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.
David Garrard (vs. OAK): I’m going to trust Dave Richard on this one and mention Garrard as a sleeper. I think what you’ll get out of him is similar production to last week when he had 126 passing yards with a rushing touchdown against Tennessee. The difference is he could also throw a touchdown pass here with Oakland making the trip to the East Coast for a 1 p.m. ET start and being sluggish. A lot will depend on the health of Mike Sims-Walker (ankle), but the Jaguars are going to rely on Maurice Jones-Drew to carry the offense, which is why you should be realistic with your expectations for Garrard this week.
Alex Smith (vs. SEA): Smith returns to the starting job in place of Troy Smith, and he has a favorable matchup against the Seahawks. Seattle is No. 30 in pass defense and has allowed 20 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks, including 12 in the past five games. Smith isn’t someone to start in the majority of leagues, but if you need a starter in two-quarterback leagues based on all the bad weather, Smith can be an emergency replacement. He should be able to connect well with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis right away, and the 49ers might be throwing more now with Frank Gore (hip) out.
Javarris James (vs. TEN): James has five touchdowns in his past five games, and he could see increased carries against the Titans with Joseph Addai (neck) and Mike Hart (ankle) out. Donald Brown remains the starter, but he’s also dealing with an ankle injury and has struggled of late. The Titans have struggled in run defense recently, allowing 603 rushing yards and two touchdowns the past five games against San Diego, Miami, Washington, Houston and Jacksonville. If the Colts are able to build a lead in this game it will be James closing out the clock, and he’s worth starting in deeper formats as a flex option.
Tim Hightower (vs. DEN): Hightower has the chance to actually help Fantasy owners this week since the Broncos are terrible in run defense. They lead the NFL with 16 rushing touchdowns allowed and 13 running backs have reached double digits in Fantasy points against them. Hightower ran well last week against St. Louis with 15 carries for 81 yards and has at least eight Fantasy points in three of his past four games. Beanie Wells should be considered an afterthought for Fantasy owners, but Hightower has potential this week in the majority of leagues based on the matchup.
Willis McGahee (vs. HOU): You’re not going to rely on McGahee in the majority of leagues this week based on his recent play since he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 9. But Houston’s defense is not good, and McGahee could get some garbage time production in this matchup. The Texans have allowed 12 touchdowns to opposing running backs with 10 reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Ray Rice will be solid this week in all leagues, but McGahee might be worth using as a flex option in deeper formats.
Michael Bush (at JAC): Bush ran well last week at the Chargers with 23 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown, and he could find the end zone against the Jaguars this week. Jacksonville has allowed 12 touchdowns to opposing running backs with eight reaching double digits in Fantasy points. Darren McFadden remains the better starting option for the Raiders, but Bush is also worth using in deeper formats if you’re stuck in Week 14.
Derrick Mason (at HOU): Mason could end up being a useful No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver this week based on the matchup and the loss of Todd Heap (hamstring). That could mean more targets against the Texans, who are last in the NFL in pass defense. Houston has given up 16 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, including six in the past five weeks. The Texans have also allowed 10 wide receivers to reach double digits in Fantasy points, and Mason and Anquan Boldin could be next.
Ben Obomanu (at SF): You’re going to have to keep an eye on Obomanu’s hand injury to make sure he plays, but with Mike Williams (ankle) out, Obomanu could see plenty of targets. Prior to getting hurt last week against Carolina, Obomanu had three touchdowns in his previous four games. San Francisco has allowed 13 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, including five in the past five weeks. As long as Obomanu is healthy he could be a solid No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver.
Jacoby Ford (at JAC): It appears as if the Raiders have found their No. 1 wide receiver since Ford has a touchdown or 100 yards receiving in three of his past four games. I’m not a big fan of the Raiders this week with the long trip to the East Coast, but the Jaguars pass defense has struggled all season. Jacksonville has allowed 15 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, and the Jaguars are No. 27 in pass defense. All it takes is Ford to get one step on the defense and he’s gone for a long touchdown. Consider him a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver in deeper leagues.
Anthony Armstrong (vs. TB): Is Santana Moss still the No. 1 wide receiver for the Redskins? That could be debatable based on the targets and production the past four games. Armstrong has 29 targets over that span while Moss has 28. Armstrong also has 14 catches for 274 yards and one touchdown in his past four games while Moss has 16 catches for 198 yards and one touchdown. Armstrong is a nice sleeper this week based on Tampa Bay’s defense and their injuries in the secondary. Moss is the safer start based on his role in the offense. Or is he? We like Armstrong this week as a No. 3 option.