7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 6
The bye weeks in Week 6 are much more prohibitive than the ones in Week 5.
Instead of the Raiders and Dolphins sitting the week on the sidelines, it's now the Saints and the Chiefs. So, chances are that you're going to be without a starter in a league or two.
If that's the case, or if you're just in a deep league and need a plug-and-play, we might be able to help out by identifying some widely available players with positive matchups and situations.
Just one last thing: I'll be referencing Net Expected Points (NEP), which is our way of quantifying on-field play.
Week 6 All-Deep-Sleepers Lineup
Quarterback: Jake Locker (started in 0.4% of ESPN leagues | owned in 2.9%% of ESPN leagues)
You'll need to keep an eye on Locker because he did suffer a thumb injury. He is currently day-to-day and missed practice on Wednesday. He did, though, throw some passes.
Locker exited his Week 5 contest against the Browns early, but that didn't stop him from putting up 16.6 fantasy points. Locker was 8-of-11 for 79 yards before leaving. He also threw for a touchdown and ran for one as well. In all, he rushed 4 times for 34 yards, realizing his dual-threat potential.
If he gets cleared to play, then he should be in store for a solid performance against the Jaguars, who allow the 30th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and who currently rank 29th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, allowing 0.25 points per pass when adjusted for schedule strength.
Running Back: Ronnie Hillman (0.4% | 2.7%)
Combine that with the horrible matchup against the Jets, who rank seventh in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 13th on a per-play basis according to our metrics, and Hillman might seem like an instant fade.
However, Montee Ball is out, and Hillman is expected to be the primary benefactor for the Broncos offense. That itself is a fantasy gift to Hillman, but he'll be the likely feature back in a game where Denver is an eight-point road favorite with an over/under set at 47.5.
Just a reminder: Hillman managed 4.3 yards per carry on 15 rushes against the Cardinals who rank fifth against the run according to our metrics, so the matchup alone shouldn't scare you off entirely.
Running Back: Storm Johnson (0.1% | 0.2%)
Johnson isn't a clear-cut option just yet, but there's a chance he could be in store for a sizable role come Sunday against the Titans. The Jaguars want to reduce the backfield to two ball-carriers rather than four. That doesn't mean Johnson is making the cut, but Toby Gerhart isn't getting the job done. Gerhart currently ranks 134th out of 136 running backs in Rushing NEP (-12.93).
If news breaks that Johnson is in store for a sizable workload, he should be able to produce a useful fantasy day. The Titans rank 21st in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 17th in fantasy points allowed to running backs.
Johnson, albeit an extremely small sample, has a Rushing NEP per play of 0.03 on his four carries, which is at least on the right side of zero, something Gerhart isn't even close to (-0.27).
Wide Receiver: Markus Wheaton (2.7% | 17.8%)
Wheaton has a higher ownership than I typically recommend for deep sleepers, but he's coming off a bad game despite a good matchup, so anyone who has him might be skeptical to use him, and anyone who might need him might be scared off because of his Week 5 dud.
Add that to Wheaton's having just two games with more than 40 receiving yards and just one game with double-digit fantasy points, and he seems like a safe choice to keep out of your starting line-up.
But the Browns are currently 28th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, and they're 23rd in fantasy allowed to wide receivers. Oh, Wheaton's best game of the year? Week 1 against the Browns: 6 receptions for 97 yards.
That he has yet to reach the end zone is alarming, but the matchup is right for a guy who is averaged 6.5 targets per game in his first four before seeing just 2 targets in Week 5.
Wide Receiver: Odell Beckham Jr. (0.8% | 5.4%)
While Beckham missed making his NFL debut for four weeks while battling a hamstring injury, the New York Giants offense learned how to play. Beckham was then able to make his first impression in the NFL by hauling in 4 catches for 44 yards and a touchdown on 5 targets.
At just 5-11, 198 pounds, he doesn't have the typical size of a touchdown-maker, but the matchup is right. While the Eagles rank 15th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, they allow the 31st-most points to opposing wide receivers.
Beckham's fantasy potential may ultimately end up being matchup dependent, but there's no reason to shy away from him here against this secondary in a game that has the second-highest over/under (50 points) of the entire NFL weekend.
Tight End: Luke Willson (0.3% | 0.9%)
This recommendation isn't really a result of Wilson's Week 5 performance (3 receptions for 28 yards) but rather the matchup. Before entirely disregarding his Week 5 game, Willson did catch 3 of his 4 targets and played on 63 of Seattle's 67 offensive snaps, so there's reason to believe he'll be on the field in Week 6 against the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are always a target for tight ends, as they allow the most fantasy points to the position. Willson doesn't provide a monstrous ceiling, but he's going to be on the field in a great matchup. The Seahawks have the third-highest total projection based on Vegas odds, so there's a good chance they'll move the ball. Willson could find himself walking into a great day.
If you want less of a deep play, I have two widely-available tight end recommendations in my not-quite-as-deep sleepers slideshow as well.
Flex: Antone Smith (0.7% | 2.8%)
Sometimes in fantasy football, there are guys you hope would see a larger role in a particular offense. For many, Smith is that guy. Dating back to last season, Smith has 16 carries and 8 receptions (24 touches). He has six touchdowns.
That means 25% of his touches result in end zone dances.
While I don't mean to suggest that's sustainable, I do mean to call attention to Smith's big-play potential in case you haven't yet been made fully aware of the Antone show.
The Bears, who Smith faces in Week 6, are the 28th-best rush defense on a per-play basis according to our metrics, and that could be exploitable for a guy who is averaging 16.6 yards per carry (on 16 carries) and 20.8 yards per reception (on 8 receptions) since last year.