Sneaky Starts: Week 16

Sneaky Starts: Week 16

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last update Dec 26, 2015

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John Paulsen on Twitter: @4for4_John.

All but the luckiest fantasy owners at some point need to find the proverbial diamond in the rough – 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.

Last week’s Sneaky Starts featured Kirk Cousins (QB2), Matthew Stafford (QB11), Derek Carr (QB13), Charcandrick West (RB8), Bilal Powell (RB11), James White (RB12), Ameer Abdullah (RB15), Tim Hightower (RB24), Denard Robinson (RB29), Charles Sims (RB32), Antonio Andrews (RB33), Ted Ginn (WR7), Tavon Austin (WR8), Kamar Aiken (WR9), Stefon Diggs (WR13), Tyler Lockett (WR23), Pierre Garcon (WR34), Dontrelle Inman (WR42), Willie Snead (WR43), Will Tye (TE7), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE10) and Zachary Miller (TE17), who all posted starter- or flex-caliber numbers in Week 15.

Let’s take a look at the Sneaky Starts for Week 16:


Kirk Cousins, Redskins (@ PHI)
Cousins’ home/away splits are downright terrifying, but this is a very favorable matchup against the Eagles, who are 25th in QB aFPA. In his two previous road games in “green” aFPA matchups, Cousins has posted 316 yards, one touchdown and two picks against the Giants (in Week 3) and 300 yards, two touchdowns (one rushing) and one interception against the Bears (in Week 14). The availability of DeSean Jackson should offset Cousins’ home/road tendencies somewhat.

Philip Rivers, Chargers (@ OAK)
There is some concern about high winds in Oakland tonight, but it looks like they will diminish as the game progresses, so I wouldn’t worry too much about starting Rivers (or Derek Carr) if the situation called for it. The Raiders are #20 in WR aFPA and Rivers is coming off of a 311-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Dolphins last week. He threw for 336 yards and three scores when he faced the Raiders in Week 7.

Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (vs. CHI)
Winston has flopped in good matchups before (182 yards and one TD versus the Saints?), but the Bears just gave up a big game to Teddy Bridgewater and are #31 in QB aFPA over the last 10 weeks. Meanwhile, Winston is coming off of a 363-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Rams last Thursday night.

Sam Bradford, Eagles (vs. WAS)
Bradford has been decent since returning from injury, averaging 13.9 FP over the last three weeks with two multi-TD games (against the Patriots and the Cardinals). This game has the 3rd-highest total (48.0) of the week.

Jay Cutler, Bears (@ TB)
Keep an eye on Alshon Jeffery’s status. If he plays, Cutler will be Sneaky against a Bucs defense that is pretty stout against the run, but has struggled through the air (#26 in QB aFPA).

Blaine Gabbert, 49ers (@ DET)
Gabbert has the #19 per game average since taking over in Week 9. He has scored at least one touchdown in every game this season and has shown an ability to run (28.2 rush yards per game). The Lions are #24 in QB aFPA.

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