamble on the possibility that a much more proven commodity makes a comeback?

Now, let's be clear about this. There's no guarantee Kerryon Johnson actually takes the field in Denver on Sunday. He hasn't played since Week 7 due to a knee injury, and some might wonder why he'd even bother returning to a 3-10-1 team. Well, we'll let him explain for himself.

"For me, as stupid as some people might see it, I like to play, man," he told reporters Friday. "I did all this work in the offseason and did all this work in the summer and I didn't do it to play five games."

If the 22-year-old does make it back, you're looking at someone who logged 20-plus carries in two different games this season. One of them yielded 125 rushing yards, and the other produced a rushing touchdown.

Johnson is more talented than the typical waiver-wire recommendation, and since he's been able to practice the last two weeks, he might not be eased into action as gradually as some players returning from a lengthy layoff are.

                   

Wide Receiver

Start 'Em

Tyler Boyd at Miami Dolphins

Terry McLaurin vs. New York Giants

DK Metcalf vs. Arizona Cardinals

                   

Sit 'Em

Stefon Diggs vs. Green Bay Packers

Brandin Cooks at San Francisco 49ers

Sammy Watkins at Chicago Bears

                      

Sleeper: Breshad Perriman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Houston Texans (11 Percent Owned)

Jameis Winston has thrown 87 passes and tallied an absurd 914 passing yards over the past two weeks. Tampa isn't going to suddenly stop airing it out even if Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both remain sidelined by their hamstring injuries.

Enter Breshad Perriman.

The speedy fourth-year wideout exploded in Week 15 for 116 yards and three touchdowns on only five receptions. In other words, he's a home run hitter who suits up with a quarterback who loves to take shots down the field.

Perriman has only had more than six targets once all season, and his five catches on Sunday matched his season high. He's also collected (just) less than half the balls thrown his direction (24 of 50), so this recommendation isn't without some risk.

But the reward is potentially massive. If the 26-year-old is elevated to No. 1-option status, he could set a new high mark for opportunities. Even if he doesn't, his breakaway burst should help him maximize the chances he gets. While boom-and-bust possibilities are both in play, the stars are aligning in a way that suggests he's much more likely to do the former than the latter.