7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 14
Everybody loves a good sleeper pick.
Throughout the season, of course, sometimes sleepers aren't just luxuries to gawk at but necessary fill-ins for our fantasy football lineups.
Not every situation requires benching your starters for a sleeper, but every fantasy team and situation is different, and I'm sure we're all playing daily fantasy football on FanDuel anyway. That's where sleepers really can pay off.
Because there is no consensus definition of what a sleeper is, I'll keep it consistent throughout the season. Using ESPN's fantasy football platform, I'll choose quarterbacks and tight ends outside the top 15 in roster percentage and running backs and wide receivers outside the top 40.
I'll also list some honorable mentions because there's nothing worse than realizing that every player mentioned in an article is already rostered in your league. We're seeking non-obvious plays who can put up starting-caliber performances. I'd rather list too many options than too few.
Philip Rivers (17%) - Up until recently, Rivers has had a rather unexciting first season with the Indianapolis Colts. From Weeks 1 to 5, the veteran quarterback threw for 250-plus yards just once with no more than a single touchdown in any game, all while throwing 4 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. But since that rough start, Rivers has turned it around with 250 yards or more in all but one matchup, and he has 2 or more touchdowns (3 on three occasions) in five of those seven games. His most recent three-game stretch has seen him total 7 passing touchdowns and averaged 19.5 fantasy points per game. This week, he draws a Las Vegas Raiders team that -- according to Pro Football Reference -- has allowed 19.3 fantasy points per game to the position and ranks 24th in pass attempts and yards against to this point. Rivers is an ideal candidate to fill in as the fantasy playoffs near.
Cam Akers (36%) - Akers finally mounted a big workload in the Los Angeles Rams' Week 13 win over the Arizona Cardinals. On 21 carries and 1 catch, the rookie totaled 94 scrimmage yards with one touchdown on the ground. Combined, his backfield mates -- Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown -- combined for six carries and nine total touches. Akers was listed as a non-participant with a shoulder injury on Monday, but if he's healthy he figures to be Sean McVay's lead back against the New England Patriots. And while the Pats are a top-10 scoring defense, they check in 19th in our rankings and in the middle of the pack against fantasy backs. If you're looking for touches, no available back is more worthy of an add than Akers.
Ty Johnson (0.3%) - Johnson is one of the few backs who can rival Akers, albeit on a much smaller sample size. The one-time Detroit back seems to have found a home with the New York Jets, as he was handed the ball 22 times for 104 yards in Sunday's grueling loss. He added a couple of catches out of the backfield as well, putting together a well-rounded 17.7 fantasy points. One of the reasons for the spike in production is an injury to the ageless Frank Gore, who left after just a single carry and can be considered questionable with a concussion. Without Gore, Johnson would lead the way against a Seattle Seahawks squad that is solid against the run but allows more than 19 fantasy points per game to backs.
Corey Davis (54%) - Tennessee's Week 14 loss carried a scary moment when receiver A.J. Brown exited the game with what appeared to be a bad ankle injury. However, Brown returned to the game in time and, though he may miss some practice time this week, should be full systems go against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But the thing is, it might not matter for Davis' fantasy appeal. Even with Brown returning, Davis popped off for 11 catches, 182 yards, and a score on 12 targets, now giving him three games with 10-plus targets this season. He's now put together two 100-yard outings in three games, and with the Jags (allowing top-five fantasy numbers to receivers) on tap, it figures to be a big day for one or both of the Titan receivers.
Michael Pittman Jr. (43%) - Pittman has seemingly hit a downswing in his rookie season of late. Over the last two games, he's managed a combined 7 catches for 74 yards and 4.6 fantasy points. That's after posting 12.2 and 12.6 fantasy points in his two games prior, one in which he caught 7 balls for more than 100 yards. T.Y. Hilton has been the guy for Rivers in recent games, but don't sleep on Pittman. He has 14 targets over the last two, and his matchup remains soft as he and the Colts clash with the Raiders. Las Vegas has given up the 12th-most receiving yards to wideouts, and Indy is coming into the week with a high 27-point implied total, according to Fanduel Sportsbook.
Denzel Mims (10%) - We are always game to target receivers against the Seattle Seahawks' secondary. Despite some improved games against lackluster pass offenses, they still rank next-to-worst when it comes to limiting opposing wideouts. Their 2,707 yards allowed to the position are 200 more than any other team, and yards don't discriminate whether they are in garbage time or not. That's where we can expect Mims' production to come this week opposite Sam Darnold, with the Jets listed as 13.5-point underdogs on the road at Lumen Field.
Dalton Schultz (31%) - The Cincinnati Bengals have been abysmal against opposing tight ends. Not only are they third with 10.5 points allowed on a per-game basis, but according to JJ Zachariason, they are tops among all teams with a 25.4% target share given up to tight ends. As a result of that, they also give up 26.2% of receiving yards to the position. Enter Dalton Schultz. The Dallas Cowboys tight end has had an up-and-down season, but he has four or more catches in four straight for an average of 5.3 fantasy points. In that stretch, though, he has been tasked with facing two top defenses in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Football Team. The Bengals have given up points in bunches this season, so Schultz could have a field day with a score or two.