Now that we're in the full swing of things with the fantasy playoffs, I'll be taking a look at some players who might still be flying under the radar in your leagues. I'm higher on some of these players than others, and some I just have a hunch on so I'm recommending them as waiver wire sleepers for Week 15. If you're dealing with an injury to your team (Rob Gronkowski, etc), or have some bench space available, consider stashing these players or starting them depending on your league and team circumstances. As always, keep your eyes on the prize (i.e. the fantasy championship), and good luck this week RotoBallers.
Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Sleepers
The Gronk Effect
Shane Vereen - RB, New England Patriots
Vereen definitely isn't considered a sleeper anymore at this point, but as you will see sprinkled in this article I am also discussing players who are affected by the loss of Gronkowski. If you haven't noticed, Vereen has been on a tear since returning from his injury. This past week Vereen had a whopping 17 targets, 12 catches, 158 yards and a rushing touchdown. Wow, and for those of you in PPR leagues, an even bigger wow. This guy will be a beast for New England going forward, and may see even more work now that Gronk is done for the year. So if he's somehow is still available on your waiver wire he's an immediate must add. If you're faced with tough lineup decisions in Week 15, and you're deciding between Vereen and another RB2/FLEX, it's almost surely Vereen. He was only started in 52% of Yahoo leagues last week, and that number is simply way too low. Don't sleep on this fantasy stud who can lead you to a fantasy championship.
Julian Edelman - WR, New England Patriots
This past week the Patriots lost a big time playmaker in Rob Gronkowski for the season with ACL and MCL injuries. With Gronkowski being out I expect that Edelman will take over some of those targets and receptions. Edelman has been awesome the past few weeks, especially in PPR leagues, but was still only started in 47% of Yahoo leagues on Sunday. He may not be a true "sleeper" anymore by now, but if you are looking for a WR to start in Week 15 (Miami) or Week 16 (Baltimore) make sure to get Edelman in your lineup. The Patriots offense has been extremely pass heavy of late, and Brady trusts Edelman right now over most options on the team including Amendola. Also in Week 17 (this applies to leagues that play in week 17) Edelman has an excellent matchup vs Buffalo, so don't sleep on him folks. He has officially entered WR2 territory, especially in PPR leagues.
Week 15 Sleepers (in priority order)
Cordarrelle Patterson - WR, Minnesota Vikings
Patterson is starting to draw comparisons to a Percy Harvin "light", based on his big-time talent and also how he's starting to be utilized by the Vikings within their offense. Patterson is not only becoming a trusted wider receiver within the offensive attack, but is also getting some designed running plays and is acting as the primary kick returner. This all adds up to more opportunities for Patterson in Week 15 and the playoffs, and he's one of the biggest sleepers for the week and the remaining games. If he's still available in your league, add him immediately, especially in PPR leagues.
Daniel Thomas - RB, Miami Dolphins
Thomas wasn't even supposed to play much this past week, but he ended up getting 16 carries which he converted into 105 rushing yards and a touchdown. Not too shabby at all. The Miami coaches have been consistent this year, splitting carries between Thomas and Lamar Miller week-to-week. But with Miller leaving this past week's game with a concussion, Thomas was thrusted into the lead RB role and performed well. If Miller ends up having to miss anytime because of the injury, Thomas would become a viable waiver wire sleeper for Week 15 and the remaining playoff games. Just be sure to check back later in the week on Miller's injury status, as Thomas would only be a low-end FLEX option if Miller ended up playing.
Alex Smith - QB, Kansas City Chiefs
If you've been experiencing bad QB play and are looking for a sleeper off the waiver wire, I will recommend a non-flashy QB in Alex Smith who has some great matchups lined up for the rest of the season. In Weeks 15 and 17 (for those leagues that stretch that far) Smith will have plus matchups vs Oakland and San Diego. His toughest matchup remaining on the season is Indianapolis, and they are only in the middle of the pack (giving up the 15th most points to opposing QBs). The only catch with Smith is that most likely he's not going to provide an extreme amount of fantasy points, although he did put up a solid 18.18 points this past week and also put up at least 26 points in the previous three weeks. Smith will be stable and consistent for Week 15 and the fantasy playoffs, which can't be said for a QB like RGIII or Kaepernick this year, so don't be afraid to pick him up or start him.
Philadelphia Defense - D/ST, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles defense hasn't been anything special this year, and has gotten burned by many teams throughout the season. But in Week 15 they have a solid matchup against a Vikings team that is inconsistent on offense. The centerpiece of the Vikings offense, Adrian Peterson, was forced to leave Sunday's game with a foot injury. If he's forced to miss the Week 15 game, the Eagles defense becomes even more of a sleeper. They are widely available in most fantasy leagues, still available on 92% of Yahoo league waiver wires, and can make for a solid defense pickup and start versus the Vikings. If you're streaming defenses week to week, or are stuck with a horrible matchup, don't be afraid to roll the dice with Philadelphia.
Deeper Sleepers (in priority order)
Case Keenum - QB, Houston Texans
Keenum hasn't been spectacular recently, but has sprinkled in some good games so far this season and could potentially be started in 2 QB leagues or deeper leagues depending on the right matchups. This week could be one of those, as Keenum gets a rematch against the Indianapolis Colts. If you recall, in Week 9 Keenum destroyed the Colts defense by throwing for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns (34.60 points in most league scoring formats). While expecting another 35 points this week may be a stretch, Keenup is still a sleeper option for Week 15 and can be added off the waiver wire relatively easily (27% owned) in most leagues.
James Starks - RB, Green Bay Packers
Eddie Lacy suffered an ankle injury in Sunday's game versus the Falcons, although he played through it and still racked up 20 carries. Coach McCarthy said today that he's not sure if Lacy will be able to play in Week 15 against the Cowboys, which would leave Starks as the primary running back for the Packers. Starks could be a viable FLEX option in that case, as the Packers always lean heavily on their running game. And if Rodgers doesn't play either in Week 15, Starks would become an even bigger focal point of the offense. Be sure to check back later in the week for updates on Lacy, which will will help determine whether Starks will be a strong waiver wire sleeper option for Week 15 or just a flier.
Marcel Reece - RB, Oakland Raiders
This past week Oakland had its top two RBs out due to injury (Jennings and McFadden) and Reece had an opportunity. He certainly took advantage of the chance and had a monster game with 123 yards, 1 TD and 2 catches for 38 yards. While the approaching Week 15 matchup looks brutal on paper (vs KC), Reece may surprise you since he can rush and catch equally. His value is of course limited depending on the health of Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden, so be sure to monitor those updates closely. Earlier today, Jennings was already cleared from his concussion so it sounds like he may be playing in Week 15. But if he isn't, and you are desperate for a RB, Reece could be a deeper sleeper option to consider off the waiver wire - however he's lower on the priority scale.
Jacob Tamme - TE, Denver Broncos
In Sunday's game versus the Titans, Wes Welker suffered his second concussion of the season. The Broncos are playing on Thursday night this week, so it seems likely that Welker won't be ready in time to pass the NFL's concussion protocol. While the Broncos offense has more than enough passing options to fill the void without Welker, Tamme may be the guy who ends up getting additional snaps and playing time. He normally catches passes over the middle, similarly to Welker, so Tamme is a deeper league option to consider as a sleeper bench stash or start in Week 15 depending on your team's TE situation.
Previously Injured Sleepers
Michael Crabtree - WR, San Francisco 49ers
This week Michael Crabtree had a tough matchup vs Seattle, however in the process he was still able to double his receiving catches from the previous week. This coming week's matchup vs Tampa Bay isn't something I like too much as he may be on Revis Island most of the day. However, San Francisco needs to find a way to get him the ball in this offense, and I also really like his Week 16 matchup vs ATL. In most leagues that's the fantasy championships week, and also a ripe opportunity for Crabtree to shine. I expect that Crabtree will continue to work out the rust and be ready to rock. If you are looking for a nice WR sleeper for championship week, Crabtree could be an excellent option for you. He's still only 54% owned in Yahoo leagues, so he can still be picked up off the waiver wire in Week 15 and stashed.
Dennis Pitta - TE, Baltimore Ravens
Well, Dennis Pitta may not be a sleeper anymore after this week's performance. On Sunday he returned back to the field but was expected to be on a "limited" snap count. Those reports did not prove to be true, as Pitta ended up playing on 42% of the snaps, and turned in a very strong performance with 6 catches, 48 yards and 1 TD on a whopping 11 targets. Those numbers look even better for those of you in PPR leagues. If you are a fantasy owner who just lost Rob Gronkowski for the season, Pitta should be your number #1 target off the Week 15 waiver wire. He's got a ripe matchup vs Detroit this week, and is a big time sleeper for the fantasy playoffs, especially in PPR leagues.
Delanie Walker - TE, Tennessee Titans
Walker has missed the past couple of weeks with a concussion, but will hopefully be ready to return in Week 15 versus the Arizona Cardinals. While the Cardinals have a stout defense, and have been playing great the past few weeks, one area that they are deficient in is defending the tight end. For the season, Arizona has given up the most fantasy points to tight ends. Fitzpatrick doesn't have a big arm and is usually looking for Walker or Kendall Wright over the middle, where they do most of their work. If Walker is healthy and ready to roll in Week 15, he will be a viable sleeper to consider off the waiver wire.