Extracurricular activities dominated the talk after Week 15 and put some of the best Fantasy performances of the year in the background. Fantasy MVP Cam Newton and waiver wire gem Kirk Cousins each accounted for five touchdowns, boosting many owners into their league finales. David Johnson paid off in a massive way by putting up one of the best RB efforts of the 2015 season and we’ll pat ourselves on the back after highlighting Danny Woodhead (four total TDs) and Emmanuel Sanders (10 catches, 181 yards, 1 TD) in last week’s edition of this article. Jordan Reed continued a very good recent run in an overall strong campaign while our tight end recommendation, Eric Ebron, was solid thanks to one big play. (We can’t say the same for our QB selection, Matt Ryan, who continues to struggle). So, here we go! If you’re reading this, you’re playing for all the marbles, which means we are searching deep into your rosters, rankings and waiver wires. You need me to be more clutch than Santa and I’m trying to make your permanent nice list with these Week 16 Fantasy Football Sneaky Plays.
Alex Smith vs. Browns – It is widely accepted that Alex Smith’s standard NFL play far exceeds his Fantasy value. So, it is often difficult to recommend him given his typically low passing volume (Exhibit A: the Chiefs rank 28th in passing attempts on the season). However, Smith is in the Top 10 in pass completion percentage and ranks first in interception percentage with 0.9% (only 4 INTs in 424 pass attempts). But, matching up against a Browns team that struggles to cover just about anyone with an added bonus of allowing the third-most points to opposing Fantasy QBs, and I think Smith is far undervalued this week. The Browns have allowed 85 receptions to opposing RBs, putting Charcandrick West in a good position to dominate the screen game and Jeremy Maclin in a prime position in the slot as well.
Alex Smith badly exposed the Lions in London when he ran through their defense, and his underrated athleticism could be on display again as the Chiefs attempt to lock up a playoff spot. He can be a solid insurance policy for Drew Brees owners as we wait on his status to be announced.
Honorable mentions in QB category: Matt Hasselbeck vs. Dolphins, Teddy Bridgewater vs. Giants, Kellen Moore vs. Bills, Brandon Weeden vs. Titans
Cameron Artis-Payne vs. Falcons – You know a guy qualifies for a Sneaky Play when he’s not even the most valuable ‘Cameron’ in his own backfield. The rookie out of Auburn finally got a decent workload last week with Jonathan Stewart out and made the most of it, totaling 93 yards on 16 touches. Granted, Cam Newton picked up even more yards rushing and certainly handled the most important carries, but we should be encouraged by Artis-Payne’s ability to grind out some valuable yardage. He faces a Falcons defense that has yielded 18 rushing touchdowns as well as 18 total touchdowns (15 rushing, 3 receiving) to opposing RBs.
When these teams faced off in a lopsided contest a couple of weeks ago, the Panthers had 32 rushing attempts and two scores on the ground. With Artis-Payne picking up a significant market share as Stewart is still sidelined, we can see this being a breakout game, especially if Carolina gets him involved in the passing game – the Falcons have allowed 96 receptions to opposing backs, most in the league.
Honorable mention in RB category: Ameer Abdullah vs. 49ers. WIDE RECEIVER
T.Y. Hilton/Donte Moncrief vs. Dolphins – To make this call there has to be an acknowledgement that Matt Hasselbeck has been beaten up pretty badly over the course of the last month. To those who can’t trust in the 40-year old QB, we think you may be missing an opportunity with both Hilton and Moncrief. Hilton’s boom-or-bust season is coming off its latest bust but his game logs show that he has feasted on weaker secondaries…enter the Miami Dolphins. The Fish have been the worst team in the league against opposing WR1 and are seventh-worst overall against opposing wideouts.
Moncrief benefits from similar matchups as Miami is 28th versus WR2 making this a great matchup on the outside all day for the Colts. Hilton is a better play as he has seen more targets on the year (121 to 101) but both players have slid too far down the rankings for our taste. Hilton especially has the type of upside that can win someone a championship. Moncrief is worthy of consideration as long as there are no further negative reports on his toe injury.
Honorable mentions in WR category: Reuben Randle/Dwayne Harris vs. Vikings, Kamar Aiken vs. Steelers, Willie Snead/ Marques Colston vs. Jaguars, Dorial Green-Beckham vs. Texans, Markus Wheaton vs. Ravens
Kyle Rudolph vs. Giants – For the second time in three weeks, we are trying to extract some value out of ‘Rudolph the Red Zone Reindeer’ which is difficult to do when he plays on the lowest volume passing team in the NFL. However, the Vikes are up against the Giants who have allowed the third-most points to opposing TEs and the most receptions (87) to the position on the season. Rudolph’s 47 receptions are actually tied for the team lead as are his four receiving touchdowns so, if, you need a waiver wire fill-in at this late stage, he is an option with some slight upside, albeit touchdown-dependent.
Honorable mentions in TE category: Ryan Griffin vs. Titans, Vance McDonald vs. Lions