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 13 and 16, unless otherwise stated.
Fantasy football sleepers: Running backs
James to spell Gore?
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
Fantasy value: Midrange No. 3
- Mendenhall resurfaced as a contributing member of the Steelers' backfield in Week 16, logging 11 carries for 50 yards. It was his first action since a four-touch Week 12 effort. Historically, Mendy has enjoyed mixed results against the Browns, highlighted by a two-touchdown game in 2010.
- The running back position has pounded Cleveland for 151.5 offensive yards per game and five touchdowns in their last four contests. Mendenhall should find room to run against this defense that has allowed 4.6 yards per carry.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Fantasy value: Midrange No. 3
- Powell, a third-down and change-of-pace option, should benefit slightly from the return of Mark Sanchez to the starting lineup. The young rusher has averaged 11.5 touches for 53.3 total yards per game and has scored once in the last month.
- Buffalo makes for an attractive matchup for versatile running backs. They have given up 4.9 yards per carry and 131.5 offensive yards per matchup to the position, but the primary damage has come around the stripe. Ball carriers have accounted for three rushing and two receiving scores in the past four weeks against this unit.
LaMichael James, San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Fantasy value: Flex
- James could be more involved if the Niners blow out the Cards early, look for head coach Jim Harbaugh to give Frank Gore a break. The change-of-pacer has touched the ball only 7.3 times per game for an average of 35.0 yards. Those are not impressive numbers by any means, but James has a chance for meaningful touches against a soft run defense.
- The Cards have given up an average of 25.0 standard fantasy points per game to the position, which stems from averages of 166.8 rushing yards and 1.50 scores.
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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