Week 12 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Players ready to make a surprise impact

Maybe our defensive look-aheads helped you last week (Miami might tee off on Houston), but the field players were underwhelming. There will be fantasy slates like this. Keep the head down, keep grinding.

There is no right way or wrong way to digest this column. You might use it for start/sit guidance, or the impetus of a prop play. Perhaps you’ll add someone to your roster for depth but not start him this week. Maybe you’ll get some DFS intel from the piece. It’s up to you. Dealer’s choice.

We’re onto Week 12.

Demarcus Robinson at Jacksonville (Yahoo DFS salary $16)

It might seem a little sheepish to list Robinson as a sleeper, given he caught all nine of his targets for 128 yards last week. People tend to notice a line like that. Robinson’s career has been pedestrian, a six-year run with just 170 catches and 15 touchdowns. That said, the Ravens are desperate at receiver — injuries have decimated the room. And the Jacksonville defense is credible against the run (15th in DVOA) but lousy against the pass (31st in DVOA). Even after the Tuesday night waiver run, Robinson is unclaimed in about 86 percent of Yahoo leagues. There’s a great opportunity here. Baltimore needs to treat Robinson like an every-down player.

Elijah Moore vs. Chicago (DFS salary $10)

It feels like five years ago, but Moore had some moments in the first month of the year. He absorbed 21 targets in the first three weeks — granted, the Jets had a ridiculous pass/run split at the time — and showed occasional chemistry with Joe Flacco. New York announced that Zach Wilson has been benched, and the team will turn to Mike White. I dare White to be worse than the Wilson horror show. Moore was a destination pick in the summer; perhaps this pilot change will spark a fast finish for him.

Elijah Moore hasn't been on the fantasy radar in weeks, but that could change with the Jets turning to Mike White at QB.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Elijah Moore hasn't been on the fantasy radar in weeks, but that could change with the Jets turning to Mike White at QB. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Josh Palmer at Arizona (DFS salary $22)

Palmer’s scouting profile has always been ordinary, but the Chargers need him in their current plans. Tight end Gerald Everett (groin) didn’t play last week, and Mike Williams aggravated his high-ankle sprain. Head coach Brandon Stanley is downplaying the severity of the Williams injury, but high-ankle sprains have a way of lingering.

Palmer has a zesty 19-256-2 line the last three weeks, and yet he’s currently started in just 24 percent of Yahoo leagues. Justin Herbert is slinging it again. The Chargers passing tree keeps getting narrower. Arizona’s defense is in a funk; San Francisco did anything it wanted Monday night in Mexico. Palmer is approved for proactive use in Week 12.

Nico Collins at Miami (DFS salary $15)

I know you’re probably sick of the Houston passing game, and maybe Collins himself has let you down in recent weeks. But the Miami defense is a funnel unit — it stuffs the run, and struggles (29th in DVOA) against the pass. And consider the expected game script; with Miami 13.5-point favorites, Houston is likely to throw the ball for most of the second half. Collins didn’t win us anything last week, but a 5-48-0 line isn’t a total washout. And he had 10 targets and a touchdown in his prior start. He’s capable of sneaking into the WR3 bucket this week. A reported QB change from Davis Mills to Kyle Allen wouldn't be considered much of a downgrade at this point.

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Logan Thomas vs. Falcons (DFS salary $12)

Tight end is gross, no getting around it. So many injuries, so much underperformance.

The usual support options are around — Juwan Johnson for touchdown equity, Taysom Hill for possible gadget use (the Saints admit they need to use him more), Pat Freiermuth for the vacated Chase Claypool targets. If you can’t land any of those guys, maybe Thomas is more your speed. He posted a handy 5-65-0 line last week, he’s always had a good rapport with Taylor Heinicke, and Thomas finally looks back to full health after a nagging calf injury. The Falcons are in the bottom corner of the league when it comes to tight-end marking.

Dontrell Hilliard (RB stash for Tennessee)

Nobody wants to see Derrick Henry get hurt and if he does get injured, all bets are off in Tennessee. That said, Hilliard has been a walking splash play all year, averaging 6.7 yards per carry and 10 yards per reception. Sure, it’s only 35 touches, but four of those catches have gone for touchdowns. Hilliard should be rostered in every medium and deeper pool, but right now he trades at just 12 percent in Yahoo leagues.

Seahawks DST (look ahead for Week 13)

I love playing the look-ahead game for defenses this late in the year, and the Seahawks are one week away from a delicious date with the Rams. Sean McVay might be a card-carrying genius, but the LAR offensive personnel is probably the worst in the NFC right now. Seattle is rostered in just 15 percent of Yahoo; in some pools, I’ll skip the line and stash them now. It’s possible the Rams will be using a second- or third-string quarterback next week, which is what it looks like they'll be doing in Week 12, and obviously Cooper Kupp won’t be playing. Seattle can tee off here.

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