7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 14
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.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Ownership: 17%
Ryan Fitzpatrick has passed for more than 300 yards or tossed multiple touchdown passes in three straight games. He was at his sharpest in a plus matchup against the Eagles last week, carving them up for 365 yards and 3 touchdown passes to only 1 interception. He'll look to continue rolling in an even more favorable matchup on the road against the Jets.
We rank the Jets as the ninth-worst pass defense. Their already bad pass defense could be without stud safety Jamal Adams this week. Even with Adams in the secondary, the Jets had no answers for Fitzmagic in Week 9. The journeyman signal-caller passed for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns with no turnovers. He had the services of rookie wideout Preston Williams in that one, and he won't this go-round. However, DeVante Parker kicked up his post-hype breakout to new highs since Williams went down, and a forthcoming tight end has flashed as yet another solid option for Fitz, too. He's well equipped to torch the Jets yet again.
Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Yahoo Ownership: 12%
Who is and isn't active in the backfield this weekend for the Kansas City Chiefs will determine Darwin Thompson's viability as a fantasy option. Damien Williams was out last week, and Darrel Williams was placed on IR with a hamstring injury. Neither back participated in practice Wednesday, and the club signed Spencer Ware
On the Spencer Ware signing, my understanding is that Damien Williams has a chance to play Sunday at Patriots. So Ware at this point is more an emergency signing but Chiefs will see how the week works out for Williams.
— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) December 4, 2019
Signing Ware seems to indicate the club has legitimate concerns about Damien Williams' availability this weekend, but, as Adam Teicher's tweet above notes, he does have a chance to play. If he's active along with LeSean McCoy, Thompson isn't worth rolling the dice on. If, however, Damien Williams is inactive, Thompson's path is clear for a timeshare with Shady.
Last week, Thompson parlayed 11 carries into 44 rushing yards and 1 touchdown in the rout of the Raiders. He touched the ball just eight times prior to last week, but his work in the romp was at least promising. The Chiefs have an implied total of 22.75 points, and a matchup against the Patriots has a chance to be a fantasy-friendly barn burner.
Football Outsiders ranks the Patriots as playing at the 9th-fastest pace this year and the Chiefs checking in at the 12th-fastest. Those paces are solid, but New England and Kansas City's situation neutral pace ranks of fastest and fifth-fastest, respectively, are even more eye-catching. If this turns into a track meet -- like the situation neutral paces of each club suggests it could -- even a timeshare role for Thompson has a chance to have value for running back-needy gamers.
Patrick Laird, RB, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Ownership: 8%
This will mark the third straight time Patrick Laird has appeared in this space. This time, he no longer has Kalen Ballage in the fold after the historically inefficient running back hit injured reserve this week. As bad as Ballage was, his inefficiency wasn't entirely his fault. Football Outsiders ranks the Miami Dolphins dead last in adjusted line yards.
With that in mind, it should't be a total surprise Laird mustered just 5 rushing yards on 10 carries to go with his 1 rushing touchdown last week. Laird's best asset to the Dolphins and fantasy squads is his pass-catching prowess. In Week 13, he caught 4 of 5 targets for 43 receiving yards and scored a two-point conversion on a reception, too.
It could behoove the Dolphins to use Laird's receiving skills a bit more, in lieu of continuing to struggle on the ground as often as they have thus far. Additionally, this particular matchup against the Jets should provide them further motivation to swap out some runs for passes to their backs. We rank the Jets as the stingiest run defense, but, as I noted in Fitzmagic's write-up above, they're the ninth-worst pass defense.
The Jets have been especially giving to running backs in the passing game. They're tied for the third-most receptions (76) and sixth-most receiving yards (594) coughed up to running backs this season, per Pro-Football-Reference. Our algorithm projects Laird to finish as RB28 in point-per-reception (PPR) formats this weekend, putting him right in the fringe RB2 range. If picking between Thompson and Laird as a streamer at this point in the week, give me the latter due to the clearer role for Week 14 presently.
A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Yahoo Ownership: 24%
A.J. Brown has had some ups and downs this year as a rookie in a low-volume passing attack. He's emerged as the top option for Ryan Tannehill, though, and the team has scored 20 or more points in all six of Tannehill's starts.
The former Dolphin has attempted 176 passes this year, and he's directed 33 of them Brown's way. In addition to leading the team in targets on Tannehill's passes this year, Brown also leads the way in receptions (21), receiving yards (363), and is tied for the lead in touchdown receptions (2). The Titans have a juicy implied total of 25.0 points this week, which is tied for the fifth-highest mark.
Brown's standing atop the pass-catching pecking order and Tennessee's implied total make for a pair of compelling points for rostering Brown, and things are rounded out with a tantalizing matchup against a giving Raiders' pass defense. We rank Oakland's pass defense as the fourth-worst, and they've been walloped by wideouts. They've allowed the 12th-most receiving yards (2,040) to receivers, at an eye-popping 15.45 yards per reception, according to Pro-Football-Reference. We project Brown to finish as WR34 in PPR formats, and he's my favorite option of the deep sleeper receivers touted in this piece.
Zach Pascal, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Yahoo Ownership: 21%
Zach Pascal ranks a few places lower than Brown in our projections, checking in as WR44 in PPR formats. Like Brown, Pascal's also been prone to ups and downs this season, but he's coming off of one of his better performances this year. Last week, he hauled in 7 of 10 targets for 109 receiving yards. It was Pascal's second game reaching triple-digit receiving yardage this year, and it was his fourth besting at least 70 receiving yards.
It's not all rainbows and butterflies with Pascal, though. He's finished with donuts in the receiving column in 3 of 12 games, and he's been held under 30 receiving yards in seven contests. Parris Campbell appears likely to return from a multi-week absence, but T.Y. Hilton is a longer shot to return this week. Campbell's return would add another option to the passing attack, but Pascal should retain a prominent role in a passing game lacking high-end talent -- if Hilton's out once again.
The matchup is mouthwatering for Pascal. The Buccaneers have yielded the most targets (304), receptions (184), and receiving yards (2,448) to the position, while also ceding the second-most touchdown receptions (19). There's risk here, as I've highlighted, but Pascal's a worthy streaming option.
Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Ownership: 24%
A third Dolphin? Yup. Michael Gesicki is actually the first one I touted this week, though. Check out my analysis in the linked piece to see why he makes for a strong streamer at tight end in Week 14. Our algorithm projects Gesicki to finish as TE12 in PPR scoring this week.
Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers
Yahoo Ownership: 7%
Allen Lazard is probably the most volatile of the receiving options in this piece. Having said that, he's attached to the highest implied total of the trio. The Green Bay Packers have the second-highest implied total this week at 27.25 points, and real-life points beget fantasy points while boosting the ceilings of all parties.
Beyond Davante Adams, there isn't a safe option in Green Bay's passing attack. Lazard's forced his way into the mix, however, and he's coming off of a career-best game in the snowy conditions last week. Lazard caught all 3 of his targets for 103 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. The second-year receiver first popped onto the radar in Week 6, catching 4 of 5 targets for 65 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. Last week marked Lazard's first effort north of 50 receiving yards since he burst onto the scene, and his touchdown grab was just his second.
Lazard won't blow anyone away with his speed, as you can see on his PlayerProfiler page. He's a big target, however, and Aaron Rodgers is willing to take deep shots to him. Among receivers and tight ends targeted a minimum of 25 times, Lazard's average depth of target of 14.1 yards is the 16th-deepest depth, according to Sports Info Solutions.
In theory, Lazard's deep-ball usage should play well against Washington. They're tied for the 10th-highest average explosive pass rate, at nine percent, per Sharp Football Stats. The floor is low for Lazard this week, but coming up on the receiving end of just a couple of deep shots would play as a deep sleeper.