Happy last week of the regular season, Fam! There are just 4 more weeks (in redraft, if you’re lucky) of genius tinkering. Of course, the most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing.
Several stars returned from injury or bounced back last week, which made for fewer sleeper surprises. Still, Jared Goff pulled off an upset, fitting for this season. Let’s build on the Motor City Miracle good juju and crush in Week 14!
We’ve learned plenty — most of it bad — about QBs playing with broken fingers this season. But that’s not going to stop Sean Payton from rolling out Taysom Hill. To be fair, Hill’s arm isn’t what makes him such an intriguing fantasy prospect. The Saints starting QB completed just 46 percent of his passes (19 of 41), averaged 6.4 YPA, and tossed four picks last Thursday versus Dallas … and still closed out Week 13 as fantasy’s QB3.
Because of his legs. And the 101 rushing yards he recorded.
Hill posted top-12 fantasy numbers (25 fpts/gm) in each of his four starts last year. The BYU product rushed for a total of 209 yards (52.25 rush yds/gm) and 4 TDs from Weeks 11 through 14 of 2020. Even with a bad hand, he possesses top-10 upside in a matchup at the Jets. Not only has Gang Green struggled to create turnovers (generating a league-low of four on the season), but New York has also allowed a league-high 21 rushing scores (133 rush yds/wk, 4.5 YPC).
Ameer Abdullah was added in Week 7, three weeks after Chuba Hubbard led the Panthers backfield and two weeks before Christian McCaffrey returned from injury. Hubbard — a rookie who had limited experience as a pass catcher in college — performed admirably in McCaffrey’s stead, but Abdullah’s receiving chops provided the Panthers with much-needed dimension.
The former Viking has recorded 13 receptions over his 5 games in Carolina (Hubbard has managed a total of 2 grabs since Abdullah’s arrival). The 28-year-old Nebraska product figures to be featured — particularly on passing downs — with CMC out for the remainder of the season. He could flirt with five catches versus a generous Falcons defense. Atlanta has not only allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs but given up the seventh most receiving yards (590) to the position. Consider Abdullah a top-40 flex option in PPR-friendly formats.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (0% rostered, $11)
Just when we thought Jamal Agnew was the Jags’ biggest (on-field) surprise … here comes Laquon Treadwell.
The former first-round pick (2016) has been the Jags’ most productive receiver over the past two weeks, recording a snap share over 90 percent and running a total of 67 routes since Agnew (hip) was sidelined. Apprehension surrounding Treadwell is warranted given his history of drops in tandem with Trevor Lawrence’s accuracy issues, but the 26-year-old has been making plays nonetheless …
… something he should continue to do in Nashville this Sunday. The Titans have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, allowing an average of nearly 200 yards per game and a total of 16 scores to the position. Jacksonville enters Week 14 as 9-point underdogs. As per usual, game script should favor the Jags passing attack. FF: 5-68-1
Bonus WR: Joshua Palmer, Los Angeles Chargers (0% rostered, $10)
I asked Austin on Ekeler’s Edge who he thought would step up in Keenan Allen‘s stead (COVID) and he told me Josh Palmer. In fact, No. 30 shared that he had picked up the rookie WR for his own fantasy squad.
It remains to be seen if Palmer — a jump-ball specialist who posted numbers at Tennessee despite abysmal QB play (99-1,514-7 over 42 games/4 years) — is up to the task. Based on his recent performance and increased involvement over the last month, however, there’s a good shot he flashes versus the Giants.
Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Washington Football Team (10% rostered, $14)
Ricky Seals-Jones averaged six targets per game and posted three top-15 fantasy finishes from Weeks 5 through 10. He’s been out for three weeks with a hip strain but practiced on a limited basis this past Wednesday.
The Football Team will need him in a division matchup versus the Cowboys on Sunday, particularly with Logan Thomas (knee) sidelined for the remainder of the season. Dallas has been middle-of-the-pack over the middle-of-the-field (11th most fantasy points allowed). It’s not the matchup so much as RSJ’s potential volume — in a could-be shootout (O/U 47.5) with postseason implications — that makes him an enviable stream.
Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns (23% rostered, $12)
Kevin Stefanski loves his tight ends — a frustrating amount for fantasy managers.
Austin Hooper leads Cleveland’s trio of TEs, however, in snaps (512), routes (202), and targets (45). Just behind him is David Njoku … who was placed on the COVID last this past Monday and, as a result, is unlikely to suit up versus the Ravens on Sunday.
Njoku managed a 3-35-1 stat line at Baltimore two weeks ago. That bodes well for Hooper, as the Ravens have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, including 9 scores to the position. Hooper is my TE14 for the week.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF