There are a number of great games coming up this weekend, and fantasy football owners are starting to stress out as the playoffs get closer. With four teams on a bye this week, there are some quality players who you won’t be able to put into your lineup. If you are in need of some fill-in players, here is a list of sleepers who may be able to help win you a matchup.
Samaje Perine, RB Washington Redskins:
With usual starter Rob Kelley expected to miss an extended period of time with an ankle and knee injury, Samaje Perine is going to be slotted in as the Redskins’ starting running back. The rookie has been fairly disappointing so far this season averaging just 3.2 yards per carry in limited action while only catching six passes. Much of Perine’s struggles could be attributed to the offensive line play as fellow running back Rob Kelley has been even worse with 3.1 yards per carry. Change of pace back Chris Thompson has been the best player in the backfield but a lot of his work comes on passing downs. Washington will be traveling to the Big Easy to take on the Saints who have allowed over 100 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses. The New Orleans’ defense has been much improved in recent weeks, but the Redskins should still be able to put up a good amount of points. Perine will get the majority of the carries and all of the goal line work, so slot him in as a decent flex option with low-end RB2 upside.
John Brown, WR Arizona Cardinals:
Fantasy owners have been waiting for John Brown to break out for quite some time, and other than a 1,003 receiving yard season in 2015, it has not really happened. So far it looks to be another disappointing year for the speedster as he is on pace for only 450 yards and four touchdowns. This week provides a good time for Brown to have a big game when the Cardinals play the Houston Texans who have given up almost 270 yards per game through the air along with 19 touchdowns. Just last week, Rams’ wide receiver Robert Woods scored on a 94-yard touchdown pass against the same Texans’ secondary, giving Brown a good shot to try and break away for a long one as well. The fourth- year wide receiver was thrown to six times last week, so hopefully, quarterback Drew Stanton continues to look his way Sunday. Start Brown as a low-end flex option with some WR2 upside in a great matchup.
Blake Bortles, QB Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars have quietly been one of the best teams in the league this season, mostly because of their elite defense and the great rookie season from Leonard Fournette. Quarterback Blake Bortles has tried to cut down on turnovers, but at the same time has cut down on how many passing touchdowns he has thrown. Bortles only has one game this season with multiple touchdown passes but a game this week against the Browns could be a prime matchup for him to throw for a few touchdowns. Cleveland surprisingly has one of the best run defenses in the league allowing only 3.1 yards per carry but still has a mediocre pass defense allowing 19 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions. If Fournette is unable to run the ball effectively, Bortles may have to throw more aggressively to get the ball in the end zone. Even with star wide receiver Allen Robinson out for the season, the Jacksonville offense still has plenty of talented pass catchers who can burn the Cleveland secondary. Bortles can be a great spot-start this week if he can throw for a couple of touchdowns in a good matchup.
Austin Ekeler, RB Los Angeles Chargers:
After a great game in Week 10 where the rookie Austin Ekeler scored two receiving touchdowns, the Chargers will play the Bills who have allowed a league-high 14 rushing touchdowns. Third-year running back Melvin Gordon remains the unquestioned starter in Los Angeles, but he hasn’t looked great at times this season, giving Ekeler a chance to prove himself in recent weeks. This is a game that will feature two poor run defenses, and a couple of rushing scores for each side wouldn’t be all that surprising. Gordon usually gets the goal line work for the Chargers, but Ekeler has been running for 5 yards per carry and could have a shot at finding the end zone on the ground for the second time this season. The rookie has a chance to be a weekly fantasy contributor if he continues to get double-digit touches, but for this week he has value based on the matchup alone. Start Ekeler if you are in need of a flex option, but he could surprise you coming off a 21.9 fantasy point game in standard scoring last week.
Sterling Shepard, WR New York Giants:
The season is all but over for the New York Giants, but there are still some players who are shining on the terrible team. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard and rookie tight end Evan Engram have been playing some good football and are making fantasy owners happy. Engram is a must start at a shallow position in most leagues so he couldnt be featured on this list, but not everyone has caught onto Shepard. The second year wide receiver is coming off one of the best games of his career when he has 11 catches for 142 receiving yards against the 49ers last Sunday. This may be the last week that Shepard flies under the radar, but as the top target in the Giants passing game he has a lot to offer down the stretch. This week, New York hosts an exploitable Kansas City defense that has allowed 13.8 yards per catch and 16 receiving touchdowns so far this year. Quarterback Eli Manning is looking Shepard’s way a lot, making the receiver a solid WR2 this week and possibly for the rest of the season.