Sometimes, a sleeper is a guy we never really thought about who explodes onto the scene with a game that at least warrants a look, heralding bigger things to come. Sometimes, a sleeper is a guy we used to think was a stud, but who has faded from his heights, only to bounce back with a performance worth noting.
And sometimes -- like in Week 16 -- the sleepers were both:
Sleepers quarterbacks in Week 16
Chad Henne, JAC (237 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 15 fantasy points)
Henne has now put up exactly 15 fantasy points in three straight games, exactly two touchdown passes in four straight, and at least nine fantasy points in six straight. No, that's nothing special. But there's value in predictability, and in a two-quarterback setup, Henne has generated enough value to be worthy of consideration.
Eli Manning, NYG (256 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 12 fantasy points)
Nope, 12 fantasy points isn't special -- in fact, it's pretty bad for a starting fantasy quarterback. But Manning reaches this space as a reminder that he isn't done as an NFL quarterback, which is what everyone made it sound like after his historically bad performance in Week 15. 2013 is a washout, but if the Giants can get some better pieces around him (particularly on the line) in the offseason, there's no real reason Manning can't be a decent quarterback in 2014.
Sleeper running backs in Week 16
Shonn Greene, TEN (91 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 15 fantasy points)
Greene now has 15 or more fantasy points twice in his last three games. Of course he had three rushes for four total yards in the other game of that group. Since his return from injury, his fantasy scoring has gone 11-3-1-1-3-16-0-15. There's good upside, there is an awful floor, and there is basically nothing in between. But Greene is getting the team's goal-line touches, and that can always lead to touchdowns.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR (67 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 12 fantasy points)
With Jonathan Stewart on the field, Williams averaged 4.5 fantasy points a game. In games Stewart has missed, Williams is averaging 10.3. It's quick and easy analysis, but when Williams is the only distance runner the team has available (not a masher like Mike Tolbert), he's good; when he has to split that time, there's not enough to go around. As long as Stewart is sidelined, Williams is a fantasy go.
Sleeper wide receivers in Week 16
Jerrel Jernigan, NYG (80 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14 fantasy points)
Jernigan had five fantasy points all season before last week, but has now led the team in receiving yards two weeks in a row, and has 20 fantasy points in that time. With Victor Cruz hurt and Rueben Randle and Hakeem Nicks basically ineffective, it can't possibly hurt for the Giants to see what they have in Jernigan going forward.
Mike Brown, JAC (71 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points)
Brown was a non-factor through the Jaguars' first six games, then put up 22 fantasy points in the next two, then was a non-factor for the next six, then put up 13 Sunday. It's possible Sunday was just "one of those days" for Brown, a dead-cat bounce, but with Justin Blackmon suspended and Cecil Shorts III injured, the Jaguars need at least one of Brown and Ace Sanders to show they are up to a WR2 workload.
Sleeper tight end in Week 16
Joseph Fauria, DET (43 receiving yards, successful two-point conversion catch, 6 fantasy points)
With starter Brandon Pettigrew out, the team looked to Fauria as its tight end. Fauria has seven touchdowns on the season, but came into Sunday with only 12 catches, which is exactly what happens when you're a 6'7", 255-pound rookie. But if Fauria can prove to be valuable in more situations than just being the tall guy at the goal line, his role could expand in a big way. Fauria did struggle in blocking, which is Pettigrew's strength, so it's not remotely like the team is ready to move on yet, but Fauria is young and has potential.