7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 17
As un-fun as it is to have your fantasy football season come down to Week 17, it can be equally as fun to try to figure out how NFL teams will approach the final week of playoff jockeying.
If you've been relying on Jordan Reed to be your tight end savior, hopefully he did enough last week to distance yourself in your championship matchup. If it's just a one-week, all-or-nothing Week 17 matchup, then, I'm sorry. Washington has their playoff seed locked up, and banking on the Kirk Cousins/Reed combination isn't a smart decision entering the week.
But those types of situations -- and the usual injury concerns -- can also open up space for some deep sleepers.
Who should you be keeping an eye on for the final week of the NFL's regular season?
Week 17 All-Deep-Sleeper Team
Quarterback: Brian Hoyer (Started in 5.7% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 21.5% of ESPN Leagues)
Hoyer is expected to play this week, and he should be able to take advantage of his matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, against whom he threw for 293 yards and 3 scores back in Week 6. Per our schedule-adjusted, per-play metrics, the Jags own the 29th best pass defense in the NFL. They're also 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.
Houston is a 6-point home favorite and own an implied point total of 25.75, just a notch below the top tier teams. In games Hoyer completed, he has thrown for multiple touchdowns each time. Start Hoyer with confidence in Week 17.
Running Back: DuJuan Harris (Started in 0.5% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 6.1% of ESPN Leagues)
I guess? With news that Shaun Draughn has been placed on season-ending Injured Reserve, it's possible that Harris will lead the 49ers' backfield in Week 17. Last week, he saw 11 carries for a career-high 73 yards (not a typo). San Francisco is a 3.5-point home underdog to the St. Louis Rams in a game with an over/under of just 37 points, meaning their implied point total is a paltry 16.75 points.
None of that is good for a running back's potential, but if we're really looking for a low-owned option, Harris might be the only choice in Week 17.
Running Back: Mike Gillislee (Started in 3.2% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 12.4% of ESPN Leagues)
Gillislee has scored a touchdown in his past three contests. While that alone isn't enough to justify a start, it's a good sign for a guy this widely available. Karlos Williams out-touched Gillislee 19 to 11 last week in LeSean McCoy's absence, and McCoy isn't likely to play in Week 17. Still, the touchdown-maker could be relied upon in Week 17.
Buffalo is a three-point home underdog, but given that they can play spoiler to the New York Jets, there's a chance they'll be motivated. That's really the best argument for Gillislee and the Bills, as the Jets rank first in the NFL in rushing defense, per our metrics. Again, no low-owned running backs are in good spots, but Gillislee isn't a terrible choice if you're desperate.
Wide Receiver: Nate Washington (Started in 9.0% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 29.7% of ESPN Leagues)
If you're willing to trust Hoyer, you should be willing to trust Washington. The Texans will be without Cecil Shorts, and that's been good for Washington this year. Per the RotoViz Game Splits App, Washington has averaged 6.21 points with Shorts in the lineup in nine games and 22.3 points without him in two games. No, that's not a huge sample, but combined with the matchup, it's a good recipe for deep sleeper potential.
The Jags are 19th in fantasy points per target allowed to wide receivers and 29th in pass defense, per our metrics. Washington averaged 11 targets in his two games without Shorts. Play him if you need a receiver.
Wide Receiver: Devin Funchess (Started in 2.5% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 13.7% of ESPN Leagues)
Funchess has a few things going in his favor in Week 17. His team is a 10.5-point favorite over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and their implied team total is 28.25 points, fourth-highest on the weekend. The Bucs rank 21st against fantasy receivers and are 30th on a per-target basis. Per our metrics, they own the 26th-best pass defense on a per-play basis after adjusting for opponent strength.
Ted Ginn Jr. left the team's Week 16 contest in the first half and didn't practice on Wednesday. If he is unable to go, Funchess could see an uptick in usage. He failed to catch his lone target in Week 16, but he had at least one red zone target in his five prior games (and eight red zone looks in that stretch).
Tight End: Heath Miller (Started in 20.0% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 40.5% of ESPN Leagues)
No, Miller's ownership isn't exactly low, but the Steelers are 11-point road favorites over the Johnny Manziel-less Cleveland Browns. Cleveland is 30th in fantasy points per target to tight ends. Miller caught 5 of 6 targets for 49 yards last week in an abysmal outing for the Steelers. That did, though, mark his seventh straight game with at least five targets. Miller hauled in 4 of 7 targets for 40 yards against the Browns in their last matchup in Week 10.
If Miller is too highly owned, then consider a dart throw on Jacob Tamme given the matchup and over/under.
Flex: Keshawn Martin (Started in 2.9% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 8.6% of ESPN Leagues)
In Week 16, Martin caught 7 of his 11 targets for 68 yards against the Jets. In Week 17, he faces the Miami Dolphins' secondary, a unit that ranks 31st per our metrics and 27th in fantasy points per target to receivers. The Patriots are 10-point favorites and have an implied total of 28.5, tied for second on the slate. If both receivers sit, Martin could feast in this matchup -- or at least post a usable line from a guy available in nearly every league.