Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 18

Source: USA Today

Fantasy Sleepers Week 18

In a week when most fantasy leagues are done, there are still those who insist on having a week 18 match.  With some teams sitting their usual starters for them to be fresh for the playoffs determining those players that are sleepers can prove difficult.  Players that qualify as sleepers any other week may become must-starts if you’re roster is thin due to injuries, and players sitting this week out.  Regardless, I am here to help make those decisions a little easier.  Here are my sleepers for week 18. 

Geno Smith (QB)

Seattle Seahawks vs. ARI (43% Start)

Geno Smith has been solid, if not great, the last two weeks, with an average of 20 points per game over that span.  The difference between those weeks and week 18 is that in those two contests, he was facing defensive units that are top-12 against opposing QBs and in week 18 he’ll go against an Arizona defense that has given the sixth most points to signal callers.  We also cannot ignore the mental aspect of this matchup.  Arizona isn’t playing for anything other than pride, while Seattle still has a chance to make the playoffs with a Seahawks win and a Green Bay loss.  The first part of that is within their control to do something about and I expect coach Pete Carroll to have his team ready.  Smith has not been as impressive as he was last year, but with how much he over-performed last year, some regression was to be expected.  The last time these two teams met, Smith didn’t exactly light it up, but there’s a bit more motivation in this game so look for Smith to come out firing.  He is a low-end QB1 and a quality streamer this week.

Derek Carr (QB)

New Orleans Saints vs. ATL (41% Start)

Carr has scored at least 19.6 Fantasy points in three games in a row, and the Saints still have a chance for an NFC Wild Card spot.  Just looking at the last matchup between these two teams may discourage you.  In that contest (in week 12) Carr only scored 10.9 Fantasy points with no touchdowns and an interception, but he did pass for 304 yards.  But Carr is playing much better than he was then and the Atlanta defense has been much more vulnerable through the air recently with two of the past four quarterbacks scoring at least 24.1 fantasy points against them.  Neither team lights up the scoreboard so this one should be close but with it being a home game and better coaching I expect the Saints to take care of business in front of their home crowd.  If you are without your usual starter, Carr is not a bad pivot option to get you through. 

Zamir White (RB)

Las Vegas Raiders vs. DEN (30% Start)

As of this writing, Josh Jacobs is still questionable for Week 18 after missing the last three games with a quad injury.  I’m hoping they give White one more start.  White has looked good filling in for Jacobs with three straight games of at least 14.5 PPR points finishing no worse than RB17 and even as high as RB12.  White has done his damage both in the run game and passing game with at least three catches in two of his three starts and has two outings with more than 100 total yards.  He’s been good, and with questions surrounding whether Jacobs will even be on the team in 2024, it would be wise to get a longer look at the 2nd-year back who could be their running back of the future.  This week, he's facing a Broncos defense that is No. 2 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, with three of the past four running backs against Denver scoring at least 21 PPR points. White has top-10 upside this week against Denver if he gets the start.

Zach Charbonnet (RB)

Seattle Seahawks vs. ARI (23% Start)

Like White, Charbonnet’s inclusion on this list is dependent on whether or not teammate Kenneth Walker III (shoulder) will be able to go after being unable to finish his Week 17 contest against Pittsburgh.  Even if he is able to suit up, Charbonnet could see more work after coach Pete Carroll called out Walker, saying the "running game element ... has not been part of our team the way we would like it to be." If Charbonnet does see a larger workload he’d be in a great spot to produce against an Arizona defense that allows the most fantasy points to running backs.  16 running backs this season have scored at least 12.7 PPR points against Arizona, and over the last five weeks, four have scored at least 13.7 PPR points. This makes him a decent flex play even if Walker is active, but is a No. 2 running back in all leagues if Walker is out.  In the three games this season where Charbonnet got double-digit carries, he scored at least 12.9 PPR points in two of them.  If he gets double-digit carries and is as involved in the passing game as he was last week (5 catches for 39 yards) he could help some managers win some leagues.

Devin Singletary (RB)

Houston Texans vs. IND (59% Start)

The Texans’ run game has been hard to figure out at times this season but it seems they have settled on Singletary as their lead back and in week 17 he had another quality outing, with 16 carries for 80 yards and three catches for 6 yards on three targets.  He’s now scored at least 11.6 PPR points in six of his past eight games. The Texans still have a chance to make the playoffs and will be putting their best foot forward which should include a heavy dose of Singletary.  This week he will face a Colts defense who are No. 3 in most fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.  They have also allowed six touchdowns on the ground in their last five games, and seven running backs have gone over 100 total yards in the past seven games.  Trusting Singletary is never easy but no one can deny that the Texans have been good for his fantasy production and in a must-win game I would expect him to see a lot of work as one of their most consistent contributors. He should be considered a low-end No. 2 running back in Week 18.

Greg Dortch (WR)

Arizona Cardinals vs. SEA (3% Start)

I actually liked Greg Dortch as a sleeper last week and he didn’t disappoint.  Although it was Michael Wilson who found the end zone last week, it was Greg Dortch who led all wide receivers with 82 yards, catching all seven of his targets, for 15.2 PPR points.  It was clear that the chemistry he developed with QB Kyler Murray last year was still there.  He now has 11 games over the past two seasons with at least four targets, and he has scored at least 11.7 PPR points in nine of those outings.  The Cardinals have been eliminated from playoff contention and don’t have anything to play for, but that was the case last week and they still came on the field and upset the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia.  I expect Dortch to once again see a heavy dose of targets and against a Seattle defense that has been vulnerable through the air all season he should have a decent outing.  He might not win you the week or push for WR2 numbers but he should be a solid WR3 or flex this week and in a week where many players will be unavailable that’s not nothing. 

Brandin Cooks (WR)

Dallas Cowboys vs. WAS (42% Start)

Brandin Cooks is in a perfect spot to produce WR2 numbers in Week 18.  The last time these two teams met, the Dallas offense posted 45 points and 431 total yards.  I don’t expect the Commanders to completely lie down but with nothing to play for and the inside track to the No. 2 overall pick I’m not expecting them to put up much of a fight either.  The Cowboys, however, are playing for the division and will not take anything for chance.  As the clear No. 1 on the team, CeeDee Lamb will still get the most targets, but Cooks should get his opportunities as well and be good for a few deep ball opportunities and if one of those lands him in the end zone he could be the exact type of player that is the difference between winning and losing. Cooks had five catches for 60 yards on eight targets against the Detroit Lions last week and he had 72 yards and a score in Dallas' first meeting with Washington.  I get it.  The Cowboys’ offense is rolling so can anyone on the team really be seen as a sleeper?  Well, a 42% start percentage says yes, and after a controversial finish to their contest with the Lions, Dallas will want to put its foot on the gas, proving any detractors wrong.  Unfortunately, the Commanders will be on the receiving end.

Darius Slayton (WR)

New York Giants vs. PHI (16% Start)

To be honest, Darius Slayton’s teammate, Wan’Dale Robinson could just as easily be on this list.  Both have the potential to be useful No. 3 fantasy receivers in week 18 against the Eagles.  But as the more consistent player over the last three weeks, I’ll go with Slayton.  Over that span, Slayton has had no fewer than 10.3 PPR points and has at least 18 points in each of his last two games (which includes his first contest against the Eagles.)  It appears the switch from Tommy DeVito to Tyrod Taylor has done wonders for Slayton with 196 yards and two touchdowns over his last two games.  Now Slayton gets to face off against an Eagles defense that enters Week 18 as the No. 1 team in most fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers.  The Giants are not a good team and trusting any offensive weapon comes with a certain amount of risk but when you get down to your WR3 or flex spots you need players that have the upside to hit on a big play.  Slayton provides that and could easily outperform his projection in week 18.  He’s not a must-start by any means but he’s a solid play if you’re looking for help at the position.

Johnny Mundt (TE)

Minnesota Vikings vs. DET (1% Start)

Wait, who?  I know.  When the Vikings lost T.J. Hockenson for the season I assumed that it would be Josh Oliver who took over TE1 duties for The Minnesota Vikings.  However, it was Johnny Mundt who saw the larger snap share (77%), most targets (7), and better production (14.9 PPR points), and he is the perfect sleeper who could help you win a championship in Week 18.  While Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell declined to name a Week 18 starter against the Detroit Lions, it would not surprise me if they went back to Nick Mullens, who provided a spark in the second half and threw a touchdown pass to Mundt against the Green Bay Packers.  If that happens, Mundt is worth a serious look as a starting tight end in fantasy lineups.  Mundt is a massive red-zone presence making him valuable to fantasy players looking for touchdown upside in their tight end.  If you don’t have a sure thing at tight end and one of the better waiver wire pickups (Juwan Johnson or Tucker Kraft) aren’t available then I would consider looking Mundt’s way.

Darren Waller (TE)

New York Giants vs. PHI (41% Start)

This truly feels like a bizarro world.  I would have never thought I would be referring to Darren Waller as a potential sleeper, but the 2023 season has not been kind to him.  The logic here is simple.  The Philadelphia Eagles are allowing the sixth most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.  The Giants have nothing to lose and the Eagles are playing for the division if the Cowboys can’t get the job done against Washington.  Waller is still a very talented player and has received six targets in two of his last three games, including on Sunday with Tyrod Taylor under center.  Any TE that is consistently getting that many targets has to be taken seriously.  When that player is as talented as Waller, has a history of being a matchup nightmare, and finds themselves in an exploitable matchup, then they become a good start.  The last time these teams met Waller did not provide much production, but it was only his 2nd game after coming back from injury and the first game since missing five straight games where he played more than 45% of the snaps.  Sometimes it takes time to get back up to speed.  Look for Waller to produce low-end TE1 numbers this week.

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