7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5
Thankfully only two teams are on bye this week, instead of six like last week. Those two teams are also the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders, which makes it likely that you aren't without too many starters because of dreaded byes.
But, alternatively, that means there are 15 games in Week 5, and that gives us plenty of low-owned options to plug and play if you need it.
These recommendations are primarily intended for deep leagues (like 14- and 16-team leagues), but if you're in a clever league, then there may not be many obvious plays available on the waiver wire. In case you don't need anything this deep, my less obscure sleeper recommendations are available here.
Week 5 All-Deep-Sleepers Lineup
Quarterback: Joe Flacco (started in 3.9% of ESPN leagues | owned in 18.9%% of ESPN leagues)
I know Flacco isn't a confidence-inducing sleeper choice, but there are a lot of quarterback options with so few teams on bye. So you likely won't need to go with Joe, but the matchup is fine, and he hasn't been that bad this year. He's currently fantasy football's 10th-best quarterback, without accounting for quarterbacks who had byes.
Flacco has already gone for over 300 yards twice this year and has 7 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions, which is why he's averaging 17.0 fantasy points per game. This play is also why he ranks ninth in the league in Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back among all quarterbacks who have attempted 20 or more drop backs.
Given that and the Colts' play against quarterbacks, Flacco is a surprisingly good option. The Colts rank 20th in the league in against the pass on a per play basis, allowing 262.5 yards, 1.75 touchdowns, and 17.2 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Flacco's averages? Pretty close: 263.8 yards, 1.75 touchdowns, and 17.0 fantasy points.
Running Back: Darrin Reaves (0.1% | 0.1%)
Reaves is going to be the starting running back for the Panthers on Sunday when they play the Bears. All of the rookie's rushing stats in his career came in Week 4: 12 carries for 26 yards. This is just an attrition play though. Even head coach Ron Rivera said Reaves is starting by default. Reaves did add three receptions (for just 11 yards), giving him 15 touches in Week 4.
The matchup against the Bears, who were amazingly bad against fantasy running backs last year, is still pretty good. They rank 15th in fantasy points allowed but are 24th against the rush according to our metrics.
It's hard to get too excited about Reaves based on what he showed in Week 4, but you won't find many guys with 18-touch potential available in 99.9% of leagues many other weeks.
Running Back: Jerick McKinnon (0.4% | 0.8%)
Everybody saw McKinnon break out last Sunday against the Falcons, but he's still firmly planted behind Matt Asiata, who will continue to get short-yardage and goal-line touches going forward. This really caps McKinnon's upside, but it's clear that he can eat up yardage on a given play.
Of the 56 running backs who have at least 20 carries, McKinnon ranks 19th in Rushing NEP per rush. This means that he, roughly, is inside the top-third in the league at turning his touches into points and positive gains for his offense. Couple this with Teddy Bridgewater's sprained ankle and the team's short week, and there should be enough opportunity for McKinnon against the Packers defense, which ranks dead last in the NFL against the run.
McKinnon may not turn into an every-week player quite yet, but the matchup and the opportunity are right for another big day. Keep an eye on his ankle, but he seems ready to roll for Thursday night.
Wide Receiver: Allen Hurns (2.2% | 7.3%)
The Week 1 star should be in store for another big performance. Hurns has cooled off since his big breakout day, but he still is the 15th-best fantasy receiver in football (in half-point-per-reception leagues). You may not have seen it, but Hurns actually had two drops on deep passes that likely would have been touchdowns since Week 1.
The big-play receiver faces the Steelers at home in Week 5. Pittsburgh ranks 26th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, and allows the 22nd-most fantasy points to receivers so far this year. Pittsburgh is giving up 30.0 fantasy points per game to receivers. Factoring out the Ravens game, when Baltimore receivers accounted for just 12.7 fantasy points, and the Steelers are giving up 35.7 fantasy points per game, which would rank them 30th in the league.
Wide Receiver: Louis Murphy (0.0% | 0.0%)
No, I didn't forget to change his ownership number. It's just that Murphy isn't on the radar, and that's understandable. But Mike Evans is expected to be out at least two weeks with a groin injury, and Murphy ended Week 4 with 6 receptions for 99 yards. Murphy also had 11 targets, which was actually the most on the team.
The Saints allow the 28th-most fantasy points to receivers and rank 30th against the pass according to our schedule-adjusted metrics. Given that the Raiders, who are 31st, are out this week, the Saints-Buccaneers matchup includes the two worst passing defenses in the league based on our numbers. There's opportunity and a good matchup for Murphy. The Saints are favored by 10.5, so there could be some garbage time for Murphy, which is never a bad thing for fantasy owners.
Tight End: Jared Cook (0.8% | 3.5%)
Cook has averaged 7.0 targets in his three games so far this year. Teammate Brian Quick leads the team with 22. Only two other Rams have double-digit targets, and none have more than 14. The consistent targets have allowed Cook go secure at least 4 passes and 46 yards in each game, but his most recent game featured 7 receptions for 75 yards.
Based on points-allowed to tight ends, the Eagles seem daunting. They rank seventh. They're also 10th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per Play. So it's not, statistically, a great match-up overall.
Cook has both a solid floor and a high ceiling in this matchup.
Flex: Justin Forsett (2.9% | 9.2%)
This one comes with a bit of trepidation because there's really no guarantee that Forsett is the main rusher come Sunday, but based on Week 4 (and the rest of the year, actually), he's clearly the guy in Baltimore. Forsett gets the same type of boost that Flacco does because the Colts just are a generous defense. They rank 26th in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play and 19th in fantasy points allowed to running backs.
Despite the fear of Lorenzo Taliaferro, Forsett has had at least 12 touches in every game and averages 15.0 per game. He had at least 11 carries in 3 of his 4 games. Forsett also has 16 receptions this year, which were evenly distributed throughout the year: 5, 4, 4, 3.
Forsett is underowned based on the ESPN numbers, and he's getting consistent touches. Taliaferro is a good bet to take over at some point, but for now, play Forsett while you can.