Fantasy Football: 6 Sleepers for Week 13
The word "sleeper" gets thrown around a lot in the world of fantasy football, to the point where an actual definition may vary from person to person. In general, sleepers are NFL players who may be flying relatively under the radar in a particular field. That could be an under-rostered player in season-long leagues, a player with an exciting matchup in a given week, or even a potential star just ahead of their true breakout.
In any case, we all need to find a sleeper from time to time. Whether you're a fantasy football hipster looking to roster an exciting new player before your league-mates hear about him, a daily fantasy manager looking for a lower-salary player to fill out a lineup loaded with studs, or even just a manager in a pinch due to byes or injuries, we have you covered. We'll be bringing you six fantasy sleepers each and every week throughout the season.
Fantasy Football Week 13 Sleepers
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
FanDuel Salary: $6,700
It might be the dawn of a new post-Matt-Canada era for Kenny Pickett and his Pittsburgh Steelers. It took only one game without their former offensive coordinator to snap a years-long streak of games with fewer than 400 yards from scrimmage. We still don't actually know if Pickett is the guy for this team going forward, but it does feel like we can at least consider the second-year quarterback as a streaming option going forward.
Pickett is definitely an option for Week 13 if you have a quarterback on bye. He and the Steelers will take on the Arizona Cardinals, whose defense is allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per game to opposing passers. They generate pressure at the second-lowest rate in the league, meaning Pickett should have time to parse through their banged-up secondary and put up efficient production.
The Cardinals' defense is likely even friendlier to opposing passers than their "ninth-most fantasy points allowed" status implies. The team has also given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, which helps illustrate how their opponents have created repeated blowout game scripts throughout the season. Even the Steelers' offense should be able to put points on the board against this iteration of the Cardinals' defense, making Pickett a surprisingly viable streamer for Week 13.
Zay Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
FanDuel Salary: $5,300
Zay Jones has been able to play in only five games so far this season after dealing with a knee injury, but the former second-round pick still somehow ranks second on the Jacksonville Jaguars in red zone targets (seven) and touchdowns (two). Only Calvin Ridley, who has had the benefit of appearing in over twice as many games, has tallied more for the team (11 targets, three touchdowns).
It doesn't seem like this is a fluke, either. Jones ranked 15th in the NFL in red zone targets (18) a season ago. When the Jags get to the red zone, Jones becomes a priority target. That alone makes him worth consideration in fantasy.
Jones' playing time is trending in the right direction as the team ramps him back up to full speed, which should lead to more pass-catching opportunities. And he could have an easier time converting those opportunities into fantasy points against the Cincinnati Bengals' banged-up defense, which has been carved up by the Baltimore Ravens and Steelers in recent weeks.
To put it simply: Jones is a starting wide receiver with a strong red zone role in one of the league's better passing offenses, and he now gets a matchup with a softened-up defense.
Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions
FanDuel Salary: $5,200
No matter how disappointing the start to Jameson Williams' career has looked over the last year and a half, it genuinely seems like the Detroit Lions wideout is trending in the right direction. He has been slowly ramping up his snap counts over the course of the season and has played over 60% of the team's offensive snaps over the past two weeks.
That increased usage has led to a boost in production, as well. The speedy receiver has caught four passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. It's taken a bit of time, but Williams is starting to look like the exciting prospect who led the Alabama Crimson Tide in receiving a couple of years ago.
As evidenced by his 23.75 yards per reception over the last two games, Williams is the kind of receiver who can produce fantasy-relevant numbers on just a handful of catches. And with a Week 13 matchup against a wounded New Orleans Saints team, he could be in position for a solid outing on Sunday.
Alec Pierce, WR, Indianapolis Colts
FanDuel Salary: $5,300
If Jameson Williams isn't available in your leagues, but you're still looking for a speedy downfield threat with a good matchup, Alec Pierce might be your guy. The Indianapolis Colts wideout hasn't enjoyed much success this year but is playing serious snaps on a high-volume passing offense and gets an extremely appealing matchup in Week 13.
Pierce has played at least 94% of the Colts' offensive snaps in each of the last five games. And since Gardner Minshew took over for injured starter Anthony Richardson, the journeyman passer has averaged the league's third-most passing attempts per game (35.7). Pierce has yet to really capitalize on the Colts' heavy passing volume, but he could this weekend against the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans' defense has allowed opposing wideouts to score the eighth-most fantasy points per game this season and recently allowed fellow deep threat Calvin Ridley to post a season-best 7/103/2 receiving line. Their secondary is vulnerable, putting Pierce in a good spot for spiked production.
Samaje Perine, RB, Denver Broncos
FanDuel Salary: $5,700
The Denver Broncos, who looked like the worst team in the league back in September, have been on a shocking five-game winning streak lately. The team has done a complete 180, flipping what looked like a historically bad defense into one of the stronger-looking units.
Their sudden change has put a lot more work onto their running backs' plates. While Javonte Williams has handled the lion's share of the rushing opportunities, Samaje Perine has quietly been a pass-catching machine out of the backfield. During the team's win streak, he has caught the 13th-most passes at the running back position, and in Week 12, he even handled seven carries, his second-most in a game all year.
Perine's heavy passing game usage could give him a surprisingly solid floor for a running back available on waivers in most fantasy leagues. If the Houston Texans' surging offense gets out ahead of the Broncos in Week 13, Perine's pass-catching would keep him involved over Williams. If the Broncos can keep pace with the Texans, Perine still works in for touches and plays in two-minute situations. And even if the Broncos somehow amass a solid lead, he might get the go-ahead over Williams, who has dealt with minor injuries in recent weeks.
Perine isn't likely to have a huge week while splitting work with Williams, but he has a relatively stable floor that few other waiver wire running backs can match.
Juwan Johnson, TE, New Orleans Saints
FanDuel Salary: $4,900
The Saubts are seriously banged up entering Week 13. A week after placing Michael Thomas on the injured reserve, both Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed suffered injuries and could now miss the team's tilt with the Lions. That would leave the team with a "starting" wide receiver trio of A.T. Perry, Lynn Bowden Jr., and Keith Kirkwood.
Rather than rely on those backups, the Saints' offense seems much more likely to turn back to tight end Juwan Johnson, who was their second-leading receiver in 2022. We already got a brief preview of Johnson earning targets in this offense last week -- the veteran caught 4 of 7 targets for 45 yards against the Atlanta Falcons. And we're still dealing with the same Derek Carr at quarterback who helped make Darren Waller one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league just a few seasons ago.
The Saints' offense has been having a tough time lately, but a matchup with the Lions could help them get back on track. The Lions have allowed an average of 31 points per game since their Week 9 bye, struggling against middling offenses like the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. If the Saints don't get Olave or Shaheed back by Sunday, Johnson could be poised for a season-best game.
The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.