7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3
Everybody loves a good sleeper pick.
Throughout the season, of course, sometimes sleepers aren't just luxuries to gawk at but necessary fill-ins for our fantasy football lineups.
Not every situation requires benching your starters for a sleeper, but every fantasy team and situation is different, and I'm sure we're all playing daily fantasy football on FanDuel anyway. That's where sleepers really can pay off.
Because there is no consensus definition of what a sleeper is, I'll keep it consistent throughout the season. Using ESPN's fantasy football platform, I'll choose quarterbacks and tight ends outside the top 15 in roster percentage and running backs and wide receivers outside the top 40.
I'll also list some honorable mentions because there's nothing worse than realizing that every player mentioned in an article is already rostered in your league. We're seeking non-obvious plays who can put up starting-caliber performances. I'd rather list too many options than too few.
Gardner Minshew (42% Rostered) - Through two weeks, it's so far so good for Minshew and the tanking Jacksonville Jaguars. The second-year signal caller has put together back-to-back games of 20 or more fantasy points with 3 passing scores and 19 rushing yards in each. His 0.27 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back also places him between the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger, speaking to his high passing efficiency. It's very unlikely that he takes a step back here against the Miami Dolphins, who will be without top corner Byron Jones and potentially safety Clayton Fejedelem.
Joshua Kelley (53%) - Kelley was on our radar last week, and since then, his ownership has increased by more than 20%. He has been a hot commodity, and rightfully so. In the Los Angeles Chargers' loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, the rookie back took 23 carries for 64 yards on the ground and even chipped in a pair of catches for 49 yards. He's going to be involved as part of L.A.'s two-headed monster in the backfield, and this week's matchup bodes well for an even higher ceiling. According to our metrics, the Carolina Panthers rank 21st against the run, having allowed a league-high six rushing touchdowns to opposing teams.
Jeff Wilson (5%) - Although teammate Jerick McKinnon has been added in 35% of league's this week, and both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman are likely to sit, his projected workload may have been overstated in the lead-up to waivers. And lucky us, we should be able to take advantage because Wilson seems to be the lead guy this week against the New York Giants. He's not only widely available, but in past opportunities, he's proven to be a reliable option. In the two games he received at least eight attempts last year -- games Mosert and Matt Breida were healthy -- he scored at least twice in each. He's a viable flex option against a defense that gave up 18.7 fantasy points to David Montgomery a week ago.
Darius Slayton (77%) - Like the 49ers, the Giants are an offense in need of playmakers. They will be without Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard for the foreseeable future, so there will be more chances for others to pick up the slack. If the coaching staff has enough trust in Daniel Jones, we could see them opt for a higher pass rate and look to bite off large chunks downfield, where Slayton thrives. The 23-year-old had a 41-yard catch in Week 1, and going back to last season, he has 13 catches of 20-plus yards -- 7 for scores. Typically, we don't go after the Niners, but they're set to be without their top three pass-rushers in addition to Richard Sherman and maybe Jason Verrett. Slayton should be in most lineups this week.
N'Keal Harry (49%) - For the New England Patriots, last week's storyline revolved around Cam Newton and the career day for one Julian Edelman. But don't let their performances overshadow that of Harry. Against Seattle, the big-framed receiver drew 12 targets, going for 8 catches and 72 yards. He's tied for the team-high in targets (18) and catches (13), all while playing 80% and 85% of snaps in the first two games, respectively. This time around, he'll be squaring off with a Las Vegas Raiders pass defense that appears better than advertised yet ranks 21st overall against the pass.
K.J. Hamler (2%) - The hard-hitting injury week did not do the Denver Broncos any favors, either. Already without a number of players, including their starting quarterback, the Broncos will be without the services of wideout Courtland Sutton for the remainder of the season. Sutton left Week 2 early, but Hamler was involved from the start -- and the reason for that was clear. The shifty rookie looked really crisp on his routes, producing 5.7 fantasy points on 7 targets versus Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay isn't a cake matchup, either, but in the event Jerry Jeudy draws the tougher Carlton Davis, Hamler could get even more looks on the opposite side or in the slot. Either way, Denver needs his play-making ability to compete this week and going forward.
Mo Alie-Cox (3%) - The Gigantor breakout has come! Last week, operating as the Indianapolis Colts' top tight end, the monster of a man caught 5-of-6 targets for 111 yards, ending the day with catches of 13, 14, 16, 21, 27 and 33 yards. Over his rather short career, Alie-Cox has proven to be a downfield threat because of his athleticism -- a trait not shared by Jack Doyle, who failed to practice again Wednesday. Even if Doyle is a go for Sunday, don't expect the Colts to just send Alie-Cox to the bench. After what he did last week, it's likely we see him factor into the Colts' high total (27.25) against the lowly New York Jets.