Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 6
What a strange week in the National Football league it was in Week 5. Not only did we see an unprecedented four first-round rookie quarterbacks win on the same weekend, but we also got to witness Drew Brees pass both Brett Favre and Peyton Manning on the all-time passing yards list with a Breesus-like 62-yard scoring throw to Tre’Quan Smith. However, on the other side, we saw quite a few letdowns on the fantasy football front. Ezekiel Elliott, Matt Ryan, and Julio Jones, to name a few, were surprisingly fantasy busts in the week that was. You gotta love sports. You gotta love football. And most certainly, you gotta love the parody of the NFL.
Most-Productive Players from Week 5
|9||98.3||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||23.4|
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. Tre’Quan Smith (BYE), Robby Anderson (6.4), Andrew Luck (44.6) and Isaiah Crowell (37.5) are all being started in fewer than 50 percent of fantasy leagues at ESPN this week and finished amongst the top 15 most productive players for Week 4. 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 household namesake — see Andrew Luck.
Sleepers Week 5: Full-Disclosure
|Player||POS||Rank||Points||PPR Rank||PPR Points|
Week 5 Full-Disclosure by the Numbers
Week 5 wasn’t my very best week. In fact, it was my worst showing since Week 1. Not only did I fail to have a player go-off, but I also had only four players reach the double-digit point plateau — remember, I only consider a quarterback a hit if he accumulates at least 20 fantasy points.
- Although Blake Bortles had a terrible game with four interceptions, he did manage to pass for 430 yards and a pair of touchdowns (one rushing). The Week 5 QB10, Borltes was my best sleeper last week.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling performed as advertised. He was given the opportunity with Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison out and seized it, finishing as the WR14 in standard formats and the WR11 in PPR. Moving forward, it wouldn’t surprise me if he maintained a role moving forward, with or without Cobb active. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the Packers moved on from Cobb, who was a subject of offseason trade rumors leading up to the season opener. MVP could be the real deal in the slot and already appears to have earned the trust of the great Aaron Rodgers.
- It was crushing to see Matt Breida start the game fast only to exit with an ankle injury after compiling 61 total yards and a TD. Although he finished as the RB18 with 12.1 fantasy points, he could have had more. A LOT MORE.
- While Buck Allen accumulated 11.8 PR points, he only managed 5.8 in standard leagues. He let his fantasy owners down in a good spot.
- I know Geoff Swaim didn’t have the best of games — he finished as the TE13 in both formats — but in a waning TE pool, he’ll draw a consistent floor of targets in a Cowboys passing game surviving by the check-down.
The following is a recap of the players from my Week 5 Fantasy Football Sleepers article. You can read that here.
Entering Week 6, 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 Cooper Kupp, Matt Breida, and Brandin Cooks 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 6 to help you fill the vacant holes on your fantasy football team’s rosters. You can read that here.
Week 6 QB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 30.3
In a tough Week 5 matchup against the Dolphins, Andy Dalton had his worst statistical performance of the year. Completing 20-of-30 passes for 248 yards, one TD and one pick, Dalton finished the week as the QB23 with 12.9 points. However, I wouldn’t sweat it. Dalton is playing sensational football this season and is primed for one of the best years of his career. If we remove his Week 5 letdown, Dalton was the QB10 with 82 points through the first quarter of the season.
In his upcoming home matchup with the Steelers, Dalton should bounce back. Although the Pittsburgh defense held the Falcons in check last week — it was their most complete game of the year — it was a home game for the Steelers, a team that struggles away from Heinz Field. And despite holding Matt Ryan to 285 yards passing and a TD, the Steelers defense is still yielding the second most fantasy points to QBs at a 25.2 FPPG rate. While they have a stout run defense — the fourth toughest — they are the polar opposite versus the pass, which bodes well for Dalton’s fantasy outlook against them.
With outstanding receivers on the outside in the form of a consistent A.J. Green and an emerging Tyler Boyd, plus, a healthy Joe Mixon at running back and C.J. Uzomah at tight end, who can hold it down with Tyler Eifert on the shelf, Dalton, who has accumulated at least 21 FPPG in four of the past five games, is in the back-end QB1 conversation for Week 6.
Although he’s struggled against the Steelers in his career — Dalton has put up fewer than 20 fantasy points in four out of the past six games against Pittsburgh — I can’t shake the quality of the matchup at home. I love the Red Rifle, who is ranked third in the NFL with 12 TD passes this week. It would be hard pressed to find a QB in a better spot.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 27.0
Well deservingly, Jameis Winston is headlining a plethora of fantasy football articles this week. And it’s no different with mine. At a light 27 percent start-percentage at ESPN Fantasy — surprisingly, he is only rostered in 45.6 percent of them — Winston could return top 10 fantasy QB production in his debut start of 2018.
Coming off of a game in which completed 16-of-20 passes for 145 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in one half of football in Week 4’s blowout loss to the Bears — after Ryan Fitzpatrick came back down to earth, Winston started the third quarter — I expect Winston to come out on fire. In his defense, however, Winston did enter the game when it was out of reach. The Bears’ defense knew the Buccaneers weren’t running and want to get the rust off of Winston. They knew he would come out throwing. Therefore, I can forgive the interceptions. But let’s not overlook the fact that in the same situation, he completed 80 percent of his passes.
Following the Week 5 bye, Winston should look better with the first-team offense. Not only did he have a tremendous preseason in his limited time with them, but he also had the bye week to practice with them leading up to their upcoming matchup in Atlanta, which is a favorable one.
The Falcons defense can’t stop anyone. While they are struggling due to a slew of notable losses — Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, and Ricardo Allen are all out for the season with their respective injuries — it is what it is. Injuries are a part of the game and you must capitalize on them. And I expect Winston and his surplus of weapons to do just that. Moreover, it wouldn’t even surprise me if Tampa Bay got their running game going behind Ronald Jones and an invisible Peyton Barber, who will have a role due to his strength in the pass-protection department. It should be a good game for the Buccaneers’ offense as a whole.
Not only do the Falcons defense present the fourth easiest matchup for opposing QBs allowing 24.4 FPPG, but they’ve been torched in nearly every game this season. After shutting down Nick Foles in Week 1, Atlanta’s defense surrendered at least 26.1 FPPG to their last four opponents. Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Andy Dalton, and Ben Roethlisberger have thrown for a combined for a 1,318-14-3 stat line against them. They even yielded a pair of rushing TDs to Brees.
And if that isn’t enough, Winston has lit up Atlanta in his own right. Averaging at least 25.9 FPPG against them in five career games — he’s thrown for 1,245 yards, 12 TDs, and two interceptions while completing 66.5 percent of his passes and adding another 74 yards and a pair of scores as a rusher — Winston has tremendous QB1 upside in an expected Week 6 shootout. If he’s on waivers in your league, find a way to add him. He could be a league-winner when it is all said and done.
Week 6 RB Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 36.9
One of the reasons why I prefer publishing my sleepers primer later in the week is because of injuries. Injuries will always play a large role for sleepers with the next-man-up mentality that is the NFL, and later in the week is when we will learn of the most up to date injury and practice designations. That is the case here with Tevin Coleman.
Devonta Freeman, who just returned to the lineup last week against the Steelers, is again nursing an injury. No, he didn’t aggravate his knee, this time it is his foot. Per reports, Freeman is dealing with a bone contusion. And although he was working off to the side at Wednesday’s practice, the practice report had him listed as DNP (Did Not Participate). As a result, Freeman’s playing status is “clearly in doubt” for Sunday’s matchup against the Buccaneers.
While I love Coleman if Freeman ultimately sits out, I still think he will be a quality start in Week 6 even if Freeman is active. Obviously, I am assuming that if Freeman is active, his reps will be managed and limited at best, especially since the Falcons have outstanding depth at running back in the form of Coleman and Ito Smith. With a team full of immense injuries woes on both sides of the football, why risk it?
Coleman hasn’t exactly blown the doors off the fantasy landscape with his opportunities earlier in the year with Freeman on the mend from his knee injury. In fact, he’s been kind of disappointing. Accumulating 324 yards and two TDs on 73 touches (12 receptions) in five games, Coleman is the RB2 with 44.4 fantasy points. While they are quality numbers, he started three games in that timespan. I expected better. But Coleman has a get-right matchup in front of him against the Buccaneers, a team he’s played well against in his career.
While in four career games against the Buccaneers Coleman has averaged 9.3 FPPG, he’s played exceptionally well in his last two of the four. In fact, it is a tale of two rushers. In his first two games, Coleman totaled 38 yards on eight touches. However, in his last two, Coleman totaled 214 yards (receiving) yards and a pair of scores on 32 touches (five receptions).
Facing a Buccaneers defense surrendering the seventh most fantasy points to opposing RBs at a 23.6 FPPG rate — they’ve allowed at least 14.5 fantasy points to an opposing RB in three of four games played in 2018 — Coleman should be highly productive. Playing in 60.3 percent of the team’s offensive snaps this season, Coleman is a back-end RB2 for Week 6. I like him more in PPR scoring formats as the Buccaneers have conceded 28 receptions for 328 yards and two TDs through the air to RBs this season.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 33.5
With Isaiah Crowell playing like an absolute stud in the Jets’ backfield this season, Bilal Powell is flying under the radar. However, in Week 6, it could be Powell’s time to shine. Crowell has yet to practice this week, missing both Wednesday and Thursday’s practice sessions with an ankle injury. As a result, he could be limited in or ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Colts, which means it’s time to fire-up Powell.
Currently slated as the RB28 with 40.9 fantasy points — he’s the RB28 with 50.9 points in PPR — Powell has fared well this season in his shared time with Crowell. Rushing for 264 yards on 59 carries while adding another 105 yards and a TD on 10-of-16 targets, Powell is ranked 26th in yards per carry (4.5) and 26th in yards per touch (5.3). Moreover, with a 53.8 percent snap share, Powell is slightly out-touching Crowell 69-to-63. Even if Crowell plays, the opportunity will be there for Powell.
I love Powell’s matchup at home against the Colts. Not only is their defense surrendering the 13th most fantasy points to RBs at a 20.1 FPPG pace, but they’ve also yielded at least 93 total yards or a TD to an opposing rusher in 4-of-5 games. In fact, the Colts’ defense was only able to contain an underwhelming rushing attack of the Texans in Week 4.
In a game in which Indianapolis could jump out to a lead and force the Jets to throw more often than they’d like — the Jets prefer to control the game on the ground and take the pressure off of Sam Darnold — Powell’s value will peak in PPR scoring formats as he is viewed as the more competent receiver in the New York backfield despite only handling four more receptions than Crowell (10-to-6). In either format, however, Powell is viewed as an upside Flex option for Week 6. Though if Crowell ultimately sits, Powell will get a bump up to the RB2 tier. Monitor Crowell’s playing status leading up to game time for a distinct designation.
Week 6 WR Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 34.9
Tyler Lockett has been fantastic in 2018. Through five games, he’s corralled 20-of-28 targets for 347 yards and four TDs, Lockett is the WR15 with 59.8 points and is on track to blow away his career-bests if he maintains the pace that he is on. And although Doug Baldwin returned to the lineup two weeks ago, Lockett has remained Russell Wilson’s most-productive target. Baldwin only caught six passes for 42 yards since returning from a knee injury in Week 4.
With a 96.8 percent snap share (53.6 percent in the slot) — he’s ranked 12th amongst WRs in that category, I don’t think Lockett is going anywhere. In fact, he’s also the fifth-ranked WR in yards per catch (17.4) and ranked third in yards per target (12.4). It is unquestioned that Lockett is red hot this year, accumulating at least three receptions for 59 yards or a TD in each of the first five games of the season and scoring a TD in 4-of-5.
I expect Locket to continue his good fortunes in his upcoming matchup with the Raiders, who are giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs at a 28.4 FPPG rate. Facing a Raiders defense that has allowed eight different WRs finish with at least 9.3 fantasy points against them this season, Lockett, who is ranked third in fantasy points per target (2.85), is an upside WR2 for Week 6. He remains a big-play waiting to happen in a possible high-scoring affair.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 32.8
Folks, get Josh Gordon into your lineups quick. While he’s been disappointing in 2018, Gordon appears to be finally clicking now that he is in New England. Although he was limited in his first game with the Patriots, only catching 2-of-4 targets for 32 yards while playing in 22.7 percent of the snaps and running 10 routes, his usage picked up in last week’s win over the Colts.
Hauling in 2-of-4 targets for 50 yards and a TD while playing in 34.3 percent of the snaps and running 22 routes, Gordon finished Week 5 as the WR20 with 11 points in standard scoring formats. However, the biggest takeaway is that he saw an increase in snaps and routes ran, proving that he is not only picking up Josh McDaniel’s system, but he is also earning the trust of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
While the Patriots are not short on weapons, I am not sure that they have one with the upside and ability of Gordon’s caliber at receiver — no, I am no counting Rob Gronkowski here. Therefore, you’d think that at some point, he will go off. I think it happens in his upcoming matchup with the Chiefs. Facing a Kansas City defense allowing the 15th most fantasy points to WRs at a 15.3 FPPG pace, Gordon could be in line for his breakout game.
And I get it, the Chiefs defense has played better of late, failing to surrender double-digit fantasy points to a WR in the past three games. However, they played the 49ers, Jaguars and Broncos in those matchups. Aside from Jimmy Garoppolo, who left the game early with a season-ending knee injury, the QBs they faced aren’t exactly amongst the league’s elite — Case Keenum and Blake Bortles. But when they played Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger in the first two games, the Chiefs got lit up, surrendering at least 16.8 fantasy points to Juju Smith-Schuster and Keenan Allen. This could be a big one for Gordon, who is an upside Flex option for Week 6.
Week 6 TE Fantasy Sleepers
ESPN Start-Percentage: 17.7
Although Cameron Brate was held without a catch in the first two games of the season, he came on strong leading up to Tampa Bay’s Week 5 bye. In the two games previous to the bye, Brate caught 6-of-8 targets for 63 yards and two TDs. Despite playing in one less game, Brate was the TE10 with 18.3 points from Weeks 3-to-5.
While O.J. Howard was off to a tremendous start to the season, he played well with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. And now that Jameis Winston is back, plus, the fact that he is dealing with a knee injury, it could be time for Brate to fully emerge. Not only is Howard questionable for Week 6 with his MCL sprain — he was a limited participant at practice this week — but Brate has a proven trust and rapport with Brate, especially in the red zone.
While Howard is more athletic, Brate has been consistent since taking over the starting TE spot from Austin Seferain-Jenkins in 2016. With Winston having something to prove — he could be playing for his job in 2019 — I believe he will lean on the reliable Brate, especially in high-percentage scoring situations. Facing a Falcons defense yielding the 20th most fantasy points to TEs at a 6.9 FPPG rate — they’ve allowed an opposing TE to catch at least four passes in 3-of-5 games in 2018 — Brate is a back-end TE1 for Week 6. Similar to Winston, if Brate is on waivers, pick him up right now. I love his ROS outlook.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.5
The tight end situation in Cincinnati is bleak. They are running out of options. Not only is Tyler Eifert out for the year with an ankle injury, but Tyler Kroft is also dealing with a foot injury that forced him out of Week 5’s win over the Dolphins. And since Kroft has yet to practice this week, Uzomah could be the only tight end of note left standing in Cincinnati.
While he doesn’t have a lengthy resume, Uzomah has flashed at times in his four-year career. An athletic 6’6″265-pound tight end, he’s never really received the opportunity that he has in front of him now. Although Eifert can never remain healthy and on the field, it had been Kroft garnering the TE1 duties for the Bengals ahead of Uzomah, which isn’t the case now. Whether he is healthy or not, reports suggest that Uzomah will be featured over Kroft in 2018. Kroft’s current injury only solidifies it.
Facing a Steelers defense presenting the second easiest matchup for opposing TEs giving up 12.1 FPPG — they’ve conceded at least five receptions for 51 yards or a TD to five different TEs in 2018 — Uzomah is a target-dependent TE2 with scoring upside for Week 6. It’s all about the opportunity and matchup for Uzomah in this one.
Two Week 6 Fantasy Sleepers (In Case You’re Desperate)
ESPN Start-Percentage: 26.5
Nyheim Hines has been one of my favorite running backs to watch this season. Despite his rough preseason, he’s emerged in the Colts backfield, edging out Jordan Wilkins and even Marlon Mack, who can’t manage to remain healthy and on the field. However, although Mack (knee) is practicing in full for Week 6 and seems poised to return, I’m not backing down from my take on Hines. He is the running back to own from the Colts.
Through the first five games of the season, Hines is currently sitting as the RB13 in PPR scoring formats with 73.3 points — he’s the BR23 with 44.3 points in standard leagues. Moreover, although he has only managed 99 yards and a TD on 33 carries, the lion’s share of his production has come as a receiver. Hauling in 29-of-35 targets for 164 yards and two scores, Hines has caught at least five passes in 4-of-5 games. While he will cede carries to Mack and Wilkins, the bulk of the receiving work will go to Hines. And with Andrew Luck playing the way he is, I expect there to be a lot of it.
Facing a Jets defense allowing 16th most fantasy points to RBs at an 18.9 FPPG rate, Hines should maintain his streak of catching five passes in each of the past three games — the New York defense has allowed a 34-260-1 stat line through the air to RBs in 2018. The fifth-ranked RB in targets (35) and the fourth-ranked in receptions (29), Hines is an upside Flex option in PPR scoring formats in Week 6. While he can be effective in standard, there is no question he will climax in PPR.
ESPN Start-Percentage: 6.5
Although Geronimo Allison missed last week’s loss to the Lions due to a concussion sustained in Week 4, he is on track to play on Monday night. Allison was cleared from the league’s concussion protocol on Thursday and has resumed practicing. As a result, Allison is poised to pick up where he left off before his injury.
In case you forgot, Allison was beginning to emerge as the Packers WR2 with Randall Cobb struggling then forced out of the lineup with a hamstring injury. And while Cobb has also returned to practice and is on track to play against the 49ers, I believe Allison has made enough of an impact to remain productive. Leading up to his concussion, Allison was the WR25 with 40.1 points in standard scoring formats from Weeks 1-to-4.
I love Allison’s upcoming matchup at home versus the 49ers. They are a team that can fall behind to the big play fairly easily, especially when facing a quarterback of the Aaron Rodgers pedigree. Surrendering the 14th most fantasy points to WRs at a 24.4 FPPG rate, the 49es have allowed an opposing wideout to secure seven targets for 63 yards or score a TD in each of the first five games of the year. The ninth-ranked WR in target separation (2.03), Allison is an opportunity-dependent Flex option for Week 6.
Thank you for reading my Week 6 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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