Fantasy Football Week 17: Matt Camp's Top Sleepers at Every Position
The final week of the regular season means potential opportunity for young players to see more snaps. This could be because a team is far out of playoff contention or already locked into a playoff seed.
The final sleepers article of the season will feature six players potentially in line for a big role in Week 17. These players will also be worth keeping an eye on for your dynasty rosters.
Daniel Jones has been the starter for the New York Giants the majority of the season and played well in his Week 16 return from a sprained ankle. The rookie will look to play spoiler to the Philadelphia Eagles and their intent on beating the Giants to become NFC East champions. He’s been a sleeper in the past, and he could be finish in the bottom of the QB1 tier in Week 17. More on that in a bit.
In that same game, Greg Ward will look to continue his active role in the Eagles passing attack. Ward is in an uncommon spot of being a rookie earning more playing time but on a team that could wind up in the playoffs. There’s definitely some evaluation going on, yet it's a high-pressure situation compared to the out-of-contention teams in evaluation mode.
Check out these sleepers who can help you in Week 17 and beyond.
Justice Hill, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Hill was a best ball favorite leading up to the regular season, yet he's had a mostly quiet rookie season playing behind Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards. In fact, Hill's highest snap percentage of the season came in Week 1 when he was on the field for 30 percent of the offensive snaps. He hit at least 20 percent just five times the rest of this season.
You should expect Hill's snaps to jump in Week 17. With Ingram sitting out due to a calf injury and the Baltimore Ravens locked into the top seed in the AFC, it should be a combination of Gus Edwards and Hill on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, with Ingram's injury and Edwards being the primary backup, the Ravens could even choose to play it safe with Edwards and feature Hill a bit more.
Hill was a fourth-round selection in the 2019 NFL draft, so while that wasn't a priority pick for the Ravens, it added to a backfield that's clearly one of the better groups in the league on a team that has outrushed every other squad by a significant margin. With Edwards only on a one-year deal, Hill could find himself in a much better position in 2020 on one of the best teams in the league. He could make a nice impression this weekend.
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
Jones taking the starting job from Eli Manning felt inevitable, and luckily, the New York Giants were smart enough to make the move by Week 3. Jones came through as a sleeper that week with 336 yards and two touchdowns through the air in addition to 28 yards and two scores on the ground. While he wasn't in the weekly starter conversation, Jones did enough to merit being used in other good matchups and could be in line to finish the season on a high note.
In 12 games, Jones has averaged 17.6 fantasy points, which might not seem great, but that puts him ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady and Jared Goff. He's basically been a high-end fantasy backup since taking over for Manning. Jones has four 300-yard efforts and three games with at least four passing touchdowns, including last week, when he went for 352 yards and five scores against the Washington Redskins. He racked up 253 rushing yards and two rushing scores on the year to give his fantasy value an extra boost.
This week, Jones and the Giants can derail the Eagles' NFC East title bid. Philly's defense has been average at best against quarterbacks this season. Jones will likely have to throw a lot because the Giants defense is bad, and volume is a great way to get fantasy points. Jones is a solid option this weekend, and he'll head into 2020 with a strong array of skill players around him and a chance to work his way into fantasy starter territory.
Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears
No one should be sleeping on Miller, but a miserable fantasy performance in Week 16 may knock him off the radar a bit. Before he managed just a single catch for two yards on two targets last week, Miller had a huge stretch from Week 11-15 with 88.1 fantasy points (17.6 FPG), which made him WR8 during that span. That came at the same time his teammate, Allen Robinson II, was WR5 with 94.5 fantasy points.
In a year when Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears offense struggled, Miller has been a bright spot in the second half of the season. That's a positive to take into 2020, as the team will need to figure out if Trubisky is the answer at quarterback. Robinson, Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery looked like the future key players in this offense, yet Miller might be the one to pay attention to as he moves into his third season.
The 2018 second-round pick has a nice opportunity to finish the season on a high note and bounce back after his Week 16 outing when he faces the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. With the Vikings already set as the No. 6 seed in the NFC, Miller will face a defense that has reason to rest or at least limit the snaps of its starters. He could leave a lasting impression with one more big game and create buzz heading into the offseason—which would be even more warranted if Chicago improves at quarterback.
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota Vikings
Talent can only go so far without opportunity. Smith was correctly considered one of the best tight end prospects in the 2019 NFL draft, but while the fantasy world salivated about him, he became proof that your landing spot is important. Instead of joining a team that had a massive need at tight end, Smith wound up on the same team as Kyle Rudolph and with great talents like Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook.
Any hope of Smith being an immediate fantasy option disappeared when he was drafted by the Vikings. He comes into Week 17 with just 35 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns on 45 targets. Smith has never had more than five receptions in a game and only had that many twice. Plus, he's managed to top 34 yards just two times and has never went for more than 60 yards. It didn't help Smith's cause that Rudolph was able to stay on the field all season and that the team is 29th in pass attempts.
As noted earlier, the Vikings already know they have the sixth seed in the NFC, so this would be a good time to rest starters. That would push Smith into more playing time, and there's nothing scary about the matchup with the Bears. While he's a deep reach for Week 17, Smith has the talent to work his way into a bigger role next year.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans
Smith is the most experienced of these players, yet his opportunities haven't been consistent enough to boost him into many fantasy conversations. A combination of playing on the same team as Delanie Walker and operating with Marcus Mariota starting at quarterback for the Tennessee Titans during the majority of his three-year career has kept him off the radar for the most part.
The last three weeks have seen Smith make more of an impact. He has 11 receptions for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 13 targets, which actually makes him TE10 with 30.6 fantasy points over that span.
Unfortunately, he was coming off two games with a combined two receptions for zero yards, so no one could seriously consider using him, especially in the fantasy playoffs. However, it probably isn't a coincidence that he saw an uptick in the absence of Adam Humphries, who has been out the last three games with an ankle injury.
Walker was lost for the season during Week 7, but Smith never had a game with more than two receptions before that. He's now had at least three receptions seven times and had at least 60 yards four times, so the flashes have been there, helped by Ryan Tannehill taking over at quarterback.
Walker may have already played his last down with the Titans. The 14-year veteran is under contract for one more year, but the team can cut him with only a $1.7 million dead cap hit. Smith's rookie contract takes him through 2020. Not only should you consider using Smith for the finale against the Houston Texans, but you should also consider him a buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues.
Greg Ward, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
So why did the Eagles wait so long to put Ward on the active roster? That's a question for the front office and head coach Doug Pederson.
What we do know is that Ward has been arguably the team's best wide receiver during the most important stretch of the year. He's one of the reasons the Eagles can still get to the playoffs, and he has a great chance to end the regular season on a high note when he faces the New York Giants.
If we just focus on 2019, Ward has enjoyed more opportunities due to the absences of Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. In five games since coming off the practice squad, he has 22 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown on 33 targets. Only Zach Ertz (49) and Dallas Goedert (39) have more targets during that five-game stretch.
Ertz's status for Sunday is in question because of a rib injury, so Ward's targets could shoot up even more if the tight end is unable to play.
Regardless of what happens to the Eagles this weekend and whether they make the playoffs, Ward has made a great impression when the team needed him most, which has to bode well for his future. Jeffery is a shell of his former self, and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has been unable to become a reliable contributor, so he might be carving out more than just a roster spot in 2020.
Being attached to a quarterback like Carson Wentz only helps his value. He's a name to watch in the future and could be someone who helps you in Week 17.