7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12
Regardless of the motivation for turning to the waiver wire/free agent pool, this is the place to find streaming options -- even for gamers in leagues as large as 14- or 16-team formats. Every week in this space, you'll find a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, and a flex who are low-owned options in Yahoo! leagues and offer plug-and-play appeal.
Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
Yahoo Ownership: 29%
Don't look now, but Sam Darnold is coming off of back-to-back good games. Over the last two weeks, he's totaled 523 passing yards, 5 touchdown passes, 1 interception, 22 rushing yards, and 1 rushing touchdown. He has a plus matchup on tap that should allow him to extend it to three straight strong showings. We rank the Raiders as the seventh-worst pass defense in our power rankings. They struggle to generate pressure, and they have the fourth-lowest pressure percentage (defined as the sum of hurries, knockdowns, and sacks divided by dropbacks) at 19.5 percent, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
The New York Jets are three-point underdogs against the visiting Raiders, per FanDuel Sportsbook, and their implied total of 21.75 points is in the middle of the pack. As an added bonus for Darnold and the Jets, the Raiders will have the unenviable task of playing in the 1:00 PM ET slot as visitors, and they've played four games this season in that time slot. In those four games, they've ceded 34 points to the Vikings, 24 points to the Colts, 21 points to the Bears (in London), and 42 points to the Packers. Our algorithm projects him to finish as QB16 in Week 12, but I expect him to finish as a top-12 quarterback this week.
Bo Scarbrough, RB, Detroit Lions
Yahoo Ownership: 24%
The Detroit Lions promoted Bo Scarbrough from the practice squad last week, and he immediately made his presence felt. The team still utilized a committee, but Scarbrough led the way in offensive snap percentage (49 percent), according to Pro-Football-Reference, carries (14), rushing yards (55), and he scored a rushing touchdown. To put his rushing in perspective, J.D. McKissic and Ty Johnson totaled 5 carries for 19 rushing yards and 0 rushing touchdowns.
McKissic did have a role as a pass-catching option, hauling in 3 of 4 targets for 40 receiving yards compared to 0 targets for Scarbrough. In college, Scarbrough totaled just 21 receptions in 31 games, per Sports-Reference. His lack of involvement in the passing attack last week isn't surprising, but he was a capable runner and that was also the case as a bruiser in college for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Scarbrough will be game-script dependent as the primary ball carrier in Detroit's committee, and he should have a favorable game script this week. The Lions are 3.5-point favorites in Washington. The matchup is decent, too. We rank Washington as the 13th-worst run defense. Our algorithm projects him to finish as RB39 in point-per-reception (PPR) formats, but I think he'll exceed that projection and flirt with a top-30 finish at the position. He's an even better play in standard-scoring formats, where his lack of pass-catching involvement is less detrimental to his value.
Patrick Laird, RB, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Ownership: 0%
Directly behind Scarbrough in our PPR rankings at running back for this week is Patrick Laird, as RB40. In Week 10, the undrafted back played only 8 offensive snaps, carried the ball 2 times for 4 yards and caught both of his targets for 15 receiving yards. In Week 11, he saw a substantial uptick in work, playing 16 offensive snaps and totaling 1 rush for 7 yards as well as 6 receptions for 51 receiving yards on 6 targets. Could he be in line for another step forward in playing time? Maybe.
Kalen Ballage continues to perform at a ridiculously poor level. He carried the ball 9 times for 9 yards and caught 5 of 6 targets for 8 receiving yards against the Bills last week. He did salvage his fantasy line to some extent with a touchdown run, but he's been awful. To that end, Balage's -0.16 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per Carry is tied for the second-worst mark among backs who've carried the ball at least 60 times this season.
He's also a total drag in the passing game. Among backs targeted at least 20 times this year, his -0.05 Reception NEP per Target is the second-lowest mark and one of only two marks south of zero. Ballage's receiving futility is especially noteworthy this week with the Miami Dolphins as the only double-digit underdogs this week getting 11 points in Cleveland.
While Ballage hurts Miami's passing attack, Laird aids it. Out of 80 backs targeted at least 8 times (an admittedly low threshold) this season, Laird's 0.46 Reception NEP per Target ranks 24th best.
Hunter Renfrow, WR, Oakland Raiders
Yahoo Ownership: 14%
Rookie receiver Hunter Renfrow has settled into an integral role in the Oakland Raiders' offense over the last few weeks. He's riding a four-game streak of catching four or more passes, and he's bested 50 receiving yards in three of those games. Renfrow's also scored a pair of touchdowns in that four-game stretch.
He and the road-bound Raiders boast an implied total of 24.75 points, the sixth-highest implied total in Week 12. The Raiders would be wise to take advantage of the Jets' defensive shortcomings against the pass to help their rushing attack against New York's stout run defense. We rank the Jets as the sixth-worst pass defense but the fourth-best run defense.
Included in the Jets' struggles against the pass have been struggles against receivers in particular. They're tied for the sixth-most receptions (139) allowed, have coughed up the ninth-most receiving yards (1,785), and are tied for the second-most touchdown receptions (15) yielded to receivers this season, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
We project Renfrow to finish as WR48 in PPR formats in Week 12. That puts him firmly in the streamer discussion. Furthermore, I think he'll push for a top-40 finish in a soft matchup as opposed to squeaking into the top 50 at the position.
Chris Conley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Ownership: 13%
Chris Conley isn't the top pass-catching option in the Jacksonville Jaguars' offense. That distinction belongs to D.J. Chark. He has been the second option when Nick Foles is airing it out, though. Foles has attempted 55 passes this year, and Conley's 10 targets are the second-most on the team. He's turned his 10 targets into 7 receptions for 79 yards.
The Jaguars were thumped by 20 points last week by the Colts in Foles' return from injury. Foles was forced to air it out 47 times in the lopsided loss, however, he did throw the ball 19 times when the Jaguars were within eight points or leading. While in that scoring margin, the team attempted only six runs. In short, the team doesn't necessarily have to be in a big hole for Foles to be awarded the opportunity to sling it.
Conley finished last week with 6 receptions for 58 receiving yards on 8 targets. Although, I'm more intrigued by his air yards data. Chark finished Week 11 with the third-highest percentage of a team's air yards at 54.66 percent, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, but Conley quietly amassed an impressive 24.33 percent of Jacksonville's air yards.
Conley's a legitimate vertical threat for the Jaguars. Among receivers and tight ends targeted a minimum of 50 times this season, his average depth of target of 14.7 yards is the eighth-highest mark, per Sports Info Solutions. Conley's downfield usage creates the opportunity for him to pay off as a deep sleeper with as little as one play. Our algorithm projects him to finish as WR45 this week in PPR formats, and that feels about right.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Yahoo Ownership: 25%
Dallas Goedert was among the tight ends I touted in 3 Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming Options for Week 12 earlier in the week, and his ownership rate has remained under 30 percent in Yahoo! leagues since I penned that piece. Goedert's a carryover from that piece for the second week in a row, and I once again suggest clicking on the link to read my analysis for why I advise using him this week. We project him to finish as TE13 this week in PPR formats.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, New York Jets
Yahoo Ownership: 9%
I admittedly didn't expect Demaryius Thomas to emerge as a usable fantasy option at any point this year, but he has. He's not even a full year removed from suffering a torn Achilles, but he's been competent this year. Thomas has totaled four or more receptions in five of eight games, including each of the last two games -- both with Darnold back from mononucleosis.
Over the last two weeks, he's tallied 14 targets, 10 receptions, and 128 receiving yards. The Jets steamrolled Washington to the tune of a 34 to 17 win last week, and they were able to lean heavily on their running game as a result of being in a positive game script most of the game. The week before in Week 10, however, Thomas shined in a back-and-forth shootout with the Giants, setting single-game highs for this year in receptions (6) and receiving yards (84) while matching his single-game high in targets (9) also set in Week 5 and Week 7. The game served as a reminder he still has something left in the tank.
As I discussed in Darnold's write-up above, the matchup is fantastic for the Jets' passing attack. Expanding upon that, the Raiders are tied for the second-highest average explosive pass rate allowed at 13 percent, per Sharp Football Stats. Additionally, receivers have given them fits. The Raiders have coughed up the 11th-most receiving yards (1,768) to receivers this year at a blistering 15.11 yards per reception, and they're tied for the ninth-most touchdown receptions (12) surrendered to the position. Thomas bests the two previously discussed receivers, Renfrow and Conley, in the projections this week, projecting to finish tied for WR42 in PPR formats.