Week 14: Sleepers of the Week
If one of your normal starters is injured or facing a tough match-up, here are some players you might consider starting in their place. While these players may not be every week starters, they are good bets to perform well this week. Most of the players that will be listed are on fantasy rosters, but not normally starters.
Jake Locker and the Tennessee Titan travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in week 14. Locker is coming off a bad game in which he threw for 309 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, and two lost fumble in a loss to the Houston Texans. Locker should be able to bounce back with a better game against the Colts' 20th ranked pass defense, which allowed more than 300 passing yards and two touchdowns to Matthew Stafford last week. Locker has shown flashes of being a good fantasy quarterback this season, but has also thrown in a few games like last week's disaster. Locker is owned in just 38 percent of fantasy leagues, so if you are desperate for a quarterback in 2 QB leagues (or if your starter is injured), he is worth a look as a fill-in play. Fantasy owners can start Jake Locker and can expect more than 225 passing yards and at least one touchdown from the second year starter.
Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks return home to take on the Arizona Cardinals in week 14. Wilson has been on fire lately, throwing for an impressive nine touchdowns and zero interceptions over the past four games. The rookie quarterback had one of his best games of the season last week, throwing for 293 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding a season high 71 yards on the ground in an impressive road win over the Bears. Wilson should be able to put up good fantasy numbers again this week as he continues to improve. Wilson is available in nearly half of fantasy leagues, but has the potential to put up top ten numbers for this first week of the fantasy playoffs. Fantasy owners can feel comfortable starting the rookie quarterback this week and can expect at least 250 total yards and one touchdown.
Jonathan Dwyer and the Pittsburgh Steelers return home to take on the San Diego Chargers in week 14. Dwyer got the start in week 13 and totaled just 57 yards and one touchdown, but will get another chance to prove himself as the starter this week. The good news coming out of Dwyer's week 13 performance was that he touched the ball 19 times, showing that the coaching staff has confidence in him going forward. If Dwyer get close to 20 touches out of the backfield again this week, he will make an impact for fantasy teams. The Chargers' run defense has been good this season, but did allow 118 yards to BenJarvus Green-Ellis last week, giving Dwyer owners hope that he can find similar success this week. Fantasy owners should give Dwyer another chance this week against the Chargers and can expect 80 total yards and a touchdown.
Knowshon Moreno and the Denver Broncos travel to Oakland to face the Raiders in week 14. Moreno is coming off a 20 carry, 69 yard performance against the Buccaneers' stellar run defense. While fantasy owners may be discouraged by this performance, they should not take him out of fantasy lineups, as he has a much better matchup against the 28th ranked Raiders rush defense. The Broncos have made it clear that Moreno will be the team's lead back until Willis McGahee returns, giving him 20 carries in each of the last two games. There should not be any change in his role this week, making it likely that he will break the 100 total yard mark for the second time in three weeks. Fantasy owners should pencil Knowshon Moreno into their starting lineups as a RB 2 or Flex play and can expect close to 100 yards and a touchdown.
James Starks and the Green Bay Packers take on the Detroit Lions at home in week 14. Starks is coming off a good game against the Minnesota Vikings in which he racked up 82 total yards and a touchdown on 17 touches out of the backfield. The Packers split their run game up pretty evenly between Starks and Alex Green, but I believe this week Starks will be more productive. Mike McCarthy will look to ride the hot hand, so if you are deciding between the two runnings backs, I would go with Starks. Starks was started in just ten percent of fantasy leagues last week, but he could turn out to be a difference maker in the fantasy playoffs the next few weeks. The Lions' run defense is currently ranked 19th in the league, giving up an average of 119 rush yards per game. Fantasy owners can start James Starks this week and can expect at least 75 total yards and a touchdown.
12-6-12 update: since this article was posted, the Packers announced Starks would miss several weeks with a knee injury. Boo. So, that takes him off the sleeper list, but arguably puts Alex Green on it.Green racked up 70 yards on 13 touches in Week 13 and really, where else can the Packers turn??? And don't say Ryan Grant. (fft)