News & Analysis

Week 16 Fantasy football predictions: The week's sleepers and busts

Aug 11, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) catches a pass prior to the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the biggest fantasy football sleepers and busts for Week 16 of the 2018 NFL season? We use advanced matchup analysis to bring you a list of players who will overperform (sleepers) or underperform (busts) their typical production.

Below are some of the top sleepers and busts for Week 16.

Week 16 fantasy football sleepers

Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos

Keenum has been slogging on, with just 12 touchdowns in his last 13 games, but he gets his last, best chance for a good game in Week 16 against the Raiders, who have allowed the most fantasy points per dropback to opposing quarterbacks.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

After getting goose-egged in Week 15, Prescott is in a prime rebound spot against the Buccaneers, who have allowed the fourth-most overall fantasy points to quarterbacks and the second-most points per dropback.

Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Coming off a 28-touch performance, Carson may not be the sleepiest of the sleepers, but he’s a must-play in Week 16 against the Chiefs, who have allowed the most fantasy points per touch to running backs. Carson’s six receptions in Week 15 indicate that Seattle is comfortable getting him the ball through the air, too, which could come in handy against the fast-paced Chiefs.

Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans

Miller — or Alfred Blue if Miller misses the game — is a sleeper after exiting Week 15 early with an injury and not returning. The Texans face the Eagles, who have actually allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per touch to running backs on the year despite starting the season off strong. Philly’s run defense has collapsed since their bye, with running backs averaging 125 yards and 1.2 rushing touchdowns per game against them.

Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans

The Redskins gave shadow-coverage treatment to Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and DeAndre Hopkins (using Josh Norman) earlier this season, and it will be interesting to see if they give Davis the same treatment. If not, Davis can be teed up against the Redskins, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points per target to wideouts.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Fitzgerald came through as a PPR sleeper last week with a solid 7-82 line, and he gets a chance at a repeat performance in Week 16 against the Rams, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points per target to wideouts. Fitzgerald will also avoid Aqib Talib, Los Angeles’ best corner. Talib has only traveled into the slot on 8% of his routes covered.

Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons

Hooper gave fantasy owners a big fat zero in Week 15 — a troubling floor — but I’m going back to the well in Week 16 as Atlanta takes on the Panthers, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points per target to tight ends.

Antonio Gates, TE, Los Angeles Chargers

Old man Gates turned back the clock against the Chiefs, posting a respectable 4-54-0 line with some nice moves along the way. Gates is far from a sure bet, but he’s likely to make the most of his opportunities against the Ravens, who have struggled against tight ends this year, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per target.

Week 16 fantasy football busts

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Goff’s three-week nightmare is about to round its fourth corner as the Rams take on the Cardinals, who have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per dropback to quarterbacks this season. People will see a matchup against the Cardinals and think it’s easy, but that’s far from the truth. Arizona has also allowed the sixth-fewest total fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the year.

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

“Angry Brady” aside, there’s a better chance of Brady being bad in Week 16 than there is of him being great. An average performance is the most likely scenario, but that would still qualify as a bad week for a player you expected top-five production from every week. The Bills, his Week 16 opponent, have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per dropback to quarterbacks. They held Brady scoreless in late October.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins

Aside from being out-touched by Kalen Ballage in last week’s blowout loss to the Vikings — and having head coach Adam Gase say it has nothing to do with a lingering shoulder injury — Drake has a tough matchup even if he can see the field against the Jaguars, who have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points per touch to running backs this season. Drake can be safely avoided.

Josh Adams, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Adams and the Eagles take on the Texans, who have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points per touch to running backs on the year. Adams carried the ball 15 times in Week 15, but he mustered just 28 yards. Troublingly, Adams lost two touchdowns to the previously forgotten Wendell Smallwood. He’s hard to trust in Week 16.

Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

His Week 15 outburst was incredible, but point-chasers may be let down in Week 16 as Williams takes on the Ravens, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points per target to wide receivers. Keenan Allen could also return, which would limit Williams’ volume. Williams’ touchdown potential still gives him a high ceiling, but he’s far more likely to disappoint this week, especially in comparison to last week’s explosion.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Baldwin scored two touchdowns last week, but he still saw just six targets in what remains a low-volume passing offense. Volume is far more bankable than efficiency, and efficiency will be hard to come by in Week 16 against the Chiefs, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per target to receivers. If you think Seattle passes the ball a lot against the Chiefs, then Baldwin makes for a decent contrarian play.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

Gronkowski was one of the biggest letdowns of Week 15 with just two catches for 21 yards. It will be a rocky road again in Week 16 against the Bills, who have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per target to tight ends. Gronk posted a line of just 3-43-0 against Buffalo when these teams met earlier in the season.

Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

McDonald hit pay dirt last week, but he finished with just two catches for 13 yards, and he now has fewer than 40 receiving yards in five straight games. The touchdown-dependent McDonald is hard to trust against the Saints, who have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per target to tight ends while giving up 49 receptions to the position, tied for third-fewest in the NFL.

The best matchups

Below is a list showing how each team fares on a per-touch or per-target basis. This list will be updated weekly and can be used to identify strong matchups.

Fantasy Points Per Touch (FP/T), Points Per Target (PPT), and Points Per Drop Back (PPDB) Given Up
Team QB: PPDB RB: FP/T WR: PPT TE: PPT
ARZ 0.39 (5) 0.85 (20) 1.61 (8) 1.74 (14)
ATL 0.54 (30) 0.98 (29) 1.89 (26) 1.54 (8)
BLT 0.39 (4) 0.72 (2) 1.37 (1) 2.03 (28)
BUF 0.38 (2) 0.91 (24) 1.68 (13) 1.47 (4)
CAR 0.50 (26) 0.77 (8) 1.86 (25) 2.11 (31)
CHI 0.33 (1) 0.72 (3) 1.54 (5) 1.55 (9)
CIN 0.53 (29) 1.01 (31) 1.73 (16) 2.00 (27)
CLV 0.38 (3) 0.93 (26) 1.51 (4) 1.63 (12)
DAL 0.44 (16) 0.74 (5) 1.65 (12) 1.87 (20)
DEN 0.43 (11) 0.80 (10) 1.71 (15) 1.95 (25)
DET 0.49 (25) 0.92 (25) 1.95 (28) 1.96 (26)
GB 0.44 (17) 0.81 (12) 1.83 (22) 1.48 (6)
HST 0.39 (7) 0.76 (7) 1.62 (9) 1.92 (22)
IND 0.43 (14) 0.81 (13) 1.77 (17) 1.80 (16)
JAX 0.43 (12) 0.76 (6) 1.48 (3) 1.82 (18)
KC 0.46 (21) 1.02 (32) 1.42 (2) 2.08 (29)
LAC 0.39 (6) 0.88 (21) 1.81 (19) 1.34 (2)
LAR 0.48 (24) 0.82 (16) 2.01 (30) 1.59 (10)
MIA 0.50 (27) 0.81 (14) 1.86 (23) 2.10 (30)
MIN 0.41 (9) 0.74 (4) 1.60 (7) 1.77 (15)
NE 0.45 (19) 0.89 (23) 1.58 (6) 1.93 (24)
NO 0.51 (28) 0.83 (17) 1.97 (29) 1.48 (5)
NYG 0.45 (20) 0.84 (19) 1.82 (21) 1.65 (13)
NYJ 0.44 (15) 0.84 (18) 1.63 (10) 1.87 (19)
OAK 0.61 (32) 0.82 (15) 1.80 (18) 2.44 (32)
PHI 0.42 (10) 0.97 (28) 1.68 (14) 1.43 (3)
PIT 0.45 (18) 0.78 (9) 1.64 (11) 1.93 (23)
SEA 0.43 (13) 0.97 (27) 1.81 (20) 1.59 (11)
SF 0.47 (22) 0.81 (11) 1.93 (27) 1.80 (17)
TB 0.55 (31) 1.00 (30) 2.05 (32) 1.91 (21)
TEN 0.41 (8) 0.67 (1) 1.86 (24) 1.18 (1)
WAS 0.47 (23) 0.88 (22) 2.02 (31) 1.53 (7)

 

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