7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 8
The 2020 NFL season -- like everything about 2020 -- is unique. While turning to the waiver wire or free agent pool for streaming options is a common practice in normal years, the need for deeper options could be even greater this year as the NFL tries to navigate playing through a pandemic.
This is your weekly home for finding deep sleeper options across the board this year with plug-and-play options listed at quarterback, running back, receiver, and tight end. Whether you set out to stream or circumstances have changed for your roster and dictate streaming on the fly, I've got you covered with a full roster's worth of low-rostered choices in Yahoo! leagues.
Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 33%
For the season, Derek Carr ranks 15th in fantasy points per game, according to FantasyPros. That's not too shabby. This week, however, he and the Las Vegas Raiders' passing attack get a bump in value traveling to Cleveland to play our second-worst ranked pass defense trotted out by the Cleveland Browns.
Making the cut for inclusion in this space as a result of being on under 35 percent of Yahoo! rosters and owning a top-10 quarterback projection, Carr is a slam-dunk pick in his tantalizing matchup.
Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 22%
The change-of-pace back for the Los Angeles Rams, Malcolm Brown, is actually my second-favorite deep sleeper at the position behind a forthcoming fellow NFC West back, but he appears first due to being on a higher percentage of rosters.
Brown narrowly edges out yet another NFC West back, JaMycal Hasty, of the San Francisco 49ers. Tevin Coleman could return this week, once again crowding San Francisco's backfield despite the absences of both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. Hasty's ceiling is probably a few ticks higher than Brown, but Brown's the safer bet for touches.
For the season, Brown's played 49.57 percent of the snaps, and he played 40.28 percent of the snaps last week, as you can see on our snap counts landing page. He's touched the ball nine or more times in six of seven games this year, and he's a trusted and effective runner near the goal line. From five yards or closer to scoring, teammate Darrell Henderson leads the team with nine carries and a co-team leading three rushing touchdowns from that distance. Comparatively, Brown has five carries from inside the five and has punched in three for scores, too. He also has just one fewer rushing success than Henderson on four fewer carries.
Brown's usual allotment of double-digit touches makes him a bit more than a touchdown-or-bust option, but his ability to punch the ball in and usage in that area of the field certainly helps his potential for reaching pay dirt. numberFire's algorithm projects Brown to finish as RB38 in point-per-reception (PPR) formats this week, putting him firmly in the streamer mix.
DeeJay Dallas, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 8%
Chris Carson is week to week with a foot injury, Carlos Hyde is dealing with hamstring tightness, and Travis Homer has a knee bruise, potentially leaving rookie DeeJay Dallas as the last man standing in the backfield for the Seattle Seahawks. Even if Hyde and/or Homer prove healthy enough to suit up, it's not out of the question they'll have their workloads scaled back to avoid irritating the injuries they're nursing. Further, playing at less than 100 percent could hamper their performance and open up more touches for Dallas.
Regardless, he should see a decent volume, and if he's the only healthy back this weekend, that volume could be in store for a big boost even if they allow Russell Wilson to cook more than usual. Volume is king at the running back position, and it's surprising to see Dallas on under 10 percent of rosters even in a tough matchup against a San Francisco 49ers defense we rank as the fifth-best against the run.
Currently, even with numberFire projecting Hyde to play this week, Dallas projects to finish as RB28 in PPR formats this week. If Hyde is ruled out, Dallas presumably would sneak into the top-25 projected scorers at the position. He's easily my favorite streaming option at running back this week.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 16%
Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore are the unquestioned top-two receivers for the Carolina Panthers, but a matchup with the Atlanta Falcons and their basement-dwelling pass defense pushes number-three receiver Curtis Samuel into the deep sleeper conversation. Samuel's caught three or more passes in five of six games and hauled in at least four passes in four games. He's also rushed the ball at least once every game this year, including trotting in a five-yard score last week.
Just a few weeks ago in Week 5, Samuel caught all 5 of his targets for 36 receiving yards and carried 4 times for 28 rushing yards against the Falcons. Samuel's ceiling isn't very high behind both Anderson and Moore in the pass-catching pecking order, but he's projected to finish as WR32 in PPR scoring by numberFire's algorithm. That'll play.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 12%
As I've often done this year, my top deep sleeper at quarterback is accompanied by one of his pass-catching options.
This week, it's receiver Nelson Agholor joining Carr as a deep sleeper stacking tandem. The former Eagle has carved out a solid role in the passing attack, and he's riding a three-game touchdown streak in which he's also amassed 15 targets, 11 receptions and 218 receiving yards.
He's coming off of his best game of the season in which he turned 9 targets into 5 receptions for 107 receiving yards and 1 touchdown grab. Agholor's played more than 78 percent of the team's snaps in four straight games. According to Player Profiler, Agholor has bested 30 routes run in three of his last four games with 27 routes run as his low-water mark in his last four games.
Facing a Browns defense we rank as the second-worst defending the pass, I expect him to beat the algorithm's projection of a WR52 finish in PPR formats and flirt with a top-40 performance at the position. Having said that, I do prefer less-widely available teammate Henry Ruggs in leagues in which both are free agents.
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota Vikings
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 7%
The deep sleeper option at tight end came down to a pair of them coming off of byes: Trey Burton of the Indianapolis Colts and, as you've deduced by his name headlining this section, Irv Smith Jr. of the Minnesota Vikings.
Burton scored a couple of touchdowns the last time he played, but, as you can see comparing Burton's player page on Player Profiler to Smith Jr.'s, the latter holds a significant edge in playing time and routes to the former. Further, Burton's 73 air yards over his last two games fall short of Smith Jr.'s 83 air yards. Give me Smith Jr. when picking between the two, though it's essentially a coin flip.
Rashard Higgins, WR, Cleveland Browns
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 14%
Odell Beckham suffered a season-ending injury early last week, and Rashard Higgins handled his increased role for the Cleveland Browns with aplomb. The fifth-year pro caught all 6 of his targets for 110 receiving yards. He didn't reach pay dirt, snapping back-to-back weeks of scoring touchdowns on his limited workload in the passing game. Behind numerous receiving options in the passing attack prior to OBJ's injury and tight end Austin Hooper missing the game after undergoing an appendectomy, Higgins' opportunities were limited on a run-heavy team.
Now, he's likely one of the top two receiving options along with Jarvis Landry. Before dismissing last week's blowup as a total fluke, he played very well once Baker Mayfield took the starting quarterback job back in 2018. With Mayfield at quarterback in 2018, Higgins secured 33 receptions for 487 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0.67 Target Net Expected Points (NEP) per target on 43 targets. To put his 0.67 Target NEP per target in perspective, Tyreek Hill's identical mark ranked as the seventh-highest mark among receivers targeted at least 40 times.
Higgins shouldn't be dismissed as a flash in the pan. He's projected to rank as WR50 in PPR formats this week, but, as is the case with Agholor, I'm more bullish on his outlook and expect him to finish as a fringe top-40 receiving option in a juicy matchup against a Las Vegas Raiders pass defense we rank as the sixth-worst.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.