Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 11
The fantasy playoffs are quickly approaching and depending on your current standing,_ these next few weeks are make-it or break-it. First and foremost, start your studs. Don’t overthink it and replace high-profile, elite talent with any of the players mentioned below. If you sit someone you drafted to be a starter and they go off on your bench it will hurt far more than if you have one of these sleepers on your bench. These suggestions are just that, suggestions, based on what I believe is their potential to outperform their projections and rankings. Many of us, either due to teams being on bye or because of injuries are looking for players that can help fill the gaps and keep us competitive in the hopes that we can earn a playoff spot. Below are some names that I believe can do just that, but as always, know the needs of your team before taking any action on the players listed. If you have running backs you feel great about, then use them. The same goes for QBs, WRs, and TEs. But if you need some help or a replacement for the week, these players could do the trick.
Week 11 Sleepers
Russell Wilson (QB)
Denver Broncos vs. MIN (43% Start)
Russell Wilson has had a pretty solid season in 2023. While the Broncos have only managed a 4-5 record through 10 weeks, it’s hard to make an argument that it’s due to Wilson. Other than a week 6 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, Wilson has looked much better than he did in 2022. While his yardage totals have not been great, Wilson has thrown 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He has done this while having one of the hardest schedules (from a fantasy perspective) for quarterbacks, but he has been able to take advantage of favorable matchups in a big way and has even been playable in some of those harder matchups. Wilson doesn’t quite have the running upside he has had in the past, but he has had over 30 yards on the ground in over half of his games, and in week 10 he looked like vintage Russell Wilson at times, scrambling to get away from pressure, and picking up first downs on the ground. Now he gets his first favorable matchup since week 3 when he finished as the QB9. The Vikings are middle-of-the-pack against opposing quarterbacks, and with how Joshua Dobbs is playing, the Broncos could have to rely on Wilson’s arm early and often to keep up. All of this could lead to a solid outing for Wilson.
Justin Fields (QB)
Chicago Bears vs. DET (42% Start)
After logging a full practice on Wednesday it looks like Justin Fields will return against the Detroit Lions after missing four games with a dislocated thumb. In the two games prior to getting injured, Fields was the QB1 and the QB3 on the week. He was beginning to develop as a passer and this growth was helping unlock D.J. Moore’s upside. Fields was also starting to run more with 19 attempts in his last two games. Everyone who owns Fields was excited by this progress and believed he was finally becoming the league-winning type of quarterback everyone who drafted him was hoping he’d be. Playing Fields in his first game back is not without its risk. He could have an in-game setback or just not be as productive as he was which could lead to a disappointing stat line. But if you’ve been without Fields the last four weeks and didn’t draft a contingency plan, you most likely have not been excited about the quarterback production you’ve been getting. If you drafted C.J. Stroud or grabbed Sam Howell or Joshua Dobbs off the waiver wire, I could see the argument to take a one-week wait-and-see approach with Fields. But if not, the combination of a Detroit Lions team that is giving up the 12th most fantasy points to quarterbacks and Fields’ elite athletic upside is too much to pass up.
Ty Chandler (RB)
Minnesota Vikings vs. DEN (19% Start)
Starting running back Alexander Mattison suffered a concussion against New Orleans on Sunday and is questionable to play in week 11. Enter Ty Chandler who could find himself with a golden opportunity against the Denver Broncos. When Ty Chandler was called upon this past week, he filled in admirably against one of the top run defenses in the league, rushing 15 times for 45 yards and a score. If Mattison is unable to go, Chandler is next in line to see an expanded role. Chandler is still a bit of an unknown quantity in his second season. The major knock against him is his deficiency in pass blocking, but his athleticism is undeniable and if Mattison is out on Sunday, there is no one else in this backfield to threaten Chandler’s role, and the opponent could not be better. The Denver Broncos are dead last against opposing running backs giving up nearly 33 points to the position. With the passing volume down since Joshua Dobbs took over under center, Chandler could see 20+ touches which would put him firmly in the RB2 conversation. If you were savvy enough to pick Chandler up off the waiver wire be sure to keep an eye on Mattison’s status, but if he is inactive (as is expected) I would seriously consider putting Chandler into your lineup.
Zach Charbonnet (RB)
Seattle Seahawks vs. LAR (10% Start)
Over the past three weeks, the trend in the Seattle Seahawks backfield has been favoring Zach Charbonnet, not Kenneth Walker. Still, fantasy owners of Walker have not seemed too worried up to this point because there were reasons to explain away this trend. In Week 8, Walker came into the game dealing with a calf issue, and in Week 9, the Seattle Seahawks were getting blown out for most of the game, which meant more work for the rookie due to his skill in the passing game. But after week 10, Walker owners may have reason for concern. Week 10 was the third straight week in which Charbonnet out-snapped Walker, playing 52% of the snaps compared to 48% for Walker. This was also the third straight week that Charbonnet has played over 50% of the team’s snaps, while Walker has not topped that mark since week 7. So far the overall production has not been there for Charbonnet, but the yards per carry have been impressive. With additional pass-catching upside Charbonnet should continue to out-snap Walker and against a Rams team that could get Matthew Stafford back the Seahawks will have to find creative ways to keep up, and that may benefit Charbonnet. At worst you have a running back in a 50/50 split receiving high-volume touches, at best, Charbonnet continues to chip away at Walker’s involvement and ultimately takes over. That’s less likely than an even split, but either way, Charbonnet has sleeper potential in week 11.
Darrell Henderson (RB)/Royce Freeman (RB)
Los Angeles Rams vs. SEA (16%/4% Start)
Henderson and Freeman may only have one more week of fantasy relevance but this week they could be in a good position to produce. Kyren Williams is expected to return in week 12. He was performing so well before getting injured that it’s difficult to imagine he won’t regain his starting role as soon as he’s ready to go. Once that happens there will not be much work left for Henderson or Freeman. But in week 11 they should carry the load against a Seahawks defense that ranks sixth against opposing running backs. Between the two, I prefer Henderson. In the three games they’ve played together, Henderson has been slightly more useful and has out-snapped and out-touched Freeman in two of the three. He has a familiarity with the offense that head coach Sean McVay trusts and should be on the field for over 50% of snaps once again. It looks like Matthew Stafford is on track to return as well making Henderson even more appealing. In his two games with Stafford, Henderson received five targets compared to zero for Freeman. That added work in the passing game gives Henderson slightly more upside. Neither running back is going to win you the week, but Henderson is solidly in the RB2 conversation this week, while Freeman could be a useful flex.
Noah Brown (WR)
Update: Noah Brown has been ruled out.
Houston Texans wide receiver Noah Brown (knee) missed another day of practice on Friday and will not play in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Nico Collins (calf), who missed last week's win over the Cincinnati Bengals, is not a guarantee to play this weekend either, so rookie Tank Dell and veteran Robert Woods (foot) could see frequent targets from rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud in a plus matchup against Arizona, as well as tight end Dalton Schultz. It's a shame for Brown and his fantasy managers, as the 27-year-old has racked up 325 receiving yards and a touchdown in the last two games. Make sure to remove Brown from any starting fantasy lineups in Week 11.
Noah Brown missed practice on Wednesday with a knee injury, which is always a worrisome development for any player. Still, the injury is not considered to be serious and Brown is expected to play this week, but be sure to keep an eye on any updates as they become available. If Brown is active and good to go, he could be worth a start this week. Teammate Nico Collins is nursing an injury of his own and after missing week 10 is considered questionable for this week as well. If he is out and Brown is in, Brown could once again produce for his managers. Even if Nico Collins, Tank Dell, Noah Brown, and Dalton Schultz are all active, I’m not sure it matters. Rookie sensation, C.J. Stroud is playing at such a high level that he could support multiple fantasy pass catchers this week, especially against an Arizona defense that is allowing 34 points per game to the position. Over the last couple of weeks, Brown has compiled 13 receptions for 325 yards and a score. This from a player who never had a 100-yard receiving game since coming into the NFL back in 2017. Brown was also second on the team in targets, behind only WR Tank Dell. Brown’s ceiling may be capped if Stroud has his full complement of weapons, but he should still provide a safe floor and some touchdown upside. Back in week 9 against the Buccaneers, Dell, Brown, and Schultz, all went for over 100 yards receiving and caught at least one touchdown (Collins also found the end zone), so in another favorable matchup, Brown could produce even if his fellow Texans also find success.
Brandin Cooks (WR)
Dallas Cowboys vs. CAR (36% Start)
In week 10, Brandin Cooks only played 53% of the snaps but saw 10 targets, catching nine for 173 yards and a touchdown. This was good enough to make him the WR3 on the week. This performance was a bit of an outlier for Cooks. Leading up to week 10, Cooks had only seen more than four targets in one game and had not finished better than WR18. It also must be said that the week 10 matchup against the Giants was a blowout and was 28-0 going into halftime and 42-7 after the third. The lopsided nature of the game could have played a role in how involved Cooks was throughout. Still, his performance could force head coach Mike McCarthy to find ways to get him the ball. Carolina is not a particularly easy matchup, but Dak Prescott is playing at an MVP level right now and the Cowboys may be one team that is entering matchup-proof status. Don’t look for Cooks to duplicate what he did in week 10, but this is another game that could get out of hand quickly, meaning Cooks could see 7-10 targets. He may not do as much with those targets as he did against the Giants but that type of usage would still make him a solid WR3 or flex play this week.
Jayden Reed (WR)
Green Bay Packers vs. LAC (32% Start)
This suggestion is a bit hard to trust because even though Reed has been productive over the last four games, his snap share has been all over the place with snap shares of 48%, 78%, 39%, and 51%. But when he’s on the field, Reed has looked like the most explosive pass catcher out there and the one most capable of making a big play. This big play ability was on full display in week 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In that game, Reed had a 35-yard touchdown as well as another grab for 46 yards. Those two plays represented 96% of his total yardage. He did have three more catches but they only went for a total of three yards. With how good Reed has looked over the last month, it’s fair to assume that it could lead to his number being called more consistently. That could start as early as week 11 when they face a potent Chargers offense and a vulnerable Chargers defense. Los Angeles has given up the fifth most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, allowing nearly 40 points a game to the position. If this is another 50-70% week for Reed, he could be a sneaky play and produce as a low-end WR2 from your flex spot.
Michael Mayer (TE)
Las Vegas Raiders vs. MIA (24% Start)
In week 10, Michael Mayer hauled in his first career touchdown. While he only caught three of five targets for 19 yards on top of that score, he was still on the field for nearly 90% of snaps and is on a team desperate to get something going on offense. With rookie Aiden O’Connell still under center, it’s difficult to get too excited about any of the pass catchers, but in week 11 the likely game flow could keep them all relevant, including Mayer. Las Vegas should have to throw a ton just to try to keep pace with Miami's explosive offense. A tall task to be sure, but one that the Raiders will have no choice but to take on. I expect the Dolphins to get out ahead early and maintain at least a two-score lead throughout, and with the Dolphins' secondary finally healthy, things could open up in the middle of the field for Mayer making him a valuable safety blanket for the rookie quarterback against a defense that is bottom 12 against tight ends. Mayer has yet to see more than six targets in a game, but the majority of their games have been against bottom-tier offenses. The Dolphins are not that, not even close, so it’s likely the volume will be there, and even possible Mayer surpasses that six target mark and that he has his most productive outing of the season. There’s a risk to playing Mayer but with the tight end landscape as it is, a player on a team that should be playing from behind might not be a bad way to go.
Chigoziem Okonkwo (TE)
Tennessee Titans vs. JAX (24% Start)
Through 10 weeks Okonkwo has been consistently involved in the Titans offense. Okonkwo has at least four targets in all but one game, with two games of six or more. Unfortunately, those targets have not translated to fantasy success. Okonkwo has failed to reach more than 35 yards receiving in a game and does not have a single touchdown all year. But in week 10 he did have six targets and now he gets to go up against a Jacksonville defense that is in a three-way tie for the second most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. On paper, this should be a lopsided contest, but the Jaguars have not been playing up to the level of their talent, which means it could be a close game. That could limit Okonkwo’s ceiling a bit. The Titans are a team built around the run and since an impressive week 8 performance, rookie Will Levis has struggled. Still, he has thrown it nearly 40 times a game over the last two weeks, so there could be enough targets to go around and if Okonkwo gets 6-9 targets he could produce just enough to be a valuable tight end this week. There aren’t any top-tier tight ends off this week, so you might not have use for a sleeper at the position, but if your usual starter is unavailable due to bye or injury, Okonkwo could be a good pivot option.
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