Fantasy Football Deep Sleepers Week 17

Source: USA Today

Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 17

Last week was brutal for injuries, and if you’re like me and find yourself in the championship without the services of three or four of your usual starters then you’re scrambling to try to find reasonable replacements.  While at this point in the season, it’s difficult to find any waiver wire adds or low-end bench players who will duplicate the production of your proven starters, some players could provide just enough production to keep you competitive and help you eke out the win.  Not all of the names below will be obvious players, but if they were, then they wouldn’t be sleepers.  Still, if you lost somebody key to your previous success or haven’t loved the production you’ve been getting from some of your players then the names below may be people you’ll need to know.  Like always, I am not recommending you pick these players up and play them over your proven studs, I am merely pointing out that they find themselves in a position to outperform their current projection and may be able to help you win your final matchup of the season.  With that, good luck, and here are my fantasy football sleepers for week 17.

Baker Mayfield (QB)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. NO (32% Start)

Baker Mayfield has been much better than any of us could have expected coming into the 2023 season.  He’s also a major reason why the Buccaneers find themselves in the driver’s seat in the NFC South.  In week 15, Mayfield was statistically perfect against the Green Bay Packers with a 158.3 QB rating, and in week 16, against the Jaguars he continued to impress by throwing for 283 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.  This week, the Bucs will host a Saints defense that, while still being a very solid unit, just allowed Matthew Stafford to throw for 328 yards and two touchdowns.  Mayfield is not Stafford and the Bucs are not as explosive of an offense as the Rams, but there is still a ton of talent on this team and that talent should be able to take advantage of the same weaknesses that were just exposed by the Rams.  With wide receivers like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to throw to and a running back in Rachaad White who has been surprisingly productive, Mayfield should be able to find similar success to some of his better games.  Another 300-yard game with multiple touchdowns is possible, making Mayfield one of the better streamers for your fantasy championship.

Tyrod Taylor (QB)

Buffalo Bills vs. LAR (2% Start)

After looking much more impressive than Tommy DeVito in week 16 (in limited time) the Giants are turning to Tyrod Taylor in week 17 against the Los Angeles Rams.  With a negative game script likely, Taylor’s tendency to throw the ball downfield and stretch plays with his legs should lead to a decent fantasy output.  I get it, it’s still the Giants, but although Tommy DeVito wasn't a viable starter in fantasy, Taylor could be.  In week 16, after taking duties over from DeVito,; Taylor (in just 31 snaps) threw for 133 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, while adding another 21 yards on the ground.  This week, the Giants are playing a Rams' defense that has been vulnerable through the air recently and is the ninth friendliest defense to opposing signal callers on the season.  Last week, Derek Carr had 319 passing yards and three touchdowns, and the week before that, Jacoby Brissett and Sam Howell combined for three passing touchdowns.  We can’t say with any certainty whether or not Taylor is an upgrade or downgrade from most or all of those names, but if you are without a sure thing at quarterback this week then thinking outside the box and turning to the unexpected Taylor could pay dividends.  

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB)

Kansas City Chiefs vs. CIN (10% Start)

This is an endorsement of the situation and opportunity as much as it is the player himself, but in week 17, Clyde-Edwards-Helaire could be in a great spot to pull through for his fantasy managers just when they need him the most.  Come Sunday Edwards-Helaire may be in line for 70-80% of the work out of the backfield.  Teammate Jerick McKinnon was placed on injured reserve and Isaiah Pacheco is in the concussion protocol and seems unlikely to play.  Edwards-Helaire may not be special but if he’s the last man standing he could be worthy of RB2/flex consideration.  This Bengals DST has been very bad lately and seems incapable of stopping anyone.  The Chiefs could end up leaning on the run more to jump-start an offense that has yet to find any consistent identity, and trusting in CEH could help.  Plus, he’s been good in his limited action, averaging 11.2 yards per catch and 9.0 yards per target, and in week 15 when he had to step in against a solid Patriots run defense, CEH scored 18.1 fantasy points and finished in the top-10 at the position.  Clyde Edwards-Helaire may not single-handedly win you your championship, but there is a chance he will be on many winning squads this week if Pacheco is unable to go. 

Chuba Hubbard (RB)

Carolina Panthers vs. JAX (49% Start)

Carolina Panthers running back Chuba Hubbard is coming off five straight double-digit fantasy outings with four top-20 finishes (including two inside the top-10.)  While most people expected teammate Miles Sanders to see the bulk of the work in this backfield it has been Hubbard who has been seeing the majority of snaps.  Hubbard has at least 17 touches in five games in a row, and has been moderately productive with those touches. This week, Hubbard is facing a Jacksonville defense that is allowing 22.5 points to the position and has allowed a running back to score at least 13.2 PPR points in five straight games.  He has also had more than 90 scrimmage yards in four of his last five games.  While Hubbard has not provided a lot of pass-catching upside with only 10 catches total in those five games, the Jaguars are last in receptions allowed to running backs, which could mean a little more work for Hubbard.  Hubbard’s ceiling may not be as high as some but if he continues to get this much work he could post another solid outing.  Hubbard has RB2 potential this week. 

Ty Chandler (RB)

Minnesota Vikings vs. GB (40% Start)

The Green Bay Packers are giving up the 12th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs with 23.0, which puts Ty Chandler in a favorable spot to produce as a solid RB2 in week 17.  It appears that Chandler has taken over this backfield and that role has already proven fruitful for fantasy managers when Chandler ran 23 times for 132 yards, and one touchdown in week 15 against the Bengals, en route to an RB4 finish.  The Bengals give up fewer points to running backs than the Packers so it’s easy to see a path to fantasy success for Chandler.  Chandler will have a chance to exploit the defense on the ground and play a role in the passing game.  Even with Alexander Mattison back in Week 16 against Detroit, Chandler played 65 percent of the snaps compared to just 9 percent for Mattison.  It’s possible that after his struggles against the Lions in week 16 (eight attempts for 17 yards and a touchdown) it is more of an even split if Mattison is good to go.  But it’s just as likely that the Vikings realize the Lions are one of the top rushing defenses in the league and choose to lean on the more explosive Chandler against a much more vulnerable run defense.  If you need running back help this week, Chandler is a good low-end RB2/high-end flex play.

Demarcus Robinson (WR)

Los Angeles Rams vs. NYG (10% Start)

It’s hard to believe that 35-year-old Matthew Stafford is supporting three viable fantasy football pass catchers, but he is.  Generally, when we think of the Rams and Stafford we think it’s Cooper Kupp and then everyone else, but with the emergence of players like Puka Nacua, Kyren Williams, and now Demarcus Robinson, that has not been the case in 2023.  But while you’re starting Kupp, Nacua, and Williams, Demarcus Robinson is much less obvious but may be someone you should turn to in week 17.  Over the last three games, Robinson has played between 86% and 93% of the snaps and has touchdowns in four straight games.  Most recently, in week 16, Robinson had his best game of the season catching all six of his targets for 82 yards and a touchdown.  Robinson will never push Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua out of the way.  They are the stars of this receiving room and will remain as such, but McVay has been finding success in this three-wideout offense, and the Giants are allowing the sixth most points to wide receivers, and Robinson (yes, Robinson), is a top 10 PPR receiver in total points over the last four weeks.  It may be hard to trust a player like Robinson in such an important week but if you’re looking for replacements then you could do much worse.

K.J. Osborn (WR)

Minnesota Vikings vs. GB (8% Start)

Another player who could find himself with a golden opportunity is Vikings WR K.J. Osborn.  Minnesota is down tight end T.J. Hockenson and wide receiver Jordan Addison due to injury.  That means Osborn should be the lead target in a must-win game against a defense that has been vulnerable against the pass and just suspended their top corner, Jaire Alexander, for this game.  In week 16, when Osborn was called upon after injuries to Hockenson and Addison, he caught five passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.  On top of that, this Packers’ pass defense just allowed receiver DJ Chark to put up 98 yards and two TDs last week and Chris Godwin and David Moore to combine for 223 yards and one touchdown the week before.  The quarterback situation in Minnesota is not great with rookie Jaren Hall getting the nod this week, but in a division rivalry that could have playoff implications and as the top target on the team, Osborn could be a solid flex option.  Osborn is not a must-start player by any means, even in a favorable matchup, but he is someone to consider if you’re looking for a replacement.  

D.J. Chark (WR)

Carolina Panthers vs. JAX (2% Start)

Speaking of D.J. Chark, in week 17 he gets to face a bottom-10 fantasy defense.  It always takes a certain amount of bravery to trust anyone on the Panthers, but you could do worse than D.J. Chark.  In week 16, Chark was the leading receiver for the Panthers with six catches for 98 yards, two touchdowns, and an RB4 finish.  Obviously, we can’t count on that every week, but it’s still hard to argue with the production, and in week 17 he could be in a great spot to produce again for his managers.  The Jacksonville Jaguars allow the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.  If Chark can hold onto the WR1 role in this offense and Bryce Young can play as clean of a game as he did in week 16 then Chark should have a good chance to produce low-end WR2/high-end flex numbers.  The game script should also help.  There’s a good chance the Panthers will be playing from behind in this one, forcing Young to air it out, leading to more opportunities for Chark.  When young QBs (no pun intended) are struggling they often rely on their veteran receivers and if Chark and Young are developing chemistry with one another then another surprising output could be in store.

Gerald Everett (TE)

Los Angeles Chargers vs. DEN (20% Start)

Gerald Everett is not the type of tight end that will be the difference between winning and losing your matchup, but with Keenan Allen still not practicing and Easton Stick under center, he could be a major part of the passing game.  In every game Everett has played with Stick at the helm he has received eight targets.  Those targets have not created a lot of production, but his recent matchups have not been kind, going up against defensive units that have been solid against the tight end position.  That won’t be the case in week 17.  The Denver Broncos are giving up the most points per game to opposing tight ends with 16.6, so if Everett continues to be a safety blanket for Stick, then that opportunity plus the matchup could be just the combination Everett needs to finish as a top-12 tight end.  Tight ends are possibly the most difficult position to predict, but another 8+ targets are likely, and against this defense that could lead to 50-70 yards and a touchdown.  If you lost T.J. Hockenson in week 16, Everett is my favorite pivot, and with a roster percentage of 47%, he may be available in your league.  

Juwan Johnson (TE)

New Orleans Saints vs. TB (4% Start)

If Everett is not available in your league then Juwan Johnson is a tight end with some deep sleeper potential as a replacement for Hockenson.  You could also look to see if guys like Chig Okonkwo or Tucker Kraft are available but while others may say that Okonkwo and Kraft are safer plays, I’m not so sure.  The Saints are playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week in a game that will have major playoff implications and could be a major factor in determining the winner of the NFC South.  With how Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers’ passing game has been playing as of late this could force the Saints to air it out to keep up, turning the matchup into a shootout.  In week 16, Johnson played 72% of the snaps and received seven targets, catching four for 48 yards and a touchdown.  He finished as the TE4.  In week 17, he’ll get to face a Tampa Bay defense that has been juicy for opposing tight ends.  The Buccaneers have allowed the third most fantasy points to tight ends.  Johnson has touchdowns in back-to-back games and should continue to be a favorite goal-line target for QB Derek Carr, and when you’re talking about tight end sleepers it often comes down to touchdown opportunity, making Johnson a good bet.

Filed under: Free Articles