Sneaky Starts: Week 16

Dec 21, 2016
Sneaky Starts: Week 16

All but the luckiest fantasy owners need to find the proverbial diamond in the rough at some point – a waiver wire or bench player capable of putting up some points in a pinch. This weekly feature is dedicated to that part of fantasy football. It's not pretty, but it's part of the game.

Here are the Sneaky Starts for Week 16:


Tyrod Taylor, Bills (vs. MIA)
Taylor just keeps chugging along. He’s the #10 fantasy QB on the year and has a home matchup with the Dolphins, who yielded 266 yards and a touchdown to the Jets, two touchdowns to Carson Palmer, four touchdowns and 381 yards to Joe Flacco and a three-TD, 296-yard effort to Colin Kaepernick. The Bills have scored an average of 30.7 points at home (20.4 on the road), so the 22.8 implied total for Buffalo seems low.

Eli Manning, Giants (@ PHI)
I’m a little worried about the Thursday night road team woes, but the matchup in this one is too good to pass up. The Eagles have given up two passing touchdowns in four straight games (to Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton and Aaron Rodgers), and have yielded an eye-popping 9.0 YPA in that span. Eli is only averaging 196 passing yards in his last four games, but he has thrown multiple touchdowns in six of seven games since the team’s Week 8 bye. The Giants have a league-low five rushing touchdowns on the year, so they’re likely to rely on Manning’s arm in the red zone.

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (@ LA)
The Rams are #22 in QB aFPA, so this is a good matchup that should be played in favorable conditions in Southern California. The question is whether or not the Rams will be able to score enough to keep Kaepernick aggressive offensively.

Matt Barkley, Bears (vs. WAS)
Barkley has played pretty well over the last four weeks, though he’s been a little hit-or-miss from a fantasy perspective. He posted 678 passing yards and five touchdowns (along with five picks) against the Titans and Packers, but just 404 yards and one score against the 49ers (ugh) and the Lions. In fairness, his receivers have had a ton of drops, and that has no doubt hurt his numbers. This week he faces a forgiving Washington pass defense (#31 in QB aFPA) with Alshon Jeffery healthy and looking like his old self.

Blake Bortles, Jaguars (vs. TEN)
This week, I somewhat sarcastically tweeted – who’s up for a Bortles/A-Rob/Lee stack? – and the responses (which included vomiting and money-burning GIFs) indicate that Bortles will have extremely low ownership in the daily contests this week. But there are a few reasons for optimism. Before last week’s debacle in Houston, Bortles managed 257 yards and a touchdown against a good Minnesota defense. From Week 8 to Week 12, he was the #7 fantasy quarterback, averaging 270 total yards (34 rushing) and 2.2 touchdowns in that five-game stretch. That included a 337-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Titans, who are last in the league in QB aFPA.

Like Bortles, Matt Moore (@ BUF), Sam Bradford (@ GB) and Jared Goff (vs. SF) are all dicey starts, but the matchups are good.

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