Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.
Mark Sanchez (at NE): Sanchez struggled last week against Cincinnati in a game where he wasn’t needed. He only attempted 28 passes, which was his lowest total since Week 4 at Buffalo. He will likely pass the ball at least 35 times in this matchup with the Patriots, and he was a star in the previous meeting in Week 2 with 220 yards and three touchdowns. Sanchez has five games with at least 23 Fantasy points this season, and he should be able to connect with Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards this week based on New England’s secondary. The Patriots have allowed six quarterbacks to pass for multiple touchdowns this season.
Chad Henne (vs. CLE): Henne was one of the biggest surprises in Week 12 with his performance against the Raiders with 307 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He was able to shake off a knee injury and his previous demotion to have his second-best game of the season against the Raiders. Brandon Marshall (hamstring) could return this week against the Browns, and it’s a favorable matchup for him since Cleveland has allowed eight quarterbacks to pass for multiple touchdowns this season. Even if Marshall is out, Henne showed he could get the job done with Davone Bess and even Marlon Moore. He is worth using as a No. 2 starter in two-quarterback leagues.
Tashard Choice (at IND): Felix Jones remains the starter for the Cowboys, but Choice will benefit with Marion Barber (calf) out. You should expect Choice to work near the goal line and also play a role as a receiver out of the backfield. This is a good week to use Choice against the Colts, who have allowed 12 touchdowns to opposing running backs this year. Choice also scored last week against New Orleans and should prove to be more effective than Barber with the increased playing time.
Toby Gerhart (vs. BUF): If Adrian Peterson (ankle) is out then Gerhart would go from sleeper to must-start Fantasy option in all leagues. You’re going to want to watch Fantasy Football Today at 11 a.m. ET this week to find out if Peterson is active in this matchup. But even if Peterson plays we could see Gerhart playing a significant role against the Bills, who are last in the NFL in run defense. They have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs this year, and Gerhart could find the end zone for the second week in a row in this matchup.
Marshawn Lynch (vs. CAR): Lynch has struggled recently and should only be used as a flex option in deeper leagues. Justin Forsett falls into the same category, but this is a good matchup for the Seahawks. Carolina is among the worst teams in run defense and has allowed 13 touchdowns to opposing running backs. Last week was the epitome of failure when Peyton Hillis had 194 total yards and three touchdowns. Lynch has scored once since Week 6, and it’s hard to trust him. But this is a favorable matchup for Fantasy owners in deeper leagues.
Chris Ivory (at CIN): Ivory would be considered a must-start Fantasy option if Pierre Thomas (ankle) was ruled out, but Thomas is optimistic of returning this week. And with Reggie Bush already back, that would make things complicated in New Orleans. But if Thomas is out then Ivory should be used as a No. 2 Fantasy running back. The Bengals have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing running backs this year, and Ivory has three touchdowns in his past two games.
Danny Amendola (at ARI): I like Amendola and Danario Alexander as sleepers this week against the Cardinals, who have allowed 10 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, including five in the last five weeks. Amendola has scored in two of his past three road games and has at least six catches in six games this season. He’s a standout option in leagues where receptions count. Alexander had four catches for 95 yards in his first game back after missing three with a knee injury, and these two should help Sam Bradford post a solid stat line against the Cardinals this week.
Davone Bess (vs. CLE): Bess had six catches for 111 yards in his return to his hometown of Oakland last week, and hopefully that performance can motivate him to finish the season strong. He has a good matchup this week against the Browns, who have allowed 13 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this season. With Marshall likely out again, Bess will be the go-to wide receiver for Henne. If the Raiders game was any indication then Bess is back as a starting option in leagues where receptions count.
Legedu Naanee (vs. OAK): Vincent Jackson (calf) is out and Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and Antonio Gates are still not 100 percent. That could open the door for Naanee or even Seyi Ajirotutu to make some plays against the Raiders. Naanee returned from his hamstring woes last week against the Colts and finished with three catches for 38 yards. He is only worth using in the deepest of leagues, but Philip Rivers needs someone to catch the ball. And the Raiders have allowed 12 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this year, including five in the past five games.
Steve Smith (at SEA): Yes, that Steve Smith. The Seahawks have allowed 15 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this season, including 11 in the past five games. This might be the last chance you would consider using Smith this season even with Jimmy Clausen as the starting quarterback. Smith hasn’t scored since Week 2, so use caution when setting your lineup, but he does have a favorable matchup and could find a way to score.