It’s time for a weekend edition of Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains. Last week I was right about Justin Jackson over Austin Ekeler and Ty Montgomery did deliver as a flex option in PPR, but we can do way better. Let’s kick it up a notch in Week 14.
To review … all of these players are owned in less than 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 why they’re so cheap and available! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup.
Stevan Ridley, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($10)
I know everyone is geeked about Jaylen Samuels — and he certainly offers lotto ticket appeal — but he’s never carried the ball more than 12 times in a single game. The Steelers are 13-point favorites in this matchup and the Raiders are giving up 5.0 YPC to opposing rushers … so where’s the love for Ridley?
With James Conner sidelined, Ridley will find work on early downs and at the goal line. After all, coach Mike Tomlin has expressed his desire to employ an RBBC, and Ridley has proven to be a capable backup. In Week 17 of last season, the former Patriot stepped in when both Le’Veon Bell and Conner were unavailable and carried the ball 17 times for 80 yards and a score.
Samuels expects to absorb Conner’s work in the passing game, and has already scored via the air twice the season. Yet the bulk of Conner’s fantasy points have come as a result of his 13 goal-line carries (RB2) and subsequent 12 rushing TDs (RB2). That’s where Ridley offers legit value, especially facing a run defense that’s allowed 11 rushing scores on the season and the fourth-most rushing yards over the last four weeks. The six-year-vet may not be a flashy play, but he’s a solid flex option in the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills ($11)
Rather than delay the inevitable, Buffalo released Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes before the year’s close. Opting to trim the fat and lean into potential, over 80 targets have been made available to the Bills’ young receiving corps. This means good things for Jones, whose recent play has raised eyebrows, as he’s managed top-eight fantasy finishes in two of his last three games.
In Week 14, the East Carolina product will attempt to build on last Sunday’s two-touchdown outing when he faces a traveling Jets squad that gifted him an eight-catch and 93-yard effort just three weeks ago. While Buffalo’s offense is an absolute work in progress, the Jets secondary has consistently been torched, allowing over 200 receiving yards to opposing WRs for three consecutive outings. I fully anticipate the team’s undisputed No. 1 WR to dominate on Sunday, and have, accordingly, ranked him inside my top-35 players at the position.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys ($14)
Since moving to Dallas, Amari Cooper has posted consistent WR2 numbers, which has actually helped Gallup to improve his fantasy output. Since Week 9, the rookie has averaged 1.2 more catches and 11 more yards per outing. By no means is he lighting the FF world on fire, but coming off a five-catch, 76-yard effort and facing an Eagles secondary that’s allowed the sixth-most receiving yards per game, Gallup deserves a spot on fantasy radars. Likely to face off against CB Rasul Douglas — who allowed 6 of 11 targets for 84 yards the last time he faced the Cowboys — Gallup is in a spot to shine.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos ($10)
Expected to man the slot with Emmanuel Sanders (Achilles) lost for the remainder of the season, Hamilton could see his star turn on Sunday. A fourth-round pick out of Penn State, Hamilton is a gutty player who runs precise routes and demonstrates cunning after the catch. Coming off his highest snap count of the year (52.9%), the rookie could feast in the coverage of CB K’Waun Williams, who is allowing double-digit fantasy points on a weekly basis. With more than eight targets per game up for grabs and facing a 49ers defense that’s allowed eight scores and the most fantasy points to opposing WRs, the technically blessed Hamilton is a prospect to watch.
Dan Arnold, TE, New Orleans Saints ($10)
A converted wide receiver (upon the urging of Sean Payton), Arnold is in his second year with the Saints (though he spent all of 2017 on IR). He didn’t see the field until Week 7, but over the last pair of games his profile has grown. In fact, the 23-year-old is now listed ahead of Ben Watson on the team’s depth chart. Since Week 12 (vs ATL) the North Dakota native has run more routes and drawn more targets than the 38-year-old vet (who put up a goose egg in Week 13).
This Sunday he’ll travel to the Tampa to take on a Bucs defense that’s given up an average of nearly six catches and 75 yards to opposing tight ends each week. Even if Arnold doesn’t boom in Week 14, attention needs to be paid to his chemistry with Drew Brees and usage in a offense that has shown a proclivity toward elevating the position.
Dig Deep with Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.