Week 15 Fantasy Football Sneaky Starts & Sleepers

Dec 13, 2023
Week 15 Fantasy Football Sneaky Starts & Sleepers

All but the luckiest fantasy owners at some point need to find the proverbial diamond in the rough—a waiver wire or bench player capable of putting up some points in a pinch. This weekly feature is dedicated to that part of fantasy football. It's not pretty, but it's part of the game.

Our signature strength-of-schedule metric, adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) will continue to be updated throughout the fantasy playoffs. Unlike SOS tools at other sites, we can adjust a defense’s fantasy points allowed by its schedule bias, so it provides a better “apples-to-apples” comparison. I’ll put the defense’s aFPA rank in parentheses below. The higher the number, the better the matchup.

Last week’s Sneaky Starts included Desmond Ridder (QB2), Jake Browning (QB4), Baker Mayfield (QB11), Ezekiel Elliott (RB1), Chuba Hubbard (RB24), Drake London (WR2), Jayden Reed (WR8), and Isaiah Likely (TE4).

Let’s see who might surprise this week.


Matthew Stafford, Rams (vs. WAS, 32)

After crushing in tough matchups against the Browns (279/3) and the Ravens (294/3), Matthew Stafford now draws the best matchup in the league. The Commanders are famously terrible against the pass, yielding an eye-popping 278 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game to enemy quarterbacks.

Jake Browning, Bengals (vs. MIN, 4)

Jake Browning has been more than competent in place of the injured Joe Burrow. Browning has posted back-to-back fantasy scores of 25.7 and 23.7 against the Jaguars and Colts, respectively. The Vikings are a tougher matchup, but given Browning’s strong receiving corps and rushing ability (15.4 yards per game), coupled with the Bengals’ shaky defense, he’s one of the top streaming options this week.

Joe Flacco, Browns (vs. CHI, 5)

The Bears have been playing pretty stingy defense of late, but they’ve been more vulnerable against the pass than against the run–not counting the Lions last week—and that plays right into Joe Flacco’s elite hands. In two Flacco starts, the Browns have attempted 89 passes and 51 runs for a total of 70.0 plays per game.

Will Levis, Titans (vs. HOU, 30)

It’s been a roller coaster for Will Levis in terms of production, but he’s coming off of a solid game against the Dolphins (327/1) and has a great matchup against the Texans, who have yielded an average of 280 yards (8.39 YPA) and 1.5 touchdowns to opposing passers since Week 9.

Nick Mullens, Vikings (@ CIN, 21)

Nick Mullens replaced Joshua Dobbs amid an ugly 0-0 slugfest and managed to direct the Vikings on a scoring drive to win the game, completing 9-of-13 passes for 83 yards. Things should be easier against the Bengals, who have given up an average of 286 yards and 1.2 touchdowns to the position since Week 9. Mullens has a career 7.7 yards per attempt and if Justin Jefferson plays, he’ll have a talented receiving corps to throw to.

Running Backs

Ezekiel Elliott (vs. KC, 22) is a volume-based RB1 this week if Rhamondre Stevenson remains out.

Chuba Hubbard, Panthers (vs. ATL, 13)

Chuba Hubbard is the RB28 on the season, but he’s the RB8 over the last three weeks thanks to consecutive touch counts of 19, 25, and 25. The Falcons have a middling rush defense, allowing an average of 126 total yards to enemy backfields since Week 9.

Ty Chandler, Vikings (@ CIN, 17)

It looks like Alexander Mattison may have a high ankle sprain and is likely to miss Saturday’s game against the Bengals. Ty Chandler is averaging about 4.7 yards per touch and the Vikings’ backfield has averaged 24.4 touches per game. If he sees 60% of that workload at that same productivity rate, it would result in roughly 14-15 touches for around 69 yards. The Bengals have allowed an average of 108 yards (4.27 YPC) and 0.83 touchdowns to opposing running backs since Week 9.

Keaton Mitchell, Ravens (@ JAX, 10)

The Jaguars have had a pass-funnel defense this season, but in the last couple of weeks, both Jerome Ford/Kareem Hunt (112 total yards and a touchdown) and Joe Mixon/Chase Brown (178 total yards and two touchdowns) have been able to produce via the run and the pass. Meanwhile, in the last two games, Keaton Mitchell has gained 89 and 62 yards from scrimmage as the de facto lead back for the Ravens.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire & Jerick McKinnon, Chiefs (@ NE, 3)

The matchup is bad, but both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon should see work with Isiah Pacheco likely sidelined another week. Against the Bills, Edwards-Helaire turned 11 carries and two catches into 68 total yards while McKinnon generated 37 total yards and a touchdown on four carries and three catches. The Patriots are in the top half of the league in receptions and receiving yards allowed to enemy running backs.

D'Onta Foreman, Bears (@ CLE, 15)

After sitting out a game, D'Onta Foreman returned to the lead role, handling 13-of-18 backfield touches for 72 total yards. The Browns have allowed 4.33 yards per carry and 1.0 rushing touchdowns per game to opposing running backs since Week 9.

Zamir White, Raiders (vs. LAC, 20)

Josh Jacobs has a quad/knee injury and seems likely to miss Thursday’s game against the Chargers. If he sits, then Zamir White would likely take over the early-down rushing duties with Ameer Abdullah handling most of the pass-catching duties. (White has 20 carries and six catches while Abdullah has six carries and 14 catches.) Splitting the work means White’s ceiling is only so high, but the matchup is pretty good. Since Week 9, the Chargers have yielded an average of 148 total yards and 0.7 touchdowns to the position. White feels like a bit of a trap this week, but he's a worthy dart throw given his likely touches and a favorable matchup.

Wide Receivers

Jayden Reed & Romeo Doubs, Packers (vs. TB, 30)

Jayden Reed was a Sneaky Start last week and he delivered 65 total yards and a touchdown on 10 targets and four carries. He should continue to be featured with Christian Watson (likely) out. As for Doubs, he was relatively quiet against the Giants (4-32) but saw seven targets. If he gets that sort of work against the Bucs—199 yards and 0.8 touchdowns allowed to receivers since Week 9—he should deliver. Doubs is popping in the Week 15 Breakout Receiver Model.

Tyler Lockett & Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seahawks (vs. PHI, 31)

Tyler Lockett will have the better cornerback matchups since he plays mostly on the outside and Eagles slot corner Bradley Roby has been pretty stingy in coverage. But I’m going to include Jaxon Smith-Njigba as well even though he lines up in the slot roughly 70% of the time because the Eagles’ pass defense as a whole is one of the most generous in the league. Since Week 9, Philly has yielded an average of 196 yards and 2.2 touchdowns to enemy receivers.

Odell Beckham, Ravens (@ JAX, 29)

Things are lining up well for Odell Beckham heading into a Week 15 matchup with the pass-funnel Jaguars. He’s coming off a strong performance (4-97-1 on 10 targets) against the Rams, and he should see a lot of Jacksonville’s outside corners Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams, who have been more generous than slot corner Tre Herndon.

Diontae Johnson, Steelers (@ IND, 6)

After back-to-back productive games, Johnson has a tough matchup on paper—the Colts are sixth in WR aFPA—though he should be able to take advantage of his matchup with corner Julius Brents. Mitch Trubisky has targeted Johnson 14 times this season for 108 yards and two scores, so the two have a pretty good rapport.

Drake London, Falcons (@ CAR, 3)

Featured in Week 14’s Breakout Receiver Model, Drake London more than delivered, exploding for 10 catches on 172 yards against the pass-funnel Bucs. The Panthers are more of a run funnel, but London should still see his usual 6-8 targets and the individual cornerback matchups are pretty favorable.

Joshua Palmer, Chargers (@ LV, 8)

With Keenan Allen ruled out for Thursday Night Football, and Joshua Palmer set to make his return, I'm adding Palmer as a Sneaky Start as a likely volume play. The Chargers are down their top two receivers (Allen and Mike Williams) and starting QB Justin Herbert is done for the year, so anything could happen tonight. But my money is on Palmer, who is by far the Chargers' most accomplished receiver outside of Austin Ekeler.

Rashid Shaheed, Saints (vs. NYG, 26)

With Chris Olave out, Rashid Shaheed should operate as the WR1 for the Saints against a suspect Giants' pass defense. He usually has a low floor and a high ceiling, but given the Olave injury, he should see plenty of snaps and targets.

Elijah Moore, Browns (vs. CHI, 10)

Elijah Moore is popping in Week 15’s Breakout Receiver Model, which usually bodes well. He has seen 18 targets in the last two weeks from Joe Flacco, who has attempted 89 passes in two games. The Browns are throwing the ball heavily and are running a lot of plays, which is good for fantasy production. Cleveland may also find that running the ball is tough on a pretty stingy Bears rush defense, and Moore could benefit.

Zay Jones, Jaguars (vs. BAL, 7)

Zay Jones is No. 2 in the Week 15 Breakout Receiver Model, and while the matchup is poor, he may be able to get by on volume. He has seen 22 targets in the last two weeks and he has the second-most air yards in that span.

Demarcus Robinson, Rams (vs. WAS, 32)

Demarcus Robinson has posted 4-55-1 on five targets and 3-46-1 on 10 targets in the last two weeks. His playing time spiked to 86% in Week 14 due to Tutu Atwell’s concussion. If Atwell misses this week, which is likely given his concussion, then Robinson should see another 80%+ snap share against the worst coverage unit in the league.

Tight Ends

Isaiah Likely, Ravens (@ JAX, 17)

In his last two games, Isaiah Likely has delivered 4-40 on six targets and 5-81-1 on seven targets. He is the TE5 average in that span. The Jaguars’ defense is a known pass funnel, and has yielded big games to David Njoku (6-91-2) and George Kittle (3-116-1) since Week 10.

Hunter Henry, Patriots (vs. KC, 7)

If Demario Douglas and/or DeVante Parker return this week, then Hunter Henry may not be as appealing of a Sneaky Start, but with both receivers out last week, Henry caught all three of his targets for 40 yards and two touchdowns.

Cade Otton, Buccaneers (@ GB, 19)

Cade Otton caught the game-winning touchdown last week, so Baker Mayfield trusts him in crunch time. He has at least one touchdown and/or 40+ yards receiving in five of his last eight games. The Packers have yielded five usable fantasy lines to Travis Kelce (4-81), Sam LaPorta (5-47), Stone Smartt (1-51-1), Donald Parham (4-57), and T.J. Hockenson (6-88-1) since Week 8.

Logan Thomas, Commanders (@ LAR, 30)

He had a goose egg against the Dolphins, but Logan Thomas is a solid dart throw this week given his year-to-date usage (5.3 targets per game) and his matchup against the Rams, who have allowed five big games to Isaiah Likely (5-83-1), Harrison Bryant (5-49-1), Trey McBride (7-60), Luke Musgrave (3-51-1), and Jake Ferguson (4-47-1) in the last six weeks.

Tucker Kraft, Packers (vs. TB, 23)

The rookie has played 95%+ of the snaps in each of the last three games and has posted 2-15-1, 3-37, and 4-64. Those are serviceable numbers for a streamer, and this week’s matchup is favorable. Since Week 8, the Bucs have been worked over by Dalton Kincaid (5-65-1), Dalton Schultz (10-130-1), George Kittle (8-89-1), and Kyle Pitts (3-57-1).

Chigoziem Okonkwo, Titans (vs. HOU, 28)

In the last three weeks, Chigoziem Okonkwo has posted 4-45, 3-62, and 5-46 on 5.7 targets per game. The Texans have yielded an average of 6.8 catches for 65 yards and 0.31 touchdowns to the position this season.

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