2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections Week 12 | Start ‘Em Picks & Matchup Plays

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2023

We are approaching Week 12 of the 2021 NFL season and the current fantasy football season is winding down.

In most formats, the fantasy playoffs will begin in either Week 14 or Week 15, which means the fantasy playoffs will begin in a blink of an eye.

Amidst injuries and bye weeks, you might be trying to get into the playoffs or striving to earn the coveted first-round bye without some of your big-name studs.

However, don’t fret. My weekly fantasy football sleepers will help you find the best pivots possible to help you win your week and, when it is all said and done, a 2021 fantasy football championship.

Now, here are my Week 12 fantasy football sleepers. Let’s get that win.

Week 12 Byes: Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs

Please note that all NFL gameday odds and lines below are current as of 10:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, November 23.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12: Quarterback

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins

  • Panthers-Dolphins Total: 42 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 42 (-110), Under 42 (-110)

Cam Newton could be a fantasy football league winner if he keeps up the pace he’s on. In two games since returning to the Panthers—he only played in eight snaps in the first one—Newton has accounted for five touchdowns.

In last week’s loss to the Washington Football Team, Newton managed 28.7 fantasy points. He efficiently completed 21-of-27 passes for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing 10 times for 46 yards and another score. They are letting Cam be Cam, which bodes well for his fantasy managers.

With Newton back in the saddle, his talented supporting cast should thrive and have the ability to pop at a high rate in any game. I love the matchup with the Dolphins this week. Miami’s defense is allowing the fifth most FPPG (24.0) to quarterbacks. Newton is also familiar with Bran Flores’ Dolphins from last year’s stint with the Patriots.

Deep QB Week 12 Sleeper: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Steelers-Bengals Total: 45.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 45.5 (-110), Under 45.5 (-110)

Joe Burrow has finished with fewer than 14.2 fantasy points in two straight games but should be able to get back on track against the Steelers in Week 12. Earlier this season, Burrow threw for 172 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick at Pittsburgh. He could tear than up at home this time around.

Pittsburgh’s secondary has been their Achilles’ heel. They have given up two or more passing touchdowns in five of 10 games this season. And outside of Josh Allen in Week 1, the quarterbacks they have contained don’t exactly play for high-octane passing attacks (Jared Goff, Justin Fields, Baker Mayfield, Geno Smith).

Cincy’s Burrow-led offense is clicking at a high rate. Putting his last two games aside, Burrow threw for two or more touchdowns in the first eight games of the year, and passed for three scores in four of them. Burrow will get back on track in Week 12.

More Week 12 QB Sleepers To Consider

  • Mac Jones, New England Patriots vs Tennessee Titans

DFS Week 12 Player Props To Play

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2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12: Running Back

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants

  • Eagles-Giants Total: 46 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 46 (-110), Under 46 (-110)

Miles Sanders has been one of the biggest letdowns in fantasy football. Sure, he’s been injured, but he did not produce early in the season before suffering his ankle injury. He only finished with 10+ PPR points two times in his first seven games.

While Sanders failed to score double-digit points in his Week 11 return, he almost got there, ending the slate with 9.4 PPR points.

It was an encouraging outing, however. Sanders ran for 95 yards on 16 carries in a tough matchup against the Saints. Jordan Howard also suffered a knee injury and is expected to miss Week 12, which bodes well for Sanders’ usage. Sanders played 35 offensive snaps in Week 11.

With the Eagles’ rushing attack firing on all cylinders, Sanders could pop in Sunday’s matchup with the Giants. New York has been gashed by enemy backs all year, allowing 26.2 FPPG, good for eighth-most in the NFL. As long as Sanders gets the touches, he will produce in a favorable matchup.

Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos vs Los Angeles Chargers

  • Chargers-Broncos Total: 47 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 47 (-110), Under 47 (-110)

Melvin Gordon has been the more productive fantasy back in Denver this season, but Javonte Williams is not far behind. Gordon is the PPR RB19 while Williams is the RB30. Touchdowns are the biggest difference.

Williams has accumulated 11.1 PPR points in four of his past eight games. He’s dependent on receptions and yards as Gordon has seven touchdowns to Williams’ two.

Despite the timeshare, Williams is in a solid spot in Week 12 against the Chargers. The Chargers are allowing the seventh-most FPPG (26.8) to enemy backs and I expect the Broncos to heavily emphasize the ground game behind Williams to control the tempo and keep Justin Herbert on the sidelines.

Deep RB Week 12 Sleeper: Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys vs Las Vegas Raiders

  • Cowboys-Raiders Total: 51 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 51 (-110), Under 51 (-110)

I am digging Tony Pollard this week. While Ezekiel Elliott is in line to play—Zeke is playing through a minor knee injury—Amari Cooper (COVID) is already ruled out and CeeDee Lamb is trending in the wrong direction. A dual-threat back, Pollard could be heavily utilized in Week 12, especially as a receiver.

Pollard only has three games with double-digit PPR points this year. The stars are aligned for his fourth on Thanksgiving. Pollard only has one touchdown this season, which means he’s reliant on yards and receptions. Pollard has gone for 63+ total yards in seven of 10 games.

The yards and receptions should be there facing a Raiders defense that is often gashed by enemy backs. The Raiders have allowed 26.9 FPPG to backs, good for sixth-most in the league.

More Week 12 RB Sleepers To Consider

  • Ty Johnson, Houston Texans vs New York Jets
  • David Johnson, Houston Texans vs New York Jets

Find better Week 12 fantasy football players on the waiver wire with our 2021 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Top Pickups.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12: Wide Receiver

Marvin Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars vs Atlanta Falcons

  • Jaguars-Falcons Total: 46.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 46.5 (-110), Under 46.5 (-110)

Marvin Jones is due for a big game. He played excellent at the start of the year, going for 12.2 PPR points in four of his first six games, but since the Week 7 bye, Jones has failed to score double digits in four straight games. It’s not like he’s not getting the looks either. Jones has drawn six-plus targets in three of those four outings.

If Jones is going to get back on track, it will happen in Week 12 against the Falcons’ inconsistent secondary. At times this season, the Falcons’ defense has defended the pass well. At other times, they have been gashed. In three games since Week 9, the Falcons have given up 11+ PPR points to five different wideouts, with five touchdowns in that time period.

I like Jones’ ceiling more than his floor. If you need a ceiling play, Jones has a legit shot to deliver.

Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers vs Minnesota Vikings

  • 49ers-Vikings Total: 48.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 48.5 (-110), Under 48.5 (-110)

Following a sluggish start, Brandon Aiyuk is getting going. He’s finished with 20.7+ PPR points in two of his past three games. He’s also drawn seven-plus targets in three of his past four games. With the 49ers’ offense clicking and Aiyuk involved, I am in on Aiyuk for Week 12’s matchup against the Vikings.

Minnesota’s defense is yielding the fourth most FPPG (41.3) to wide receivers, including the third-most yards (1,950), fourth-most scores (143), and 14.3 yards per catch. As long as Aiyuk remains involved in the passing attack, he will maintain his recent success in fantasy.

In a game with a 48.5 total, Aiyuk is a big play waiting to happen. It also helps that Jimmy Garoppolo has passed for two scores in each of his past three games.

Deep WR Week 12 Sleeper: Elijah Moore, New York Jets @ Houston Texans

  • Jets-Texans Total: 44 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 44 (-110), Under 44 (-110)

The Jets have drafted fairly well on offense. Obviously, I am not talking about Zach Wilson. He’s still an enigma. I am referring to Michael Carter and Elijah Moore. Both Carter and Moore should lead the Jets’ offense for years to come.

While Carter has been more or less solid all year, Moore is just getting going. He’s finished with 10+ PPR points in five consecutive games with a 29.6 point ceiling (Week 11). In fact, he’s gone north of 27.4 points in two of his past three games.

Moore has appeared in nine games this season, he’s drawn six or more targets in seven of them, including in five straight. He’s also scored a touchdown in three straight, four total in that period.

Moore will take his scoring streak into an exploitable matchup with the Texans. While Houston’s defense has been playing better of late, they can still be exposed. The Texans are allowing the ninth-most FPPG (37.5) to wideouts.

More Week 12 WR Sleepers To Consider

  • Kendrick Bourne, New England Patriots vs Tennessee Titans
  • Cedrick Wilson Jr., Dallas Cowboys vs Las Vegas Raiders

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rob Gronkowski may not fit the traditional definition of a sleeper, but he could go off against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12: Tight End

Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts

  • Buccaneers-Colts Total: 51.5 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 51.5 (-110), Under 51.5 (-110)

Rob Gronkowski is not a sleeper by name, but entering his second game coming off his injury, Gronkowski could go off. In his Week 11 return, Gronkowski caught 6-of-8 targets for 71 yards and ended the slate with 13.1 points. Despite all of Tom Brady’s pass-catching assets, it is clear that Gronkowski is still lingering at the top of the pecking order.

Gronkowski should pop in Week 12 against the Colts, whose defense is one of the worst in the NFL at containing tight ends, yielding the sixth most FPPG (15.7) to the position. They have given up 11.7+ PPR points to a tight end in four straight games to Geoff Swaim, Dan Arnold, Ryan Griffin, and Dawson Knox. None of those players are close to Gronk in terms of pedigree.

I also like Gronk’s anytime touchdown scorer prop here. If you’re feeling froggy, put a few bucks on him to score twice.

Deep TE Week 12 Sleeper: Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals

  • Steelers-Chargers Total: 45 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 45 (-110), Under 45 (-110)

Pat Freiermuth has been nothing short of outstanding in the second half of his rookie year. Since Week 6, Freiermuth is the PPR TE5 averaging 13.1 FPPG. In that five-game period, Freiermuth failed to top 11.1+ PPR points one time. He’s drawn six-plus targets in all five of those games, including seven or more targets four times. He’s also scored at least one touchdown in three of his past four outings.

Freiermuth will now get a tough but exploitable matchup with the Bengals, whose defense is yielding 12.1 FPPG to tight ends, good for 18th most in the league. In the past four games, the Bengals have been gauged by the tight end compared to earlier in the year.

On the season, the Bengals have given up a 45/524/4 stat line to tight ends. In the past five games, they have surrendered a 21/297/3. They have allowed a tight end to score in each of their past three outings.

Freiermuth should have no issue returning 10+ PPR points again in Week 12.

More Week 12 TE Sleepers To Consider

  • Evan Engram, New York Giants vs Philadelphia Eagles
  • Hunter Henry, New England Patriots vs Tennessee Titans

See which Week 12 fantasy football players to avoid with our 2021 Fantasy Football Busts Predictions.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12: Kicker

Greg Zuerlein, Dallas Cowboys vs Las Vegas Raiders

  • Cowboys-Raiders Total: 51 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 51 (-110), Under 51 (-110)

Greg Zuerlein has accumulated eight-plus fantasy points in six of nine games, including three with 11+. On Thanksgiving against the Raiders, the Cowboys are expected to be shorthanded on offense, which will give Zuerlein additional field goal opportunities should the Cowboys stall before crossing the goal line, which we have seen of late.

While Amari Cooper (COVID) is already ruled out, CeeDee Lamb (concussion) is trending in the wrong direction to play. This game has a 51 point total but the Cowboys are in a must-win spot and need points. They could play it safe with a lead and elect to take the field goal rather than going for it on fourth down. Zuerlein has a path to 10+ fantasy points in Week 12.

More Week 12 PK Sleepers To Consider

  • Randy Bullock, Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots
  • Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Indianapolis Colts

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 12: Defensive Team

Houston Texans vs New York Jets

  • Jets-Texans Total: 44 via Caesars Sportsbook
  • Over 44 (-110), Under 44 (-110)

It might sound crazy, but I am going to roll the dice on the Texans this week. While they are getting the Jets, star rookie RB Michael Carter is out with an ankle injury. They can move the football but most of it is in garbage time. The Jets’ offense also gives away the ball.

For the Texans D/ST, they are quietly doing well, often overshadowed by their defunct franchise overall. Currently, Houston’s D/ST is ranked 11th in FPPG (6.4) with 64 points overall. Moreover, they have accumulated 11+ fantasy points in three of their past four games (vs. the Cardinals, Dolphins and Titans).

Insert the Vince Lombardi, “What the hell is going on out here?" clip and Happy Thanksgiving.

Other Week 12 D/ST To Consider

  • Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
  • Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins

NFL Week 12 Injuries to Monitor

  • QB Justin Fields (ribs)
  • RB Michael Carter (ankle)
  • RB Jordan Howard (knee)
  • WR CeeDee Lamb (concussion)
  • WR Jarvis Landry (knee)
  • TE Adam Trautman (MCL)

Anthony’s Accountable: Sleeper Pick Success Rate

This is a recap of my plays from Week 11 (skill position players only). I consider a sleeper a hit if the player scores 10-plus PPR points (15-plus for QBs):

Anthony’s Sleepers are 69-61-1 this season.

  • QB Cam Newton (28.1)
  • QB Mac Jones (11.8)
  • RB A.J. Dillon (15.7)
  • RB Michael Carter (7.5)
  • RB Rhamondre Stevenson (8.5)
  • WR Hunter Renfrow (7.5)
  • WR Jaylen Waddle (20.6)
  • WR Rashod Bateman (5.9)
  • TE C.J. Uzomah (2.9)
  • TE Pat Freiermuth (11.1)
  • K Zane Gonzalez (3)
  • DST Miami Dolphins (5.0)


Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter. Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation. Industry Clout: 15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019) | 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020) | 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).

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