*Based off ESPN percentages – qualified sleepers started in under 50% of leagues
Marcus Mariota (76.4% Own, 35.1% Start) – Marcus Mariota threw four interceptions on Thursday night against Pittsburgh. Obvious must-start this week, right? The third year quarterback has been a fantasy disappointment this year, but his hamstring issue and the tough part of his schedule is officially behind him. He belongs in lineups this week and in the future. Here are the current rankings of Mariota’s opposing defenses from week 12 to week 16: 20th, 32nd, 26th, 29th, and 4th. You might need a backup plan if you reach the finals, but he can undoubtedly get you there.
Andy Dalton (41.4% Own, 14.7% Start) – Andy Dalton has thrown multiple touchdowns in four of his last five games – with turnovers in only two of the five. Cleveland has given up an average of 21.3 points to opposing quarterbacks in 6-pt touchdown pass leagues. Andy Dalton scored 35 points at Cleveland in week four. Just do the math for the possibilities when Cleveland has to march into Cincinnati.
Bonus Sleeper: Tyrod Taylor has returned to his rightful place as Buffalo’s starter. He’s owned in 49% of leagues and started in only 3.1%. His mobility equates to a high floor against the 18th ranked Kansas City defense.
Samaje Perine (65.6% Own, 21.7% Start) – Samaje Perine’s ownership is going up, but those owners apparently don’t trust him as a starter quite yet. Perine possesses the most direct route to fantasy points out of all running backs picked up in recent weeks. Rob Kelley is out for for the season. Chris Thompson is out for the season. This is the rookie’s backfield now. Washington has the offensive firepower to put New York away early on Thanksgiving. That could mean a heavy dosage of Perine to control the clock.
J.D. McKissic (5.8% Own, 1.1% Start) – A player like Alfred Morris, owned in 75% of ESPN leagues and started in 42.8%, is a safer sleeper start if available. He faces the 30th ranked defense against running backs on Thursday. However, McKissic represents a sneaky option if Mike Davis misses Seattle’s week 12 matchup with San Francisco. The Seahawks’ line is nonexistent and their running back carousel is a frustrating mess, but McKissic provides the best pass catching value. He is the only healthy Seahawks back who has provided any electricity this season. It also doesn’t hurt that the 49ers have no idea how to play defense against the run.
Sammy Watkins (76.1% Own, 23.7% Start) – The biggest pro concerning Sammy Watkins as a fantasy player is his deep threat potential. The biggest issue with Sammy Watkins as a fantasy player is his lack of targets. However, a high share of Goff’s targets are suddenly up for grabs. Watkins should be the beneficiary of Woods’ absence. Even with a less-than-perfect defensive matchup against New Orleans, the possibility of a shootout is too much to ignore.
Corey Davis (38.7% Own, 9% Start) – Many billed Corey Davis as a potential league winner once he returned from injury. Unfortunately, he has averaged only five points a game since he was re-activated three weeks ago. There’s still reason to believe. Mariota has targeted Davis on roughly 1/5 of his pass attempts in the last three games. Plus, Indianapolis is far and away the easiest pass defense the Titans will face since Davis returned (Bal, Cin, Pit). He’s going to break out this week if it’s happening at all this season. You don’t want him stuck on your bench or in the free agent pool when he does.
Vernon Davis (67.0% Own, 42.8% Start) – This is mostly just a reminder that Jordan Reed is out once again. Vernon Davis has been money in Reed’s place over the last three weeks, averaging 12 points per game. Two of the opposing defenses he faced, Minnesota and New Orleans, rank in the top 11 against tight ends. Davis will now square off against the league’s worst fantasy defense against tight ends. If he matches his three-week average of 8.7 targets, it could become a huge day for Washington’s backup tight end.
Jack Doyle (74.7% Own, 19.6% Start) – Jack Doyle’s impressive fantasy momentum came to a sudden halt thanks to a two-point outing against Pittsburgh in week nine. The subsequent bye may have him slipping from the spotlight, but he belongs in lineups as he gets back on track Sunday. Jacoby Brissett consistently relies on checkdowns. Doyle is the primary recipient of those short and intermediate passes. He’s currently tied for 5th in targets among tight ends.
Chargers (49.1% Own, 37.2% Start) – The Chargers paid off as a sleeper mention last week, and there’s reason to trust them again in week 12. Offenses often struggle on a short week, and Dallas has already been in disarray in the wake of Elliott’s suspension.
Patriots (50.3% Own, 22.7% Start) – The first four or five weeks of the season likely scared people off, but New England’s defense has been increasingly difficult to top during their six-game win streak. The unit hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in a game during that stretch. Miami’s offense is putrid and turns the ball over with great regularity.
Header Photo: SI.com