Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 15
In most leagues, Week 15 decides who is going into the fantasy football championship game. So this is big. As I did a few weeks ago, here are some tips to get you to the Fantasy championship game:
- While I am a “start your studs” guy, there are always exceptions. If your stud has been trending in the wrong direction for a handful of games, then there is a good chance there is an underlying reason. Therefore, you might be better off pivoting, especially in a tough matchup. However, if your stud is coming off of one bad outing, but that bad game is surrounded by games with his normal production, then the chances are that his single bad game is an anomaly.
- At this point of the year, if you are still holding on to guys like A.J. Green, then you are lucky you made it this far. You are also clogging up a bench spot that could be used to hoard a player at another position. The last thing you want to do is elect to hold on to a player that may not ever see the field over picking up an asset from the waiver wire that your opponent could start against you. It is better you have the high-upside dart throw than your adversary even if you never intend to use him.
- If you are streaming your D/ST, don’t get cute. I’d stay with the hot hand over pivoting to a questionable unit in a terrific matchup. If you have the Steelers, who have returned double-digit points in 10 of their past 11 games since Week 3, you’re better off rolling with them in a tough matchup at home against the Bills over starting the Packers at home against the Bears, especially since the Bears’ offense has been trending in the right direction in the past month. The whole “well it’s Mitchell Trubisky and he sucks” narrative could cost you your season. The same could be said for thinking about starting the Giants at home against the Dolphins. It’s a trap.
The following is a recap of the players from my Fantasy Football Sleepers article last week, you can read that here.
Most-Productive Players from Week 14
Fantasy Sleepers Week 14: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Position||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
|Derrius Guice (INJ)||RB||RB61||4.2|
|Rashaad Penny (INJ)||RB||RB64||2.6|
- While my QBs flopped, I am not bailing on Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 15. Find out why later in this article.
- My RB sleepers also flopped. However for Derrius Guice and Rashaad Penny, they both suffered knee injuries early in their respective matchups and not only failed to return, but they also turned out to be season-enders. While it sucks, you can not predict injuries. Meanwhile, we are learning that Benny Snell is just a guy and is hard to trust even with an expanded opportunity
- Two out of three of my WRs were legit hits as both Robby Anderson and Zach pascal finished as WR1s. For James Washington, he was hot, but when Duck Hodges is your QB, you are bound to fade at some point even in the greatest of matchups.
- While Mike Gesicki was shut down by the Jets, my guy Tyler Higbee went off for the second straight game. Find out why I am going with Higbee again this week below.
Have some tough start/ sit decisions for Week 15? Don’t sweat! My co-host at the FF Faceoff Podcast, Mike Hauff, has you covered with his weekly Start’em/ Sit’em column featured exclusively at Gridiron Experts. You can read that here.
QB Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 15
ESPN Start-Percentage: 24.8
The fact that Jimmy Garoppolo is only being started in 24.8 percent of leagues at ESPN shows that nobody is paying attention. While he opened the year erratic, Garoppolo has turned it on in the second half of 2019, likely due to the Emmanuel Sanders acquisition, who seemed to be the missing piece for that entire offense. Since Week 9, Garoppolo has finished with at least 20 fantasy points in 4-of-6 games including three times in his past four, exploiting outstanding matchups in that timespan.
Speaking of terrific matchups, Garoppolo will get another one to exploit on Sunday facing an Atlanta defense surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs at a 22.1 FPPG rate and at least 20.1 fantasy points to the enemy QB in two of their past three games. It is also a revenge game of sorts for Kyle Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons before landing the 49ers gig. And who wouldn’t want to out-duel their former employer and former superior, who comes in the form of Dan Quinn for Shanahan?
Now that my guy Raheem Moster has finally earned Shanahan’s respect as the head coach told the press the emerging back will be awarded increased touches, the already phenomenal San Francisco rushing attack is even that much more explosive and consistent, which helps Garoppolo by opening up the defense. Mostert is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, which doesn’t hurt Garopolo’s cause either. With a healthy cast of pass-catchers — following Emmanuel Sanders’ big-time outing last week, it looks like the veteran speedster has finally recovered from his ribs injury — Garoppolo could really go-off in this one. With the 49ers’ defense a little banged up, there is a chance Matt Ryan and company could put up some points. And if this game becomes a shootout, Garoppolo could be staring at another top 10 quarterback performance in Week 15 after seeing what he did last week in a blow-for-blow matchup with the Saints.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.4
While I employed Ryan Fitzpatrick in my sleepers article last week and he only finished as the QB19 with 15.3 points, he didn’t play badly on the road at the jets. In fact, he had the Dolphins inside the Jets’ side of the 50 so much that the Miami kicker, Jason Sanders, managed to make 7-of-8 field goals. Sure, Fitzpatrick couldn’t score the football, but he was without DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson, his top wideouts left standing, who both left the game with concussions. While he didn’t go off, Fitzpatrick also didn’t bust either.
In his upcoming matchup at the Giants — the same stadium he played at on the road last week — I believe Fitzpatrick will bounce back facing a New York defense yielding the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs at a 21.1 FPG rate. How bad are they? Not only is the Giants defense allowing 28.6 percent more fantasy points to QBs above the 17.8 NFL average in the past three weeks, but they also let Carson Wentz hang 19.9 points on them on Monday night with a 325/2/0 line throwing to the most depleted cast of pass-catchers in the league — sorry New England, the Eagles got you again.
Although Fitzpatrick could be shorthanded at receiver again this week — Parker and Wilson remain in the concussion protocol and are expected to carry that status into Sunday while next man up Allen Hurns is dealing with a knee injury, but practiced in full on Thursday and should be fine — the Giants employ what could be the worst cast of cornerbacks as they all are ranked outside PFF’s top 50 CBs through Week 14. Prior to last week’s letdown, Fitzpatrick accumulated at least 25.1 fantasy points in back-to-back games and I expect a bounceback outing on the road in Week 15 from the weathered journeyman signal-caller.
RB Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 15
ESPN Start-Percentage: 22.8
The fact that I am writing up Ronald Jones is proof that I am a glutton for punishment — not only am I a Cowboys fan, but I have also been married twice and I’m 35! While I don’t exactly trust the Tampa Bay backfield, the matchup is just too good to ignore. Let’s face it, Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians has tried handing the starting job to Jones numerous times, but the fact that he can’t improve in pass-protection continuously derails him, which caused him to be benched early in Week 13 against the Jaguars, another terrific matchup.
While Peyton Barber will still get his carries — Jones has 136 carries in 2019 to Barber’s 133 — I like Jones for his pass-catching upside, especially now that Jameis Winston could be playing through an injured thumb, which could force him to check down more as well as the fact that Mike Evans is out for the remainder of the year with a hamstring injury. Jones, who has drawn at least four targets in three of his past five games and in four of his past seven, should be busy catching passes out of the backfield in Sunday’s cake matchup facing a Lions defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to enemy RBs at a 23.8 FPPG rate.
The Lions are so inept at containing the run that they have allowed the opponent’s top-scoring back to finish with at least 13.7 PPR points in 12-of-13 games played this season including eight games of at least 20.6 points. The Lions have also given up at least 15.6 PPR points to the adversary’s top-scoring back in three of the past four games, a trend that should very much be maintained on Sunday. If Jones, who has received at least 15 touches in four of the past six games since Week 9, can get it together and do his job when he is called upon in pass protection this week, he could be rewarded with the scoring opportunities over Barber. While I don’t trust Jones, this is the fantasy playoffs. It is win or go home. And if you need a high-ceiling in a matchup that you’re projected to lose and/ or you are trailing because you played against someone from Thursday night football, then you may need to take the risk and put Jones in your lineup.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 10.8
I’ve been saying for weeks on the FF Faceoff Podcast, Raheem Mostert should be the RB1 for San Francisco. Not only is the No. 1 ranked RB in true yards per carry (5.6) and second in yards per touch (6.7), but he is also No. 1 in breakaway run rate (9.8 percent) and No. 4 in yards created per carry (1.82). On top of his efficiency, Mostert has put up at least 13.7 PPR points in each of his past three games including at least 23.4 points in back-to-back games. It is easy to see why 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan told the press that Mostert has “earned” additional opportunities as well as the chance to be the team’s top back.
While his upcoming matchup against the Falcons is a Tevin Coleman revenge game — I do believe Coleman will score — Mostert should continue his run as the most-productive back on the 49ers getting an Atlanta defense giving up the 21st most fantasy points to RBs at a 17.3 FPPG rate. Sure, the Falcons are not terrible against the run, but they have surrendered at least 12.4 PPR points to the challenging team’s top-scoring back including two games with at least 23.4 points. If Mostert, who has scored at least one touchdown in each of his past three games and four in his past seven, continues to receive the opportunity to shine — he has scored at least 23.4 PPR points in three of four games this season in which he has received at least 12 touches — Mostert will once again bring an RB1 ceiling with a respectable floor in Week 15.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.4
While Raheem Mostert is the high-ceiling play at running back, Patrick Laird is my high-floor option. In three of his past four games including in each of his past two outings, Laird has put up at least 11.8 PPR points. And while he has at least 10 carries in back-to-back games, Laird brings his floor in the form of his pass-catching upside out of the backfield. In the aforementioned three outings in which he returned double-digit PPR points, Laird has at least five targets, four receptions and 38 yards receiving.
I believe Laird could have a similar outing in Sunday’s matchup against a Giants defense giving up the 15th most fantasy points to enemy RBs at an 18.6 FPPG pace. While the New York defense appeared to be trending in the right direction since acquiring Leonard Williams from the Jets at the trade deadline, they can still be exploited, which was showcased by the Eagles in last Monday night’s loss. Eagles RBs Boston Scott and Miles Sanders both put up 24.8 and 10.9 PPR points respectively in Week 14.
If Laird continues to be featured and he should be considering they don’t have anyone else — rookie Myles Gaskin has a total of 13 touches in his past three games while newly signed Zach Zenner is just a guy — plus, the fact that the Miami offense has been moving with Laird in the backfield, the poor man’s Rex Burkhead should be in line to return his usual double-digit PPR point floor with back-end RB2 upside if he puts together a complete game and scores in Week 15.
WR Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 15
ESPN Start-Percentage: 20.8
While A.J. Brown is an extremely high-variance boom or bust option, his quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, is perhaps the hottest signal-caller in the league right now not named Lamar Jackson. He is also the clear-cut top pass-catching option on a Titans depth chart full of underwhelming skill position players outside of Derrick Henry. Pair that with an outstanding matchup at home against the Texans, which we will get to in a little bit, and Brown is st up for another big game.
Since Week 7, it seems like Brown puts together a game with at least 12.1 PPR points in every other matchup. In fact, Brown has yet to compile back-to-back games with double-digit PPR points, a trend that I believe will be broken in Week 15. In the aforementioned four of seven games since Week 7 in which Brown doesn’t flop, the rookie wideout has had at least five targets. While Brown has flashed earlier in the year with Marcus Mariota under center, he’s played his best football with Tannehill — shocker. And in two of his past three games since Week 12, the big-play wideout has been targeted at least five times while securing four of them for at least 135 yards and a TD. Brown finished those weeks — Week 12 and Week 14 — with 23.5 and 33.6 PPR points respectively.
In his upcoming matchup facing an exploitable Texans secondary allowing the 13th most fantasy points to WRs at a 23.0 FPPG rate, Brown should be able to compile consecutive games with double-digit PPR points for the first time in his career. And while they have managed to hold the enemy’s top-scoring wideout to fewer than 8.5 PPR points in three of their past four games, they were in matchups against the Ravens, who ran all over them, the Colts and Jacoby Brissett, who has been terrible since his MCL injury while playing with a depleted cast of skill position players and Drew Lock, who featured TE Noah Fant last week. The Texans should be lit up, as they have been all season long, by the white-hot Tannehill and Brown, his big-play receiver on Sunday. If Tannehill once again gets going, Brown will be the main beneficiary. Brown is a high-ceiling Flex option with WR2 upside or better if he goes off in Week 15.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 20.6
While Emmanuel Sanders and George Kittle get all of the accolades amongst 49ers pass-catchers, Deebo Samuel has been as consistent as they come in the second half of the year. In fact, I was one of the ones praising the 49ers for the Sanders acquisition not only because of his on-field play but also for the fact that the veteran wideout can teach Samuel, a rookie, how to be a pro an improve his game at a faster rate. We’ve seen just that. In 6-of-7 games since Week 8, Samuel as returned at least 13 PPR points including in each of his past five games. Samuel has also seen at least seven targets in four games in that time period while catching at least five passes three times, going for at least 76 yards receiving three times with at least one score in three different games.
Samuel will look to keep his emerging second half going in a prime Sunday matchup with the Falcons, whose defense is yielding the 12th most fantasy points to WRs at a 23.3 FPPG rate. While the Atlanta secondary has played better in the past two games, holding their opponent’s top-scoring wideout to fewer than 12.1 PPR points, they’ve been lit up for the better part of the year leading up to Week 13. In fact, form Weeks 1-12, the Falcons have allowed 18 different wideouts to drop at least 10 PPR points on them. I’d take their recent improvement as an anomaly more than anything else. And even if they are indeed getting better, who knows Dan Quinn’s defense better than Kyle Shannahan, his former OC? In a Kyle Shanahan revenge game, my money is on Shanny to light up his former employer’s defense and Samuel will be a tremendous part of his success.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 14.9
Zach Pascal finished Week 14 as the WR11 with 20.4 PPR points against Tampa Bay and I believe he could continue his success in another plus matchup on Sunday at the Saints. While T.Y. Hilton (calf) returned to limited practice sessions this week, he could be in line for limited playing time if he is even active. So I am not too worried about Hilton affecting Pascal if he plays. If anyone is affected by a potential Hilton return, it would be Marcus Johnson, who has been playing well in his own right with his expanded opportunity due to Indianapolis’ injuries at the receiver position.
I would actually like Pascal even more if Hilton played, as the veteran wideout would draw Marshone Lattimore in coverage. But even is Pascal does draw Lattimore, the borderline elite cover corner has not looked right since suffering his hamstring injury earlier in the year. In the past two games since returning from his injury, Lattimore has had his worst two outings since the first three weeks of the season, giving up at least 12.4 PPR points to his primary coverage in back-to-back games since Week 13. Getting a Saints defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs at a 27.2 FPPG rate, Pascal, who has had at least nine targets while securing at least five of them for 74 yards in each of his past two games, should once again return a respectable double-digit PPR point floor in Week 15.
TE Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 15
ESPN Start-Percentage: 9.3
Tyler Higbee is only being started in 9.3 percent of leagues at ESPN which again shows that nobody is paying any attention. Since taking over as the TE1 in Week 13 with Gerald Everett on the shelf with a knee injury — Everett remains sidelined at practice and is looking more and more like he will miss his third straight game with the injury — Higbee leads all tight ends in targets (19), receptions (14), yards (223) and yards after the catch (103) in the past two games. He is also the PPR TE1 since Week 13 with 42.3 points. Assuming Everett is in fact ruled out again this week, Higbee should be fired up in all formats in an eye-catching matchup facing a Cowboys defense yielding the 12th most fantasy points to TEs at a 7.6 FPPG pace.
While the Dallas defense has played better against the tight end of late, they haven’t exactly faced the greatest competition. In the past four games, they’ve faced players that include T.J. Hockenson, Matt LaCosse, Dawson Knox and J.P. Holtz. Earlier in the year when playing against tight ends who were viable threats, they’ve given up at least 11.0 PPR points five times in nine games to Evan Engram (twice), Ryan Griffin, Dallas Goedert, and Kyle Rudolph. Hell, they even let J.P. freakin’ Holtz (who I really like, see my offseason dynasty content to find out why) and Jesper Horsted accumulate 8.6 and 7.6 PPR points respectively last week. If the Cowboys don’t improve — and I don’t see that happening — Higbee, who has had at least eight targets, seven receptions, and 107 yards in back-to-back games, will be in line for another top-end TE1 outing in Week 15. He is a slam dunk (if Everett sits).
ESPN Start-Percentage: 7.1
In his highly-anticipated return from the injured reserve list with a knee injury last week, David Njoku didn’t fare too well. In fact, he only played in 37 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps, ran nine routes and drew three targets, catching one of them for four yards in a tough but exploitable matchup against the Bengals. However, in his second game back, I believe Njoku could go off. Not only has he shaken off the rust, but he will get a remarkable matchup facing a Cardinals defense allowing the most fantasy points to TEs at a 13.5 FPPG rate.
While the Cardinals managed to hold Vance McDonald to 1.3 PPR points last week, his quarterback was Duck Hodges, who probably isn’t able to make more than one read in his progression — seriously but not seriously — the Arizona defense has given up at least 11.3 PPR points to the opposing team’s top-scoring tight end in 10 of their previous 12 games including five games of at least 23.7 points. And although Baker Mayfield isn’t exactly having the greatest of sophomore seasons, we assume he is, in fact, better than the Duck.
For Njoku, in the only game that he finished fully healthy which was in the season opener — he suffered his knee injury in Week 2 — the upside tight end caught 4-of-6 targets for 36 yards and a TD while finishing with 13.7 PPR points. From the get-go, Njoku was going to be featured this season. The knee injury derailed him. Considering Odell Beckham Jr. dealing with his lingering groin injury — his clearly not himself — plus, the fact that Jarvis Landry is limited in practice with a hip injury, Njoku could be the prime beneficiary now that he is back and ready to go. If you need a high-ceiling option in the fantasy playoffs, Njoku is your guy in Week 15. A middling TE1 finish this week is far from a bold prediction.
Good luck! hopefully, my fantasy football sleepers week 15 article was some help to you!