Happy Playoffs, Fam! There are just 3 more weeks (in redraft, assuming you’ve made it to the playoffs) of genius tinkering. Of course, the most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing.
Most of my picks panned out in last week’s final regular-season push. Only Ameer Abdullah and Ricky Seals-Jones disappointed. Laquon Treadwell delivered on the 68 yards I predicted (though there was no visit to the end zone), Taysom Hill rushed his way to a top-four finish, Joshua Palmer reeled in his second career TD and Austin Hooper delivered a 5-30-1 stat line (TE6).
Covid and injuries are making Week 15 tough, but I know we can build on last week’s success and power through.
Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears (22% rostered)
I also thought the Bears would cover (+12.5) last Sunday night, so maybe start Ben Roethlisberger like every other tired sleepers column is suggesting.
Despite completing just 18 of 33 attempts (OMG, Jimmy Graham), Fields continued to struggle as a passer in his first game back from a rib injury. As Taysom Hill reminded us, however, los puntos están en las piernas. The rookie’s 74 rushing yards pushed his otherwise mundane stat line (224 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) inside of the top-10 for fantasy purposes. In fact, he’s been a top-10 FF producer in all three of his last healthy games (Weeks 8, 9 and 14).
On Monday the Bears will host a Vikings squad that got lit up by Big Ben last week and gifted Jared Goff with a 296-yard and 3-TD effort on Thanksgiving. In fact, Minnesota has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs over the last four weeks. With Cole Kmet healthy (Allen Robinson has since been on the COVID-19 list), Fields could do just enough in a soft matchup to finish the week inside the top-15 fantasy players at the position.
D’Onta Foreman, RB, Tennessee Titans ($18)
About a third of the lineup questions I fielded last weekend involved at least one of the Titans RBs. D’Onta Foreman was my recommendation then and is again this week. The 25-year-old ran ahead of Jeremy McNichols and Dontrell Hilliard — recording 15 touches — in last week’s blowout win over the Jaguars.
With Tennessee resolute in their run-first identity despite Derrick Henry’s absence, Foreman figures to be involved. He should get some run versus a fading Steelers defense that’s being led by a compromised T.J. Watt (groin) and has been top-eight in fantasy points allowed for three consecutive outings. Consider Foreman a top-25 RB versus Pittsburgh’s No. 24 ranked run defense (DVOA).
Bonus RB: Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins ($21)
Myles Gaskin is expected to come off the Covid list in time for Sunday’s game versus the Jets. Salvon Ahmed and Phillip Lindsay, however, are less likely to suit up. Were that to be the case, Gaskin is a steal at $21 in DFS. If Gaskin weren’t available this weekend, Malcolm Brown (8% rostered, $10) would be an interesting pivot, particularly because of the ultra-plus matchup.
Allen Lazard, WR, Green Bay Packers (6% rostered, $16)
Allen Lazard drew a season-high seven looks in Green Bay’s Week 14 beatdown of the Bears. As evidenced by his six grabs for 75 yards and a score, the former Cyclone is back to health after missing time with a shoulder injury. He may not be running as many routes as MVS, but his hands are better and his snap share has been higher.
Attached to Aaron Rodgers with no Randall Cobb in the lineup, Lazard offers fantasy managers quantity and quality. He’ll travel to Charm City on Sunday to take on a Ravens defense that gave up nearly 300 receiving yards to the run-loving Browns in Week 14. I expect that trend to continue and believe Lazard will take full advantage of Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey-less secondary.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Cleveland Browns (13% rostered, $13)
Speaking of Marlon Humphrey, it was the CB’s absence last week that inspired me to talk up Donovan Peoples-Jones on last week’s Fantasy Football Forecast. The former Wolverine answered, roasting Chris Westry for five catches and 90 yards.
The Browns’ COVID situation is creating an on-brand amount of chaos. Still, DPJ is the team’s No. 1 WR and Case Keenum isn’t that significant of a downgrade. Plus, Peoples-Jones figures to see a bump in volume with Kareem Hunt (ankle) and Austin Hooper (Covid) likely sidelined on Saturday versus the Raiders. By the way, Vegas is bad, ranking 23rd in defensive pass DVOA and allowing the fourth-most receiving scores (24) on the season. Enlist DPJ for all of your top-40 flex needs.
James O'Shaughnessy, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars (2% rostered, $11)
We should not be surprised by the rife dysfunctionality permeating the halls of TIAA Bank Field. When an offense’s most consistent producer is the backup to a tight end who was acquired in the first month of the season … well, that’s a clue things aren’t right.
James O'Shaughnessy has averaged 5.6 targets per game — drawing six looks in back-to-back efforts — since returning from IR in Week 12. He’s run at least 30 routes in two of his last three games and is offering security to an increasingly befuddled Trevor Lawrence. The duo hasn’t been efficient but could connect more on Sunday when they face a Texans defense that’s allowed a generous seven scores to the position.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF