Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 4
Three weeks into the season, we are beginning to learn the difference between real and make-believe across the NFL and fantasy football landscape. The perennial slow starters — the Falcons — will begin to turn it around while some of the winless teams are winless for a reason.
Look at the Buccaneers. Their defense appeared to be turning it around until they ran into Danny Dimes and the New York Giants on Sunday. And the Browns… Yes, they are still the Browns like I’ve been saying the whole damn time. Thank Freddie Kitchens Cleveland faithful. This is all on him. Needless to say, with all the injuries, twists and turns, anything can happen in the NFL. The following are my Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 4, but first, let’s recap last week
Most-Productive Players from Week 3
On the top 15 overall fantasy scoring leaderboard, four players were started in fewer than 50 percent of leagues at ESPN. These aforementioned players are the sleepers of the week beginning Daniel Jones, who balled out in his first career start and is only being used in 19.4 percent of fantasy leagues at ESPN this week. While he may not follow up his sensational 34.2 fantasy-point debut with another 30-point gem, his matchup against the Redskins is a favorable one. After all, the Redskins allowed Mitchell Trubisky to look like a real-life grown-up NFL quarterback on Monday night. Jones is poised for another strong showing sans Eli Manning.
And how about Jameis Winston finally putting together a monster game in the perhaps (over) hyped Bruce Arians offense? He put up 26.5 fantasy points last week and is only being started in 17.5 percent of leagues at ESPN. He will be getting a tough matchup with the Rams in Week 4, so perhaps his low start percentage is warranted. Still, with all of the QB injuries around the league, you may not have a choice but to roll out Winston. He has the weapons around him to be successful. It is up to him to make wise decisions under pressure and cash in on the opportunities that are presented to him.
Sleepers Week 3: Full-Disclosure
|Player||Position||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
Full-Disclosure: by the Numbers
Coming off of a strong Week 2, my Week 3 sleepers didn’t have as many hits, but my hits really hit with RB1, WR1, and TE1 finishes.
- My Week 3 QBs bombed. That happens. I’m either on at QB or off and this week I was off. Never again Kirk Cousins while Dalvin Cook is healthy. It is clear to see the Gary Kubiak effect is in full force, featuring the elite rusher while protecting his inconsistent choke-artist QB.
- For Jimmy Garoppolo, I think we are getting exactly what we really expect deep down inside from a gunslinger. He can go off and look uncontainable one week and follow it up with a turnover-filled dud, but somehow squeak out the win. Unfortunately, in most fantasy leagues, QB wins don’t matter.
- Two out of my three running backs returned double-digit fantasy points. Frank Gore finished as an RB1 while Chris Thompson glommed 14.8 PPR points on his way to an RB19 finish.
- I was all-in on Nelson Agholor last week and it paid dividends. He finished as the WR9 on a two-touchdown outing in which he saw double-digit targets in consecutive games. Agholor could be playing himself into a larger role whether DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are injured or not.
- Mecole Hardman didn’t blow up, but he did finish as the WR19 and found the end zone in consecutive games.
- I’ve been all-over Will Dissly and for good reason. He is developing into a legit weapon on a Seahawks offense that desperately needs to find Russell Wilson some help. Dissly is that guy if he can remain healthy. He finished as the TE6 in Week 3.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 3 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Have some tough start/ sit decisions for Week 4? 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 4 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.5
I’m a Kyle Allen guy, which I’ve indicated on the FF Faceoff Podcast. He played well in his first career start back in the meaningless 2018 season-finale against the Saints in which he threw for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns — he also rushed for another score — only to follow that up with a 261/4/0 gem last week at the Cardinals. Allen finished Week 3 as the QB6. I don’t know if he is the future, but he is certainly the current hot-hand in Carolina. I expect that to continue on Sunday at Houston.
While the Texans defense is normally stingy, they have been rather giving to opposing QBs and WRs through the first quarter of 2019. Houston is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to enemy QBs at a 21.7 FPPG rate. What’s more, they have surrendered a least 18.1 fantasy points to each of the first three signal-callers they’ve faced this season (Drew Brees, Gardner Minshew, Philip Rivers).
Without Jadeveon Clowney, the Texans pass-rush isn’t as menacing, which bodes well for Allen’s time in the pocket as well as his fantasy outlook. Considering his slew of weapons that include Christian McCaffrey, Greg Olsen, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel, who might be Allen’s go-to pass-catcher at receiver, Allen enters Week 3 with legit borderline QB1 upside, though high-end QB2 upside is a more feasible expectation.[the_ad id=”79528″][the_ad id=”69556″]
ESPN Start-Percentage: 5.8
Ready or not, Case Keenum is currently sitting as the QB11 with 58.5 fantasy points. And while he is coming off a horrific outing last Monday night against the Bears in which he threw for 332 yards and a pair of scores, he also threw three picks and fumbled three times, losing two of them. Despite his five total turnovers, Redskins HC Jay Gruden intends to stick with the veteran as the starter for the time being rather than turn to the promising but unknown rookie Dwayne Haskins. Gruden knows he is coaching for his job and Keenum does give him the best chance to win at the moment. After-all, Keenum didn’t commit a turnover prior to his five turnover performance in Week 3.
While Keenum was exposed at home against the Bears, he is in a prime bounce-back spot this week on the road at the Giants. Let’s face it, while the Giants are showing signs of life on offense, their defense is horrendous. Through the first three games of the year, New York is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs (27.4) and the most to WRs (38.8). It is safe to say that Case Keenum, Terry McLaurin, and possibly even Paul Richardson — hint-hint — are all poised to feast on Sunday. The Giants have allowed at least 22.2 fantasy points to each of the first three QBs they have faced this season (Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston, Josh Allen).
With a 49.5-point over/ under and a pair of underwhelming defenses, this game will be a surprise high-scoring affair. Case Keenum might not be the QB1 for the Redskins for much longer, but while he is, you certainly have to consider him as an upside start in plus matchups, and it doesn’t get much more favorable than the Giants. Start Keenum with confidence in Week 4. There are a ton of fantasy points to be had on either side in this one.
Week 4 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 28.3
With Saquon Barkley (ankle) out, it is time to fire up Wayne Gallman — for the time being. Yes, there are rumors that the Giants could sign Jay Ajayi, but at least for now, this is Gallman’s backfield. While Gallman was irrelevant in 2018 due to Barkley’s presence, he didn’t have a terrible rookie campaign in 2017 all things considered. He had at least 62 total yards or a touchdown in five of 12 games played that season while in three of those contests, Gallman accumulated at least five receptions for 25 yards. He’s never had a monster game, but he has the opportunity to put it all together on Sunday against the Redskins.
Not only is Sunday’s matchup a home game, but Daniel Jones is still a rookie. Despite playing extremely well in his NFL debut in Week 3, Jones is still a rookie and the Giants might want to establish the run and control the game, which works in Gallman’s favor opportunity-wise. The third-year back also has matchup in his favor, facing a Redskins defense allowing the 22nd-most fantasy points to backs at a 15.9 FPPG rate. While the Redskins run defense is vastly better than its aerial support, they’ve surrendered at least 9.3 PPR points to three different backs already this season (Darren Sproles, Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard). I don’t expect a blow-up outing from Gallman, but I do believe he will return a safe double-digit PPR point floor if given the lion’s share of the workload. Gallman is an upside Flex option with middling RB2 upside if he scores.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 11.4
It is nice to see one of my longtime guys Rex Burkhead healthy and playing well. The prototypical versatile Patriots RB has returned at least 8.8 PPR points in each of the first three games of the young season thus far, totaling at least 13.5 in two of them. And although he is coming off of his best game of the year in which he rushed for 47 yards and a TD on 11 carries while hauling in 6-of-7 targets for 22 yards, finishing with a season-high 18.9 PPR points, he had his best game sans James White, who did not play last week due to the birth of a child. Although White will play this week, I still believe Burkhead will be a productive fantasy asset.
Not only are the Patriots accustomed to utilizing two and three backs consistently, but they all find ways to be productive from a fantasy football point of view. If one is catching passes, the other is accumulating yards while the other is scoring. It is not ideal for us fantasy players — ceilings are limited while the floors are safe — but it works.
In his upcoming matchup at the Bills, Burkhead, who has totaled at least 68 yards in all three games this season, will challenge a Buffalo defense in the middle of the pack in fantasy production allowed to RBs — they are currently yielding the 15th most fantasy points to backs at a 17.9 FPPG rate. In fact, in three games, the Bills have allowed at least 92 total yards and a touchdown to three different backs with a 17.5 PPR point floor, one in each game (Le’ Veon Bell, Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon).
There is production to be had against the Bills and Burkhead should be a significant part of the game plan, especially in the passing game with Julian Edelman banged up and a lack of a presence at tight end until Benjamin Watson returns from his suspension in Week 5. With James Develin also out — he landed on IR with a neck injury — Burkhead is poised for additional field-time. Burkhead is a safe PPR Flex option with RB2 upside for Week 4 if he scores.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 5.4
Justin Jackson was ruled out after this article was published. He popped up on the injury report on Thursday with a calf issue and was ultimately ruled out on Friday afternoon.
With Melvin Gordon set to return in Week 5, Week 4 could be the final week to use Justin Jackson for a while, barring injury of course. And while Jackson has been relatively non-existent this season behind Austin Ekeler, he hasn’t been completely invisible either. Jackson has returned at least 7.0 PPR points in each of the first three games of 2019.
However, in his upcoming matchup with the Dolphins, Jackson could be in line for an expanded workload as well as a productive fantasy outing. Not only will he get a Dolphins defense surrendering the most fantasy points to enemy backs this season at a 30.1 FPPG rate, but they also allowed a touchdown or 139 total yards to five different RBs through three games (Mark Ingram, Sony Michel, James White, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard). Moreover, in the past two games, the Dolphins gave up double-digit fantasy points to two different backs on two different teams.
Assuming the Chargers blow the Dolphins out and the game is relatively over in the first half, we could see a lot of Jackson in the third and the fourth quarter. Jackson, who is averaging 7.9 YPC in 2019 (18 rushes for 142 yards), is a dart-throw Flex option for Week 4. If you are in a bind and have to dig deep on the wire, you want a player with a quality matchup, projected game-flow and a halfway decent track record of cashing in on minimal opportunities. Jackson checks all those boxes.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 5.9
With Damien Williams ruled out for the second straight game with a hamstring injury, Darrel Williams is in line for significant touches in consecutive weeks. And although LeSean McCoy will assume the RB1 duties, he is still dealing with a minor but lingering ankle injury, which works in Williams’ favor. What’s more, while McCoy totaled 80 yards and two touchdowns on 11 touches last week, Williams actually out-touched and out-gained him yardage-wise with 109 total yards on 14 opportunities.
Facing a Lions defense surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs at a 21.6 FPPG rate, both McCoy and Williams’ are in store for productive outings. And even if McCoy is going to be the Chiefs’ back featured in scoring situations — both of his Week 3 scores were inside the red zone including a one-yard goal-line carry — Williams will bring his fantasy value as a receiver — he caught all five of his targets for 47 yards last week against Baltimore. Williams if a midding flex option with RB2 upside if he scores.
Week 4 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 22.9
Yes, I am staying with my guy Mecole Hardman again this week. Why? Because he is only being started in 22.9 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, which is a travesty. While Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson aren’t going anywhere, the former had a monster game in the season opener while the latter had a big game in Week 2. Meanwhile, since Week 1, Watkins has not found the end zone or accumulated more than 64 yards receiving while Robinson followed up his tremendous Week 2 showing (6/172/2 on six targets) with a 3/43/1 line on four targets. If Robinson didn’t score last week, he would have busted.
Hardman, on the other hand, appears to be getting consistent looks from Patrick Mahomes with Tyreek Hill out in the past two games. Since Week 2, Hardman is tied with Sammy Watkins with 11 targets while Robinson has one less with 10 in that two-game time period. Therefore, while Watkins appears to be the WR1, I’m not buying it. I believe he is the WR1 on namesake alone. In fact, you can make the case that Mahomes will continue to feed Travis Kelce and spread the ball around to his wideouts. However, skillset-to-skillset, Hardman matches up the best with Tyreek Hill, which is the reason why Kansas City drafted him in April. While Hill is out, I believe Hardman will emerge as the WR1 in the Chiefs’ high-octane passing attack, which is why it is puzzling that Watkins is being started in 79.9 percent of leagues at ESPN and Robinson is being started in 31.8 percent. In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, Hardman is getting no respect.
Facing the Lions on the road this week –Mahomes is playing his first game in a dome — Hardman should put together his third consecutive productive outing after blanking in the season opener. Not only is the rookie speedster a big play waiting to happen any time that he is targeted, but he is also getting a Detroit defense surrendering the 11th-most fantasy points to WRs at a 25.2 FPPG pace. Through three games, the Lions defense has allowed five different WRs to accumulate at least 10.2 PPR points facing the Cardinals, Chargers, and Eagles, none of which, provide an offensive punch like Kansas City. Hardman, who is the No. 1 wideout in yards per reception (26.3), will return WR2 upside for Week 4. Though keep in mind that he is extremely scoring dependent to do so.[the_ad id=”80759″][the_ad id=”66090″]
ESPN Start-Percentage: 14.7
D.K. Metcalf has yet to have a breakout game in his young rookie campaign, but in two of his first three outings, he’s put up at least 12.9 PPR points and caught at least four targets for 89 yards or a touchdown. And while he is coming off of his worst game of the year — he only caught 2-of-6 targets for 67 yards in a plus Week 3 matchup against the Saints and finished with 8.8 PPR points — he’s had at least six targets in each of his first three games and seems locked in as Seattle’s WR2 on a team that is in desperate need of an emergence at receiver opposite Tyler Lockett.
Metcalf is entering a solid matchup at the Cardinals in which he will face an Arizona defense yielding the 16th most fantasy points to rival WRs at a 23.6 FPPG rate. While the Cardinals arent playing terrible during Patrick Peterson’s suspension, now is the time to strike before he returns. Through the first three games of the year, the Cardinals have allowed six different WRs to accumulate four receptions for 56 yards or a touchdown with a 10.0 PPR point floor (Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Marquise Brown, Curtis Samuel, D.J. Moore). In a rivalry in which Russell Wilson historically plays well — he averages 20.4 FPPG against the Cardinals in his career — both Lockett and Metcalf are primed for big games in lieu of Patrick Peterson.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 12.8
I’m rather shocked Curtis Samuel is only being started in 12.8 percent of fantasy leagues at ESPN. Not only is he coming off consecutive games with at least 14.3 PPR points, but his 24 total targets are only two behind D.J. Moore (26) for the team lead in that category. Although Moore is deemed the WR1, I don’t think they are as far apart as people like to believe. In fact, last week with Kyle Allen starting at QB, Samuel out-targeted Moore 7-to-2.
In his upcoming matchup at the Texans, Samuel has a chance to put together his third straight double-digit PPR point outing facing an exploitable Houston secondary allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to WRs at a 29.3 FPPG rate. Whether Samuel is getting Jonathan Joseph or Bradley Roby in coverage, he is athletic and versatile enough to win those battles if Allen can put the ball where it needs to be. Plus, if Allen can get the ball to Samuel in open space, he could be off to the races at any point. In a road game with a 47.5-point over/ under in which the Panthers could be chasing points Samuel could return WR2 upside for Week 4. The Texans have already surrendered at least four receptions for 73 yards or a TD to six different receivers with a 10.6 PPR-point floor, and Samuel should add to their defensive woes on Sunday.
Week 4 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 13.5
With Jordan Reed (concussion) out for the unforeseen future, Vernon Davis will continue to start at tight end for the Redskins. And while he opened the year strong — he caught 4-of-7 targets for 59 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 on the road against the Eagles (13.9 fantasy points) — Davis is coming off back-to-back duds against the Cowboys (4.4) and Bears (4.0). However, in his upcoming matchup against the Giants, Davis is entering a proverbial get-right matchup.
Through the first three games of 2019, the Giants are surrendering the seventh-most fantasy points to enemy TEs at a 9.1 FPPG pace. In fact, they have yielded at least three receptions for 66 yards or a TD to three different TEs (Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, O.J. Howard). With a high 49.5-point over/ under, this game is an anticipated high-scoring affair. And if the Giants pull out to an early lead and force the Redskins to throw — Case Keenum has thrown at least 37 passes in each of the first three games of the year — there should be plenty of opportunities for Davis to cash in. Davis is a safe-floor TE2 for Week 4 but will return TE1 upside if he finds the end zone.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.5
T.Y. Hilton (quad) has yet to practice this week. If he doesn’t practice on Friday — this article will be released prior to knowing his practice status — he will likely enter Week 4’s home matchup with the Raiders as a game-time call. While Hilton is a veteran who doesn’t really need to practice to draw an active designation, his injury could limit him, which is why I am buying into Jack Doyle this week.
While Doyle has had a slow start to the year, he is coming off of a Week 3 outing in which he drew a season-high four targets, catching all of them for 46 yards. And although Eric Ebron is also in the mix — he accumulated a 3/46/0 line last week on four targets — I more or less view him as a touchdown-needy asset whereas Doyle will return a safer floor assuming Hilton is indeed limited or out.
Getting a Raiders team that has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to TEs at an 8.7 FPPG pace — they’ve yielded at least three receptions for 60 yards or a touchdown to two different TEs this season (Travis Kelce, Irv Smith) — Doyle is a target-dependent TE2 for Week 4. Keep in mind that Doyle was Jacoby Brissett’s safety blanket during his first run as the starter back in 2017 and was targeted 107 times in 15 games. There is a rapport there. We might see it on Sunday.
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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.