Our weekly rankings have just been updated, and as always, they will provide you with a dependable resource to help with those difficult lineup decisions. Here is a look at some additional players that I believe could provide you with high quality production this week, if you are inclined to utilize sleepers in your starting lineups. For those of you who are interested in streaming a defense this week check out my column here.
Mike Glennon vs. Falcons
Since being anointed as Tampa Bay’s starter in Week 4, Glennon has thrown nine TD passes while limiting his INT total to four. Two of which occurred in his NFL debut. In the Buccaneers' two most recent contests, the ground game was emphasized so heavily that he was not provided a desired amount of opportunities to accumulate favorable numbers. As a result, he has averaged 153.5 yards during that span, while throwing a grand total of 44 passes. However, that included the Bucs’ Week 9 loss in Seattle when Mike James carried 28 times. That enabled the Bucs to avoid Seattle’s formidable pass defense, while attacking a Seahawk run defense that had displayed some vulnerability. Then last Monday Night, the Buccaneers took advantage of Miami’s 25th ranked run defenders by employing their RBs on 33 attempts. With James now sidelined, the underwhelming tandem of Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard will handle rushing duties, which should increase opportunities for Glennon. He will be facing a Falcon defense that is now just 25th against the pass, while allowing 252 YPG. Plus, only three teams have permitted more scores through the air then the 19 that Atlanta has yielded. This unit has also managed just six INTs this season, which also bodes well for Glennon and his owners. He generated 256 yards and two TDs against the Falcons in Week 7, and should post similar numbers this week.
Shane Vereen at Panthers
After being allotted 21 touches during the Patriots’ season opener, Vereen accumulated 159 total yards, including 101 on the ground. He was also targeted 10 times by Tom Brady and collected seven of those passes for an additional 58 yards. A wrist injury prohibited him from performing since that initial Sunday, as Brandon Bolden assumed the responsibilities that were originally intended for Vereen. However, Bolden did not exhibit the same degree of productivity, averaging just 29 YPG as a rusher, and just 15 YPG as a receiver during that span. While Bolden is currently the leading receiver among New England RBs, he has accumulated just 17 catches on 23 targets. Despite his lengthy absence, Vereen’s target total is actually tied for second at his position. While confidently forecasting the specific distribution of touches for Bill Belichick’s RBs is dangerous, the underwhelming nature of Bolden’s output makes it likely that Vereen will be given frequent opportunities to amass yardage against Carolina. Plus, he should maintain an integral role within the Patriots’ offense beyond Week 11. All of which is excellent news for owners who smartly stashed him on their rosters weeks ago.
Andre Ellington at Jaguars
Ellington has averaged at least 5.0 YPC in every contest this season, and has run for 7.3 or more on four occasions. In Week 8, he was allotted a season high 15 carries and exploded for 154 yards. That included an electric 80-yard scoring burst, that could easily have elevated Ellington into the full-time feature back role. But that Week 8 workload occurred because Rashard Mendenhall was sidelined by a toe issue. And upon his Week 10 return, Bruce Arians reinstituted the baffling time share that finds both RBs splitting opportunities, even though Ellington certainly appears to be a far more effective back. He has generated 388 yards on just 54 carries (7.2 YPC), while Mendenhall has managed only 323 yards on 105 attempts (3.1 YPC). Yet, even if Ellington continues to be negatively impacted by Arians’ well-chronicled snap count this week, he should still accumulate a very favorable yardage total. The Jaguars rank dead last in run defense, and are currently surrendering 153 YPG. That is 24 YPG more than the league’s second worst run stoppers. Also, do not be surprised to see him burst for a long TD run that will satisfy his owners even further.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Raiders
While there has not been a reason to get excited about Hopkins since September, there is sufficient reason to believe that he will deliver outstanding numbers this week. First, even though Case Keenum’s positive effect on Andre Johnson has been widely discussed, Hopkins has also benefitted from Keenum’s elevation into the lineup. The 11 targets that Hopkins garnered in Week 10 were the most in eight contests. He was also able to collect a team high six receptions, and led the Texans with 69 yards. He has now accumulated 199 in three games with Keenum as the signal caller, and will benefit from an appealing matchup with Oakland this week. Only five teams have yielded more touchdown passes than the 18 that the Raiders have surrendered, and they have struggled mightily to contain their opponents’ secondary receivers during the past three contests. In Week 8 Emmanuel Sanders accumulated 88 yards and a touchdown against them, while Riley Cooper amassed 139 yards and a whopping three scores in Week 9. Then, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle combined for 99 yards a touchdown in Week 10. Hopkins should also find success exploiting Oakland’s coverage, and is an excellent option for owners in Week 1.
Rishard Matthews vs. Chargers
This is not to suggest that owners should chase his Week 10 numbers, when a team high 14 targets enabled Matthews to generate 11 receptions, amass 120 yards, and score twice. While that performance was impressive, and it easily established new career highs in each primary receiving category, that level of production is not attainable on a consistent basis. However, his output did confirm that Matthews can manufacture fantasy points each week as Miami’s slot receiver. And since some have been too quick to dismiss Matthews’ continued ability to be successful, he rates inclusion in this week’s sleeper column. His new role previously belonged to Brandon Gibson, who received at least eight targets in four of the Dolphins’ first six contests before a knee injury ended his season. With Ryan Tannehill consistently under siege from opposing pass rushers, the second year signal caller should make frequent attempts to locate Mathews in the coming weeks. If injuries and the remaining bye weeks have impacted your lineups, Mathews will receive enough opportunities to serve as your WR3.
Nate Burleson at Steelers
A broken arm has sidelined the 11-year veteran since Week 4, but he is now poised to make his return. That should occur this week when the Lions travel to Pittsburgh, and he will instantly assume the role of WR2 within Detroit’s pass heavy offensive approach. He was certainly the recipient of numerous opportunities when he previously served in that capacity, as Burleson accumulated 23 targets in the Lions’ initial three contests. That enabled him to amass 19 receptions for 239 yards, and it is important to absorb those numbers. That is an average of six catches, and just under 80 YPG during that span. WRs who can provide that level of production are not easily found on the waiver wire at this point of the season, yet he remains available in 98% of ESPN leagues. If you can secure him, he immediately vaults into consideration as your WR3. Particularly considering the degree to which injuries and the remaining bye weeks continue to create challenges for owners, Burleson’s return presents an excellent opportunity to address that issue, and he will be an excellent sleeper candidate to deliver numbers in the range of his previous output. Just monitor his status, to ensure that his Week 11 return continues to be on track.
John Carlson vs. Seahawks
Bye weeks, injuries and general ineffectiveness have combined to make the tight end position a formidable challenge for many owners. But Carlson has suddenly emerged as an unlikely solution for the immediate future. He was not even a remote consideration for the first seven weeks of the regular season, as he received a grand total of 12 targets during that span. However, Kyle Rudolph fractured his foot in Week 9, which dramatically impacted Carlson’s role within the Viking offense. As a result, he was targeted 13 times in Minnesota’s past two contests. That includes the team high seven that he garnered in Week 10, which enabled him to lead the Vikings in receptions (seven) and yardage (98), while scoring his first TD since September, 2010. That yardage total exceeds his output from both 2012 and 2011 combined, and that 2010 TD was generated while Carlson was a Seahawk. He will face his former team this week, which is certainly not an appealing matchup. Yet, he should remain highly targeted by Christian Ponder, who is strapped with underwhelming options at WR. Unless the long overdue determination is finally made to get Cordarrelle Patterson more involved in the offense. Rudolph is projected to return in 3-5 weeks, which will eventually impact Carlson’s opportunities. But he has the potential to supply owners with a serviceable starting option in Week 11, and for the foreseeable future.