It is officially time to examine the Week 15 Fantasy Football Sleepers. Congratulations to those of you who are participating in your leagues’ playoffs. While you should enjoy your accomplishments, the research and dedication that you have placed into managing your fantasy teams has not quite ended. Even though your rosters contain locked in starters, there are other players whose ability to help you capture fantasy championships are not so evident. But 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. This column will examine these legitimate sleepers, who could help you in this week’s critical matchups.
For a comprehensive look at this week’s rankings by position, just click here:
Russell Wilson vs. Bills
Wilson was discussed in this column last week, since his comfort level and productivity have simultaneously skyrocketed in recent weeks. After throwing multiple TDs just once in Seattle’s initial five contests, he has now accomplished that in six of the last eight games. Yet, many ownershave been slow to embrace him as a result of his underwhelming production earlier in the season. But he is now a viable option who will generate more fantasy points than some signal callers who possess the brand names, but are not performing as effectively. He now has thrown 20 TD passes, which ties him for 12th among all QBs. Wilson has also accumulated 320 rushing yards, and could supplement that number against a Buffalo rush defense that ranks 28th, while yielding 134.5 YPG. While the Bills’ pass defense has improved during the course of the season, they still have surrendered 22 TDs. That includes a game winning throw from Sam Bradford with under one minute remaining in Week 14. Wilson will consistently move the Seahawks down the field, and deliver another productive performance.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cowboys
He was in danger of delivering a horrific performance last Sunday against the Chargers, before connecting on three second half TD passes, and eventually collecting 285 yards. That enabled him to eliminate the proverbial rust, and he should perform efficiently throughout this week’s contest. In the 10 games that he has started under center, Roethlisberger has produced multiple TD passes six times, including the last three in which he was able to compete in all four quarters. Ball security should not be a concern for owners, as he has only thrown five INTs in 358 attempts. With both Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace fully incorporated within his arsenal of weapons, he should deliver reasonable production against a Dallas pass defense that has not been as stingy in recent weeks. In their past two home games, the Cowboys have surrendered 251 yards and a TD to Nick Foles, and a mammoth 304 yards and four TD passes to RG3. Expect 275 yards and two TDs from Roethlisberger on Sunday.
His potential to generate big plays was never in question, but Wilson’s role had been restricted prior to Week 14. He entered last Sunday’s matchup with New Orleans having managed just 111 rushing yards on 28 attempts for the season. But Ahmad Bradshaw’s knee issue propelled Wilson into an expanded role against the Saints, and an explosion commenced. He ran roughshod through the Saints for an even 100 yards and two TDs from scrimmage, as part of his franchise record 327 all-purpose yards. He has now fully extracted himself from Tom Coughlin’s doghouse. As a result, he is an exceptional waiver wire selection who could be a very productive starter against Atlanta. Even if Bradshaw's injury does not render him inactive for the contest, the Giants need him during their postseason, and it would be sensible to limit his touches. That alone should ensure that Wilson will ultimately garner a sufficient workload on the Georgia Dome’s fast track to warrant starting him.
Montell Owens @ Dolphins
Owens instantly became a sleeper in Week 14, after a collection of injuries to three other members of Jacksonville’s RB stable thrust him into the starting slot. He responded favorably, by accumulating 91 yards and a 32-yard TD on 14 carries against the Jets. He remains a sleeper candidate this week, if owners are looking for a third back to utilize in the flex position, or simply feel more comfortable employing a back who is not partially neutralized by an unwanted time share. But there are words of caution associated with his sleeper label. First, Miami remains formidable against opposing rushers, ranking eighth (977 YPG). Also, it is essential that you monitor the collective health of teammates Maurice Jones-Drew, and Rashad Jennings, as that tandem recovers from their respective injuries. Owens should only be considered if he is the unquestioned starter once again.
Kenny Britt vs. Jets
Any owners who have chosen to keep Britt on their rosters throughout the season, have been forced to endure a suspension, injuries, and a frequent failure to fulfill draft day expectations. But in Tennessee’s last two games, he has been targeted 17 times, including nine in Week 14 against the Colts. He responded by leading the Titans with eight receptions last Sunday, while he also accumulated 143 yards. That enabled Britt to establish new season highs in both categories, as he exceeded 100 yards for the first time this year. He should remain an integral part of Tennessee’s offense when he lines up against the Jets on Monday Night. And even though he failed to score in Week 14, he generated TDs in his two previous contests, and could easily register another. The aforementioned patient owners can confidently utilize Britt as their third wide receiver.
Mike Williams @ Saints
Williams has been targeted at least seven times in seven of his last eight games, including 19 in the past two weeks. As a result, he has garnered nine receptions for 111 yards and two TDs in those two contests. Now he will line up against the NFL's 30th ranked pass defense, as New Orleans is allowing 285 YPG. Williams is a definite candidate to score, as no team has surrendered more passing TDs than the 27 that they have permitted to their opponents. Also, Josh Freeman possesses a favorable track against the Saints, including the season high 420 yards and three TDs that he produced when he faced them in Week 7. He generated those numbers by throwing 42 passes, and should launch the ball with regularity again this week. Williams and his owners should benefit greatly because of it.
Martellus Bennett @ Falcons
The tight end position remains extremely challenging for many owners, who are searching for the most viable candidate among this week’s options. Bennett becomes an enticing choice, because Eli Manning has targeted him 15 times in the past two weeks. He has taken advantage of the increased opportunities by amassing 10 receptions for 114 yards. Plus, he has now scored in two straight games, after failing to find the end zone in eight consecutive contests. Bennett is also the beneficiary of an appealing Week 15 matchup, as the Falcons have allowed at least 50 receiving yards to eight of the past nine tight ends that they have faced.
Lions @ Cardinals
You already know the reason why Detroit is listed here… correct? If not, here are some dubious facts about Arizona . They are the NFL’s worst offense statistically, averaging under 270 YPG. They also rank dead last in rushing (78.5 YPG), and they have scored the fewest points of any team (186). QBs John Skelton and Ryan Lindley have combined for two TDs and 14 INTs this season. And if that isn’t enough, they were thoroughly overwhelmed by a Seahawk defense that scored two TDs, collected four INTs, four fumbles, and also sacked the Cardinal QBs three times. Meanwhile, the Lions rank 13th in total defense, and have generated 30 sacks. They have the opportunity to tee off against Lindley, and should accumulate a massive number of fantasy points this week.