December 28, 2023, 3:26 pm
In fantasy football, there are oftentimes players that go overlooked heading into a week of games. Sleepers are left on benches every single week, but sometimes that “big game from out of nowhere” could have been easily predicted and utilized in starting lineups. In this piece, I’ll be tiering and listing some of the sleepers I’ve identified ahead of Week 17 of the 2023 fantasy football season. If they’re on your bench, feel comfortable playing them over a starter with a worse outlook for Week 17. There’s also a chance they could be on the waiver wire, so snatch them up if you’re in need of their services. At this stage of the season, it’s hard to have the gall to bench consistent starters, so I’ll focus more on the scarcely-available positions, TE and QB, for championship week.
I’ll be looking at players rostered in at least 50% of ESPN leagues and tier them in descending order of their percentage started on fantasy teams. In other words: the further down the list, the deeper the sleeper for Week 17’s matchups. If you’re looking for this week’s top waiver wire adds, check out this essential piece from Shane by clicking the link below!
Tier One: Started in 35-50% of fantasy leagues
TE Isaiah Likely – Baltimore Ravens (61% rostered / 41% started)
Isaiah Likely had a fine outing on Christmas Day vs. the San Francisco 49ers, reeling in 3-of-4 targets for 56 yards in Week 16. Prior to that game, scored an average of 20 PPR fantasy points a game across his last two contests. Likely gets a Week 17 matchup with the Miami Dolphins, who are a middling matchup on paper, allowing the 14th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the season. The Dolphins have invited shootouts in the past, and if Likely is within your access, that’s not a bad narrative to ride into championship week with.
TE Cole Kmet – Chicago Bears (85% rostered / 39% started)
Cole Kmet is among the hotter tight ends in fantasy football going into what is like the championship round for many leagues in Week 17. Kmet has scored an average of 11.7 PPR fantasy points per game on the year, and currently stands as the TE7 in 2023. He’s scored at least 11 PPR fantasy points in each of his last four contests, including last week vs. the Cardinals, when he logged four catches for 107 yards, but saw his day ended pretty early with a knee injury. He logged a DNP to start the week, but if he can get healthy in time for Week 17’s matchup with the Falcons, he’ll be a great TE start. The Falcons have surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends on the season.
QB Matthew Stafford – Los Angeles Rams (66% rostered / 37% started)
Another hot fantasy football asset at a onesie position, Rams QB Matthew Stafford has been a monster since returning to full strength in Week 12. Stafford has scored 14 passing touchdowns and thrown just one interception across his last five games, and that interception was thrown at the start of the span, meaning Stafford hasn’t turned the ball over in four weeks. Stafford scored at least 18.5 fantasy points in each of those games, and now has a date with the Giants in Week 17. The Giants have allowed the 15th-most fantasy points to opposing QBs on the year, and Stafford should be able to exploit them en route to his sixth-straight game as a top fantasy QB option.
Tier Two: Started in 30-35% of fantasy leagues
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