Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 6
Another week goes by, another week of letdowns for some. I am pretty in touch with the fantasy football community, and the recent narrative has been the fact that people scored a ton of points last week — in excess of 150 — and lost. That likely happened because they were facing teams with one of — or a combination of — Aaron Jones, Christian McCaffrey, Will Fuller, Deshaun Watson, and Michael Thomas, who all scored at least 41.2 fantasy points in Week 5. Hell, Amari Cooper can be included in the conversation as he put up 39.6, just missing the 40-burger.
So if you were one of those unfortunate ones who has a good team, scored a ton of points, but ran into one of the aforementioned buzz saws, don’t sweat it. That type of production doesn’t happen every week and you’ll likely bounce back in Week 6. And I need to mention that while Dak Prescott and Pat Mahomes haven’t exactly looked like themselves in the past few games, I wouldn’t worry. They will get on track this week in their respective matchups against the Jets and Texans.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 5 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Most-Productive Players from Week 5
On the top 15 overall fantasy scoring leaderboard, there are two players being started in fewer than 40 percent of leagues at ESPN that finished amongst the best fantasy performers last week (Matt Breida, Teddy Bridgewater). Those aforementioned players were the sleepers of the week last week led by Teddy Bridgewater, who set a new career-high mark in yards passing (314) and tied his previous career-best in touchdowns passing with four. While he had a terrific game, I am skeptical about Bridgewater this week against the Jaguars. If Jacksonville will once again be without Jalen Ramsey (back), Bridgewater could make some noise as the Jags’ defense is vastly different without him. But if Ramsey returns, I’d likely fade Bridgewater in Week 6.
Sleepers Week 5: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Position||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
I had a rough showing last week. My apologies. While I had a pretty good week in the FantasyPros ECR — I finished a season-high 24th for Week 6 and I am 23rd overall through five weeks — my sleepers did not get the job done. That is on me. My biggest mistake was giving a damn too much about Robby Anderson’s matchup against the Philly secondary. I was close to inserting Will Fuller over Anderson, but tried to be cute and look like a genius. Epic fail!!!
- I finally had a decent quarterback hit for the first time in two weeks. Andy Dalton finished as the QB10 and continues to be a solid fantasy play in the right matchup. Dalton is responding well to Zac Taylor’s system and could be getting a tremendous boost. A.J. Green returned to practice this week and could be looking at a Week 7 return if the Bengals don’t do the wise thing and trade him because, they’re, well you know, the Bengals.
- While Jordan Howard only finished as the RB26 with 12.2 fantasy points, he did manage to score for the third straight game. My cohost at the FF Faceoff, Mike Hauff, and I said it all offseason long, Howard is the back to own in Philly. However, while many in the fantasy community laughed and called for our heads thinking Miles Sanders would run away with the job, who has the egg on their face now? While Sanders is still getting his touches and playing well, Howard isn’t going anywhere. In fact, he is the hot hand, the trusted back in the red area, and per Doug Pederson, has even earned more touches with Darren Sproles (quad) out. Let’s go JOHO.
- And how about my guy Mohamed Sanu. Mr. quiet-productive, Sanu made some noise, scored early and finished as the WR18 with 15.3 fantasy points. While he disappeared for the better part of the game, it is clear that the veteran slot receiver is a key component to the Falcons’ offense. Sanu has drawn at least six targets in 4-of-5 games played in 2019 and had a season-low five targets in Week 5. He should get back on track opportunity-wise this week against Arizona.
Have some tough start/ sit decisions for Week 6? 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 6 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 25.1
Minshew-Mania has made it to my sleepers column. Perhaps a little late too. Gardner Minshew has played outstanding thus far in 2019 sans Nick Foles and dare I say the Jacksonville offense might be even better than expected as a result? I know it is not fair to say as we’ve only seen Foles play for the jaguars for a cup of coffee, but give me a break, I tend to buy into the hot storylines and it doesn’t get much hotter than Garnder Minshew in Duvall County.
From a fantasy football perspective, Minshew has accumulated at least 18 fantasy points in 4-of-5 games and is heading into a solid matchup against the Saints at home. While the New Orleans defense has stepped it up in the past two outings against Dallas and Tampa Bay, they were at home where the defense tends to play better with the crowd noise. On the road, however, they are not the same and I believe Minshew could have a quality outing against them. The Saints are giving up the third-most fantasy points to QBs at a 23.7 FPPG rate. What’s more, in their two 20198 road outings, they have given up 19.1 points to Jared Goff and 41.3 points to Russell Wilson in Weeks 2 and 3 respectively.
While I am concerned about Leonard Fournette getting going against the Saints’ front seven — if the Jags can’t run the ball, Minshew will feel more pressure — as well as the fact that Minshew’s go-t0 target D.J. Chark will draw the white-hot Marshon Lattimore in coverage, the rookie quarterback still has weapons to lean on including Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook and Fournette out of the backfield. The No. 7 QB in supporting cast efficiency and No. 12 QB in FPPG (17.9), Minshew could return fringe QB1 upside for Week 6.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 4.2
Kyle Allen had an outstanding 2019 debut back in Week 3 where he went off for 24.3 fantasy points on a 261/4/0 line at the Cardinals, but in his past two games, the second-year signal-caller has plummeted back down to earth with back-to-back games with fewer than 11.6 fantasy points against Houston and Jacksonville. And while the Panthers are winning — Allen has won his past four starts dating back to Week 17 of last season (when was the last time Cam newton has even won a game?) — Allen needs to pick it up statistically to be considered a quality fantasy play. I believe he can do just that in his upcoming matchup with Tampa Bay in London.
While the Buccaneers’ front seven have been exceptional rushing the passer, their secondary has been their defense’s downfall. Not only is the Tampa defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to QBs at a 22.2 FPPG pace, but in the past three games, they have given up at least 23.7 fantasy points in each of the past three games to Daniel Jones, Jared Goff and Teddy Bridgewater including a combined 10 touchdowns rushing and passing.
Since the Buccaneers defense is one of the top units in defending the run — they are yielding the third-fewest points to fantasy backs — there is a slight chance that the elite Christian McCaffrey can be contained (for him), which means Allen will have to win the game with his arm. With a slew of weapons that include Curtis Samuel, D.J. Moore, Greg Olsen and the aforementioned elite rusher who can also catch passes like a wideout, Allen is a middling QB2 with fringe QB1 upside for Week 6.
Week 6 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 23.4
I was super high on Kenyan Drake coming into the year, but the Dolphins ultimately decided to pack it in and tank, which killed the versatile rusher’s upside. However, if you’re a Drake owner or if he is available on waivers, this week is the time to pick him up. Not only could the walk-year rusher possibly be traded at any time leading up to the deadline, but he also has an exploitable matchup on Sunday against the Redskins.
The Washington defense is surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs at a 21.6 FPPG pace. They have also allowed five different backs to accumulate at least 10.2 PPR points against them already this season. Meanwhile, facing the Redskins, there is a good chance that the Dolphins will be able to establish the run — they likely won’t be chasing big points as they have in their previous four games. This has Drake-game written all over it.
Drake is coming off of three consecutive games with at least 11 touches. He’s also been targeted at least five times in the past three while securing at least three of them for 29 yards. His pass-catching upside raises his floor. And while he has yet to accumulate double-digit fantasy points on most platforms, Drake has a terrific chance to do so in Sunday’s home matchup with the Redskins. Drake is a low-end flex option with RB2 upside if he can get going and find the end zone for the first time this season in Week 6.
Adrian Peterson | Chris Thompson
ESPN Start-Percentage: 14.5 | Start-Percentage: 31.6
The Redskins have fired HC Jay Gruden earlier in the week and promoted Bill Calahan in the interim. In Callahan’s first order of business, he has suggested that the team failed to run enough under Gruden, which is something he wants to do moving forward despite having a 34-year-old Adrian Peterson as his lead back. While I don’t trust the Redskins’ as far as I can throw them outside of Terry McLaurin and Chris Thompson for their pass-catching upside alone, I do believe things are looking up.
Not only will Washington revert back to Case Keenum as their QB1, which is a good thing as the offense actually moved the ball fairly effectively under the veteran signal-caller, but they also have the Dolphins on the docket, who is a get-right matchup for anyone, which is why I like both Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson in Sunday’s matchup.
The Dolphins’ defense is currently surrendering the most fantasy production to RBs at a 31.0 FPPG pace. They have also allowed seven different backs to put up 10.3 fantasy points against them in four games. Moreover, the Dolphins are also yielding 67.9 percent more fantasy points in the past three weeks above the 22.3-point league average. If there was ever a game to start Peterson, it is this week.
While Peterson rushed for over 1000 yards last season, he is clearly not the same back as age might finally be creeping up on him. However, to be fair, the Redskins have been playing within a negative game script for the better part of this season, which limits Peterson’s opportunity share. He’s had fewer than 12 carries in all four games played. With game-flow finally projected to be on his side, Peterson is a safe Flex option who could return back-end RB2 value if he scores for the first time since his Week 2 season debut.
For Thompson, I feel like I include him in my sleepers every week due to his pass-catching floor. In five games, Thompson’s target share is promising (10, 8, 5, 5 7) as he’s seen at least five targets in every game this year. And while he hasn’t been doing very much with them yardage and scoring-wise, he’s at least catching four passes every game and he has the explosiveness to exploit a defense like Miami’s.
For Week 6, Thompson has the safer floor, but Peterson brings the high-variance boom/ bust upside. If both are available on waivers and you’re not sure ho to add, look at your matchup. If you think you need the boom points or are playing catchup-up from Thursday Night Football’s result, then Peterson is your guy. But if you think it will be a close matchup and can’t afford to bust, then Thompson is your safety net.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 1.0
With Todd Gurley (quad) not practicing up to this writing update — Friday morning — there is a legit chance he is ruled out for Sunday’s home matchup with the 49ers, which means Malcolm Brown would be in line to start while Darrell Henderson takes over as the RB2. However, even if Gurley is active, he will likely be limited, which is still a positive sign for Brown’s usage in Week 6.
While Brown looked like he would be employed as the short-yardage and change-of-pace back for 2019 in the season opener in which he scored twice and ran for 54 yards on 11 carries, good for 17.3 fantasy points, he’s seen fewer than seven touches in each of the four games since with Gurley garnering the bulk of the running back touches. With Gurley banged up, however, Brown’s opportunity share will trend upwards. He could see double-digit touches whether or not Gurley plays.
Even in a terrible matchup facing a 49ers defense surrendering the fewest fantasy points to enemy backs at a mere 9.0 FPPG pace, I would still consider using Brown. Not only are the Rams at home, but if Gurley sits, Brown would be in line for the starter’s 2019 workload — Gurley has drawn at least 14 touches in 4-of-5 games this season. I chase opportunity over ceiling because you can’t score if you’re not getting the touches. What’s more, as well as the 49ers defense has played as a whole this season, the Rams are familiar with them and I’m sure Sean McVay will find a way to move the football. And if the Rams are on the goal line, Brown could be the main beneficiary if Gurley sits. If Gurley is out, Brown has RB2 upside. However, if Gurley plays and is limited, Brown is a low-end Flex option but would need to vulture a touchdown to return value.
Week 6 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 32.3
Attacking the Washington at Miami matchup once again, I believe Terry McLaurin is in line to bounce back. After starting the year hot, hauling in at least five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown in each of the first three games, McLaurin cooled down. Not only did he miss Week 4 with a hamstring injury, but he also ran into a buzz saw that is the Patriots defense in Week 5 in which he only caught 3-of-7 targets for 54 yards.
Now with Case Keenum likely back under center, plus the fact that he is getting a Dolphins defense yielding the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs at a 27.9 FPPG rate, McLaurin should return to form. McLaurin has accumulated at least 14.7 fantasy points in all three games Keenum has started for the Redskins. The rookie wideout has also seen at least seven targets in all four games he’s played this season. While he will draw Xavien Howard, who was once viewed as a top cover corner, in coverage, Howard is not having the best season, likely because he doesn’t have very much help. The matchup with Howard is one that McLaurin could surely exploit. McLaurin will bounce back and return WR2 upside for Week 6. Start him with confidence.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 16.2
While D.J. Chark is the favorite target of Gardner Minshew, he could have his hands full and be tested this week drawing Marshon Lattimore in coverage, which means the rookie signal-caller will have to rely on other options at receiver and I like Dede Westbrook to fill that role. And while Chark has been putting up big-time numbers, the versatile Westbrook has also been productive albeit to a lesser extent.
Not only has Westbrook drawn at least six targets in 4-of-5 games this season, but he is also coming off of a Week 5 outing in which he saw 11 targets, catching seven of them for 82 yards, which were both season highs in those categories as well. And since the Saints defense is giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to WRs at a 28.6 FPPG rate, Westbrook has an outstanding chance to put together a complete stat line — Westbrook has not scored since Week 1. Facing a Saints defense surrendering 18.7 percent more fantasy points over the 29.1-point league average in the past five weeks while drawing the 109th ranked CB P.J. Williams in coverage, Westbrook is a high-end Flex option for Week 6 who can bring WR2 upside if he scores.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 9.6
With Sammy Watkins (hamstring) trending toward an inactive designation for Week 6 — he has yet to practice this week — Mecole Hardman could be looking at yet another increased role in 2019. Sure, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Chiefs are optimistic that Tyreek Hill (clavicle) could return, but even if he does, Hardman could be staring at WR2 duties at worst assuming Watkins is ultimately ruled out. And if Watkins and Hill are both out, forget about it. Hardman will pick up the WR1 duties in a sweet matchup facing a Texans defense yielding the ninth-most fantasy points to enemy WRs at a 26.6 FPPG rate.
While Hardman is coming off of a pair of rough outings — he caught 2-of-5 targets for nine yards in Week 4 and 4-of-9 targets for 79 yards last week with a two-game scoring drought, we saw his upside in Weeks 2 and 3 in which he had a 14.1-point floor and scored in consecutive games. Hardman has also drawn at least five targets in each of the past four games as well. Facing a Texans defense allowing 26.6 percent more fantasy points than the 27.9-point league average to WRs in the past three weeks, Hardman could return WR2 upside if Watkins is out. However, if both Hill and Watkins are sidelined, Hardman could return WR1 upside in one of my favorite wide receiver matchups on the Week 6 slate.
Week 6 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 25.0
I was extremely high on Vance McDonald entering 2019, but losing Ben Roethlisberger as well as a shoulder injury has lowered his overall ceiling. And although McDonald did not practice on Thursday, the belief is that the Steelers are managing the veteran tight ends practice reps, which means he should be good to go for Sunday’s matchup against the Chargers, which is a favorable one.
While the Chargers are yielding the ninth-most fantasy points to TEs in 2019 at a 9.3 FPPG rate, those numbers are inflated. Aside from Houston TEs both going off for 20.8 (Jordan Akins) and 13.4 (Darren Fells) against them back in Week 3, the Chargers have allowed fewer than 3.3 fantasy points to every other tight end they have played against this season. However, although that doesn’t seem promising for McDonald’s fantasy upside, hear me out.
With the Steelers starting Devlin Hodges at quarterback on Sunday, there is a good chance that he leans on McDonald as many inexperienced signal-callers heavily rely on their tight ends as the safe check down option. And if McDonald is getting targets, he can break a big play with his athleticism. Entering a slate of games with tight ends that include Trey Burton, Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Darren Waller and Dawson Knox on their bye, McDonald isn’t really a terrible option all things considered. McDonald is a high-end TE2 with a safe-floor for Week 6.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 4.4
Noah Fant entered the season as a highly-touted rookie with a high ceiling because of Joe Flacco, who heavily targeted the tight end during his time with the Ravens. And while Fant has flashed at times through five games in his rookie campaign, he’s only had one game with double-digit fantasy points, an 11.1-point game on a 2/31/1 line on four targets back in Week 4 against the Jaguars. However, Fant has drawn at least four targets in 3-of-5 games played this season which is a plus sign for his usage moving forward.
Now, Fant will get a prime opportunity to not only go for his second career touchdown, but he could also be poised for the best game of his career on Sunday against the Titans. Not only are the Titans allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to TEs at a 10.0 FPPG rate, but they have given up at least 130 yards receiving or a touchdown in all five games played so far in 2019, which means it is time to fire up Fant, who is entering Sunday’s matchup only being started in 4.4 percent of leagues at ESPN. Considering the Titans are stout against the run and opposing wideouts, Flacco could be targeting his rookie tight end early and often to move the football. And if the Tennessee pass rush can get to the aging field general, expect a plethora of check-down passes to Fant — and his running backs — as well. Fant has borderline TE1 upside for Week 6 if he scores, but should return a high-floor regardless.