Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 5
Another week goes by, another week the quarterback position dominates the top 15 overall fantasy football leaderboard. With its second-consecutive week with 10 QBs finishing as 10 of the top 15 fantasy producers, we are seeing more and more how the NFL rule changes favor the passing game immensely over the run. Rounding off the remaining five of the 15 were three running backs and two wide receivers. Remember when there were 2-to-3 tight ends who could conceivably make a case for to blow up and make this list? It doesn’t seem to be something you can count on from what the first quarter of the 2018 season is telling us. And while this landscape could change at any point, trends do mean something, especially in fantasy sports.
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Most-Productive Players from Week 4
While the top 15 overall fantasy football scoring leaderboard was dominated by some of the most notable names in the game last week, there were quite a few sleepers in the mix as well. Mitchell Trubisky (BYE), Jared Goff (36.8), Andrew Luck (42.5), Derek Carr (4.6), Marcus Mariota (3.7), Mike Davis (0.6) and Blake Bortles (7.4) are all being started in fewer than 50 percent of fantasy leagues at ESPN this week and finished amongst the top 15 most productive players for Week 4. For the purpose of this article, any player with less than a 50 percent start-percentage at ESPN Fantasy will meet the criteria of eligibility to qualify as a sleeper despite their household namesake — see Andrew Luck.
Sleepers Week 4: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Pos||STD Rank||STD Points||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
Week 4 Full-Disclosure by the Numbers
Although I didn’t have any player really pop-off as I had in the first three weeks — my only top 10 finish was Eric Ebron — I had seven players accumulate double-digit fantasy points. That’s without counting Eli Manning, who only had .7 points, which is a letdown total from a quarterback.
- I was terrible at QB — I would include an expletive adjective in front of “terrible” if this wasn’t a PG article.
- All three of my RBs accumulated at least 11.6 points in both standard scoring formats as well as in PPR.
- All three of my WRs should have finished with double-digit points in both formats, but Geronimo Allison left Week 4 early with a concussion and only finished with eight points in standard and with 14 in PPR. If he played a full game, Allison was poised to finish with at least 10 points. Allison caught 6-of-11 targets for 80 yards before exiting the game at the end of the third quarter with his aforementioned head injury.
- While I missed on Austin Hooper, I wasn’t far off. Logan Paulson, the Falcons TE2, caught a Matt Ryan touchdown pass last week. I had the right matchup and theory but wrong player.
- As I said before, Eric Ebron had a quality game with Jack Doyle out.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 4 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Entering Week 5, some fantasy owners may be forced to shop the waiver wire due to a handful of notable injuries around the league. With players that include Tyler Eifert, T.Y. Hilton, and Will Fuller all succumbing to injuries last week, some more significant than the others, be sure to check out Andrew Erickson’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 4 to help you fill the vacant holes on your fantasy football team’s rosters. You can read that here.
Week 5 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 14.6
Although he is the QB12 with 79 fantasy points through the first quarter of the 2018 season, Blake Bortles remains one of the most under-appreciated fantasy quarterbacks on the market. In fact, while he’s being started in only 14.6 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, he is only owned in 34 percent. And I get it, it doesn’t get more boom or bust than Blake Bortles. In the first four games of the year, he’s been extremely Jekyll and Hyde. While accumulating at least 24.3 fantasy points in Weeks Two and Four, Bortles put up a pair of let down performances in Weeks One (13.2) and Three (8.9). With that in mind, I believe Bortles will finally string together a pair of back-to-back outings with QB1 fantasy production.
While Bortles will once again be without Leonard Fournette, who remains sidelined with an injured hamstring, fear not. Not only are the 3-1 Jaguars winning without him, but Bortles is picking up the slack and is remaining a productive fantasy football asset without his lead rusher. Aside from a Week 2 letdown against the Titans and including last week’s blowout of the Jets in which Fournette exited early after re-aggravating his hamstring, you can make the case that Bortles is even better when Fournette is sidelined.Bortle4s is emerging as a leader. In Weeks Two and Four, Bortles has completed 58-of-83 passes (69.8 percent) for 764 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. Finishing as the QB4 in Week 2 against the Patriots and QB10 in Week 4 against the Jets, it is clear that Bortles exploits matchups facing teams in the green in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs.
Speaking of teams in the green, Bortles’ upcoming matchup against the Chiefs presents just that. Yielding 24.5 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, the Kansas defense is the fifth easiest matchup for the QB position, which bodes well in the favor of Bortles and his slew of pass-catchers. In a game in which could be a high-scoring affair — while the Jacksonville defense is elite, they can be scored upon — Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and Donte Moncrief are expected to be busy. You can even include T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant in the mix. Both RBs are superior receivers out of the backfield. As you can see, I believe that the Jaguars’ talented cast of offensive weapons are a better group than what the Chiefs have on the other side, especially if Eric Berry, who remains out with a heel injury, is once again inactive.
Facing a Chiefs defense that allowed three of the four QBs they’ve faced in 2018 to accumulate at least 22.9 FPPG against them — Philip Rivers (33.2), Ben Roethlisberger (41.5), and Jimmy Garoppolo (22.9) — Bortles is primed for a big game. In fact, the only one they contained was Case Keenum last week. And you can make the case that he held himself in check with his inefficient play and inaccurate throws — if Keenum didn’t miss a throw in Demaryius Thomas’ direction, Kansas City would have likely lost the game. Bortles, who is ranked third amongst QBs in rushing yards (132) and sixth in completion percentage under pressure (44 percent), is a back-end QB1 for Week 5. We’ve seen the former king of garbage time go toe-to-toe with the best in the game — and win — and I believe he will a similar outcome this week versus the elusive Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.4
Not only was Blake Bortles one of my guys — and has been for years — but Joe Flacco has been on my good side since last December. While Flacco had a terrible first three months of the 2017 season, many of his struggles could be attributed to a lingering back injury. However, once he began to heal, his production output began to increase. And following an offseason in which Flacco received nothing but praise from the media-elite, both local and national, as well as his teammates and coaches — it was reported that Flacco had the best offseason of his career — the veteran signal caller has delivered from a fantasy perspective. The QB14 with 77 fantasy points, Flacco is tremendously out-producing his preseason ADP — remember, people were drafting Lamar Jackson over him in redraft leagues (::sigh::).
Flacco’s early 2018 success is not all on him, however. The Ravens front office did their part as well. Adding a slew of new weapons to Flacco’s arsenal with players that include Michael Crabtree — Flacco’s top target — John Brown — Flacco’s leading receiver — and Willie Snead — Snead is playing consistent football as the WR3 — the Ravens made it abundantly clear that they want to win now and win with Flacco. And I haven’t even mentioned the play of a crowded tight end position or from Buck Allen, who is off to an outstanding start — Allen has scored a touchdown in 3-of-4 games this season. With his new cast of pass-catchers, Flacco is lighting up the league. Ranked eighth in the NFL with 1,252 yards and fourth in air-yards with 782 — Flacco has thrown at least 40 passes in 3-of-4 games and has thrown for at least 363 yards in 2-of-4 — I expect him to maintain his pace in his upcoming matchup against the Browns.
While the Browns defense is improved under defensive coordinator Greg Williams — they are the 11th toughest matchup for opposing QBs surrendering 15.2 FPPG — they are still the Browns and most certainly can be exposed. In fact, they’ve allowed three different QBs to accumulate at least 20.3 fantasy points against them in 2018. While Ben Roethlisberger (22.4), Drew Brees (20.1) and Derek Carr (38) had productive fantasy outings versus the Browns, the Cleveland defense was only able to contain Sam Darnold (8.5). Flacco, who has accumulated at least 23 points in six of his eight past games against the Browns, is an upside QB2 for Week 5. While he presents QB1 upside this week, a fringe QB1 finish is more attainable.
Week 5 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 41.3
Matt Breida has been a pleasant surprise for the 49ers this season and there haven’t been many due to all the injuries they’ve suffered, most notably, Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo. However, while the 49ers have played well despite the fact, the absences of McKinnon and Garoppolo have opened the door for younger talent to emerge. I might be in the minority, but I think C.J. Beathard will be a quality quarterback for San Francisco. Although he may not win a lot of games, he will be solid from a fantasy football point of view. But I’m not here to talk about Beathard today, I’m here to talk about Breida, who’s been sensational in McKinnon’s place.
While he opened the 2018 second on the depth chart to Alfred Morris, it has been Breida wh has emerged in the 49ers backfield. And it didn’t take long. In three of four games, Breida has out-performed Morris in fantasy. The one game that Morris beat out Breida, he did so by a one-point margin — Morris finished Week 2 with 12.7 points to Breida’s 11.7. That was it. In fact, currently ranked as the RB13 with 45.8 points (RB14 with 55.8 in PPR) on 398 (85 receiving) total yards and a TD on 51 touches (10 receptions), Breida is dominating Morris in all facets. Morris is the RB37 with 24.3 points (RB43 with 27.3 in PPR) on 203 total yards (36 receiving) and a TD on 47 touches (three receptions). There is no doubt the Breida is emerging as the clear-cut RB-to-own on the 49ers.
Although Bredia has been a limited participant at practice this week with a knee injury, he maintained a similar practice schedule last week and was ultimately deemed active for Week 4. I expect a similar scenario to unfold heading into Sunday’s favorable matchup against the Cardinals, whose defense has been exceptionally forgiving to the opposing RB in 2018.
The top-ranked defense in fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs surrendering a ridiculous 31.8 FPPG, the Cardinals defense has allowed five different RBs to put up at least 14.1 points against them with 3-of-5 going off for at least 22.6 points. With Adrian Peterson (22.6), Todd Gurley (25.3) and Mike Davis (24.4) leading the way in fantasy points scored on the 49ers at the RB position, the San Franciso defense was only able to hold Chris Thompson (18.8) and Jordan Howard (14.1) to fewer than 20 points. It could be a long day for the Arizona defense. The No. 2 ranked running back in true yards per carry (6.3) and No. 3 ranked rusher in yards per touch (7.3), Breida has been extraordinary with his opportunities. While he will still cede short-yardage carries to Morris, Breida, who is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards (292), is in the back-end RB2 tier for Week 5.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 21.4
Is it me, or is it only a matter of time until Javorius Allen passes Alex Collins as the Ravens RB1? And I get it, it sucks if you drafted Collins at his early-round ADP this offseason, but as we all know, the Ravens don’t give a damn about our fantasy teams. They are in the business of winning football games and Allen could give them the best chance to do so. While Collins is the RB24 in standard scoring formats with 44.8 points on 45 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns adding another 70 yards and a score on eight receptions, Allen is playing even better on fewer opportunities. Allen is the RB17 with 53.9 points on 26 carries for 62 yards and three TDs adding another 87 yards and a score on 15 receptions as a receiver.
Although Collins is out-touching Allen 53-to-41 and is out-gaining him in yards per touch (4.3-to-3.6), the latter already has four TDs on the year to the incumbent starter’s three. Moreover and most importantly, Allen has yet to lose a fumble while Collins has already lost two in four games. How important is it? Well, after Collins fumbled on a goal-line scoring opportunity early in the first half of last week’s win over the Steelers, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh benched his RB1 for the remainder of the half. In the end, both Collins and Allen finished the Week 4 outing with 12 touches. It was the first time they had an equal amount of touches this season. If matters couldn’t get any worse for Collins, Harbaugh told the press that he “can’t have it,” speaking in reference to his starting running back’s ball-security issues.
If all of that doesn’t convince you that Collins is in danger of losing his RB1 spot to Allen, it does, in fact, get worse. Collins isn’t healthy. After he was a limited participant at Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury, Collins did not practice on Thursday. In consequence, Collins is likely to receive a questionable designation on the Week 5 injury report and is nowhere near a lock to play against the Browns, which bodes well for Allen’s fantasy outlook.
Facing a Browns defense surrendering the ninth most fantasy points to RBs at a 22 FPPG rate- they’ve allowed at least 99 total yards or two touchdowns to an opposing in each of the first four games of the season — I expect Allen to thrive. The fifth-ranked RB in total TDs (four) and the sixth-ranked rusher in goal-line carries (three), Allen garners upside Flex consideration for Week 5. While his value will peak in PPR scoring formats, Allen is a quality touchdown-dependent option in standard as well. And if Collins is ultimately ruled out, which is a strong possibility, be prepared to fire up Allen up as a back-end RB2 in either format.
Week 5 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 44.3
Tyler Boyd is another player I am doubling-down on this week. Coming off a Week 4 outing in which he corralled 11-of-15 targets for 100 yards — Boyd finished as the WR30 with 10 points and the WR17 with 21 points in PPR — Boyd is primed to maintain his three-game streak of sensational fantasy production in Week 5. Catching 23-of-31 targets for 323 yards and two touchdowns, Boyd is the WR6 with 44.8 fantasy points in standard scoring formats and the WR5 with 67.8 points in PPR since Week 2. While everyone was expecting a second-year leap from John Ross, it has been Boyd setting the fantasy landscape on fire.
While Boyd’s upcoming matchup against the Dolphins isn’t the greatest — the Dolphins defense is allowing the eighth-fewest amount of fantasy points to wideouts at a 23.1 FPPG rate — Miami’s secondary will be without one of their starting cornerbacks. Since Bobby McCain is out with a knee injury, the Dolphins defensive backfield will likely be exposed for the second straight game following an uplifting start to the season in the first three weeks.
Facing a Dolphins defense that had allowed an opposing WR to accumulate at least six receptions for 64 yards or a TD in each of the first four games of the season, Boyd should thrive in the slot, especially with Miami down McCain, who was the emerging wideout’s anticipated cornerback matchup if he was healthy. Drawing a 90.8 snap share and running at least 38 routes in each of the past two games, Boyd, who is ranked fifth in red zone receptions with five, is a back-end WR2 with roaring upside for Week 5.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 11.1
Mike Williams has played well through the first three games of the season. Hauling in 11-of-15 targets for 189 yards and three TDs, Williams was the WR15 with 36.9 fantasy points from Weeks 1-to-3. However, despite entering Week 4 with a ton of hype, he had a letdown performance. Williams finished the week with a single reception for 15 yards on his lone target. And although Tyrell Williams remains in the mix — he holds a 10-126-1 stat line in four games — it is Mike Williams emerging as the Chargers WR2 opposite Keenan Allen.
In his upcoming matchup against the Raiders, Mike Williams is in line for a bounce-back game. Not only does the Raiders defense surrender the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs at a 30.2 FPPG rate — they’ve yielded at least five receptions for 92 yards or a TD to an opposing WR in each game this season — but they have also given up at least 12.1 FPPG to four different wideouts and a total of six receiving TDs, which is tied for third-most in the league. If there was ever a get-right matchup for Williams, it is this one. Ranked 10th in the league in yards per receptions (17) and eighth in yards per target (11.3), Williams is a big play waiting to happen. Expected to draw the 49th ranked cornerback in the form of Leon Hall, Williams is a target-dependent Flex option for Week 5.
Week 5 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 11.8
Although Ricky Seals-Jones isn’t off to the best of starts this season, are we really surprised? Not only are they struggling as a whole without Bruce Arians, but the remaining Cardinals offense from the Arians-era failed to click with Sam Bradford. Jones included. While he hauled in a meager seven receptions for 36 yards in the first two games with Bradford, Seals-Jones caught three targets for 87 yards and a TD in his past two. And for six of eight quarters in the past two games, Josh Rosen has been the Arizona QB. While he had more targets coming in his direction with Bradford (12), he’s been more effective on how fewer opportunities (seven targets) without him.
However, for Seals-Jones, he is viewed as a solid fantasy option due to his matchup more so than for his opportunity. Facing a 49ers defense who’ve surrendered the fifth most fantasy points to opposing TEs at an 11.4 FPPG rate — they’ve given up at least one TD in each of the first four games of the season — Seals-Jones is both an opportunity-dependent and a touchdown-dependent TE2. Yes, he is high-risk, but he is also high-reward. Seals-Jones has the skill-set to go off and expose the middle of the 49ers defense.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.4
Although he is playing for a Cowboys offense still trying to find their way, especially in the passing game, Geoff Swaim is an upside fantasy option for Week 5. After losing Jason Witten — he retired to the booth — the Cowboys were left with a tremendous vacancy at tight end. And while no one emerged at a position heavily featured in Jason Garrett’s system in the passing game through the first two weeks of the year, Swaim seems to be the one budding as Dak Prescott’s go-to tight end target.
While he put up a clunker in Week 3 — he was not targeted — Swaim was targeted at least four times and caught at least three passes in the remaining three games to start 2018. However, it has been his production in the past two weeks to take note of. In the past two games, Swaim has caught 8-of-12 targets for 84 yards and a TD. Although they aren’t mind-blowing numbers, he appears to be gaining momentum. Moreover, he is always on the field. Swaim has seen a 100 percent snap share in 3-of-4 games this season, only seeing a fewer amount in Week 3 (94 percent).
Settled in as the apparent TE1 on the Cowboys, I expect Swaim to have a breakout game against the Texans. Not only could the game be a shootout, assuming the Dallas offense can keep up with Deshaun Watson and company, but the Texans defense has struggled to contain the tight end in 2018. Yielding the eighth most fantasy points to opposing TEs at a 10.3 FPPG rate — they have allowed at least three receptions for 39 yards and a TD in 3-of-4 games this season — it wouldn’t surprise me if Swaim put up a similar stat line to the one he put up last week against the Lions. (3-39-1). Finishing Week 4 as the TE8 with 9.9 points, Swaim is an upside TE2 streamer for Week 5.
Two Week 5 Fantasy Sleepers (In Case You’re Desperate)
ESPN Start-Percentage: 19.2
I talked up Aaron Jones as the Packers RB-to-own in my article last week, and I am doubling down on him for Week 5 because he didn’t disappoint. Going for 65 yards and a TD on 11 carries — he added another reception for 17 yards — Jones finished Week 4 as the RB16 with 14.2 points. However, my biggest takeaway was not his fantasy production. It was the fact that in back-to-back games since returning from his suspension, Jones has either tied Jamaal Williams for touches — he accomplished that feat in Week 3 — or lead the team altogether like he did last week. And although Jones and Williams both got 11 carries in Week 4, the former’s lone reception is where the difference came into play.
It is no secret that Jones is viewed as the superior pass-catcher compared to Williams. In fact, if it wasn’t for the presence of Ty Montgomery, you could make the case that Jones would be the Packers leader in receptions by a running back at the end of the year. However, that won’t be the case as long as Montgomery is healthy. He will maintain his role. But if Jones continues to out-gain Williams in yards per carry — Jones is averaging 6.3 YPC compared to Williams’ 3.4 — I fully expect him to ultimately phase Williams out.
And if you ask me, if Williams wasn’t the higher-caliber player in the pass-protection department compared to Jones, you can make the case that the former would already be at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of running back touches. Williams’ exceptional pass-protection skills are what is keeping him on the field whereas he’s been extremely underwhelming as a rusher. In his upcoming matchup with the Lions, which is a favorable one, I believe Jones will sizzle. Not only is the Lions defense yielding the third-most fantasy points to RBs at a 28.2 FPPG pace, but they have also allowed at least 102 total yards or a TD to a contending RB in each of the first four games of the season. In a timeshare scenario, Jones is an opportunity-dependent Flex option for Week 5.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 0.2
The Packers’ wide receiver depth chart is full of injuries. Although Davante Adams is expected to play through a calf injury suffered at Wednesday’s practice, both Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison (concussion), who have yet to practice this week, are both trending toward inactive designations for Week 5. While there is still hope, I wouldn’t count on it. Who is the next man up? While there are three rookies in the mix that include J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, only one of them are being talked up by the head coach.
Earlier in the week, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told the press that Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the proverbial next man up in the pecking order for Aaron Rodgers’ targets and “will have a role” in the offense. Not only did he draw the Week 4 start in the slot in Cobb’s absence, but the rookie played in 75 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, ran 31 routes and caught 1-of-3 targets for a big 38-yard gain. And although the matchup isn’t the best facing a Lions defense only allowing the second-fewest amount of fantasy points to WRs at a 15.0 FPPG rate, I wouldn’t blink. Aaron Rodgers owns the Lions, averaging 23.8 FPPG against them in his career. If Rodgers is going to get his production, someone has to catch the ball right? I beleive Valdes-Scantling will be the beneficiary of all of Green Bay’s wide receiver injuries. A shot in the dark fantasy option for Week 5, Valdes-Scantling is an opportunity-dependent Flex play in PPR scoring formats.
Thank you for reading my Week 5 Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2018.
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