7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 17

Which pieces of the Vikings' passing attack might be lurking with the season-ending injury to Adam Thielen?

Sleeper is an ambiguous term. I'm defining anyone on less than half of Yahoo! rosters as a sleeper in the interest of providing clarity. Typically, I'll aim to feature players on fewer than 40 percent of rosters. However, this provides me some wiggle room.

Don't worry, deep-league gamers, this piece is intended to help folks in leagues of all sizes. With that in mind, I'm following my predecessor's lead, including honorable mentions. If the featured players are already rostered in your league, the honorable mentions should provide you with players to consider filling in for an injured starter or player on bye on your roster -- or for whatever other reason you're diving into the free-agent pool for a sleeper.

While it should go without saying, the featured players at each position are my favorite sleepers for the given week. The honorable mentions are listed in descending order of the percentage of rosters they're on.


Trey Lance (19%) - Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a thumb injury and hasn't been ruled out for this week yet by the San Francisco 49ers. However, it doesn't appear his week is off to a good start:

The upside for Lance warrants scooping him up now and taking a wait-and-see approach with Jimmy G. In a game (and a half) across Week 4 and Week 5, he rushed for 130 yards on 23 attempts, adding 349 yards and two touchdowns through the air. The rookie's rushing ability generates a tantalizing high-floor and high-ceiling combination.

As a result, our projection algorithm likes Lance, projecting a QB14 finish in Week 17. Furthermore, thankfully, if Garappolo trends toward playing, the forthcoming honorable mentions are excellent fallbacks that project well in Week 17, too.

Honorable Mentions: Taysom Hill (42%), Justin Fields (23%)

Running Backs

Dare Ogunbowale (28%) - Volume is the king at running back in fantasy football, and Ogunbowale had it at his disposal after James Robinson suffered a season-ending injury last week. The veteran running back toted the rock 17 times for 57 yards and a touchdown, adding two receptions for 15 yards on four targets. In addition, according to Pro Football Focus, he ran 30 routes.

The Jacksonville Jaguars may utilize another back in tandem with Ogunbowale after a whole week to prepare for the absence of Robinson. However, I suspect Ogunbowale will be the primary pass-catching back -- the most valuable role with the Jaguars serving as 15.5-point underdogs against the New England Patriots. Further, the Patriots are beatable by backs through the air. According to Pro Football Reference, New England allows the ninth-most receptions (87) and fourth-most receiving yards (772) to running backs.

Thus, a negative game script isn't a death knell for Ogunbowale's fantasy value this week. Instead, it could be a boon for his outlook. We project him as the RB38 in FanDuel's half-point point-per-reception (PPR) scoring format, making him an acceptable option for RB-needy gamers.

Boston Scott (25%) - Miles Sanders is out with a hand injury, opening the door for Scott and others to pick up the slack in the backfield. There might be a chance for even more work left on the table if Jordan Howard is unable to play. Howard's outlook is murky.

Obviously, if Howard is out, Scott's outlook is enhanced. Still, even if Howard suits up, Scott is my favorite streamer at running back. There's plenty of meat on the bone in the Philadelphia Eagles' run-heavy attack. According to Sharp Football Stats, when the offensive scoring margin is trailing by six points to leading by six points, Philly runs at the second-highest rate (50%).

The Eagles are unlikely to shy away from their running-back-by-committee situation, and Jalen Hurts muddies the water further by carrying the ball as well. Still, the Eagles are 3.5-point favorites and run a lot. Scott has attempted double-digit rushes in five games this year, reaching at least 40 yards in each, reaching at least 60 yards three times, and scoring at least one touchdown in three of those contests. Therefore, I expect him to touch the ball double-digit times this week and deliver a similar performance.

Honorable Mentions: Rex Burkhead (24%), Kenneth Gainwell (11%), Ke'Shawn Vaughn (3%)

Wide Receivers

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (44%) - MVS is back from a one-game absence on the reserve/COVID-19 list. In the three games before that, he was second on the Green Bay Packers in routes (98), targets (19), receptions (12), and receiving yards (168). So, he was essentially Green Bay's No. 2 receiver.

Valdes-Scantling is also a vertical weapon. According to Sports Info Solutions, among receivers and tight ends with at least 50 targets, MVS has the deepest average depth of target (17.7 yards). The home-run-hitting receiver is a matchup fit against the Minnesota Vikings. According to Sharp Football Stats, Minnesota cedes the 11th-highest average explosive pass rate (nine percent).

It's generally a dreamy matchup for Green Bay's receivers. According to Pro Football Reference, the Vikings allow the most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers this year. MVS is comfortably in the WR3 mix, projecting as the WR31 for this week.

K.J. Osborn (38%) - Osborn is opposing MVS in a less fantasy-friendly matchup. However, like MVS, Osborn is his team's No. 2 receiver. Unfortunately, Adam Thielen is out for the remainder of the year:

In two games without Thielen this year, Osborn has been second on the Minnesota Vikings in routes (57), targets (11), receptions (six), and receiving yards (104), adding a touchdown grab. Moreover, Osborn has flashed potential even as the third option in the passing attack, eclipsing 75 receiving yards in three other games besides his 83-yard effort without Thielen in Week 14.

I'm not as enamored with the streaming options at wide receiver this week as usual. Nevertheless, Osborn is a nifty pick and my second-favorite option.

Gabriel Davis (23%) - The Buffalo Bills were hit hard at receiver last week, losing Davis and Cole Beasley to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Isaiah McKenzie balled out in their absence, and Emmanuel Sanders came back from missing Week 15's game with an injury. Now, Buffalo's receiving corps is bursting at the seams with Davis and Beasley back from the reserve/COVID-19 list thanks to the new rules agreed upon by the league and the NFLPA.

As a result, using any of Buffalo's receivers other than Stefon Diggs is risky. However, Davis has been efficient and a red-zone weapon, enhancing my willingness to roll the dice. According to Pro Football Focus, out of 72 receivers targeted at least 45 times in 2021, Davis is 29th in yards per route run (1.81 Y/RR).

Further, according to FantasyPros, Davis is tied for 16th in targets in the red zone among receivers with 14, scoring six touchdowns from that area of the field. He's riding a three-game touchdown streak, something he might extend attached to Buffalo's gaudy implied total of 29.25 points.

Honorable Mentions: Allen Lazard (28%), Laquon Treadwell (3%), Byron Pringle (3%), Nico Collins (2%), Breshad Perriman (2%)

Tight Ends

Tyler Conklin (42%) - I discussed my three favorite tight end streamers on Tuesday. They are still my three favorites. However, I'm highlighting Conklin in this space to reiterate Thielen's absence for the rest of the year. As a result, Conklin moves up the pass-catching hierarchy in Minnesota, boosting his floor and modest ceiling in the process.

Honorable Mentions: Gerald Everett (47%), Cole Kmet (32%)

Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.