Rachaad White and Cole Kmet came through for us last week, if you’re willing to accept them as fantasy sleepers. Your mileage will vary. We’ve said all along, sleeper is a nebulous term. I still think the Pat Freiermuth breakthrough is coming, though the Saints seam coverage kept him marked in Week 10.
There is no right way or wrong way to digest this column. You might use it for start/sit guidance, or the impetus of a prop play. Perhaps you’ll add someone to your roster for depth — we have a candidate who fits in this edition — but not start him this week. Maybe you’ll get some DFS intel from the piece. It’s up to you. Dealer’s choice.
We’re onto Week 11.
RB Jerick McKinnon at Chargers
I get it, it’s basically Isiah Pacheco week in Kansas City. He ran well last week, the Chargers run stopping is abysmal, and the Chiefs seem to have soured on Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Fantasy projection becomes a lot simpler when a backfield can be reduced from three to two.
But Pacheco is a little too famous to be in our sleeper column (though you are welcome to start him). And we should probably say a kind word about McKinnon.
While Pacheco is ignored in the passing game (13 yards all year), McKinnon is handy there. McKinnon caught 6-of-8 targets for 56 yards last week, and had a useful 6-40-0 receiving line in the previous game. McKinnon’s snap share is unlikely to rise past 50 percent, but when he’s on the field, there’s a good chance he’s part of the play.
The Chiefs injury report demands careful inspection this week. A handful of receivers didn’t practice Wednesday, which might mean more McKinnon on the weekend. Then again, McKinnon has a sore hamstring and shoulder of his own, though he did do some limited practice in Wednesday’s session. You’ll need to vet this situation before you commit to any Kansas City angles. Just be prepared; when the Chiefs are in hurry up or must-throw mode, McKinnon is the back who best fits that objective.
TE Tyler Conklin at Patriots
With little fanfare, the 2022 Patriots have assembled a strong defense. It ranks third in defensive DVOA, and second against the pass. New England’s run stopping has been below average, but that generally isn’t as big a deal. Don’t chase the rabbits, the elephants will kill you.
Of course, when opponents get into the red zone, another problem perks up. The Pats often lose sight of the tight end.
Pat Freiermuth, Mark Andrews (two), Josh Oliver and Robert Tonyan have all spiked on the Patriots, an interesting list of characters. And Conklin had a 6-79-2 party in the previous Patriots-Jets matchup. I get it, it’s unsettling to tie yourself to Zach Wilson. And you’d figure the Patriots would be sure not to let Conklin conk them again, but they have other issues — such as Garrett Wilson tormenting them on deeper routes. In a messy tight end week — fantasy managers just lost Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz — Conklin makes sense as a temporary option.
WR Nico Collins vs. Commanders
The wide receiver board is depressing in Week 11. We just lost Cooper Kupp, and a bunch of auto-start receivers are on bye (Christian Kirk, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin). Fantasy managers will have to make some uncomfortable dart throws on the flank this weekend.
Maybe Collins can be a right answer.
Although Collins scored a touchdown last week, no one generally throws a parade for a five-catch, 49-yard game. But Collins did see a team-high 10 targets, while unhappy teammate Brandin Cooks had seven, and a 4-37-0 line. And note the Washington defense is a funnel unit — it’s stingy against the run (second in DVOA) but leaky against the pass (20th in DVOA). Collins probably doesn’t have smash potential, but the arrow is pointing in the right direction. And Davis Mills was surprisingly competent in the respectable loss at the Giants last week.
QB Jameis Winston, speculation add
The Saints pondered a quarterback change this week before deciding to stick with Andy Dalton. Perhaps they’re just postponing the inevitable. Dalton hasn’t been sharp in recent weeks, and his next big mistake might force a call to the bullpen. Maybe the Rams harass Dalton this week, or maybe it comes next week against the Niners. I don’t see how the veteran can run this gauntlet unscathed.
Of course Winston brings his own limitations to the table, but he is seven years younger than Dalton, and he generally is more eager to push the ball downfield. Chris Olave managers would probably prefer a shift to Winston; Alvin Kamara managers, not so much.
If you play in a one-quarterback format, Dalton and Winston probably aren’t a direct part of your life. But if you need multiple QBs in your league, it might be a good time to stash Winston. At some point, the Saints might as well play their younger quarterback and see if he offers any future upside.
Dolphins or Seahawks DST, Week 12 look-aheads
Miami and Seattle obviously can't help you on their byes, but the Dolphins host Houston next week and the Seahawks welcome the Raiders. If those look like streaming options you might be interested for Week 12, consider cutting the line and stashing them now.