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9 Sleeper Starts & Duds: Week 15 (2019 Fantasy Football)

Dec 11, 2019

Danny Amendola boasts a decent floor and a solid matchup against Tampa Bay this week

At this juncture in the season, injuries to the playmakers that got you this far wind up being the biggest hurdles to overcome. People who own Josh Jacobs, Mark Andrews, T.Y. Hilton, Adam Thielen, Mike Evans, D.J. Chark, or DeVante Parker, among others, might have to look to a player who’s either deep on their bench or on waivers to fill-in and produce at this critical moment.

Difficult matchups and slumps shouldn’t be overlooked, either. These can cause your more reliable players to let you down when they’re needed the most. With that being said, our featured analysts want to assist you in blazing a trail to championship glory. In this article, they shine light on which athletes fantasy owners should trust in a pinch and give their thoughts on the respected players who could disappoint you this week.

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Q1. Who is a player outside of our top 100 flex rankings that is a deep sleeper start and why do you think he has upside this week?

Danny Amendola (WR – DET) 
“Amendola hasn’t been exactly fantasy relevant since losing Matthew Stafford, but he has seen eight targets in each of the last two games with Blough under center. With T.J. Hockenson and Marvin Jones on injured reserve, there are a lot of targets available against a Buccaneers team that’s faced a league-high 41.3 pass attempts per game, including 24.9 to wide receivers. The Bucs have allowed any receiver who’s seen at least seven targets to perform as a top-30 wide receiver. It’s not a small sample size either, as 19 receivers have done that. If you’re extremely desperate and just want a receiver who should have a floor of 8.0 points in PPR formats, Amendola might just be your answer. He should be considered a somewhat low-upside WR4, but one with a stable floor who can fill a flex spot.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“Unexpectedly, Marvin Jones was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week with the Buccaneers sailing into the Motor City allowing an average of 278.8 passing yards per game. You can definitely throw the ball versus Tampa Bay, but moving the rock on the ground is a different boat as the Buccaneers are the league’s best at stopping the run (75.5 YPG). In Week 14, Danny Amendola saw his highest snap percentage (80%) of the season and has received eight targets in each game with David Blough under center. The extra targets left behind by Jones will trickle down into the only two real options for the Lions’ passing attack. Kenny Golladay will merit tons of attention, leaving Amendola to cash in against the defense that surrenders the most points to opposing receivers.”
– Todd D Clark (The Fantasy Fix)

Marcus Johnson (WR – IND)
“While Zach Pascal is getting all the fantasy attention, Johnson had a 100+ yard game in the loss to the Buccaneers. One of his three receptions went for a touchdown. Three catches from seven targets is a poor percentage, but deeper range targets are low to begin with. With Marcus Davenport out for the season on the Saints’ front, Jacoby Brissett may have more time to set for deeper throws and big chunks from Johnson.”
– Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

“With the loss of Eric Ebron for the season, the weekly uncertainty of T.Y. Hilton’s availability, the ascension of Zach Pascal, the (brief) return of Parris Campbell, and one of the league’s most fluid backfields, the Indianapolis Colts have kept fantasy analysts busy the last several weeks. One player who has been flying under Indy’s chaotic radar has been Marcus Johnson. Johnson has quietly seen 13 targets over the past two weeks and has scored in two of the last four games. With Campbell now on IR and Hilton looking very iffy for Monday, Johnson could approach double-digit targets against a pass-funnel Saints defense.”
– Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)

Kelvin Harmon (WR – WAS) 
“While certainly a deep-sleeper for Week 15 when Washington hosts Philadelphia, Harmon is flying well below the radar in his underperforming offense with Dwayne Haskins under center. Harmon has garnered greater than an 80% snap share over the past two weeks while notching 21 targets over the past four. He’s yet to score a touchdown in his rookie campaign, but given the Eagles’ stiff run-defense, the Redskins will need to put the ball in the air and fellow rookie Terry McLaurin should attract most of the attention for double coverage, leaving Harmon working against uninspiring cornerback Jalen Mills. Harmon is an emergency-only play for teams decimated by recent injuries, but he has the potential for a breakout performance here in Week 15.”
– Jeff Haverlack (Dynasty League Football)

Greg Ward (WR – PHI) 
“The upside with this Philadelphia wide receiver is obvious. Alshon Jeffery is out for the season, Nelson Agholor could miss another game, and while J.J. Arcega-Whiteside should be active this week, he left the last game with a hamstring injury and may not be 100 percent. While Ward has mostly played from the slot this season, he ran 37 plays split out last week, which suggests he will still be on the field even if Agholor returns. Facing Washington in another must-win week, Ward has the high upside that we want from these deep sleepers. I project that he sees six-plus targets on Sunday.”
– Zach Brunner (FantasyPros)

Q2. On the flip side, what player inside the top 40 flex rankings is likely to disappoint fantasy owners this week?

Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)
“Mixon has been really good over the last month and it’s led to fantasy owners trusting him in lineups as a borderline RB1. That’s not going to be the case this week against the Patriots. Mixon has been handling 88 percent of the team’s carries over the last six weeks, which is important considering running backs have averaged just 18.4 carries per game against them, the third-lowest mark in the league. The Patriots have still allowed just one rushing touchdown on the year as well, so it’s unlikely a touchdown can bail you out as a Mixon owner. There have been just three running backs who’ve finished as top-20 options against the Patriots this year and two of them came in games the Patriots lost (they aren’t losing this week). Ezekiel Elliott was the only running back on the losing team who finished top-20 against them and it took him 25 touches in the rain to get there. This isn’t a week to get excited about starting Mixon as anything more than a low-end RB2/high-end RB3.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“I really do not feel comfortable starting a volatile running back like Joe Mixon against the Patriots. The New England run defense has remained near the top all season. In a matchup like this and in the fantasy semi-finals, you might want to treat Mixon as a low-end flex and try someone else with more upside. The Dolphins in Week 16 offer far more promise for Mixon to score RB2 numbers.”
– Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR)
“We saw a dramatic change in snaps played for the receivers this past Sunday and, in fact, the lowest amount in Kupp’s three-year career. Both Brandon Cooks and Kupp played in fewer than 40% of plays during their win against the Seahawks. More two tight end sets were employed by the Rams as there has been a run-heavy focus the past two games. In the eight games prior to their Week 9 bye, Kupp averaged over 10.5 targets per game. In the five games since the bye, that has dropped to just under 5.5 targets. The Dallas defense limits the passing game, but can be beaten on the ground. Since their Week 8 bye, Dallas has only allowed one receiver to pass 100 yards — Cole Beasley’s revenge.”
– Todd D Clark (The Fantasy Fix)

Devin Singletary (RB – BUF) 
“Each week, Singletary’s role in the Buffalo offense continues to rise, as does his hype. Fantasy owners, especially in dynasty, are justifiably excited about the rookie’s future, but we should look to temper expectations in the present. Pittsburgh represents a major speed bump in Singletary’s breakout (as does New England next week) since the Steelers have allowed only five rushing touchdowns this season, with running backs averaging a paltry 3.8 yards per carry. This combined with the fact that Buffalo still has yet to fully commit to him at the goal line (he hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since Week 9), makes Singletary more of an RB2/3 this week than a borderline RB1.”
– Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)

Mark Ingram (RB – BAL) 
“Typically, being the starting running back for a heavily-favored team is a good thing, but I do not think that is the case this week for Ingram. The Jets have given up the fewest fantasy points to running backs over the past five weeks (13.8). Over this time, they have given up just 2.4 yards per carry to running backs. Ingram isn’t a speedster that can cause these Jets defenders to miss, so the yardage upside is just not there for him this week, which means he could flop if he does not tumble into the end zone.”
– Zach Brunner (FantasyPros)

Stefon Diggs (WR – MIN) 
“While Diggs has been trending as of late, Week 15 finds him in Los Angeles squaring off against the Chargers and Casey Hayward Jr., who’s in the running for top cover-corner in the AFC. The Chargers rank highly in pass defense and, while the Vikings could benefit from a return of Adam Thielen (hamstring), a big game by Diggs against Hayward in this pivotal week isn’t something I’m betting on. Should Thielen not return this week, prospects for Diggs will look far worse and other options should be considered.”
– Jeff Haverlack (Dynasty League Football)

Thank you to the experts for giving their sleeper starts and duds for Week 15. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter if you’re not already doing so and check out our latest podcast below for more great advice.

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