Week 16 Fantasy Sleepers: Jamaal Williams, Mecole Hardman among start-or-sit options in favorable matchups

Written By Jackson Sparks
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(SN/Getty)

Congrats on making it to your fantasy semifinals, and identifying sleepers will be more crucial than ever this week. Of course, fantasy owners who are still alive have high-quality rosters, but injuries, COVID complications, and other factors will make looking for Week 16 streamers and handcuffs a necessity as we march closer to the conclusion of the fantasy season. As always, we're here to help you identify under-the-radar values specific to this week. Whether it's with players on your roster or those sitting on the waiver wire, there are always guys, such as Jamaal Williams and Mecole Hardman, with sneaky upside ready to enter your lineups. 

It's worth noting that any of our selections could bust this week, but so could bona fide studs. We're taking some chances here, as we don't want to say anyone too obvious. A list of easy choices wouldn't do anyone any good. You aren't going to start the guys below over consistent, proven producers, but you're probably not searching for fantasy sleepers if your lineup is set. We know a small percentage of fantasy owners are still alive in the playoff race at this point, but our list can also help you find sleepers for DFS tournaments who should have low price tags.

WEEK 16 FANTASY: BustsStart 'em, sit 'em

Week 15 was one of our strongest in terms of lack of busts, as Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Fields, Jimmy Garoppolo, D'Onta Foreman, DeVante Parker, Russell Gage, Dalton Schultz, and James O'Shaugnessy all had at least decent days. The Bengals' and 49ers' defense were fine starters, too. One of our biggest long-shot selections of the season, Damiere Byrd, even delivered compared to his projection at just under 10 PPR points. We had a nice opening round of the fantasy playoffs, so hopefully, we'll ride the hot streak into this week.

WEEK 16 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Week 16 Fantasy Sleepers: Running backs

Ameer Abdullah, Panthers vs. Buccaneers (Jackson Sparks). The Buccaneers have allowed the most receptions to running backs this season (97), so this is a pure PPR play. Abdullah is playing just as many snaps as Chuba Hubbard, and he has been the pass-catching back in a dormant Panthers' offense. When the Bucs' pass-rush crashes in on Cam Newton, he'll be dumping it down to Abdullah early and often. A five-catch, 40 receiving yard day could be just enough to get you through Week 16 if you're hurting at RB.

Michael Carter, Jets vs. Jaguars (Vinnie Iyer). Carter did little in the tough spot against the Dolphins last week in his return, but he should see a more regular role to help fellow rookie Zach Wilson get a win.

Jamaal Williams, Lions @ Falcons (Matt Lutovsky). Williams will return after missing two games while on the reserve/COVID list, and even with Craig Reynolds playing well, Williams should operate as the lead RB this week against Atlanta. It’s a top-10 matchup for fantasy RBs, so Williams should have plenty of value as long as D’Andre Swift (shoulder) is out.

WEEK 16 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterbacks

Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers @ Titans (Sparks). The Niners love to run the football, but the Titans' are one of the fiercest run defenses in the league and are strong against fantasy RBs. However, Tennessee is a top-10 matchup for QBs and WRs, and surely the game plan for the 49ers will be to target the weak secondary. After all, Tennessee would probably rather make Jimmy G win the game vs. getting run all over anyway, so here's to another week of Garoppolo being a strong QB streamer.

Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. Lions (Iyer). He’s at home and gets a sweet spot in what could be a sneaky shootout. He should easily get 250 yards and two TDs with a much higher ceiling than that.

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins @ Saints (Lutovsky). Tagovailoa seems to wind up on either our sleepers or busts list every week because he’s always right on the start-sit bubble. This week, he looks good in a favorable matchup against a Saints defense that has been in the top five most of the year in fantasy points allowed to QBs. After New Orleans shut down Tom Brady, many will be leery of trusting Tua, but this is a classic letdown game for the Saints. 

MORE WEEK 16 DFS: Best stacks | Lineup Builder

Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown & Josh Reynolds, Lions @ Falcons (Sparks). If Jared Goff (reserve/COVID list) is out, St. Brown's ceiling is limited and Reynolds is tough to trust, but we'll analyze this as if Goff will play. In leagues with good fantasy football owners, St. Brown shouldn't still be available on waivers, but if he is, pick him up and play him right away. He's drawn at least 10 targets in his past three contests and has produced 15-plus PPR fantasy points in each of those games. The Falcons are the fourth-weakest defense against fantasy WRs, so he has high-end WR2 upside once again. Reynolds is also playable as a flex option because he's been productive ever since he joined the Lions.

DeVante Parker, Dolphins @ Saints (Iyer). Jaylen Waddle may get some tight coverage from Marshon Lattimore wherever he goes, so the field should be open for Parker.

Mecole Hardman, Chiefs vs. Steelers (Lutovsky). With Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill on the reserve/COVID list, at least early in the week, Hardman figures to see more work regardless of whether Kelce and Hill are ultimately active. In a favorable matchup against a Pittsburgh defense that’s 12th in fantasy points allowed to WRs, a playmaker like Hardman has big upside. (Update: Hill has been cleared to play in Week 16.)

WEEK 16 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | FanDuel | Yahoo

Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends

James O'Shaughnessy, Jaguars @ Jets (Sparks). O'Shaugnessy drew a season-low four targets against the Texans, but thanks to his 60 yards receiving, he still produced 10 PPR points. Double-digit points from a streamer-level tight end is about all you can hope for, and he delivered. Heading into a matchup with the Jets (top-seven matchup for TEs), his target total should pick back up, and we rank him right on the edge of a TE1 in PPR leagues. He's not flashy, but he has one of the safest floors possible when compared to other borderline start-or-sit tight ends.

Jared Cook, Chargers @ Texans (Iyer). He’s a great bet to score a red-zone TD, as everything in their passing game should click.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos @ Raiders (Lutovsky). You might not have the guts to start a "backup" TE in the fantasy playoffs, but Albert O isn’t your normal backup. He’s seen just one fewer target (14 to 13), had two fewer catches (13 to 11), and produced 21 fewer yards (141 to 120) than starter Noah Fant. Fant plays more snaps, but when it comes to actually being in position to score, they’re just about equal. Against the Raiders, who are in the top three in fantasy points allowed to TEs, Albert O can produce a 4-50-1 line.

Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Defense

Seattle Seahawks vs. Bears (Sparks). You can consider the Seahawks D/ST as a boom-or-bust play because it depends which Justin Fields shows up to play. We saw flashes from Fields before he stunk it up against the Vikings, and we know he's likely to commit a turnover or two. Overall, this Bears' offense is stale, so even though the Seahawks have struggled at times on defense, we like the dice-roll here. (Update: Nick Foles is starting at QB for the Bears.)

New York Jets vs. Jaguars (Iyer). They’re the best option of this bad-team matchup because of home elements and a Jags’ offense that has James Robinson and not much else.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Ravens (Lutovsky). Tyler Huntley looked great against Green Bay last week, but if he starts, we’ll always take our chances against an inexperienced QB on the road in a big divisional matchup. If Lamar Jackson (ankle) plays, we like Cincinnati’s prospects even more, as its strong pass rush should get some sacks and coax another INT or two out of Jackson.

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