Week 15: Playoff Sleepers – by Jamie Zadow

If you’re reading this then in all likelihood you survived the first round of your fantasy football playoffs (maybe by the skin of your teeth?). In most formats, this is the semifinals weekend that will put two winners one step closer to a fantasy championship.

However, winning at this time of year can be especially challenging when you consider the number of injuries piling up around the NFL and how many coaching staffs become cautious with some of their star players ahead of a playoff run in January.

That being said, it’s time to get you primed for your fantasy matchups with some players that may be flying under the radar this week and could help to put you over the top.


Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders (@ Cincinnati Bengals)

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

There’s been nothing pretty about the Raiders’ season to this point, sitting 3-10 on the year and relieving Reggie McKenzie of his General Manager duties. But, Jon Gruden and company have been better as of late, winning two of their last four games, pushing the Kansas City Chiefs to the brink in a 40-33 loss and stunning the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-21 last week.

Carr has quietly put together a decent season — 3,434 YDS, 18 TD, 8 INT, and a 69.5 CMP% — and hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 7 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Over his last four games, he’s been efficient, averaging 248.3 YDS/G and 2.0 TD/G. Now, he gets a tasty matchup (albeit on the road) against a Bengals defense allowing 21.7 FP/G to QB’s (2nd-most) with the second-worst pass rush in the league.

Vegas has the over/under set at 46 and I think Carr and this offense can score some points this Sunday to help you in your fantasy matchup.


Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Los Angeles Chargers)

With news that Spencer Ware is doubtful to play Thursday night in a big divisional clash with the Chargers, Williams is a must-start everywhere. This is a giant opportunity for the 26-year-old as he goes up against a Chargers defense allowing 20.3 FP/G to opposing RB’s (12th-most).

Photo Credit: Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs have been firing on all cylinders this season offensively depending largely on their big three — Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce — but they haven’t shied away from the run since Kareem Hunt‘s departure either. The team is averaging 21 rushing attempts per game over the last two weeks and you should expect Williams to see the bellcow of the work in Week 15.


Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers (vs. New Orleans Saints)

This could be a very explosive game offensively when the Panthers and Saints clash in an NFC South division battle on Monday night. Vegas has the total set at 51.5 and that’s great news for fantasy owners on both sides as the offense should be pouring in.

I went back and forth between Samuel and teammate D.J. Moore, but I’ll go with the lower percentage play out of Ohio State as he’s hauled in 10 passes for 168 receiving yards in the past two weeks. Either player possesses breakout scoring potential, but my guess is Samuel will be the more available option on your waiver wire (39.7% owned in ESPN).

The Saints are giving up league-leading 29.6 FP/G to WR’s and Samuel will have a great chance to extend his double-digit fantasy points output to five straight games.

by Jamie Zadow@jamiezadow

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