Here we are at the end of the fantasy football season, and yet there are still big decisions to be made before the final games start. Fantasy owners who are still playing in the championship will face a lot of tough decisions when many real-life stars hit the bench in Week 17. If you are in need of replacements who will help win you your league, look no further as these sleepers should help bring a miracle to owners who had nowhere else to look when they learned their usual starters would not be playing. Just to add, this obviously be the last sleeper article of the season, and to those of you who read this column each week for advice, I thank you and will be looking forward to talking more about fantasy football sleepers next season. So without further ado, here are the best sleepers for Week 17 in fantasy football.
Randall Cobb, WR Green Bay Packers:
Another year is coming to an end, and Randall Cobb has disappointed fantasy owners yet again. It is now two years in a row that Cobb has failed to reach 100 targets, and even though quarterback Aaron Rodgers has missed most of the season, the former has almost identical numbers from last year. While he hasn’t been usable in fantasy football so far, Week 17 might be the seventh year wide receiver’s best game of the season. With fellow receivers Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson ruled out for the contest, Cobb should lead the team in targets and hopefully, he can turn it into a good amount of fantasy points for owners who are still playing in the championships. Green Bay will play a divisional game against the Detroit Lions who feature one of the league’s worst pass defenses. So far this year, Detroit has allowed 249 yards per game through the air which is fifth worst in the league; although, they have only allowed 20 passing touchdowns which is one of the better totals in the NFL. This is a prime opportunity for Cobb to have a great game, but unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed in this terrible Packers’ offense. Put the slot receiver into your lineup as a low-end WR2 with a low floor but some nice upside.
Stevan Ridley, RB Pittsburgh Steelers:
Week 17 can be one of the hardest times in the fantasy football season because not only is a lot on the line for owners who are playing for a championship, but many NFL teams decide to bench star players to keep them fresh for the playoffs. In case some of your star players are sitting on the bench this week, it may be best to look at their replacements. While it has not been confirmed yet, it looks like elite running back Le’Veon Bell will be taking a seat when the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Cleveland Browns this weekend. Stevan Ridley looks to make the biggest impact as a fill-in after receiving nine carries last week. The Browns have had one of the best run defenses by only allowing 3.3 yards per carry this season, but this should be a run-heavy game for the Steelers going against a team that probably won’t be able to score a lot of points. It has been a long time since Ridley’s only 1,000 yard rushing season back in 2012, but Pittsburgh replacement running backs have tended to perform very well when given a start. Slot Ridley in as a low-end RB2 with some high upside if he is given a large workload.
Patrick Mahomes, QB Kansas City Chiefs:
There may be plenty of star quarterbacks taking a seat on Sunday, but it has already been confirmed that Alex Smith will not see the field when the Chiefs travel to Denver to play the Broncos. Rookie Patrick Mahomes will get the starting nod for Sunday’s game, and this will be the first time he has seen the field in an NFL regular season game. It may be tough to convince yourself to start a player whose first career game is in the Mile High City, but there is some serious opportunity for a nice performance. The Broncos have been known for their elite pass defense in recent years, but this season they have allowed 29 passing touchdowns which is the second highest total in the league and only nine interceptions which is one of the lowest totals. Mahomes should have a chance to throw for a couple of scores, but don’t be fooled because the Denver secondary has only allowed 196 passing yards per game which is fourth fewest in the league. In order for the Texas Tech product to take advantage of the matchup, he is going to have to get his value from scoring because it may be hard to throw for a lot of yards on the road in his first career start. Play Mahomes if you are in need of a starting quarterback in the final week, because he may end up having a nice game for those daring enough to put him in lineups.
Malcom Brown, RB Los Angeles Rams:
The Rams have confirmed that fantasy football MVP and possible NFL MVP Todd Gurley will be on the bench for the team’s last game on Sunday. With Los Angeles already clinching a playoff spot, there is nothing left to play for this week against the 49ers so that Malcolm Brown will be the lead running back for the team against a middle-of-the-pack run defense. The Rams have shown this season that they like to keep the ball on the ground, and while Brown is no Todd Gurley, he should be given plenty of opportunities to have a big day. The second year running back out of the University of Texas is a career 3.5 yards per carry runner, but given a full workload, he may be able to get a good chunk of yardage and possibly a trip to the end zone. San Francisco has allowed 117 rushing yards per game and 12 touchdowns on the ground this season, giving Brown more than enough opportunity to shine. Based on the anticipated workload alone, Brown highlights as a low-end RB2 with some nice upside if he can score once or twice.
Roger Lewis, WR New York Giants:
As the last player on this list, Roger Lewis is the only one who is not playing for a playoff team. Lewis has had an impact on the offense since both Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall were injured earlier in the season, but this week he looks to be one of the only options left in the passing game. With both Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram ruled out for Sunday’s matchup, the sophomore wide receiver should end up getting a lot of attention from quarterback Eli Manning. The Redskins’ secondary isn’t terrible, but there is a lot of opportunity for Rodgers to have a nice game. Manning tends to pick his favorite target each game and use them a lot, and this week it should be Roger Lewis, making him a worthy flex option for Week 17.