Fantasy Football Week 15 Cheat Sheet: Deep Sleepers to Target

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2018

Derek Carr has picked up his game in recent weeks.
Derek Carr has picked up his game in recent weeks.Ben Margot/Associated Press

Desperate times call for desperate moves in NFL fantasy football.

This is playoff week in a number of fantasy football leagues, and every fantasy owner who led their team into the postseason deserves some congratulations. 

There are some teams that made the playoffs as a result of a victory in the Week 14 games and others that earned their spot because of a great start to the season and then hung on to a postseason position.

Both of those examples may need some help as they prepare for the playoffs, with injuries, player slumps or poor matchups at a certain position becoming crucial factors.

We have been advising fantasy general managers on deep sleepers throughout the season, and our advice continues this week.

It takes guts to pull the trigger during the playoffs, but we are here to provide that extra bit of hand-holding and supply the information that is needed to make that one move that may help you advance from the playoffs to your league's championship game.

We believe that the following deep sleepersdefined as being owned by 40 percent of Yahoo league owners or fewercan help you survive and advance.

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QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (15 percent)

QB Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (19 percent)

QB Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants (21 percent

RB Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins (27 percent) 

RB Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons (28 percent)

RB Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens (9 percent)

WR Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears (33 percent)

WR Robby Anderson, N.Y. Jets (21 percent)

WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (34 percent)

TE Chris Herndon, N.Y. Jets (15 percent)

TE Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers (10 percent)

Derek Carr, Oakland

If you are in the fantasy playoffs and you have any kind of need at quarterback, it's time to stop laughing at the Oakland Raiders.

While Jon Gruden and his team remain in last place in the AFC West, the Silver and Black are far more competitive than they were at the start of the season. Much of that is due to Derek Carr, who has managed to raise his level of play in the past two weeks.

The Raiders dropped a 40-33 decision to the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs in Week 13, and that was one of Oakland's best games of the season. Few believed they could stay within seven points of Kansas City, but Carr was on point as he threw for 285 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Raiders used the momentum from that close loss to play even better against Pittsburgh. They beat the Steelers 24-21 in Week 14, and Carr threw for 322 yards and once again kept it clean on the interception side of the ledger.

Carr and the Raiders have momentum, and this week they go to Cincinnati, a team that appears to have lost all confidence. Carr could have another big game and push fearless fantasy general managers over the top.

Weather can always be a factor in the Queen City, but the Weather Channel predicts sunny skies and a high of 48 degrees during Sunday's game.

Carr has completed 317 of 456 passes for 3,434 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions for the season, and he will add to his totals with 275-plus yards and at least two TD passes against the Bengals.

Kenneth Dixon has a chance for a notable game against the Bucs in Week 15.
Kenneth Dixon has a chance for a notable game against the Bucs in Week 15.Ed Zurga/Associated Press

RB Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore

The Ravens suffered a brutal loss in Week 14 at Kansas City, as they had the Chiefs on the ropes late in the fourth quarter before a Patrick Mahomes fourth-down completion to Tyreek Hill allowed them to keep a drive alive and eventually tie the score before winning in overtime.

The Ravens are half a game behind the reeling Pittsburgh Steelers, and since their archrivals play the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints the next two weeks, the Ravens have an excellent opportunity to move into the AFC North lead.

They host the defensively porous Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15, and that means the Ravens should be able to use the league's fourth-best running game (134.5 yards per game) to pave their way to victory.

Dixon is a player that is being overlooked by most fantasy players, and he cannot be the focus of any opposing defensive coordinator's game plan. He returned to action in Week 13 against the Atlanta Falcons after injuries had kept him out since Week 1.

Dixon had eight carries for 37 yards against the Falcons, and he followed that game up with eight carries for 59 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to the Chiefs.

Dixon has an explosive characteristic to his running style, and John Harbaugh has indicated that he expects Dixon's role to grow. As a result, he will have a decisive game against the Bucs.

Randall Cobb has caused many problems for the Bears over the years.
Randall Cobb has caused many problems for the Bears over the years.Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

Randall Cobb, Green Bay

Quite a few fantasy general managers are raising their eyebrows at this suggestion, and we admit that selecting a Packers wideout this week to be successful on the road against the Chicago Bears is risky.

Yes, the Bears are a much better team than the Packers this season, but Green Bay has owned the Bears for years. Aaron Rodgers has had many of the best games of his career at Soldier Field against the Monsters of the Midway.

Green Bay has had a miserable season and fired head coach Mike McCarthy after their Week 13 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Packers responded with a home victory over the Atlanta Falcons, and now they go to Chicago where the Bears have a chance to clinch the NFC North title.

Cobb has endured an injury-plagued season and has been in the Green Bay lineup just five times to this point, but he remains one of Rodgers' most productive receivers. He has caught 34 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught five of six targets last week against the Falcons with one touchdown.

Cobb caught nine passes for 142 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against the Bears, and he has scored nine total touchdowns in his last 10 games against Chicago. 

If the Packers are going to play a competitive road game against the Bears, Cobb will be heavily involved.


Ian Thomas, Carolina

If you are scratching your head wondering who Thomas is, you are not alone. 

The Panthers are once again contending with another injury to ace tight end Greg Olsen, so they have had to turn to Thomas.

Carolina is slumping badly as the Panthers have dropped five games in a row, and they host the explosive New Orleans Saints Monday night. It seems that this will be a difficult game for the Panthers to survive, but if they do, they will likely score a lot of points because it's just too difficult to keep Drew Brees in check.

A high-scoring, back-and-forth game would suit Thomas, and he would have a chance to do some damage. He has caught 25 passes for 210 yards and is still looking for his first touchdown, and he could get into the end zone in this game.


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