Fantasy Football: Week 16 Deep Sleepers – Bucs Are Potential Title Difference Makers

In his championship edition of fantasy football deep sleepers, Jaime Eisner identifies three Tampa Bay Buccaneers who could surprisingly help you win a title!

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate

Championship week has finally arrived! It’s the best and most tense time of year in the fantasy football community. A title is within reach and every lineup decision is crucial. In deep leagues, there are plenty of tough choices to be made in Week 16. Here are a handful of players available in the vast majority of leagues that can help you win a championship this week.

Week 16 Deep Sleepers

QB Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

Lock’s first three NFL starts were a bit of a mixed bag. He looked OK in his debut, throwing for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers. He looked like a star against the Texans, finishing with three passing touchdowns and 23.9 fantasy points. He looked like a rookie last week, completing 45% of his passes in a touchdown-less loss to the Chiefs. However, the latter game was played in a blizzard and it’s fair to just throw it out altogether. Lock gets a much better matchup this week against a Lions team that allows the fourth-most points to fantasy QBs this season on what’s supposed to be a clear, 60-degree day in Denver. He could replicate his Houston numbers against this Detroit defense and really show that he’s progressing as the Broncos’ quarterback of the future. The Lions have only held three QBs all season under 18 fantasy points. Lock won’t be the fourth and should be right around the 18-20 point mark this week.

RB Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

There aren’t any obvious deep sleepers at the running back position this time of year—there are some good options to choose from here if they’re somehow still available in your league—but the playoff picture and game script can help produce unlikely Week 16 stars. The former is the case here. The Patriots take on the Bills on Saturday. If New England loses, Baltimore clinches a first-round bye. If the Patriots lose and the Ravens beat the Browns, Baltimore clinches home field advantage throughout the playoffs. So why does this matter for fantasy? The Ravens will know the result of the Bills-Patriots game about 17 hours before their game. If a first-round bye is already in the bag and they get up big on Cleveland, we may see head coach John Harbaugh pull his starters in the second half. If he does, all aboard the Gus Bus, as Edwards could see a ton of carries to salt away the defeated Browns. He only has two games with double-digit carries this season, but could be in line for a third if the playoff scenarios break right.

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RB Dare Ogunbowale, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’ve been burned by putting Ogunbowale on this list in the past, but given all of the pass-catchers the Buccaneers are down for this game, there has to be a big role for their only true pass-catching running back. Head coach Bruce Arians said his running backs are going to have to contribute more in the passing game this week against the Texans. It’s fair to assume that Ronald Jones will be leaned on more heavily in that area, but we never really know with Bucs running backs. Tampa Bay is still going to throw a ton even without Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller—and will need to if they want to keep up with Deshaun Watson—so Ogunbowale is going to be on the field a lot and will be Jameis Winston’s safety blanket if the remaining healthy receivers have trouble getting open. He’s a risky play with only two games above eight fantasy points all season, but game script makes this dart throw worth mentioning. 

WR Greg Ward, Philadelphia Eagles

In the absence of Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, Carson Wentz has found his new favorite target at wide receiver. Ward has back-to-back nine-target games and finished with 19.1 fantasy points in PPR formats last week. He also had a seven-target, six-catch game back in Week 12 with Jeffery out. The Cowboys have been pretty stingy to fantasy WRs this season so the matchup is less than ideal. However, volume is volume and with literally no one else to throw to aside from his tight ends, Ward is fantasy relevant. If you need help filling out your WR3 spot, Ward should be able to score in double figures for the second week in a row and the third time this season.

WR Justin Watson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Justin WatsonThe theory from above holds true here too. Jameis Winston has to throw to someone, why not Watson? He’s the new No. 2 wide receiver behind Breshad Perriman and had eight targets two weeks ago against the Colts after Mike Evans went down. He disappointed last week, but that’s because Scotty Miller returned and assumed the No. 2 role. With him now out too, Watson should be on the field for the majority of the game for a high-scoring offense against a beatable Texans secondary. There isn’t a player with more upside this week that’s owned in fewer than 2% of leagues. The opportunity for production will be there and Watson should be able to take advantage like he did in Week 14 against Indianapolis. 

WR Steven Sims Jr., Washington Redskins

Sims has seen his role expand in recent weeks, culminating in an 11-target game last week against the Eagles. He finished with five catches for 45 yards and his first career touchdown. He also had a bad drop and needs to convert more of his targets into catches, but Dwayne Haskins being more accurate will play a large role in that. Injuries have allowed Sims to rise to the de facto No. 2 wide receiver behind Terry McLaurin and his 18 targets over the last two weeks bear that out. Sims takes on the Giants this week, a team allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to WRs this season. If he’s anywhere around double-digit targets against that defense he could have a monster day. It’s worth taking a flier on him.

TE Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The third Buccaneer on this list, Brate is a very viable play this week because of all the injuries mentioned above. He’s the No. 4 option in the receiving game right now, but you’ll take that from a tight end in this offense. For context on why he’ll be used more, here are the other wide receivers who are healthy and on the roster that aren’t Breshad Perriman or Justin Watson: Ishmael Hyman, Cyril Grayson and Spencer Schnell. That’s a who’s who of “who?” Brate had seven targets last week and should see at least that amount if not more this week. Houston isn’t anything special against fantasy TEs, so the matchup isn’t anything to fear. There are plenty of targets to go around with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin out of the lineup, especially in the red zone. Brate will soak up his fair share and has a proven history of being a red zone option for Jameis Winston. 

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