Fantasy Football Sleepers
Nobody likes using the phrase “Fantasy Sleeper” anymore. For some it means a player not owned by any league member, for others, it just means a player you were not considering in your starting lineup. For the extent of this Fantasy Football Sleepers article series, I’m going to be suggesting players on your bench that could have big weeks.
One of the most diverse weeks of the 2017 season amongst the top 15 overall fantasy football scoring leaderboard, Week 9 showcased eight players with an ESPN start-percentage at less than 60 percent. Headlined by Rams quarterback Jared Goff — he finished Week 9 ranked second in overall fantasy production with 28.4 points — it finally seems like the second-year signal caller is emerging as a reliable, every-week fantasy starter despite only being started in 51 percent of ESPN fantasy football leagues heading into Week 10. However, let’s pump the brakes for a moment. Until he proves that he can produce in negative matchups, a feat he has yet to accomplish in 2017, Goff will remain outside of the matchup-proof conversation.[bctt tweet=”Goff led all QBs in Y/A (14.1) in Week 9. Completing 14-of-22 passes for 311 yds & 4 TD ” username=”GridironExperts”]
Most-Productive Players from Week 9
Sleepers Week 9: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Pos||Rank||Points||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
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 to a handful of notable injuries around the league. With players that include Jameis Winston, Dez Bryant, and Eddie Lacy all succumbing to injuries last week, be sure to check out Andrew Erickson’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 10 to assist you with filling the vacant holes on your fantasy rosters. You can read that here.
- Week 10 Byes: Chiefs, Eagles, Raiders, Ravens
Week 10 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 51%
Jared Goff. I can’t say enough about him in 2017. Although I wasn’t on his bandwagon at the start of the year, I’m fully on board now, especially in his upcoming matchup against a once dominant but now mediocre Houston Texans defense. Once regarded as one of the league’s elite units, the Texans are currently allowing the 14th most passing yards (1,945) and third most passing touchdowns in the NFL (16). For Goff, he is heading into Sunday’s matchup accumulating at least 18.1 fantasy points in four of his last six games, throwing for 1,505 yards, 12 TDs (including one rushing) and three interceptions in that time span. He is fantasy football’s QB11 with 106.4 points while averaging 17.7 FPPG since Week 3.
With the recent emergence of Robert Woods as the team’s top wideout, plus, the big play upside of Sammy Watkins and the ability to extend drives with the shifty Cooper Kupp — let’s not forget the presence of Todd Gurley in the passing game either — it appears that the stars are aligning for Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense to maintain their league-leading 32.9 PPG average against a banged up Houston defense this week.
Facing a Texans unit allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs giving up 19.3 FPPG — they’ve surrendered at least 19.3 fantasy points to the opposing signal caller in two consecutive games (Russell Wilson (35.1) in Week 8 and Jacoby Brissett (19.3) in Week 9) — Goff warrants middling QB1 upside for Week 10. Though I nearly consider him a must-start, I’d temper expectations. While a second straight 28.4 point outing is possible, I believe it is an unlikely feat. The 19-to-24 point range is a more attainable outlook.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 22.7%
Although he is coming off of a treacherous Week 9 outing against the Jaguars in which he finished as the QB24 with a mere 5.3 fantasy points, completing 10-of-18 passes for 136 yards in the effort, I believe Andy Dalton will bounce back in Week 10. Similar to Jared Goff, Dalton pops off in favorable matchups, while struggling in the more difficult ones. In fact, in a six-game period since Week 3, Dalton scored at least 16.3 fantasy points in half of his games, all plus matchups against defenses that include Green Bay in Week 3 (16.3), Cleveland in Week 4 (28.3) and Indianapolis in Week 8 (18.7).
With the matchup on his side, I like Dalton to produce as an upside QB2 against Tennessee on Sunday. While their defense isn’t great, it isn’t terrible either. Currently surrendering the 16th most passing yards (1,873) and the 10th most TDs (15) in 2017, Dalton should exploit an inconsistent Titans secondary.
While I don’t believe he will go off for 20 fantasy points, the 16-to-19 range is not out of the realm, especially since he will surprisingly have A.J. Green — ejected from last week’s loss to the Jaguars early in the game for fighting with Jalen Ramsey — at his disposal. Rather than suspending Green, the league elected to fine him $42 thousand for his uncharacteristic unsportsmanlike conduct. Facing a Titans defense surrendering the 14th most fantasy production to QBs at a 16.8 FPPG rate, Dalton is a quality fantasy option, especially in leagues in which you can start Two-QBs, in Week 10.
Week 10 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start Percentage: 53.1
Dealing with a knee injury, Jets running back Matt Forte is officially ruled out for Sunday’s matchup against the Buccaneers, leaving the door wide open for Bilal Powell to emerge as the Jets RB1 for Week 10. And folks, entering this season, I loved Bilal Powell. In fact, he was one of my breakout studs in the preseason. However, sitting as fantasy football’s RB23 with 65 standard points and the RB24 with 83 points in PPR, Powell has yet to do so. He’ll have his chance to begin the process this week facing a Tampa Bay defense surrendering a 49-410-2 stat line to opposing RBs in the passing game, which happens to be Powell’s forte– no pun intended.
Since Week 3, Powell has totaled 478 yards and two TDs on 83 touches. He is fantasy’s RB18 with 59.8 standard points and the RB19 with 72.8 points in PPR in that six-game time span. With Forte out of the mix, Powell is expected to receive the lion’s share of the RB touches on Sunday. And while I expect Elijah McGuire to steal work, I don’t believe it will be enough to impact Powell’s ability to produce as an RB2. Facing a Buccaneers defense yielding the fifth most fantasy production to RBs at a 20.7 FPPG pace — they’ve allowed 1,176 total yards and nine scores to RBs this season — Powell is an upside RB2, who should be started with confidence, for Week 10.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 50.3%
In an outstanding matchup facing a normally transparent Rams run-defense last week, Orleans Darkwa was underwhelming. As mentioned in my Full-Disclosure above, he finished Week 9 as fantasy’s RB20 with 7.9 points on 79 total yards and 18 touches. While Out-touching Wayne Gallman 18-to-9 and out-gaining him 79-to-41, it is clearly Darkwa’s backfield to lose. He is the Giants’ RB1. As a result, I love him in his upcoming matchup with the 49ers on Sunday.
Why? Well, not only is he facing the league’s worst run-defense — they’ve allowed 1,221 yards rushing in 2017 — but they are also yielding the most fantasy points to RBs at a 24.5 FPPG rate off of 1,643 total yards and 10 scores. However, Darkwa landing in my sleepers column in two consecutive weeks isn’t solely based on matchup — and I LOVE playing the matchup! Darkwa has done his part to warrant his sleeper consideration. Since Week 5, he’s totaled at least 73 yards or one touchdown in three out of his past four games. He is the RB22 with 38.9 fantasy points in that scoring period. Averaging 9.7 FPPG in his past four games, Darkwa is an upside Flex option in an extremely favorable Week 10 matchup against San Francisco.
Week 10 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 49.8%
I said it before the Steelers’ Week 9 bye: “you will see JuJu Smith-Schuster featured in my sleepers column in the near future.” Well, the future is here. Despite the recent news about Martavis Bryant — he practiced with the first team this week and will play on Sunday against the Colts — I don’t believe his presence is a threat to Smith-Schuster’s place in the offense. Since Week 4, the rookie wideout has been stellar, accumulating a 19-396-3 stat line, scoring a TD in three of his past five games including in two straight. Smith-Schuster is fantasy’s WR12 with 73.9 points in that five-game period. As a result of his success, I fully expect him to maintain his role as the Steelers’ WR2 ROS.
Entering his upcoming matchup against the Colts, Smith-Schuster should continue on his recent tear. While I don’t expect the rookie to go off like he did for 32.3 fantasy points against the Lions before the bye, I do believe he warrants back-end WR2/ WR3 upside for Sunday’s favorable matchup. Tied with Bryant for third on the team in targets with 36 behind Antonio Brown’s 94 and Le’Veon Bell’s 45, Smith-Schuster is an opportunity-dependent WR3 with extremely boom or bust potential for Week 10. Facing a Colts defense yielding the seventh most fantasy points to WRs allowing 23.7 FPPG, I’m confidently employing Smith-Schuster in all fantasy scoring formats.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 41.7%
I’m stunned that Robert Woods isn’t getting any respect. That theory is reflected by is low 41.7 start-percentage at ESPN. Not only is he coming off of an outstanding Week 9 outing against the Giants in which he accumulated a 4-70-2 stat line, but he finished the week as the WR4 with 19 points in standard leagues to boot. However, although one week of production shouldn’t cause his start-percentage to trend upward, six games worth should. Since Week 3, Woods has produced a 27-390-2 stat line and caught at least four passes in five out of his past six games. He is the WR26 with 77.2 PPR points in that time span averaging 12.9 FPPG. Although the Rams brought in Sammy Watkins to be their WR1 this offseason, Woods has clearly pushed ahead of him, which bodes well for his fantasy outlook moving forward.
A key component in the Rams’ 12th ranked passing attack, Woods is leading the team in targets with 49 heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Texans. With a red-hot Jared Goff under center, the Rams may have to sling the ball more often than they intend to this week, which heavily favors Woods. While the Houston defense is extremely stingy against the run — they allow the second least fantasy points to RBs at a 13.2 FPPG rate — they surrender the sixth-most to WRs at a whopping 23.7 FPPG pace.
As a result, the Todd Gurley-led rushing attack could be bottled up, forcing the Rams to lean on Goff, likely translating to an increased target-share for Woods, Watkins and Cooper Kupp. Facing a Texans secondary that has allowed an opposing WR to score at least 22.5 fantasy points in each of the past two games (Paul Richardson with 22.5 in Week 8 and T.Y. Hilton with 29.5 in Week 9), Woods is in an upside WR3, whose value peaks in PPR scoring formats, for Week 10.
Week 10 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 36.9%
Leading up to Week 8’s loss to the Patriots in which he laid an egg — he only caught two targets for 11 yards that game — Hunter Henry was considered one of the top TEs in fantasy football. In fact, since Week 4, he is fantasy’s TE11 with 35.2 points, hauling in 16-of-26 targets for 232 yards and two TDs in that five-game period. Although he is facing what seems to be an unbeatable Jaguars secondary on Sunday, their one handicap is against the TE. The No. 1 defense against the pass in 2017, the Jacksonville defense is allowing the 14th most fantasy points to TEs, yielding a mere 7.9 FPPG.
With the league’s top cornerback tandem that includes A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey predicted to hold Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and company in check on the outside, Philip Rivers may be forced to work the middle of the field to exploit a negative quarterback matchup, which is prime Hunter Henry territory, especially in the red area. Only averaging four targets a game in 2017 — he is fifth on the team in that category with his 32 — and facing a Jaguars defense that has allowed six receptions or 79 yards receiving to a TE in each of the past two games, Henry is an opportunity-dependent back-end TE1, who may need to score to make an impact, in Week 10.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 0.6%
A player like Celek is labeled a tournament-buster in DFS formats, especially with the opportunity he has in his upcoming matchup. For more extensive DFS knowledge, check out Mike Hauff’s Draft Kings Primer for Week 10. You can read that here.[bctt tweet=”The #Giants have allowed an opposing TE to score at least one touchdown in EVERY game” username=”GridironExperts”]
Week 10 Deep Fantasy Sleepers (In Case You’re Desperate)
Alfred Morris/ Darren McFadden
ESPN Start-Percentage: Morris 27.1% | McFadden 3.8%
As one of, or the only resident Cowboys fan at Gridiron Experts, it pains me to say this: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s injunction on Thursday. As a result, the troubled rusher will miss at least the next four regular season games leading up to his likely last ditch effort appeals hearing on December 1. With Elliott out, it is finally time to employ Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden in your fantasy lineups.
Although Morris is the early favorite to emerge as the teams’ RB1 — he’s totaled 125 yards on 15 touches in six games this season — I still believe that McFadden will ultimately thrive while Elliott is banned. Why, well, although he’s been inactive for every game this season, McFadden is remaining on the roster for a reason, I’m assuming it is in anticipation of the current scenario. While Morris is impressing with his 8.3 FPPG average, he is history terrible as a receiver out of the backfield, a role in which McFadden normally thrives. Moreover, behind a similarly built, but presently aging offensive line back in 2015, McFadden was successful. As the Cowboys RB1, he rushed for 1,083 yards and three TDs, adding another 328 yards on 40 receptions as a receiver while appearing in all 16 games.
While the Cowboys’ backfield is volatile without Elliott, I believe it will remain effective to a lesser standard. Facing a Falcons defense surrendering the 11th most fantasy points to RBs at an 18.5 FPPG rate, both Morris and McFadden are quality fantasy starters for Week 10. However, while Morris is considered the safer option of the duo who could be started in both standard and in PPR scoring formats this week, McFadden is a desperation play whose value peaks in PPR.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.1%
No, I’m not crazy here. I actually believe Rex Burkhead could make an impact for the Patriots while Chris Hogan remains sidelined with a shoulder injury. While Hogan hasn’t been ruled out, he has yet to practice this week and was even spotted in an arm sling. Barring a miraculous turnaround in his health, I expect him to garner an inactive designation for Sunday’s matchup against the Broncos. If Hogan is indeed ruled out, the door is open for the Patriots to feature Burkhead in their passing attack. Not only is versatile as a rusher and as a receiver, but he is also an exceptional route runner who can line up everywhere on the field.
While the New England backfield is volatile from a fantasy perspective, Burkhead is coming off of a game in which he played in the second most offensive snaps amongst the team’s RBs. Back in Week 8 against the Chargers– the Patriots had their bye in Week 9 — Dion Lewis led all New England rushers in offensive snaps with 30, followed by Burkhead’s 27, James White’s 20 and Mike Gillislee’s 13.
Now healthy after missing four games with broken ribs earlier in the year, I don’t believe Burkhead’s increase in snaps and production was an anomaly. Proving himself as a reliable receiver out of the backfield, hauling in all seven of his targets for 68 yards finishing as the RB13 with 15.3 points in Week 8, he is a quality desperation option for Week 10. Although he is facing a stout Denver defense surrendering the fourth least fantasy points to RBs while only yielding 15 FPPG, I believe Burkhead, a matchup nightmare in the passing game, has TD upside on Sunday Night Football.
Thank you for reading about my sleepers for Week 10. I hope you enjoyed it! Want more? Mike Hauff and I debate fantasy football news, notes and yes, sleepers, on our show, the Faceoff, a Gridiron Experts podcast. Check it out. Oh, and before I forget, we will answer your questions on our show! All you have to do is Tweet us with your question @FFfaceoff.