7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12
Bye weeks are finally almost a done deal, and the two teams on byes this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers, pretty much have their clear-cut starters, so the sleeper world is about as full as can be.
I've already recommended some sleepers this week, but sometimes those picks just aren't quite deep enough if you play in a 14- or 16-teamer or have some deep benches in your league.
I won't make the intro any longer than I need to, but I will be citing some Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, which is how we determine how well a team or player is playing above expectation. Team breakdowns are now available on our power rankings page, so check that out to see who else has a good matchup, or simply check out our weekly projections for our algorithmically-chosen player ranks.
Week 12 All-Deep-Sleeper Team
Quarterback: Alex Smith (Started in 6.7% of ESPN leagues | Owned in 26.7% of ESPN leagues )
Smith's ownership is a bit higher than I typically recommend for this article, but both of the quarterbacks I mentioned earlier this week are actually more widely available than Smith, who is pretty likely to be out on your waiver wire.
Smith gets to face the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night, so hopefully you can plug and play him in time. Even though Thursday nights aren't the most enticing scenarios for NFL teams, Smith is projected to be our ninth-best quarterback on the week. A big reason why is because the Raiders rank 24th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP and 17th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
Smith is always a threat to snag some yards on the ground and raise his floor, so given the matchup against the Raiders, who just fought hard with the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Smith is a great play if you can get him.
Running Back: Charles Sims (4.2% | 22.4%)
Sims seems to be in line to be the featured back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he was able to secure 13 carries in Week 11. He only gained 36 yards on those carries, but Washington ranks eighth in rushing defense, according to our metrics. As for the Bears, Sims' Week 12 matchup? They're 27th. The Bears actually rank 13th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, but they're still a weak rushing unit, and Sims is set to be the lead back.
Sims isn't exactly trustworthy, but he does project as our 20th-overall running back this week but does have an expected fantasy point output between 1.31-15.59: quite a big range.
Running Back: Carlos Hyde (3.2% | 19.7%)
Naturally, right after noting how tough the Washington run defense is, I write up a backup running back who is going against them. This recommendation does come with a caveat: you're banking on a touchdown from Hyde.
Hyde is projected to score 0.34 rushing touchdowns this week, which is the 18th-highest mark among running backs. There aren't many low-owned players who can secure you 60 yards unless they have a solidified role in their offense. Hyde, though, can vulture a touchdown and make for a decent enough flex play in deep leagues. Plus, if you trust the Vegas lines, the 49ers are projected to score 26.25 points, which is the sixth-highest total on the week, and they are projected to win by 8.5 points, so Hyde could actually see some extra touches if the Niners are grinding out the clock.
Wide Receiver: Kenny Stills (1.9% | 9.3%)
Unfortunately, Brandin Cooks is out for around four weeks, and that doesn't necessarily mean anything particular for the Saints offense, but the unpredictable options on that offense will see a slightly increased chance of making something happen on Monday night.
Stills is projected to score 0.52 touchdowns this weekend, ninth-best among receivers. Still, he is just our 41st-ranked receiver because he's pegged for just 3.0 receptions, but if you need a big-play threat who has a good shot at the end zone, Stills is your guy this weekend.
Wide Receiver: Cecil Shorts (6.7% | 31.%)
Shorts is almost always a worthwhile point-per-reception play, but he hasn't really been great this year after returning from injury. But deep sleeper Hall-of-Famer Allen Robinson is out for the year with a foot injury, and Shorts is coming off a season-high 119 receiving yards before the Jaguars' bye week.
Jacksonville is projected for just 18.5 points according to the Vegas oddsmakers, fifth-lowest on the week, but as 13.5-point underdogs, the Jags will be throwing, and Shorts makes for a good play based on attrition alone.
Tight End: Jacob Tamme (0.4% | 1.9%)
The Miami Dolphins have the toughest defense in the entire NFL according to our metrics and rank second against tight ends in fantasy points allowed, but Denver needs a win this weekend, and Tamme could be a beneficiary of a determined Broncos offense. He had 4 catches for 31 yards in fill-in duty last week, which isn't great, but all he would need is a touchdown to pay off in your lineup. Denver is favored by seven points, in a game with an over/under of 49, so Denver should be putting up some points, and you could do worse than a backup tight end on a bad offense.
Flex: Davante Adams (2.1% | 8.0%)
Adams basically is a stalwart in this article because his ownership basically never increases and his role is just getting better. By playing on a phenomenal passing offense, Adams is in position to be a difference maker each week. In his past six games, he has had five pretty useful outings. Excluding a 1-catch, 10-yard game against the Bears, Adams has posted at least 6 receptions and 75 yards or a touchdown in those games.
You're obviously hoping for more than just one touchdown catch, but Adams has been stable each week and has both touchdown upside and 6-catch, 70-yard potential, giving him two ways to provide a decent point total for your squad as a deep flex or third receiver.
The Vikings rank 12th in passing defense according to our metrics, but Adams plays on the fourth-best passing offense that seemingly can't be stopped right now.