Week 16 Defensive Trends and Fantasy Football Sleepers

Jason Campbell fantasy football
Dec 15 2013 Cleveland OH USA Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell 17 throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium Andrew Weber USA TODAY Sports

Last week, our top sleeper was Kirk Cousins against a terrible Falcons defense. Not only did Cousins come through, he finished the day as a true QB1 with 381 yards and three touchdowns. We’re definitely rolling with Cousins again against an equally bad Cowboys defense this week. Let’s take a closer look at the new starting Redskins quarterback and some other fantasy football sleepers with promising matchups in Week 16.


Kirk Cousins: Although he was picked off twice and the Redskins lost the game, Cousins killed it in his first start of the season, completing 64 percent of his passes and finishing the day with a 94.8 passer rating. This week, he’ll face a Cowboys defense that has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than any other team in the league. Last week, they allowed 26.6 FPS to Matt Flynn. The week before that it was 39.5 FPS to Josh McCown. They’ve also allowed 22+ point games to the likes of Eli Manning and Alex Smith this season and have surrendered eight passing touchdowns in their last two weeks. It’s hard to imagine Cousins doesn’t take advantage of this matchup.

Jason Campbell: The Jets have allowed at least 243 passing yards in every week since Week 3. They’ve given up at least one passing touchdown in seven straight games and have given up two or more in five of those seven. Over their last three weeks, they are giving up an average of 19.12 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. That list includes Cam Newton but it also includes Ryan Tannehill and Matt McGloin. Campbell, meanwhile, has 664 yards and four touchdowns over his last two games and should continue his hot play against a weak Jets secondary.

Running Back:

Bobby Rainey: Rainey has been very matchup dependent this season. Last week, he put up just 11 carries for 27 yards against the Niners. The previous week he put up 127 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries against the Bills. The week before that he ran 17 times for just 63 yards against the Panthers. Against Atlanta, it was 30 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns. This week he’ll face a beatable Rams run defense that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Last week, they allowed 189 total yards to New Orleans’ three-headed backfield. The previous week it was 104 yards and two touchdowns to Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington. They have given up at least one rushing touchdown in four straight games and Rainey has a good chance to keep that streak alive.

Jordan Todman: This one depends entirely on the health of Maurice Jones-Drew but it did last week as well. With MJD out last week, Todman took advantage of a matchup against the Bills and put up 25 carries for 109 yards and four receptions for 44 yards. This week, he has an even more favorable matchup against the Titans. The Titans can’t stop anyone. They have allowed double-digit points to Andre Ellington (15.8), Rashard Mendenhall (19.8), Knowshon Moreno (16.9), Montee Ball (14.7), Donald Brown (12.4), Marcel Reece (11.8), Donald Brown again (21.4), MJD (13.4), Zac Stacy (29.8), Frank Gore (22.4), Marshawn Lynch (27.5) and Jamaal Charles (18.5). That’s a long list and that’s only the Titans’ last 10 games. If MJD is out, Todman is a must-start.

Wide Receiver:

Rueben Randle: With Victor Cruz expected to miss this Sunday’s game with a concussion, Rueben Randle figures to start alongside Hakeem Nicks against the Lions. The Lions have given up more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than any team except the Eagles. Not only have they given up a ton of points to number one receivers, they’ve given up plenty of points to number two receivers as well. That list includes Tiquan Underwood (22.8), Jerricho Cotchery (10.8), Alshon Jeffery (11.9), Terrance Williams (12.9), Marvin Jones (11.7), James Jones (18.7), Jeffery again (21.4), and Jerome Simpson (14).

Greg Little: Just as the Lions struggle against the pass, the Jets are completely lost in coverage. Over their last five games, they have allowed double-digit points to the likes of Rod Streater (19), Mike Wallace (14.2), Brian Hartline (18.7), Jacoby Jones (16.3), T.J. Graham (13.1), and Marquise Goodwin (15.8). This is also the team that allowed Marvin Jones to put up 122 yards and four touchdowns on them back in Week 8. Josh Gordon will certainly get his points but, as I noted above, the Jets give up a ton of passing yards per game and, with Jordan Cameron potentially out with a concussion, Little could see even more than the seven targets he saw on Sunday against the Bears.

Tight End:

Zach Miller: Miller has been used inconsistently this season and rarely makes for a good start but the Cardinals are giving up way, way more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than any other team in the league. The Cards have been great against running backs and receivers but they have allowed big days to Delanie Walker (11.3), Zach Ertz (18.8), Coby Fleener (11.5) and Danny Noble (12.2) over just their last five games. The last time Miller faced the Cards, he put up 40 yards and a touchdown, good for exactly 10 fantasy points.

Delanie Walker: The Jaguars have been a welcoming defensive matchup all season for just about every position. They’re giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and Walker put up 62 yards and a touchdown against them back in Week 10. They’ve also given up double-digit fantasy points to the likes of Garrett Graham and Zach Miller, as well as guys like Vernon Davis and Jordan Cameron. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked Walker’s way a lot. Delanie has seen at least 9 targets in three of his last four weeks.

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