We're really starting to get down to crunch time in the fantasy football season. Just a couple of weeks separate most owners from the fantasy playoffs, so winning now is more important than ever -- and that makes sleepers even more important moving forward. With the Rams and Chiefs off in Week 12, there will be a lot of teams streaming waiver wire pickups in the hopes of replacing a bit of lost production. Because of the high-flying nature of the two offenses that are off, there will be more difficult start 'em, sit 'em decisions than normal, and typical bench players could play a larger role in this contest than many are used to.
We've been on a roll lately with our sleeper predictions, and that continued last week. At RB, both Josh Adams and Peyton Barber put forth great games and managed to score. Lamar Jackson ended up being a solid play at QB because of his scrambling ability. That said, our pass-catcher picks, aside from Willie Snead, weren't able to do a lot, so we'll look to improve in that area this week and find better boom options at WR and TE.
These sleepers should give fantasy owners at least a chance to compete and find some undervalued plays this week. Of course, it's important not to go overboard in trusting too many of these players. These guys are just players that could fill in nicely in lineups, but benching a sure-fire star in favor of a gut-instinct sleeper is surely a way to lose in Week 12.
Week 12 fantasy sleepers: Running backs
Josh Adams, Eagles vs. Giants (Jacob Camenker). Adams broke through as one of our sleeper picks last week, as he had a nice 28-yard TD run against the tough Saints run defense. However, because he received just seven carries in the game, some aren't paying as much attention to him. That had more to do with game flow than his actual performance, as the Eagles trailed for most of the game. The Giants have been gashed by RBs since trading away Damon "Snacks" Harrison, so Adams could have a true breakout game in Week 12.
Frank Gore, Dolphins @ Colts (Vinnie Iyer). This screams like a Kenyan Drake game, but we know how that goes. The venerable former Colt is probably going to get good work as Miami tries to slow the game down.
Gus Edwards, Ravens vs. Raiders (Matt Lutovsky). This feels like a trap, doesn’t it? While there’s no guarantee Edwards will be the lead back again, this matchup is too good to ignore and it’s unlikely he simply disappears (John Harbaugh isn’t Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, or Kyle Shanahan, after all). The Raiders allow the sixth-most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to RBs, so even a 10-plus carries -- which Edwards figures to see, especially if Lamar Jackson starts -- can yield a solid fantasy day.Yahoo | FanDuel | DraftKings
Week 12 fantasy football sleepers: Quarterbacks
Lamar Jackson, Ravens vs. Raiders (Camenker). It's hard to dislike any QB against the Raiders poor defense. Jackson ran for 117 yards last week, and that will give him a very high floor, as he will almost certainly scramble a lot against the Raiders. If Jackson can actually find the end zone -- something that eluded him against the Bengals -- he could work his way into QB1 territory. He's worth a flyer if you're desperate at the position.
Baker Mayfield, Browns @ Bengals (Iyer). He wasn't playing like a rookie before the bye, and he'll be revved up against an awful rival defense, playing well off Nick Chubb.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers vs. 49ers (Lutovsky). This guy, right? Winston is sure to turn it over, but he’s also sure to put up numbers. He disappointed in a favorable matchup in his last start against Cincinnati, but that was on the road. Back in Tampa, he’s more likely to post numbers somewhere between his outings against Atlanta (38.7 fantasy points) and Cleveland (20.1).
Week 12 fantasy football sleepers: Wide receivers
Antonio Callaway, Browns @ Bengals (Camenker). I know Callaway hasn't ever lived up to any of the hype he has gotten this year, but the Bengals give up the ninth-most FPPG to WRs. They also have struggled against speed-based players like Tyreek Hill, DeSean Jackson, and John Brown, so Callaway should have a chance to break a long one. It just feels like this is finally the week for him.
Marquise Goodwin, 49ers @ Buccaneers (Iyer). He should be fully healthy after the bye and will get down some connections he missed with Nick Mullens before to make a play or two against TB's weak DBs. (Update: Goodwin will miss Week 12 because of a personal matter, making Kendrick Bourne the 49ers top WR and great sleeper pick.)
Keke Coutee, Texans vs. Titans (Lutovsky). Coutee is coming off a nine-target game, and the addition of Demaryius Thomas might actually help him in the way of softer coverage. Either way, he has tremendous upside against a Titans defense allowing the fifth-most FPPG to WRs.
Week 12 fantasy football sleepers: Tight ends
Jordan Reed, Redskins @ Cowboys (Camenker). Everyone is down on the Redskins offense after the Alex Smith injury, but not much changes in the wake of it. Colt McCoy is an accurate game manager like Smith, so he should be able to keep the unit operational. Also, McCoy hit Reed for a TD for the first time since Week 1 last week, so maybe Reed will become his go-to red-zone target. Either way, Reed isn't getting enough love this week as many expect Dallas' defense to have a big game. Still, Reed could grab a TD and be a relevant streamer.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers vs. 49ers (Iyer). You gotta love the Brate this week with O.J. Howard out. He's a favorite of QB Jameis Winston, who is starting again, and San Francisco isn't great against TEs.
Ed Dickson, Seahawks @ Panthers (Lutovsky). Can you say “Ed Dickson Revenge Game”? You probably can, and you should. He might only get two targets, but one will go for a touchdown against the league’s worst defense vs. TEs.
Week 12 fantasy sleepers: Defenses
Dallas Cowboys vs. Redskins (Camenker). This kind of contradicts what I just said about Reed, but both Reed and the Cowboys defense can succeed. The Cowboys get to take on McCoy in his first start since 2014, and it comes on a short week, on the road in Dallas, and on Thanksgiving. That's a perfect storm of events for the Dallas defense. They should be able to get some sacks against the Redskins backup offensive linemen and the team should have a good chance to force McCoy into a turnover or two.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Dolphins (Iyer). They're big favorites and can rattle a rusty Ryan Tannehill into sacks and picks in the second half.
Buffalo Bills vs. Jaguars (Lutovsky). This has “mail-in” written all over it for the Jags. A cold-weather game after a crushing defeat that all but knocked them out of playoff contention? Sure, Leonard Fournette will get his yards, but the opportunistic Bills will coax Blake Bortles in a few mistakes.