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 2% of ESPN leagues.
Top 4 Long-Shot Fantasy Sleepers to Watch, Week 9
RB Lance Dunbar - Dallas Cowboys
Week 9 Fantasy Points: 2
Week 10 Projected Points: 5.27 (#34 RB)
Leagues Owned: 0.1%
For intents and purposes, Felix Jones is the lead back in Dallas with DeMarco Murray still sidelined. That much is known. For all intents and purposes, the Cowboys don't expect Jones to be able to shoulder a full workload - only 50% of Cowboys handoffs against the Falcons went his way. That much is also known.
Timeshare, thy name is Lance Dunbar.
While Phillip Tanner had previously received much of the work while Murray and Jones were banged up, Dunbar became the split-back of choice against the Falcons last Sunday. The Cowboys finished the game with 18 rushing plays; eight of them were Dunbar's, one behind Jones's team-leading nine carries. While he wasn't overly effective with just 26 yards rushing, the Cowboys look content with him moving forward.
Do I see Dunbar displacing either Jones or Murray? Not particularly. With the injury concerns both players have faced over the past couple seasons, however, Dunbar would be a good name to know for Murray owners wanting a potential low-risk, high-upside handcuff.
WR Jerricho Cotchery - Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 9 Fantasy Points: 5
Week 10 Projected Points: 4.19 (#58 WR)
Leagues Owned: 0.6%
With Antonio Brown still rehabbing an injured ankle, everyone assumed that Emmanuel Sanders would take over the #2 receiver role against the Giants and potentially go off for a big day playing opposite Mike Wallace.
Funny thing about assumptions, though: they never quite turn out how you plan.
While Sanders only received two Roethlisberger targets on the day, Jerricho Cotchery stepped up and had four Roethlisberger looks, one off the team lead. Perhaps even more impressive, Cotchery made every single one of those looks count: his 100% catch rate landed him first on the team in receptions and second in receiving yards.
Brown remains out for Pittsburgh's Week 10 game against the Chiefs, numberFire's No. 25 opponent-adjusted defense. While Sanders still has the biggest upside of any non-Wallace Pittsburgh receiver, Cotchery's strong day against the Giants may just influence Big Ben to throw a few more balls his way this week.
WR Michael Jenkins - Minnesota Vikings
Week 9 Fantasy Points: 0
Week 10 Projected Points: 4.87 (#55 WR)
Leagues Owned: 0.5%
Percy Harvin remains day-to-day, but the current numberFire projections aren't too high on his prospects; he's only our No. 68 WR this week as of this writing.
And while Christian Ponder hasn't been able to get his mind off of Samantha Steele the past two weeks, he's still going to have to throw to somebody. Our best guess was Jerome Simpson; there's a reason he was one of our key waiver pickups this week. But the savvy fantasy owner won't sleep on Michael Jenkins, either.
It's been Jenkins who has been a key contributor recently with the offense struggling; the former Atlanta Falcon has had at least nine targets in two of his past four games. All told, 16.1% of Ponder's passes have gone Jenkins' way over the past four weeks, and that was with Harvin healthy and in the fold.
The matchup this week looks good for a Vikings Re-establishing Offense game as well. The Lions hold numberFire's No. 27 opponent-adjusted defense and gave up two passing TDs in each of the past two weeks to Russell Wilson and Blaine Gabbert.
TE Dwayne Allen - Indianapolis Colts
Week 9 Fantasy Points: 7
Week 10 Projected Points: 2.85 (#27 TE)
Leagues Owned: 1.3%
When the starter's away, the boys will play. Coby Fleener's injury has opened up Dwayne Allen to not only be one of Andrew Luck's favorite targets, but a top tight end until Fleener's return.
It's not just the targets that are impressive for Allen (he's had 12 of those over the last two games), but what he's been able to do with them: his 83% catch rate has helped catapult him to finishing third on the team in receptions in each of the past two weeks.
And while some may argue that Allen's good fortune was a result of the Tennessee and Miami pass defenses he faced, the road doesn't exactly get rougher for the immediate future. The Jaguars, Patriots, and Bills should all provide ample scoring opportunity for the tight end over the next three weeks.