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Fantasy Football Sleepers: Week 5

Thomas Rawls

Week 5 NFL Fantasy Sleepers

Last Sunday was the week of the quarterback Fantasy sleeper. Six of the top 15 most productive fantasy players from last week’s slate of games were quarterbacks with less than a 50 percent start-percentage at ESPN. The leader, rookie Deshaun Watson hung 33.7 fantasy points on the Titans last Sunday and was started in only 14 percent of leagues.

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Most-Productive Players from Week 4
Rank Start% Player TM POS Points
1 14 Deshaun Watson
QB 33.7
2 28.1 Cam Newton
QB 33
3 99.5 Le’Veon Bell
RB 30.6
4 12.2 Andy Dalton
QB 28.3
5 16.2 Eli Manning
QB 27.7
6 86.3 Russell Wilson
QB 27.6
7 99 Todd Gurley
RB 27.5
8 26.9 Alex Smith
QB 27.3
9 39.7 Jameis Winston
QB 26.5
10 99.4 Ezekiel Elliott
RB 25.9
11 74.5 Lamar Miller
RB 25.1
12 44 Bilal Powell
RB 25
13 97.8 Aaron Rodgers
QB 23.1
14 63.2 Dak Prescott
QB 22.6
15 42.6 Kirk Cousins
QB 20.6
Sleepers Week 4: Full-Disclosure
Player POS Rank Points PPR Rank PPR
Carson Palmer QB QB15 16.4 QB15 16.4
Trevor Siemian QB QB20 11.3 QB20 11.3
Bilal Powell RB RB5 25 RB5 29
Chris Thompson RB RB59 0.7 RB66 1.7
Marqise Lee WR WR56 1.8 WR67 3.8
Brandon Marshall WR WR41 4.6 WR28 10.6
Cameron Brate TE TE3 14 TE3 18
Ryan Griffin TE TE35 1.3 TE35 3.3
Chris Carson RB RB30 6.6 RB32 9.6
Chris Johnson RB RB31 6.3 RB33 9.3

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 Dalvin Cook, Marcus Mariota and Chris Carson all succumbing to injuries last week, be sure to check out Andrew Erickson’s Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5 to assist you with filling the vacant holes on your fantasy rosters.

Week 5 Byes:

  • Broncos, Falcons, Redskins, Saints

Here are my Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week Five.

Quarterback Sleepers

Jay Cutler

ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.8 %

Although Jay Cutler has gotten off to a horrific start through the first quarter of the year — he is the QB29 with 29.9 fantasy points in his first three games as a Dolphin — the veteran signal caller could be in line for his first productive outing with his new club. Since Miami opened the season on the road — they played two games as away teams and were considered the home team in last week’s London encounter with the Saints — a true home game played at Hard Rock Stadium could be what is needed to right the sinking ship that is Cutler.

Cutler, who has thrown for 614 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions while completing a career-high 66.7 percent of his passes thus far in 2017, is entering an uber favorable matchup on Sunday against the Titans. Although Tennessee was a preseason favorite to emerge as one of the hottest team’s in football, they’ve played about as poorly as Miami has, especially on defense, which favors Cutler’s outlook for this week’s slate of games. Facing a Titans defense that ranks 31st in fantasy points allowed to QBs giving up an eye-popping 23.9 FPPG, Cutler is a solid sleeper start for Week 5. His weapons — Devante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Kenny Stills — should exploit an underwhelming Titans secondary in what could be one of the ugliest matchups of the week.

Philip Rivers

ESPN Start-Percentage: 31.5%

Okay, okay, Philip Rivers is a household name and one of the greatest QBs in Chargers history. However, from a fantasy perspective, he hasn’t been an effective every-week starter in quite some time. Like Cutler, Rivers hasn’t gotten off to the greatest of starts considering he has one of the most talented arsenals of weapons around him in the league, especially in the ball security area. He’s already committed five turnovers — four picks and a fumble lost.

Nonetheless, coming off of a Week 4 matchup with the Eagles in which he completed 22-of-38 passes (57.9 percent) for 347 yards, two TDs, and his lone fumble lost — he finished as the QB12 with 19.9 points — Rivers garners serious sleeper consideration for his upcoming encounter with the New York Giants. New York’s defense is not the same as it was in 2016. While they are currently ranked 26th in total net yards and 15th in net passing yards allowed thus far through four games, the Giants’ defense is even more welcoming for fantasy. They surrender the eighth most points to fantasy QBs (17.5 FPPG). Rivers has the momentum, the matchup, and the weapons in place to light up the Giants’ secondary, especially if they get Melvin Gordon going early and often to open things up for the pass.

Running Back Sleepers

Duke Johnson

ESPN Start-Percentage: 34.4 %

Although Isaiah Crowell opened the year as Cleveland’s featured RB, he is tremendously under-performing one quarter in. Currently, he is on track to finish 2017 as one of fantasy football’s biggest busts if he doesn’t turn things around. He is the RB44 with 20.4 points in standard scoring. Moreover, Crowell is being out-produced by teammate and pass-catching specialist Duke Johnson, who is the RB19 with 38.4 points in standard scoring and the RB16 with 58.4 in PPR, which is why he is the more trustworthy fantasy option from the Browns’ backfield for their upcoming matchup against the Jets, and quite possibly, for the remainder of the year.

The last time the Browns and Jets played each other in Oct. 2016, it was a high-scoring 31-28 New York victory, which bodes well for any relevant fantasy player in their upcoming matchup. Both defenses are still playing poorly nearly one year later. While Crowell accumulated 12.3 fantasy points in their last meeting, Johnson scored in the double digits as well. Although he was ineffective as a rusher — he compiled 29 yards on four carries — Johnson caught six targets for 87 yards, which is where the bulk of his 11.3 fantasy points evolved from.

While I expect a heavy dose of both Crowell and Johnson on Sunday to ease the pressure from Deshone Kizer, I believe the latter will reward his fantasy owners with another stellar outing. Facing a Jets defense ranked fourth in fantasy production allowed to RBs yielding 22.4 FPPG, Johnson should be inserted in the Flex spot, especially in PPR scoring formats, for Week 5.

If Crowell finally breaks out, he’ll be viewed a prime sell-high candidate. For more Buy Low Sell High options, check out Hunter Gibbon and Matthew Foreman’s Week 5 breakdown here.

Wayne Gallman

ESPN Start-Percentage: 0.7%

Let’s face it, the Giants’ backfield is a mess. However, Wayne Gallman could shed clarity on it with a strong showing in Sunday’s matchup against the Chargers. Although Paul Perkins opened the season as New York’s RB1 and with a ton of hype, he hasn’t panned out thus far what-so-ever. Currently sitting as the RB70 with 9.6 fantasy points through four games, it is safe to say that Perkins is not a lock for touches moving forward.

The same could be said for Orleans Darkwa, who isn’t a desirable fantasy option even if he plays through his back injury which sidelined him for last week’s loss to Tampa Bay. Since is Perkins also dealing with an injury — he is limited in practice this week with injured ribs (reports are suggesting it is a “pain-tolerance” issue), the door is open for Gallman to pick up from where he left off last week. He rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries while adding a pair of receptions for eight yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut against the Buccaneers. He finished Week 4 as the RB20 with 11 fantasy points. Yes, you read that one right. Gallman has out-scored Perkins in one game!

While Gallman may not be named the starter, expect him to lead Giants RBs in touches this week. In fact, the rookie totaled 13 touches in Week 4 — the most by any New York RB in a single game in 2017. The opportunities should be there for Gallman facing a Los Angeles defense that’s surrendered 20.6 FPPG to RBs this season. If he plays well, he’ll be considered the Giants’ RB to roster for the duration of the fantasy football campaign. Gallman is worthy of Flex consideration for Week 5.

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Wide Receiver Sleepers

Jaron Brown

ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.9%

The Cardinals’ wide receiver corps had immense question marks entering the 2017 season. Four games into the campaign, however, it doesn’t appear that anything has changed, or has it? At one point, John Brown was the expected WR2 in the offense behind WR1 Larry Fitzgerald, despite the fact that head coach Bruce Arians publicly claimed that Jaron Brown would open the year in that spot in the wake of [John] Brown’s never-ending injury concerns. He failed to disappoint.

After playing in the season opener, [John] Brown was inactive for the next two games with a quad injury. In the midst of it all, J.J. Nelson suffered a hamstring injury at a practice leading into Week 3, which not only hindered his on-field performance, but it opened the door for [Jaron] Brown to emerge. He did just that. Since Week 3, [Jaron] Brown has put up a 10-132-1 stat line and is fantasy’s WR23 with 26.5 points in that time span.

In Sunday’s matchup with the Eagles, [Jaron] Brown could continue his hot streak facing a defense that is welcoming to opposing wideouts. Philadelphia’s defense has surrendered the fourth most points to fantasy WRs yielding 26.7 FPPG. While [Jaron] Brown played in 82 of a possible 86 snaps last week, [John] Brown and Nelson played in 53 and 25 respectively, which bodes well for the former’s outlook moving forward, especially if he maintains his productive level of play. [Jaron] Brown is in the WR3/ Flex conversation for Week 5.

Nelson Agholor

ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.8%

Although Nelson Agholor had an outstanding game in the season opener against the Redskins — he caught six targets for 86 yards and a TD — he hasn’t done very much since. In the past three games, he’s only produced a 6-87-1 stat line with the lone TD coming in Week 2.

Next on the slate for Agholor and the Eagles are the Cardinals, whose defense is ranked sixth in fantasy production allowed to WRs, giving up 26.7 FPPG. While the matchup is favorable for Philadelphia pass-catchers on paper, a player like Alshon Jeffery could have a difficult time producing on Sunday since he’ll likely be covered by the elite Patrick Peterson, who already shut down Dez Bryant and Pierre Garcon this season. If that’s the case, and I fully expect it to be, Agholor could be in line for a big day in the slot. He is a touchdown-dependent Flex option for  Week 5.

Tight End Sleepers

Hunter Henry

ESPN Start-Percentage: 19.4%

It comes to no surprise that the Giants’ defense is amongst the league’s worst in defending opposing tight ends. They’ve had issues containing the position for quite some time now. In fact, they currently allow the most fantasy points to TEs yielding a whopping 14.7 FPPG. Through the first quarter of the year, New York has allowed opposing TEs to rack up a 29-309-5 stat line against them, which bodes well for Hunter Henry’s chances to produce in consecutive games for the first time in 2017.

Yes, Henry has been inconsistent. So much so that he’s gone catch-less in every other game through the first four. Although Henry’s current trend is suggesting that he’ll put up a goose egg, his upcoming matchup against the Giants is just too favorable to pass up. Coming off of a Week 4 outing versus Philadelphia in which he caught two targets for 16 yards and his first TD of the year, the odds are in Henry’s favor to once again find the end zone. Moreover, it wouldn’t surprise me if the second-year standout breaks out in this one. He is in the back-end TE1 tier for Week 5.

Although I expect Henry to shine, Antonio Gates could also hold fantasy value Sunday afternoon against New York. While he is touchdown-dependent, Gates is an excellent value DFS option for Week 5. He is facing the same Giants defense that allowed both Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard to score in Week 4.

  • Need some more DFS tips? Check out Mike Hauff’s Week 5 Draft Kings primer here.

Jared Cook

ESPN Start-Percentage: 41.7%

With E.J. Manuel slated to start at quarterback for the Raiders in the absence of Derek Carr, who is out for Sunday’s contest against the Ravens with a transverse process fracture in his back, the fantasy values of the team’s primary pass-catchers that include Michael Crabtree and the struggling Amari Cooper are expected to take a hit. However, all may not be lost for Jared Cook.

In similar scenarios in which a backup QB is called upon to start, the tight end becomes an intricate part of his success or failure, usually acting as the safety blanket on short and intermediate routes. Cook is in line to be just that for Manuel. Although Cook is coming off a disappointing Week 4 outing in which he caught three receptions for 46 yards, he drew eight combined targets from Oakland’s quarterback duo, tying Cooper for the team-lead. I expect a similar opportunity-share on Sunday facing a Baltimore defense that allows the fourth-most fantasy production to TEs, surrendering 11.8 FPPG. Cook could reach the double-digit fantasy point plateau for just the second time this season with a strong showing in Week 5.

Two Sleepers in Case You’re Desperate

Thomas Rawls

ESPN Start-Percentage: 3.0%

Since the budding Chris Carson is out for the remainder of the year with a left leg/ ankle injury — he underwent surgery this week and was placed on the injured reserve list shortly after — Thomas Rawls is the favorite to emerge as the Seahawks’ RB1 for Sunday’s favorable matchup against the Rams, whose defense allows the most fantasy points to opposing RBs.

Now, Rawls isn’t the most reliable fantasy option. He’s only rushed for four yards on five carries in two games this season and was even a healthy inactive for Week 4. However, it’s not like there is heavy competition for the early-down role. While Eddie Lacy, who only received 16 carries for 55 yards in two games, is expected to garner touches, I believe Rawls remains the likeliest Seattle RB to break out in 2017 not named C.J. Prosise, only because of his past success running in this offensive system. Facing a Rams defense that surrenders 28.4 FPPG to opposing RBs, Rawls is an opportunity-dependent desperation Flex option for Week 5.

Jacoby Brissett

ESPN Start-Percentage: 7.1%

Now that Andrew Luck has resumed practicing this week, it won’t be long until he’ll return as the Indianapolis QB1. For Jacoby Brissett, Sunday’s matchup against the 49ers could be one of his final starts of the year, barring a setback or another unforeseen injury to Luck. While Brissett hasn’t garnered very much fantasy relevancy in his three starts as the Colts’ top signal caller, there was one outing in which he shined, back in Week 3 against the Browns. He threw for 259 yards and one TD that day, adding another 14 yards and two scores as a rusher. He finished Week 3 as the QB4 with 27.8 fantasy points.

Brissett’s upside is there if he is presented with the right matchup, and on Sunday, San Francisco is just that. The 49ers’ defense is currently ranked 11th in fantasy production allowed to QBs, yielding 17.1 FPPG. Moreover, because they also struggle to contain the run — they are ranked seventh in points allowed to RBs — Brissett’s versatility as a rusher could be employed to expose their young and inconsistent defense. Although I’m not expecting Brissett to go off quite as much as he did in Week 3, I do believe he will end up a quality fantasy start, with back-end QB1 upside, in Week 5.

Thank you for reading about my sleepers for Week 5. 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.

 

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About the author

Anthony Cervino

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.

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