If you're still reading this column, you've made it to the fantasy playoffs. Congratulations! Or you just really enjoy reading fantasy football content, especially mine. In that case, I appreciate you.
Either way, we've made it to the second season of the BIGGEST SEASON EVER (*echoes into the distance*). Unfortunately, we've reached this point with injuries and COVID-19 infections nipping at our heels. Neither issue is likely to improve significantly in the upcoming weeks, so we'll have to do our best to maneuver around them.
So, without further ado, here are some sleepers.
Justin Fieldshad an up-and-down night against the Packers on the field Monday night. On the stat sheet, though, he finished with a respectable 18 fantasy points. It was the third time in his last four games that he reached the 18-point plateau. It's also reason to be optimistic about his Week 15 matchup against the Vikings. Minnesota has allowed an average of 19 points per game to quarterbacks this season. Six different signal-callers have topped 295 passing yards while seven QBs have thrown multiple touchdown passes. In a big division matchup, this could be another chance for the rookie to progress.
We've called Tua Tagovailoa's name whenever the matchup has been right. For the most part, he's delivered in those circumstances. Guess what? The matchup is right this week. Tua and the Dolphins embark on a playoff schedule that could make them popular options for fantasy managers for the rest of December. That run starts with a Jets defense that has been victimized endlessly this season. Gang Green has a league-low four interceptions and was just hit by Taysom Hill for more than 26 points. Tua's method of attack will undoubtedly differ from Hill's, but in the end could be just as effective for fantasy managers.
I present Myles Gaskin this week with a caveat. The Dolphins back was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list during the team's bye in Week 14. There is optimism that he could be available this week, but that good feeling is tempered by Miami having two of its other running backs added to the list. If Gaskin is ready to go this week, he'll get his shot at the same woebegone Jets defense. As bad as they've been against the pass, they're worse against the run, giving up a league-high 24 rushing scores. Gaskin had one of his better performances this season against New York, scoring 18.6 points in Week 11. A similar outing could come this week.
Was Clyde Edwards-Helaire good or bad in Week 14? It depends how you look at it. He tallied more than 19 fantasy points, thanks to a pair of rushing touchdowns. That's good. He picked up 42 yards on 13 touches. That's not so good. Such has been CEH's fantasy existence. That's also where the Los Angeles Chargers come in. The only run defense worse than the Bolts resides in Houston. It's also the same defense that surrendered one of Edwards-Helaire's two 100-yard rushing games this season. We're not certain if the Chiefs offense is truly back after last week's beatdown of the Raiders, but the matchup this week is in his favor.
Without Christian McCaffrey, we've been searching for a new hero in the Panthers backfield. There may not be one simple answer, but Ameer Abdullah is part of the solution. Last week, Abdullah led Carolina in backfield snaps and out targeted his counterpart Chuba Hubbard. On paper, this week's contest doesn't seem profitable. Over the course of the season, the Bills have given up the 10th-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. The story over the past month has been very different. Buffalo has allowed the second-most points per game to running backs and been consistently gashed on the ground. Don't expect Abdullah to mimic Jonathan Taylor's ludicrous 53-point explosion in Week 11. But he could give deeper league managers a nice flex option.
Figuring out the Titans backfield post-Derrick Henry hasn't been easy. Just when we thought we'd settled on D'Onta Foreman, Dontrell Hilliard popped up. Not to mention the threat of Jeremy McNichols. None of it seemed to work consistently. We couldn't live with that failure. Where did that bring us? Back to Foreman. Either that or the 14 points he scored last week. As bad as Buffalo has been against running backs over the last four weeks, the Steelers have been worse. Foreman has been game-script dependent, but with the Steelers struggling in nearly all aspects that may not be a problem this week.
The Browns passing game has been hard to figure all season, but Donovan Peoples-Jones offered a nice alternative to Jarvis Landry last week. He could do that again this week against the Raiders. Over the past month, Las Vegas has surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points per game to receivers. Just as encouraging are the 58 receptions allowed in that span – third-most in the NFL. Cleveland's offense doesn't have a ton of passing volume but if Kareem Hunt doesn't play, some of the relatively few targets available could be funneled DPJ's direction.
I'm not saying Ricky Seals-Jones is a fantasy league winner. I'm also not not saying that. The Washington Football Team has been desperately searching for a complement to Terry McLaurin all season and has regularly turned to its tight ends. First it was Logan Thomas, now it's RSJ. But that has less to do with my grand pronouncement than what's upcoming. Two of Washington's next three games are against the Philadelphia Eagles. In tight end parlance, that's basically been like stealing all season long. Seals-Jones should be in plenty of lineups this week and could be there when it matters in Week 17.
Much like Gaskin, we wait to further learn about Tyler Higbee's availability. He missed the Week 14 win over Arizona after a positive COVID test. If he is good to go in Week 15, he has a tantalizing matchup with the Seahawks on tap. While we've been picking on the Eagles when it comes to tight end, let's not let Seattle's defense escape notice. The 'Hawks have given up a top-six tight end in three of the last four weeks – including a pair of weekly TE1s in Zach Ertz and George Kittle. Higbee might not match those heights, but if Brevin Jordan can scare up double-digit points, Higbee should be able to do the same.
When it comes to streaming defenses, we've constantly picked on the Jets. I see no reason to change up now. New York has tossed a league-high 20 interceptions while surrendering 36 sacks – seventh-most. Miami's DST has been a top 10 outfit lately, racking up sacks and turnovers by the bunch. Now with Elijah Moore on injured reserve, the Jets have lost the one consistent weapon they've had in the latter part of the season. Time to go Phishing.