Fantasy Football

Michael F. Florio's Week 14 fantasy football sleepers

Cole Beasley probably hasn't received enough credit for his play this season. And no, I do not mean in his normal way, where he comes up big on third downs or something and is more valuable to his real-life team than in fantasy. I mean for what he has done as a fantasy asset this season. He went off for a season-high 28 fantasy points against the Niners last week. That was his second game with over 27 fantasy points in the past three weeks, and his third over 22 in the past six games. He has also scored over nine fantasy points in all but two games, showing that he comes with a safe floor each week. But the higher ceiling is what is new here. He is on pace for his first 1,000-yard season and is becoming a weekly WR3 or flex option in front of our eyes. Well, that is until he plays the Steelers this week, right? Wrong! The Steelers are still a tough matchup to wide receivers, but nothing like they were last season.

On the year, they are giving up the 11th-fewest fantasy PPG to WRs (34.62), but that is not why I like Beasley this week. It's because the Steelers have struggled to contain slot receivers and as we all know, Beasley is a slot receiver specialist, running 89 percent of his routes from the slot. In the fantasy regular season, the Steelers allowed the fifth-most fantasy PPG to slot receivers at 15.63 per game. That includes an average of 72.9 yards per game and six touchdowns. Given the matchup, I expect fantasy managers to get away from Beasley this week, but I think the opposite. Look for Beasley to step up and potentially even be the top target as the Steelers lock in on stopping Stefon Diggs.

Here are more Week 14 sleepers!

Philip Rivers, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Philip Rivers has been playing good football as of late. Since Week 6, Rivers is the QB13 in fantasy averaging 18.41 fantasy PPG. He has fewer than 16 fantasy points in just one of those games and over 19 in four of those. He's also thrown for multiple passing touchdowns in each of the last three games. This week, he faces a Raiders defense that has given up the 10th-most fantasy PPG to QBs this season (19.26). They've allowing over 20 fantasy points to a QB in six of their last nine, including over 20 to Sam Darnold last week. Rivers is more of a QB2 with some upside this week but some QBs I would start him over are Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins and Cam Newton.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Nothing against Carson Wentz, but I have been hoping to see Jalen Hurts as a starting QB since before the NFL Draft. Hurts is one of the best rushing QBs in the NFL as he rushed for 1,298 rushing yards at Oklahoma in 2019. To put that into context, Kyler Murray rushed for 1,001 yards in 2018 at Oklahoma. Hurts out rushed him by nearly 300, but its not like he can't pass either. He threw for 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns, to just eight picks in his senior season. In a small sample size, he completed five of his 12 pass attempts for a TD and INT, while rushing for 29 yards on five carries in the second half against the Packers. He gave this team a spark and will get the start cause of that. The Eagles offense can't struggle any worse than it had been with Wentz, but Hurts brings a higher fantasy ceiling because of his legs. This week, he has a tough matchup against the Saints, but he is a QB2 with upside due to his rushing ability.

Andy Dalton, QB, Dallas Cowboys

This is a big-time revenge game! Andy Dalton was once the face of the Bengals franchise but now he is just an opponent. That sounded like a football version of a Drake lyric. But, revenge is not the only reason Dalton is a sleeper. The Bengals defense plays a role in that, as they have allowed 23 passing touchdowns to QBs this season, tied for the eighth-most in the NFL. They've also allowed a top seven fantasy QB in three of their past seven games, showing that QBs can rack up points against this defense. You are not starting him over a proven fantasy QB, but if you have been streaming Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, or have Cam Newton in a tough matchup, Dalton is a pivot for you this week.

Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Last week was the breakout game for Cam Akers that we have waited for all season. He played 62 percent of the snaps, the most a Rams RB has played in any game this season and finished with 94 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. While this was the best game yet, its not like its just a one-week thing. Akers has seen nine carries inside the 10-yard line since Week 11; the rest of the Rams RBs have just one. Those opportunities have led to Akers scoring a touchdown in three straight games, which has led to his fantasy points increasing in each game. The question is no longer should we hold onto Akers, it is now: should we start him? This week against the Patriots may scare some people away, but given what we have seen in recent weeks and how it has trended to this point, Akers can be started this week. He is a low-end RB2 or flex option in Week 14.

Ty Johnson, RB, New York Jets

Frank Gore suffered a concussion in Week 13 and Ty Johnson stepped up in his absence. Johnson scored 19.7 fantasy points, the most any Jets RB has scored in a game this season. In fact, it was just the second time they had an RB in the top 15 in fantasy points. Over the last month, the Seahawks have allowed the sixth-most fantasy PPG to RBs (28.25). That includes nearly five catches per game, and if the Jets are trailing, we could see a few dump offs go Johnson's way. Look, Johnson is not a Top-10 RB or anything like that, but if you need a sleeper, Johnson could potentially be in line for around 20 touches in a good matchup. You can do a lot worse if looking for a sleeper to elevate into your starting lineup. 

Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans

With the Texans receiver depth very much in question, Duke Johnson stepped up in the passing game last week. Johnson caught all six of his targets for 24 yards, while David Johnson saw just two targets, not catching either. The two backs split snaps, with David playing one more than Duke. I had hopes that Duke would get used in the slot or out wide, but that did not come to fruition, not yet at least. But the six targets out of the backfield still stand out. A target is about three times as valuable as a carry in PPR leagues. Johnson can once again rack up five-plus catches this week. He is more of a deeper league option but, if you need to nab someone off the waiver wire and elevate them into your starting lineup, Duke is an option for you this week.

Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

The entire Chargers offense disappointed last week against the Patriots. Mike Williams has fewer than 10 fantasy points in three of his last four games, showing that it wasn't just the one week. But, do not give up on him just yet. Williams has still seen seven-plus targets in four of his last six games, including at least five in all of those games. He is routinely seeing multiple targets of 20-plus air yards each week, and that could lead to some production this week against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed 19 catches of at least 20 air yards this season, which is tied for the sixth most in the NFL. Additionally, they have allowed the second-most fantasy PPG to the position (43.06). They've also allowed the second-most yards per game to the position (207.9). This is a prime spot for the Chargers offense to bounce back and that includes Williams. He is a WR3 or flex option with upside this week.

DJ Chark Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

D.J. Chark disappointed in Week 13, reeling in only two catches for 41 yards, but he did have a team-high seven targets. While he disappointed in a good matchup last week, he gets an even better one this week against the Titans who are allowing the third-most fantasy PPG to WRs this season (42.77). Just last week, they allowed the Browns to finish with three Top-20 fantasy WRs. The Titans have also allowed 19 completions of 20-plus air yards this season, tied for the sixth most in the NFL. That includes seven touchdowns on those passes, tied for the third highest in the NFL. Chark just had four targets of 20-plus air yards last week from Mike Glennon. Given that the opportunity is there and he now has a favorable matchup, Chark has the ability to catch a deep pass or two this week. He is definitely boom-or-bust, but given the matchup, he is a high-upside flex option this week.

Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys

Dalton Schultz put up a solid 8.4 fantasy points against the Ravens, showing that he comes with a safe floor weekly. He has not scored below seven fantasy points since Week 8, which may not sound like much, but we are talking about tight ends here. In that span, he has averaged 9.68 fantasy PPG, good enough to make him the TE12. This week, he faces the Bengals who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy PPG to tight ends (16.13), including a league-high 68.5 yards per game to the position. The Bengals also just allowed 23.8 fantasy points to Mike Gesicki last week. If you have been streaming tight ends, Schultz is a nice option this week.

Seahawks DEF

Seattle had plenty of defensive struggles early on, but have been more useful in fantasy as of late. In fact, they have finished as a Top-12 defense in three straight games. Just last week, they finished in the Top-10 against the Giants. This week, they face the Jets who are scoring a league-low 15.0 PPG this season. The Jets have allowed a Top-10 fantasy defense in six of their last seven games. Seattle is a sneaky defense this week.

Follow Michael F. Florio on Twitter and Instagram.

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