7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2
It's never too early to start streaming. Gamers who had the misfortune of drafting Andrew Luck or Lamar Miller are already looking for roster help. Additionally, those riding out the holdout of Melvin Gordon could be looking for an early-season option, too. There are also gamers who've made unbalanced player swaps, opening up a streaming spot on their roster.
Regardless of the motivation for turning to the waiver wire/free agent pool, this is the place to find streaming options -- even for gamers in leagues as large as 14- or 16-team formats. Every week in this space, you'll find a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, and a flex who are low-owned options in Yahoo! leagues and offer plug-and-play appeal.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Yahoo Ownership: 14%
This isn't the Marvin Lewis-led Cincinnati Bengals anymore. Former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Zac Taylor breathed life into the offense in his first regular-season game as a head coach. In a game that was close from start to finish, Andy Dalton was unleashed and allowed to throw a whopping 51 passes in a tough road environment against the Seattle Seahawks. He completed 35 passes for 418 passing yards and two touchdowns. He did lose two fumbles and take five sacks, but he didn't throw any interceptions.
Dalton's likely to deal with pressure all year behind a bad offensive line, but he's doing his part to avoid sacks by getting the ball out at a reasonable rate. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Dalton's time to throw was the 12th-fastest time at 2.61 seconds. The veteran signal-caller acquitted himself well in regards to throwing his pass-catchers catchable balls. His 74.5 percent catchable ball percentage was 19th for quarterbacks who threw a minimum of 10 pass attempts, per Sports Info Solutions.
The host Bengals are tied for the 11th highest implied total this week at 23.5 points. Our algorithm projects Dalton to be the 16th-highest scorer at quarterback in Week 2. I'm bullish on Dalton's outlook against a San Francisco 49ers squad traveling cross country again this week but playing in the 1:00 PM ET slate of games this go-round.
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots
Yahoo Ownership: 9%
Last season, Rex Burkhead was a player with some buzz entering the year. He was injured early in the season, though, and held a modest role in the backfield for the New England Patriots in his eight games played. This year, he generated almost no buzz, so of course he plays a big role in Week 1.
He showed off his versatility in a blowout win in the opener, and his 32 offensive snaps played (46 percent of New England's offensive snaps) were second in the backfield to James White's 33 offensive snaps (47 percent of offensive snaps), per Pro-Football-Reference. Interestingly, the Patriots used White and Burkhead in the backfield together on occasion against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Burkhead's versatility showed up in the box score with him leading the team in rushing yards with 44 on eight carries, and he reeled in five receptions on eight targets for 41 receiving yards. The Patriots are the biggest favorites in Week 2, laying 18.5 points to the host Miami Dolphins. That's noteworthy because Burkhead's usage against the Steelers could be an indicator he'll be used as their closer, not Sony Michel.
When the Patriots led by 10 points or more in Week 1, Michel toted the rock eight times for six rushing yards. Burkhead received all eight of his carries (good for 44 rushing yards, as I noted above) with the Patriots holding a double-digit point lead against the Steelers. Burkhead was also targeted six times under those conditions, and he caught four passes for 24 receiving yards. Our models project Burkhead to finish 38th in running back scoring in point-per-reception (PPR) formats this week.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Yahoo Ownership: 5%
Literally directly behind Burkhead in our projected scoring in PPR formats at running back this week is Darren Sproles as the 39th-ranked running back. The 36-year-old back showed signs of life last week, rushing for a team-high 47 yards on nine carries and securing all three of his targets for 16 receiving yards. However, his double-digit touches were probably a product of the Philadelphia Eagles digging themselves a hole out of the gate. Washington opened with 17 unanswered points before the Eagles got on the board.
When the Eagles were trailing, Sproles amassed seven carries for 40 rushing yards and tallied two receptions on a pair of targets for nine receiving yards. A little back-of-the-napkin math reveals Sproles carried the ball two times and caught just one pass when the Eagles were leading. He might need a negative game script in most matchups in order to total 10-plus touches, but that's not necessarily the case this week.
The Atlanta Falcons are notoriously kind to running backs in the passing game. Atlanta's coughed up the most receptions to running backs each of the last four years, including surrendering 117 receptions to the position last year, according to Pro-Football-Reference. Sproles' receiving prowess could be utilized right out of the gate in this week's projected shootout.
The Eagles are 1.5-point favorites, and the game's over/under of 50.5 points, is fantasy-friendly. Sproles' floor is exceptionally low, but it doesn't take much squinting to see him utilized as part of this week's game plan and producing a useful fantasy line.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Yahoo Ownership: 25%
Among my misses in last week's deep sleepers was Mecole Hardman. You can check out the linked piece to read me salivate over Hardman's game-changing speed that makes him a weekly home-run threat. His path to usage is cleared significantly, though, with Tyreek Hill set to miss a few weeks due to injury.
Our football czar, JJ Zachariason, voiced his opinion regarding Hardman's treatment across fantasy leagues.
Mecole Hardman seemed to be way lower of a priority for people off the wire this week than he should have been.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 11, 2019
I'm in complete agreement, and he'll have an opportunity to make those who passed on scooping him up in leagues regret that decision as soon as this week. The Oakland Raiders were clobbered by receivers Emmanuel Sanders (five receptions for 86 receiving yards and one touchdown on seven targets) and Courtland Sutton (seven receptions for 120 receiving yards on eight targets) in the second game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader in Week 1. Hardman's the owner of zero receptions on one target in his one-game NFL career, so he's obviously not as accomplished as Sanders or Sutton, but he's tied to a far better offense.
To that end, the Kansas City Chiefs are tied for the second-highest implied team over/under total this week at 30.0 points. Hardman played 78 percent of Kansas City's offensive snaps last week (second highest among receivers on the team), and with the potential for role growth making his time on the field more valuable, he's a viable dart throw as exposure to Kansas City's high-flying offense.
Chris Conley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Ownership: 3%
Former Chief Chris Conley showed out in his first game with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He set a new single-game high with 97 receiving yards, his six receptions were tied for his second-highest total in a game in his 54-game career, and he added a touchdown grab for good measure. He wasn't the most productive receiver on his own team last week, though. That distinction belongs to D.J. Chark, who eviscerated the Chiefs for four receptions on four targets for 146 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Chark's widely available, as well, and he checks in ahead of Conley in our projected scoring in PPR formats this week as tied for 44th at receiver, compared to 56th at the position for Conley. Chark's an intriguing streaming option in his own right, but Conley gets the edge for me based on the volume of targets each received after Gardner Minshew relieved an injured Nick Foles.
Minshew completed both of his targets to Chark for an eye-popping 104 yards, but he targeted Conley more than twice as often. The rookie sixth-round pick for the Jaguars threw five passes Conley's direction, and Conley secured all five of those targets for 76 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The fly in the ointment with using anyone on the Jaguars is that they have the third-lowest implied total this week at 17.25 points. Conley -- and Chark, for that matter -- could benefit from a likely negative game script (the Jaguars are 8.5-point underdogs), however. Additionally, the matchup could be favorable after the Houston Texans' secondary was roasted in their opener by Tre'Quan Smith (two receptions for 26 receiving yards and a touchdown), Ted Ginn Jr. (a perfect seven receptions on seven targets for 101 receiving yards), and Michael Thomas (10 receptions for 123 receiving yards on 13 targets).
Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Yahoo Ownership: 1%
Most weeks this year, I'll provide a fourth streaming option at tight end in addition to the three I suggest earlier in the week in my tight end streaming piece. However, this is not most weeks. Hayden Hurst is my favorite streaming option at the position this week, and I explained in great detail in the above linked piece why I'm a believer in the Baltimore Ravens' "other" second-year tight end. His ownership hasn't moved from the just one percent when I wrote about him for Tuesday's piece, and it would be disingenuous of me to suggest a fourth streaming option at the position when my top option is available darn near everywhere.
Trey Quinn, WR, Washington
Yahoo Ownership: 1%
For the second time in two weeks, Trey Quinn closes out this piece as a deep fantasy football sleeper. Washington unexpectedly raced out to a 17-point lead before eventually falling to the Eagles. The game script didn't go as expected, and tight end Vernon Davis and rookie receiver Terry McLaurin had a hand in that by scoring the game's first two touchdowns.
Quinn was in line to bust as a streamer until the game's final drive. Before that drive, Quinn caught one pass for 14 receiving yards on only two targets. Yikes. He salvaged his day, however, by catching three of four targets for 19 yards and a touchdown on Washington's last drive.
I'm not yet ready to throw in the towel on Quinn's fantasy outlook this year. Case Keenum's track record for targeting slot receivers (which I highlighted in an offseason piece hyping Quinn) is enough to award Quinn some leash, but it's his matchup that earns him streamer validity in Week 2.
Quinn should see a healthy dose of Anthony Brown in the slot. Brown's slot rate was 52.1 percent last year, according to PlayerProfiler. He's the weakest link among Dallas' corners. Sports Info Solutions credited Brown with 8.5 yards per target allowed last year, compared to 7.9 yards per target for Chidobe Awuzie, 6.8 yards per target for Byron Jones, and 4.9 yards per target for Jourdan Lewis.
The Cowboys won't sleep on McLaurin after his blowup first game as a pro, and head coach Jay Gruden would be wise to use his slot receiver to exploit the softest spot in the Cowboys' secondary.