Rank's 11 sleepers: It's Michael Thomas' time

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So I'm tinkering with my lineup on Sunday morning, as I'm wont to do. I have Matthew Stafford as my starting quarterback. But Brian Hoyer is still floating out there on the wire in my League of Record. Which is weird for a number of reasons. For starters, I advocated Hoyer on "Fantasy and Friends" last week (as well in this space). And my LoR has a number of Bears fans in it. Which might explain why Hoyer was still on the wire. We've all been burned by this before.

I actually went and picked up Hoyer and contemplated starting him, which put me in an interesting position. I told people to stick with Stafford last week because he's a good quarterback and you don't want to chase the points. But I was bullish on Hoyer so it would be terrible to talk about him all week and then not start him when given the chance.

So I decided to do it. Also because my opponent was one of the famed DiPaolo brothers from Corona, Calif. A huge Bears fan as well. So it would be nice to stick it to Doug playing the quarterback from his favorite team. (Plus he has Tom Brady and I need the points!)

Well, there is no greater regret than making a last-minute change and having the guy you benched go nuts. That's not true. My man Hetland dropped Tevin Coleman late in the week to pick up DeAndre Washington. That might be the worst. What's funny, is because the move came so late in the week, nobody could make a waiver claim. And we couldn't do anything about it until this week. And our waivers don't reset until you actually use it, so I'm sitting there in the five-hole, not being able to pick him up (and I could use him), instead trying to make a deal with the guy who has the top waiver priority. And then that guy doesn't want to pick up Coleman, but you have to beg him to do it because the guy who has No. 2 waiver priority is the dude in your league who nobody likes. The only guy in your entire league who didn't grow up in your hometown and go to Corona High. That guy. So that might be the worst.

But on Sunday morning, I was sitting there watching Stafford torch the Lions while Hoyer and the Bears traded early field goals. I have to tell you, this might have been one of the worst feelings you could have. Similar to the feelings Cubs fans must have had on Monday night as Chapman blew a chance at a six-out save and the balance of the series could have shifted. (I'm writing this on Tuesday morning. For all I know the Cubs could have closed this out on Tuesday night and we're all good. But dude, I've seen the Giants do this too many times. It's not going to shock me if the Giants end up in the World Series again. And if the Cubs win on Tuesday night, feel free to cue-up Old Takes Exposed and let me have it. (Editor's note: The Cubs did win in an exciting ninth-inning comeback. And don't worry Rank, we won't send this to Old Takes Exposed.)

Every game, all season

But it was an awful feeling, I can't tell you how gutting it was. Well until (spoiler alert) Hoyer lit up the Colts and ended up with more fantasy points than Stafford. I know this story is kind of anti-climactic because you probably knew Hoyer went crazy in that game. Well, most people did.

A quick word on Hoyer, though. This matchup against my friends down in Duval County, Fla. is going to be no joke. The Jaguars have handled future Hall of Famers like Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco in recent weeks. What, I expect Flacco to someday go to the Hall of Fame; as a visitor when Ray Lewis is inducted. Why, what did you think I was saying?

So he's not your top sleeper quarterback this week. Keep him and give it a go if you have to. But we have some other options for you. Let's take a look.

(And I'll have some Colin Kaepernick thoughts later in the week. I'm going to need some time to really digest this.)

Rank's 11 Sleepers, Week 6


QB: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
QB: Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos
QB: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
RB: Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos
WR: Sammie Coates, Pittsburgh Steelers
WR: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
WR: Breshad Perriman, Baltimore Ravens
WR: Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
WR: John Brown, Arizona Cardinals
TE: Lance Kendricks, Los Angeles Rams
D/ST: Tennessee Titans

Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

My first thought was that Smith was probably good after bye weeks because Andy Reid has been traditionally good after the bye. The numbers for Smith are meh. Or more like they have been very Smith-like. He's averaged more than 200 yards with a touchdown in each game. So it's not great. But the Raiders have allowed a lot of passing yards this year. So for that reason, I feel like a middling 15-point game in standard leagues is going to be expected.

Devontae Booker, RB, Denver Broncos

This one is tough for me. I love my Pac-12 guys. And you might ask, "Then why are you bummed? He went to Utah?" And you're right, imaginary reader asking me questions. But C.J. Anderson is a Cal guy. So I miss him. And I don't know why the Broncos hate him. I mean, they tried to make Ronnie Hillman a thing for so long. But it looks like Booker is going to become a thing. He played a lot in the team's loss. A lot of that could be because of game script. The Broncos trailed for the first time this season. He's much better in the passing game, though, that's not entirely fair to Anderson. But get Booker in on your roster.

Sammie Coates, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

I know, "Thanks Rank, he had a huge game and you are saying to pick him up. Thank you!" You're welcome, fake questioner (again). But here's the thing. A lot of people are concerned about the drops (don't be). Or maybe he's a bit of a one-week wonder. Realize Ben Roethlisberger has completed 12 passes of 25 yards or more. Six of those passes have gone for touchdowns. Coates is the designated deep guy, while Antonio Brown gets loose underneath. He's going to be a little touchdown-dependent, but he's going to get his chances each and every week.

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

He's had 20 targets for 11 receptions for 115 yards and two touchdowns over the last two games. He's become a nice find in the red zone. Thomas leads the Saints with six red-zone targets, and that number will only continue to grow. The Panthers have really struggled against the pass in recent weeks.

Lance Kendricks, TE, Los Angeles Rams

Fantasy Perfect Challenge

We are back to the Doyle rules for the Lions tight ends. Look, Zach Ertz had his chances against the Lions last week. Just a couple of missed connections kept him from having a dandy day. So I'm going back to it again. Case Keenum loves his tight end. So I'm going to roll with Kendrick here if I need to pick up a tight end off the wire to play this week.

Be sure to watch "Fantasy and Friends" at 6 p.m. ET on NFL Network, Monday-Wednesday and Friday. (Sorry, the Thursday night game preempts us. But you can be a part of the show by going to NFL.com/fantasyandfriends. Also follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.


Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank

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