Fantasy Football Week 15: Matt Camp's Top Sleepers at Every Position
The waiver wire might look thin heading into Week 15. Of course, that shouldn't come as a surprise since options are running low and injuries continue to pile up this late in the season.
I'd like to say that if you made it this far, you already know what your starting lineup looks like for the semifinals of the fantasy playoffs, but you might be scrambling to replace players on teams out of contention getting sent to injured reserve. If that's the case, that replacement can carry you to a championship.
Last week's sleepers article featured A.J. Brown (WR2), Noah Fant (TE2) and Zach Pascal (WR11). You could easily be going right back to all three this week knowing they can replicate enough of that fantasy production to remain one of your starters.
Taking advantage of beatable matchups is an obvious staple of this article, so if a player like David Njoku is sitting on your waiver wire, he's a great plug-and-play option with the Arizona Cardinals on the schedule this Sunday.
It should be noted that Ian Thomas and DeAndre Washington were originally slated to be featured in this week's sleepers, but not enough is known about the statuses of Greg Olsen (head) and Josh Jacobs (shoulder). The inactive list will determine the viability of Thomas and Washington for Week 15.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Our old friend returns to the sleepers conversation following a QB12 performance in last week's loss to the Tennessee Titans. He racked up 262 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-34 passing and added another 17 yards on two carries. Any rushing production from Carr is a bonus, so the focus should be what he can do through the air.
This week, he gets the Jacksonville Jaguars, which is the primary reason for his inclusion in the sleepers. In the last month, quarterbacks have posted the seventh-most fantasy points per game against the Jaguars. Philip Rivers, who had not been playing well, ripped the Jaguars for 314 yards and three touchdowns in Jacksonville last Sunday.
With the Raiders clinging to life in the AFC playoff race and the Jaguars out of contention, the motivation factor also figures into Carr's fantasy value. He'll likely get overlooked as a possible option this week, but he has a lot in his favor.
Drew Lock, QB, Denver Broncos
Did the Denver Broncos finally find their replacement for Peyton Manning? After two games with Lock starting, no one should be trying to answer that question with a legitimate answer. He has done a fine job acclimating himself to the starting role and everything that comes with it, and the Broncos aren't going anywhere this year, so this is a chance to see Lock put together a nice sample size.
He certainly boosted his resume in a surprise beatdown victory of the Houston Texans. The Broncos didn't ask Lock to do too much, as he was limited to fewer than 30 pass attempts for the second straight week. However, he lit up the Texans for 309 yards with three scores and an interception on 22-of-27 passing, and that put him at QB7 with 24.9 fantasy points in only his second start.
A trip to Kansas City with the Chiefs in contention to potentially earn a first-round bye will put Lock in a tough atmosphere, although the Texans were in a similar situation last week when Lock and the Broncos visited. Even if the Broncos play from behind, you would expect more pass volume from Lock, making him the deepest sleeper this weekend.
Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Gage is back on the fantasy radar with news that Calvin Ridley is done for the rest of the season because of an abdomen injury suffered in Week 14. Ridley joined a star-studded list of players on bad teams who saw their seasons end early. That absence creates opportunity, and it's not like Gage would be coming out of nowhere to produce.
Before disappointing with two receptions for 17 yards on four targets in Week 14, he totaled 13 receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown on 19 targets in the previous two games, which included the Week 13 absence of Julio Jones. Jones has been trying to play through a shoulder injury, while Devonta Freeman is pushing through a knee injury, so Gage's role might be increased for this week's battle with the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers were considered one of the tougher defenses in the league, but that perception changed somewhat after the high-scoring affair in New Orleans last weekend. San Francisco surrendered 18 receptions, 226 yards and two touchdowns to the Saints and racked up injuries, and five defensive starters have yet to practice this week, including Richard Sherman.
With Ridley out, a 17.7 percent target share disappears, and Gage has a chance to grab those targets against a beat-up defense. That's a good combination for sleeper production.
Allen Hurns, WR, Miami Dolphins
Hurns nearly didn't make this list, but thankfully he returned to full practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with ankle and knee issues. Sure, you'll have to consider those injuries if you plan on using him this week, although the bigger injury to worry about is DeVante Parker's concussion. He's gone through limited practice and isn't a lock to play.
When Parker went down last week, it was Hurns who picked up the slack with his busiest and best game of the season: eight targets with five receptions for 68 yards in a loss to the New York Jets. The Dolphins head right back to MetLife Stadium this week to take on the other tenants, the New York Giants. Like the Jets and Dolphins, the Giants have long been out of playoff contention, and they are the sixth-easiest matchup for fantasy wide receivers in 2019.
Parker's status will determine just how confident you should feel in Hurns, although he'll have value either way. He could easily lead the receiving corps in targets and overall fantasy production if Parker can't play.
Patrick Laird, RB, Miami Dolphins
Remember when the Dolphins refused to feed Kenyan Drake and then traded him, only to see the Arizona Cardinals utilize him correctly? Good times. Now, Miami is down to Laird, and as the only running back getting significant touches in this backfield, we have to acknowledge the potential for fantasy value.
Laird was the clear leader in Week 14 after Kalen Ballage landed on injured reserve. He would turn 15 carries into 48 yards and added four receptions for 38 yards on five targets. That was good for 12.6 fantasy points and an RB21 finish, which put him in the RB2 conversation, and he remains there for this week's game with the Giants. Nothing is scary about the Giants defense, so this is a chance for Laird to handle lots of touches in a nice matchup.
Should you be running to get the last resort of a backfield on a bad team in your lineup? No, but even if Laird provides a top-30 performance, he'll have done his job for your fantasy playoffs.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
Njoku's wrist injury looks like a thing of the past after he made his return in Week 14, and while he didn't do much, it was more about getting over the hurdle of the injury that took place in Week 2. He's been back to practice this week, though he was somewhat limited by a knee injury, and should have a fantastic opportunity to carry fantasy owners to the championship.
He may have had just a single reception for four yards on three targets in last week's win over the Cincinnati Bengals, but this week there should be more against the Arizona Cardinals. Everyone knows the Cardinals are the ideal matchup for both established tight ends and ones you might decide to pluck off the waiver wire. That's why Tyler Higbee was a hot commodity when the Los Angeles Rams met the Cardinals two weeks ago.
Arizona is easily the worst unit against tight ends, so while we haven't seen much of Njoku, this matchup is good enough to fire him up with confidence.