If you’re like me, it’s do-or-die and must-win games to secure a first-round bye or make the fantasy playoffs at all. A waiver wire add or an unsexy-named-player-started could make or break weeks toward the end of the fantasy regular season.
As I continuously say, at least you don’t need a winning team to have a standout or sleeper fantasy player. With Thursday Night Football in the books, and another bye-magedon this week, x and y players look yummy, whereas x and y players look more and more avoidable.
I used to write a weekly Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em with Sleepers and Busts at another publication, but I have brought my talents to RSJ and am revamping the launch of that series.
Let’s be honest, do you really need to be told to start Zack Moss, who is taking over for an injured Jonathan Taylor — who is STILL the fourth-best fantasy-point rusher despite being a backup? Or to sit Drake London with an inept quarterback against the No. 1 defensive unit in the league?
In a special Thanksgiving, Black Friday sleeper edition, we saw Packers running back and wide receiver A.J. Dillon and Romeo Doubs, Commanders’ tight end and wide receiver Logan Thomas and Curtis Samuel, Seahawks rusher Zack Charbonnet, both prime-time holiday quarterbacks Geno Smith and Brock Purdy, as well as Miami running back Jeff Wilson Jr. make the list.
We’re looking for diamonds in the rough, and this week is no different.
FANTASY WEEK 13 SLEEPERS
ANTONIO GIBSON, RB COMMANDERS VS DOLPHINS
I’m excited for Antonio Gibson this weekend and nervous for Brian Robinson Jr. Why? Washington must be in a hole and chasing points at least once on Sunday. When we saw the Commanders down big on Thanksgiving, they liked Gibson more – mainly in the passing game.
The New York Jets trusted Tim Boyle to target Breece Hall nine times against Miami – and Sam Howell is a little more experienced than Boyle. Additionally, with Howell attempting more than 40 passes in each of Washington’s previous six games, an aerial attack makes more sense to predict than a ground game.
A.T. PERRY, WR SAINTS VS LIONS
If your reaction was, “who is this?” don’t worry because it was mine, too. I expect Chris Olave (concussion) to miss Week 13 and Rashid Shaheed (thigh) to truly be a game-time decision. With Michael Thomas already on injured reserve, A.T. Perry, a rookie out of Wake Forest, would be in line to be the WR1.
Detroit allows the seventh-most fantasy points in the passing game, and Derek Carr must throw to someone. Perry already has a touchdown this year against another porous passing defense in the Vikings. Perry is owned in 13% of leagues and currently started in 5%.
GREG DORTCH, WR CARDINALS AT STEELERS
Speaking of potential No. 1 receivers on teams this week, Arizona’s could be Greg Dortch. Marquise Brown (heel) has yet to practice this week, and Michael Wilson (shoulder) was ruled out for the game on Friday morning. In the previous two games without Wilson, Dortch has 17 targets (nine catches), 103 yards and one touchdown.
Kyler Murray prefers Dortch to Rondale Moore, who has four targets (three catches), 83 yards, and one touchdown in that span. His touchdown came on a 48-yard pass, which was his only catch in Houston. We don’t play “touchdown or bust” in fantasy football. The Steelers are surprisingly 23rd in the league against the pass.
TAYSOM HILL, TE SAINTS VS LIONS
Taysom Hill is a sleeper for much of the same reasons as A.T. Perry. However, Hill is elevated because he runs the ball and can throw for touchdowns. Wouldn’t it be something if Hill threw to Perry? Anyway, if Olave (concussion) and Shaheed (thigh) are out, it’s reported New Orleans will use Hill as a passer. Hill could also finish as the Saints’ No. 1 receiver, but regardless, another option aside from Perry and Alvin Kamara put Hill in a unique place to produce in Week 13.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Tampa Bay
A lot of publications list Baker Mayfield as a “sit” or “bust” candidate. However, my gut tells me this will be a fun NFC South showdown. Carolina, in its first game without fired head coach Frank Reich, should come out blazing, and the Bucs (4-7) can still win the division.
Mayfield (ankle) no longer has an injury designation and the fact that he has multiple touchdowns in four of the previous five games is encouraging. Another argument against Mayfield is that teams run over Carolina. But the idea that Rachaad White reaches 100 yards or a multi-score game, both for the second time, is suspect.
Could both have better-than-average standout days? Sure, but my money is on Mayfield.
It’s not always runaway matchups that produce quality sleeper candidates on a weekly basis. Remembering to think of teams chasing points, lopsided run and rush defenses and depth chart movement are all key factors to look at when attempting to gain an edge in fantasy football.