7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 4
Week 3 provided yet another slate of unexpected results. Fantasy football is back with a vengeance, hurtling toward Week 4 at a breakneck pace. Let's find some sleepers.
Sleeper is an ambiguous term. 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 cheap leverage in tournaments. That's why you'll see every player's FanDuel price listed next to their Yahoo! roster percentage this year.
Week 3 wasn't my best showing. Mac Jones, Marcus Mariota and Jared Goff all delivered solid if unspectacular streaming results at quarterback. Jakobi Meyers ended up missing Week 3 with a knee injury, and Hayden Hurst was clearly limited with his groin issue based on his snap count. I'm considering never writing up a running back sleeper again. It wasn't all bad, though. Russell Gage was a smash hit as the WR7, while Josh Palmer and Tyler Conklin both delivered very usable weeks.
Let's aim for better results in Week 4.
Jared Goff (45% | $7,600) - Through three weeks, the Detroit Lions are averaging 31.7 points per game. The offense ranks sixth-best in numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, registering top-eight marks through the air and on the ground. Point blank -- this has been one of the best offenses in the league so far.
Goff is at the helm, grading out 10th in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back and 11th in fantasy points among quarterbacks. And because Detroit's defense laughably ranks 30th in our schedule-adjusted metrics and just lost key safety Tracy Walker, we should expect Detroit games to continue to be high scoring. There should be no exception this week, and Detroit impressively checks in with the third-highest implied total (27.25).
We know Detroit's defense is poorl, but per our schedule-adjusted metrics, Seattle is actually one spot worse (31st). Helpfully, Seattle is a pass-funnel defense, grading a respectable 15th against the run but 31st against the pass. With D'Andre Swift banged up, it's possible we see Detroit attack Seattle's weakness through the air. Seattle is already missing star safety Jamal Adams, while important pass-game defenders Shelby Harris and Justin Coleman both missed last week's game after missing practice all week, a bad sign for their Week 4 availability.
All of the above helps explain this game's 50-point total, second-highest of the entire week. Goff is a top-15 option -- at worst -- this week, with upside for more if Seattle maintains its up-tempo style from Week 3.
This comes with the giant caveat that this article is written before we even see the first practice report of the week (aside from teams playing on Thursday Night Football). So if Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) is ruled out in addition to D'Andre Swift (shoulder) sitting, Goff's ceiling projection takes a hit.
Samaje Perine (6% | $6,100) - As mentioned repeatedly in this space, we publish this article before we know the official injury designation. In this case, Joe Mixon should be "good to go" for Thursday night. But, we know Samaje Perine handled 11 touches last week while Mixon battled an ankle injury. On a short week, it's certainly possible the Cincinnati Bengals play it a little cautious with their lead back.
Running back streaming is a wasteland at the moment, so if you're scraping for the bottom of the barrel, Perine is a worthy desperation play. I'm trying, y'all, I am.
Honorable Mentions: Good luck
D.J. Chark (41% | $5,700) - I was surprised to see Chark is rostered in fewer than half of Yahoo! leagues and is under $6K on FanDuel. As the vertical receiver in the Lions' offense, Chark's box scores are sure to be volatile, but he's top 12 in the league in air yards in an offense that is scoring lots of points (see: the Goff section above). The role is really good, and a lot of points were left on the bone in Week 2. Considering Chark's Yahoo roster percentage went down from Tuesday to Wednesday, you can tell managers are box-score chasing his results instead of focusing on the usage.
Again, the Chark recommendation goes well with the Goff write-up above. The Lions have an elite team total, the game environment projects well, and the matchup is pristine. Chark is a solid streamer regardless, but he borders on must-start territory if Amon-Ra St. Brown is ruled out.
Greg Dortch (18% | $5,300) - Can someone please explain how Dortch is rostered in less than 20% of Yahoo! leagues? In half-PPR leagues, he is the WR26 so far in points per game (11.93). In PPR leagues, he's the WR20 (15.3)!
Dortch is playing the role originally ticketed for Rondale Moore, and it's been fruitful. Moore, meanwhile, got in his practice Wednesday since the season started, so he might not be able to gear up in time for Week 4.
This is about as straightforward as streaming recommendations get: Dortch is currently a PPR WR3, yet is barely cracking rosters. Pick him up and start him.
Zay Jones (11% | $5,900) - This is a very similar situation to the Dortch recommendation above. Jones is the WR24 in PPR formats, yet is somehow rostered in just 11% of leagues. Seriously, what are we doing here, folks?
The matchup doesn't stand out on paper, but the game environment is intriguing. The over/under is a solid 48.5, and the 6.5-point spread belies how good the Jacksonville Jaguars have played so far this season. Jacksonville's passing offense is sixth-best in our schedule-adjusted rankings, which makes sense considering Trevor Lawrence ranks sixth in Passing NEP per drop back.
Jones' role is legit, and the fantasy points are there to match it. He's an every-week WR3 until further notice.
Tyler Conklin (34% | $5,400) - Yet another player who is exceeding preseason expectations, and the hive mind is slow to adjust. Conklin deserves to be rostered nearly everywhere. By points per game, he's the TE5 in half-PPR leagues and the TE3 in PPR. Per Dwain McFarland, Conklin has run a route on 80% of the New York Jets' drop backs and has been targeted on 16% of his routes -- both strong numbers for a tight end.
With the Jets' D ranking 27th in our schedule-adjusted metrics, Gang Green's offense will likely need to keep its passing volume high to contend in most matchups.
Those with better options can play the wait-and-see game with Zach Wilson scheduled to return in Week 4, but it's also possible Wilson raises the ceiling of this offense. Conklin should be rostered regardless.
Robert Tonyan (30% | $4,900) - We're going to trust the process on this one. Tonyan's box-score results haven't been exciting to date, but we have to remember he was recovering from a torn ACL this offseason. It's notable, then, that his route participation has jumped each week of the season (44% to 50% to 59%), per Dwain McFarland. It's clear the Green Bay Packers are incorporating Tonyan into the passing offense more and more each week. Per Pro Football Reference, his snap share has also risen accordingly.
Per Dwain McFarland's Utilization Report, Tonyan is earning a target on 24% of his routes, an elite rate for a tight end (Travis Kelce is at 23% this season). Last week, this led to six catches for 37 yards (on seven targets) against a stifling Buccaneers defense -- certainly nothing special but a solid PPR performance. If you watched the game -- and also evidenced by Tonyan's low Week 3 average depth of target -- he was used as an outlet for Aaron Rodgers whenever pressure got close. It's possible that Tonyan benefits from pressure again this week: the New England Patriots rank 5th in blitz rate and 11th in hurry rate, per Pro Football Reference.
In the end, this is still an offense we want pieces of. The Packers are heavy 10.0-point favorites with the sixth-highest implied team total (25.25) on the week. Tonyan is going to find paydirt soon, and this might be the week.
Honorable Mentions: Evan Engram (24% | $5,000)