Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 15

Source: USA Today

Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 15

Well, the fantasy playoffs are among us and the week 14 injuries are already impacting the outlook for managers in week 15.  No Justin Herbert.  No Keenan Allen.  No Josh Jacobs. Possibly no C.J. Stroud or Nico Collins.  On top of that is the barrage of players tagged as questionable such as D.J. Moore, Justin Jefferson, De’Von Achane, and Ja’Marr Chase (among others.)  With all the questions surrounding elite-level players, deciding who to rely on in your first playoff matchup becomes increasingly difficult, making potential sleepers even more important.  If you are one of the very few lucky teams who has not suffered a devastating injury to a regular starter, then congrats and we’ll see you in the championship.  But if you are scrounging, trying to find a fill-in for this week some of the names below may be exactly what is needed.  The chances of any of them having the type of explosive performance that can almost single-handedly win you the week is low, but if you need someone to help keep you afloat and put up numbers that will put you in a good position to compete and win, then read on.  Here are my sleepers for week 15.  Good luck.  

Joe Flacco (QB)

Cleveland Browns vs. CHI (12% Start)

As improbable as it seems, Flacco came off the street and has looked like the most consistent, most effective QB the Browns have employed this season.  That’s not exactly a high bar since two of those quarterbacks were journeyman P.J. Walker and struggling rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson.  Still, in two starts Flacco has finished as the QB13 and QB10, throwing for 565 total yards, five touchdowns, and just two interceptions, and a 1-1 record.  But perhaps the most appealing thing about Flacco is that he is throwing a ton with 89 attempts compared to just 51 runs in two games.  The Bears have been playing pretty stingy defense of late, but they’ve still been more vulnerable against the pass than the run, and the Browns boast a solid defense that should be able to keep this game close, putting Flacco in a great spot to air it out and produce for those who just lost Justin Herbert or have been struggling at the QB position.

Russell Wilson (QB)

Denver Broncos vs. DET (30% Start)

In a week as important as this one I understand if it’s too difficult to rely on Russell Wilson, and I am not saying you should start him in place of your usual starter.  But if you find yourself in need of a starting QB this week, Wilson could be a great place to turn.  After a 2022 season that left much to be desired, in 2023 Wilson has looked much more like the quarterback the Broncos hoped they were getting when they signed him.  This has led to a much better-than-expected Broncos team overall that is currently a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.  Wilson has not had a lot of those boom games you hope for from your starting quarterback in fantasy with just two games over 25 points, but he has been consistent and solid for anyone relying on him this year, with just four games under 18 points.  The Lions allow the fourth most fantasy points to opposing signal callers, and with Jared Goff on the other side of the ball, the Broncos may have to throw a lot to keep pace.  Over their last five games, they have allowed 20+ points in all but one game, and four top-10 QB finishes.  Wilson is in a good spot to be the fifth.  

Ty Chandler (RB)

Minnesota Vikings vs. CIN (6% Start)

Starter Alexander Mattison has been rule out against the Bengals, making Ty Chandler the first man up and with QB Nick Mullens getting the nod to start over recently acquired Joshua Dobbs, Chandler (and the run game) could be leaned on heavily in this one.  After how Cincinnati QB Jake Browning played last week, The Bengals may be able to put up points in a hurry and force the Vikings out of their game plan, but it seems more likely for this to be a close, low-scoring affair.  If that’s the case then Chandler could see a lot of work and he has been fairly successful when given opportunities.  Chandler is averaging about 4.7 yards per touch and the Vikings have averaged 24.4 touches per game.  With no Mattison, Chandler should see at least 60% of those touches, and if he manages to keep the same rate of production he could produce mid to low-end RB2 numbers.  If he finds the end zone?  Even better.  The Bengals have allowed an average of 108 yards and just north of 4 yards per carry to opposing running backs since week 9, making Chandler a good spot start for anyone reeling from injuries.  

Chuba Hubbard (RB)

Carolina Panthers vs. ATL (41% Start)

I understand that relying on a player like Chubb Hubbard in the fantasy playoffs could be a difficult thing to do, but if you’re like so many fantasy managers out there your lineup is full of players that are either questionable or out so you may be required to rely on players you wouldn’t otherwise.  Besides, the uncertainty is what makes Hubbard a sleeper and not an automatic start.  Throughout the season, Hubbard has been mostly serviceable as a decent flex, but over the last three weeks, he’s started to show signs of promise.  Over that span, he has scored at least 11 fantasy points in each game and has two finishes inside the top-12 at the position.  The matchup against the Falcons may not look great on paper.  They are currently top-5 against opposing running backs, but since week 9 they have begun to show some signs of vulnerability, allowing an average of 126 yards to running backs.  Don’t start Hubbard ahead of any regular starters but if you are hurting at the position, he does have some sleeper potential.  

Ezekiel Elliott (RB)

New England Patriots vs. KC (49% Start)

It hardly seems possible with how he has looked in recent years, but the week after the Patriots lost starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson to an ankle injury, Ezekiel Elliott came out, scored over 20 fantasy points, and finished the week as the RB1 in half-PPR formats.  Elliott is looking like a potential game-changer as long as Stevenson is sidelined, and even when Stevenson comes back we could see closer to a 60/40 or even a 50/50 split instead of the 70/30 split we had been getting.  Even if the efficiency wasn’t there (he averaged just north of three yards-per-carry), the volume was exactly what we want out of any position, but especially running back.  Against the Steelers in week 14, Elliott received 29 touches.  That is a true workhouse type of volume.  As long as the passing game continues to look limited I don’t see those touches for Elliott going away.  Even in a week 15 matchup against the Chiefs that could get out of hand Elliott should have plenty of opportunity to produce whether on the ground or through the air.  Elliott is a solid volume-based RB2 this week.

Odell Beckham Jr. (WR)

Baltimore Ravens vs. JAX (31% Start)

It does not seem like I am talking about 2023 with some of the names I’m mentioning, but that is exactly the type of year 2023 has been.  Beckham, Jr. has been limited in practice so far this week, but that is likely out of maintenance concern.  There does not seem to be any real fear of him missing this week.  Over the last five games, Beckham, Jr. has become one of the most reliable receiving weapons for Lamar Jackson, scoring double-digit points in all but one of those games, including a top-6 finish with 17.7 points in week 14.  He looks healthier and more explosive than he has in years.  While it’s true that the majority of his production in nearly all those games has come off a single splash play, it is encouraging that he is proving capable of making those types of plays regularly and that Jackson is looking his way a lot (he received 10 targets in week 14.)  Now he gets to face a Jaguars team that is allowing the seventh most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.  There is always the risk that this week it will be someone else’s turn, but the combination of Beckham, Jr.’s recent consistency, upside, and his week 15 matchup is exactly what you want heading into the fantasy playoffs

Jayden Reed (WR)

Green Bay Packers vs. TB (32% Start)

Jayden Reed has been very reliable over the last five weeks, scoring at least 13 half-PPR points in all but one game and finishing inside the top-12 at the position three times.  He was an especially sneaky start last week and if you did start him, he delivered for you with 65 total yards and a touchdown on 10 targets and four carries. Fellow teammate, Christian Watson continues to miss practice which means he will likely miss his second straight game due to a hamstring injury.  This should lead to continued opportunities for Reed, and against a Buccaneers defense that is allowing more than 38 fantasy points to wide receivers he’s in a great spot to outproduce his projection.  Even with Watson out Reed did play just 69% of snaps but the Packers are finding creative ways to get him involved, and if he continues to see double-digit opportunities then he should be able to return WR2 value.  Every year there is a rookie wide receiver (or two) who comes out of nowhere to help fantasy managers win championships.  Reed may not win you the week single-handedly, but he might just be one such wide receiver.  

Demarcus Robinson(WR)/Tutu Atwell (WR)

Los Angeles Rams vs. WAS (2%/3% Start)

Ok, so this one is a bit of a deep dive, but hear me out.  The Rams are going up against the second-worst defense against wide receivers this week and Matthew Stafford is playing lights out.  The Buccaneers should find it difficult to keep up with the skill players of the Rams.  This should lead to plenty of production to go around for everyone on the Rams’ side of the ball, including whoever ends up being the third receiver on this team.  Atwell did return to practice on Thursday so it is likely he will be good to go which would make Robinson a non-factor.  But if Atwell were to have a setback, Robinson would be in a good position to provide some flex value.  In week 14, when he had to fill in for Atwell he did so admirably scoring over 12 fantasy points en route to a top-20 WR finish.  That was against a much better Ravens defense.  Against the Buccaneers, receptions, yardage, and touchdowns should be easier to come by for whoever is being targeted. 

Hunter Henry (TE)

New England Patriots vs. KC (6% Start)

After two games in which Hunter Henry seemed to be an afterthought, he finished as the TE3 in week 14.  Granted, he did so by catching three passes on three targets, two of which went for touchdowns, but when you get into this tier of tight end, touchdown upside is exactly what you’re looking for and Henry seems to have some.  In the first two games of the season, Henry looked like the best option in the Patriots passing game, receiving 13 targets over that span, and finishing as the TE1 and TE2 in those first two games.  Since then things have cooled off for both Henry and the Patriots in general.  Since week 2, Henry has seen more than five targets in just one game and has seen three or fewer targets in over half of those games.  Still, the Patriots could find themselves down quickly in this one forcing them to air it out a bit more than they’d like, and I still think if that happens Henry will be the second-best receiving option (behind Elliott) for the Patriots.  He may not have the volume-based upside of the top-tier players but he has as good of a chance as any middle-of-the-pack tight end to find the end zone.

Logan Thomas (TE)

Washington Commanders vs. LAR (13% Start)

This one may seem to come out of nowhere, but the Commanders are going to have to score a lot in this game just to keep up with the Rams, which means relying on the arm of Sam Howell.  Howell does have a tendency to spread the ball around, but he’s thrown it over 40 times in eight of his last 10 games and this week should make it nine out of 11.  This should allow all the Commanders’ pass-catchers to have an opportunity to produce.  While most will look to wide receivers Jahan Dotson, Terry McLaurin, or Curtis Samuel, don’t forget about Thomas.  He has quietly put up a TE16 season and has found his biggest production to come in games where the Commanders have trouble keeping up with their opponent.  That should be the case this week.  Look for Thomas to receive anywhere from 7-10 targets.  He may not blow you away with yardage but several of those targets could be in the red zone and if he finds his way to a touchdown dance, a top-12 tight-end finish could be on the horizon, even while his team is getting blown out. 

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