Fantasy football in 2020 requires patience, flexibility, and a whole lot of woooooosaaaah. The most dedicated and passionate managers get that … since they continue to find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While there are times your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing.
Week 11 was not without its surprises, particularly of the quarterback variety. I got Taysom-ed, which rendered Jameis absolutely useless. And I got Wentz-ed, which promptly crushed any growing optimism for Jalen Reagor (though this week vs. SEA is tempting). Despite those misses, however, the rest of last week’s sleepers woke up slumbering rosters. Both Kalen Ballage (7 catches!) and Salvon Ahmed (over 70 total yards despite briefly missing time with an in-game shoulder injury) posted top-25 fantasy numbers. But Dalton Schultz was the hero of the week, nabbing the game-winning score for Dallas and bold FF managers.
Let’s focus on the future and see what fantasy damage we can do in Week 12!
Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders (36% rostered - $29)
The result may have ended in heartbreak for Raiders fans, but the show put on by Carr in Week 11 was dazzling. After throwing for under 200 yards in three straight efforts, the Fresno State product demonstrated surgical focus and an unwavering desire to push the ball downfield, passing for 275 yards and 3 scores. Averaging 8.9 yards per attempt (Mahomes recorded a YPA of 7.7), Carr challenged the notion that he’s just a mediocre manager. His lone turnover (just his third on the season and first since before Halloween) was a last-gasp to Nelson Agholor that could be described as equal parts desperate and aggressive. Carr is proving the doubters wrong … when the game script calls for it.
Currently fifth in completion percentage (69.7%) and passer rating (108.7), Carr isn’t just giving it away. The Raiders want to lean on the run — which is why Josh Jacobs is averaging 20 carries per game — but they’re not beholden to a ball-control offense. Not with Darren Waller beasting, Agholor emerging, and additional explosive options on the field pulling defensive attention. Carr has options — and he’s not afraid to use them when he has to.
Those aerial weapons figure to be plenty targeted this Sunday when the Raiders host the Falcons. Vegas agrees, as opening projected point totals are already set at 55. Clearly, the way to attack Atlanta is through the air. The Falcons are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing QBs and over 300 passing yards per game. Meanwhile, the team’s run-stopping unit has only given up four rushing scores (to RBs) all season. Carr won’t always deliver but he’s even more delicious than your auntie’s stuffing in Week 12.
Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants (54% rostered - $18)
Like the overlooked best friend in a romcom, Gallman is what the Giants have been searching for all along. Despite rolling up 118 scrimmage yards in relief of Saquon Barkley during Week 4 of last year, New York refused to hand over backup duties to the Clemson product this go-round. I’m not saying He’s All That, but neither is Dion Lewis or Devonta Freeman (IR) or Alfred Morris. On a less-than-lit offense and running behind a bottom-ranked o-line, Gallman has flashed, recording a dominator rating of +10.4 (RB22). He’s also demonstrated hat-tipping leg drive at the goal line, forcing his way into the end zone five times over his last four games.
Refreshed coming off a bye, the G-Men’s deserving RB2 will battle a beleaguered Bengals squad in Week 12. With Ryan Finley under center, Cincy doesn’t figure to have much fight, which should allow New York to lean on the run. Given that the Bengals have given up the fourth-most rushing yards (120 per game) to RBs and are allowing 5.24 YPC to opposing runners, Gallman won’t have to lean too hard. FF: 83 total yards and 1 TD
Frank Gore, RB, New York Jets (10% rostered - $14)
It’s Adam Gase’s world and we’re all just living in it. Hopes were, well, not “high,” but maybe “elevated” with the news that everybody’s favorite disappointed dad would be handing the play-calling duties over to Dowell Loggains. But it turns out that Gase has had “veto power” this whole time. While that *could* result in seeing more out of Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims (who is a player to add to your 2021 watchlist) it *will* result in MORE GORE.
Additionally boosting Gore’s fantasy stock is the unfortunate absence of La’Mical Perine, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 11. Coming off a 17-touch effort that resulted in 71 scrimmage yards (4.1 YPC) and a score, the Inconvenient Truth is a lock for double-digit carries in Week 12. He’ll face an attackable Dolphins unit that was just trampled by Denver’s backs (166 rushing yards and 2 TDs) and is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. He’s a top-30 pick heading into the weekend.
David Moore, WR, Seattle Seahawks (5% rostered - $13)
Moore in fantasy is like me in the kitchen: Boom or bust. The more reps taken, however, the better the chances of something delicious happening. Moore has consistently served up goodness in the red area of the field. Over 25 percent of his targets have occurred inside the 20 and he’s converted on 7 of those 8 red-zone opportunities. While we can say Moore is proficient near the end zone, he’s certainly not as skilled or experienced as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Interestingly, however, Greg Olsen sat just behind the Seahawks’ dynamic receiver duo, placing third in team RZ looks with nine on the season (5 catches). Olsen (foot) is now sidelined, allowing Moore a chance to chop up a greater number of high-value opportunities. In an offense that’s letting the QB cook at a rate of nearly six red-zone attempts per week (QB2) and 30 passing TDs (QB1), that’s a sizable slice of pie. Mix in an O/U of 50.5 and primary coverage via Avonte Maddox (102.3 passer rating allowed) and we’ve got ourselves a recipe for success.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars (5% rostered - $10)
If having Turkey Dinner over Zoom doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies, then try rolling around in some Tyler Eifert nostalgia. This is the perfect week to roll it back at the tight end position. As Andy Behrens mentioned on the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast, Jordan Reed is a palatable stream in Week 12. He’s also been plenty discussed and more highly rostered than Eifert, who posted a top-14 fantasy effort in his Week 9 return from a neck injury.
At the top of the season (Weeks 2-5), previous to missing time, Eifert drew an average of 5.5 looks per contest. Over the past three weeks, he’s net 14 targets with a red-zone opportunity in back-to-back efforts. Gardner Minshew’s return would additionally provide more stability to the offense, which should extend to the tight end. Regardless of who’s under center, however, the matchup is softer than a mountain of mashed potatoes. The Browns are allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing TEs. Last week both of Philly’s TEs (Richard Rodgers and Dallas Goedert) found the end zone. Eifert is more likely to score on Sunday than I am to wear jeans on Monday.
TURKEY DAY BONUS: Jordan Akins, TE, Houston Texans (2% rostered - $13)
Buzzed about over the summer and hyped in this column at the top of the season, Akins’ role has progressively grown since returning from an ankle injury in Week 9. Last Sunday the perennial sleeper converted five of six looks for a season-high 83 yards. With Kenny Stills (quad) and Randall Cobb (foot) banged up on a short week, Akins’ volume figures to hold steady. He’ll face a beatable Lions defense (5 TDs to opposing TEs) on Thanksgiving.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF.