*Based off ESPN percentages – qualified sleepers started in under 50% of leagues
- Ryan Fitzpatrick (Own 18.3% / Start 13.1%)
I won’t say that Ryan Fitzpatrick is definitely an evil entity that sucks the soul of starting quarterbacks to gain strength as the season progresses. I will say that Fitzpatrick has joined almost every team in his career as a backup before earning the starting job thanks to an injury in front of him. He usually plays lights out in the aftermath. Fitzpatrick has already proven he can put up points with Tampa Bay, scoring 26 (6-point TD pass leagues) in relief of Jameis Winston during week six. Mike Evans’ suspension hurts, but New York still allows the 24th most points to fantasy quarterbacks. Beyond this week, Fitzpatrick is a viable streamer for at least the next month depending on how long Winston sits.
- Eli Manning (Own 47.7% / Start 23.1%)
It’s difficult to believe that a team a year removed from the postseason is now noncommittal regarding the future of their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. Eli Manning may not have the weapons, but he has the matchup he needs to prove himself. The 49ers are the third worst team against fantasy quarterbacks this year. They gave up 18 points to Drew Stanton last week. If you’re in a bind or want a cheap daily fantasy option, you could do worse than Eli with his back against the wall.
- Duke Johnson (Own 73.1% / Start 18.4%)
Whether it’s due to people neglecting to set their lineup following Johnson’s bye or due to Johnson’s third lowest scoring output of the season in week 8, he’s being criminally underutilized heading into Sunday. Detroit is coming off a flawless offensive game against Green Bay and should continue to put up points. Cleveland’s need to keep up propels Johnson over Crowell, as does the fact that the Lions have a legitimate run-stuffing defense. Expect quick dump offs to Johnson as Kizer continues to adapt to his role as an NFL quarterback.
- Bilal Powell (Own 79.0% / Start 40.2%)
Bilal Powell went on a tear in New York’s final four games last season thanks to Matt Forte’s injury. He has taken a back seat so far this year, but his potential to boost a struggling fantasy team into the playoffs still remains. Forte has sat the last two practices out due to swelling in his surgically repaired knee. Powell is at least worthy of flex consideration – or as an RB2 in the case of bye week struggles – if Forte continues to trend toward an absence. If Forte fights through injury, no Jets running back is a viable start this Sunday. Instead, look at Theo Riddick to gain more touches because of Ameer Abdullah’s ball security issues or James White to be put to work out of the backfield against Denver.
- Robby Anderson (Own 62.8% / Start 44.2%)
Starting a Jets player isn’t sexy, but plugging in Robby Anderson yields consistent results. He’s scored the 22nd most points among receivers in PPR leagues this season, which places him at the tail end of weekly plays amongst WR 2’s. Prescribing to a more “what have you done for me lately” strategy only bolsters Anderson’s credentials. He’s 5th in points between weeks 7-9 and trails only Amari Cooper (aided by one insane game), Doug Baldwin, DeAndre Hopkins, and Julio Jones. Anderson heads to Tampa Bay to face the 31st ranked defense in points allowed to fantasy receivers. If you’re one of the 18.6% of owners not starting him, get him in your lineup. If he’s sitting in free agency in your league, pick him up at the very least.
- Mohamed Sanu (Own 67.2% / Start 46.1%)
Although he managed only three catches last week against Carolina, Mohamed Sanu did convert one of those for a touchdown. Julio Jones is still the engine that drives the receiving game in Atlanta, but Sanu is quietly putting together a stellar fantasy season in his own right. He’s scored double-digit points in every game aside from an injury-shortened matchup with Buffalo in week four and the one he missed thanks to that injury in week six. Beyond the consistency, three factors suggest Sanu will continue to pay off this week in Atlanta. Mercedez-Benz Stadium is perfectly suited for the speed Atlanta likes to operate with, the Dallas offense has the potential to make this game a shootout, and the Dallas defense struggles defending the slot.
- Eric Ebron (Own 24.1% / Start 12.4%)
The tight end position is mostly a mess at this point thanks to injuries and underperformers. Ebron coincidentally has struggled with both issues throughout his career and has again drawn the ire of Detroit fans for generally being a nonfactor. He’s scored 2 or less points in half of his games this year. However, he has turned a corner, relatively speaking, by scoring 13 over the last two weeks. Cleveland’s defense is a cupcake against tight ends. If you’re in a pinch and haven’t been burned by him yet, Ebron isn’t the craziest desperation play in the world.
- Ed Dickson (Own 34.2% / Start 20.8%)
Ed Dickson is starting in just over one-fifth of ESPN fantasy leagues. That likely has something to do with his goose egg against Atlanta in week nine. Dickson deserves consideration despite the concerning performance. Miami possesses a vulnerable secondary, and Cam Newton will continue to adjust to Kelvin Benjamin’s absence. Jared Cook, who is as inconsistent as they come, just went off against the Dolphins last weekend. Plus, the defense hasn’t held a tight end to single digits since week four. The Monday nighttime slot also helps for those who don’t like to sit idly by as an opponent chips into their lead.
- Patriots (Own 44.8% / Start 25.4%)
New England is a scary defense to trust this year. Enter Brock Osweiler. It’s not so scary anymore.
- Packers (Own 15.5% / Start 10.7%)
The Packers have allowed 79 points in three games since Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone. That’s a 26.3 points per game average. The Bears have scored 35 offensive points in that same number of games, good for an 11.6 average. Something’s gotta give. Fantasy isn’t fun without making choices that border on complete lunacy, so start Green Bay’s Swiss cheese D and pray.