Never forget about the little guys. In fantasy football, there are always players that come out of nowhere to put up huge points. Your main job as a fantasy owner is to identify those players before they break out, and here at numberFire, we make it easier.
I'm going to give you four guys to keep an eye on this weekend. These aren't guys that I'm saying to pick up right away unless you're in the deepest of leagues. In fact, I'll say the opposite: you'll probably get made fun of if you drop a solid player to pick them up. But these are guys with potential who you may just see taking a bigger role in the next couple of weeks. There is only one common denominator among these players: they are all owned in less than 1% of ESPN leagues.
Top 4 Long-Shot Fantasy Sleepers to Watch, Week 6
RB/FB Marcel Reece - Oakland Raiders
Week 5 Fantasy Points: N/A (Bye)
Week 6 Projected Points: 1.23 (#65 RB)
Leagues Owned: 0.2%
OK, maybe I'm cheating a little bit, because Reece is listed on the Raiders' official depth chart as the starting fullback. However, the Raiders have utilized Reece more than I have seen a fullback utilized in a passing offense in a long time. Would you believe me if I told you that he was tied for third on the team in targets with 18? How about that his current 72% catch rate places him only five receptions behind Darren McFadden for the team lead? Or that in Oakland's last game against the Denver Broncos, Reece tied for the team lead with Denarius Moore with eight targets and finished second on the team (by a mile) with 54 receiving yards? If you're in a deep PPR league, Reece could be a sneaky solid pickup moving forward once past his bye week. And to everybody else, I would monitor Carson Palmer's targets to Reece over the next couple weeks.
WR Chris Givens - St. Louis Rams
Week 5 Fantasy Points: 11
Week 6 Projected Points: 5.51 (#50 WR)
Leagues Owned: 0.4%
I wish Don LaFontaine was still alive. I can imagine the voiceover now. "In a world... far far away... where the Rams lost their only receiver. Suddenly, a new face appeared. A rookie, who nobody knew... to save the day." *Cue Coheed & Cambria backing track*
In all seriousness, though, it is a believable storyling St. Louis for this week. Chris Givens did not receive much publicity as a fourth-round draft choice out of Wake Forest, but with Danny Amendola's injury, he is now thrust into the starting role opposite Brandon Gibson. He and Sam Bradford have not had much success hooking up this year - Givens only has four catches - but it's not for a lack of trying. Those four catches came on 15 Bradford targets, which leaves Givens with an incredibly poor 27% success rate, but also third on the Rams (and second among non-injured players) with 15 targets. Givens' big play potential is undeniable, as his four catches have him sitting third on the team with 112 yards receiving, an incredible 28 yards per catch. And he can beat defenses for the long ball; his only catch last week was a 51-yard bomb for one of two Rams' TDs on the day. Oh, and did I mention, that one catch also had him leading the team in receiving yards last week. Watch out for how he does against the mediocre Dolphins pass defense this week.
WR Chaz Schilens - New York Jets
Week 5 Fantasy Points: 2
Week 6 Projected Points: 6.43 (#42 WR)
Leagues Owned: 0.3%
In the wake of an injured Santonio Holmes, everybody and their brother started searching around for the Jets' new #1 threat that Mark Sanchez will invariably throw at the feet of. Many settled on Jeremy Kerley, including myself. He's now owned in 40.7% of ESPN leagues, and for a good reason: 28% of Sanchez's throws went his way on Monday night. Some settled on Stephen Hill, who is still recovering from an injury. But it interests me that almost nobody settled on the player with the second-most targets in Monday's game and is still listed as a starter on the Jets' official depth chart: Chaz Schilens.
Schilens is somewhat of an unknown to anybody other than diehard Raiders fans, but he has produced in this league before with exactly 1,000 career receiving yards. Last season in Oakland, his catch rate climbed to a career-high 66% on 35 targets over the season. He seems to be continuing that trend in New York: his 10-for-12 catch rate (83%) leads all Jets players. He caught four of the five balls thrown his way last week, while Fantasy God Kerley only caught five of the nine targets from Sanchez. It's not inconceivable to me that a struggling Sanchez elects to go with a more sure-handed receiver as his go-to target, and the Colts' #25 opponent-adjusted defense would be a good week to test that theory out.
TE Dwayne Allen - Indianapolis Colts
Week 5 Fantasy Points: 9
Week 6 Projected Points: 1.77 (#36 TE)
Leagues Owned: 0.4%
The Colts' passing attack is simple. Andrew Luck at QB with fellow Stanford player Coby Fleener to rely on. Simple as picking Lebron James for the Olympic Team.
So then tell me, who is Dwayne Allen and why does he have 11 targets over the past two Colts games? In week 3 against the Jaguars, Allen's six targets were fourth on the team, and he converted an 83% catch rate on those six balls Luck threw his way. Meanwhile, Fleener only received two targets and caught neither of them before suffering a head injury. But then things were expected to go downhill for Allen, with Fleener back in the lineup for week 5 and getting nine targets thrown his way. But lo and behold, there's that man again, as Allen received five targets, catching four of them for 38 yards. Perhaps even more impressive is that this time, even with Fleener an option, Luck elected to go to Allen in the red zone for one of his two passing TDs on the day (Reggie Wayne caught the other for the game-winner). As long as Fleener's around, Allen's absolute best-case scenario is receiving a number of catches as a timeshare tight end. But the strategy has worked well in New England, and Andrew Luck has the second-most pass attempts per game in the league behind Drew Brees.