Week 14 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Top Sleepers at Every Offensive Position
Yes, Jim Mora, I am talking about the playoffs.
At least to those who are reading this column, as you all are probably fortunate that you indeed made the playoffs. Your run to championship glory starts now.
By and large you always start your studs through the thick and thin. However, playing the matchups is an equally wise strategy. When you factor in injuries as well, sometimes you have to play an under-the-radar sleeper to get you that elusive fantasy title.
So, in this slideshow, I will highlight a nice sleeper to target at each position for Week 14. If you’re looking for a lottery ticket that could net you a nice prize, try these guys on for size.
QB: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Amidst the seasons that rookie signal-callers Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck are having, the play of Wilson has been lost in the shuffle.
Wilson has been quite a revelation for the Seahawks. The third-round pick out of Wisconsin was supposed to hold the clipboard for free-agent signing Matt Flynn while learning the ropes on the Seahawks' sidelines. However, Wilson impressed Pete Carroll so much in the preseason that he literally took the quarterback job and ran with it.
Wilson was superb in the Seahawks’ road win over the Chicago Bears last week. In that game, Wilson led the Seahawks to a thrilling overtime victory by passing for 293 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for an additional 71 yards.
When Wilson plays at home, he is even better. In his last three games at home, Wilson has thrown for 654 yards and eight touchdowns while throwing no picks.
This week Wilson and the Seahawks will have the comfort of playing at home against a reeling Cardinals squad. While the Cardinals are decent at not letting opponents rack up the passing yards, they have allowed 16 touchdowns through the air. With the way Wilson is playing and with what is on the line for the Seahawks, expect Wilson to have a productive day.
RB: Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts
Sure, the Colts will only go as far as Andrew Luck and the passing game take them, but this could be the week they lean on Ballard and the running game.
With Donald Brown out with an ankle injury, Ballard is expected to get the full rushing load on Sunday against the Titans. The Titans are terrible against the rush, allowing 129.4 rushing yards per game (27th in the league) while being tied for giving up the eighth-most rushing touchdowns (11) in the league.
Ballard is coming off scoring his first rushing touchdown last week against the Lions and he’ll like to keep it going this week. In his previous matchup with the Titans in Week 8, Ballard ran for a respectable 55 yards on just 12 carries, while also scoring the game-winning touchdown (via the pass) in overtime.
Ballard should have his number called more often on Sunday and could be in line for a solid day.
RB: Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
After not getting sustained production from the likes of Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman for most of the season, it appears the Steelers are more inclined to roll with the burly Dwyer down the stretch.
Dwyer, when given the chance, has proven to be a reliable running back, as he fights for yardage unlike Mendenhall. Dwyer is also coming off a game in which he scored his first rushing touchdown of the year. Right now, the Steelers are claiming that Dwyer will get the bulk of carries, although Redman could get some carries too.
With the matchup he has this week, Dwyer could turn out to be a quality start. Sure, the Chargers have been good against the run this year (ranking sixth in the league in rushing yards allowed) but they have recently allowed Ray Rice and BenJarvus Green-Ellis to combine for 215 rushing yards in the last two games. With the Steelers still getting shaky play from their passing game, expect the Steelers to try and grind this game out with a lot of carries for Dwyer.
WR: Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
There is no denying the fact that Smith has been a boom-or-bust receiver this year.
With a matchup against the feeble Redskins’ pass defense this weekend, this could be one of those “boom” weeks for Smith. The Redskins allow 299 passing yards per game (31st in the league) and are susceptible to the big play. That plays right into Smith’s hands.
Smith has seven touchdowns on the year, so he knows how to find ways to score. And with the Redskins tied for giving up the second-most passing touchdowns (24), Smith should be able to get himself reacquainted with the end zone in this matchup.
WR: Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Quietly emerging and having a productive, under-the-radar rookie season is Gordon.
Gordon, who has five touchdowns on the year, is quickly developing a nice rapport with Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden. Weeden and Gordon are leaning on each other while learning the nuances and intricacies of the game. Just last week, Gordon dashed past the Raiders en route to racking up 116 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches.
Now the Browns will be playing at home against an equally bad Chiefs squad. The Chiefs have allowed the most passing touchdowns (25) in the NFL this season and with Weeden and Gordon stepping up their games, Gordon could become a legitimate asset for fantasy owners this weekend.
TE: Dallas Clark, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Clark, a one-time fantasy stud, is making up for lost time and is finally delivering on his talent. Clark is quickly becoming a bona fide target for Josh Freeman in the red zone.
Clark has scored in three out of his last four games and is taking advantage of underneath routes teams are giving the Buccaneers. While Clark does not pile up the yardage, he has become an integral part of the Bucs’ offense.
With the slumping Eagles on the docket this week, expect Clark to have a say in this game. For a 12-team (or more) league, Clark is as good a start as anyone these days.
K: Connor Barth, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In their last seven losses, the Eagles have given up at least 26 points in a game, so you know Barth will be a busy kicker on Sunday.
Barth has scored in double-figures in five out of his last six games and is 10-11 in field-goal tries in his last four games. So, with his current hot streak and with the way the Eagles are playing, Barth is a quality kicker you can trust.
TD/ST: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It seems like I’m piling on the Eagles here, but they are showing all the signs of a team that is mailing in its season. Hence, that is why I like the Buccaneers defense this weekend.
The Bucs are stout against the run, ranking first in the league in rushing yards allowed (82.3) and considering the only weapon for the Eagles these days is Bryce Brown, expect the Bucs to stack the box and dare Nick Foles to beat them through the air.
With the game more of importance to the Bucs, they should easily put the clamps down on the Eagles. The Bucs should be able to force Foles into making some critical mistakes in this contest.
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