That's right, in most fantasy football leagues Week 16 brings us to the championship game, and if you're lucky enough to be involved in your league's final match-up you'll likely need to do some fishing on the waiver wire. If the injuries we've seen in the past few weeks are any indication, a lot of squads are hobbling in to this final fantasy confrontation and it could be these last few waiver picks that determine who brings home the trophy. This week we'll look at two picks for each major offensive position (QB, WR, RB & TE) - one well-known guy (owned in 30% or less Yahoo leagues) and one under-the-radar guy (10% or less).
Kirk Cousins (QB, WAS) 25% Owned, @PHI - Cousins and the Washington Redskins' offense have really stepped it up in recent weeks and it shows in Cousins' fantasy production. He has steadily increased his passing yardage over the past 3 games (219, 200, 319) and just threw 4 TDs against the Bills last week. During that time he has only thrown 1 interception. Going up against an Eagles defense that gives up 18+ fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, Cousins is a great play if he's available.
SLEEPER Blaine Gabbert (QB, SF) 3% Owned, @DET - Gabbert is a tough start, but if you're scraping the bottom of the QB barrel, here's what you have to work with! Based on his starts this season, he has a floor of about 13 points, but there is some upside there when playing against defenses susceptible to the pass such as the Bears. The Lions defense is only slightly better on the year against QBs, which bodes well for Gabbert this week. I'm predicting 15 points here.
Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, TEN) 23% Owned, vs. HOU - Green-Beckham has improved this season, and is being rewarded with a steady increase of targets culminating in 9 just last week against New England's stingy secondary. Based on his heavy usage we're looking at a guy who will get enough opportunities to be fantasy relevant this week, but still has a floor of just 4 or 5 points. A risky start that could pay off big dividends.
SLEEPER Dontrelle Inman (WR, SD) 8% Owned, @OAK - Inman has shown sporadic bursts of production this year, but it's definitely tough to trust an inconsistent 2nd year receiver on a wounded team that has already given up on the season. Thankfully, the Chargers pulled together a win last week over the Dolphins, and Inman will have another good match-up against the Raiders who are allowing almost 20 points to opposing WRs. At this point, Inman, Gates and Woodhead are the only healthy options on the offense, expect them all to have at least serviceable outings.
Bilal Powell (RB, NYJ) 21% Owned, vs. NE - Powell has been impressive over the past few weeks, doing well on the limited carries that he is given but capitalizing on his utilization as a passing down back. Especially against an opponent like the Patriots, Powell should be called upon often as a checkdown target and should have ample opportunities to get in for a touchdown. A better play in PPR leagues, but still very relevant down the stretch in standard scoring leagues.
SLEEPER Steven Jackson (RB, NE) 2% Owned, @NYJ - I know, I know.. he was just signed by the Patriots - could Jackson possibly be a viable fantasy option at this most crucial of times during the fantasy season? Well, short answer is yes. Bolden was not running the football well last week and it's more than likely that Jackson's signing was an indication that there needed to be a veteran presence at the position, and one that could see immediate time on the field. So, are you feeling lucky?
Will Tye (TE, NYG) 10% Owned, @MIN - For some reason, no one seems interested in picking up Tye and playing them on a weekly basis. Not sure why, because he really has performed well over the past few weeks including 2 TDs in the last 2 match-ups. He averages about 6 targets per game since Larry Donnell was injured! I'm considering him a borderline TE1 yet again against the Vikings in Week 16 and would have absolutely no hesitation starting him if I didn't have one of the top weekly options already.
SLEEPER Vance McDonald (TE, SF) 6% Owned, @DET - McDonald had two big weeks earlier this season, but a concussion forced him off the field in Week 13 against the Bears. His first game back was just last week against the Bengals, which proved to be a disappointing effort, but it was also a bad week for the 49ers offense in general. Talk about under the radar, nobody is expecting a big performance from McDonald this week but I think he'll have a few receptions and a TD which makes him a great play! (Interesting tidbit: The Lions defense has given up a league-leading 11 TDs to tight ends so far in 2015).