The fantasy season is quickly entering its most critical juncture, and many owners can see their playoff hopes dashed or improved with Thanksgiving’s three-game batch kicking off Week 13.
Owners know to start such super-duper stars as Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, and his supporting cast of RB Eddie Lacy and WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, along with Lions WRs Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Throw Cowboys QB Tony Romo, WR Dez Bryant and RB DeMarco Murray in the mix as well, and fantasy numbers figure to reach an astronomical peak before the turkey’s even on the table.
But alas, owners know they need plenty of help from the complementary players on their roster. So let’s look at a few Thanksgiving and Week 13 sleepers at QB, RB and WR that could make all the difference in a playoff push.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Most have rightfully given up any Panthers outside or WR Kelvin Benjamin and QB Cam Newton, but Williams could put up some solid numbers against Minnesota’s No. 21 rush defense. The Vikes managed to contain Rodgers and Green Bay last week, but had no answer for Lacy. Williams got the majority of touches in Week 11 against Atlanta, and that should continue this week.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We haven’t really seen the explosive and powerful rookie version of Martin since Week 2 of last season, but he could be poised for a breakout game versus the Bengals No. 27 rush D. Cincy held off hard charging Houston and Alfred Blue last week, but Martin has the benefit of receivers Mike Evans, Louis Murphy and Vincent Jackson to keep the Bengals D honest. Martin is not an RB1 start, but he could fit in nicely as your first or second flex option in very deep leagues. Picking him up as a free agent could do wonders down the final stretch of the season as well.
Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars
Gerhart’s all but lost his spot as the Jags No. 1 back thanks to the emergence of Denard Robinson, but the Jags could overload the Giants No. 31 rush defense with both backs. Robinson’s value lies in his ability to break off big runs, but Gerhart has the potential to siphon off goal line touches for a touchdown this week.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Facing Baltimore’s No. 29 secondary, Allen could breakout his third 100-yard game of the season. He lit up a very good Rams secondary in Week 12 for 104 yards and a touchdown, but Allen’s largely been a disappoint following his awesome rookie year. Still Baltimore’s secondary is very leaky, and Allen should make them pay, even with fellow receiver Malcom Floyd lurking and quarterback Philip Rivers struggling right now.
Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys
Was last week’s touchdown a flash in the pan, or a sign of bigger things? Beasley’s proven to catch almost anything that comes his way, totaling 18 catches for 209 yards and the aforementioned score off a mere 23 targets. Dallas plays Philly’s No. 30 secondary this week and Bryant will most of the attention. Look for Beasley to be a factor, but he should only be started in very deep 14-team leagues.
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
Wood has quietly put together a very respectable season (45 receptions, 479 yards, 3 TDs) and has only 14 fewer targets than Buffalo’s No. 1 receiver Sammy Watkins. Facing Cleveland’s staunch secondary is a tall order, but like Beasley, Woods will benefit from Watkins presence on the field. In PPR leagues Woods is worth a start as your No. 3 receiver.
Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans
The rookie unleashed 345 yards and two touchdowns to one interception last week. Mettenberger’s tossed two or more touchdowns in three of his five starts, and next faces a Houston defense ranked No. 31 against the pass. He has excellent weapons in receivers Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright, and tight end Delanie Walker, so Mettenberger could rack up a second straight week of 300-plus yards.
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
The three interceptions last week were painful to watch, but Hoyer now has arguably the most talented receiver in the NFL in Josh Gordon on the other end of his passes. Finding holes in Buffalo’s secondary will be difficult, but Gordon could break off several deep plays and in turn give Hoyer owners a big boost. In two quarterback leagues consider Hoyer as your QB2.