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Week 14 Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar starts for Week 14

Quarterback

DeShone Kizer, CLE (vs GB) - Kizer is growing into a different Browns offense than the one surrounding him when he floundered earlier this year. Josh Gordon is a legit #1 wide receiver, Corey Coleman becomes a dangerous #2 with the addition of Gordon, and David Njoku is showing why the Browns took him in the first round. The Packers pass defense is a weakness and they have allowed six passing scores in the last two weeks. Mitchell Trubisky almost threw for 300 yards on them. Kizer also has three rushing scores in the last five weeks and he’s averaging almost 40 rushing yards a game over the last four.

Josh McCown, NYJ (at DEN) - The thought of starting Josh McCown in the playoffs at Denver would have inspired laughter and a sanity check before the season. Things change, as Denver’s defense is wilting and McCown is leading a currently high-flying passing attack. We need to make sure Robby Anderson is ok after being limited with a hamstring issue, but as long as McCown has Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, he should have the horses to move the ball against a Broncos defense has allowed multiple passing scores in each of their last five games.

Blake Bortles, JAX (vs SEA) - Bortles and trustworthy don’t belong in the same sentence, but he might still be your best quarterback option this week. Bortles has had back-to-back QB1 level games, and he’s facing a depleted Seattle secondary this week. He has at least 20 rushing yards in four of the last five games to raise his floor, and as long as Russell Wilson has some success against the Jaguars defense, Jacksonville won’t be able to shell up on offense and limit Bortles attempts.

Blaine Gabbert, ARI (vs TEN) - There’s a theme in sleeper quarterbacks this week, and it’s just how much has changed from the beginning of the season. Gabbert starting a game seemed like a remote possibility in August, and the chances of even considering him in fantasy leagues if he did start even more remote. Now that we’re here, we can see that Gabbert is competent - even against a brutal pass defense like Jacksonville - and he has a high weekly floor. This week he faces a Titans pass defense that just lost DaQuan Jones up front while allowing 365 yards to Tom Savage last week. Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco have also thrown for two scores each against them in Weeks 9 and 10.

Running Back

Giovani Bernard, CIN (vs CHI) - This one hinges on Joe Mixon not being ready for Sunday because he is still in concussion protocol. With a Monday night concussion, the odds are in Bernard’s favor. He was excellent in relief of Mixon against the Steelers, and the Bengals successfully ran the ball for the second straight game. Bernard is fresh after barely being used this year, and the Bears have given up over 100 rushing yards to opposing backs in four of the last five games, with only the anemic Lions running game failing to eclipse that mark.

Mike Davis, SEA (at JAX) - Davis is a boring option in the vein of Lamar Miller or Frank Gore, with the important exception of having Russell Wilson at quarterback. Wilson has been able to find Davis as a checkdown with room to roam in the passing game, and he’ll make the passing game the focus of the Jaguars defensive game plan. Davis should be able to reproduce his 20 touch, 101 total yard performance from last week’s win over another tough all-around defense - the Eagles.

Kareem Hunt, KC (vs OAK) - I know, I know, Hunt has done nothing for your fantasy team since… the last matchup with the Raiders. Hunt had 117 total yards in the thrilling 31-30 shootout, and the current state of both teams leads one to believe that this matchup will also favor the offenses. Hunt is still in line for at least 12 touches in an offense that should have no trouble creating scoring opportunities.

Tarik Cohen, CHI (at CIN) - This one takes a strong stomach, but the ingredients are there for a strong game by Cohen. The Bears got 13 touches to Cohen three weeks ago, and he delivered against the Lions. This week against the Bengals, rational coaching dictates that the Bears use him more in the passing game against a defense that has given up three receiving touchdowns to backs since Week 8, and at least five running back receptions in 9 of 12 games. The Bengals linebackers are banged up and they could be without Vontaze Burfict, which would enhance Cohen’s chances of breaking a big play.

Jordan Howard, CHI (at CIN) - It might seem strange to list a second-round fantasy pick as a sleeper, but I’m guessing many of you are doubting Howard after he has done next to nothing for our fantasy teams three of the last four weeks. Unless the Bengals run away from the Bears, Howard should get his 20+ carries. The Bengals are one of the worst teams in the league at winning the time of possession battle, which is what the 49ers did in a big way last week. The Eagles game was expected to be bad for Howard, and the Packers game was a rare pass-heavy offensive day. With those Bengals linebackers depleted, Howard is looking like a potentially great play this week. 

Wide Receiver

Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, SF (at HOU) - Jimmy Garoppolo has transformed the 49ers pass offense. They can run more up tempo and keep the offense on the field for a lot more plays and pass attempts. Garoppolo is a much more accurate passer than CJ Beathard, and we saw the results last week as both Taylor and Goodwin had very good PPR weeks and solid nonPPR weeks at Chicago. Houston had been very soft against the pass before facing Joe Flacco and Marcus Mariota - two underachieving quarterbacks - the last two weeks. Goodwin is a speedy receiver like Brandin Cooks, T.Y. Hilton, and Paul Richardson Jr, all of which had two scores against Houston this year. Taylor could be a strong PPR volume play out of the slot.

Martavis Bryant, PIT (vs BAL) - Juju Smith-Schuster is suspended and Baltimore #1 corner Jimmy Smith is out for the year. Bryant should have at least one or two shots to reel in a deep ball and make your week, and as the clear #2 receiver, he should get enough volume to have a reasonable floor this week. Smith-Schuster and Bryant combined for 6-95 and a score in the first matchup with the Ravens, which was a run-heavy affair controlled by the Steelers from start to finish. This should be a more wide open game with the Steelers defense having multiple breakdowns a week over the last month, so Bryant should get the opportunity for most of that 6-95-1 and more.

Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, JAX (vs SEA) - The Seahawks secondary was circled on our schedules as one to avoid going into the season, but they are vulnerable now. Nelson Agholor had his biggest game of the year against them last week, and both Lee and Westbrook were good plays against the Colts in PPR leagues last week. Seattle gave up 241 yards to Eagles receivers last week, but that was with Carson Wentz. Even the ragtag 49ers receivers accounted for 157 receiving yards against the Sherman and Chancellor-less Seahawks defense with CJ Beathard, so consider Lee and Westbrook high floor PPR plays this week.

Danny Amendola, NE (at MIA) - Chris Hogan should be back this week, and he should be in your lineup. While that takes some of the edge off of Amendola’s upside, it doesn’t mean he should be out of consideration, because Rob Gronkowski is suspended this week. When Gronkowski was out earlier this year, Amendola posted an 8-77 line, and that was with Chris Hogan posting 8-74-1. There’s room for both to be productive, especially against a Dolphins defense that had given up at least 27 points in each of the last six games before facing a melting Broncos team last week.

Mike Wallace, BAL (at PIT) - The Steelers defense continues to have inexcusable breakdowns on multiple plays lately. It was Chester Rogers and Donte Moncrief, then Rishard Matthews, then Randall Cobb, Jamaal Williams, and Davante Adams, and last week AJ Green - including one long touchdown overturned by a ticky-tack call. Wallace is the most likely to be on the receiving end of the blown coverage assignment this week. He has also had a touchdown or over 100 receiving yards in three of the last four weeks.

Tight End

Stephen Anderson, HOU (vs SF) - Even with Will Fuller V possibly back this week, Anderson is a solid TE1 play against the 49ers. He should still be among Tom Savage’s top targets getting most of the tight end snaps. The floor for combined tight end production with Savage has been 3-40, and the 49ers are especially generous to opposing tight ends, allowing six scores in the last six games, including a five-game tight end scoring streak only broken by Mitchell Trubisky’s 15-attempt affair last week. Anderson is coming off a 5-79-1 performance that likely earned more trust from Savage with multiple catches in traffic.

Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI (vs TEN) - Seals-Jones fell off to a 2-44 line after scoring three times in his first two games, but that game should represent his floor this week. It’s also good to know that he still got five targets. The Titans are one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and last week they gave up that 5-79-1 line to Stephen Anderson, and two more catches to CJ Fiedorowicz before he went out. The Titans have also given up a 7-94 line to Jack Doyle, five catches and a score to Jesse James, and ten catches to Baltimore tight ends since Week 9.

Cameron Brate, TB (vs DET) - Brate not only scored twice last week against the Packers (who had only allowed one tight end score all season), but he got six targets from Jameis Winston. Winston clearly favors Brate in the red zone, and Brate is giving him no reasons to change that approach. They have a good chance of hooking up for a score again this week against a Lions defense that has allowed four tight end scores in the last three weeks. Ed Dickson (5-175) and Seth DeValve (4-70) also posted big games against them.

Jason Witten, DAL (at NYG) - Witten is a well-known name, but given the recent state of the Cowboys offense, his name might be mud in fantasy leagues. The matchup dictates that we give Witten a longer look this week. He has had big games against them in four of the last five meetings, and players like Garrett Celek, Jeff Heuerman, and Tyler Higbee have been able to score against this Giants defense.

David Njoku, CLE (vs GB) - Njoku has four catches in each of the last two games, and he had the best game of his career last week, which in no coincidence marked Josh Gordon’s return to the lineup. The Packers have given up three tight end scores in the last two weeks, and Njoku is easily the most athletic tight end their limited inside linebacker group has faced all year. Njoku is risky, but as long as he maintains his strong snap and target count, he could come through in a big week.