Sleepers – Who to Target for the Playoffs

With quite a few injuries and suspensions going around, quality fantasy depth can be hard to come by. Here’s a few guys that could see their roles expand over the next few weeks providing you with some quality options at the back end of your rosters.

QB Josh McCown (NYJ)

Playoff Schedule: 14: @DEN, 15: @NO, 16: vLAC, 17: @NE

Josh McCown is quietly having the best season of his career. The epitome of a journeyman, he seems to have found a niche with this Jets team. A team that was expected to fight with Cleveland for the #1 overall pick in the 2018 draft has exceeded expectations, thanks in part to McCown’s play. He is on pace to set career highs in starts (16), completions (348), attempts (513), yards (3,840), TDs (24), and completion % (67.8). I think it’s safe to say that this will be the season he tells his kids about. Not to mention the fantasy numbers he’s put up. He’s currently 7th, yes 7th, in fantasy scoring for QBs averaging 17.2 FPPG. It’s crazy to believe that the 7th best QB is a sleeper, but he is still available in 55.9% of ESPN leagues. If you play in a 12-team league, he is better than half of the QBs that will be started, yet he’s available in more than half of all fantasy leagues. Go get him; and unless you have Wilson, Wentz, Smith, Brady, Newton, or Cousins, play him.

RB Peyton Barber (TB)

Playoff Schedule: 14: vDET, 15: vATL, 16: @CAR, 17: vNO

Tampa Bay has been a big disappointment in 2017. In a year everyone thought they might challenge the Falcons for the division, they ended up really struggling and being stuck in the cellar of the NFC South. Doug Martin individually has also been a disappointment. With the suspension early in the year, and a concussion keeping him out of last week’s game, it has really opened the door for the other backs on the roster. Last week, it was Peyton Barber who got the majority of the workload. He was on the field for 52 (68%) of the team’s offensive snaps between the RBs and received 26 (76%) of the backs’ touches. Safe to say he was the go-to guy filling in for Martin. But I’m not convinced he was just a fill-in. Doug Martin has really struggled this season. In 8 games played, he’s averaging just 8.1 FPPG and a very low 3.5 yards per touch. These are numbers that generally get a RB benched. Enter Peyton Barber. Available in 82.8% of ESPN leagues, Peyton Barber could remain the workhorse back even after Martin returns (likely this week). If he does, he will be a solid RB2/3 play in the coming weeks.

WR Marquise Goodwin (SF)

Playoff Schedule: 14: @HOU, 15: vTEN, 16: vJAX, 17: @LAR

While the matchups in Weeks 16-17 are not good, the matchups for Weeks 14-15 are very favorable. The current QB in San Francisco is also the best one they’ve had all year. Let’s face it, Jimmy Garoppolo is better than both C.J. Beathard and Brian Hoyer. Goodwin’s numbers show it, so far. Through the first 11 games with Beathard and Hoyer, Goodwin averaged 9.4 FPPG and only 5.6 targets per game. There were 3 games where he received 3 targets or less. It was clear SF tried to rely heavily on RB Carlos Hyde to mask the deficiency at QB. Garoppolo should give them more confidence in the QB position and allow them to open up the field a bit more. In his first start, he targeted Goodwin 8 times and Goodwin answered with 17.9 fantasy points. He’s available in 66.5% of ESPN leagues, and he’s worth the add if you have a spot for him.

TE Tyler Kroft (CIN)

Playoff Schedule: 14: vCHI, 15: @MIN, 16: vDET, 17: @BAL

So far this season, Tyler Kroft has needed to score in order to provide fantasy value. He only gets 3.7 targets per game, and has to compete with one of the game’s best in A.J. Green for opportunities. The reason he is on this list is due to the matchups. While they’re not great, some seem pretty tough with Minnesota and Baltimore, it should mean a lot of playing from behind for the Bengals. More passing plays leads to more receiving opportunities. Whether this results in more targets for Kroft, I’m not sure. But while the matchups are tough on paper, they’re not quite as tough on TEs. For instance, Baltimore is 2nd in fantasy scoring against opposing WRs, however, they’re 22nd against opposing TEs. Detroit is 14th against opposing WRs, but just 26th against TEs. Minnesota and Chicago are tougher on TEs than WRs, but with Minnesota in particular, they’re likely to be playing from behind which leads to more passing plays. Kroft is available in 63.2% of ESPN leagues. He’s not the most consistent TE in the league, but outside the top 4 or 5, none of them are. He could be a good fill-in if your primary TE gets hurt/suspended.

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