7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12
It's the best week of the year. Happy Thanksgiving! Let's dive right into it.
Sleeper is an ambiguous term. For the purpose of this article, we'll define anyone on fewer than half of Yahoo! rosters as a sleeper. Typically, I'll actually aim to feature players on fewer than 40 percent of rosters.
Don't worry, deep-league gamers, this article is intended to help folks in leagues of all shapes and sizes. With that in mind, I'm following my predecessor's lead, including honorable mentions. If the featured players are already rostered in your league, the honorable mentions should provide you with players to consider filling in for an injured starter or a player on a bye -- or for whatever other reason you're diving into the free-agent pool.
While this article is primarily written through a season-long lens, sleepers are certainly viable as daily fantasy punts in certain builds, too. Keep that in mind when you're looking for cash-game savings or trying to gain cheap leverage in tournaments. That's why you'll see every player's FanDuel salary listed next to their Yahoo! roster percentage this year.
Week 11 was yet another strong result for this column's process. Marcus Mariota once again delivered a top-15 QB performance, Ryan Tannehill bested him as the QB12, and Isiah Pacheco delivered over 100 yards on the ground. Darius Slayton continued his strong surge, both Donovan Peoples-Jones and Jarvis Landry finally found the end zone, and Juwan Johnson continued to deliver for readers of this article.
Let's aim for more strong results in Week 12.
Taylor Heinicke (14% | $6,500) - Don't look now, but the Washington Commanders are 4-1 under Taylor Heinicke, with the only loss coming by three points against the Minnesota Vikings. It feels safe to assume Heinicke's leash as the starter is pretty long, which is why we can look to him as a matchup-based streamer this week.
Heinicke will face the Atlanta Falcons at home on Sunday. Per our schedule-adjusted metrics, Atlanta's defense ranks 30th overall and 31st against the pass. Unsurprisingly, the Falcons rank dead last in both pressure rate and hurry rate, per Pro Football Reference, likely ensuring clean pockets for Heinicke on Sunday.
While Heinicke's recent fantasy scores have disappointed, he's also faced two defenses in the bottom-three of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Atlanta, meanwhile, has allowed the eighth-most points to the position, and it's worth noting Heinicke was the QB8 across Weeks 7-9 (his first three starts).
Despite the low game total, Washington enters as a 4.0-point home favorite with a solid 22.75-point team total. Heinicke is a rock-solid starter this week.
Mac Jones (13% | $6,500) - While this suggestion certainly isn't for the faint of heart, you came here for sleepers didn't you? Rostered in just 13% of leagues, Mac Jones certainly qualifies.
Jones quietly ranks eighth in attempts of 20-plus yards, per John Daigle of 4for4. It didn't show up in the fantasy box score, but Daigle also notes that Jones just tagged the New York Jets for season highs in yards per attempt (9.1) and completion percentage (85%), no easy feat against the fourth-best passing defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics.
Minnesota provides an easier matchup, grading just 20th against the pass. Notably, the Vikings are stout against the run (second-best), providing a pass funnel opportunity for Jones. Finally playing with all of his weapons healthy, Jones is a sneaky streaming candidate in a game that has shootout potential.
The New England Patriots are just 2.5-point road favorites, implying a close game, and playing in a dome should help speed the game up. Jones is a great contrarian option for Thanksgiving DFS lineups, as well, likely to be one of the slate's lowest-rostered quarterbacks.
Latavius Murray (26% | $6,200) - It's gross, but so is this entire fantasy season. With Melvin Gordon released, Chase Edmonds dealing with a high ankle sprain, and Mike Boone still on injured reserve, it's clear Murray is the lead dog in the Denver Broncos' backfield.
Whether you like it or not, Murray has received at least 15 touches in three of his last five games, and that was with Gordon in the lineup. In fact, Murray is the RB31 by half-PPR points per game since joining the Broncos. He's the definition of a decent floor, low-upside running back.
This weekend, he'll face the Carolina Panthers, who grade as an average adjusted run defense but have still allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs, likely by virtue of game script.
While the Broncos don't blow any teams out, it's reasonable to assume their fourth-ranked adjusted defense will have Sam Darnold seeing ghosts in his first start of the season. Murray should benefit from several short fields and clearly has the goal line work to himself, evidenced by three rushing touchdowns over his last four games.
Murray is a must-stash option who can be plugged in immediately as an RB2 this week.
Kyren Williams (27% | $5,300) - The Los Angeles Rams surprisingly released Darrell Henderson this week, mercifully reducing this three-man nightmare into a palatable two-man committee. Rookie Kyren Williams hasn't wowed us yet, but he's clearly earned the trust of this coaching staff in passing situations.
In a negative game script last week, Williams notably out-snapped Cam Akers 34-24, notching a season-high eight touches along the way. Per John Daigle of 4for4 Football, Williams promisingly ran a route on 65% of Rams drop backs, too.
The Rams are almost guaranteed to be in a negative game script once again this week, entering as 14.5-point road underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs. Williams should get plenty of run in catch-up mode, which will be helpful against a Chiefs defense that's allowed the second-most receptions and third-most receiving yards to running backs this season.
Especially in PPR formats, Williams is a legitimate flex play this week, and he can serve as a sneaky bring-back in Chiefs stacks in large-field DFS tournaments.
Parris Campbell (40% | $6,000) - Campbell's rostership feels like a classic situation of people holding onto their priors. He's averaged 9.5 targets per game over Matt Ryan's last four starts, catching at least five balls for 57 yards in all four. Point blank, there's no reason he should be on the waiver wire in PPR leagues, as 10-point floors don't grow on trees.
This week, Campbell and the suddenly frisky Indianapolis Colts face the Pittsburgh Steelers and their 22nd-ranked adjusted pass defense. Notoriously poor at defending the slot for years under Mike Tomlin, he should find plenty of success in the middle of the field. Campbell is a PPR WR3 until we're proven otherwise.
Treylon Burks (21% | $5,900) - It was tough to pick the second receiver to highlight given the glut of options below. An honorable mention goes to Demarcus Robinson, who is somehow rostered in 55% (!) fewer leagues than Devin Duvernay despite out-targeting him 21-6 over the last three weeks.
But we have to give love to the rookie Burks after he put up seven catches for 111 yards against the Green Bay Packers' stingy secondary.
Burks, a 2022 first round pick, is rounding into form coming off injured reserve with 14 targets across his first two games back. With Ryan Tannehill quietly playing at a high level, Burks is suddenly on the WR3 map and needs to be rostered everywhere.
Although the matchup isn't overly enticing on paper, the Cincinnati Bengals have lost top cornerback Chidobe Awuzie to a torn ACL and just gave up a career-best game to fellow rookie George Pickens. This game has a tight 2.5-point spread and will be played in Tennessee.
You should pick up Burks even if you don't plan to start him, just to block your opponents. And if you're like me, he'll be in your DFS player pool this week at such a cheap salary.
Honorable Mentions: Donovan Peoples-Jones making it my mission to get his rostership above 60% (45% | $6,300), Zay Jones (19% | $5,700), Demarcus Robinson (5$ | $6,200), Nico Collins (26% | $6,000), Jahan Dotson (18% | $5,800), Randall Cobb (4% | $5,300), Skyy Moore if JuJu Smith-Schuster and/or Kadarius Toney are out (6% | $5,400)
Trey McBride (16% | $4,900) - Could this be the year of the rookie tight end? With Greg Dulcich earning an elite role and Cade Otton delivering as a streamer, it's time for MFin Mackey Award Winner McBride to step up to the plate.
With Zach Ertz out, McBride has earned a solid role in an offense forced to pass a ton. That alone is enough to put him on the streaming radar, but it's his status as the top tight end picked in this year's draft that offers upside most at the position can't match.
This week, McBride gets the same Los Angeles Chargers defense that Travis Kelce tore to shreds last Sunday night. While McBride isn't Kelce, it still helps that the Chargers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position this season. McBride is a decent PPR streamer in a game that quietly has the second-highest total of the week (47.5).
Eli Weiner is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Eli Weiner also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Eweiner2. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.