It is officially time to examine the Week 14 Fantasy Football Sleepers. Even though many of you have either qualified for your fantasy playoffs, or are on the verge of doing so as you prepare for this week’s matchups, the months of research and dedication that you have placed into managing your fantasy teams has not quite ended. For that reason, you are now perusing for this week’s most enticing sleepers. As always, these are players that were either drafted toward the latter half of your fantasy drafts, or spent time residing on your leagues’ waiver wires until this week. Either way, a combination of their ability, and their specific matchups, has propelled them into a position to enhance your scoring total should you decide to start them.
With that, here are the sleepers for Week 14. For a comprehensive look at this week’s rankings by position, just click the links that appear below:
Russell Wilson vs. Cardinals
The decision makers in Seattle were extremely meticulous in making sure the Wilson was not overwhelmed early in the season. That strategy has paid off, as his production has improved sizably in recent weeks. However, Wilson's slow start has caused many owners to overlook the numbers that he has been accumulating. After throwing multiple TDs just once in Seattle's initial five contests, he has now accomplished that in six of the last seven games, including five straight. In the process, he now has 19 TD passes for the season, which actually ties him with Tony Romo for 11th among all QBs. That number also exceeds the totals of RG3, Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning and Andrew Luck. This week he will face an Arizona defense that ranks third against the pass. But Wilson has proven that he does not require an easy matchup in order to produce. In Week 11 he manufactured two scoring passes against the Jets' fourth ranked pass defense. Plus, he just threw two TD passes against Chicago's seventh ranked pass defenders, along with a season high 293 yards. He has playmaking weapons at his disposal, and should enhance his season total of 298 rushing yards. All of which will help him deliver another productive performance.
Brandon Weeden vs. Chiefs
Weeden will return home for an outstanding matchup this week, supplying him with an excellent opportunity to continue the momentum that he established in Week 13. He just produced a career best 364 yards and two TDs in Oakland. And even though his numbers were constructed against a Raider pass defense that has lacked the personnel and coaching acumen to stop opposing QBs in recent weeks, his accomplishment is still noteworthy. Particularly since he had averaged just 168 YPG between Weeks 8-11, and had been limited to less than 160 in two of those contests. His output last Sunday could instill renewed confidence in Weeden, who did manufacture the NFL’s sixth highest yardage total among all QBs from Weeks 5-7 (786), and briefly ascended into the top 10 in yardage after amassing 230+ yards from weeks 2-7. Now he will face the Chiefs, who have allowed more TDs through the air than any other unit (25). Weeden should expand that number by connecting on at least two this week, and is a viable option for owners who are in deeper leagues.
Vick Ballard vs. Titans
Ballard has appeared to be the Colts' most effective rusher since he received his initial start in Week 8. But the ongoing presence of Donald Brown, and the subsequent need to estimate how the tandem would be utilized, has made any decision to start Ballard extremely risky. Even though Ballard has received double digit touches in seven consecutive contests, Brown has pilfered a significant percentage of opportunities, which diminishes the value of both backs. But Brown will miss this week's rematch with Tennessee, which elevates Ballard's stock considerably. Not only will he now commandeer a significant number of touches, but he will be lining up against the NFL's 27th ranked run defense. The Titans are permitting 129.4 YPG, and let Ballard attain a season best 4.6 YPC when he produced 55 yards against them on October 28. He managed that yardage total on just 12 carries, and also generated his only TD of the year as a receiver. In this week's rematch, he should supply enough fantasy points to warrant starting him as a flex.
Montell Owens vs. Jets
Owens has entered sleeper status as a result of the conga line that has formed from injured Jacksonville backs who are sidelined with injuries. Rashad Jennings' concussion renders him unavailable this week. Maurice Jones-Drew will likely miss his seventh consecutive game because of his Lisfranc foot problem. And Jalen Parmalee is already on injured reserve. Which elevates Owens into the feature back role this week against the Jets. He did manufacture 40 yards on eight touches in Week 13, and New York's 29th ranked rush defense has hardly been stellar. Owens will have a chance to accumulate yardage, and could even collect a short TD. Which propels him into viability as a flex option.
Josh Gordon vs. Chiefs
Much like Weeden, Gordon just generated his most productive game of the year in Oakland. He amassed a season high 116 yards, and scored for the first time since Week 7. Gordon has accumulated 229 yards in his last three games, and should continue his recent momentum versus a Kansas City secondary that has displayed enormous hospitality toward opposing passing attacks in recent weeks. 15 of the league worst 25 TD passes that the Chiefs have surrendered this season occurred in their last seven contests. If Gordon is able to avoid coverage from CB Brandon Flowers, he will experience a far more favorable matchup with the burnable Javier Arenas. But regardless of where he lines up, Gordon will pay dividends for owners again this week.
Mike Thomas @ Packers
Yes, it's that Mike Thomas. The same guy who slid down the depth chart during three + seasons in Jacksonville, and was traded to Detroit on October 30. Even though he was generally considered a disappointment during his tenure as a Jaguar, he has suddenly gained fantasy relevance as a result of multiple factors. With Ryan Broyles now out for the year, and Titus Young banished from the Lions’ lineup, Thomas has swiftly ascended into a starting role. And he should now collect yardage and receptions while performing for the NFL's top ranked passing offense. The Lions are averaging 313 YPG through the air, and Matthew Stafford leads the league with 3,742 passing yards. Stafford has also thrown the ball more than any other QB (534 attempts), and will continue to do so in the remaining weeks of the season. While Calvin Johnson will commandeer the most targets, Stafford will also be throwing to his other weapons. That provides Thomas with an excellent opportunity to accumulate yardage and receptions this week against the Packers.
Kyle Rudolph vs. Bears
In his first six games, Rudolph received 41 targets, accumulated 25 receptions, and led Minnesota with five receiving touchdowns. However, his production plummeted significantly in Weeks 7-9, as quarterback Christian Ponder threw an amazingly low total of two passes to Rudolph during that span. There was legitimate reason for concern that Rudolph’s responsibilities as a blocker would prohibit him from returning to fantasy relevance. But in the last three weeks, Rudolph has been targeted him 26 times, while assembling 18 receptions for 170 yards. Plus, he has scored in all three contests. With Percy Harvin now lost for the season, Rudolph will maintain his critical role in Minnesota’s offense, and be heavily targeted this week against the Bears.
Jared Cook @ Colts
Cook was only targeted 49 times during Tennessee’s first 10 games, including just 21 from Weeks 6-10. But in two games since the Titans returned from their bye week, he has been utilized more extensively in the team’s offensive strategy. Quarterback Jake Locker has thrown to Cook 20 times in their last two contests, including eight in Week 11. That enabled him to amass a team best six receptions for 47 yards. The season high 12 targets that he received in Week 13 not only led the team, but were the product of Dowell Loggains’ play calling in his first game offensive coordinator. While Cook has not provided consistent production during his career, it is very feasible that Cook’s newly enhanced role will continue with Loggains concocting the offensive strategy. That makes him into a viable option this week in Indianapolis.
Browns vs. Chiefs
Some fantasy owners have locked in their starting defenses weeks ago, while others prefer to play matchups with the units that remain available on the waiver wires. If you fall into latter category, Cleveland remains an excellent choice for your lineup. They just delivered a favorable performance in Week 13 against an Oakland team that possesses numerous deficiencies. This week the Browns have an opportunity to assemble fantasy points against yet another flawed offensive unit. Kansas City’s resume displays shortcomings in nearly every major category, including total offense where they rank just 21st. While Jamaal Charles has enabled them to run the ball effectively throughout much of the season, their passing attack ranks just 29th, while failing to average 200 YPG (191). Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel have combined for only eight TD passes all season, which is partially responsible for the Chiefs placing next to last in scoring offense, while averaging a paltry 15.7 points per game. Meanwhile, Cleveland now ranks 16th versus the run, and Joe Haden’s presence has bolstered their pass defense in recent weeks. They have also generated 14 INTs, including four in their last two contests. That total should increase on Sunday, as the Browns satisfy any owners who choose to start them.