The end is nigh.
For millions of fantasy players, this is a do-or-die week. If you’re like myself in my league of record it’s win and in. Lose and it’s time to crack the bottle and rehash for the 100th time how you lose that one week you scored 150 points or that matchup you lost by ONE F****ING YARD.
Ahem. Anyways… onto the sleepers. And as always much of the advanced stats are courtesy of Fantasy Points Data Suite (go check them out, it’s crazy how affordable they’ve made their data package). And as is per usual this time of year for me, all matchup data is from the past 8 weeks unless specifically stated. Good luck and god speed.
Joshua Dobbs vs LV – the Raiders have actually allowed the 6th fewest fantasy points per game (fppg) but when it comes to touchdowns they’ve been more lucky than good. They’ve faced off against Mac Jones, Daniel Jones (who tore his knee mid-game) and Zach Wilson in 3 of their last 7 games. LV is dead last in completion percentage allowed in that span and bottom 10 in yards/att allowed. Plus with Justin Jefferson potentially making his return I really like Dobbs to post solid numbers. Forget the win/loss narrative, in fantasy Dobbs has posted 2+ touchdowns in 4 of his last 5 games.
Gardner Minshew vs CIN – ever since Cam Taylor Britt got hurt this pass defense just hasn’t been the same. The Bengals have allowed the 5th most fppg to QB and the 8.8 yards/att allowed is the worst in the NFL. The 68.4% comp rate allowed clocks in as 2nd worst. The Mighty Mustache absolutely LOVES putting the ball in harm’s way and he’s been about as boom or bust as it gets as a streamer but I like his matchup this week and I REALLY like his weapons overall.
Joe Flacco vs JAX – he wasn’t GOOD by any stretch of the imagination last week but he was spinning it and putting the ball in areas of the fields DTR and even Deshaun Watson haven’t really been able to do all year long. The playbook seemed more expansive as a result. The Jags secondary has been problematic all year long so it should come as no surprise that they have allowed the 6th most fppg to QB over the last 8 weeks. They’re bottom 10 in pass yards, yards/att and comp% allowed in that span.
Jerick McKinnon vs BUF – I don’t know what’s going on with Pacheco’s shoulder but he missed practice Wed/Thurs and in general shoulder injuries scare the bejeezus out of me for running backs (UPDATE: Pacheco’s been ruled out and it could potentially be a multi-week injury). McKinnon himself is dealing with a groin injury and has missed 2 games but it sounded like he was really close to returning last week. He’s been limited Wed/Thurs so let’s see where he’s at Friday. Regardless he’s worth a stash. Obviously if he or Pacheco are ruled out, Clyde Edwards-Helaire becomes a viable RB2 play. The matchup is good as well, running backs have scored 13+ ppr points vs BUF in 8 of their last 9 games.
James Cook vs KC – it’s anticipated to be a high scoring game and the matchup is solid as hell. The 4.98 ypc allowed to RB is the 2nd worst in the NFL and Chiefs are bottom 6 in explosive run rate and run stuff rate allowed. Touchdowns are few and far between but Cook has seen his usage noticeably bumped up since the team canned Ken Dorsey. Cook averaged 14.8 opportunities in the 10 games under Dorsey, 22.0 opportunities (rush+targets) under Brady.
DEEP SLEEPER Kareem Hunt vs JAX – despite playing 35% of the snaps last week, Hunt out-touched Ford 13 to 12. Ford scored the TD so no one cared but in a decent matchup I don’t hate Hunt as a sleeper RB in deeper formats. The Jags are bottom 10 in explosive run rate and have allowed the most receptions and rec yards to RB. The 80.2% comp rate allowed to the position is bottom 10.
DEEP SLEEPER Ty Chandler vs LV – the Raiders have allowed the 2nd most fppg to RB including the 3rd most total yards. The 4.47 ypc allowed to the position group is bottom 10 and they’re bottom 3 in both run stuff rate and yards before contact allowed. Chandler is the obvious 2nd fiddle to Mattison, having played about 30% of the snaps in back to back games but he’s still getting opportunities and I think he gets about 10-12 opportunities this game. It’s a good matchup, so hopefully he can do something with it.
Eliljah Moore vs JAX – Joe Flacco and Elijah Moore just goes together like hot sauce and fried chicken. Moore has only posted 80+ yards 3 times in his career, 2 of those games have come with Joe Flacco under center including his only 100-yard game (a monster 141-yard, 1-TD effort back in 2021). With Amari Cooper trending out expect Moore to see 10+ targets again. (UPDATE: just kidding, Cooper is playing but we still like Moore here.)
DEEP SLEEPER Cedric Tillman vs JAX – the Jags have been entirely too beatable on the outside, they’re bottom 10 in yards, receptions, completion%, yards/tar and fantasy points per game allowed to outside receivers. Tillman (60% outside) actually ran the most routes last week for the Browns. He only converted his 6 targets into 2 catches but as Flacco knocks some rust off, expect the quality of throws to improve. Tillman could surprise.
Odell Beckham Jr. vs LAR – REVENGE GAME BABY!!! No in all seriousness though it’s a good matchup. The Rams have allowed the 9th most fppg to outside receivers… also… REVENNNNNNGGGGEEEEE.
Noah Brown vs NYJ – the matchup isn’t great as the Jets thrive defensively across the board but with Tank Dell shelved for the year there will be plenty of target share available for Brown. He posted a literal zero catches on 2 measly targets last week but it should be noted that Brown ran the most routes last week (50 total). C.J. Stroud locked on to Nico Collins but with Sauce Gardner running around, Stroud will likely have to spread it around a lot more. If Brown runs 40+ routes again, I can promise you he’s posting double-digit ppr points.
DEEP SLEEPER Khalil Shakir vs KC – I really, really want to love Shakir this week because the matchup is great but Dawson Knox back in play this week, this mucks up the target share for both Shakir and Dalton Kincaid. Remember when Knox played Shakir was a complete non factor in this offense. That being said, that was under Ken Dorsey. Joe Brady has looked noticeably better as a play caller and perhaps he will be more sensible in using Shakir than his predecessor? The Chiefs have allowed the 3rd most yards, the 6th most receptions and the 6th most fantasy points per game to receivers in the slot.
DEEP SLEEPER Xavier Gipson vs HOU – I highlighted Gipson in last week’s sleeper column and I was pleasantly surprised by what Gipson showed last week in what can only be described as a nightmarish offensive setting. Posting a 6/5/77 line (all career highs obvi), he was a SIGNIFICANT upgrade in the slot over the Rodgers’ nepo receivers (Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard). HOU is bottom 5 in receptions, yards and fantasy points allowed per game to the slot.
DEEP SLEEPER Dontayvion Wicks vs NYG – has Matt Harmon has highlighted, the Baba Yaga Dontayvion “John” Wicks can play. With Watson out with yet another hamstring injury, target share opens up quite a bit for Wicks. A 70% outside receiver, the Giants have allowed the 5th most yards and the 6th most receptions to outside wideouts.
Gerald Everett vs DEN – the Broncos have allowed the 2nd most fppg to TE including the 2nd most receptions and the 3rd most yards to the position. The 77.4% comp rate allowed ranks as 4th worst. Everett has posted 4 receptions and 40+ rec yards in back to back games. Nothing to write home about but solid figures for a position that far too often gives managers fewer than 5 points in a game.
Cade Otton vs ATL – I get that Otton ghosted you last week with a disgusting zero spot but this week he takes on a Falcons defense that has given up production to TE. ATL is bottom 10 in both receptions and yards per game allowed to the position. Otton plays practically every snap for the Bucs and he runs plenty of routes. I’m feeling one of those 4 for 40 games out of him this week. Let’s see if he can be the first TE to score a TD vs ATL since WK5, aka they are DUE to give up a TD.
DEEP SLEEPER Daniel Bellinger vs GB – I’m going to be keeping a close eye on “Belly of the Beast” for next year. I really like him long term and I think this week might be a little bit of a surprise performance for him especially in a high-profile game against Green Bay. The Packers have allowed the 9th most fppg to TE and the 9.1 yards/tar allowed to the position is 5th worst and points to potential chunk plays. Also consider that Belly is a big part of the offense. Since WK9 (he returned from injury WK8), Bellinger is tied for 2nd on the team in routes run.
James Koh is the co-owner of Reception Perception, a fantasy football analyst and an award-winning journalist. He’s probably wrong, but you never know. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram or TikTok @JamesDKoh.