Fantasy Football Week 16: Biggest Sleepers at Every Position

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2021

Fantasy Football Week 16: Biggest Sleepers at Every Position

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    As fantasy football managers make a push through the playoffs, they must take note of significant changes in the NFL's COVID-19 protocols along with potential sleepers in the free-agent pool.

    Last week, the league updated its COVID-19 protocols, which now allow fully vaccinated asymptomatic players to "test out" of quarantine in three ways if they initially test positive (h/t NFL Network's Ian Rapoport).

    In other words, a player who goes on the reserve/COVID-19 list isn't necessarily out for the week. Managers should keep that in mind while making roster moves. We'll omit players on the reserve/COVID-19 list to provide clear-cut starting options.

    This week's sleeper list features multiple players close to the rostered threshold (60 percent) and some long shots available in more than 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.

    Whether you're a manager who prefers to play it safe or take big risks with high stakes, we have a few selections that will draw your interest. 

QB Tyler Huntley at Cincinnati Bengals (24 Percent Rostered)

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    Managers can score big with Tyler Huntley.

    According to ESPN's Jamison Hensley, Huntley will start in place of Lamar Jackson (ankle) against the Cincinnati Bengals despite missing Friday's practice with a non-COVID-19 illness.

    Last week, Huntley had an impressive showing in a matchup with the Green Bay Packers, throwing for 215 yards and two touchdowns in addition to 73 rushing yards and a pair of scores on the ground. He topped all quarterbacks in fantasy points (35.90) for Week 15.

    Because of Huntley's rushing ability, managers can plug him into starting lineups with QB1 expectations. With that said, he has a rapport with tight end Mark Andrews, who hauled in 10 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the previous outing.

    The Bengals rank 26th in passing yards allowed, so Huntley could have another productive outing through the air to go along with his rushing production. He's a quality start this week.

    Update: Ravens placed Huntley on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Josh Johnson will start. 

QB Drew Lock at Las Vegas Raiders (1 Percent Rostered)

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    DK DFS Price: $5,100

    Last week, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a head injury and spent some time in the hospital. He's out of the medical facility but won't play Sunday because of a concussion.

    Last summer in a training camp battle, Lock lost the starting job to Bridgewater, so he'll have a chance to raise his stock value and perhaps draw interest from other teams in 2022.

    In relief of Bridgewater, Lock engineered a touchdown drive against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, completing six of his 12 pass attempts for 88 yards. With a full week of practice as the starter, he could have a solid outing against the Las Vegas Raiders, who have allowed 25 scores through the air, which is tied for fourth-most leaguewide.

    Lock has a healthy pass-catching group that features wideouts Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick along with tight end Noah Fant. He may have some success against a defense that's allowed 32-plus points in four of the last six weeks.

RB Mike Davis vs. Detroit Lions (52 Percent Rostered)

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    DK DFS Price: $4,900

    In Weeks 13 and 14 under point-per-reception scoring settings, Mike Davis tallied 16.9 and 13.6 fantasy points, respectively, before he produced a dud last week in a 31-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

    Because of the 49ers' dominant performance, the Falcons had to push the ball through the air. In Week 16, Atlanta could feature its ground attack against the Detroit Lions' 28th-ranked run defense. 

    Though Davis lists behind Cordarrelle Patterson on the depth chart, he can get enough touches to make a fantasy impact in competitive contests. In addition to his ball-carrying duties, the former caught at least three passes in four consecutive outings between Weeks 11 and 14. 

    With the Lions giving up the third-most fantasy points to running backs, Davis has a good chance to rack up double-digit points as a decent flex option this week.

RB Justin Jackson at Houston Texans (35 Percent Rostered)

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    DK DFS Price: $4,200

    On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Chargers placed Austin Ekeler on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which jeopardizes his availability for Sunday's contest. Regardless of his status, managers should add Justin Jackson.

    In Week 15 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Jackson led the Chargers in carries (13) and rushing yards (86). He played 54 percent of the offensive snaps compared to 34 percent for Ekeler, who went into the game with an ankle injury.

    In a matchup with the Houston Texans, who have a 3-11 record and an offense that scores the second-fewest points leaguewide, the Chargers may operate with a lead for a majority of the game, which would allow them to rely on the ground attack in the second half.

    With Ekeler's unclear status for Sunday's contest and the high potential for a game script that's heavy on the run, Jackson has RB2 value against a Texans defense that allows the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs.

WR Allen Lazard vs. Cleveland Browns (12 Percent Rostered)

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    DK DFS Price: $4,100

    Wide receiver Randall Cobb isn't returning to the Green Bay Packers' lineup any time soon. He underwent core-muscle surgery earlier this month, per ESPN's Rob Demovsky. On top of that, the team placed Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.

    If Valdes-Scantling sits out, Allen Lazard could see a significant bump in target share as the clear-cut No. 2 receiving option behind Davante Adams, who routinely draws double coverage.

    In the last two contests without Cobb, Valdes-Scantling saw 12 targets, so quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have to look elsewhere for a fair share of his pass attempts this week. In the same span, Lazard has commanded 11 targets. Already with a secure role in the aerial attack, he's an intriguing sleeper option for a depleted wide receiver unit. 

    The Cleveland Browns allow the eighth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, but they've surrendered 24 passing touchdowns (tied for fifth-most). In the red zone, Rodgers could hook up with Lazard, who's hauled in all four of his touchdown receptions within 20 yards of the goal line.

WR Tyler Johnson at Carolina Panthers (4 Percent Rostered)

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    Don Montague/Associated Press

    DK DFS Price: $3,900

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not have their top two wide receivers because of injury. Chris Godwin will miss the remainder of the campaign with a torn ACL, and Mike Evans has a hamstring issue that might sideline him Sunday.

    Last week against the New Orleans Saints, both Godwin and Evans exited the game in the first half, which cleared a path for Tyler Johnson to play a bigger role. The second-year wideout lined up for a season-high 95 percent of the offensive snaps.

    Against the Saints, Johnson hauled in four passes for 41 yards, which isn't a jaw-dropping stat line, but his potential uptick in playing time gives him a chance to break out in a matchup with the Carolina Panthers. 

    The Panthers have ceded the second-fewest passing yards leaguewide, but they've surrendered 21 touchdowns through the air. Similar to Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis, who scored two touchdowns against Carolina last week, Johnson can take advantage of a lesser matchup while wideout Antonio Brown goes up against star cornerback Stephon Gilmore. 

    If Breshad Perriman returns from the reserve/COVID-19 list, he could cut into Johnson's opportunities, but the latter has built up some fantasy steam with seven catches over the past two weeks.

TE Jared Cook at Houston Texans (56 Percent Rostered)

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    DK DFS Price: $3,500

    Tight end Donald Parham Jr. was hospitalized overnight after he suffered a concussion in the first quarter of last week's game with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    This season, Parham has played 41 percent of the offensive snaps. If he's unable to suit up Sunday, Jared Cook would likely see an uptick in his snap count and possibly more targets. 

    In Week 15 against the Chiefs, Cook hauled in three out of seven targets for 32 yards. While he didn't have an efficient outing, the 34-year-old still gets a fair amount of looks in the passing game as the lead tight end. 

    On Sunday, Cook faces the Houston Texans, who surrender the 10th-most fantasy points to tight ends and rank 29th in scoring defense. He's a solid TE or flex option if Parham doesn't clear concussion protocol.

TE James O'Shaughnessy at New York Jets (3 Percent Rostered)

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    DK DFS Price: $3,200

    For the sake of variety, we rarely recommend the same player in back-to-back weeks, but James O'Shaughnessy seems like a sleeper who's too good to pass up because of his steady role in the Jacksonville Jaguars offense and a plus matchup. 

    Last week, O'Shaughnessy hauled in all four of his targets for a team-leading 60 yards in a favorable matchup with the Houston Texans. He'll face another defense that's vulnerable to pass-catching tight ends.

    The New York Jets give up the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Furthermore, Gang Green is generous to pass-catchers in general, ranking 27th in passing yards allowed.

    O'Shaughnessy may have a busy day against the Jets. He's one of the top receiving options in the Jaguars' aerial attack, commanding 16 targets over the last three weeks.

    The Jaguars designated tight end Dan Arnold for return from injured reserve Wednesday. Even if the team activates him, he's unlikely to supplant O'Shaughnessy for the lead role after a three-week absence.


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    Maurice Moton is an NFL and Fantasy Football columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.