In this article KFFL breaks down the fantasy football sleepers of the week. We will avoid marquee names because players of that caliber are rarely benched, regardless of their matchup. Instead, we will focus on the players that make your fantasy lineup decisions stressful each week. Read on to learn which midrange to low-end players you wouldn't necessarily consider that you need to get into your lineup.
Note: All statistics are from Weeks 6 and 9, unless otherwise stated.
Fantasy football sleepers: Running backs
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
PT cruising for more fantasy points
Fantasy value: High-end No. 2
- Ridley has seen consistent work in recent weeks, but the results weren't congruent until two weeks ago when he took advantage of the St. Louis Rams by averaging 8.5 yards per carry on his way to 127 on the ground. He added his only score in the last month.
- Rushing lanes should be easy to come by against the Bills, whose defense has given up 5.1 yards per carry and 136.3 on the ground. They have permitted 1.67 rushing touchdowns per game, as well.
Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
Fantasy value: Midrange No. 2
- Donald Brown (knee) isn't healthy enough to contribute and could be inactive this week after touching the ball only once in Week 9. Ballard has been serviceable in the last few weeks, 78.5 offensive yards per game. He has chipped in one touchdown.
- Jacksonville's defensive-against numbers are slightly skewed by giving up four touchdowns to Detroit Lions rushers last week. That doesn't mean there isn't room to run for Ballard. They have given up 147.3 offensive yards to the position, including 6.00 receptions per matchup. Ballard has been very proficient with his limited receiving work and is Indy's most trusted third-down option.
- Monitor Brown's status before Thursday's kickoff, but it is safe to predict Ballard will get more work even if Brown is active.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
Fantasy value: Midrange No. 2
- Darren Sproles (hand) is the wildcard here, but it seems foolish to rush him back so soon with the way this backfield performed in his absence. Thomas is their most versatile remaining weapon among running backs. PT touched the ball only eight times versus the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night, yet he managed 70 offensive yards.
- The Falcons have been susceptible to running backs out of the backfield as receiving targets by surrendering 4.67 catches, 54.3 yards and 0.33 scores per game. Their defense has been better limiting the run (81.3 rushing yards, 0.67 scores), however.
Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins vs. Tennessee Titans
Fantasy value: No. 2 or flex
- While this offense runs through Reggie Bush, Thomas has been adequate picking up the scraps. He has three catches for 28 yards and 21 carries for 79 yards, plus a touchdown, in his two games played since Miami's Week 7 bye. He is bound to see work as long as the game is within reach.
- The Titans are tied for the most fantasy points per game (25.0) allowed in standard-scoring formats to the position. Opposing rushers have racked up averages of 195.0 offensive yards, 75.8 of which have come through the air, and 1.25 total scores. They are ripe for the fantasy picking.
NEW - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Fantasy value: No. 2 or flex
- Bell has been versatile and productive in limited work. In his last two contests, he has 27 touches for 167 yards and a score.
- The Vikings' defense went from being one of the best against the position to the other end of the spectrum in just a few weeks. They currently rank tied for the most average standard fantasy points (25.0) allowed per game and are giving it up in all facets of play. Running backs have averaged 115.5 rushing yards, a ground score, 4.50 catches, 54.0 receiving yards and 0.75 aerial touchdowns per outing. That's 169.5 offensive yards and 1.75 total trips to paydirt, on average!
NEW - Taiwan Jones and Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens
Fantasy value: No. 2 or flex; Flex
- Darren McFadden (ankle) and Mike Goodson (ankle) are uncertain to play this week. Next up: Taiwan Jones (knee) and Marcel Reece. The latter filled in admirably, logging eight catches for 95 yards and a score in Week 9. Jones has been battling fumbling problems and a minor knee injury, so monitor his status. He is more of a true tailback than Reece is but could be relegated to two-down work, making the fullback more valuable in PPR leagues.
- The Ravens have been kind to the position, allowing 171.7 rushing yards and a touchdown per game. Reece's aerial involvement could be stymied when looking at Baltimore's prowess in this area: 3.33 receptions, 21.3 yards, no scores per match.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Fantasy value: Flex
- Playing Rodgers is definitely risky, as the Saints haven't given up much real estate through the air (3.67-33.0-0.00), but they're giving up big plays and 159.0 yards per game on the ground.
- Perhaps 'Quizz can break a big one, even though he has averaged only 4.3 carries and 19.3 yards on the ground. Owners in deep leagues should consider him a low-end flex option.
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.
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