Week 15: Sleepers

Football > Week 15 > Sleepers

Week 15: Sleepers

While we're not projecting starting type stats for these players, they have good potential and could surprise. This week's picks include Profiled players include Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill, Toby Gerhart, Ryan Mathews, and Stevie Johnson.

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It seems hard to believe given Dalton's inconsistent performances that he is in fact a Top 10 QB. Any reluctance to start him isn't entirely justified since he has tossed at least two TDs in three of his last four games. What will either make or break the former TCU standout is his ability to limit turnovers, which he has only accomplished three times all season. In those games, Dalton is averaging 309 yards and 2.33 TDs. Coincidentally back in Week 2 against the Steelers, he did not turn the ball over while passing for 280 yards and a score. Pittsburgh is average against opposing QBs and most recently was lit up by Miami's Ryan Tannehill for 200 yards and three TDs. Dalton is a risk in any given week, but he's shown an excellent ceiling in 2013.

Tannehill is trending up at the perfect time for fantasy owners. In his last two games, he passed for 531 yards and five TDs against the Jets and Steelers. The Patriots defense isn't any better. Tannehill needs to snap a five game INT streak, but besides that, the second-year signal-caller has positioned himself as a respectable QB2. Going back to Tannehill's Week 8 game in New England, he has improved statistically in each game to date. His ability to keep Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace more involved has been the key. Miami's inability to rely on their running game forces more of the offense on Tannehill's shoulders. Even if his production is derived from garbage time, fantasy points are all created equal.

We're working under two assumptions here. First, Adrian Peterson is not expected to play and thusly, we're expecting Gerhart to play. Assuming both of these conditions to be true, the former Stanford back is a no-brainer. It's not as though the Vikings have some kind of high-flying passing game which will deny Gerhart the ball. This matchup isn't a home run as the Eagles have only allowed one RB TD in their previous four contests. What is appealing is Gerhart should be expected to touch the ball around 18 or more times and can also contribute as a pass-catcher on third downs. He is an extremely effecient player, as evidenced by his 0.29 fantasy points per snap last week (that's really, really good).

The old Mathews -- plagued with injuries and ball security issues -- has been redeemed in 2013. The former Fresno State runner has scored in three of his last five and the only backs to rush for more 100-yard games are Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy. Mathews is coming off his best game in which he rushed 29 times for 103 yards and a score. He also caught three passes for 32 yards. His upcoming game against Denver not only has potential playoff ramifications, it is also a very sweet and very juicy matchup. The Broncos have given up at least one RB TD in all but two games. Most recently, they allowed the Titans' RBs to score three TDs. Denver ranks as the eighth-worst fantasy defense against RBs. Mathews is a strong RB2 for Week 15.

The Jags are having issues in their secondary, which should play right to the benefit of Johnson. Jacksonville has given up six WR TDs over their last four games. In three of those games, they allowed at least 15 WR receptions along with 267 or more yards. Relying on E.J. Manuel to get Johnson the ball is a concern. The rookie is experiencing growing pains, to say the least. Luckily for fantasy owners, the Bills have all their eggs in one Johnson basket. Admittedly, starting Johnson is a risk. He hasn't scored a touchdown since October. The targets are there though (9.8 per game over his last six games) and this is simply a matter of believing a poor matchup will benefit Johnson statistically.