2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections Week 16 | Start ‘Em Picks & Matchup Plays

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2023

It is Week 16 of the 2021 fantasy football season. If you’ve made it this far, then you are playing your upcoming matchup to qualify for the 2021 Fantasy Championship in your league.

You could also be playing for a consolation prize or in a tournament-style shootout like the Scott Fish Bowl, the FFPC, or Underdog BestBall.

Regardless, if you are setting a lineup this week, you should be reading my fantasy football sleepers column. While there are no more NFL bye weeks, we still must contend with injuries and the never-ending COVID-19 crisis.

We can get through it. We have already made it this far.

My weekly fantasy football sleepers will help you find the best pivots possible to help you win your week and, when it is all said and done, a 2021 fantasy football championship.

Now, here are my Week 16 fantasy football sleepers. Let’s survive and advance. We are two wins away from glory.

*NFL bye weeks have concluded for the 2021 season

Please note that all NFL gameday odds and lines below are current as of noon ET on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 16: Quarterback

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens

  • Ravens-Bengals Total: 44.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 44.5 (-110), Under 44.5 (-110)

The Ravens have been ravaged by the injury bug all season long, especially on defense. Their secondary was beaten up and shorthanded last week against the Packers, and they could face a similar fate in Week 16 at the Bengals, which bodes well for Joe Burrow’s fantasy outlook.

Earlier this season, Burrow popped for 30.6 fantasy points against the Ravens in their Week 7 meeting. It was Burrow’s best game of the year, as he threw for 416 yards with three touchdowns and a pick. I am not expecting another 416/1/1 line from Burrow, but he should finish with at least 20 fantasy points, one week after Aaron Rodgers dropped 26.5 points on Baltimore’s defense.

Burrow has thrown for 300-plus yards with two total touchdowns in two of his past three games. Look for a similar stat line in Week 16.

Justin Fields gives the Seahawks their first true test against a running quarterback this season. Can he take advantage of the matchup? (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

Deep QB Week 16 Sleeper: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks

  • Bears-Seahawks Total: 43 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 43 (-110), Under 43 (-110)

Justin Fields didn’t play his best game on Monday night against the Vikings, but he still ended with 16.9 fantasy points. He could have had more, but the Vikings managed to show up on defense. Fields will have another shot to win a week for his fantasy managers in Sunday’s tilt at the Seahawks.

While the Seattle defense has played better of late, you can still run on them. And while they don’t look like the best matchup for a running quarterback on paper, they haven’t really played anyone. They even avoided playing Kyler Murray back in Week 11. Murray was sidelined and the Seahawks got Colt McCoy instead.

Jameis Winston ran for 40 yards against the Seahawks earlier in the year, and he isn’t even known for his rushing upside like Fields. The rookie signal-caller is developing as a passer in the second half of the year. Fields will bring a high floor into Week 16, but if he gets going, he has the upside of a top 10 fantasy quarterback.

More Week 16 QB Sleepers To Consider

  • Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers @ Tennessee Titans

DFS Week 16 Player Props To Play

Check out the best NFL parlay picks and predictions this week with our props comparison tool, including projections to help you make the best decisions.

Click “Place Bet" to unlock the associated sportsbook’s welcome offer and place your bet. Select the game you want to highlight.

Learn more about NFL prop bets and the best sportsbooks for prop betting.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 16: Running Back

Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers

  • Dolphins-Jets Total: 44 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 44 (-110), Under 44 (-110)

Leonard Fournette is unlikely to play this week with a hamstring injury. If Fournette is indeed ruled out, then we are good to fire up Ronald Jones. With Giovani Bernard (injured reserve) also sidelined, it’s Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the Tampa backfield. I will err on the side of Jones, as painful as it might be.

Jones is capable, he is just untrustworthy. Jones’ ball-security issues perennially lands him in Bruce Arians’ doghouse and behind Fournette indefinitely. He now has the opportunity to show out. Last season, Jones was the featured back in Tampa while Fournette played the No. 2 role until his late-season breakout. Jones played 14 regular-season games in 2020 and scored 10-plus PPR points in 10 of them.

Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs Las Vegas Raiders

  • Broncos-Raiders Total: 41.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 41.5 (-110), Under 41.5 (-110)

I will continue to feature Javonte Williams in my sleepers column. While he shares a backfield with Melvin Gordon, they are both in play in fantasy.

Last week, Williams finished with 12.1 PPR points - his lowest total since Week 10. In his three previous games, Williams popped for 20-plus points. Williams gets the carries and targets to go for 20-plus every week, but he likely will need to score to get there.

The Raiders have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Their defense has also given up 10-plus PPR points to nine different backs in their past six games since Week 10. They’ve even allowed two different backs to score double-digit PPR points in the same game two times since Week 12 (Cowboys, Chiefs).

Look for Williams to get back into the end zone, and perhaps, another 20-point outing in Week 16 against the Raiders.

Deep RB Week 16 Sleeper: Devonta Freeman, Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals

  • Ravens-Bengals Total: 44.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 44.5 (-110), Under 44.5 (-110)

Devonta Freeman has a stranglehold on the lead running back duties on the Ravens. While he didn’t come through in last week’s loss to the Packers, he’s been hot for the most part. Freeman has gone for 11.3 PPR points in six of his past nine games, landing in the single digits in two of his past four.

Look for Freeman to get back on track in Week 16 at the Bengals. Freeman has drawn double-digit touches in six of his past seven games. He didn’t get there last week, finishing with seven, which was his lowest total since Week 7 against the Bengals.

Despite only drawing seven touches in his Week 7 meeting with the Bengals, Freeman still found a way to score and end the game with 12.9 PPR points.

The Bengals struggle to contain enemy running backs. They are also allowing a league-high 97 receptions to enemy rushers, which plays right into Freeman’s hands. Freeman is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and has drawn five-plus targets in three of his past five games.

More Week 16 RB Sleepers To Consider

  • Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs vs Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

Find better Week 16 fantasy football players on the waiver wire with our 2021 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Top Pickups.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 16: Wide Receiver

Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers

  • Buccaneers-Panthers Total: 44 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 44 (-110), Under 44 (-110)

I know, I know, Antonio Brown isn’t a sleeper. However, he’s been sidelined since Week 6. If you’ve made it this far in fantasy, you’ve made it here without AB. Now he’s back and in a tough matchup at the Panthers. Thus, Brown warrants a conversation.

Now isn’t the time to get cute. Unless you’re absolutely loaded at wide receiver, you are starting Brown in Week 16. While the matchup at the Panthers isn’t a great one, it is an exploitable one. What’s more, the Buccaneers will be down Chris Godwin (knee) without a doubt, but they could also be down Mike Evans (hamstring) and Fournette (hamstring).

Brown was getting targeted heavily and getting deep shots with the crew healthy. Now Brown could see 10 targets in his impending Week 16 return. The Bucs need to turn their offense on now with the playoffs on the horizon. If it turns on this week, Brown will be the primary component.

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots

  • Bills-Patriots Total: 43.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 43.5 (-110), Under 43.5 (-110)

It may have taken a while, but it looks like it is finally Gabriel Davis season.

In eight games since the Bills’ Week 7 bye, Davis has gone for 11-plus PPR points five times, including in three straight contests. Double-digit PPR points aren’t the only feat Davis has maintained in three consecutive outings, as he has also scored a touchdown in three straight as well.

What makes Davis’ run special is the fact that Emmanuel Sanders has been healthy for most of that run. But in the past two games in which Sanders missed time or was sidelined (last week), we’ve caught a glimpse of what Davis could be in a featured role.

In his last two games with Sanders limited or out, Davis has drawn 7-plus targets, catching five of them for at least 43 yards and one score. I am in on Davis in a tough matchup with the Patriots in Week 16 with or without Sanders on the field.

Davis is way too hot and way too good to bury on the depth chart. He also scored against the Patriots back in Week 13 in that awkward weather game in Buffalo on Monday night.

Deep WR Week 16 Sleeper: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons

  • Lions-Falcons Total: 42.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 42.5 (-110), Under 42.5 (-110)

Amon-Ra St. Brown, come on down. I was in on ARSB last week and he did not disappoint, popping for 23.5 PPR points, his second-highest total in his past three games. In six games since the Lions’ Week 9 bye, St. Brown has somewhat broken out, going for 10-plus PPR points in four of those outings, including three straight north of 15.

In his past three games, ARSB has drawn 11-plus targets. Now in Week 16, St. Brown gets the Falcons. Need I say more?

The Falcons’ defense has given up 10-plus PPR points to six different wideouts in three games since Week 13 facing the Buccaneers, 49ers, and Panthers. We expect the Bucs to pop, but when you give up serious production to the 49ers and Panthers through the air, you know you’re terrible.

It’s ARSB or go-home in Week 16.

More Week 16 WR Sleepers To Consider

  • Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 15: Tight End

Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals vs Indianapolis Colts

  • Cardinals-Colts Total: 49.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 49.5 (-110), Under 49.5 (-110)

I don’t know what is happening with the Cardinals, but I do know one thing, they need to figure it out quick. Now is not the time to nosedive down the stretch like they did last year.

If the Cardinals are going to figure it out, Zach Ertz must have a significant role now that DeAndre Hopkins is out for the rest of the regular season.

Last week, sans Hopkins, Ertz drew a season-high 11 targets, hauling in six of them for 74 yards. That effort against the Lions marked his second-highest yardage total of the year.

Ertz, who has drawn 7-plus targets in three of his past four games, should dominate the Colts this week. The Colts are one of the worst teams at defending enemy tight ends. In fact, they were just gashed by Hunter Henry last week for 25.7 PPR points on a 6/77/2 line.

If Ertz scores twice this week, you read it here first.

Deep TE Week 16 Sleeper: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons vs Detroit Lions

  • Falcons-Lions Total: 42.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 42.5 (-110), Under 42.5 (-110)

Kyle Pitts is not a sleeper by name. However, he hasn’t exactly lived up to his offseason hype, forcing fantasy managers to look elsewhere at the tight end spot. But if there was ever a game in which Pitts can pop, it is in his upcoming matchup with the Lions.

Pitts has managed fewer than 9.2 PPR points in five of his past eight games, only scoring in the double digits three times. And while the opportunity was there, Pitts has drawn six-plus targets in seven of his past eight outings, the production hasn’t been.

Pitts has only scored one touchdown this season, which came in Week 5 against the Jets. He also has failed to top 77 yards since Week 7. Those 77 yards came last week. Before that, he’s logged three games in the low-60s and three games below 29 yards.

Pitts should go off in Week 16 facing a Lions defense that has allowed five different tight ends to top 11.4 PPR points in four games since Week 12.

More Week 16 TE Sleepers To Consider

  • Hunter Henry, New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills
  • Tyler Conklin, Minnesota Vikings vs Los Angeles Rams

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 16: Kicker

Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants

  • Eagles-Giants Total: 42 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 42 (-110), Under 42 (-110)

Jake Elliott is another player who struggled in the first half of 2021 but has picked it up in the second half. Since Week 8, Elliott has finished with 16-plus fantasy points in 4 of 6 games. He has yet to play his Week 15 matchup as of this writing.

Tied to an Eagles’ offense that can move the football but struggles to push it into the end zone, Elliott is a prime fantasy kicker to get you huge upside. While his floor is low, it is the fantasy playoffs. You are in a win-or-go-home spot. Elliott’s ceiling is worth the risk, especially if you are down from a Thursday or Saturday game or projected to lose.

More Week 16 PK Sleepers To Consider

  • Greg Zuerlein, Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Football Team
  • Brett Maher, New Orleans Saints vs Miami Dolphins

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 16: Defensive Team

San Francisco 49ers @ Tennessee Titans

  • 49ers-Titans Total: 44.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 44.5 (-110), Under 44.5 (-110)

Since Week 10, San Francisco’s D/ST has recorded 9-plus fantasy points in 5 of 6 games, including two games with 11-plus. What’s more, the 49ers’ D/ST has hit for 9-plus points in three straight games.

In the NFL Week 16 opener at the Titans on Thursday Night Football, the 49ers D/ST is in another smash spot.

Tennessee’s offense was once an NFL powerhouse, but since losing Derrick Henry for the year as well as with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones in and out of the lineup for most of the second half, the Titans’ offense can’t get out of its own way. The Titans have scored fewer than 20 points in four straight games, including three games with fewer than 13.

The 49ers’ D/ST will help you advance to the championship round.

Other Week 16 D/ST To Consider

  • Los Angeles Chargers @ Houston Texans
  • Philadelphia Eagles vs New York Giants

NFL Week 15 Injuries to Monitor

  • QB Teddy Bridgewater (head)
  • RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring)
  • RB Joe Mixon (ankle)
  • WR Mike Evans (hamstring)
  • WR Julio Jones (hamstring)
  • WR Rondale Moore (ankle)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Achilles)
  • TE Pat Freiermuth (concussion)

Anthony’s Accountable: Sleeper Pick Success Rate

This is a recap of my plays from Week 15 (skill position players only). I consider a sleeper a hit if the player scores 10-plus PPR points (15-plus for QBs, 8-plus for D/ST):

Anthony’s Sleepers are 91-83-1 this season.

  • QB Taysom Hill (9.5)
  • QB Justin Fields (16.9)
  • RB Michael Carter (3.0)
  • RB Javonte Williams (12.1)
  • RB Chuba Hubbard (5.1)
  • WR Van Jefferson (20.5)
  • WR Brandon Aiyuk (4.6)
  • WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (23.5)
  • TE Austin Hooper (COVID)
  • TE Gerald Everett ()
  • K Greg Zuerlein (6.0)
  • DST Miami Dolphins (9.0)


Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter. Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation. Industry Clout: 15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019) | 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020) | 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).

Related articles


Get $1,500 in Bonus Bets

5 stars

Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets or First Bet Safety Net

5 stars

Bet $5, Get $150 in Bonus Bets

5 stars

Get A Bonus Bet Up to $1,000

5 stars

Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets

5 stars

Get A Bonus Bet Up To $250

5 stars

Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets Every Day for 5 days!

5 stars

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, please call 1-800-GAMBLER.

21+ and present in OH. Gambling Problem? Call or text 1-800-GAMBLER (CO, DC, IL, IN, LA, MD, MS, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY).

Call 877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY (467369) (NY).

Please Gamble Responsibly. Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-327-5050 (MA), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI).

All betting content on TheGameDay.com is exclusively intended for audience members 21 years and older who are permitted to gamble in legal states. The Game Day may earn revenue from site visitor referrals to betting services.

Responsible Gaming: Many sportsbooks offer ways to encourage responsible gaming, including the establishment of limits to deposits, spending, and time dedicated to betting.

The Game Day is a TGD Marketing Ltd. endeavor.