Week 17 Fantasy Football Sleepers
Last weekend might not have been the best time of the year to dive into the bag of tricks, but considering how advanced leagues are getting with multiple flex spots and the excessive number of big-name injuries in the NFL this season, finding a few fantasy football sleepers could be exactly what you need to advance to the post-season in your league.
The headliner of the overall fantasy football scoring leaderboard for Week 16 is Blake Bortles. Once referenced as the king of garbage time production, Bortles, who is currently the QB12 with 246.5 points, has an opportunity to finish the year as a top 12 fantasy quarterback for the third consecutive season — he was the QB4 in 2015 and the QB11 in 2016. Although his future with the Jaguars is up in the air past the conclusion of the 2017 season, he’s made the organization’s decision a most difficult one due to his strong play in the second half of the year.
I’m expecting big things from Bortles and the Jaguars in the postseason. In fact, they are on the top of my list to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl and could even win it. A free-agent in 2019, I fully expect Bortles to return as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback for the 2018 campaign.
Most-Productive Players from Week 16
Sleepers Week 16: Full-Disclosure
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 16 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Entering Week 17, some fantasy owners may be forced to shop the waiver wire due to a handful of notable injuries around the league. With players that include DeMarco Murray,Joe Mixon, and Jordy Nelson all succumbing to injuries last week, be sure to check out Andrew Erickson’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 17 to assist you with filling the vacant holes on your fantasy rosters. You can read that here.
Week 17 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 37%
What else can I say? In a small sample, Jimmy Garoppolo is proving to the league that he is the real deal and most certainly garners the hype he’s drawn since he stepping in for a suspended Tom Brady early in the 2016 season. Since his first appearance with the 49ers back in Week 12, Garoppolo has completed 100-of-145 passes (69 percent) for 1,268 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions while throwing for at least 300 yards in two games. As a result, he is the QB13 with 71.3 fantasy points in a five-game time span. But is he?
One of those five games was his before mentioned 49ers debut against the Seahawks in which he only played two snaps but threw for 18 yards and a touchdown while completing both of his pass attempts. Therefore, if I only factor in Garoppolo’s numbers in his four starts — all 49ers’ wins — he is the QB8 with 66.2 points since Week 13. Oh, and he’s producing at a high level with Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor and Garrett Celek, a tight end, as his most notable pass-catchers.
Coming off back to back games with at least 18.6 fantasy points, Garoppolo, who has exceeded projection expectations in four of his past five games, is poised to string together another productive outing in the season finale Sunday against a Rams team anticipated to rest starters on both sides of the ball. In a tough matchup facing a Rams define that has only allowed an opposing signal caller to exceed 16.8 fantasy points only once in their past five games — they’ve surrendered the 24th most fantasy points to QBs at a 13.6 FPPG rate — Garoppolo carries QB1 upside for Week 17.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 24%
Although the Jaguars are locked in as the three seed in the AFC playoff picture entering Week 17, reports are suggesting that the team will not rest their starters and that they will play to win. Why? Well, following a shocking Week 16 44-33 loss to the 49res in which their defense was torched for the first time all season while Blake Bortles had his worst game of the year throwing three interceptions for the first time in 2017, the Jaguars can not head into the postseason on a down note from a confidence perspective. Therefore, I’m including Blorltes as one of my sleeper quarterbacks for the third time in as many weeks.
Since Week 12, not only has Bortles been one of the top fantasy signal callers, he’s been the best, in fact. Throwing for a 1,445-9-5 QB stat line –he added another 124 yards and two scores as a rusher — while passing for at least 309 yards in three of his past five games — he’s only reached the 300-yards passing mark four times this season — Bortles is the QB1 with 113.6 fantasy points while averaging 22.7 FPPG in a five-game time span. And in his upcoming matchup versus a familiar Titans defense that he’s had success against in the past — in career seven games against Tennessee, he’s thrown for 1,900 yards, 13 TDs, and four interceptions while completing 64 percent of his passes — Bortles appears poised to accumulate at least 18.5 fantasy points for his sixth straight game.
Facing a Titans defense surrendering the 12th most fantasy points to QBs at a 16.9 FPPG rate — they’ve allowed an opposing QB to drop at least 21.3 fantasy points on them in six of their past eight games since their Week 9 Bye — Bortles holds top-end QB1 upside for Week 17.[bctt tweet=”In his past four games versus the #Titans, #Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has thrown for 1,207 yards, 10 TDs and two interceptions while passing for at least 322 yards three times in that time span. #FantasyFootball” username=”GridironExperts”]
Week 17 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 37.6%
Although he is dealing with groin and shoulder injuries, Samaje Perine is trending toward an active designation for Sunday’s matchup versus the Giants. And although his production has been sub-par of late — he hasn’t accumulated greater than 6.9 fantasy points in his past four games while falling short of his projections in each outing in that time span — I still believe he could be effective in the season finale.
Why? Well, the last game that Perine was an effective fantasy asset was back in Week 12 against these same New York Giants. In that previously mentioned matchup, the rookie rusher received 24 carries for 100 yards while catching three targets for 30 yards. He would finish the week as the RB10 with 13 fantasy points — it was the last time he scored double-digit points. Facing a Giants defense yielding the ninth most fantasy points to RBs at a 19.7 FPPG pace — they’ve allowed an opposing RB to accumulate at least 100 yards rushing or a touchdown in three of their past five games — Perine is a quality Flex option for Week 17.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 24.2 %
While Isaiah Crowell opened the 2017 season with all the hype in the world, he’s been out-performed by Duke Johnson in both standard and PPR scoring formats. With 128.6 fantasy points, Johnson is the RB21 in standard scoring formats while Crowell is the RB26 with 113.4 points. However, in PPR, Johnson is beating out Crowell by a wide margin. The RB12 with 196.6 points, Johnson has out-scored his backfield mate — Crowell is the RB27 with 141.4 PPR points — by 55.2 points. As a result, I believe Johnson will close out the year on a high note with a productive outing against the Steelers.
Although he was shut down in the season opener against Pittsburgh — he only caught two passes for 20 yards while receiving zero carries — Johnson has excelled in the games following his shaky start while surpassing Crowell as the Browns’ running back to own from a fantasy perspective. And while the Pittsburgh defense has been solid for most of the year, they’ve fallen apart since losing Ryan Shazier for the season in Week 13 — they’ve allowed an opposing RB to accumulate at least 10.8 fantasy points in each of their past three games since Week 14. Facing a Steelers defense surrendering the 15th most fantasy production to RBs at an 18.8 FPPG rate — Pittsburgh will likely elect to rest their starters at some point in the matchup — Johnson has RB2 upside in PPR scoring formats for Week 17.
Week 17 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 42.6%
The clear-cut WR1 on the Redskins, I believe Jamison Crowder will end the 2017 season on a positive note. In fact, accumulating at least 10.7 fantasy points in each of his past two games — he’s dropped a 9-102-2 stat line in that time span — Crowder is the WR8 with 22.2 fantasy points since Week 15. Entering an outstanding matchup against the Giants on Sunday, Crowder appears poised to go off as he did in the last game he faced them earlier in the year in Week 12. In that matchup, he torched the New York secondary for 141 yards and a touchdown while hauling in seven targets and averaging 20.1 YPC. He finished Week 12 as the WR6 with 20.1 fantasy points.
And not only was Crowder effective against the Giants in their last meeting, he’s been productive against them in the past. In five career games, Crowder has dropped a 21-292-2 stat line while averaging 19.9 YPC. Facing an injured and defunct Giants’ defense surrendering the eighth most fantasy points to RBs at a 22.6 FPPG rate — they’ve allowed an opposing wideout to score a TD in each of the past five games since Week 12 — Crowder is a target-dependent WR3 with touchdown upside for Week 17.
Although Marquise Goodwin is coming off of a deflating outing last week, he was shut down by Jacksonville’s elite cornerback tandem of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, which makes it understandable that he didn’t get a piece of the 44-point pie the 49ers put up against the tremendous Jaguars’ defense. However, heading into last Sunday’s matchup, the emerging wideout scored at least 9.9 fantasy points in four of his past five games. And in spite of last week’s lull, Goodwin is still fantasy’s WR17 with 60.5 points since Week 10.
Entering a greater matchup against the Rams on Sunday, Goodwin is primed to get back on track. Why? Well, although the Los Angeles defense is only surrendering the 26th most fantasy points to WRs at a 17.6 FPPG rate, reports are suggesting that they will rest key starters on both sides of the football. With Trumaine Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner mentioned within the mix of players who could see a “limited workload,” Goodwin’s terrible matchup on paper is looking juicy for the season finale. Accumulating at least 78 yards receiving or a touchdown in five of his past six games including two outings with at least six receptions for 106 yards, Goodwin warrants WR2 upside for Week 17.
Week 17 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 38.2%
Although Eric Ebron is one of the most inconsistent and disappointing tight ends this season — and for the better part of his career in fact — he has emerged as one of Matthew Stafford’s top pass-catching options in recent weeks. Hauling in 20-of-26 targets for 210 yards and two touchdowns in his past three games, Ebron is fantasy football’s TE2 with 31 fantasy points since Week 14.
Although his upcoming matchup against the Packers isn’t a favorable one on paper — the Green Bay defense is only surrendering the 27th most fantasy points to TEs at a 6.0 FPG pace — they’ve allowed an opposing tight end to accumulate at least 15.9 fantasy points in two of their past four games, which were by far their worst two games of the year against the position, which bodes well for Ebron’s upside in the season finale. Facing a Packers defense that he’s caught 11 receptions for 130 yards against in two games in the 2016 campaign, Ebron is a target-dependent back-end TE1 for Week 17.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 27%
Following the second-worst start to his 15-year career in which he only caught 20 receptions for 189 yards and a touchdown in a reserve role behind starter Hunter Henry through the first 15 games of the season, Antonio Gates came out of nowhere last week and exploded with production in his first game as the Chargers’ TE1 in 2017. In Henry’s absence — he was placed on IR with a lacerated kidney — Gates dropped a 6-81-2 stat line on a struggling Jets’ defense. As a result, he finished Week 15 as the TE2 with 14.1 fantasy points.
Now in line to start his second game of the year in the season finale against the Raiders, a team that he’s torched for 104 receptions for 1,341 yards and 13 TDs in 28 career games leading up to this point, Gates could once again prove that he has some gas left in the tank at age 37. Facing a Raiders defense yielding the seventh most fantasy production to TEs at a 7.6 FPPG rate — they’ve allowed an opposing tight end to accumulate at least seven catches for 74 yards or a touchdown in each of the past three games — Gates is an opportunity-dependent TE1 with touchdown upside for Week 17.
A player like Antonio Gates is labeled a tournament-buster in DFS formats, especially with the opportunity he has in his upcoming matchup. For more extensive DFS knowledge, check out Mike Hauff’s Draft Kings Primer for Week 17. You can read that here.
Two Week 17 Fantasy Sleepers (In Case You’re Desperate)
ESPN Start-Percentage: 27%
As I mentioned above, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone is suggesting that he will play his starters in the season finale against the Titans. And with Marqise Lee still bothered by an ankle injury suffered in Week 15 which held him out of the past two games, I’d anticipate that he will also sit in Week 17, opening the door for another heavy target-share for Keelan Cole.
In his past four games, Cole has been nothing short than outstanding. Hauling in 19-of-28 targets for 442 yards and three touchdowns since Week 13, Cole is fantasy football’s WR2 with 62.2 points. And entering a plus Sunday matchup in the season finale against the Titans, the rookie wideout is on track to maintain his recent level of success. Facing a Tennessee defense surrendering the 10th most fantasy points to WRs at a 22.0 FPPG pace — they’ve allowed an opposing WR to accumulate at least 12.4 fantasy points in each of their past two games — Cole is a target-dependent WR2 with WR1 upside for Week 17.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 9.3%
In his past three games, Wayne Gallman has out-touched and out-produced Orleans Darkwa by 49-to-25 and 240-to-70 marks respectively. And while Darkwa was the Giants’ rusher who scored the only touchdown of the duo in that timespan, Gallman is crushing the former in fantasy production. Since Week 14 Gallman is fantasy’s RB16 with 43 points in PPR scoring formats, while Darkwa is off the grid of fantasy relevancy as he is the RB51 with 16 PPR points.
Entering a favorable matchup in the season finale against the Redskins, Gallman is in line for his fourth productive PPR outing consecutively. Not only does the presumed game-flow favor Gallman if Washington jumps off to an early two-score lead — in that scenario, Eli Manning would be dropping back to pass more so than handing the ball off, which favors Gallman’s pass-catching opportunity-share as the check-down back — but the Redskins’ defense is also soft versus opposing running backs. Facing a Redskins defense yielding the seventh most fantasy production to RBs at a 20.0 FPPG rate — they’ve allowed an opposing rusher to accumulate at least 12.8 fantasy points in their past 5-of-7 games — Gallman is a quality Flex option in PPR scoring formats for Week 17.
Thank you for reading about my sleepers for Week 17. I hope you enjoyed it! Want more? Mike Hauff and I debate fantasy football news, notes and yes, sleepers, on our show, the Faceoff, a Gridiron Experts podcast. Check it out. Oh, and before I forget, we will answer your questions on our show! All you have to do is Tweet us with your question @FFfaceoff.
Thanks for reading and Good Luck!
Anthony Cervino is a lifelong NFL enthusiast, especially of the Dallas Cowboys. He has been infatuated with the game since childhood and was introduced to fantasy football as a young teen. Back then, the league commissioner typed out the weekly newsletter and used the Daily News to tally scores. In a statistic-driven game of fantasy football, Anthony believes that sometimes you have to rely on that good ole gut instinct. Anthony resides in New Jersey where he lives with his wife, son and a pomeranian that is named Roman (after Tony Romo). When Anthony is not immersed in the NFL or fantasy football related activities, he enjoys bodybuilding and spending time with his family. Anthony is committed to giving you his best analysis and most accurate statistics to help you win championships. Don’t hesitate to tweet Anthony @therealnflguru about anything NFL or fantasy-related topics. He will always respond in a timely fashion.