7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 4
The 2020 NFL season -- like everything about 2020 -- is unique. While turning to the waiver wire or free agent pool for streaming options is a common practice in normal years, the need for deeper options could be even greater this year as the NFL tries to navigate playing through a pandemic.
This is your weekly home for finding deep sleeper options across the board this year with plug-and-play options listed at quarterback, running back, receiver, and tight end. Whether you set out to stream or circumstances have changed for your roster and dictate streaming on the fly, I've got you covered with a full roster's worth of low-rostered choices in Yahoo! leagues.
Update: The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots game has been postponed and is expected to be played on Monday or Tuesday. Cam Newton has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play this week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 12%
Ryan Fitzpatrick draws the basement-dwelling pass defense -- per our power rankings -- of the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have been gashed for huge passing plays, yielding the most 20-plus yard and most 40-plus yard passing plays, according to NFL.com. The matchup is dreamy, and the game script should call for ample pass attempts from Fitzmagic with the Miami Dolphins serving as 6.5-point underdogs.
Fitz hasn't been a world-beater this year with a pair of sub-200 passing yard contests over three games, but he's tossed two touchdowns in each of the last two games. When forced to air it out against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2, he finished with 328 passing yards. The Seahawks are humming on offense while they let Russell Wilson cook, and he should force Fitz into a shootout. Our algorithm is lukewarm on the bearded-one this week, ranking him as QB19, but I'm a bit higher on his outlook, expecting him to finish as a top-15 quarterback this week.
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 33%
With James White out again last week while grieving the loss of his father in a tragic car accident, Rex Burkhead posted his best game of the year. He carried the ball 6 times for 49 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground while adding 7 receptions on 10 targets for 49 receiving yards and 1 touchdown.
White has now returned to practice and so has second-year back Damien Harris. Suddenly, the backfield looks crowded for the New England Patriots when also factoring in Sony Michel's big effort last week in which he rumbled for 117 rushing yards on 9 carries and hauled in both of his targets for 23 receiving yards.
Regardless of the murky backfield, Burkhead's stellar play and receiving chops should aid him in seeing the field this week. The high-powered offense of the Kansas City Chiefs put on a clinic on Monday Night Football, and they have a gaudy implied total of 29.75 points versus the Pats while serving as 7.0-point favorites. The Patriots would like to run the ball, but the Baltimore Ravens wanted to do the same and were forced out of their comfort zone in Week 3. If the Chiefs are able to exert their will, the Patriots will be forced to air it out to stay in the game, and that benefits the two strongest pass-catching backs on the team, White and Burkhead.
Even with White active in Week 1, Burkhead still saw the field for 29.69 percent of the team's snaps. After playing well in back-to-back weeks and offering more as a runner than White does, perhaps Burkhead could exceed his Week 1 snap count in a game that has breakneck pace potential. According to the pace stats data at Football Outsiders, the Chiefs and Patriots are just outside the top-10 fastest-paced teams, ranking 12th and 13th, respectively, in situation-neutral pace. The floor's low, but that's the nature of streaming running backs.
Travis Homer, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 3%
If Carlos Hyde is available, I'll piggyback Brett Oswalt's suggestion to use him from the Seattle Seahawks' backfield. Having said that, Hyde's rostership rate is up to 40 percent since that piece was published, disqualifying him from consideration for this piece. Instead, I'll pivot to backfield-mate Travis Homer as a dart throw.
The expectation is Chris Carson will be out for this game due to a knee sprain suffered on a dirty tackle late in last week's game. Carson's injury could result in rookie running back DeeJay Dallas being active for a game for the first time this year, but the fact Dallas hasn't been active for a contest this season leads me to believe he's behind Hyde and Homer in the pecking order.
Hyde's snap count percentage has been on a weekly slide, and at 21.05 percent against the Dallas Cowboys last week, it was identical to Homer's 21.05 percent mark. The projected favorable game script likely favors Hyde, but Homer's ability to exceed 20 percent of snaps in two of three games even with Carson healthy the first three weeks opens the door to more of a committee situation than a bellcow Hyde week.
Make no mistake, this is a deep-league dart throw.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 36%
Marquez Valdes-Scantling's rostership percentage is a tiny bit higher than I typically like to use in this space, but I suspect it could drop a bit as the week moves along following MVS' one-catch dud in Week 3 when target hog Davante Adams was out. The poor showing snapped a nice two-week stretch to open the year for MVS in which he caught 4 balls for 96 receiving yards in Week 1 and hauled in 3 receptions for 64 receiving yards in Week 2.
This is a perfect bounce-back spot for him.
The Green Bay Packers host the Atlanta Falcons for this week's Monday Night Football game, and the Dirty Birds have been inept defending the pass. They rank second-worst versus the pass by our schedule-adjusted metrics, and they've ceded a whopping 15 passes of 20-plus yards, second-most to the Seahawks. That plays right into the hands of MVS's big-play usage.
Among receivers targeted a minimum of five times this year, MVS's average depth of target of 18.4 yards is fourth-deepest, according to Sports Info Solutions. Additionally, his 313 intended air yards are the 10th-most. He's a volatile option, but our projections rank him as WR46 in PPR formats.
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 21%
Ranking just a few spots lower than MVS -- at WR51 -- is rookie wideout Tee Higgins. The Cincinnati Bengals fully unleashed their rookie receiver last week. Higgins' percentage of snaps played has increased every week and hit a new high at 79.17 percent last week. Further, his routes run took another step forward from 40 in Week 2 to 43 in Week 3, according to PlayerProfiler.
He parlayed the increased opportunities into his best showing of the year with 5 receptions for 40 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 targets. Of note, both of Higgins' touchdown grabs came on targets from within 10 yards of scoring last week. His 6-foot-4 frame makes him a handful in the red zone and should help him to continue to carve out an important role in that part of the field. He's not merely a red-zone threat, though. He's also being used as a vertical weapon with an average depth of target of 14.9 yards downfield.
Higgins has a great matchup this week. The Jacksonville Jaguars rank as the fifth-worst pass defense through the first three weeks, per our numbers, and Cincy's 26.25 implied total aids Higgins' cause this week.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Chicago Bears
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 28%
I can't believe in the year 2020 I'm touting using Jimmy Graham in fantasy leagues after he looked washed in recent years, but it illustrates the importance of being willing to change your opinion of players when evidence points to fantasy relevance. The Chicago Bears pulled the plug on Mitchell Trubisky and pulled out a comeback victory in Week 3 thanks to Nick Foles. In a relief role playing catch-up, Foles attempted 29 passes and directed 7 of them Graham's way.
Graham reeled in 4 of his 7 targets from Foles for 47 receiving yards and 1 receiving touchdown. The veteran tight end's targets from Foles led the team, his receptions were tied with Allen Robinson's four grabs for the team lead, and his 61 air yards were the most. Before Foles took over, Graham also hauled in 2 receptions for 13 receiving yards and 1 touchdown from Trubisky, bringing his Week 3 total to 6 receptions for 60 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns on 10 targets.
The usage with Foles and Graham's overall production last week is too good to ignore if you're a tight end-needy gamer.
Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 1%
Rookie Gabriel Davis generated buzz prior to the season, and even before last week's head-turning performance, the Buffalo Bills were getting Davis on the field. Davis played 49.43 percent of snaps in Week 1, 36.07 percent of them in Week 2, and with John Brown exiting last week's game early with a calf injury, 74.19 percent of the snaps in Week 3.
Brown didn't practice Wednesday, and that doesn't bode well for his availability this week. Davis' inclusion in this space is with the expectation Brown is out.
Circling back to Davis' work in Week 3, he reeled in all 4 of his targets for 81 receiving yards. Stefon Diggs is the top dog in the passing attack, but there's plenty of room for another pass-catching option in Buffalo's new-look offense. The Bills are passing at the ninth-highest percentage (62 percent), according to Sharp Football Stats. They're also using receiver-heavy formations with at least three receivers on the field for a whopping 95 percent of their plays, as you can see on Sharp Football Stats' personnel grouping frequency page.
The Bills are 3.0-point favorites this week with a fantasy-friendly implied total of 27.25 points. With the Bills' defense struggling this year, the offense can't take their foot off the accelerator, and that's a positive for the fantasy outlook of Buffalo's offensive players -- Davis included.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.