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When looking at the top performers of the week every week there will always be some names that, if you are a casual fan, you have to look up to figure out who they are. Some of those players perform out of sheer luck, while others have been building to that performance for a few weeks. Seeing upticks in snap counts and targets along with a favorable matchup coming up all help determine who these sleeper plays will be from week to week. All players listed in this article are owned in 20% or less of fantasy leagues. All statistics used in this article can be found at our website https://www.lineups.com/nfl.
WR James Washington (PIT) vs. CIN – 20.0% Rostered
Leading the Pittsburgh Steelers in snaps during week 11 after JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson left the game with injury. Seeing 5 targets, catching 3 for 49 yards totaling just 6.4 fantasy points in week 11 against the Browns. During that game, the Steelers suffered injuries to both of their top receivers. With them banged up, there is a massive opportunity for Washington to step in as possibly the number one receiving option for Mason Rudolph. Facing the Cincinnati Bengals in week 12 who have given up the highest yards per completion and highest yards per attempt. The Steelers are a team playing tough and trying to make the playoff run. If their top two receivers are down, Washington will have to come up big in their absence during week 12 against a lackluster Cincinnati secondary.
TE Cameron Brate (TB) vs. ATL – 1.4% Rostered
After the benching of former first-round tight-end O.J. Howard during week 11’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints, backup tight-end Cameron Brate filled in for the rest of the game. Playing 75% of the total offensive snaps, Brate totaled a massive 14 targets, hauling in 10 for 73 yards against a tough Saints’ defense. Facing the Falcons during week 12, if Brate continues to be the starter he is a must-start option at the tight-end position. The Falcons rank 19th against opposing fantasy tight-ends. Atlanta has given up the 12th most passing yards, 5th most passing touchdowns, 9th highest yards per completion, and the 4th highest yards per attempt. Teams can pass on the Falcons all-day long; I expect Bruce Arians and the Bucs to do just that against them in week 12. If you need someone at the tight-end position this week, Brate is a great sleeper this week for the Bucs.
WR Hunter Renfrow (OAK) vs. NYJ – 7.7% Rostered
Although playing the 3rd most snaps on this Raiders’ offense, when Hunter Renfrow is on the field, he is a target machine. Only playing 44% of the snaps, Renfrow saw a target share of 21% (2nd highest on the team behind TE Darren Waller) last week against the Bengals. Renfrow has led all Raiders wide receivers in targets for 3 weeks in a row now. When the Raiders need to move the chains on 3rd down late in the game, Carr is calling on Renfrow time and time again. Has earned the trust of Carr in that offense. Facing the Jets who rank as the 31st team against fantasy wide receivers allowing 11th most passing yards and the 12th most passing touchdowns to opposing receivers. The Jets have allowed a 67.9% red-zone efficiency (2nd highest in the league) this season giving up 19 total red-zone touchdowns. If you need a sleeper this week that won’t burn you and could go off for 15+ fantasy points, Renfrow should be in consideration.
RB Bo Scarbrough (DET) vs. WAS – 0.1% Rostered
An interesting turn of events for the Detroit Lions backfield was that Bo Scarbroug, who just signed with the Lions less than 24 hours beforehand, led the backfield in snaps. Seeing just under 50% of the snaps, he carried the ball 14 times for 55 yards and a touchdown, totaling 11.5 fantasy points. The Lions clearly were not happy with their running-back situation they had and are looking to fix it. Averaging just under 4.0 yards per carry against a solid Cowboys defense, Scarbrough will still have to continue to prove himself but this is a decent first step. Facing the Redskins in week 12, who rank 26th against opposing fantasy running-backs. Scarbrough could be set for a breakout game. If Scarbrough’s role expands into the passing game, a workhorse running-back that will win you some games.
WR Taylor Gabriel (CHI) vs. NYG – 7.2% Rostered
Facing the LA Rams during week 11 Gabriel saw 14 targets, catching 7 for 57 yards. Very high usage for Gabriel in a tough matchup against Jalen Ramsey and the Rams. If this kind of usage continues against the Giants, Gabriel will explode against them in week 12. Gabriel has seen at least 25% of the total targets over the past 2 weeks. Averaging 11.9 yards per reception so far this season, Gabriel has also caught 4 touchdowns so far which leads the team. The Giants have allowed the 4th most passing yards, 9th most passing touchdowns, 4th highest yards per completion, and the 2nd highest yards per attempt in the NFL. One of the best matchups you can ask for as a wide receiver. Gabriel could have his best week of the fantasy season yet against the Giants in week 12. He is a must add if you need to fill a hole at wide receiver or flex this week.
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