7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2
Football has never been more back. Week 1 brought us plenty of surprises, fantasy points, and missed field goals. I can't wait for Week 2.
Sleeper is an ambiguous term, however. For the purpose of this article, we'll define anyone on fewer than half of Yahoo! rosters as a sleeper. Typically, I'll actually aim to feature players on fewer than 40 percent of rosters.
Don't worry, deep-league gamers, this article is intended to help folks in leagues of all shapes and sizes. With that in mind, I'm following my predecessor's lead, including honorable mentions. If the featured players are already rostered in your league, the honorable mentions should provide you with players to consider filling in for an injured starter or a player on a bye -- or for whatever other reason you're diving into the free-agent pool.
While this article is primarily written through a season-long lens, sleepers are certainly viable as daily fantasy punts in certain builds, too. Keep that in mind when you're looking for cash-game savings or trying to gain leverage in tournaments. That's why you'll see every player's FanDuel price listed next to their Yahoo! roster percentage this year.
Week 1's column was a mixed bag. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota checked in with top-ten quarterback performances, Gerald Everett was a top-five tight end, and Jahan Dotson scored two touchdowns. On the flip side, Mike Davis, Ameer Abdullah and Sammy Watkins were busts. We'll aim for more success in Week 2 below.
Carson Wentz (15% | $7,400 on FanDuel) - I take no pleasure in reporting this, but Carson Wentz was the third-best fantasy quarterback in Week 1. Gross, I know.
It's easy to forget, though, that Wentz has been a productive fantasy football quarterback throughout his career. Week 1 provided many Wentzian lows (highlighted by this interception), but he still managed 313 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air.
With Terry McLaurin locked-in as the team's alpha receiver, rookie Jahan Dotson looking the part, Curtis Samuel finally healthy, Logan Thomas back sooner than expected, and Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic available out of the backfield, Wentz has an underrated and deep bevy of weapons at his disposal.
Now he faces a Detroit Lions defense that was eviscerated for 31 offensive points at home in Week 1, and as a result, ranks 31st in numberFire's schedule-adjusted rankings. The Washington Commanders enter Week 2 with a strong 24-point implied team total as just 1.5-point road underdogs in a game with a near 50-point total.
It projects as a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair, so don't be surprised if Wentz registers another top-ten scoring week among quarterbacks this week -- or if he's benched by halftime. Either way, we're in for a treat.
Rex Burkhead (13% | $5,800) - Week 1 was not a great look for Dameon Pierce truthers. Burkhead out touched the rookie 22-12 and ran 22(!) more routes. Even if we expect Pierce to steal more work as the season progresses, it's clear Burkhead has a firm grip on the passing down role for a team that will often project to play from behind. Per Pro Football Focus, Burkhead played every snap in the 2-minute drill.
In the meantime, Burkhead seems to enjoy a comfy lead on base downs, too. That should keep him in the mix for 15-plus touches per week until we see otherwise, which keeps him squarely on the RB2 map.
Burkhead heads to face the Denver Broncos defense, which allowed five yards per carry to Rashaad Penny and will be playing on a short week. The Broncos were missing starting ILB Josey Jewell in Week 1 after he picked up a calf injury mid-week. It's possible Jewell misses Week 2, upgrading Burkhead's matchup.
Regardless, Burkhead should get all the pass down work in a game the Houston Texans enter as heavy 9.5-point road underdogs. After managing the sixth-best route involvement rate (67%) and fourth-most targets among running backs in Week 1 despite playing in positive game script, Burkhead should once again get plenty of targets. He's a must add and a legitimate RB2 in PPR leagues.
Jeff Wilson (19% | $6,300) - This one is pretty cut-and-dried. San Francisco 49ers starting running back Elijah Mitchell is out for a while, and Wilson was the only other Niners running back to play an offensive snap after Mitchell left Week 1's loss. He's clearly the next man up and has head coach Kyle Shanahan's trust, which is not an easy thing to earn. Hopefully you already rostered Wilson after he was written up as a Week 1 sleeper.
Wilson is probably just an average player, but he runs hard and has proven he can play in the passing game. The role is less appealing than meets the eye with Trey Lance and Deebo Samuel siphoning off backfield touches, but Wilson is still an easy RB2 start for now. The 49ers are 8.5-point home favorites with a strong 25.5-point implied team total.
Josh Palmer (21% | $5,100) - With Keenan Allen unlikely to play Thursday, Palmer is set up for a nice role in a projected shootout against the Kansas City Chiefs. This game has the highest total on the week (54.5) and these two teams combined for 62, 52, and 59 total points across their last three matchups.
Per Evan Silva of Establish The Run, "Palmer played 60% or more of L.A.’s offensive snaps three times last year and banked stat lines of 5/66/1, 5/43/1, and 4/45/1." He's a WR3 with WR1 upside in this likely barnburner.
Curtis Samuel (8% | $5,700) - I'm just as uncomfortable writing up two players from the Commanders as you are reading it. But it's hard to overlook Samuel's promising usage in Week 1. Talent has never been the issue for Samuel, but it was hard to project a solid role for him this year after he lost almost all of 2021 to groin and hamstring injuries.
He didn't look any worse for wear in Week 1, though. Samuel ran a route on 80% of Wentz's drop backs, which resulted in 11 targets, 8 receptions, 55 yards and a touchdown. His 27% target share led the team, and the touchdown was pretty clearly schemed up for him. He also added 4 carries for an additional 17 yards.
We already discussed above why Wentz has an enticing matchup through the air. Samuel stands to benefit, and he'll be -- at worst -- a weekly WR3 if this usage continues. He's a priority pickup.
Honorable Mentions: D.J. Chark (40% | $5,700), Mecole Hardman (30% | $5,500), Donovan Peoples-Jones (6% | $5,800), Corey Davis (6% | $5,900), Robbie Anderson (11% | $5,900), Zay Jones (12% | $5,500), Kyle Philips (1% | $4,500), Noah Brown (1% | $5,200)
Gerald Everett (28% | $5,500) - Back to the well here.
I wrote up Everett as a Week 1 sleeper, and he delivered three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, good for the TE4 performance on the week. As a reminder, he checks a lot of the boxes we are looking for in a breakout tight end candidate.
With Keenan Allen out, Everett stands to benefit as the second spot in the target pecking order is up for grabs. As mentioned in the Palmer section above, the Chargers offense is one we want to target because it's attached to a high game total. For teams who drafted someone like Mike Gesicki, Everett is an easy replacement.
Robert Tonyan (22% | $4,900) - With tight end as doomed as ever, a shining knight appears through the mist. It's none other than Bobby Tonyan, who has an 11-touchdown season on his resume and happens to catch passes from Aaron Rodgers.
Tonyan was a positive footnote on an otherwise dreadful Week 1 for the Green Bay Packers, surprisingly not entering the game with an injury designation after tearing his ACL late last October. He caught three passes on five targets for 36 yards, impressive considering he played just 36% of the team's offensive snaps. That means he was targeted on 29% of his routes -- an elite rate for tight ends.
I'm no scout, but Tonyan looked as fluid as ever on his catches. Assuming his knee responds well, it's reasonable to project his snap share to increase. Regardless, he ran a route on 18 of the 22 snaps he played in Week 1 (82%), meaning he is on the field to run routes and not to block, which is all we care about in fantasy football.
This usage makes sense considering the state of the Packers wide receiver room. Allen Lazard didn't play after registering three straight DNPs in practice all week, rendering him questionable at best for Week 2. Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins are over the hill veterans, and Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson are rookies. Rodgers might trust Tonyan more than any non-running back pass catcher on the team right now.
Green Bay will be on a mission to right the ship after an embarrassing Week 1 loss. They get a home date against the Chicago Bears in front of a raucous Lambeau Field crowd and have the 7th-highest implied team total on the week (26).
Tonyan is as good a bet as any non-elite tight end to score a touchdown this week. Here's betting he finds paydirt.
Eli Weiner is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Eli Weiner also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Eweiner2. 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.