7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 4
It's time for bye weeks.
I'm a fan of bye weeks in the sense that they add an extra layer of strategy into our favorite fantasy game and help reward owners who acquired deep benches in the draft and throughout the season.
This week, though, there are a lot of players on good offenses who are out of the picture, and everyone is still hitting the waiver wire hard, even 0-3 teams. With six teams on bye (Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle, and St. Louis), the odds are that you're missing a starter or two in shallow leagues let alone deep ones. And if the bye-week-bug hit you in Week 4 because you loaded up on these teams, you might be in dire circumstances - especially if you're on the wrong side of .500 after three weeks.
There are some solid wide receiver options this week despite the heavy bye weeks, but other positions, like quarterback and running back, are really hard to come by. Still, there are some possible options who could be available on in your league based on current ownership in ESPN leagues.
Here are some possible plays to get you through to Week 5 with another tally in the win column.
Week 4 All-Deep-Sleepers Lineup
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill (started in 2.9% of ESPN leagues | owned in 17.3%% of ESPN leagues)
With six teams on a bye, you'll be hard-pressed to find a great streaming option at quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater is a low-owned option getting a start against the Atlanta Falcons, but the Falcons are a pretty solid pass defense so far this year, ranking 11th in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per Play.
Tannehill, on the other hand, travels to London to play the 27th-ranked Oakland Raiders. He's on the hot seat and is coming off some modest games recently, so this may be his final week to prove he is the right man for the Miami Dolphins.
Tannehill's Passing NEP is just 35th of the 38 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 20 drop backs, so it's not a shock that he's just the 22nd-best quarterback in fantasy. But the matchup is right, which is more than can be said for most of the low-owned options.
Running Back: Lorenzo Taliaferro (0.4% | 1.6%)
Taliaferro burst onto the scene in Week 3, converting 18 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown. This week, Bernard Pierce could come back, which would diminish his touches, but he did earn seven more carries last week than Justin Forsett.
The Ravens play the Panthers in Week 4, which sounds daunting, but the Panthers rank 32nd in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play after their Sunday night disaster against Pittsburgh.
The Ravens will likely use some form of a running back split, and if last week is any indication, Taliaferro should be the first back in after Pierce while having a shockingly promising matchup.
Running Back: Bobby Rainey (4.7% | 16.8%)
As is the case with Taliaferro, it's likely that the starter ahead of Rainey, Doug Martin, returns for Week 4. And Rainey is coming off an embarrassing game on national television, fumbling twice and rushing for just 41 yards on 11 carries.
He did add 7 receptions and 64 receiving yards, but unless Martin is 100%, it's likely Rainey will see some action. The matchup is a good one, as the Pittsburgh Steelers rank 28th against the run according to our metrics, so Rainey could overcome his Thursday night woes with a solid game in a limited role.
It's not an ideal pick, but the first go with bye weeks really reduces deep options.
Wide Receiver: Eddie Royal (0.7% | 3.2%)
Royal had a stint of fantasy relevance last year before falling off. He has 22 targets in so far, an average of 7.3 per game. The San Diego Chargers rank fourth in Adjusted Passing NEP per play, and Royal is certainly involved and definitely a red-zone threat, despite his size.
Royal clocks in as our 29th-ranked receiver this week and is very available. The Jaguars aren't atrocious against the pass, ranking 17th, but they were just torched by the Indianapolis Colts. Royal's usability might come and go, but it seems like he's a solid part of the offense for now, especially with a thin running back corps.
Wide Receiver: Markus Wheaton (2.2% | 23.0%)
On the flip side, the Buccaneers are dreadful against the pass and rank last in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Their Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play is 0.46, and the Rams', who are 31st, is 0.27. Prior to the Thursday-night drubbing, the Bucs were just 28th after playing against Derek Anderson and Austin Davis.
Wheaton is second in receptions, targets, and yards on the Steelers, and he's averaging 5.0 receptions per game. He was very close to scoring a touchdown against the Panthers on Sunday night, which would have given him a boost in terms of ownership, but Wheaton could be in store for some solid targets against a struggling secondary.
Tight End: Owen Daniels (1.6% | 5.9%)
Daniels benefits from the unfortunate injury to Dennis Pitta, who is likely out for the season with a hip injury. Daniels already had a two-touchdown game this year while playing as the second tight end for the Ravens. He also averaged 5.5 targets per game in the first two weeks of the season but saw only 1 target of 31 passes on Sunday.
Either way, Daniels had useful years under Gary Kubiak in Houston, and if you're looking for a deep option in Week 4, Daniels is a guy who should see his fair share of targets despite a tough matchup against the Panthers, which is why he ranks as our 11th tight end this week.
Flex: Jordan Matthews (0.6% | 3.7%)
Matthews might be who a lot of people hoped he could be. He scored two touchdowns in Week 3 while catching 8 passes for 59 yards.
The rookie had only eight targets and three receptions in Philadelphia's first two games, so it's unclear if he's overtaken Riley Cooper for good. Cooper had seven targets on Sunday. Matthews had nine. Either way, Matthews has the potential to risk it this week against the San Francisco 49ers, who have already allowed six touchdowns to receivers this year.
Additionally, the 49ers rank 18th against the pass this year (despite their Week 1 showing against the Dallas Cowboys), so it's an exploitable matchup.