7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 8
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.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
Yahoo Ownership: 14%
In his first start for the Tennessee Titans last week, Ryan Tannehill made the team look smart for pulling the plug on Marcus Mariota. The former Dolphin completed 23 of 29 passes for 312 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception while taking a couple of sacks and rushing for 7 yards. The strong start came on the heels of a solid relief appearance in Denver the week before in which he completed 13 of 16 passes for 144 yards and 1 interception.
He'll have a golden opportunity to build on his play in a favorable matchup this week. Our power rankings rank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 12th-worst pass defense this season. The Titans have an implied total of 24.0 points this week that ranks within the top-10 highest implied totals in Week 8. Our algorithm projects Tannehill to finish as QB17 this week, but I'm a bit more bullish on his outlook and view him as a top-15 option at the position.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Yahoo Ownership: 27%
With Malcolm Brown inactive last week, the Los Angeles Rams used Darrell Henderson as the second back behind Todd Gurley. Henderson played 34 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 7, per Pro-Football-Reference. He could be in line to be the number-two back again this week, as Lindsey Thiry of ESPN reports Brown didn't practice Wednesday.
The Rams injury report today - none of following players practiced:
RB Malcolm Brown - ankle
LB Bryce Hager - shoulder
CB Troy Hill - hamstring
LB Clay Matthews - jaw
LT Andrew Whitworth - not injury related
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) October 23, 2019
Henderson's value could take a hit if Brown returns to practice and is ultimately active this week, but Brown's failure to even be a limited participant suggests he has a ways to go before being healthy enough to play in a game. If Henderson has second back duties to himself this week, he could get a hefty dose of touches in a dreamy matchup.
The Rams are tied for biggest-favorite honors this week, laying 13 points to the "visiting" Cincinnati Bengals in London. They also have the distinction of owning the largest implied total of the week at 30.75 points, too. As for the Bengals, they've been creamed by backs this season. They've ceded the most rushing yards (893), tied for the second-most rushing touchdowns (7) allowed, tied for the ninth-most receptions allowed (41), have surrendered the second-most receiving yards (410), and are tied for the most touchdown receptions (3) allowed to running backs this year, per Pro-Football-Reference.
Henderson touched the ball 12 times and totaled 39 yards from scrimmage in a blowout win on the road in Atlanta last week, and if he's able to receive a similar workload this week in what projects to be a blowout, he'll have an opportunity to return RB2 or flex value. The greatest risk to Henderson's fantasy value this week is the game being closer than the spread suggests it will be, but oddsFire shows 90 percent of bets and 93 percent of the money coming in on the Rams this week, illustrating bettors believe this will be a boat race.
Mark Walton, RB, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Ownership: 20%
Mark Walton started for the Miami Dolphins for the second week in a row in Week 7. However, more importantly, he played more snaps than Kenyan Drake (52 percent for Walton and 41 percent for Drake) and held a sizable touches edge over Drake with 15 compared to 9. Coincidentally, the two posted an identical 58 yards from scrimmage. Both Walton's and Drake's fantasy value was hindered by Kalen Ballage, who punched in a three-yard touchdown run.
Regardless, Walton's second-straight week of double-digit touches bodes well for his fantasy value going forward. Over the last two weeks, he's totaled 20 carries for 98 rushing yards and 6 receptions on 7 targets for 35 receiving yards. He's taking advantage of the opportunity to get run on a rebuilding Dolphins squad, and that trend should continue this week. Our projections call for Walton to fall short of double-digit touches this week and finish as RB47 in point-per-reception (PPR) formats this week, but I'm more optimistic given his recent usage and think he'll reach double-digit touches for the third week in a row and finish as a top-40 scorer at the position -- even in a tough matchup against our third-ranked run defense.
A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Yahoo Ownership: 20%
Tennessee's offense has been held back most of the year by Mariota, but it's received a lift with the aforementioned Tannehill taking over the reins. Last week, rookie A.J. Brown set new single-game highs in targets (eight) and receptions (six). He turned his six receptions into 64 receiving yards, his third-highest total in a game this year.
Tannehill's attempted 45 passes in his one-plus game this year, and Brown ranks second to Corey Davis (11 targets) in targets with 10, third in receptions (7), and tied for second in receiving yards (74) on passes from the former Dolphin. The volume is solid if unspectacular for Brown with Tannehill leading the show now. We project Brown to finish 60th among receivers in scoring this week in PPR formats, but Brown's outlook is enhanced with Mariota riding the pine, and the previously noted solid implied total for the Titans and favorable matchup for the passing game -- which was also discussed in Tannehill's write-up above -- puts a top-50 finish in scoring at the position well within reach.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yahoo Ownership: 13%
Ranked higher in our projections this week at receiver than Brown as WR37 is Diontae Johnson. The Pittsburgh Steelers were on bye in Week 7, and they return with an exceptionally soft matchup hosting the Dolphins in this week's Monday Night Football game. We rank the Dolphins as the second-worst defense overall and second-worst pass defense this season.
The Steelers are massive 14.5-point favorites with an implied team total of 28.75 points, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The week off last week has allowed Mason Rudolph to recover from his concussion, and he's ready to return after clearing the NFL's concussion protocol. The return of Rudolph should provide a shot in the arm to Johnson's value.
The rookie receiver was held to 2 receptions on 2 targets for 14 yards in Week 6 with Devlin Hodges asked to throw only 20 times. Rudolph's attempted 94 passes this year, and he's directed 20 of them Johnson's way, a co-high for targets from Rudolph, matching JuJu Smith-Schuster's mark. Johnson's turned his targets into 12 receptions for 154 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns, marks that rank second, second, and tied for first, respectively, on passes from Rudolph. He's bested 50 receiving yards with a touchdown reception in two of four games Rudolph's started, and he should get back on track this week against the Dolphins. I'd prefer using Johnson at receiver to the previously touted Brown, and I'd also start him over a forthcoming receiver suggestion for gamers who have all three options at their disposal.
Darren Fells, TE, Houston Texans
Yahoo Ownership: 21%
Since I wrote about Darren Fells in the 3 Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming Options for Week 8 piece earlier in the week, his ownership rate has dipped by eight percent from 29 percent to 21 percent. You should read the linked piece to see why I'm suggesting using him this week, but the cliff notes version is that he's a red-zone weapon who's attached to a gaudy implied total of 29.0 points boasted by the Houston Texans. His low-ownership rate keeps him in the mix as a deep fantasy football sleeper in Week 8, and I'll double down on him as my pick at tight end.
Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Ownership: 12%
The Miami Dolphins remain winless and have been awful this year, but they're coming off of a season-high 21 points scored against the vaunted defense of the Buffalo Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick started, and he picked up where he left off playing semi competently after doing so in relief of Josh Rosen the week before. Fitz reportedly earned another start this week, and that's good news for Preston Williams.
With Rosen throwing passes, Williams totaled 23 targets which he turned into 8 receptions, 106 receiving yards, -0.49 Target Net Expected Points (NEP) per Target, and a 75 percent Receiving Success Rate. He's been much better when Fitzpatrick has thrown him the ball. Fitz has targeted Williams a team-high 21 times, and the rookie receiver has thrived with 15 receptions, 208 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 0.32 Target NEP per Target, and a 93.33 percent Receiving Success Rate.
Overall for the year, Williams ranks 19th with 614 intended air yards, per Sports Info Solutions. He's coming off of single-game highs this year in receptions (six) and receiving yards (82), and his eight targets were his second-highest total in a game this year and second on the team last week. We project Williams to finish as WR34 in PPR formats this week, and, while that's a fair projection, I slightly prefer the previously discussed and slightly lower projected Johnson at wideout this week.