Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 5
What a strange start to the year its been in the NFL. I mentioned in last week’s intro that we will begin to weed out the good teams from the frauds.
Look at the Ravens. After winning two straight games to open the season facing sub-par competition, they are now on a two-game slide, losing two consecutive matchups to quality opponents. Lamar Jackson is still putting up numbers, but we are pumping the brakes a little bit on anointing him as the next second coming.
And how about the Eagles? They have looked extremely Jekyll and Hyde thus far, but after committing to Jordan Howard last Thursday night in an impressive win at Green Bay, their offense appears to be heading in the right direction. I know the fantasy football community was counting on a Miles Sanders breakout, but like I’ve said on the FF Faceoff all offseason long, 2020 is Sanders’ year while 2019 will very much be a split between the two backs. Although Howard isn’t the sexiest back in the world, he is productive when given the workload, especially in scoring situations.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 4 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Most-Productive Players from Week 4
On the top 15 overall fantasy scoring leaderboard, there are six players being started in fewer than 40 percent of leagues at ESPN that finished amongst the best fantasy performers last week (Jameis Winston, Jordan Howard, Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco and A.J Brown). Those aforementioned players were the sleepers of the week last week led by Jameis Winston, who put up 30.3 fantasy points and was the overall QB1 in a terrific showing on the road at the Rams. While on paper, the matchup wasn’t there, Winston was able to have one of the best games of his career.
The tandem of Marcus Mariota and A.J. Brown once again flashed — albeit for the first time since the season opener — but it is clear that there is a rapport there. It is also obvious that the rookie wideout is the WR1 in Tennessee. While I don’t believe Mariota will throw three touchdowns on a weekly basis, he is trending in the right direction. Getting Taylor Lewan back from his suspension will also help his cause as Mariota will once again have elite pass-protection with his line finally intact for the first time in 2019.
Sleepers Week 4: Full-Disclosure
Full-Disclosure: by the Numbers
I didn’t have very many hits in Week 4, but my hits at least finished as top 12 fantasy performers at their respective positions.
- For the second straight week, my quarterback choices let me down. I didn’t anticipate Case Keenum being pulled so early in favor of Dwayne Haskins and despite picking up the win, Kyle Allen showed that he is still a young player developing as he couldn’t take advantage of an outstanding matchup against Houston.
- Wayne Gallman finished as the RB5 and played a tremendous role in leading the Giants to their second-straight win sans Eli Manning.
- Darrel Williams proved exactly why you want to own a piece of the Kansas City backfield — he also showed why Damien Williams was such a hot commodity this offseason. Chiefs running backs are uber-productive and could be so on an RBBC basis as both Williams and LeSean McCoy had quality fantasy outputs in consecutive games. With Damien Williams set to return this week, however, Darrel Williams might bet better left on your bench.
- Rex Burkhead was a killer. Despite drawing an active designation, he did not play very much and only had one touch. The Patriots don’t care about our fantasy teams.
- All of my wideouts couldn’t get out of their own way. I played the matchup with players — D.K. Metcalf, Mecole Hardman, Curtis Samuel — who would be boom or bust fantasy assets, and they all busted. Perhaps I should mix in safer-floor players this week to get into a rhythm.
- With T.Y. Hilton out, Colts’ tight ends were busy in Week 4 as I projected. Both Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron scored and the former finished as the TE11 on the week.
- Due to Case Keenum being benched, Vernon Davis was irrelevant. Outside of Chris Thompson and maybe Terry McLaurin, it is time to fade Redskins players until Dwayne Haskins shows whether or not he can get the job done. It won’t happen against the Patriots this week though.
Have some tough start/ sit decisions for Week 5? Don’t sweat! My cohost at the FF Faceoff Podcast, Mike Hauff, has you covered with his weekly Start’em/ Sit’em column featured exclusively at Gridiron Experts. You can read that here.
Week 5 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 7.5
I’ve been down the Andy Dalton road before — we all have. And while he is hard to trust, his upcoming home encounter with the Cardinals is a favorable one. Although he didn’t look good during last week’s treacherous Monday night outing — a blowout loss to the Steelers — I can’t put it all on Dalton. Not only is his line terrible, but it also yielded a career-high (for Dalton) eight sacks in Week 4. However, in the first three games of the season leading up to that aforementioned Monday night, Dalton scored at least 18.1 fantasy points in each matchup against Seattle, San Francisco, and Buffalo.
Despite his sub-par line and injuries at receiver — A.J. Green and now John Ross — Dalton has been flourishing in Zac Taylor’s system and is primed for another strong outing in a bounce-back effort against the Cardinals. Facing an Arizona defense surrendering the third-most fantasy points to QBs at a 24.3 FPPG rate, Dalton has QB1 upside for Week 5. Although the Cardinals held Russell Wilson to 14.3 fantasy points last week, they gave up at least 24.3 fantasy points to the first three QBs they faced to open the season (Matthew Stafford, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen). With Patrick Peterson still serving his suspension, the Cardinals secondary can and will be exposed by Dalton and company on Sunday. Put the past behind you and start Dalton in Week 5.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.1
Jimmy Garoppolo is another QB I turn to in my sleepers column in the right matchup. And while it sometimes doesn’t work out, his high-ceiling is difficult to overlook despite his low-floor. Garoppolo has looked extremely Jeckyl and Hyde through his first three 2019 starts, putting up significant numbers against the Bengals in Week 2 (23.6) but bombing against Tampa Bay in Week 1 (9.4) and against Pittsburgh (11.6) in Week 3. However, coming off of his Week 4 bye, he will get a favorable home matchup with the Browns, whose defense has been forgiving to enemy QBs.
Without their top corners, Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward — both CBs have not practiced since Week 2 with hamstring injuries and remain sidelined — the Cleveland secondary has been gauged at times. Currently, the Browns are giving up the 14th most fantasy points to opposing QBs at an 18.7 FPPG rate. However, those numbers could be skewed considering they played the Luke Falk led Jets in Week 2 and held him to 7.9 fantasy points on a 198/0/0 line. In their other three encounters, the Browns let up 16.2 points to Jared Goff in Week 3 and a pair of outings in which they surrendered at least 24.3 fantasy points to both Marcus Mariota and Lamar Jackson in Week 1 and Week 4. With a slew of weapons at pass-catcher and a sound running game to open up the passing lanes, Garoppolo should flourish at home on Monday night.
Week 5 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 26.8
While Jordan Howard got off to a sluggish start, he’s been money in his past two outings. While he only managed 37 yards on 11 carries in Week 3 against the Lions, he did score a touchdown and finished with 9.7 fantasy points. And then we all know what Howard did last week against the Packers — in case you forget, he went for 32.5 fantasy points with 115 total yards (28 receiving) and three touchdowns on 18 touches (three receptions). Although I don’t expect Howard to replicate his Week 4 performance, his matchup with the Jets suggests that he could score for the third straight game.
Not only are the Jets surrendering the 11th-most fantasy points to RBs at an 18.5 FPPG rate, but they have allowed three different backs to accumulate a 14.8 PPR-point floor against them (Devin Singletary, Nick Chubb, Rex Burkhead). In that timespan, the Jets defense allowed those before-mentioned backs to put up 98 total yards or score. While I also like Miles Sanders in this matchup, Howard has a greater chance to score. While Sanders is out-snapping Howard — Sanders has a 41.5 percent snap share to Howard’s 30.2 — Howard has out-touched Sanders 29-to-26 in the past two games and has three goal-line carries on the year to the rookie’s two. I like Howard as a middling Flex option with scoring upside for Week 5.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 21.6
There isn’t much I like about the Redskins no matter who is the quarterback in Week 5 against the Patriots, but if there is one player I am inclined to start, it is Chris Thompson. While Adrian Peterson is handling the bulk of the running back carries, Thompson has been the more productive back from a fantasy football perspective due to his pass-catching upside which raises his floor. Through the first four games of the year, Thompson has a double-digit PPR point floor, scoring 14.8, 10.1, 14.8 and 10.0 in each of the first four weeks of the season sequentially. Thompson has had a least five targets, four receptions and 48 yards in each of those matchups.
While he is entering a terrible matchup with a Patriots defense surrendering the second-fewest fantasy points to enemy backs at a 10.0 FPPG rate, they have allowed four different backs to accumulate at least four receptions for 28 yards. Pair that with anything Thompson can pick up on the ground and you’re roughly looking at his double-digit PPR point floor. It isn’t much, but with bye weeks and injuries, you may need to take a shot on Thompson in the Flex spot. With his versatility and explosiveness, he can always break a big play for a score any time he touches the ball. You can do a lot worse than Thompson in Week 5.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.2
With James Conner drawing consecutive DNP practice designations already this week, he is trending toward a doubtful injury designation for Sunday’s matchup with the Ravens. However, Conner doesn’t have to practice to play, which means we can’t count him on being ruled out. But even if he does play, it will likely be with limitations, which means it is time to fire up Jaylen Samuels.
Samuels was busy in last week’s win over the Bengals even before Conner injured his ankle. Samuels was used in the wild cat formation, which is perfect for the swing TE/ RB’s versatility. What’s more, Samuels was also busy in the passing game as well. In the first two games of the year, Samuels totaled 37 yards on seven touches. But in last week’s win, Samuels carried the ball 10 times for 26 yards and a touchdown while catching all eight of his targets for another 57 yards and finished with 22.6 fantasy points.
Whether Conner plays, plays with limitations or is ruled out, Samuels will be featured in some capacity in Week 5 at home against Baltimore. Although the Ravens defense is normally stout, they are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs at a 23.1 FPPG pace. And while they opened the year with back-to-back games holding lead enemy backs to single-digit fantasy points (Kenyan Drake and David Johnson), they have been gashed in a big way in their last two matchups. In fact, in the past two games against the Chiefs and Browns — both losses — the Ravens have allowed four different bask to accumulate 109 total yards or a score with a 13.4 PPR point floor to LeSean McCoy, Darrel Williams, Nick Chubb, and Dontrell Hilliard.
With Mason Rudolph under center, it seems like the Steelers are keeping him in bubble wrap and not letting him lose games for them by protecting him with short and intermediate throws around the line of scrimmage, which favors Samuels usage since he is a superior pass-catcher to Conner. If Conner is active, Samuels is a high-floor Flex option with slight bust potential this week, but if the starter is out, Samuels has legit RB1 upside for Week 5.
Week 5 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 10.2
Although the Falcons are loaded and crowded at pass-catcher, they are uber-productive from a fantasy football POV. Part of the reason why is that many of us — including myself — bit on the bait this offseason. What is the bait you ask? Well, the fact that the Atlanta defense was poised to improve with HC Dan Quinn calling the defense as well as the fact that they were getting their injured players from 2018 back in the lineup, which was all a charade. The fact of the matter is, is that the Falcons defense is over-rated and Quinn is calling the plays in an attempt to save his job. While the Falcons are perennially slow starters, it doesn’t seem to be heading in the right direction now that we are a quarter of the way through the year. However, for fantasy, their poor defense opens up additional opportunities for Matt Ryan to throw considering the negative game script. Pair that with the fact that they are having issues running the ball and it is safe to fire up a player like Mohamed Sanu, their WR3, and goto sleep comfortably.
In three out of four games this season, Sanu has accumulated at least 10.7 fantasy points with a 5.6-point dud in between. In that Week 2 dud, however, Sanu still drew seven targets and has had at least six targets in all four games already this season. Now, coming off of a Week 4 outing in which he caught 9-of-12 targets for 91 yards — all season highs — and finished with 18.1 fantasy points, Sanu is shaping up to be an upside Flex play for Week 5. Why? Not only is he getting the opportunity — he is out-targeting Calvin Ridley 18-to-7 in the past two games — but he also gets a terrific matchup facing a Texans defense surrendering the 14th most fantasy points to enemy WRs at a 25.6 FPPG pace.
While the Texans were able to shut down the Kyle Allen led Panthers and their weapons in last week’s loss, they have been gashed in the three previous matchups. In fact, through four games, the Texans have allowed seven different wideouts to accumulate at least 10.6 fantasy points against them off of at least five receptions for 59 yards or a score. In a projected high-scoring shootout between a pair of the league’s most explosive offenses tagged with suspect defenses, the Falcons/ Texans game is primed to be one of the fantasy gems of the week and Sanu should see his part of the action. Sanu is a high-floor Flex PPR Flex option with WR2 upside if he scores for the first time in 2019.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 8.9
With DeSean Jackson still dealing with an abdominal injury — he has yet to return to practice this week — it looks like Nelson Agholor will be in another featured role for Sunday’s matchup against the Jets. And while Agholor is coming off of a disappointing dud in last week’s win over the Packers in which he failed to catch his only target, the speedy big-play threat went off in the two games prior. From Weeks 2-3, Agholor compiled a massive 16/157/3 stat line on 23 targets. Now, he will look to bounce back facing a Jets defense surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs at a 29.8 FPPG rate. Over the past three weeks, the Jets are yielding 42.4 percent more fantasy points to the wide reiver position than the 34.8-point league average — and that is with the Jets Week 4 bye factored in. Agholor is a boom or but Flex option with top-end WR2 upside if he and Carson Wentz work their magic.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.5
While Sam Darnold (mono) has a chance to play this week, I like Robby Anderson even if Luke Falk draws one more start. Although Anderson put up a dud in his last game against the Patriots in Week 3 with a 3/11/0 line on five targets — the Jets had their bye in Week 4 — he didn’t have a terrible outing in Week 2 against the Browns with Falk playing significant time following the Trevor Siemian injury. Anderson caught 4-of-6 targets for 81 yards in that matchup and finished with 12.1 PPR points.
Anderson is the clear cut WR1 on the Jets, but he is also their big-play threat, which could come in handy on Sunday facing an Eagles defense surrendering the most fantasy production to enemy wideouts at a ridiculous 32.8 FPPG rate. In fact, the Philadelphia pass defense is so terrible that it has already allowed seven different receivers — Terry McLaurin, Trey Quinn, Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Marvin Jones, Geronimo Allison — to accumulate at least 13.3 fantasy points against them, letting up at least 180 yards or a touchdown to the aforementioned players.
While Falk will be the worst quarterback the Eagles have faced this season, their secondary is so banged up that even a blind squirrel could find a nut. Sidney Jones is dealing with a hamstring, Ronald Darby remains week-to-week, Avonte Maddox is in the concussion protocol and dealing with a neck injury and Rodney McLeod is also knicked up. The Eagles had to go as far as bringing in veteran CB Orlando Scandrick from the streets to contend wit their injury woes in the secondary. All things considered, Anderson is a boom or bust Flex option for Week 5 with WR2 upside if he happens to go off.
Week 5 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 24.1
Although Jimmy Graham’s production has been erratic in 2019, the stars are aligning for a big-time outing in Week 5. Graham opened the year strong with 12 fantasy points on a 3/30/1 line on six targets, only to follow that up with back-to-back goose eggs in games in which he drew two and one targets respectively in Week 2 and Week 3. However, while things were trending in the wrong direction, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers told the press that both Davante Adams and Graham needed more targets. They got just that in Week 4 against the Eagles. Adams went off and Graham went for a season-high 18.1 fantasy points on a 6/61/1 line on nine targets. And now that Adams is expected to miss Green Bay’s Week 5 outing at the Cowboys with a toe injury, Graham’s value is sky-rocketing.
Not only could Graham be Rodgers’ most trusted pass-catching option considering he is the tenured NFL veteran of the group sans Adams, but the Cowboys are prone to giving up production to the tight end position. In fact, through four games, the Cowboys are yielding the 13th most fantasy points to enemy TEs at a 7.6 FPPG pace. And while a great chunk of their points allowed came against Evan Engram in the season opener — Engram went off for 28.6 points on an 11/116/1 line on 14 targets — they haven’t played a tight end close to Engram’s pedigree since. The Dallas defense held Vernon Davis, Mike Gesicki and the combination of Jared Cook and Josh Hill to fewer than 5.9 PPR points apiece. Considering the fact that Adams is likely out, creating additional targets, and Aaron Rodgers is the QB with a plus track record facing the Cowboys, Graham has top-end TE1 upside for Week 5 with a high back-end TE1 floor.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 1.9
Dawson Knox started the year slow, but in his past two games, he is beginning to prosper in his rookie campaign. In fact, after catching 2-of-6 targets for 19 yards through the first two games of the year, he followed that up with a 6/125/1 line on seven targets and is emerging as the TE1 on the Bills. And although Josh Allen could miss Sunday’s matchup at the Titans — he remains in the concussion protocol but could be cleared by game time — I believe Knox will be productive even if it is Matt Barkley under center.
While it is on the road, Knox will get a Titans defense surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points to enemy TEs at a 10.5 FPPG pace — they have given up a touchdown or 130 yards to four different TEs this season. In fact, normally a stingy defense, the Titans surrendered at least 9.8 PPR points to four different tight ends through four games (David Njoku, Eric Ebron, James O’Shaughnessy, Austin Hooper). Knox is a middling TE2 for Week 5 with TE1 upside if he scores. However, if Barkley is under center, I believe Knox’s pass-catching floor is raised as the QB2 normally leans on the tight end on short and intermediate routes whereas I like the rookie tight end’s scoring upside more with Allen.
Anthony Cervino is a lifelong NFL enthusiast, especially of the Dallas Cowboys. He has been infatuated with the game since childhood and was introduced to fantasy football as a young teen. Back then, the league commissioner typed out the weekly newsletter and used the Daily News to tally scores. In a statistic-driven game of fantasy football, Anthony believes that sometimes you have to rely on that good ole gut instinct. Anthony resides in New Jersey where he lives with his wife, son and a pomeranian that is named Roman (after Tony Romo). When Anthony is not immersed in the NFL or fantasy football related activities, he enjoys bodybuilding and spending time with his family. Anthony is committed to giving you his best analysis and most accurate statistics to help you win championships. Don’t hesitate to tweet Anthony @therealnflguru about anything NFL or fantasy-related topics. He will always respond in a timely fashion.