8 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 13
Someway, somehow, it's Week 13. I don't like it, either, but we must put on a brave face. After all, getting fringe lineup decisions correct has never been more important as we march hastily toward the fantasy football playoffs.
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.
Last week continued this column's heater. Mac Jones was the QB7, Latavius Murray and Kyren Williams found their floors, Samaje Perine was the RB10, Zay Jones was the WR5(!), and Treylon Burks added a top-20 WR performance. We truly love to see it.
Let's aim for more strong results in Week 13.
Mike White (14% | $6,900) - It's time to bow down to the king. The New York Jets finally put Zach Wilson out of his misery and benched him for Mike White, who put up a better game than Wilson has ever played in the NFL despite playing in a torrential downpour. Maybe White is actually decent?
Regardless, he has the infrastructure to succeed. Even with Breece Hall out, White has a legitimate stable of weapons at his disposal. White was the QB6 last week and even though his matchup was ideal, this week's tilt against the Minnesota Vikings isn't scary, either.
Per our schedule-adjusted metrics, the Vikings rank 16th in team defense. But if you dig under the surface, it turns out they are 3rd against the run but just 24th against the pass, creating an exploitable pass funnel. If you read last week's column, you'll know this is the exact reason I highlighted Mac Jones as a low-rostered sleeper. Jones put up 382 yards and two touchdowns, en route to the QB7 overall performance last week.
White has better weapons than Jones and more rushing juice. The wheels could fall off at any moment, but having flashed legitimate QB1 upside in his previous starts, I'm riding with White as a QB1 sleeper in good matchups until we're told otherwise.
Kenny Pickett (12% | $6,700) - Pickett has not displayed a ceiling yet this year and has yet to surpass 20 fantasy points across his six full games played. He's recently found a floor, however, hitting 16 and 19 fantasy points in two of his last three starts. Those floor games came against the Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints, neither of which are pushover matchups.
This week Pickett gets the ultimate pushover in the Atlanta Falcons' pass defense, which ranks 30th, per our schedule-adjusted metrics. As I've highlighted in this article all season, Atlanta ranks dead last in both pressure rate and hurry rate, per Pro Football Reference, meaning Pickett should have all day to throw.
With Najee Harris leaving last week's game and Jaylen Warren missing the game altogether, it's possible we see the Pittsburgh Steelers trend slightly more pass-happy this week. After all, it's a winnable matchup through the air and a great spot to get their young signal-caller some confidence and positive momentum.
Pickett is showing a solid floor thanks to rushing volume, which is always our goal in finding streaming quarterbacks. He's managed 6-plus carries and/or 20-plus rushing yards four times this year, and he has rushed for three touchdowns on top. With rushing value and a good matchup, he's a legitimate streaming option and sneaky DFS tournament play this weekend.
Benny Snell Jr. (11% | $4,700) - Running back is an absolute mess this week. With injuries to Najee Harris/Jaylen Warren, Jeff Wilson/Raheem Mostert, Travis Etienne, Christian McCaffrey/Elijah Mitchell, Michael Carter, and Josh Jacobs, monitoring injury reports will be more important than ever. We publish this column before even the first injury reports come out, so you'll have to stick close to injury news throughout the week.
Based on what we know now, though, Benny Snell may be in line for a nice workload. With Warren out and Harris leaving the game, Snell came in and recorded 12 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown against the 11th-best adjusted run defense. Considering Anthony McFarland was getting run early in the game before Harris went down, it feels clear that the Steelers view Snell more as a direct backup for Najee's between-the-tackles role.
This role may be fruitful against the Falcons' 27th-graded adjusted run defense. Pittsburgh enters as 1.5-point road favorites with a decent 22.5-point team total, implying the game should stay close enough for Snell to get plenty of work if Harris is out. That's enough to put him on the RB2/flex radar this week.
Zonovan Knight (33% | $5,800) - It's hard to really call Knight a sleeper after he went from 0% to 33% rostered overnight. The undrafted rookie was solid in spot duty last week, toting 14 carries for a nice 69 yards and notably adding 3 catches for 34 receiving yards. That last part is intriguing considering Mike White's history of throwing to running backs, and White picked up where he left off by targeting running backs on 25% of his throws in Week 12.
Again, it's too early in the week to know about the status of Michael Carter's ankle injury, but we know it was serious enough to pull him from the game. We also know that Knight had a role before Carter went out, meaning he's already on the flex radar if Carter plays this week. Knight is a must-add with potential short- and long-term value.
JaMycal Hasty (19% | $6,500), Tyrion Davis-Price (3% | $5,000), Kyren Williams (45% | $5,500), Jerick McKinnon (39% | $4,900), Myles Gaskin if one or both of Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert sit (0% | $5,300), Zamir White if Josh Jacobs sits (3% | $4,700)
Elijah Moore (30% | $5.700) - I did not intend for this to turn into a Jets puff piece, but here we are. With White starting at quarterback, we finally saw Moore flash some signs of life. His snap share wasn't overly exciting (42%), but it was notable that Moore ran ahead of Denzel Mims this week. In Week 11, Mims ran a route on 90% of drop backs, but that number plummeted to 23% in Week 12.
Moore's increased role led to two catches for 64 yards and a touchdown and hopefully earned him an even larger role moving forward. We've already discussed above how White is a much better option for this offense, and this week's matchup against the Vikings sets up as a pass funnel. Moore is better served as a stash, but with the Jets likely in trailing game script, he's on the WR3 radar, too.
David Bell (1% | $5,000) - If you're one of the 12 loyal readers of this article, you know I love to try and identify widely available players before they are rostered everywhere in order to give you a leg up on long-term stashes. We've already seen players like Gerald Everett, Justin Fields, Treylon Burks, Jakobi Meyers, and Rondale Moore -- plus many others -- graduate out of sleeper viability into legitimate starters.
Bell has an uphill climb from 1% rostered, but he may be the next name to join that list. A third-round pick out of Purdue, Bell quietly just set a season-high with a 65% route participation in Week 12, per Dwain McFarland of PFF. Bell has also quietly seen at least five targets in three straight games, directly coinciding with his increased route rate.
We don't need to address the elephant in the Cleveland Browns' quarterback room, but what we must acknowledge is that the offense is about to get an upgrade at quarterback, which coincides well with Bell's increased role. Starting him this week is for the deepest leagues only, but now is the time to pick up Bell before your leaguemates.
Randall Cobb (8% | $5,400) - Frankly, I'm confused why Cobb is rostered in fewer than 10% of leagues. Cobb has played two games since returning from injury and is the WR29 over that span.
Per Dwain McFarland, he's run a route on 63% and 61% of the Green Bay Packers' drop backs over the last two games, which is not an elite number. However, Cobb is targeted when he's on the field. He's been targeted on 23% and 24% of his routes over those two games, respectively, which lines up with his 20% target per route rate on the season. The Packers clearly trust him on third downs and in the red zone, which is what we want in our fantasy sleepers.
This week, the Packers face the Chicago Bears and their 31st-ranked adjusted pass defense. Cobb runs 66% of his routes from the slot this year, which is coincidentally where Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson did a lot of damage against the Bears last week. Cobb is a legitimate flex option in PPR leagues this week regardless of Green Bay's starting quarterback.
Evan Engram (39% | $4,800) - Engram is a tricky eval this week. He's made a few guest appearances in this article this year and has mostly paid off. Despite a one-catch clunker last week, Engram is still 13th among tight ends in targets this season, and several of those ahead of him are now injured. It's possible you don't have a better option on your roster or on the waiver wire.
This week, Engram faces the Detroit Lions, a defense that's allowed the fourth-most points to tight ends and ranks 29th against the pass, per our metrics. Engram is still running routes on 80% or more of drop backs -- a strong number at tight end -- and it's unlikely Zay Jones soaks up 30% of the targets again this week.
With a 51.5 implied point total, this game is one to target in season-long decisions and DFS lineups. Engram has a good matchup and strong role, and his quarterback is on fire, making him a strong way to get access to this game.
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.