7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 15
Few things make me geek out quite like fantasy football and Star Wars.
And yeah, I'm going to shoehorn in a Star Wars analogy into this column. It's happening.
One of the cool things about the Star Wars trilogy is that it took a collective effort of good to defeat evil. Unheralded, unknown, and unexpected heroes emerged, even if the threat seemed too great.
You know. Deep sleepers.
And no. I'm not talking Luke Skywalker. I'm not even talking Lando Calrissian or the Ewoks. Perhaps the greatest deep sleeper in the trilogy is Wedge Antilles, the only survivor from the Red Squadron not named Luke Skywalker.
Wedge was instrumental in destroying the first Death Star, fending off the AT-ATs on Hoth, stealing an Imperial shuttle, which was instrumental in the plan to destroy the second Death Star. And you know who helped Lando destroy the second Death Star? Yeah.
In Week 15, the stakes are just as high in your fantasy league to find the right man for the job. Here are some of the best deep plays can you roll out this week who won't cause you to say, "I've got a bad feeling about this."
Week 15 All-Deep-Sleeper Team
Quarterback: T.J. Yates (Started in 3.4% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 5.7% of ESPN Leagues)
In terms of our Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, the Houston Texans are just the 26th-best passing offense in the league, when adjusting for schedule strength. That's not great. However, the Colts, their Week 15 opponent, are 26th against the pass by the same measure. They are, again, 26th against quarterbacks in terms of fantasy points allowed.
As an individual passer, Yates hasn't been efficient this year based on our metrics, though he has just 50 drop backs through Week 14. The most important factor is that he has DeAndre Hopkins to throw to. His likely cornerback matchup, Vontae Davis, hasn't been quite as effective shutting down opponents as he has been in the past, and Hopkins tallied 5 catches, 118 yards, and 2 scores when Yates last saw extended action against the Jets in Week 11. The upside isn't high, but it's hard to imagine a dreadful game against this reeling defense.
Running Back: Bilal Powell (Started in 13.8% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 30.7% of ESPN Leagues)
Powell played only 23 snaps last week but did catch all 4 of his targets for 46 yards and a score. He added 36 yards on 3 carries. This week, the Jets are 3.5-point favorites on the road against the Dallas Cowboys, who are 27th against fantasy running backs.
Backs on the road can be tricky, as road squads are susceptible to negative game scripts away from home. However, Powell's third-down usage should keep him involved regardless of game flow. He has five or more targets in four straight games, so he gets an added boost in PPR leagues.
Running Back: Fozzy Whittaker (Started in 6.9% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 21.4% of ESPN Leagues)
With Jonathan Stewart out this week, the Panthers will likely rely on a trio of backs: Whittaker, Mike Tolbert, and Cameron Artis-Payne. As of now, it looks like Whittaker is going to be the starter and the early-down back. Tolbert, of course, is the best bet for goal line work.
The Panthers are four-point road favorites against the Giants (20th against the run via our metrics and 25th against fantasy backs), suggesting a run-heavy game script. Again, the thought of a running back on the road isn't reassuring, but Whittaker saw 29 snaps last week, and Tolbert saw 32. The touchdown upside of Tolbert makes him just as intriguing, though Whittaker could see just as much -- if not more -- opportunity between the 20s.
Wide Receiver: Malcom Floyd (Started in 3.7% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 25.6% of ESPN Leagues)
San Diego can't stay healthy, but this week, Malcom Floyd is good to go. The team gets a juicy matchup against the Dolphins, who are 31st in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and 28th against fantasy receivers.
Floyd's production last week -- 3 catches for 56 yards -- wasn't great. The good news is that he did see 9 targets, a team high. Though the game has an over/under of just 46 points, it features the 31st-ranked overall defense (San Diego) and the 26th-overall squad (Miami). It could turn into bit of a shootout, and Floyd -- who has 4 receptions of 40 yards or greater on just 26 catches -- could be a part of it.
Wide Receiver: Dorial Green-Beckham (Started in 3.2% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 17.7% of ESPN Leagues)
DGB hasn't put it together in back-to-back weeks, but there's reason to believe he could post a usable game in Week 15. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick knows how hard Delanie Walker is to contain, and Belichick's Patriots are known to key on the opponent's best option. If Walker is stymied, Green-Beckham should benefit.
Green-Beckham has had 6, 5, 6, and 7 targets in his last four games, not exciting numbers for sure. Walker has had 10, 8, 12, and 13, respectively. As 14.5-point underdogs, Tennessee should be forced to throw, and if Walker really does get stuffed, DGB could see some added volume.
Tight End: Heath Miller (Started in 17.9% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 39.9% of ESPN Leagues)
The ownership on Miller is higher than we usually target, but it's not high enough to dismiss him. Denver is the best pass defense in the NFL, per our metrics. However, they're 23rd against fantasy tight ends. Pittsburgh will almost assuredly find ways to get Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant some touches, though that isn't enough to avoid Millwer, who has seen 13, 6, 7, 6, and 10 targets in his last five games.
Despite the tough defensive matchup, Pittsburgh has a solid 26-point implied total, and looks over the middle to Miller could be the best way to move the sticks, given the matchups for the receivers.
Flex: Chris Polk (Started in 1.9% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 7.2% of ESPN Leagues)
Remember how Houston ranked 26th as a passing team? They're 25th as a rushing team. That's not great, either. However, Polk actually was the starter in Week 14 and got 11 carries (for just 34 yards). Jonathan Grimes got 7 carries for 53 yards. Each caught two passes on two targets.
Indianapolis is 12th against the run, per our metrics, yet they're 24th against fantasy rushers. It's not an ideal situation because Grimes is still a factor, but Polk has had 23 carries in his past two games. That's hard to find at this ownership, this late in the year, and in this promising of a matchup.