Week 12 Offensive Sleepers

A Look at the best under the radar plays for Week 12.

Quarterback

Lamar Jackson (vs Oakland) - There’s an outside chance that Joe Flacco will start, but if he doesn’t Jackson should be a top streamer/bye week coverage quarterback for Week 12. Even if the Ravens scale back his running, it’s clear that he’ll produce the most fantasy points of any quarterback as a runner this week, and he’s facing a Raiders defense that is traveling east for an early game after giving up three touchdown passes to Josh Rosen last week and has given up multiple passing scores in all but one game this season.

Eli Manning (at Philadelphia) - Manning is actually playing well, and he’s facing an Eagles secondary that might be forced to play street free agents in Week 12. Manning should have a solid fantasy back on the back of Odell Beckham Jr alone, not to mention Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram. When he has faced an easy pass defense this year, Manning has generally come through, so starting him to cover a bye isn’t as crazy as it looks on its face.

Baker Mayfield (at Cincinnati) - Mayfield’s efficiency has spiked with Freddie Kitchens, and the Bengals offense should get back AJ Green this week, which could turn this into a high-scoring game. The Browns had the bye week to get even more of Kitchens adjustments to the offense installed, and Mayfield showed the ability to find and use a wide range of weapons in the win over the Falcons going into the bye.

Nick Mullens (at Tampa Bay) - Mullens has shown that he can faithfully execute in Kyle Shanahan’s system, and that’s probably all it will take to put up good numbers against the hapless Bucs defense. Only Alex Smith has failed to throw for over 200 yards and two scores against them this year. George Kittle could get half of that on his own.

Running Back

Gus Edwards (vs Oakland) - The Ravens could be unpredictable with their running back usage after they went with Edwards for most of the Week 11 win over Cincinnati, but Edwards decisively outplayed Alex Collins last week and his powerful style contrasted with Lamar Jackson’s speed perfectly. The Ravens should be able to control this game and keep the running game on track and the Raiders have already allowed five running back 100-yard games this year.

Josh Adams (vs New York Giants) - The Giants have given up a running back touchdown in every game this year and Adams is the most likely Eagles back to extend the streak this week. He was the only bright spot in the loss to the Saints and the team may want to grind out long drives behind their strong offensive line to keep their defense off of the field. Adams seized control of the backfield last week and this week could be his coming out party.

Elijah McGuire (vs New England) - McGuire has fresh leg after spending the first half of the season on injured reserve and might be the best weapon the Jets have right now heading into a matchup with the Patriots. He was strong as a runner and receiver, and New England’s slow linebackers have given up big games through the air to Corey Grant (6-56), Nyheim Hines (7-45), Kareem Hunt (5-105-1), Tarik Cohen (8-69-1), and LeSean McCoy (6-82). If McGuire gets enough touches, he should come through as a flex or bye week/emergency RB2.

Theo Riddick (vs Chicago - Thanksgiving) - The Lions are down to Riddick, Kenny Golladay, and maybe Bruce Ellington in the passing game against a ferocious Bears run defense and pass rush. Riddick had six catches for 60 yards in the meeting between these teams two weeks ago, and could get even more targets in this one, in addition to more carries and red zone looks. He scored three times in the two games that Ameer Abdullah missed last year.

Austin Ekeler (vs Arizona) - The Cardinals have been one of the easiest run defenses to crack all season, so Ekeler might be in line for a strong game in relief if the Chargers can take care of business at “home”. Only one team has had fewer than 26 running back rush attempts against Arizona, and the lowly Raiders had 33 last week. The Cardinals have also surrendered 13 touchdowns to running backs this year.

Wide Receiver

Kendrick Bourne (at Tampa Bay) - Bourne should be an every down receiver with Pierre Garcon out and Marquise Goodwin doubtful, and this week he draws the most hapless pass defense in the league. Tampa has allowed a wide receiver touchdown in every game this year, and speed merchants like Ted Ginn Jr, Curtis Samuel, and Taylor Gabriel all scored against their secondary.

Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin (vs San Francisco) - OJ Howard being should at least slightly clarify the pecking order for targets in Tampa, along with the reinstallation of Jameis Winston at quarterback. Humphries was favored more by Winston than Ryan Fitzpatrick. He actually has three scores in the last three games and has only fallen below 53 receiving yards once in the last six games. Godwin scored in one of the two games Winston started and finished, and put up 5-59 in the other. The 49ers have given up multiple wide receiver scores in half of their games this year to help the case for this duo.

Sterling Shepard (at Philadelphia) - Shepard was quiet last week as the Giants ran away from the Bucs for a good part of the game, but in Philadelphia this week, he’ll likely be needed. He had 11-139-1 and 7-133-1 in the two matchups with the Eagles last year, and Tre’Quan Smith had one of the biggest wide receiver games of the year against this matchup last week. Shepard could easily line up against a no-name corner and secondary stressed out by having to account for Odell Beckham Jr.

Josh Doctson (at Dallas - Thanksgiving) - Doctson may draw a tough matchup against Byron Jones in this one, but he has a head start with Colt McCoy in the lineup when we take into account McCoy’s target distribution last week. McCoy threw 12 passes in about 20 minutes of play, and five went to Doctson. He only caught two for 23 yards, but Doctson has the red zone skillset and lack of proven competition in the wide receiver group to dominate targets again this week.

Keke Coutee (vs Tennessee) - Coutee looked healthy last week and even flashed some speed on his 40-yard catch and run last week - his longest play of the year. He led the team in targets for the second time in only five games (one of which he didn’t finish). Those targets should be especially valuable against a Tennessee secondary that gave up three wide receivers last week, over 200 wide receiver yards the week before that, and multiple wide receiver scores the two weeks before that.

Tight End

Cameron Brate (vs San Francisco) - Brate’s path to targets is unobstructed by OJ Howard now, and he has his preferred quarterback in the lineup. The Bucs have given tight ends at least five targets in every game since Week 3. If Brate can get five targets against San Francisco, that should be enough to make him a relevant fantasy tight end in Week 12.

Chris Herndon (vs New England) - Herndon came alive in Week 6 and didn’t have a dud in the next four weeks heading into the bye. The Patriots have a weakness against tight ends that can and has been exploited this year. They’ve surrendered seven touchdowns to tight ends, including scores to the likes of Erik Swoope, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Jonnu Smith. Trey Burton’s biggest game of the season came against the Patriots, as did Eric Ebron’s.

Nick Boyle (vs Oakland) - Boyle is more of a blocking tight end, but that got him on the field a lot paving the way for the Ravens run-heavy attack in Week 11, and it also got him four targets. He caught all four. The Raiders have already allowed six scores to tight ends this year, including touchdowns by blocking tight ends Darren Fells and Virgil Green.