Week 13 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

With the playoffs looming, Tyler Loechner looks at players primed for a big Week 13 performance.

| 7 months ago
(David Banks/Getty Images)

(David Banks/Getty Images)

Week 13 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

The final week of the fantasy regular season is upon us. Hopefully, you’ve secured a playoff spot already. If not, you might need to swing for the fences to earn your spot. If you need a little under-the-radar help, you might want to consider some of these sleeper candidates in Week 13.

I use our unique fantasy points per opportunity data to help identify some breakout candidates. An opportunity is defined as a rush attempt or a pass route run, so PPO is calculated by dividing total points scored by carries plus routes run. This stat can help you uncover which players are too reliant on volume, and which players could become fantasy studs if they get more opportunities.

We’ll look to use our unique PPO data to attempt to identify some players who will break out in Week 13.

Wide receivers

Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears

Okay, so, technically, Wilson had his breakout game in Week 12. But he should be able to keep it rolling in Week 13 against the San Francisco 49ers, who have given up the most PPO to opposing wideouts so far this year. Wilson parlayed 11 targets into eight receptions, 125 yards and a score in Week 12. He did suffer two drops, but that was actually better than average among Chicago wideouts last week — i.e., it probably won’t prevent him from seeing further targets in Week 13. Wilson could surprise us all by putting up another big game.

Brandon LaFell, Cincinnati Bengals

A.J. Green will likely miss Week 13 (if not more), and while it seems like LaFell hasn’t done much with Green out, he certainly has seen more opportunities. He is playing the same amount of snaps, but he has seen 16 targets over the two previous games; in the four games prior to that, he saw 14 combined targets. The extra workload could pay off against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have given up the eight-most PPO to wideouts this year.

Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons

You are already starting Julio Jones — obviously — and Taylor Gabriel has thrust himself into the flex conversation, but don’t sleep on Sanu this week. The Falcons take on the Kansas City Chiefs, who have given up the fifth-most fantasy PPO to wideouts on the year. Sanu caught all eight of his targets last week and out-snapped the up-and-coming Gabriel 62-to-36. Sanu is the least shiny of Atlanta’s three receivers, but he remains a key cog in the offense.

Running backs

Matt Forte, New York Jets

Forte and the Jets take on the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night. The Colts started the season terrible against the run, and nothing has changed since then. They enter Week 13 as the second-worst team in terms of fantasy PPO given up to running backs. Forte has defied all odds and has remained a workhorse for the Jets as we enter the final month of the season. Since Week 7, he has touched the ball 112 times (over 22 per game). His rushing totals in that span: 100, 82, 92, 98 and 27. The Week 12 dud came against the New England Patriots, who have been stout against the run this year. Forte will bounce back on Monday night against the Colts.

Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts

Speaking of the Colts, Gore should also have a good game against the New York Jets, whose front-seven is not quite as feared as it was earlier in the year. The Jets are a decidedly middle-of-the-pack team against the run, and in their previous six games, they’ve given up an average of 92 yards and nearly one touchdown per game on the ground.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Don’t look now, but the Buccaneers are in the thick of the playoff race and legitimate contenders to take down the NFC South. They are not just a play-from-behind-garbage-time team. Martin found room to run in Week 12 against the Seattle Seahawks, turning 23 carries into 87 yards. He also carried the rock 24 times in his Week 11 return from injury. The Buccaneers have not been easing him back into action. And the matchup gets considerably easier for Martin in Week 13, as the Buccaneers take on the San Diego Chargers, who have given up the ninth-most fantasy PPO to running backs this year.

Tight ends

Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

If you own Graham, you’re already playing him — but you might want to consider him in DFS as well. Graham is in line for a big game in Week 13 against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night. The Panthers have given up the fourth-most PPO to tight ends this year, and they have given up eight touchdowns to the position — tied for second most in the NFL.

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

People have not quite caught onto this fact yet, but the Cincinnati Bengals — Ertz’s Week 13 opponent — are bad at defending tight ends. They have given up the second-most fantasy PPO to the position this year. Ertz was a disappointing train wreck for most of the year (I dropped him in one league), but he has been notably better in recent weeks. Over his previous four games, Ertz has been a top-five fantasy tight end in PPR leagues. His 31 targets and 23 receptions trail only Travis Kelce in that span.

Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints

Do you hate yourself, and feel like torturing your soul for the entirety of Week 13 and beyond? If so, you should definitely consider this play. Fleener and the Saints will square off against the Detroit Lions, a team that has given up the third-most fantasy PPO to enemy tight ends this year.

Additionally, it’s a home game for the Saints, and like the rest of New Orleans’ offense, Fleener is significantly better at home. In fact, in six home games this year, Fleener has been fantasy’s No. 3 tight end while averaging 12.2 PPR points per game. In five road games, Fleener has been fantasy’s No. 28 tight end while averaging 6.6 PPR points per game.

Below is a chart showing the top 20 players at each position in terms of fantasy PPO scored so far this season (minimum 25 percent snaps).

2016 Season PPO Leaders (min. 25% snaps)
WR   RB   TE
Player Tm. PPO Player Tm. PPO Player Tm. PPO
Russell Shepard WR 0.53 Damien Williams RB 0.64 Rob Gronkowski TE 0.42
Taylor Gabriel WR 0.48 Ryan Mathews RB 0.61 Hunter Henry TE 0.37
Tyreek Hill WR 0.47 Tevin Coleman RB 0.56 Vernon Davis TE 0.34
Mike Evans WR 0.4 LeGarrette Blount RB 0.52 Anthony Fasano TE 0.34
Julio Jones WR 0.39 Ezekiel Elliott RB 0.51 Delanie Walker TE 0.33
Antonio Brown WR 0.37 LeSean McCoy RB 0.5 Martellus Bennett TE 0.33
A.J. Green WR 0.36 Mike Gillislee RB 0.5 Jordan Reed TE 0.31
Rishard Matthews WR 0.34 Rob Kelley RB 0.49 Levine Toilolo TE 0.31
Cole Beasley WR 0.34 Jamize Olawale RB 0.47 Vance McDonald TE 0.3
Odell Beckham Jr. WR 0.33 John Kuhn RB 0.47 C.J. Fiedorowicz TE 0.3
Brandon Coleman WR 0.33 Mark Ingram RB 0.46 Austin Hooper TE 0.29
Jordan Taylor WR 0.33 Latavius Murray RB 0.46 Jimmy Graham TE 0.28
Kendall Wright WR 0.32 Jay Ajayi RB 0.44 Erik Swoope TE 0.28
Michael A. Thomas WR 0.31 Jalen Richard RB 0.43 Greg Olsen TE 0.26
Kelvin Benjamin WR 0.31 Jeremy Hill RB 0.42 Antonio Gates TE 0.26
Dez Bryant WR 0.31 Tim Hightower RB 0.42 Tyler Eifert TE 0.26
Malcolm Mitchell WR 0.31 DeMarco Murray RB 0.41 Jack Doyle TE 0.25
Jamison Crowder WR 0.3 Derrick Henry RB 0.4 MarQueis Gray TE 0.25
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR 0.3 David A. Johnson RB 0.39 Cameron Brate TE 0.24
Brandin Cooks WR 0.29 Isaiah Crowell RB 0.39 Zach Miller TE 0.24
Sammie Coates WR 0.29 Jonathan C. Stewart RB 0.39 Ed Dickson TE 0.24
Bennie Fowler WR 0.29
Davante Adams WR 0.28

Tyler Loechner is a lead writer at PFF Fantasy. He has played fantasy football since 1999 and has been a part of the PFF Fantasy staff since 2010. Tyler was also previously a fantasy football featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

  • geo2209

    Like the part about Fleener, was funny. I can’t pick him up again or I’d hate myself! Would rather ride out Brate or Vernon Davis (assuming Reed doesn’t play).