Fantasy Football Week 16: Matt Camp's Top Sleepers at Every Position
Remember Week 16 of last season? If you won a fantasy championship you do, and your lineup may have included someone who isn't even in the league anymore!
The top 12 running backs from Week 16 of 2018 featured current free agents like C.J. Anderson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Doug Martin. Plus, how can we forget the RB6 of that week, Elijah McGuire? He dropped 23.5 fantasy points as a member of the New York Jets and has yet to play a game in 2019.
A 2019 fantasy championship lineup might get a big boost from Mike Boone if he winds up leading the way for a banged-up Minnesota Vikings backfield. Or DeAndre Washington could be the key to a big trophy with Josh Jacobs still battling the effects of his shoulder injury.
Opportunity is all that matters when you are hitting the waiver wire this late in the season. Grabbing any player who could lead his team in targets and/or carries is worth it even if it's only a matter of blocking your opponent from grabbing said player. It's hard to find real opportunity on the waiver wire during championship week.
Mike Boone, RB, Minnesota Vikings
What happens when the handcuff you've held onto for months is hurt at the same time as the fantasy superstar in front of him? You get Mike Boone making a potential fantasy impact during the most important week of the season.
Alexander Mattison had to sit out Week 15 with an ankle injury, so when Dalvin Cook aggravated his shoulder/chest injury in the second quarter of last week's win over the Los Angeles Chargers, the Vikings didn't have much choice but to give Boone a shot. He carried 13 times for 56 yards with two touchdowns. Ameer Abdullah also found his way in the mix with five carries for 25 yards.
Before last Sunday, Boone had just eight carries for 41 yards on the season. Last week didn't provide much of a sample size, but we're not worried about that aspect of Boone's role on the Vikings. All that matters is that he could be the lead back for Week 16 depending on where Cook and Mattison stand with their injuries. The Vikings get an extra day to prepare with the matchup against the Green Bay Packers not coming until Monday night. Neither Cook nor Mattison practiced on Thursday.
Boone could be a plug-and-play RB2 if Cook and Mattison are inactive. If Cook or Mattison is active, Boone would be just a long shot flex option. This is a crucial situation to follow throughout the weekend.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Amazingly, Breshad Perriman has been too good to fall into the sleepers category because he's been a key part of the Buccaneers offense for the last three weeks. The hamstring injuries to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller leave the Buccaneers woefully short in the receiving corps heading into this Saturday's matchup with the Houston Texans.
The Buccaneers enter Week 16 averaging a league-high 308.8 passing yards per game while tied for second with 39.9 pass attempts per game. Only the Atlanta Falcons (397) and New Orleans Saints (370) have completed more passes than the Buccaneers (344). The point is that Tampa Bay is clearly a passing team, and without three of its top receivers, targets will be available for Brate.
Brate hasn't had his busiest season, but that doesn't matter as much now since the team is so short-handed. Yes, O.J. Howard could also be called on more, although that doesn't mean Brate would take a backseat. Both players could be featured against a Texans defense that's allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends in the last month.
Howard might be the preferred option, but if there was ever a week in 2019 to reach deep for Brate, this might be it.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Washington Redskins
Chances are if you've been streaming quarterbacks all season, you grabbed someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Ryan Tannehill ahead of the Week 16 rush. If you missed out and don't know where to turn, consider Haskins.
The New York Giants visit Washington this weekend, which is the first advantage for the rookie. Their defense has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last four games and eighth-most this season. The Giants gave up 279 yards and two touchdowns in addition to 33 rushing yards to Fitzpatrick in Week 15.
Speaking of Week 15, Haskins posted a top-10 finish with 261 passing yards and two touchdowns as well as 26 rushing yards. He did so in a loss to the still-contending Philadelphia Eagles, whereas this week he faces a Giants team that has been out of playoff contention for weeks. Nothing is scary about Haskins' situation for this week other than the fact that he didn't have a top-12 fantasy performance until last week.
Once again, Haskins is far from the preferred streaming option. He's the deepest sleeper in the entire article.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
One of the guidelines I try to follow in the fantasy postseason is to favor players on teams in contention.
The Steelers don't seem dangerous, but they remain in the AFC's wild-card hunt with the long-eliminated New York Jets on tap for Week 16. A team in contention taking on a team out of the running is a nice combo to believe in if your season is on the line.
That brings us to Johnson, who remains an active part of the Steelers offense due to the ongoing absence of JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee).
You might be surprised to hear Johnson actually leads the Steelers in targets (76), receptions (47) and receiving touchdowns (four) for the season. That includes 15 targets, 11 receptions, 122 yards and a score in the last two weeks. He has at least six targets in four of the last six games.
The Jets rank as a bottom-10 defense against fantasy wide receivers for the season, so this matchup shouldn't be worrisome for Johnson. Opportunity, playoff contention and opponent are all working in his favor for Week 16, making him a decent WR3 with potential upside.
Greg Ward, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
It didn't make a whole lot of sense to keep Ward on the practice squad until he was activated for Week 12. The Philadelphia Eagles had been struggling with wide receiver injuries all season and weren't getting the production necessary to operate at a high level.
Fortunately, Ward has worked his way more and more into the passing game, to the point that he's become an active member of the offense.
In four games since coming off the practice squad, Ward has 18 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown on 28 targets. Last week, he had his best performance with seven receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. He has nine targets in each of the last two games, both of which came with Nelson Agholor inactive. Alshon Jeffery's season also ended before Week 15 when he landed on the injured reserve.
Ward now finds himself playing an important role in a do-or-die game for the Eagles against the Dallas Cowboys.
Over the last four weeks, the Cowboys have been the 10th-easiest matchup for wide receivers, and that only helps Ward's cause. He could be even more important if Agholor (knee) is out again and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside continues to be bothered by his foot problem, which popped up on this week's injury report.
Carson Wentz is playing well, so the undrafted rookie is in good hands, especially if he's the top wide receiver in Week 16. Having him serve as an impactful part of your starting lineup is a real possibility.
DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders
When the Raiders didn't have Josh Jacobs (shoulder) in Week 14, Washington took the lead in the backfield with 14 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, as well as six receptions for 43 yards on seven targets. He took a backseat to Jacobs in Week 15, recording just two receptions for six yards on three targets with only six carries for 16 yards. Jacobs carried 24 times for 89 yards and caught two of three targets for 20 yards.
According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, head coach Jon Gruden said Jacobs will be held out of Week 16 with the hope he can get back on the field for Week 17.
With that knowledge, there should be no worry about Washington's role. We saw him lead the way two weeks ago, and the expectations will remain the same when the Raiders face the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Not only should he be the featured back, but he should also get a pretty significant workload considering this game shouldn't get out of hand.
Being able to plug a backup stepping into a starting job right into your lineup is about as good as you'll get for Week 16. Washington has solid RB2 potential for championship week.