The NFL regular season is officially at its midpoint, but in fantasy world, this is the home stretch.
Most leagues kick off their fantasy playoffs in Week 14, which means only four weeks remain for owners to chase, reach or secure a spot in the postseason.
At this point, most of us––those who didn't make their annual offerings to the Fantasy Gods––have some nagging roster injuries to deal with, in addition to another pesky bye week. Accordingly, digging a little deeper for value sometimes becomes a make-or-break endeavor. It can be the difference between playing for the Shiva or playing for the Sacko.
The best course of action in finding sleepers to start is to look closely at the matchups. Here are three players with auspicious opponents who can be valuable starters for you in Week 10:
QB Josh Freeman (TB)
Opponent: vs. San Diego
At this point it almost seems farcical to call Josh Freeman a sleeper. In his past four games he's racked up 1,247 passing yards and 11 touchdowns, while only throwing one interception. But still, intransigent fantasy owners refuse to play him over some of the more established arms.
And in truth, that's not the worst strategy of all time; Freeman's hot streak will probably come to an end at some point. That point just won't be this week against the Chargers.
The Bolts' pass D has looked better against the anemic passing attacks of Kansas City and Cleveland, but it's otherwise been pretty porous. Peyton Manning infamously shredded them for 309 yards and three TDs, almost of all of which came in the second half, on Monday Night Football in Week 6. The week prior to that, Drew Brees broke out against San Diego for 370 yards and four scores.
Tampa is rolling, and the Chargers have enough offense to keep them throwing all game long. After last week's explosion, Doug Martin will be the first priority for San Diego's defense. That should leave Freeman plenty of room to pick them apart.
RB Jonathan Dwyer (PIT)
Opponent: vs. Kansas City
With Rashard Mendenhall being referred to as questionable for Monday night's tilt with Kansas City, this would appear, at first, to be a risky play. But logic dictates that the Steelers won't rush Mendenhall back (a) in order to face the hapless Chiefs, and (b) on a Monday night, where he'd be facing a short week the next week. He's very unlikely to suit up.
That leaves Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman to split carries in his absence, a job they've both proved capable of handling with aplomb.
Pittsburgh figures to be up big in this game, at which point they should recoil into a conservative, run-first, -second and -third offense.
There will be enough carries and production to go around, but Dwyer––the more explosive, talented runner––should be the primary beneficiary.
WR T.Y. Hilton (IND)
Opponent: at Jacksonville
The inconspicuous third-round rookie from Florida International has been one of the Colts' many revelations in 2012.
Having formed a quick and dangerous rapport with Andrew Luck, Hilton has exploded onto the scene this year, and he is becoming one of the most promising sleepers in fantasy football. Luck raved about the agile pass-catcher after last week's win over Miami––a game where Hilton caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Hilton's only other viable fantasy week came earlier this season, when he racked up eight receptions, 113 yards and a score against Jacksonville. This week's opponent? You guessed it: Jacksonville.
Donnie Avery is a game-time decision, but even if he plays, his hip could force him to cede a big chunk of snaps to Hilton. And with Andrew Luck gearing up to impress in his first NFL night game, Hilton could be a sneaky-good WR3 in Week 10.