Fantasy Football Week 15 Cheat Sheet: Deep Sleepers to Target
Between the reserve/COVID-19 list, injuries and scheduling irregularities, fantasy managers who are advancing to their league's postseason have to navigate extremely choppy waters this week.
Even if you're lucky enough to have a fairly untouched starting roster, it's almost a guarantee that your bench isn't in great shape this late in the year. And if you're in a dynasty or keeper league, that gives you fewer slots to play with in terms of adding and dropping players at-will to dress a full roster for Week 15.
But never fear. If there's one thing the NFL delivers year after year, it's the surprising and delightful breakouts of several unexpected players. Ahead of this week's slate, we'll take a look at the deep sleepers (those rostered in less than 25 percent of leagues) at skill positions who are likely to be available on your waiver wire.
The following player rankings and projected point totals are for points-per-reception (PPR) scoring leagues.
After the new phenomenon of Tuesday makeup games this season, in Week 15, we also have the season's first slate of Saturday NFL games. Don't forget to set your roster!
RB: Jeff Wilson Jr., SF (17.4% Rostered)
Fantasy managers thinking about putting in a waiver claim for Jeff Wilson Jr. to fill out their RB2 or flex slot this week will have to decide if his fumble in the San Francisco 49ers' 23-15 loss to the Washington Football Team last week is a deal-breaker.
Aside from the fumble, Wilson had one of his better outings of the year in Week 14. His 11 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown with his additional 13-yard reception netted him 8.4 points, his most since his monster 30-point outing against the New England Patriots in Week 7.
Wilson's touchdown came early in the game, as Raheem Mostert had to leave the field briefly to go through the concussion protocol. Mostert returned, however, so there's no chance of Wilson stepping into a larger role this week; Mostert is clearly the guy.
Still, Wilson showed the 49ers that he can generate more on offense for them than Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon. And in PPR formats, his use alone, even if it doesn't lead to many trips into the end zone, may be enough to justify a flex play if your bench is really decimated.
More options: Gus Edwards (BAL, 28.7 percent rostered), Lynn Bowden Jr. (MIA, 2.5 percent rostered), Tony Pollard (DAL, 23.2 percent rostered)
WR: Russell Gage, ATL (13% Rostered)
Atlanta Falcons wideout Julio Jones has been in and out of the active lineup this year, leaving fantasy managers to have to source plug-ins for him on multiple occasions. He sat out last Sunday's action against the Los Angeles Chargers, and his status is unconfirmed for this week.
Of course, it's always useful when you can handcuff a player to his real-life teammate, and for savvy fantasy managers who were on the ball early this season, that is exactly the role Falcons wideout Russell Gage has served this season.
But even if you don't have Jones on your bench with a giant question mark looming over him, Gage is a good target this week and may be available in your league at just 13 percent rostered.
Gage was targeted seven times in Week 14's loss to the Chargers and brought in five receptions for 82 yards, good for 13.8 points. He's on the upswing after notching 51 yards and a touchdown in Week 13 for 11.1 points. It's the first time he's had consecutive double-digit point games since Weeks 1 and 2.
The Falcons have also lost three of four since the bye, and as they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15, there's a good chance they will be taking to the air frequently to stay in the game.
Other options: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB, 16.5 percent rostered), Gabriel Davis (BUF, 7.5 percent rostered), Jalen Reagor (PHI, 21.5 percent rostered)
TE: Irv Smith Jr., MIN (5.7% Rostered)
Fantasy managers have had lots of great options emerge atop the tight end position this year—in my league, I have frequently found myself playing a tight end as my flex option.
Aside from the obvious choices like Travis Kelce and George Kittle, the Miami Dolphins' Mike Gesicki and the Las Vegas Raiders' Darren Waller have been excellent for managers this year.
But if you still happen to find yourself in need of some depth at the tight end position this week, Minnesota's Irv Smith Jr. is a smart choice, and he's almost sure to be available in your league at just 5.7 percent rostered.
With Kyle Rudolph out in Week 14 against the Buccaneers, Smith stepped up as Kirk Cousins' right-hand man, leading the team in receiving yards with 63 yards on four receptions (for 100 percent of his targets). He also had the team's lone receiving touchdown in a 26-14 loss, good for 12.3 points, his second-best outing of the year.
His foot injury halted Rudolph's league-leading streak among active tight ends of 93 games. His status for Week 15 isn't year clear, but starting Smith if Rudolph can't go would be a no-brainer.
Other options: Cole Kmet (CHI, 6.4 percent rostered), Dalton Schultz (DAL, 30.6 percent rostered), Jordan Reed (SF, 21.7 percent rostered)
Point projections and rostered percentages via Fantasy Pros