If you’re in the most important game of your season, it’s not a time to take too much risk if you can avoid it. However, if you’re reading this post you might find yourself in the unenviable position of having to get help from the waiver wire as things wrap up in this year’s fantasy football season. The good news for last-minute fantasy shoppers is there are some decent options still around since many owners have checked out for the year.
Here’s my top three sleepers at each position who are unowned in at least 50% of ESPN leagues and have a shot to put up a good week due to matchup and opportunity. All scoring is ESPN Standard for the sake of uniformity.
Top 3 Fantasy Football Sleepers at Quarterback
1. Brandon Weeden-Cleveland Browns: (8.7% owned in ESPN leagues) Weeden has a great matchup this weekend as Washington comes to town. As good as RG3 makes this team, their secondary still has major issues and they’ve allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks including seven touchdowns in the last three weeks including three to Joe Flacco last week. Weeden should be in for a nice day ans he and fellow-rookie RG3 (or Kirk Cousins) battle it out in what could rapidly become a shootout like many of Washington’s games have been.
2. Russell Wilson-Seattle Seahawks: (24.8%) The Seahawks fly east to take on the Bills this Sunday. Buffalo has allowed the eighth most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Wilson is coming off a down week as the Seahwaks blew the Cardinals away early and he didn’t need to throw much. Before his eight points he had 15 or more in five consecutive games. He should return to that level again this week in Buffalo making him a solid QB2 and a low-end option to start in one quarterback leagues if you’re desparate.
3. Sam Bradford-St. Louis Rams: (38.4%) Bradford is maddeningly consistent scoring 10-15 fantasy points just about every week. He’s had three games all season where he’s been above that range and two games below. The Vikings defense is seventh-worst at allowing passing fantasy points to opposing QBs so Bradford could be above his average this week. He’s a QB2 option, but little more as the Rams play the Vikings in a matchup that has playoff implications.
Top 3 Fantasy Football Sleepers at Running Back
1. Jacquizz Rodgers-Atlanta Falcons: (26.7%) Rodgers has seemed on the verge of a breakout all year, and this is finally the week I think he gets it. The Falcons will need all the firepower they can gather against the in-coming New York Giants as they look to avenge their playoff loss from last year. He’s a high-risk play, but the reward could be huge. I’d feel comfortable with him in a flex spot or as an RB3. He’s shown playmaking ability but hasn’t gotten the touches to convert his upside into fantasy production yet.
2. Montell Owens-Jacksonville Jaguars: (10.4%) Owens looked good leading the Jags backfield last week rushing for 91 yards and a score on just 14 carries. He was rushing against the Jets though and will find the going much tougher against the Dolphins this week. He still could have a good game and will get more guaranteed touches than Rodgers or Bell. He has a lower ceiling but is a safer pickup than any of the other backs on this list.
3. Joique Bell-Detroit Lions: (27.5%) Bell has started to play a larger role in the Lions gameplan as he shares time with Mikel Leshoure. He’s more of the receiving/third-down back but could see more time this week against the lowly Cardinals as the Lions head to Arizona. He’s scored 28 points the last three weeks and has an expanding role in a dynamic offense going against a struggling defense.
Top 3 Fantasy Football Sleepers at Wide Receiver
1. Danario Alexander-San Diego Chargers: (48.1%) Alexander is barely under the threshold and barely a sleeper after averaging 15.4 points per game in his last five games with the Chargers. He’s emerged as their number one receiver after joining them mid-season. This week he and San Diego host the Panthers that was torched last couple week by Atlanta wide receivers. Alexander is the top available option in most leagues at wide-out.
2. Josh Gordon-Cleveland Browns: (44.4%) Gordon is also closer to 50% than I like to get my sleepers from but he’s become the top receiver in Cleveland with 14 catches, a touchdown, and 202 yards in the past two weeks. Only Tampa Bay has allowed more points to opposing wide receivers than the Redskins have, so keep an eye on Gordon as the RG3 show rolls into Cleveland. If Alexander is gone, he’s option 1a.
3. Rod Streater-Oakland Raiders: (1.3%) Streater showed off his talent this preseason but had a quiet first part of the season. The last few weeks he’s stepped it up with 96 and 100 yards the last two weeks. Carson Palmer has started looking his way as he received a team-leading seven targets last week. This week the Raiders are matched with their division-rival Chiefs so if Streater can convert his targets he should be in for another big week. He’s a hail mary play, but if you need to grab a receiver in a deep league and drop him right into your lineup, Streater the best option who is so readily available.
Top 3 Fantasy Football Sleepers at Tight End
1. Dallas Clark-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Clark had five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown the last time the Bucs played the Saints. He could be in for another solid game against the New Orleans secondary in what could quickly become a shootout in the Superdome. While he’s not an elite option, he’s a solid play based on his matchup and his three touchdowns in the last five weeks.
2. Dennis Pitta-Baltimore Ravens: (29.6%) Pitta caught five passes but only finished with 46 yards and a touchdown last week against Washington. As the Ravens head to Denver this week, he’ll face the team that’s allowed the second-most points to opposing tight ends this season. I’d be higher on him if it wasn’t for the question-marks surrounding the new offensive-coordinator and the uncertainty over how he’ll utilize the tight ends.
3. Tony Scheffler-Detroit Lions: (1.0%) The deepest of our tight end sleepers may pay off if Brandon Pettigrew is unable to play this week against Arizona. Scheffler has 11 catches over the past three weeks for 132 yards and a score. He only can be relied on as a starter if Pettigrew is inactive as expected after missing practice all week.
Top 3 Fantasy Football Sleepers at Team Defense
1. Tennessee Titans: (3.0%) The Titans scored 16 points in Indy last week and return home for a great defensive matchup against Mark Sanchez and the turnover-prone Jets. The Titans are a reach most weeks, but they’re a sneaky-good play on Monday Night Football at home this week.
2. San Diego Chargers: (33.0%) The Chargers have scored 12 of more points in three of their last four games and face a Panthers defense that has been turnover-prone at times this year. Carolina has looked better as of late but have allowed defenses to dominate them in the past (week 10 they allowed 28 points to Denver). The Chargers are a decent option this week if you’ve been playing matchups all year.
3. Miami Dolphins: (33.1%) The ‘Phins host Jacksonville who are fifth in most points allowed to opposing defenses. They’ve given up nine or more in each of the last three weeks. Miami can pressure the QB which should lead to sacks and turnovers in the battle for Florida.