Three Guarantees, Three Sleepers, and An Upset

By Lance Zierlein
November 16, 2012

Need three sleeper fantasy players and a solid gambling upset? Lance Zierlein can help you out.

Three Guarantees

1. The Rams will roll against the Jets.  Despite their tie last weekend against the 49'ers the Rams know it was a victory for them.  Jeff Fisher has paid immediate dividends to the Rams by stiffening the defense and creating a more disciplined atmosphere.  On the other hand, the Jets are a mess with players calling out backup QBs through the media and head coaches calling out anonymous players.  The Rams offense continues to improve as Sam Bradford's confidence has risen and the Jets have shown very little fight over their last two games.

2. The Broncos will attempt to re-establish the running game against the Chargers.  The Broncos haven't run the ball well in 4 of their last 5 games, but John Fox and the Broncos understand that life will be much easier on Peyton Manning if they can get the ground game going.  Willis McGahee has had issues with fumbling, but don't look for the Broncos to get away from him since the ability to grind it out on the ground is what will serve them well come playoff time.  After tallying just 57 rushing yards in their last game against the Chargers, the Broncos offense will try and prove to the Chargers (and themselves) that they can run it well once again.

3. The Texans will come out flat against the Jaguars.  Last week's win over the Bears in the Soldier Field slop had a playoff atmosphere surrounding it.  The Texans couldn't have been happier with the way they handled themselves on the road in that environment.  This week, it will be tough to come out with playoff-caliber focus when taking on a Jaguars team who is a 16.5 underdog.  The Texans will win and they may even cover the spread, but I seriously doubt we see an inspired effort after last week's emotional tilt.

Three Sleepers

1. Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders - Reece is an undervalued commodity in PPR leagues thanks to Carson Palmer's willingness to throw to the big man.  The Saints have been very inconsistent against the run and Reece figures to get somewhere between 12-16 carries to go along with his receiving output.  Even if he doesn't get into the endzone.  Reece is a strong FLEX option this week.

2. Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts - Allen had a very quiet outing in last week's win over Jacksonville, but this week could be a sneaky strong one for the rookie.  The Colts figure to be throwing it for much of the game and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has a history of getting the ball to the TE position against the Patriots when he was with the Steelers.  The Patriots will concentrate their coverage on Reggie Wayne which should open things up for Allen.

3. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins - Tannehill is coming off of an awful performance against the Titans, but the Bills secondary has their own share of issues.  Fantasy QBs have had strong performances against the Bills and with Tannehill's ability to run as well, this could be a surprisingly strong game for Tannehill.

An Upset

Pittsburgh (+3.5) over Baltimore
The Steelers offense looked completely inept against the Chiefs - especially once Byron Leftwich replaced, but I'm here to tell you that it would be a mistake to just shut the door on the Steelers after watching one half of football of the post-Ben Steelers.  Remember that the Steelers weren't able to create a gameplan specifically for Leftwich and the weather was a factor.  This week, there won't be any rain and the Steelers will have formulated a gameplan that works to Leftwich's strengths. 

For the most part, teams who have committed to the run against the Ravens have had a great deal of success and the Steelers have run it 27+ times in each of their last four games which were all wins.  Joe Flacco is 2-4 lifetime on the road against the Steelers, but he has won his last two against them at Heinz Field.  However, the Steelers are playing good defense this year - especially against the pass - and Flacco and the passing game had been in a funk before taking out the Raiders last weekend.

With a week to customize the offense around Byron Leftwich and with the Steelers looking to put the jitters back into Flacco, I like the Steelers plus the points and to win the game outright at home against the Ravens.