Sleepers And Busts: Week 12
It is the last round of the 2019 NFL bye weeks. Join me in saying, “It is about time!” We are going to lose some big-time performers though, in the Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, and Arizona Cardinals. No Patrick Mahomes, no Melvin Gordon, no Dalvin Cook, and no Kyler Murray. This will leave some interesting questions when combined with the fact that a very small percentage of fantasy teams have escaped the injury bugs sting. Hopefully, the Sleepers and Busts: Week 12 edition can help you out as the fantasy playoffs fast approach. The Sleepers And Busts: Week 11 results were 50/50.
Here is what I got wrong. Brian Hill of the Atlanta Falcons is the only running back that can not produce against the Carolina Panthers but he did have a TD called back. Also, Qadree Ollison scored on the ground and Hill received 15 touches. The process was there. Jack Doyle produced a big fat zero while playing over 60% of the snaps. He was likely used in more of a blocking role against a tough Jacksonville front. Kyler Murray just has become a solid weekly start. Here is what was right. Kenny Golladay was held to 1 reception against the Dallas Cowboys. Sony Michel had just 44 yards on 12 touches against Philadelphia Eagles but Jamison Crowder was great catching 5 of 8 targets for 76 yards and a TD. Here are the Week 12 Sleepers and Busts.
Baker Mayfield vs The Miami Dolphins
27 completions/ 42 attempts, 273 yards passing, 1 TD, 0 INTs (3 rush attempts, 22 yards) – @ Denver (third vs QBs in points allowed)
26 completions/ 38 attempts, 238 yards passing, 2 TDs, 0 INTs (2 rush attempts, 1 yard) – vs Buffalo (fourth vs QBs in points allowed)
17 completions/ 32 attempts, 193 yards passing, 2 TDs, 0 INTs (1 rush attempt, 1 yard, 1 TD) – vs Pittsburgh (11th vs QBs in points allowed, were ranked inside the top 10 prior to Week 11)
Above are the past three games for the Cleveland Browns second-year quarterback. A far cry from the turnover machine we saw through the first seven weeks of the season. Mayfield has not thrown an interception in 138 passing attempts. This after throwing one on every 16.9 times he attempted a pass on the first 203 of them. Mayfield has been the QB10 over the past three weeks whereas through the first seven he was the QB24. He now gets to take on a team that only five teams have intercepted fewer passes then.
The Cleveland Browns and Mayfield will take on the Miami Dolphins and their 26th ranked defense against QBs. Below are all the performances against the Dolphins this season. You will notice that only four times have quarterbacks produced fewer than 24 points in 6-point TD formats. Just three times have they failed to produce fewer than 21 points. Only two QBs failed to throw multiple passing TDs and they have allowed the fourth-most overall this season. Also, only three times did they pass for fewer than 245 yards. This produces a 26.06 point average per game. All of this on 315 attempts passing (fourth fewest).
The Browns could be seeing the return of another offensive piece following the return of Kareem Hunt. Tight end, David Njoku has a chance to return. Hunt has been a PPR machine over the two games since his return and it has only helped Mayfield as Hunt is a reliable pass catcher and is one of the most effective RBs in space. The combination of Nick Chubb and Hunt can both be effective in the passing game and Odell Beckham’s game may not look exciting in the box score but he did come up 1 yard short of the endzone which resulted in Mayfield’s rushing TD. Point being, OBJ has been elite on almost every level this season. He just has not scored very often. Baker could finally have a nearly full complement of weapons.
The offensive line has also been better of late allowing 5 sacks in the last three games. They allowed 5 in the game before this stretch and only allowed fewer than 3 sacks twice. Miami is tied for the fewest sacks in the league (13) with the Cincinnati Bengals. Mayfield should have plenty of time to throw.
Randall Cobb @ The New England Patriots
Randall Cobb of the Dallas Cowboys has had himself a nice set of games. He is averaging 5 receptions on 7.5 targets for 110.5 yards and 1 TD per game over the last two and has seen 7+ targets in three straight games. That is an 18.1% target share over the span. The Dallas Cowboys are entering a stretch of games against teams with good to great outside coverage and Cobb could be someone that benefits from this as he plays primarily inside. Cobb is benefiting from Dak Prescott’s breakout season and has found some resurgence in 2019. His last two games were both top-12 finishes.
The first game in the line of tough matchups for the Cowboys is the Champs. There is a definite risk. This is more of an argument that the New England Patriots are great but who have they played? The Patriots have put up some amazing numbers in 2019 on the defensive end. With exception to the Baltimore Ravens game in Week 9, the Pats defense had scored on teams with regularity and kept them from doing just that with even more regularity. They have been tough against every position but when they took on a high powered offense that can run the ball, they struggled. Dallas is different than Baltimore but they have better receiving weapons as a whole, a better RB and a QB that can run. Granted, not the same running ability that Lamar Jackson has but Dak Prescott is far from a statue.
For as long as we can remember, Bill Belichick defenses focus on taking away the other team’s best weapon. This is no secret but who is that player at this point. Is it Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, or Prescott himself? No matter what your answer is, it was not Randall Cobb. You might even answer Michael Gallup or Jason Witten before Cobb. The Patriots defense could also try to rattle Prescott who has had a few moments of coming up small in big spots. This could also help Cobb out as Dak would be looking for a quick outlet to avoid the rush. Cobb has certainly earned the trust of his quarterback with some great grabs and this will be the Cowboys toughest test to date. There is certainly risk as the Patriots have allowed 1 TD this season but it was from the slot. If Cobb can pull it off here, he may be a thing for the rest of the season.
Derrius Guice Vs The Detroit Lions
We have not gotten to see a lot from the former LSU Tiger, Derrius Guice, due to injury but we did get to see a little flash on a very long TD reception against the New York Jets. His rushing numbers are not spectacular but if you look at the matchups, they are two of the toughest in the league against the run. The Jets are allowing 3.0 yards per attempt (fewest) and the Philadelphia Eagles are allowing the sixth-fewest yards per attempt (3.8). Guice is not far enough back from his second major injury in the pros so his workload will still be limited moving forward but fortunately for him, the matchup is considerably easier this week.
Above you can see the double-digit fantasy performances that RBs have put up against the Detroit Lions. In these games, they allowed 9 TDs on the ground and 6 TDs through the air. Detroit has given up three 100+ yard games and 10 of the 13 either caught 4 passes, had 30 yards receiving, or both. Also, the Lions are one of two teams (Kansas City) that is allowing more than 30 PPR points per game to the position. You may also notice that many of these backs are either the backup on their team or in an RBBC to some extent. This is good news for Guice because Adrian Peterson is in the picture still and the Lions have no problem allowing multiple RBs in a game to produce.
Detroit is allowing 4.5 yards per attempt rushing which is tied with the Seattle Seahawks for the eighth-largest total in the league. They are middle of the pack in terms of receptions allowed to backs (54) but they do allow them to score at a pretty high rate. Every 7.7 receptions, a running back crosses the goal line. The 7 TDs the have allowed are 2 more than any other team and the 607 yards receiving are the third most. The setup is here for Guice to shine on a limited workload and if he is the passing downs back and the Lions are able to get out to a lead, Derrius Guice could have a very nice day.
Other Potential Sleepers
Dallas Goedert Vs The Seattle Seahawks
Dallas Goedert has become a fantasy relevant TE without a Zach Ertz injury. This is something you just do not see that often. Over the past four weeks (three games), The duo is the TE7 (Ertz) and the TE13 in standard and the TE5 (Ertz) and TE15 in PPR. The Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Seattle Seahawks who allow the eighth-most points per game to the TE position (14.2 PPR) It was a lot more before they allowed just 5 receptions on 11 targets for 47 yards over the last two games against Tampa Bay and San Francisco without George Kittle. If Alshon Jeffery were to miss the game again, there would be extra targets available.
Nyheim Hines @ The Houston Texans
Hines will take on the Houston Texans and he is never going to be a bell-cow type RB. What he is though is a very good pass-catching back. Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams are the names that most will be looking for but there are reasons to avoid both. Hines will face the same defense but he is the locked-in, satellite back. his role is certain but the early downs back role could be either guy. Houston has allowed the most receptions (73), fourth-most targets (82), second-most yards (619), and third most TDs (4) to RBs. Marlon Mack missed four games in 2018. Hines’ target totals in the four were 9, 5, 11, 9 (8.5 avg). Those are WR numbers.
(See below: Jordan Wilkins and Jonathan Williams)
Jeff Driskel @ The Washington Redskins
Driskel is coming off the game of his life against the Dallas Cowboys and now it is looking like the job could be his for the rest of the season. There have been rumors circulating about the possibility of Matt Stafford going on injured reserve with his back injury. For now, though, Driskel will get to take on the Washington Redskins. Washington is more of a middle of the road matchup that does not give up a lot on the ground. Mobility is definitely one of Driskel’s attributes but the Redskins have allowed the sixth-highest total of receiving TDs (19).
Jordan Wilkins And Jonathan Williams @ The Houston Texans
(See above: Nyheim Hines)
I talked above about how the Texans have been susceptible to the pass and how that was Nyheim Hines’s job on the team. Even when Marlon Mack is on the field. The majority of the targets that go to an RB are going the way of Nyheim Hines. This is an issue for the two other potential candidates for some of the workload. Neither are known for their receiving game chops and combined in their careers they have 24 receptions in five combined seasons (including this season). 20 of those belong to Wilkins with 16 coming last season. So there are three players splitting an average of 31.7 touches per game. One has his role. As I mentioned above, Nyheim Hines played four games without Mack in the lineup last season and received 8.5 targets per game.
Splitting The Work
So this leaves what left? Hines will get a few touches on the ground so let us say there is maybe 15-17 total left. If one back gets all of that work, that is great. Who gets it though? The guy that had the job until injury held him out for a time or the guy that just ran 13 times for 116 yards and even caught a pass for 31 yards. Or maybe both and nobody gets more than 10 touches. Needless to say, the situation is risky and very ugly until we see something happen or hear a clear report. Below is a tweet that lists all the “Running Backs Don’t Matter” starts this season in the situations we thought we knew about. These are only situations where the clear starter was out and an undrafted backup gets the opportunity. Everyone leaps for them and only once did a player catch you. Wayne Gallman.
"RBs don't matter" starts this year
(clear starter out, does not include starts like Malcolm Browns wk 1, RBBCs, or situations where players had value prior)
Lets start with what's fresh…
-Brian Hill WK 11-16 tch, 38 yds
-Jaylen Samuels WK 10-17 tch, 40 yds
— David Willsey FF (@willson8tor) November 19, 2019
Prior to the Baltimore Ravens “boot-stomping” of the Texans, they were allowing almost nothing on the ground. No back in the previous five weeks had rushed for over 66 yards and none of them scored. Do not look at the Week 11 matchup and think that everyone will just be able to do what Baltimore did to Houston. Lamar Jackson provides a wrinkle that other teams just do not have. I would avoid this in Week 12.
Courtland Sutton @ The Buffalo Bills
Courtland Sutton has become one of the better receivers in the league in what seems like the snap of a finger. Now he is even being used on running and passing downs and following the trade of Emmanuel Sanders, the Targets have been his and Noah Fant’s. Sutton has seen fewer than 7 targets once this season as well as fewer than 4 receptions just once. Also, more than 55 yards in all but one game. The Broncos WR1 has quietly been one of the most consistent WRs in the league. Now he gets what will be one of his toughest challenges yet.
Tre’Davious White is equally a rising star in this league and he will likely follow Sutton all over the field. White has held many receivers to fewer than 61 yards receiving in his coverage. At least until last week but he still has yet to allow a TD. DeVante Parker and the Miami Dolphins were able to get a little work done against the very good Bills secondary. The difference between the two scenarios you ask? Ryan Fitzpatrick fears nothing and will throw the ball to anyone. Even if they are completely covered, they are open. Sometimes this will pay off. Brandon Allen might not be so fortunate.
The Bills do not have a consistent enough offense to assume this will be a blowout of any sort. Josh Allen has been fantastic of late but he still is young and has the ability to toss a game away with the best of them. The way to attack the Bills is on the ground lately and Denver has two quality RBs. You can see below all the production allowed to RBs by Buffalo. It could stand to reason that with a backup QB and that kind of weakness in the defense could be exploited without taking a lot of unnecessary risks.
Jacob Hollister @ The Philadelphia Eagles
Jacob Hollister has filled in very nicely and has made the transition from Will Dissly smooth and as painless as possible. Hollister has actually been fantastic for the Seahawks. Hollister has been a TE1 (12th) since Week 6 of the season and has risen steadily up the ranks. I will let you in on a secret, he did not even play until Week 7. That is how good he has been. He and Russell Wilson have developed a nice bit of chemistry and we have seen with Dissly and Jimmy Graham as well that Wilson can make a TE a very viable endzone threat and huge volume is not needed. This week may be a bit different though.
You can see below that even though their defense allows an abundance of points to WRs, the TE does not necessarily apply to this rule. In fact, just twice have TEs produced a top -12 day and the last time was all the way back in Week 4 as you can see. Since that time they have pretty much locke the position down allowing 1 TD on a 1-yard pass. Even TE1 Austin Hooper was unable to do anything and he had been a TD/ target monster at the position on a team that passes a lot. Now, part of the reason for the lack of production to TEs is due to the WRs running free in the secondary and when you have guys like Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and the newly acquired Josh Gordon, there may be some deep shots taken by the QB that throws them better than anyone.
If you have been using him, you likely are not going to find a better option and for the rest of the season, he should be locked into a TE1 ranking but this week may be rough. Absorb the blow if you can afford to because Jacob Hollister will not sit on waivers long. Just be prepared to possibly be disappointed. But hey, this is a tight end. We should all be used to that by now.
Other Potential Busts
Daniel Jones @ The Chicago Bears
Jones is coming off a monster game against the New York Jets. He threw for 300+ yards and 4 TDs. “Danny Dimes” will have more usable games but Week 12 is likely not it. The Giants will take on the Chicago Bears. Chicago is one of five teams that allow fewer than 15 points in a 6-point per passing TD to QBs. What about on the ground? Jones is mobile right? Yes, but Chicago has allowed the 6th fewest yards (102) rushing to QBs and 0 TDs. Leave him on the bench in Week 12.
Devin Singletary Vs The Denver Broncos
Singletary has been the most efficient running back in the league with 60+ touches in terms of yards per attempt rushing (6.1). He will take on one of the toughest matchups for RB in the Denver Broncos. Below are all the RBs Denver has faced. As you can see, since Week 4, things have improved considerably. They have allowed 2 total TDs from Week 5 to 11. Singletary still has to share touches with Frank Gore and it is very unlikely he sees 16 targets like Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers did.
Todd Gurley vs The Baltimore Ravens
Todd Gurley just had his biggest workload of the season with 25 carries and 3 receptions on 3 targets for 133 total yards and a TD. He and the Rams now take on the Baltimore Ravens who are fresh off completely shutting down the Houston Texans. Gurley is going to face the ninth-worst matchup for RB scoring but they do give up TDs. The question will be, can Jared Goff get the team up and downfield allowing for more scoring opportunities. Lately, this has been tough.
We have almost reached the end of the Fantasy Football regular season and you are running out of time if your team is on the outside looking in. If you are locked into a playoff spot, do not get complacent and mindlessly fill in your roster. In both the cases, be smart and avoid unnecessary bust risk but also be looking for that sleeper potential. It is time to finish the season strong. Good luck to everyone in Week 12.