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Week 13 Fantasy Sleepers: Unsung heroes to carry you into the playoffs

Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 13 Flames in the comments section below.

Darnold trades ghosts for gifts in Cincinnati

Sam Darnold, NYJ, QB (27 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $28)
Matchup: at Cin
Vegas Line/Total: NYJ -3.5, 39.5

Just before little ghouls and goblins raided candy bowls on Halloween, Sam Darnold reached a hellish new low on primetime against New England, the now infamous “seeing ghosts” game. Though many steadily faded him after the five-turnover debacle, he’s not only climbed out of the raging inferno, he’s produced heavenly numbers. Over the past two weeks, he’s tallied back-to-back multi-TD performances, averaging 28.2 fantasy points per game while ranking QB5 in adjusted completion percentage. Apparitional thoughts, be damned.

Darnold is that unsung quarterback who is carrying believers to the fantasy postseason. 

The much maligned passer should continue to yield early holiday gifts in Week 13. His opponent, winless Cincinnati, features a laughable pass defense, one which ranks at or near the bottom in myriad categories — average depth of target, total air yards allowed and DVOA. On the surface, the Bengals have surrendered 8.9 pass yards per attempt, 256.1 pass yards per game, 1.5 passing touchdowns per contest and the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs.

New York’s marshmallow spongy offensive line is always a concern. Checking in at No. 27 in pass-blocking efficiency, it’s placed Darnold under duress on 41.6 percent of his dropbacks. But against a defense which rarely applies pressure (16 total sacks in 11 games), the signal-caller should again sneak inside the QB top-12 for the third-consecutive week.

Fearless Forecast: 272 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 22.9 fantasy points

Williams a must-saddle Colt at home

Jonathan Williams, Ind, RB (41 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: vs. Ten
Vegas Line/Total: Ind -3, 43.5

When Elon Musk strolled onto the stage at Tesla headquarters and unveiled his latest invention, puzzled looks washed over onlooker faces. If the Transformers’ Ironside had a baby with a DeLoren the result would be Musk’s Cybertruck monstrosity. To no one’s surprise, the vehicle with breakable “unbreakable” glass, was immediately panned on social media. Keep puffing, Elon. 

Peruse my Twitter feed last Thursday night and similar disparaging remarks were made. Prior to Colts/Texans, yours truly bought into the idea Frank Reich would implement a full-blown RBBC featuring Williams, Nyheim Hines and personal favorite Jordan Wilkins. Taking a bolder step forward, I broadcasted Wilkins, not Williams, would steal the show. 

#FadeTheNoise

My mere suggestion, naturally, turned into a colossal whiff. It’s clear, with 43 total touches, 268 combined yards and a TD over the past two games, Williams is the new Marlon Mack. Adding a 4.59 YAC per attempt and sterling 31.1 missed tackle percentage on those grips, he’s earned every right. 

Behind the second-best run-blocking line according to Pro Football Focus and with Mack sidelined for an undetermined timeframe, Williams is quickly becoming the ultimate late-season disruptor, similar to another Williams, Damien, last year. Though Tennessee ranks No. 5 in fewest adjusted line yards allowed and has surrendered a laudable 4.0 yards per carry, 135.0 total yards per game,10 combined TDs and the 13th-most fantasy points to rushers, he’s a top-15 option on opportunity share alone. 

Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 86 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 18 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.4 fantasy points

From fourth on the depth-chart to an unbenchable RB1, Williams is this year's out-of-nowhere Damien Williams. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Repaired Guice a hidden fantasy treasure

Derrius Guice, Was, RB (28 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $17)
Matchup: at Car
Vegas Line/Total: Car -10, 40.5

For some long-suffering fanbases, tossing arms up in unfettered disgust is a common practice. The mental anguish watching your beloved team suck year, after year, after year is why liquor stores remain in business. No quantity of eggnog can wash away the misery. We’ve all been there, unless, of course, you’re a spoiled rotten brat born and raised this century in New England. Talk about an inflated sense of self-entitlement. 

Outside ardent backers of rival franchises, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Washington fans. Ownership’s incompetency has trickled down to corrupt the bowels of the organization. Nearly every move, every on-field performance has wafted a putrid stench. Catastrophic injuries (e.g. Alex Smith) have only added to the insult. With only two playoff appearances since 2008, it seems the franchise has a mountain to climb to regain respectability. 

Guice, however, is someone we all should pull for. Fighting through two major knee ailments and subsequent clean-up procedures to rid infection, he’s endured ridiculous physical hardship. Back in action, but showing only glimpses of the player who rammed through arm tackles with LSU, he’s a rare bright spot in the nation’s capital. Over the past two weeks, he’s logged action on 36.4 of the team’s snaps, gaining 107 total yards (on 19 touches) and 2.41 yards after contact per attempt. A presumed 13-15 touch per game contributor blessed with the fourth-easiest RB schedule down the homestretch, he could scribble a December to remember. Yes, even with Washington.

This week the rusher visits Charlotte, a location where running backs of all shapes and sizes flourish. On the year, Carolina has allowed 5.0 yards per carry, 134 total yards per game,19 combined touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to rushers. Equally encouraging, the Panthers rank in the bottom-third in adjusted line yards allowed, run-stuff percentage and yielded second-level dashes. Tally it up and Guice is a superb RB2 with a top-12 ceiling. 

Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 46 rushing yards, 1 reception, 9 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12.0 fantasy points

[Play in Yahoo’s NFL $200K Baller. $10 entry fee and $20K to first place]

Back-to-back Brown-outs to be expected

A.J. Brown, Ten, WR (5 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $15)
Matchup: at Ind
Vegas Line/Total: Ind -3, 43.5

This time each year I visit my local Trader Joe’s in search of a holiday concoction packed with enough calories to fuel Philip Rivers’ entire family for a week. It’s called Jingle Jangle. Loaded with various chocolate smothered confections, it’s downright addictive to anyone with an insatiable sweet tooth. And it’s the greatest, dumbest purchase one could ever make. 

So is entrusting your playoff hopes on the whims of a Titans wide receiver. 

Brown, however, is a player sure to tickle the taste buds. He’s recorded only fleeting moments in his rookie campaign — last week’s 5-4-135-1 declawing of Jacksonville the most spectacular — but the youngster owns the size, strength and open-field explosiveness (2.32 yards per route, WR9) to take advantage of meek defenses. The Colts are one such unit. Hampered by injuries and ineptitude, they’ve surrendered 7.3 pass yards per attempt and 11 70-plus yard wide receiver performances. 

Yes, Brown tallied a useless 5-3-25-0 line in the first meetup, but Marcus Mariota and his terrible inaccuracy were at the helm. Ryan Tannehill, who’s posted a respectable 75.6 completion percentage since Week 7, has upgraded the Titans’ vertical attack. Against fellow greenhorn Marvell Tell III (111.3 passer rating, 1.49 yards per snap allowed), Brown chips in a top-30 line, if not significantly better. 

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 61 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 14.1 fantasy points

Metcalf to flex muscle against Minnesota

DK Metcalf, Sea, WR (58 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: vs. Min
Vegas Line/Total: Sea -3, 49

Metcalf is a unique specimen. His statuesque physique, blazing downfield speed and springy hops are why he’ll terrorize secondaries for years to come. But looking past his Pro Bowl upside, he’s a player with buttery digits. Task him with pulling the bird out of the oven and your opportunistic Schnauzer is sure to gorge himself. Drops, six to be exact, have been problematic, stunting his overall Year 1 potential. Still, WR27 in overall production and top-20 in average depth of target (13.4) and yards per route run (1.75), he’s a Russell Wilson downfield mainstay. 

Putting his concentration issues aside, Metcalf is receiver to bound to bake golden brown numbers. His opponent, Minnesota, isn’t the stringent unit it once was. Yes, it’s defended the run suitably, but the ship has taken on considerable water versus the pass. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes (109.5 passer rating, 1.62 yards per snap allowed), Metcalf’s likely adversary, have given up ample chunk plays. As a whole, the Vikings have allowed an 8.5 aDOT and the fifth-most fantasy points to WRs. 

Josh Gordon and Tyler Lockett will vie for Wilson’s affections, but Metcalf is in line to deliver WR2 results, provided he coats his mitts in honey. 

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.8 fantasy points

Receiver DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes for a touchdown in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CenturyLink Field on November 3, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks beat the Buccaneers 40-34 in overtime. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10% started in Yahoo leagues)

Tim Patrick, Den, WR (1 percent started; Yahoo DFS: $10)
Matchup: vs. LAC
Vegas Line/Total: LAC -1, 38.5

As a recent Twitter thread admonishing carrot cake, In ‘N Out burgers and — GASP! — beer confirmed, each of us possesses a unique palate. Our individual flavor profiles vary wildly with geography, culture and nostalgia, to name a few, all playing meaningful parts. 

One take, however, we universally agree on, or at least should, is the indisputable fact cranberry sauce is straight trash. 

STRAIGHT. TRASH. 

The tart dressing has no place smothering a succulent piece of white or dark turkey. That distinction belongs to gravy and gravy alone. Disagree? Well … You best watch yourself running across the middle of the field in the neighborhood Turkey Bowl game. Someone may undercut you with the ferocity of Brian Urlacher, the pre-hair restoration version. 

Patrick, too, isn’t for everyone. Though unsatisfying for shallow leaguers, he’s the type of off-the-radar player DFS lineup stackers and deep leaguers seek. Why? He’s fixed as the Broncos’ No. 2, has logged an attractive target share and is blessed with better than advertised Week 13 matchup. Registering action on 68.4 percent of Denver’s snaps the past couple weeks (11-5-80-0, 12.5 aDOT, 7.3 yards per target), he deserves room on the plate. 

This Sunday, Patrick squares off with the division rival Chargers, a team it historically rises to the occasion against. On the surface, L.A. is an unfriendly foe. On the year, it’s allowed 7.5 pass yards per attempt and the sixth-fewest fantasy points to WRs. But stripping away the veneer, Patrick matches up well with CB Michael Davis, who’s given up a 65.7 catch rate to his assignments. 

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 55 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.5 fantasy points

BONUS FLAMES (Under 60% started)

QB: Nick Foles, Jax (Jax -1.5; $30) – With a body-type resembling a giant Q-tip, Foles is someone who could clean up in Week 13. It’s Tampa after all, a defense which everyone has relentlessly bombarded, Matt Ryan, inexplicably, the exception. On the year, the Bucs have given up 7.3 pass yards per attempt, 305.5 passing yards per game, 2.4 passing TDs per contest and the second-most fantasy points to signal-callers. Additionally, they’ve coughed up an 8.8 aDOT and the second-most total air yards. Whether he picks on elevated backup Sean Murphy-Bunting (119.1 passer rating allowed), Carlton Davis or Jamel Dean, Foles should move the chains with relative ease. Off a clunker, Foles and D.J. Chark hook up early and often en route to a get-right week.  (FF: 306-3-0, 24.2 fpts)

RB: Benny Snell, Pit (Cle -1; $17) – Before last week’s close shave in Cincinnati every fantasy “expert” hyped up Jaylen Samuels. Expected to slide into the lion’s share with the Steelers down James Conner and matched against one of the most charitable run defenses in the league a top-15 output was entirely buyable. Of course, fantasy, subject to coaching changes and a multitude of additional variables, isn’t that simple. It was the rookie, in his first game back after a knee setback, who left managers perplexed. Logging a season-best 48.6 percent snap share, he bowled his way to 103 combined yards on a workhorse 22 touches. If Conner again dons sweats, the rookie would slip inside the RB top-24. His opponent, Cleveland, has coughed up 4.9 yards per carry, 95.4 rush yards per game and eight total touchdowns to RBs. It also slots inside the top-10 in adjusted line yards allowed according to Football Outsiders. Good Snells galore are on tap inside the fantasy kitchen. (FF: 17-87-1, 1-4-0, 15.6 fpts)

(GIF by Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)

RB: Devin Singletary, Buf (Dal -7; $21) – If you want to stiff arm your opponent into another dimension like an enraged mom hell-bent on landing two-for-one Yankee candles at 5 AM on Black Friday, look no further than Singletary. Last Sunday against Denver, Frank Gore earned a standing ovation for passing Barry Sanders for No. 3 on the all-time rushing list, but it was the rookie who made the most box score noise. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fourth-time this season. With a sterling secondary profile and consistent 65-70 percent snap share, Singletary is shaping up to be an early-round selection in 2020 drafts. Traveling to Dallas on Thanksgiving, expect him to earn a turkey leg. The Cowboys, No. 12 in adjusted line yards surrendered, sport dull spurs in the trenches. Overall, they’ve conceded 4.2 yards per carry, 133.6 total yards per game and nine overall TDs to rushers. Scooting behind the fifth-most efficient run-blocking line per Pro Football Focus, the kid could against touch triple digits. (FF: 18-86-1, 1-9-0, 16.0 fpts)

WR: Geronimo Allison, GB (GB -7.5; $16) – My beloved alma mater, Illinois, is going bowling. It’s actually happening. Lovie Smith’s Santa-inspired beard does indeed possesses magical powers. Hopefully this week its wizardry rubs off on the former Illini. Allison, overshadowed by Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, has only twice this season crossed 10 fantasy points in a game. And the last time it happened in Week 4, Wayne Gallman was a thing. However, his early-season incarnation could manifest. Green Bay’s primary slot man (73.3% of the time) goes toe-to-toe with New York’s Corey Ballentine, a DB who’s yielded a 124.5 passer rating, 80.0 catch percentage and 2.81 yards per snap. Randall Cobb, Danny Amendola, Cole Beasely and Jamison Crowder each thrived against the slot corner he replaced, Grant Haley. Allison, channeling his school’s success, could generate an unusually effective line. (FF: 4-46-1, 12.6 fpts)

TE: Dallas Goedert, Phi (Phi -8.5; $15) – Much to the chagrin of Zach Ertz connoisseurs, Goedert has developed into a strong left hook compliment to the Eagles’ traditional right jab. Laying the competition out inside the red zone, he’s scored in three of his past five contests. Equally impressive, he’s No. 3 among tight ends who’ve played on 50 percent of team snaps in yards after catch per reception (7.54). In an offense devoid of healthy wide receivers, he and Ertz are Carson Wentz favorites. This week, the Eagles face the Dolphins’ net-entangled defense. They’ve clashed with mostly subpar tight ends, but have still allowed 4.7 receptions and 56.3 yards per game. Overall, Miami has given up an ultra-generous 9.4 average depth of target. Goedert and Ertz should land a couple knockout blows. (FF: 5-47-1, 13.2 fpts)

DST: New York Jets (NYJ -3.5; $18) – Breaking the sound barrier against Oakland, the Jets are suddenly flying high. We always knew they featured one of the nastiest run defenses in the land. No club has allowed fewer adjusted line yards than New York. But the pass D has started to show positive signs. Unbelievably, the Jets are the 10th-most valuable unit in Fantasyland. This week, that ranking could spike. Cincinnati, anemic on offense, has yielded 102.0 total fantasy points to opposing defenses, trailing only Miami and Tampa in the category. Bengals QBs have suffered 3.6 sacks per game, while the offense as a whole has committed 2.0 turnovers per contest. Widely available even in challenging formats, the Jets are refueled and fully prepared to escort you to the playoffs. (FF: 13 PA, 308 YDSA, 5 SCK, 2 TO, 11.0 fpts)

#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?

Reader record: 36-44

Brad’s record: 60-80 (Week 12 results: 6-7; W: Baker Mayfield, Ronald Jones, DeVante Parker, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Gage, Baltimore D/ST; L: Bo Scarbrough, Jacob Hollister, Josh Gordon, Jaylen Samuels, Jamaal Williams, Zach Pascal, Jordan Wilkins)

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, along with his work on the “Yahoo Sports Fantasy Podcast” and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.

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