It’s time for fantasy football sleepers, Week 18 edition. Yes, we have to remember there’s a Week 18 this season. Some of you are still competing. If the NFL is happening, we at PFN are happening. Last week’s unconventional PFN predictions included the completely overlooked Mac Jones. Who are my favorite deep fantasy football sleepers in the final week of the NFL regular season?
Fantasy Football Week 18 Sleepers | QB and RB
As always, I’m not talking about players you’re planning to start. There are always bargains to be found on waivers. Here are my favorite QB and RB sleepers for Week 18.
Davis Mills, QB, Houston Texans
This summer, I was more than a little concerned about Davis Mills’ fantasy prospects — not only in 2021 but also in 2022 and even 2023. The Texans were barely 18 months removed from blowing a 24-0 playoff lead to the Chiefs. The franchise’s fortunes changed on a dime that afternoon, and by this past July, I imagined it would be years before Houston would regain its footing as a playoff contender.
But against all odds, their third-round rookie is exceeding expectations. Mills is surrounded by Brandin Cooks and not much else in the passing game. Four RB castoffs — led by the 31-year-old Rex Burkhead — somehow have been able to move the chains on occasion. And through it all, Mills has progressed into a reasonably promising starting quarterback.
In Week 18, he’ll face the Titans at home. Tennessee is giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. They’re also the stingiest defense when it comes to opposing RB fantasy points. So, I’m anticipating a Houston game plan featuring Mills in the pocket feeding Cooks and his array of secondary options (including the up-and-coming Nico Collins). 250+ yards and 2+ touchdowns are realistic. I’d start Mills as a top-16 QB.
Devontae Booker, RB, New York Giants
What’s more likely for the Giants on Sunday — overworking Saquon Barkley in a meaningless final game, or limiting his usage to prevent a freak injury that could undercut his Week 1 availability next season? I’m going with Option 2. Barkley is coming off a season-high 21 rushing attempts last weekend. In fact, it was his most carries in more than two years (Week 16 of 2019). There’s nothing he needs to prove to this team except health.
Enter Devontae Booker, one of fantasy’s top RB handcuffs thanks to capable running and adept pass-catching skills. In fact, Booker’s 88% catch rate (38 of 43 targets) is one of the best in the league. The Giants will face a middling Washington defense, who also have nothing to play for. This could shape up as a 15+ touch game for Booker. If you’re competing in Week 18 and need a No. 2 RB, Booker could be one of the cheapest and highest-upside options out there.
Fantasy Football Week 18 Sleepers | WR and TE
A free-agent WR could net you 12+ points. The same goes for a tight end with an above-average likelihood of scoring. Who are my favorite WR and TE sleepers for Week 18?
Cyril Grayson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Heading into this season, Cyril Grayson had 1 career NFL reception for 3 yards. He didn’t even play in college. Yet, in four games this year, he’s tacked on 10 catches for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns. With Antonio Brown’s stint with the Bucs over and Chris Godwin on injured reserve, Grayson is well-positioned to add to his incredible late-season production.
Head coach Bruce Arians insists that he won’t rest his starters in Week 18. Of course, given the state of Tampa Bay’s receiving corps, he might have been referring to Grayson, too. The 28-year-old earned 8 targets in Tampa Bay’s come-from-behind victory Sunday. Mike Evans had only 7 looks. So yeah, it’s fair to say Grayson is a cornerstone component of Tom Brady’s aerial attack, and he’ll be a terrific flyer this weekend.
Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears
Cole Kmet is the only top-27 fantasy TE without a touchdown. In fact, 25 of the other 26 TEs in this group have 2+ TDs. Kmet is painfully close to being a top-10 TE. Instead, he’s the TE21. Why? Not because of targets, where he’s tied for seventh in the league (88). True, his 64% catch rate is relatively low compared to typical No. 1 team tight ends. But he’s No. 2 on the Bears in receptions and yards. This isn’t an offensive afterthought.
The risk fantasy managers run is overlooking great tight ends simply because of a lack of touchdowns, which often artificially suppresses actual player values. It happens every week, and it happens every summer heading into fantasy drafts.
Kmet was a second-round draft pick last year. I believe he’s a future star in this league. In Week 18, he’ll face a Vikings defense that has been porous against opposing QBs and WR. They’ve given up 9+ fantasy points to TEs in four of the last five games — including a 6-71-0 receiving line to Kmet in Week 15. Fire up the youngster as a top-12 TE
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