Fantasy Football: Week 12 Deep Sleepers - Brate Can Be Great

Jaime Eisner

Week 12 is already here, and the playoff picture in your league is starting to take shape. You either have one or two more weeks of regular season action after this week before your championship run begins. It's also the last week you'll have to worry about your players being on bye. The stakes are as high as they've been all season. Here are a handful of players available in the vast majority of leagues that can help you win this week.

QB Jeff Driskel, Detroit Lions

Driskel has filled in for Matthew Stafford quite admirably for fantasy purposes over the last couple of weeks. He's surprisingly the No. 7 overall QB over the last two weeks, scoring 17.6 fantasy points on the road against the Bears in his first start and 27.5 fantasy points at home against the Cowboys last week. He has an excellent matchup this week against the Redskins, a team getting decimated by fantasy QBs at home. If we throw out the 49ers game that was played on a 100-yard Slip 'N Slide, Washington is allowing an average of more than 285 passing yards and three touchdowns per game through the air. Fantasy QBs are averaging a whopping 24.1 fantasy points per game in those four contests. Given Driskel's solid performances the last two weeks through the air and the added bonus of his rushing ability (3.7 points and 11.1 points from rushing in the previous two weeks, respectively), he's a borderline Top 15 QB this week.

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Pittsburgh Steelers RB Benny Snell

RB Benny Snell, Pittsburgh Steelers

It looks like James Conner is going to miss this week's game. And while everyone is falling over themselves to start Jaylen Samuels this week, don't forget about Snell. The rookie RB practiced in full on Wednesday and should be ready to shoulder a significant workload against one of the worst run defenses in football. Samuels has been putting up decent fantasy totals (at least in two of his last three games) but doesn't pass the eye test when watching him play. He's been extremely inefficient with his touches and should lose early-down work to Snell in this game. If Snell does get double-digit touches, which he should, he'll have a great opportunity to have fantasy success against a Bengals team that has allowed a rushing touchdown in all but two games this season. Also, keep in mind that the Bengals are allowing an average of 28.1 points per game to the RB position in PPR leagues and that Steelers RBs combined for 50.1 PPR points against them in Week 4.

RB Bo Scarbrough, Detroit Lions

I get entirely if you want to avoid the Lions backfield all together. It's been a nightmare to navigate since Kerryon Johnson went down. However, Scarbrough looked pretty good against the Cowboys last week and has a juicy matchup with the Redskins on tap for Week 12. Washington has allowed a rushing touchdown in six of their previous seven games and opposing RBs are averaging 113.7 yards per game against them this season. The Redskins have only held two teams' backfields under 108 rushing yards this season. If Scarbrough gets another 14 carries in this game, he'll be more than worthy of a flex spot.

WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

Let's feast on an excellent matchup here. The Falcons should put up a ton of points in the game with the highest total of the week (52 points) in the NFL by nearly five points. Tampa Bay's secondary is atrocious, giving up an average of almost 291 passing yards per game this season (second-worst in the NFL). They are the worst defense when it comes to defending fantasy WRs, allowing an average of nearly 47 PPR points per game to the position. They've also allowed ten touchdowns to WRs in the last four games. All that being said, the fantasy community is expecting big games from Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. But what about Gage? He's getting a lot more snaps with Mohamed Sanu off in New England, and the Buccaneers have been just as poor against slot receivers as of late as their overall numbers indicate. Since Week 8, Tampa Bay is allowing an average of 15.2 PPR fantasy points per game to players lined up in the slot. They are also allowing an average of six catches and 62 yards per game to slot receivers in that timeframe. Gage has averaged six targets per game since the Sanu trade and should get plenty of opportunities to put up points in this matchup.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Chris Conley

WR Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville's receivers picked right up where they left off despite the QB change from Gardner Minshew to Nick Foles. D.J. Chark was the biggest example of that, but Conley had plenty of success as well. He got eight targets and caught six of them for 58 yards. Those aren't matchup-winning numbers by any means, but that's a more than serviceable performance for any bye week or injury fill-in. His targets have been remarkably consistent as of late. In his last four games, he's been targeted about seven times per game. He's averaging 69 receiving yards and 12.7 PPR fantasy points per game in that stretch. The Titans are right around league average in points allowed to WRs this year, so you shouldn't fear the matchup. If you're looking for a high-floor option, Conley's your guy.

WR Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears

After essentially disappearing for the previous two games, Miller played 86 percent of his team's snaps and was targeted 11 times (both season-highs) last week against the Rams. This week he gets a great matchup against a Giants team that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to WRs this season. New York has allowed the eight-most yards and eight-most fantasy points to slot WRs in the NFL since Week 8, with an average line of five catches for 56 yards. Given the fact that quarterback Mitch Trubisky is dealing with a hip injury, he may look to his slot receiver as somewhat of a safety blanket like he did last weekend. It’s a risky play, but it could pay off big time if his target volume matches or comes close to what it was last week.

TE Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I think O.J. Howard's inexplicable drop into an interception was the final nail in the coffin of his fantasy season. Anyone who was still holding out hope should look elsewhere. But they don't have to go too far. Stay in Tampa and look at the guy who had a whopping 14 targets and ten catches last week. Brate took full advantage of Howard's mishap and parlayed it into a 17.4-point fantasy day in PPR formats. I expect him to be way more involved in the offense than Howard again this week in a middle-of-the-road matchup against the Falcons. Atlanta is right around league average against fantasy TEs, but this potentially high-scoring game makes it a better matchup for Brate than the average tight end. If you're desperate and/or have Travis Kelce or Hunter Henry on bye, Brate is a nice one-week fill-in.

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