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Week 16 fantasy sleepers: Surprise players who could win you a title

Week 16 Flames: Woods’ TD gifts keep on giving championship week 

Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 16 Flames in the comments section below.

Case Keenum, Min, QB (42 percent started, $35 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at GB (Game over/under: OFF)

Pick the brain of any QB streamer and they would openly admit to employing the services of the most random players in title games – Tyler Thigpen, Matt Barkley, Ryan Tannehill. Their perceived “gambles” most times paid enormous dividends. Why? Advantageous matchups. Heck, way back in the day, yours truly won a title game rolling the dice on Jon Kitna, the rather unreliable Seattle version. Soon Keenum, who honestly graduated from the streaming ranks in deeper formats weeks ago, could be the next random signal-caller who guides owners to the gridiron gold. The former Texan/Ram has smashed all low expectations. Since overtaking for brittle Sam Bradford full time in Week 3, he’s compiled the 11th-most valuable fantasy average (18.11 fpts/g) at the position, ranking ahead of more notable names Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. Accurate and aggressive, he ranks top-10 in yards per attempt (7.4), play-action completion rate (68.7) and deep-ball completion percentage (42.0). A king of consistency, he’s also tallied multiple touchdowns in six of his past seven contests. Forget sugar plums, little fantasy girls and boys hoping for an early present should have thoughts of the Viking dancing in their heads. His steady production aside the matchup is spectacular. The Packers are a bumbling group defensively. They’ve gifted passers 8.3 yards per attempt, 2.4 touchdowns and 274.0 passing yards per game. The resulting 21.6 fantasy points per week allowed ranks second highest over that span. Believe in the Christmas Case.

Fearless Forecast: 286 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 turnovers, 19 rushing yards, 21.3 fantasy points

[Week 16 rankings: Overall | PPR | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Ks]

Theo Riddick, Det, RB (27 percent started, $17 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Cin (Over/Under: 43)

“Candy Cane” Ron Dayne. Pierre Thomas. Tim Hightower. With nervousness on high, Riddick will be the next under-appreciated RB who dons the superhero cape during the fantasy playoffs. Jim Caldwell’s placement of Ameer Abdullah deep in the doghouse has unlocked the scat back. Over his past three games, he’s trudged through marshmallows on the ground (3.67 ypc, 2.37 YAC/att), but his receiving contributions and consistent end-zone plunges have vaulted him into the weekly RB2 conversation. Sliding into the RB16 slot during that stretch, he’s impressively forced a missed tackle on 31.7 percent of his touches, amassed 72.0 total yards per game and crossed the chalk three times. Abdullah and Tion Green also make up the Lions’ committee, but on roughly 13-15 grips, Riddick is a strong candidate to again tuck inside the RB top-20. His matchup, against the hapless Bengals, is quite delightful. Since Week 9, only the Buffalo Bills have surrendered more fantasy points to RBs than Cincy. It’s conceded 4.31 yards per carry, 190.6 total yards per game and eight total touchdowns to the position. Even if Vontaze Burfict and other key defensive parts suit up, Riddick is sure to maul the competition. If his tender wrist doesn’t keep him sidelined, insert him into the FLEX at a minimum in your title game.

Fearless Forecast: 11 carries, 39 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 50 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.5 fantasy points

Elijhaa Penny, Ari, RB (1 percent started, $12 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. NYG (Over/Under: 39.5)

When it comes to your title game, a Penny saved may indeed be a Penny earned. With Adrian Peterson shelved and Kerwynn Williams a possible Week 16 casualty due to a quad injury, the power rusher, whose brother Rashaad topped 2,000 yards at San Diego St. this season and is a legit fantasy prospect to monitor long-term, could soon land a featured role. A throwback rusher reminiscent of T.J. Duckett, the 6-foot-1, 244-pound steel fortress is a load with surprising jukes and strong YAC abilities. Last week against Washington he amassed 10 carries for 45 yards, evading three defenders while gaining 19 yards after initial contact. If gifted primary RB duties, the wrecking ball could levy a path of destruction. His opponent, New York, is horrendous in every facet defensively, especially stuffing the run. Over their past seven games, the Giants have given up the fourth-most fantasy points, 4.48 yards per carry, 170.1 total yards per game and seven touchdowns to RBs. Arizona, which stunningly ranks No. 10 in run-blocking efficiency according to Player Profiler, is sure to manhandle the visitors up front. Again, if Penny nets the start, it’s entirely foreseeable the short-yardage specialist compiles an RB2-level line. Carlos Hyde (vs. Jax), Marshawn Lynch (at Phi) and Jamaal Williams (vs. Min) backers concerned about matchup should heavily debate the upstart. Don’t fear the unknown.

Fearless Forecast (sans Williams): 18 carries, 69 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 8 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.7 fantasy points 

Robert Woods, LAR, WR (24 percent started, $23 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at Ten (Over/Under: 48.5)

At this juncture, this is what I know: 1) “Die Hard” and “Gremlins” are Christmas movies. 2) WHAM!’s “Last Christmas” is the best holiday tune ever recorded. 3) The Rams are indisputable Lombardi trophy contenders. Last week in Seattle, Sean McVay and his sizzling squad humiliated the Seahawks powering through a previously impenetrable line with a heavy dose of Todd Gurley. The rusher’s four-TD eruption dominated fantasy headlines, but Bob’s return to the lineup offered much encouragement. Seeing action for the first time in four weeks, the wideout picked up where he left off. Targeted seven times, Woods caught six balls for 45 yards and a touchdown. Over his past four games, he’s scored five times. Also a steady Eddie in PPR formats, he’s hauled in five or more passes in seven of 11 games played. Without question, he (22.6% target share), and not Cooper Kupp or Sammy Watkins, is Jared Goff’s weapon of choice. One game away from clinching the NFC West, the Rams are sure to feature Woods this week in Nashville. Since Week 7, the Titans have conceded the 10th-most fantasy points to wide receivers giving up an almost impossible 76.9 catch percentage. Though Logan Ryan has shown some competency functioning as a shadow corner down the stretch, he and Adoree Jackson have allowed a combined 99.9 passer rating this year. Toeing the WR1 line in 12-team leagues (WR13 in fantasy points per game), Woods is sure to be a captain on your ‘ship. Start him.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 73 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.3 fantasy points 

Geronimo Allison, GB, WR (1 percent started, $10 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: vs. Min (Over/Under: OFF)

Sporting a Mark Davis-like bowl cut at the office holiday party is a risky move. Starting a one-percent owned receiver with all the marbles on the line in your highly challenging deep league isn’t. No, really. Yes, even against Xavier Rhodes and Minnesota. As anticipated, Aaron Rodgers displayed some rust last week in Carolina. He did thread several needles, but picked off three times, which last happened in November of 2009, it was clear he needed to shake off the cobwebs. Still, A-Aron, who hopefully will suit up this week, escaped unharmed, though his primary target, Davante Adams, was not as fortunate. Thomas Davis’ head shot left the wideout concussed, a setback that’s sure to sideline Adams given his history. Allison, who recorded five receptions and 33 yards on eight targets against the Panthers, is sure to fill the void. He’s long, athletic and trusted by Rodgers, a stopgap who’s played brilliantly at times as a temp. In his past four games netting at least 70 percent of the snap share, he’s averaged 4.7 receptions and 75.8 yards per contest with one touchdown. The Vikes wield a battle axe defending the pass, but with Rhodes presumably draped on Jordy Nelson, Allison could receive a boatload of targets squaring off against gentler corner Trae Waynes (89.0 passer rating, 62.5 catch% allowed). Whether it’s Rodgers or Brett Hundley under center Saturday, the ex-Illini is worth gambling on in deeper formats. Ho, ho, ho, Geronimo.

(UPDATE: The Packers placed Rodgers on injured reserve, which elevates Hundley back into the starting lineup. With Adams unlikely to play, I’m still not budging on Allison as a cheap DFS option or WR3 flier in deep leagues. )

Fearless Forecast (without Adams): 5 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.2 fantasy points

WEEK 16 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)

Travis Benjamin, LAC, WR (3 percent started, $14 in Yahoo DFS)
Matchup: at NYJ (Over/Under: 42.5)

The Grinch wears a bolo tie. The ostrich-sized egg Philip Rivers laid last week in Kansas City confirmed it. Cindy Lou Who would agree. Though his monumental flop eliminated many from their playoffs, this week, the passer’s heart should grow three sizes. The positive prognosis on his “Max,” Keenan Allen, who was carted off last week with a back injury, greatly boosts his chances. Benjamin’s ability to stretch defenses does, too. The quick-twitch receiver has flashed occasionally this season. In games in which he received a noteworthy uptick in targets share, he carved up roast beasts. Against KC, New England and Cleveland, opponents he coaxed six or more looks against, he totaled 14 receptions for 237 yards and scored one touchdown. Though Allen, and his massive 27.9 percent targets share, is expected to play, Benjamin should coax 5-7 looks. Muster that size of a load and the end result is sure to be difference making, The Jets pass defense is downright dreadful. This year, 13 wide receivers have crossed the 70-yard mark against the Puddle Jumpers. They’ve also conceded the second-most 20-plus yard pass plays and sixth-most fantasy points to WRs. Reaching into the stocking, corners Buster Skrine, Morris Claiborne and Daryl Worley have yielded a combined 97.7 passer rating and 60.4 catch percentage to their assignments. Bottom line, Benjamin isn’t your average WR3/FLEX flier in 12-team leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 72 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.2 fantasy points


Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Fan Week 15 results: 3-3 (Season: 41-64)
My Week 15 results: 6-5 (Season: 71-97; W: Blake Bortles, Latavius Murray, Rod Smith, Nick Foles, Garrett Celek, San Francisco D/ST; L: Isaiah Crowell, Theo Riddick, Dede Westbrook, Mike Davis, Jordy Nelson; DNP: Ted Ginn)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 75 million households on Fox Sports Regional Networks, and his new podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”

Special day and time for Week 16 edition of “Fantasy Football Live”