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 8 and 11, unless otherwise stated.
Fantasy football sleepers: Running backs
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders
Fantasy value: High-end No. 1
Mendenhall back on the ball
- The Law Firm's mediocre production hasn't been for a lack of touches, as he is averaging 20.7 touches per game. His per-contest figures of 69.0 rushing yards and 0.67 touchdowns are acceptable, at least, but he needs to improve his 3.6 yards-per-carry average.
- Oakland should be able to help that. The Raiders have been gashed for 5.5 per tote and have allowed ball carriers to account for 122.0 ground yards each matchup. Running backs have found the end zone six times in the last four games against this maligned group.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Fantasy value: No. 1 or No. 2
- Mendy's return to the field last week was uninspiring. He racked up just 33 yards on 11 attempts and chipped in 17 yards through the air on a trio of grabs. Mendenhall is still sharing time with Jonathan Dwyer, who has been quite effective.
- Pittsburgh's third starting quarterback in as many games will likely be Charlie Batch, and Mike Tomlin's squad appears set to rely more on the ground game.
- Cleveland has permitted running backs to account for 143.0 offensive yards (102.7 on the ground) and a rushing score per matchup. This defense is more susceptible through the air to the position, which could mean Mendenhall's best value is in PPR leagues, even though receiving points are more of a bonus with his style of play.
Jalen Parmele, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
Fantasy value: No. 2 or flex
- After several ineffective efforts, Jacksonville's coaching staff had seen enough from Rashad Jennings. His benching opens the door for Parmele to make a splash. He didn't exactly lay an atomic cannonball on the tough Houston Texans defense last week, but he managed 80 yards on a promising 24 carries and added three receptions for minimal yardage. The 26-year-old Parmele will start this week for the Jags.
- Should he see a mid-20s workload again, the journeyman back could have his way with the Titans' run defense - a unit that has allowed 169.7 offensive yards (116 rushing) and 1.00 total touchdowns per game to the position.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
Fantasy value: Flex
- Powell's first extensive action - only 11 carries - since Week 3 produced his first two NFL touchdowns, both of the rushing variety. That could have been enough to garner him some extra work as a complement to the lackluster Shonn Greene. Nevertheless, Powell remains a risky play and shouldn't be considered as more than a flex option, especially with bye weeks being a thing of the past. His value is safer in PPR leagues.
- The Pats will be without Rob Gronkowski (forearm), which could slow their high-octane O a tad and help keep the Jets in the game. New England has given up 124.3 rushing yards, 7.67 receptions, 65.7 aerial yards and an offensive score per contest to the position.
NEW - Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams
Fantasy value: Flex
- The oft-injured Wells (toe) was activated from the new Injured Reserve list, which means he is eligible to play against the Rams. While this recommendation is about as risky as they get, Wells has given us some merit to consider playing him as a flex option for your squad. In Week 12 last year, he thrashed the Rams for 228 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
- St. Louis has allowed the most standard fantasy points (24.7) per game to the position. That comes from backs averaging 128.0 rushing yards, 44.7 receiving yards and 1.67 scores per matchup against this unit.
- Expect a fairly even split with LaRod Stephens-Howling. That will take Wells off the field on third down, which is nothing new. PPR owners should be less interested in Wells' services.
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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