7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 14, Presented by Casper
You made it!
Probably at least.
If not, you really have more moxie than I do.
I'm talking, of course, about fantasy football playoffs. And if you didn't make it there -- yet you're still reading up on deep sleepers -- I salute you.
But after 13 weeks, you know the drill for fantasy football articles. Consider playing these guys in 14-team leagues or larger this week if you need to take a chance on a flier.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (Owned in 27% of ESPN Leagues)
Quarterbacks and all players, really, are being stashed, and that's throwing off ownership levels. But if you're in need of a quarterback at low ownership, consider Alex Smith against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night. The Raiders are 22nd against the pass, according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric when adjusting for schedule strength.
Kansas City has a 24.5-point implied team total this week, and Jeremy Maclin is looking likely to return. No, you don't want to turn to Smith with your season on the line, but if you need a quarterback, he's looking like the best of the low-owned options.
Rex Burkhead, Cincinnati Bengals (4.9%)
Rex Burkhead was outsnapped by Jeremy Hill 58% to 42% in Week 13, per FantasyData, but he managed to get 12 touches. This late in the year, that kind of workload is tough to find at a nearly unowned mark. The Cincinnati Bengals have a pretty healthy total of 24.75 points, and the Cleveland Browns are the worst defense in football, per our metrics. The ceiling is capped, but there's probably a decent floor given Hill's limitations in the passing game.
Mike Gillislee, Buffalo Bills (25.4%)
No, we aren't just point chasing, though his two touchdowns from last week are nice. Mike Gillislee and the Buffalo Bills are in a close one this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers as two-point home underdogs.
Gillislee has been hyper-efficient. He has a Rushing NEP per carry of 0.41 on his 64 carries. No other rusher with at least 50 carries has produced more than 0.14 per carry. Whew. And 60.94% of his carries have increased Buffalo's expected scoring. No other back is at 50%. Double whew.
He only needs a few carries to produce a deep-league stat line, and if anyone can do it, it's Gillislee against a Steelers defense that is 29th against fantasy running backs.
Dontrelle Inman, San Diego Chargers (19.8%)
Dontrelle Inman and the San Diego Chargers travel to play the Carolina Panthers, who are 29th against fantasy receivers and 15th against the pass by NEP. Inman caught 2 of 5 targets last week for 49 yards and a touchdown, but he was actually on the field for 96% of San Diego's snaps, tied with Tyrell Williams for the team lead.
They are one-point underdogs on the road, and that offers up a good game script for an efficient passing outing. A receiver who is on the field almost every snap and still is getting looks is a pretty easy target in this range of ownership, especially in this matchup.
Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots (19.9%)
In Week 13, Malcolm Mitchell outsnapped Julian Edelman 85% to 68% and trailed just Chris Hogan (86%). He caught 8 of 10 targets for 82 yards, too, so he wasn't quite as quiet as Inman with his snaps. The New England Patriots are 7-point favorites with a 26-point implied team total over the Baltimore Ravens, who are 23rd against fantasy receivers despite being 9th against the pass by NEP.
Jermaine Gresham, Arizona Cardinals (13.1%)
I never thought I'd see the day, but Jermaine Gresham is doing things for the Arizona Cardinals. He played 95% of the snaps last week, 94% the week before, and 80% back in Week 11. He had scored touchdowns in consecutive games before posting a scoreless 5-catch, 6-target, 52-yard day last week.
Brandon LaFell, Cincinnati Bengals (16.9%)
This year, Brandon LaFell has been a mainstay of this column. He has played at least 90% of Cincinnati's snaps in all but one game -- back in Week 12 when he played 89%. The Bengals, as we already discussed, play the Browns, who are 27th against fantasy receivers and 32nd against the pass according to our advanced metrics.
LaFell is going to be on the field for nearly every snap in a prime matchup. That's tough to ignore if you need receiver help in Week 14.