Fantasy Football Week 13 Cheat Sheet: Deep Sleepers Who Could Emerge

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

Underrated Case Keenum has led the Broncos to back-to-back upsets.
Underrated Case Keenum has led the Broncos to back-to-back upsets.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It's the time of year to swing for the fences in fantasy football.

We have to go with the baseball analogy because it is getting late in the game and the weeks in the regular season are dwindling down to a precious few. The five weeks left in the NFL's regular season translates to two or three weeks of fantasy football league action prior to the playoffs.

Any team that is either just inside of their league's playoff structure or clawing to get in has to make moves that will pay off. Home runs are neededor at least extra-base hits to the gaps in left- and right-center.

Those moves include players who are not on the majority of rosters to this point in the season. We are looking at deep sleepers, which means players who are on 40 percent of Yahoo rosters or fewer.

Here are the players we are looking at:

QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans vs. N.Y. Jets (33 percent)

QB Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (5 percent)

QB Case Keenum, Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals (16 percent)

RB Carlos Hyde, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts (39 percent)

RB Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens (40 percent)

RB Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings (19 percent)

WR Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears at N.Y. Giants (39 percent)

WR Taylor Gabriel, Chicago Bears at N.Y. Giants, (33 percent)

WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals (35 percent)

TE Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans vs. N.Y. Jets (20 percent)

TE Chris Herndon IV, N.Y. Jets at Tennessee Titans (8 percent)

Broncos Wire @TheBroncosWire

Case Keenum hits Matt Lacosse to give #Broncos a 10-3 lead over the #Steelers! https://t.co/GW5mO3PCBz

QB Case Keenum, Denver

The Denver Broncos appeared to be on the verge of joining the dregs of the NFL just a couple of weeks ago. They were a 3-6 team with the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers coming up, and it seemed obvious that they would slip to 3-8.

Well, a strange thing has happened, and the Broncos have registered back-to-back upsets. Give credit to Case Keenum, who has remained calm in the face of two teams that have designs on representing the AFC in the Super Bowl this year.

The Broncos are one of four teams with a 5-6 record, meaning they are one game out of the No. 2 wild-card spot in the AFC behind the Baltimore Ravens. Two of those teams are the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins, both of whom are going the wrong way with their play in recent weeks.

Keenum has a sense of calmness to his play and does not get overwhelmed by the moment. He proved it last year with the Vikings, as they rose up the NFC and made it to the conference championship game. That team eschewed his services in 2018 and went for high-priced Kirk Cousins, and they are not as good as they were last yearat least to this point in the season.

Keenum has completed 244 of 390 passes for 2,802 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. While those stats are not exceptional, Keenum completed 15 of 28 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns without any interceptions in the win over the Steelers.

He has an excellent chance of storming past those numbers against the Bengals this week. The Bengals were taken apart by the Cleveland Browns last week and may not be ready against Keenum and the Broncos this week.

Rex Burkhead returns from a neck injury for New England.
Rex Burkhead returns from a neck injury for New England.Duane Burleson/Associated Press

RB Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots

This is a major gamble because Burkhead has just been activated by the Patriots and has not played since Week 3 against the Detroit Lions as a result of a neck injury.

The reason we like Burkhead is that he is a proven veteran moving into a situation that should lead to immediate productivity. A quick look at the New England roster reveals that rookie Sony Michel and James White are ahead of Burkhead on the roster, but the Patriots have no other running backs to use.

Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels like to use all the team's assets, and Burkhead has shown that when he is in the lineup, he is capable of running with the ball and catching it out of the backfield. He will also get the job done as a blocker.

The more Burkhead can do for New England, the fresher Michel and White will be when they are on the field.

Burkhead had 64 carries for 264 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, and he also caught 30 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns. He has a total of 117 yards (86 rushing, 31 receiving) this season, but those paltry numbers should not scare a sharp fantasy player.

Pick up Burkhead and use him against the Vikings.

WR Taylor Gabriel, Chicago Bears

This is a fantasy football anomaly.

The Chicago Bears are the No. 1 team in the NFC North, and while it seems unlikely that they could run down the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams for either of the two top spots (and a first-round playoff bye), that situation remains a possibility.

The Bears are one of the top stories in the league this year as they have gone from last place to first place in their division and have gained respect for the performance of their defense and their quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky.

They have not gained any respect for the performance of their receivers, at least from a fantasy perspective. Gabriel is the Bears leading receiver with 51 receptions for 527 yards and two touchdowns, yet he is on just 33 percent of Yahoo rosters.

We could have gone with Anthony Miller, as he is on 39 percent of rosters. Miller is further down the receiving list in Chicago with 29 receptions, but five have been touchdowns.

Trubisky missed the Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions, and there are no guarantees that he will play this week against the Giants. However, Chase Daniel is a competent backup who did a solid job against the Lions. Look for the elusive Gabriel to have a productive game against the struggling New York team.


TE Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

Smith is not a Pro Bowl candidate nor is he likely to be a game-breaking player, but he has gained the attention of quarterback Marcus Mariota, and that means Smith should remain in the quarterback's plans when the Titans host the Jets this week.

Tennessee was surging a couple of weeks ago after back-to-back victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Patriots, but they have since dropped games to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.

We don't think that means that the Titans have cashed things in for the current season. It just makes them more desperate as they head to the season's stretch run.

A home game against the Jets should allow them to move the ball consistently, especially when you consider that Mariota appeared to turn a corner in Monday night's loss to the Texans in which he completed 22 of 23 passes for 303 yards with two touchdowns.

One of those touchdowns was a 61-yarder to Smith in the first quarter that gave the Titans a 10-0 lead.

Look for Smith to get into the end zone against the Jets and have a productive game.