The sleeper fantasy football performances of Week 14
If you’re in your playoffs, you might not need these. But there are other ways to play.
This is not the time of year you want to have to worry about sleepers for your fantasy production. If you’re still going in your fantasy league, it’s because you’re in good shape, not because you’re trolling the waiver wire for, I don’t know, Stedman Bailey.
But that’s for a season-long league. And many fantasy players are long done with their season-long league, but they aren’t done playing the game. This time of year, the sleepers breakdown is for those out there playing in weekly games, trying to find bargains on guys whose production is outclassing their weekly salary.
Who will offer you a bargain and put up big numbers? And who will just be cheap, and produce numbers equal to their salary? Let’s take a look:
Sleeper quarterbacks in Week 14
Andy Dalton, CIN (302 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 22 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 1 fumble lost, 26 fantasy points)
A year ago, Dalton finished fifth among quarterbacks in fantasy points, ahead of Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford and a whole host of names. Entering Sunday, he was only 20th this year, behind guys like the briefly benched Ryan Fitzpatrick and the wildly disappointing Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. With A.J. Green appearing to be fully healthy again, Dalton’s prognosis going forward is much nicer than it was before. You still probably aren’t using him in fantasy, but he’s not quite the stay-away that he had been.
Jay Cutler, CHI (341 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 9 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 25 fantasy points)
It’s not that Cutler is much of a sleeper, really. We talk about him all the dang time. But for all his failings as a real quarterback — and there are many — Cutler can still produce in fantasy. It’s easy to forget, after the Bears were blown out Thursday before garbage time made it look closer than it was, that Cutler still had 25 fantasy points and was one of the week’s top quarterbacks. You don’t have to enjoy watching your fantasy quarterback to enjoy the production he offers in the end.
Sleeper running backs in Week 14
Jonathan Stewart, CAR (155 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 21 fantasy points)
It feels like cheating to call Stewart a “sleeper,” since a lot of people were in on the Carolina running back entering Sunday. With DeAngelo Williams on the shelf and an awful New Orleans run defense opposite him, Stewart was eyed as a nice surprise play. Still, Stewart was started in only 31 percent of ESPN leagues Sunday, so people weren’t all the way in. With a game against Atlanta next week and Williams’ health still a question mark, Stewart won’t be as nice an option, but he won’t be a bad one.
Kerwynn Williams, ARI (100 rushing yards, 10 fantasy points)
Well this is just about the sleeperest sleeper that ever sleepered. Williams’ entire career before Sunday had been a single kickoff return for the Colts last season, but when Andre Ellington got hurt, the Cardinals signed Williams off the practice squad for Sunday. The thinking was that some combination of Stepfan Taylor, Marion Grice and maybe Michael Bush would get the work Sunday, but instead it was Williams who had the hot hand, with 5.3 yards per carry in the game. And the fact that he managed that average over 19 carries with no single rush of longer than 16 yards means his numbers weren’t skewed by a single long run. With a brutal schedule down the stretch, Williams won’t be a real fantasy option yet, but it’s interesting.
Sleeper wide receivers in Week 14
Charles Johnson, MIN (103 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 16 fantasy points)
Johnson was actually outproduced among the Vikings Sunday by teammate Jarius Wright, who had 19 more yards than Johnson and added 23 yards on the ground, but 87 of Wright’s yards came on a screen pass in overtime that fluked its way into a touchdown, while Johnson’s performance seemed more repeatable, especially on the heels of three straight fantasy-relevant games leading into Sunday. He’s still not a fantasy starter, but Johnson is moving his way closer and closer to that.
Jaron Brown, ARI (48 receiving yards, 10 fantasy points)
Before the season, we thought the Broncos would have Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker, Cody Latimer and Andre Caldwell all contributing as receivers, only for it to basically boil down to the first two, and everyone is better off as a result. On the flip side, we assumed the Cardinals would lean on Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd almost exclusively, and instead John Brown and now Jaron Brown have emerged, and the end result is that the Arizona pass offense is impossible to invest in or trust. No one caught more than four passes Sunday. I wouldn’t trust this Brown, or the other one, or Floyd, or Fitzgerald.
Sleeper tight end in Week 14
Heath Miller, PIT (1 receiving yard, 1 receiving touchdown, successful 2-point conversion, 8 fantasy points)
My complaints about Miller early in the season centered around his wild swings — he’d put up one or two fantasy points for a month straight, then come out with a big game, then immediately slip back to worthlessness. Well, his last three games have seen Miller put up seven, eight and eight fantasy points. That sort of tight end is much more useful — the position is so bleak these days that you’d rather a guy who can guarantee a few points than absorb five weeks of one-point performances. Miller’s fortunes have turned.