Fantasy Football: Top 10 sleeper picks heading into Week 12
By Genna Preston
Heading into Week 12 Fantasy Football action, here are the top 10 sleeper picks to start for some major success.
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood (28) reacts after a touchdown run against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
It’s Week 12 of fantasy football, and oh what a week it is! We have three teams playing on Thanksgiving and no teams on a bye. Last week, fantasy owners were left with heartbreak after so many players fell short to injury.
Related Story: Fantasy Football: Top 10 Sit 'Em Picks For Week 12
In Week 11 alone we lost A.J. Green, Giovani Bernard, T.J. Yeldon, C.J. Prosise, LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews, Zach Miller, Mark Ingram and Robert Woods.
Even though there aren’t any bye teams this week, with all the injuries, you’re going to need to fill a few spots on your roster. The good news is, I am here to help!
After analyzing this week’s matchups and past performances, I have identified this week’s most valuable sleeper options. Sleeper’s are always a great way to go when filling injuries, especially in deep leagues.
There aren’t many players left to draft in deep leagues and most of this week’s sleepers are owned in less than 50 percent of leagues. Let’s take a look at this week’s top 10 sleepers!
Next: 10. He's this week's starting running back
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood (28) takes the field for action against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 34-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
10. Wendell Smallwood, RB – Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles had a rough Week 11. Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles both left the game with injuries.
Once the two exited the game, Wendell Smallwood became the main running back. He had 13 carries for a little under 50 yards.
Smallwood also added 31 yards on four receptions. He earned about 10 fantasy football points; not too bad for someone who wasn’t the main workhorse in the first half of the game.
Smallwood is expected to be the starting back Monday night against the Green Bay Packers. Last week, Rob Kelley carried 24 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns against the Packers.
Now, I don’t expect Smallwood to have three touchdowns but, he should see close to 100 yards and a touchdown this week. He is a great RB1 sleeper option.
Next: 9. This receiver only earned double-digits three times
Nov 13, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) celebrates after a touchdown during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Nissan Stadium. The Titans won 47-25. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
9. Tajae Sharpe, WR – Tennessee Titans
Tajae Sharpe’s 10 percent ownership in fantasy football leagues should be a hint to his fantasy value. He’s only had three double-digit fantasy outings and one was all the way back in Week 1.
His other two double-digit fantasy weeks were during his last two matchups. In Week 10, he completed 3-of-4 targets for almost 70 yards and a touchdown; he earned almost 13 points.
Last week, he completed 4-of-7 for 68 yards and a touchdown. His back-to-back touchdowns were the only touchdowns he’s scored all season.
Sharpe is on fire and takes on a mediocre Chicago Bears defense. The Bears rank 15th in the league for touchdowns allowed.
Given his recent explosion, and this week’s matchup, expect Sharpe to have his third consecutive touchdown. Start him in Week 12.
Next: 8. This quarterback is looking for a comeback game
Nov 10, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
8. Joe Flacco, QB – Baltimore Ravens
Once every week starter, Joe Flacco has become more of a filler of sleeper pick this season unless you play in a QB2 league. He’s only had three weeks that he didn’t earn double-digit points but, he’s not consistent enough to top quarterbacks like Tom Brady or Russell Wilson.
However, there were several weeks he topped 20 points per game, as well as a couple where he exceeded 30 fantasy football points. Last week, Flacco completed 23-of-35 passes for a little under 270 yards and a touchdown. In his last nine games, Flacco has been held to only seven touchdowns.
But, this week he takes on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have given up seven passing touchdowns in their last five games and Flacco should be able to add one or two to that total. Look for Flacco to shock everyone this week. He’s a great sleeper option heading into Week 12.
Next: 7. This back has four touchdowns in his last three games
7. Robert Kelley, RB – Washington Redskins
Rob Kelley has been the talk of the fantasy football realm lately. He has clearly become the Washington Redskins starting back and main workhorse.
By no means is he an RB1 option but, he has proven himself to be valuable as an RB2 or Flex player in recent weeks. Last week, Kelley carried the ball 24 times for over 135 yards and three touchdowns. He has over 40 fantasy football points in some leagues.
Kelley has topped 300 rushing yards and has scored four touchdowns in his last three games. And, this week he takes on the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional Thanksgiving showdown.
The Cowboys surrendered a touchdown to Terrance West just last week. Kelley is only going to continue the pattern. Kelley is only owned in about 60 percent of leagues but, his ownership has increased over the last two weeks. Get him while you can and start him in this week’s lineup.
Next: 6. This tight end will have increased targets
Nov 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vance McDonald (89) carries the ball past New Orleans Saints inside linebacker Nate Stupar (54) and free safety Vonn Bell (48) during the first quarter at Levi
6. Vance McDonald, TE – San Francisco 49ers
I felt the need to offer Vance McDonald a spot on this week’s sleeper list. Owned in less than 10 percent of leagues, you can already assume he hasn’t offered much fantasy football value this season.
McDonald has only earned double-digit fantasy points three times this season. His best week was in Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints. He completed 3-of-6 passes for a little under 85 yards and a touchdown. He earned over 20 points in Week 9.
This week he takes on the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins rank eighth in the league against the pass, however, McDonald may be the only receiving option.
If Torrey Smith remains out, McDonald will have an opportunity for more targets. Track Smith this week. Should he miss another week, McDonald will have increased workload and will excel on your lineup.
Next: 5. This receiver will earn above average fantasy points
Oct 9, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews (18) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Tennessee Titans defeat the Miami Dolphins 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
5. Rishard Matthews, WR – Tennessee Titans
Rishard Matthews has consistently progressed throughout the season. In the beginning of the season, Matthews struggled to earn double-digit points.
Although he earned just 10 points in some leagues in his Week 4 matchup, it wasn’t until Week 6 when Matthews became relevant. he didn’t consistently keep up the above average points he earned against the Cleveland Browns but, he did have two over 20 fantasy football points games.
Last week was one of them! He completed 9-of-13 passes for over 120 yards. It was the first time he didn’t score in three weeks however, he did have season high completions and yards.
This week he takes on the Chicago Bears. The Bears rank 27th in the league for yards allowed to the position. Matthews is the team’s leading wide receiver and should have a great Week 12 matchup. Look for Matthews to have another above average fantasy football week.
Next: 4. This D/ST has the most sacks in the league
Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) is tackled by the Buffalo Bills defense during the second half at New Era Field. Bills beat the Cardinals 31-18. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
4. Buffalo Bills D/ST
The Buffalo Bills DST has had a great season. For the most part, they earned 20 or more points per game; they did a couple busts, but who hasn’t?
Aside from their games against the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, no team has scored more than 18 points in their last eight matchups. The Bills are also tied for the most sacks in the league this season. They have 31 to date; that’s insane!
This week the Bills take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. If you know anything about Blake Bortles, you would know he is infamous for turnovers and sacks.
This matchup is an early Christmas gift for fantasy owners. Take advantage of the Bills this week, and for the rest of their season their schedule doesn’t seem to be a tough one.
Next: 3. This rookie quarterback is going to shine
Nov 20, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) is pressured by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril (56) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 26-15. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
3. Carson Wentz, QB – Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz has had an up and down fantasy football season. Some weeks he earned over 30 fantasy points while other weeks he struggles to earn double-digit points.
In Week 10, he only completed 231 yards and no touchdowns. He earned a measly six fantasy points. Last week, Wentz did a little better. He completed 23-of-45 passes for 218 and two touchdowns; he earned about 13 points.
Wentz has won all of his home games and this week the Eagles take on the Packers at home. The Packers have also allowed over 40 points in multiple games and on average offered opponents over 300 passing yards in their last four games.
If there was ever a week to start Wentz it’s Week 12. He is a borderline QB1/2 in the Monday night matchup.
Next: 2. He's a great Zach Miller replacement
Oct 30, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (87) makes a reception during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
2. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE – Houston Texans
C.J. Fiedorowicz is only owned in about 25 percent of fantasy football leagues. Ironically enough, he has been the most successful receiver on the Houston Texans in the past few weeks.
In five of his last 10 games, Fiedorowicz earned double-digit fantasy points. He’s seen at least six targets in his last five games, even outshining DeAndre Hopkins at times.
However, this week the entire Texans receiving corps should have an easy game against the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers are offering opponents too many offensive touchdowns and rank 28th in the league.
With statistics like that, how can you not start Fiedorowicz? I don’t suggest starting him over a player like Greg Olsen however, with Zach Miller out, and other tight ends not being very valuable, he is a great Week 12 option.
Next: 1. Take a gamble with this quarterback
1. Ryan Tannehill, QB – Miami Dolphins
I was a little embarrassed to add Ryan Tannehill to this week’s sleeper list. But, you can’t deny his progress throughout the season. The Dolphins have now won five games in a row! Shocking, I know! However, if you own Tannehill in a QB2 league you would know the frustration of his inconsistencies and don’t really care about his consecutive wins.
But, when he is given the right matchup, he has the ability to offer fantasy value like we saw in Week 10. Tannehill had 240 passing yards and two touchdowns earning 20 points in some leagues; not too shabby for Tannehill.
And, this week’s matchup is ideal for the Miami Dolphins as they take on the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers not only rank 30th in passing touchdowns allowed but, they have offered opponents 23 scores this season.
Must Read: Fantasy Football Start or Sit Week 12: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
I just can’t deny those statistics. If Tannehill can’t outscore the 49ers, he should be ashamed of himself because this week he’s projected two touchdowns and a little of 250 yards. Tannehill is a streaming QB2 option in Week 12.