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Week 16 Fantasy Sleepers: Gardner Minshew, Zack Moss among potential breakouts

In the most crucial weeks of the fantasy football season, it can take just one breakout performance from an under-the-radar player to lead your team to victory. Whether you’re looking for an injury fill-in or a waiver-wire add that can outproduce one of your underachieving starters with a bad matchup, our Week 16 sleeper picks, including Gardner Minshew and Zack Moss could be the difference in whether you can set your lineup another week. 

It’s important to remember that any of our sleeper picks could disappoint this week. We like to take chances with our sleeper picks because recommending a bunch of obvious “must-starts” doesn’t help anyone. You shouldn’t start the players below over proven stars, but if your roster is full of stable studs, then you likely don’t need our help anyway. If nothing else, our sleeper picks can help you find DFS values, as the prices of these players should be affordable.

Last week, we had a good feel for running backs and tight ends, correctly predicting breakout performances from Raheem Mostert, Latavius Murray, Jerick McKinnon, Dawson Knox, Taysom Hill, and Chig Okonkwo. We couldn’t hit on a QB or WR sleeper but did cash in on a solid game from the Cardinals’ and Packers’ defenses. With a trip to the championship game on the line, we’ll do our best to keep your title hopes alive.

WEEK 16 FANTASY PICKS: Busts | Start ’em, sit ’em

Let’s get into our Week 16 sleeper picks.

Week 16 Fantasy Sleepers: Running backs

Zack Moss, Colts vs. Chargers (Sloan Piva). Moss had carried the ball just seven times since being traded to the Colts from Buffalo ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline, but his usage skyrocketed after Jonathan Taylor suffered a season-ending high-ankle sprain injury in Week 15. The third-year back rushed 24 times for 84 yards in Indy’s now-infamous loss to the Vikings. The Chargers have allowed RBs to amass the second-most yards per carry and fifth-most total rushing yards this season, so Moss will be a rolling stone this week.

Rachaad White, Buccaneers at Cardinals (Vinnie Iyer). He rebounds along with Lenny with the favorable game script and matchup.

James Cook, Bills @ Bears (Matt Lutovsky). Cooks’ carries (9) have been disappointing over the past two games, but he’s still playing around 40 percent of snaps and managed to find the end zone last week. It’s fair to expect better game script and more touches against Chicago on Saturday, and if that happens, Cook has flex value against a Bears’ defense that allows the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers

Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterbacks

Daniel Jones, Giants at Vikings (Piva). Jones struggled to get the passing game flowing in a tough Week 15 divisional win over the rival Commanders, posting fewer than 10 fantasy points for just the second time all season. He should have a much easier time finding downfield receivers this time around, as the Vikings have surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points to QBs this season. In six games since Nov. 13, Minnesota has allowed an average of 31.3 points and 308 passing yards. Jones has gone against a top-10 plus matchup three times this season, finishing with fantasy scores of 20, 30.7, and 26.6. Lock him in!

Gardner Minshew, Eagles at Cowboys (Iyer). Get into Minshew Mania should Jalen Hurts (right shoulder) miss the game as expected. The protection, weapons, and matchup are just too good.

Jared Goff, Lions @ Panthers (Lutovsky). This isn’t an overly favorable matchup on paper, but Goff has averaged 290.5 yards and two TDs over his past four games. We’d prefer if he was at home where he’s been much better this year, but conditions shouldn’t be too bad in Carolina, so expect Goff to have another strong performance.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers

Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide receivers

DJ Chark, Lions @ Panthers (Piva). Chark had a down week against the Jets in New York last weekend, but everyone has a down week against Robert Saleh’s squad these days! In comparison, Carolina will be a layup for Jared Goff and company. Over the past two weeks, the Panthers’ secondary has allowed WR1s and WR2s to tally a combined 22 catches, 282 receiving yards, and two TDs. Chark hauled in at least five catches and 94-plus yards in Weeks 13 and 14, and he’s found the end zone twice since Week 12. Chark Week returns on Christmas Eve!

Isiah Hodgins, Giants at Vikings (Iyer). Someone needs to produce against the Vikings’ secondary, and it might as well be him now.

Hunter Renfrow, Raiders @ Steelers (Lutovsky). Renfrow played 43 percent of snaps in his first game back from an oblique injury, and we expect him to ramp up more this week against Pittsburgh. The Steelers allow the fifth-most fantasy points to WRs, so Vegas will be throwing often. Mack Hollins has been better most of the year, but this is a good spot for Renfrow to rack up short catches and have a bunch of run-after-the-catch yards.

WEEK 16 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | FanDuel

Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends

Cade Otton, Buccaneers @ Cardinals (Piva). As Forrest Gump might have said, “I may not be a smart man, but I know to start tight ends against Arizona.” The Cardinals have been historically bad at defending the position over the past few years, and this season has been no different. The Cards lead the NFL in catches (86), yards (950), and TDs (9) allowed to TEs, and Otton has 11 receptions for 76 yards and a score since Week 13.

Trey McBride, Cardinals vs. Buccaneers (Iyer). He’s getting more run in the new passing game with different QBs and can put together a playable night with a good shot at his first TD.

Jordan Akins, Texans @ Titans (Lutovsky). Akins has seen at least five targets in three of the past four games, producing a pair of TDs in that span. Tennessee allows the third-most fantasy points to TEs, and with a lack of other options in Houston, Akins could be even busier than usual.

Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Defense

Los Angeles Chargers at Colts (Piva). In case you live beneath a boulder, Matt Ryan and the Colts allowed the Vikings to mount the largest comeback in NFL history last week. Ryan and the Colts also have the most lost fumbles, the third-most sacks taken, the fourth-most interceptions thrown, and the second-worst red-zone offense in the league. The Chargers’ D is banged up, but it has surrendered an average of just 15.5 points and 251.5 total yards over the past two weeks.

Cleveland Browns vs. Saints (Iyer). Here’s to unwrapping a big Andy Dalton mistake or two in blizzard-like conditions.

Detroit Lions @ Panthers (Lutovsky). Saying someone is “due” is not good analysis, but Sam Darnold has not turned it over in three starts. He’s due! The Lions still give up their fair share of yards, but they’ve posted 10 sacks and four takeaways while allowing just 54 offensive points over the past three games. Carolina still allows a decent number of sacks (four last week) and doesn’t score many points, so the Lions have a high floor.

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