7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 15
Week 15 is a big week, and if you're still competing in your season-long leagues, congratulations to you. The right mixture of skill, studying, and - let's face it - luck has been in your favor this year, and it would be a shame for that to end now, especially if you trudged through a 14- or 16-team league.
If that's the case, you might be needing some spot-starters even if you have a championship-caliber team.
Here are seven players with good matchups and some promise to put up useful fantasy numbers in Week 15.
Week 15 All-Deep-Sleeper Team
Quarterback: Kyle Orton (Started in 2.1% of ESPN leagues | Owned in 8.6% of ESPN Leagues)
This week, an astounding five contests have an over/under greater than 50. Unsurprisingly, those games are highlighted by some stud quarterbacks. But one who is far from a must-start who happens to be playing in a game with an over/under better than 50 - 50.5 to be exact - is Orton.
Orton hasn't been great recently, throwing five touchdowns to four interceptions in his last three contests, but Green Bay is going to score, and he'll have to throw, much like he did last week against the Broncos when he scored 20.3 fantasy points.
In their last eight games, the Packers have allowed 282.8 yards, 2.3 touchdowns, and 19.4 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. It's no surprise, then, that Green Bay ranks 22nd in both fantasy points allowed and in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP), which you can see on our power rankings page.
Running Back: Lorenzo Taliaferro (2.8% | 11.8%)
There is no better time to deploy a backup running back than when his team is at home and favored big against a reeling run defense. Banking on game script is never a given - see Carolina at New Orleans in Week 14 - but the Ravens are favored by 14 points over the Jaguars this weekend. Considering the total is 45, that means the Ravens are expected, by the smart guys in Vegas, to win 29.5 to 15.5. That's a grind-it-out scenario if there ever was one.
Jacksonville isn't that atrocious against the run, ranking 19th in our metrics, but over their last five games, they've allowed 136.0 yards, 1.6 touchdowns, and 28.3 half-PPR fantasy points to running backs and are 27th against fantasy backs on the year. Taliaferro's production would likely come during garbage time, but that counts all the same in fantasy football.
Running Back: James Starks (0.7% | 11.1%)
Eddie Lacy is the man in Green Bay, no doubt, but he has been limited in practice this week. And even though messing with the Buffalo run defense - sixth in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP and fourth in fantasy points allowed to running backs - is far from an enticing situation, don't forget about that 50.5 over/under in this game.
Green Bay is favored by 4.5 in Buffalo -- so they're 7-point favorites in a neutral location. If they find themselves running down the clock, Starks could see double-digit carries provided Lacy is hampered. If Lacy sits by chance, Starks is a much better option, but you could do worse at your flex even if Lacy gives it a go.
Wide Receiver: Nate Washington (0.7% | 2.3%)
Derek Hagan seems to be the flavor of the week in Tennessee after leading the team with seven targets last week, but Washington is certainly the more trustworthy option. Plus, he's playing against the Jets, who have been a solid option to attack this year when it comes to fantasy receivers. They rank 22nd in half-PPR scoring against fantasy receivers and are 23rd in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP.
Washington has averaged 3.3 catches, 65.0 yards, 0.5 touchdowns, and 11.1 half-PPR fantasy points in his last four games. He hasn't been under 7.0 points in any of those last four. Tennessee is thin with weapons, and Washington has a decent floor of late and big-play potential, evidenced by his 16.5 yards per catch average (ninth-best in the league).
Wide Receiver: Allen Hurns (5.5% | 11.8%)
If you think that the Jaguars are going to fall behind - again, Baltimore is favored by 14 - then the Jags will have to pass. Even though they have the worst passing offense in the league by an astoundingly huge margin, Hurns has seen some heavy targets (18 of them) in the past two games.
Baltimore, in their last five games, has allowed 210.0 yards, 1.8 touchdowns, and 40.5 half-PPR fantasy points to opposing receivers and ranks 20th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP.
It's an exploitable matchup, and Hurns is seeing an uptick in targets of late. That's enough to justify a play if you need a receiver.
Tight End: Mychal Rivera (4.3% | 19.7%)
After three disappointing weeks, fantasy owners were willing to bail on Rivera, but he came back with a big stat line in Week 14. Rivera went for 7 catches, 109 yards, a touchdown, and 20.4 half-PPR fantasy points after averaging 2.3 catches, 23.0 yards, and 3.5 fantasy points in his prior three.
The Chiefs have allowed five receptions to tight ends in their past three games - including a loss to the Raiders - but Rivera is averaging 7.4 targets in his last seven games. It's hard to look to another tight end if Rivera is available.
Flex: Markus Wheaton (1.9% | 8.4%)
It's tough to recommend Wheaton and not cringe, but when you truly scrape the bottom of the barrel, sometimes that happens. Wheaton and the Steelers get to play on the turf in Atlanta in a game with an over/under of 54.5. Pittsburgh is favored by 1.5 points, giving them a healthy 28 points to score to meet those conditions.
Wheaton has seen 5.5 targets in his last six games, and against the 30th-ranked Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP on turf, the speedy Wheaton might be able to cash in on one of those for a big touchdown. It's asking a lot, but it's not like he's getting a single target a game, and there should be plenty of scoring in Atlanta this week.