Rank's 11 Sleepers: Alex Smith and the end of an era


Normally it would be silly to talk about quarterbacks in a sleeper column headed into championship week. But those who drafted Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers early in their leagues are likely watching the proceedings from home right now.

And really, I just wanted a chance to mail it in this week but no such luck. There are a number of you who will have to look for a sleeper quarterback. Either you snuck in with Philip Rivers, or you had to scramble because Cam Newton was lost last week. Don't worry; I have you. There are some quarterback options for you this week. Actually, there are just two. Maybe a third. Four if you're absolutely desperate.

The running backs and receivers are also very thin this time of year. I would probably roll with the guys who have gotten you to this point. Even you, Jimmy Graham. I don't have the guts to sit you just yet.

So I'll cut the chit-chat down and just get to it.

Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Hear me out. Smith has put up pretty good stat lines while some of your 'big-name' guys have let you down. Now he's got a great matchup against the Steelers who are very giving to fantasy quarterbacks. In fact, the Steelers are like old St. Nick this time of year. There is always the risk Smith could hand the ball off to Jamaal Charles 89 times this week. But there's always that chance with every quarterback, as Week 15 showed.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota Vikings

Bridgewater was considered the most pro-ready quarterback of the 2014 NFL Draft. He's been given a lot of room to work the past couple of weeks and he's performed decently. The Dolphins have given up the fifth-most points to quarterbacks over the last two weeks.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

He hasn't delivered the past two weeks. And even a great matchup against the Washington Red Raiders might not be enough to win you over. But I have enough faith in Mark to get it done this week. Or you can go the other way with Robert Griffin III. Dude, could you imagine if RG3 has another fine outing?

Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Well the thinking is DeMarco Murray can play. Look, the Cowboys aren't going to rule him out and let the Colts game plan for him not in the lineup. So they will say that kind of (expletive). I like Randle a lot this week.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Gerhart ran pretty hard against the Ravens last week. That's a tough matchup even without Haloti Ngata. The matchup against the Titans is amazing. If you have DeMarco Murray and you get boxed out of Randle, why not take a chance here.

Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints

Most daily leagues are PPR, so Thomas has a ton of value. He could actually be a really good play against the Falcons this week if this thing escalates into a shootout.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts

We will need to monitor the practice habits of T.Y. Hilton this week. Temper Moncrief's potential if Hilton is a full-go this week. Be guarded if Hilton is limited on Friday. Go all-in if Hilton doesn't practice at all on Friday, even if he goes on Sunday. Actually, that is the scenario you would want. Hilton would just be a decoy if he doesn't practice on Friday but is active on Sunday.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

I'm not sure he counts as a sleeper, but I did want to throw him in here because many fantasy enthusiasts have cooled on him. And seriously, if he could have just punched through on that last touchdown, he wouldn't need to be a "sleeper."

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

This has to end, right? Watch it be Junior Hemingway or something. I'm telling you, though, this (expletive) needs to end. If I don't squeeze Smith into my daily fantasy league lineup, I'm going to fit Bowe in some way. At least he's the most targeted receiver on this team, which is akin to being the best musician in Nickelback.

Brandon LaFell, WR, New England Patriots

The Jets have been better on pass defense. But LaFell has scored five touchdowns in five roadies this season. He's also graded out pretty well in the past couple of weeks, so I look for Tom Brady to reward him.

Josh Hill, TE, New Orleans Saints

He will likely be the least-expensive tight end option available compared to the number of touchdowns he scores. I know, he's TD-dependent, but that's pretty much all he does.

Baltimore Ravens D/ST

I like this play because the Texans might end up with J.J. Watt at quarterback. That would be rather cool.

For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 270K followers, and Fabiano has 165K. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook. And if you follow him on Sundays, he'll quote "The Wolf" from "Pulp Fiction" and then it's game on! Although, it's tough to catch me on Facebook. Twitter is your go-to." Plus seriously people, I'm not taking your tweets after Midnight. I'm into the #HashtagWars via @Midnight.