Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 10
During last week’s slate of games, we saw the Saints rise up and knock off the formerly unbeaten Rams at home. We also witnessed a catastrophic collapse by my Cowboys on Monday Night Football, falling to the Titans by double-digit points. It is not a stretch to say that Week 9 was another week filled with a vast amount of parody from around the NFL.
However, when Week 9 came to a close, the storylines weren’t focused on the Saints’ victory. In fact, it was a questionable decision off the field that dominated the headlines out of New Orleans this week. And that, of course, was the signing of Dez Bryant.
While Bryant sat out the 2018 season up to this point, he did turn down better deals with Cleveland and Baltimore earlier in the year. Bryant bet on himself, played the situation right and ultimately won. He landed with a legit Super Bowl contender and will have a chance to showcase his skill set in a favorable situation. While many of us in the fantasy football community question just how much he has left in the tank, you can’t deny that the upside is there.
If you remember his career with the Cowboys, Bryant had his most success with a gun-slinging quarterback named Tony Romo throwing him the football. On the other hand, Bryant struggled mightily with Dak Prescott under center.
A big part of the reason why Bryant failed to play well with Prescott was the fact that he is at his best when he can go get the ball in contested situations. That is not Prescott’s game — Prescott is more of a controlled passer compared to Romo’s gun-slinging mentality. It is, however, Drew Brees‘ game, which is why I believe we will see a rejuvenated Dez Byant once he takes the field with the Saints.
Not only is Bryant playing for pride, but he is also playing for a new, and what could be his final contract in the NFL this offseason. Since Bryant is only tied to the Saints for the remainder of the 2018 campaign, he has a lot to play for moving forward. He will be a free agent again in 2019.
As a result, I believe Bryant will hold some ROS fantasy value. How much? Well, I wouldn’t count on WR2 production every week, but touchdown upside in the Flex spot of standard scoring formats is reasonable, especially since Cameron Meredith was placed on the injured reserve list this week and the fact that Tre-Quan Smith is a rookie.
Let’s face it, the Saints are presumably better off with a veteran like Dez Bryant on the other side of Michael Thomas than Smith, especially in high-pressure situations. While Bryant failed to deliver a lot of the times in the past in big spots with Dallas, you can’t sit there and tell me that he doesn’t have a better chance at coming through than a third-round rookie with 12 career receptions to his name up to this writing.
Although Bryant’s signing will benefit the Saints as well as himself, if you’re counting on him to play a significant role in winning you a fantasy championship, then you are in worse shape than I am starting Nick Mullens and Josh McCown this week in the Scott Fish Bowl thanks to a Kirk Cousins bye and injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard. Sigh!
Most-Productive Players from Week 9
While the top 15 overall fantasy football scoring leaderboard was dominated by some of the most notable names in the NFL last week, there were quite a few sleepers in the mix as well. Marcus Mariota (4.3) and Nick Mullens (4.3) are both being started in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN Fantasy leagues this week and finished amongst the top 15 most productive players for Week 9. 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 notoriety — see Marcus Mariota.
Sleepers Week 9: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Pos||STD Rank||STD Points||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
Week 9 Full-Disclosure: By the Numbers
Coming off a putrid Week 8, I had a pretty solid bounce-back week with my sleeper picks in Week 9. And I can’t lie, I was sweating it a little bit, but I ultimately prevailed thanks to my running backs.
- Alex Smith passed for over 300 yards, but only threw one touchdown as well as one interception. While finishing as the QB15, he left some points on the table in a great matchup.
- It only took two coaches to get fired for the Browns to realize that they need to get Duke Johnson more than 4-to-6 touches a game. Receiving a season-high 10 touches (nine receptions), Johnson totaled 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He finished Week 9 as the RB6 in standard scoring formats and as the RB5 in PPR. You’re welcome.
- And how about MY GUY Kapri Bibbs finding the end zone as well as fantasy relevance last week. He was only started in 0.1 percent of ESPN leagues and guess what? I feel like I was that 0.1 percent. With Chris Thompson in danger of missing another game, Bibbs might be in play once again in Week 10.
- Aaron Jones wasn’t terrible despite finishing with only 6.6 points in standard scoring formats. That was somehow enough for him to finish as a top 25 running back. If he didn’t fumble last week, there could have been more points to be had.
- Amari Cooper was a solid play in his Cowboys debut. Finishing with a 5-58-1 stat line, Cooper was the WR13 in both standard and PPR scoring formats for Week 9.
- My other wide receivers did nothing, especially DeVante Parker. Shame on me for trusting that guy and for suggesting that you should too.
- While I swung and missed on Ed Dickson, Chris Herndon had a respectable game. While he failed to extend his then, three-game scoring streak, he did manage to catch all four of his targets for 62 yards, finishing with double-digit points in PPR. If you’re a Herndon owner in dynasty leagues, you’re in pretty good shape for the future.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 9 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Entering Week 10, some fantasy owners may be forced to shop the waiver wire due bye weeks and a handful of notable injuries from around the league. With players that include A.J. Green, Chris Carson, and Raheem Mostert 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 10 to help you fill the vacant holes on your fantasy rosters. You can read that here.
Week 10 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 17.4%
Even without A.J. Green, who is sidelined with a toe injury, in the lineup, Andy Dalton’s matchup against the Saints is entirely too fantastic to pass up. And although Dalton struggled without Green back in 2016 when the Pro Bowl receiver missed the final six games of the year with a hamstring injury — Dalton averaged roughly 15 fantasy points per game in that time span, only eclipsing the 19 point threshold twice — Cincinnati’s No.2 wideout was Brandon LaFell that season who didn’t nearly put up the numbers that Tyler Boyd is now.
Due to the emergence of Boyd, who will slide into Green’s place as the team’s WR1, plus, Joe Mixon out of the backfield and the fact that John Ross and C.J. Uzomah are expected to play coming off their respective groin and shoulder injuries, it is not a stretch to say that Dalton’s supporting cast is drastically improved since 2016. As a result, Dalton will remain a safe fantasy option in a plus home matchup against the Saints.
Not only are the Saints yielding the second most fantasy points to QBs at a 25.2 FPPG rate, but they have also surrendered at least 279 yards and two touchdowns in 5-of-8 games this season, including in three straight to Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins and Jared Goff. And in a game with a 55 point over/ under in which the Bengals will likely be trailing and chasing points, Dalton will surely be passing a lot more than usual, even if it is in garbage time — garbage time points count too!
The 12th ranked QB with 292 pass attempts averaging 36.5 passes per game, it wouldn’t surprise me if Dalton attempted at least 40 passes in Week 10. Dalton attempted a season-high 46 passes back in Week 3 and attempted at least 41 passes in 4-of-8 games this season. He certainly won’t be short on opportunities this week. The No. 8 ranked QB in passing scores (17) facing the No. 3 ranked Saints defense in passing TDs allowed, Dalton has borderline QB1 upside in Week 10. While he may not go boom, I also don’t think he will be a complete bust either even if things don’t go his way. Dalton is one of the safer quarterbacks plays for this weekend’s slate of games.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 16.1%
Although there have been growing pains throughout the year with Baker Mayfield, he is having a solid rookie season in the NFL overall, especially in the past three games. Since Week 7, Mayfield has thrown for 692 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions while adding another 52 yards rushing on five carries. Not only is he the QB7 with 52.9 fantasy points in that time span, but he’s also thrown for two touchdowns in each of the past three games since as well.
Moreover, in his first game with new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens last week, Mayfield managed to string together his best statistical game since Week 5. Completing 29-of-42 passes (69 percent) for 297 yards with a pair of TDs and an interception, Mayfield finished Week 9 as the QB13 with 17.9 fantasy points in a fantastic matchup chasing points in a loss to Kansas City. I expect much of the same in his upcoming matchup, which is also a favorable one, at home against the Falcons.
The third easiest matchup for opposing quarterbacks yielding 23.8 FPPG, Mayfield should find success on the road on Sunday against the Falcons. Not only are the Browns running the ball terrifically behind Nick Chubb, which opens the passing lanes up for Mayfield, but the rookie passer is also getting help from Duke Johnson, who was finally featured in the passing attack last week now that Todd Haley and Hue Jackson are out of the picture. If Jarvis Landry and David Njoku could get out of their respective slumps, the Browns offense is talented enough to put up big points. They’ll have to do just that if they intend to keep up with the Falcons this week.
If Mayfield could get going facing a Falcons defense surrendering at least 21.5 fantasy points to the opposing QB in each of their past seven games since Week 1 — they only managed to shut down Nick Foles in the season opener, holding him to 5.8 points — the rookie signal caller has legit back-end QB1 upside for Week 10.
The 14th ranked QB in completion percentage under pressure (37.8), Mayfield will need help from his supporting cast in order to really deliver his upside for his fantasy owners this week. Mayfield is the No. 1 ranked QB in dropped passes (24) so far this year. If his pass-cachers can correct their issues with dropped passes, Mayfield’s ROS fantasy outlook could trend upwards with a favorable schedule down the stretch — Week 11 BYE, Week 12 at Cincinnati, Week 13 at Houston, Week 14 v. Carolina, Week 15 at Denver, Week 16 v. Cincinnati, Week 17 at Baltimore.
Week 10 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 36%
I’m going to dig into the Browns well for the second time in this article. I’m also going to double down on Duke Johnson’s Week 9 outing in which he finished as the RB6 in standard scoring formats and the RB5 in PPR. I said it above in the Baker Mayfield blurb, with Hue Jackson and Todd Haley no longer making inept decisions to hold the Browns back, Johnson was heavily featured in the Cleveland offense under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. I fully expect his uptick in usage to continue moving forward with Kitchens running the show.
In a season in which he only handled six touches in four of the eight games preceding Johnson’s 10-touches for 86 total yards and two touchdown day, it is no secret that Johnson could go off in the second half of the year. I expect him to follow up his Week exceptional Week 9 performance with another strong outing in Sunday’s home encounter with Atlanta.
If Mayfield has a big game this week, and I believe he will as stated above in my Mayfield take, Johnson should be a big part of his success. While I mentioned Mayfield has dealt with a league-high 24 drops by his pass-catchers this season, Johnson isn’t a large part of that equation. He has only accounted for two drops this season, which ranks him 15th amongst running backs.
Moreover, Johnson caught a team-high nine passes on a team-best nine targets last week. With the Browns hurting for and searching for healthy and sure-handed pass-catchers, they had one on the roster the whole time. If we all knew that already, then why didn’t Hue Jackson and Todd Haley? Kind of makes you think right?
Facing an improving Falcons defense surrendering the ninth most fantasy points to RBs at a 22.3 FPPG pace, the Atlanta front seven is getting better at containing the opposing running back on the ground. However, what makes the Falcons a great matchup for Johnson is the fact that they are still getting gashed in the passing game by pass-catching running backs, which is Johnson’s call-to-fame.
The third-ranked RB in yards per touch (7.6), Johnson is primed for his second consecutive productive fantasy outing challenging an Atlanta defense who’ve yielded a league-high 68 receptions to RBs this season while allowing the fourth-most yards (515). Johnson is a fringe RB2 in PPR scoring formats for Week 10.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 12.1%
With Chris Carson not practicing with a hip and thigh injuries, which is expected as Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told the press that the second-year rusher wouldn’t be doing a lot at practice this week, we have to assume that he will be a game-time decision for the second straight game. And while it looks like he is trending more toward an inactive designation for Sunday’s matchup with the Rams, Carson was dealing with the same hip injury last week and ultimately played.
However, regardless of Carson’s status, Mike Davis should be a quality fantasy option this week. Although Carson played in last week’s loss to the Chargers, he didn’t make it through the game. Carson was left after aggravating the hip and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest. As a result, Davis had a pretty good game.
Rushing for 65 yards on 15 carries while catching seven passes for an additional 45 yards — he totaled over 100 yards for only the second time this season — Davis finished Week 9 as the RB16 with 10.7 fantasy points in standard and as the RB11 with 17.7 points in PPR. Moreover, if Carson is out, Davis will get a full workload. But if he isn’t, the Seahawks may elect to limit Carson’s touches in order to maintain his hip, which favors Davis’ opportunity-share.
Entering a difficult home matchup facing a Rams defense 19th most fantasy points to RBs at a 17.2 FPPG rate, I expect Seattle to employ their running backs an awful lot on the ground in order to keep the Los Angeles offense off the field. Plus, even in negative game-scripts, especially similar to the one last week against the Chargers, it doesn’t look like Seattle will abandon the run. And if nothing else, Seattle running backs are prime check-down targets for Russell Wilson considering Davis caught seven passes last week.
While the Rams have been pretty middle of the pack at containing the running back this season, they have been gashed for at least 14.6 fantasy points in each of the past two games. Davis, who played well against the Rams in Carson’s Week 5 absence totaling 75 yards and a TD on 14 touches (two receptions) — he finished with 15.5 fantasy points — is an opportunity-dependent Flex option for Week 10. He might need a touchdown to put him over the double-dig pints threshold in standard scoring formats.
Week 10 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 36.1%
With Geronimo Allison out for the year with a groin injury, the dor has finally swung wide-open for Marquez Valdes-Scantling to emerge as the Packers WR2 behind Davante Adams. And I get that Randall Cobb is still there, but please, if it wasn’t for his contract, he would have already been out of Green Bay a long time ago. Moreover, since going off in the season opener, Cobb has done nothing aside from keeping MVS off the field. And guess what? If you listen to me on the FFfaceoff, you would have known this a long time ago. I was touting MVS as Green Bay’s WR2 since he blew up in Week 5.
The WR26 in standard scoring formats with 58.7 points in the past four games, MVS caught a touchdown or accumulated at least 101 yards receiving in every game since Week 5. He’s logged a 15-317-2 stat line while averaging 21.1 yards per reception. In fact on the season, MVS is the No. 2 ranked wideout in yards per reception (21.1). Al Michaels was right on Sunday Night Football when he said MVS was a star in the making. I expect him to back up “Al and I’s” — like I know him for years — proclamation with a career-game on Sunday against the Dolphins.
Not only will Valdes-Scantling face a Dolphins secondary that has been regressing of late at containing opposing WRs following a strong start to the year — the Dolphins are allowing the 22nd most fantasy points to WRs at a 22.2 FPPG rate — but they have also given up a touchdown to the opposition’s WR2 in three of the past six games. Slated to line up opposite either the No. 63 ranked cornerback Bobby McCain or No. 146 ranked corner Torry McTyer, MVS could put up big fringe WR2 numbers in Week 10.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 19.5%
Although Tyler Lockett is coming off of a bad game — he only caught 3-of-4 targets for 22 yards — it was only the second time this season in which the fourth-year wideout was held out of the end zone. Despite behind ranked as the 63rd wide receiver in targets (38), he’s caught 28 of them for 415 yards. While those numbers aren’t impressive, he is ranked seventh in TDs amongst wideouts with six scores. Through eight games, Lockett is the WR25 with 108.7 fantasy points in standard scoring formats.
Entering his upcoming matchup with the Rams, Lockett should get back on track. Not only is the Los Angeles defense surrendering at least 13.3 fantasy points to an opposing wideout in six of the past seven games, but in his career, Lockett averages 8.3 fantasy points per game against them in the four games leading up to the 2018 season. In fact, he’s caught at least four passes for 99 yards or scored a TD two of the aforementioned four games.
If past history isn’t enough, how about in recent history? In Lockett’s Week 5 matchup against the Rams earlier in this season, Lockett caught 3-of-5 targets for 98 yards and a touchdown while playing in 90.6 percent of the snaps and primarily lining up against Marcus Peters. And wouldn’t you know it? Lockett is expected to draw Peters, who is the No. 120 ranked cornerback, again on Sunday. The more I dig into this, the more I love Lockett this week. Lockett is a quality Flex option with scoring upside for Week 10.
Week 10 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 23.6%
Although there are so many proverbial mouths to feed o the Saints offense, Benjamin Watson should string together his second straight game with a touchdown and his third in the past four. Coming into Sunday’s favorable matchup against the Bengals, Watson has scored a touchdown in two of his past three games, including in last week’s win over the Rams. Not only has Watson scored at least 10.3 fantasy points in two of his past three games, but he is also the TE9 with 31.5 fantasy points in that time span. I expect the 37-year-old veteran to maintain his good fortunes in his upcoming matchup at Cincinnati.
While the Bengals present the third easiest matchup for opposing tight ends surrendering 11.1 FPPG, they’ve been exceptionally worse in recent weeks. In the past three games, Cincinnati’s defense has allowed a contending tight end to catch seven passes for 68 yards or score a touchdown, which bodes well for Watson’s fantasy outlook as he is carrying a similar streak into this matchup. The sixth-ranked TE in red zone receptions (five), Watson is a fringe TE1 for Week 10 with touchdown upside. This could be Watson’s final game of significant fantasy relevancy with Dez Bryant coming to town. Aside from Michael Thomas, Watson is currently Drew Brees’ big-bodied red zone target.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 4.5%
Although Chris Herndon snapped his three-game scoring streak last week, he still managed to haul in all four of his targets for 62 yards in a tough matchup with the Bears. He finished as the TE13 in both scoring formats. And while he failed to score, he did play in a season-high 73.3 percent of the snaps and ran a season-high 19 routes. As I said last week, Herdon is emerging.
While his Sunday matchup with the Bills is a tough one, Jets pass-catchers should get a boost with Josh McCown starting for the injured Sam Darnold. The 20th easiest matchup for opposing TEs giving up 6.8 FPPG, the Buffalo defense at least 7.7 fantasy points in standard scoring formats in two of the past three games, including two touchdowns in the timespan. The TE7 with 46.6 fantasy points in standard scoring formats in his four games since Week 6, Herndon is a scoring-needy high-end TE2 for Week 10.
Two Week 10 Fantasy Sleepers (In Case You’re Desperate)
ESPN Start-Percentage: 8.3%
Fully understanding Leonard Fournette is ready to return this week, I still like T.J. Yeldon’s upside in PPR scoring formats. Not only is he an outstanding player in pass-protection, but he is also an exceptional pass-catcher out of the backfield. Regardless of Fournette’s status, Yeldon has played well enough to retain a role on passing downs despite the starter’s return. Hauling in 37-of-53 targets for 346 yards and four touchdowns — he added another 334 yards and a touchdown as a rusher — Yeldon is the RB10 with 133 points in PPR scoring formats.
In his upcoming a matchup facing a Colts defense surrendering the 17th most fantasy points to RBs at an 18 FPPG pace, Yeldon should be productive, especially is the Jaguars are trailing. However, even if the Jaguars have to go toe-to-toe and throw-for-throw with Andrew Luck and an improving Colts offense in a closer game, Yeldon is too reliable to keep off the field. He should be a featured piece of the gameplan, especially since this is Fournette’s first game back. Jacksonville might want to cede a few extra touches in Yeldon’s direction to preserve Fournette for a possible playoff run. After all, it wasn’t until this time last season in which the Jaguars got hot. So I am not crazy.
And forget about Carlos Hyde. It seems like the Jaguars brought him in to play the C.J. Anderson or Spencer Ware role in the offense, which is nothing more than a handcuff. It’s Fournette and Yeldon in the Jacksonville backfield. until I see otherwise. The No. 5 ranked RB in targets (53) and No. 6 ranked in yards per touch (6.8), Yeldon should put together a quality fantasy outing in PPR scoring formats in Week 10 facing a Colts defense allowing the third most receptions to RBs (59) and the 11th most yards (451).
ESPN Start-Percentage: 2.4%
With Paul Richardson out for the year and Jamison Crowder questionable to play — though he returned for a limited practice on Thursday, Crowder has missed the past four games with an ankle injury — Maurice Harris is in line to build off of his break out Week 9 performance. Catching 10-of-12 targets for 124 yards in last week’s loss to the Falcons, not only did Harris showcase his budding rapport with Alex Smith, but he also led the Redskins in every receiving category.
With another terrific matchup ahead on Sunday against the Buccaneers, Harris should put together his second straight fantasy-relevant outing regardless of Crowder’s playing status. Not only are the Buccaneers allowing the second-most fantasy points to WRs at a 30.7 FPPG rate, but they have given up at least 116 yards receiving or a touchdown to 15 different WRs in 2018. They have also allowed nine different opposing WR2s and WR3s t score or reach the 116 yards receiving plateau. With so much production to go around, Harris is a target-dependent dart throw in the Flex apot for Week 10.
More on Maurice Harris in our WR Target Analysis for Week 10
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Thank you for reading my Week 10 Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2018.
If you’ve enjoyed it, I will be writing this feature on a weekly basis for the duration of the 2018 season right here at Gridiron Experts! Want more of my content? Follow me on Twitter @therealnflguru and check out my @GridironExperts archive here. And before I forget, Mike Hauff and I debate fantasy football as well as other NFL news notes and nuggets on our show @Faceoff. You can follow us on Twitter, hear us on the Gridiron Experts Podcast Network, or watch us on Youtube. We are also available at most of the top podcast providers, including iTunes here.
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