Sleeper is a nebulous term in fantasy football. One size never fits all with any column.
My goal with this piece is to help you consider fantasy options that might be overlooked or under-appreciated, be it as temporary fill-ins, possible depth grabs or maybe the impetus for a prop play or DFS slot. As always, your mileage may vary, and you know your league — and particular needs — better than an outsider ever could.
Last week was one of the better sleeper weeks, with Joshua Dobbs, Baker Mayfield, Noah Brown and Rico Dowdle all beating their projections. Let's see if we can keep the good vibes going for Week 11.
QB Jordan Love vs. Chargers (45% rostered)
WR Jayden Reed vs. Chargers 30% rostered)
TE Luke Musgrave vs. Chargers (38% rostered)
It's the time of year when rookie pass catchers often start to spread their wings, as the game starts to slow down for them. Both Reed (5-84-1) and Musgrave (2-64-0) were heard from at Pittsburgh last week, against a formidable Steelers defense. The assignment is much easier this Sunday, at home against a Chargers defense that struggles to cover both the flanks and the seam. All of your passes seem to work against the LAC.
Of course, to trust any Green Bay recommendation, you also have to sign off on Love, who has not been an easy watch this year. But he has met or exceeded his fantasy projection in three of his last four starts, and maybe he deserves the late-developing Polaroid story, too, given that it's his first year starting. Even if you can't envision Love being a long-term answer for the Packers, the weaknesses of the Chargers defense will likely float the Packers offense this week.
RB Ty Chandler at Broncos (45% rostered)
Things change fast in the NFL. Both the Vikings and Broncos looked shipwrecked about a month ago, but they've rallied nicely. Somehow Minnesota is on a five-game winning streak despite losing Kirk Cousins at the front of that stretch, and Denver has pulled three upsets in a row, a nifty comeback from a team that was torched 70-20 at Miami at the end of September.
To be fair, Denver's rushing defense has struggled all year. The Miami blowout is the outlier, but Denver ranks 32nd in rush defense DVOA for a reason. And with that, perhaps Chandler can come through here. He's likely to be Minnesota's featured back for the second straight week, with volume especially safe given that Alexander Mattison (concussion) will likely sit out. And maybe Chandler can take the job away from Mattison either way — Mattison is lagging at 3.5 yards per carry and 4.1 yards per touch. Chandler's efficiency hasn't been dramatically better, but it's still better. Perhaps Sunday at Mile High is the inflection point.
WR Curtis Samuel vs. Giants (31% rostered)
Samuel returned from a toe injury last week and the results weren't exciting — two short catches. But he was targeted six times by Sam Howell, at the expense of some other players (Jahan Dotson saw just two targets, both incomplete). Now Samuel returns home against a Giants secondary that's been good for wide receivers (third-most points allowed) and especially leaky in slot coverage. Samuel had worked into low-end WR3 territory before the injury, totaling 25 catches and three total touchdowns over a five-game stretch. He's a reasonable spot start if the bye week has you digging deep.
RB Rico Dowdle at Panthers (13% rostered)
Most of Dowdle's production last week came late, but it did come, cleanup work as the Cowboys finished off a blowout of the hapless Giants. And that game script could easily land again, as the Pokes are double-digit favorites at the Panthers. And we can't ignore that in every per-opportunity metric, Dowdle is better than Tony Pollard this year — per rush, per catch, per touch, per target. The Cowboys might start mixing in Dowdle more as a proactive runner, not merely limiting him to closing time. Also, take heart in Carolina's run defense — by DVOA, it's the worst in the NFC.
D/ST Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Titans (42% rostered)
It's easy to dump on the Jags for that ugly loss against the 49ers, but maybe that result was more about San Francisco being great than Jacksonville being lousy. Sure, the Jacksonville passing game has kinks to iron out, and anyone who drafted Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley isn't happy right now. But let's not miss the opportunity in front of us.
The first thing I look at when I consider D/ST streamers is the point spread — I want a team that's favored by a healthy margin. Jacksonville checks that box, a 6.5-point favorite against Tennessee. And while Will Levis had exciting moments in his first two starts, he looked every bit an inexperienced rookie at Tampa Bay last week (four sacks, one pick, no touchdowns, just 5.1 YPA). Perhaps the Jaguars can control the game flow and make Tennessee one-dimensional for the second straight week.