7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5
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.
Teddy Bridgewater (13% Rostered) - This week, Bridgewater and the revamped Carolina Panthers offense draw the matchup of matchups in the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons' defense has allowed 32.5 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks through four games -- a whole 5.7 beyond the next-closest team, per Pro Football Reference. Predictably, they have been lit up by Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Aaron Rodgers, but even Nick Foles managed 188 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 17.2 fantasy points against Atlanta in less than a full game. Bridgewater has been no slouch this year, either, producing 14.6 fantasy points in three of four despite only four touchdowns. His 2.8% touchdown rate is ripe for regression, especially against a banged-up Falcons secondary that has allowed a 7.7% touchdown rate to date.
Chase Edmonds (34%) - So far, the Kenyan Drake experience has not been a fun one for fantasy fans this season. The Arizona Cardinals' feature back has yet to get in the end zone, and he exited Week 4 with yet another injury concern. Whether his preseason foot injury is coming to be a factor or not, Edmonds has shown that he's the more capable back this season. Per our metrics, the third-year back has averaged 0.08 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry, compared to Drake's mark of 0.02. For a better frame of reference, though, Edmonds is only 0.25 Rushing NEP short of Drake despite having received 51 fewer carries through Week 4. If Coach Kingsbury goes looking for answers at running back this week, we might just get a big day from Edmonds -- the New York Jets are giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Damien Harris (23%) - Amidst all of the madness surrounding Cam Newton and his absence due to contracting COVID-19, the New England Patriots had to add another layer of uncertainty by putting Sony Michel on Injured Reserve and bringing Harris back to compete for carries this past week. The merry-go-round never seems to end, but maybe -- just, maybe -- Harris will stick over the likes of Rex Burkhead and James White. After all, Newton may remain out, and in that event, the Pats could turn to the run game for support of Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham. And from a short sample, it appears Harris may be up to the task as the workhorse back, having run for 100 yards on 17 carries against the Kansas City Chiefs, and in doing so, posting 0.09 Rushing NEP per carry (Burkhead's at 0.08). With the Patriots pegged as seven-point home favorites, we should see a lot of Harris against a vulnerable Denver Broncos defense.
Darius Slayton (81%) - Slayton is one of the few remaining playmakers on the New York Giants' offense, and as a deep-ball threat, he's going to get his chances against the lackluster Dallas Cowboys defense. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-most adjusted yards per pass attempt and sit 23rd as a passing defense, according to our metrics. Corner Trevon Diggs' 247 air yards allowed are the most on the team, while Dallas' top four corners have given up a combined seven touchdowns through four weeks of action. If Daniel Jones can have a respectable game, it should translate to a good game for Slayton -- particularly if Golden Tate faces any discipline for his post-game spat with Jalen Ramsey.
Brandon Aiyuk (35%) - Deebo Samuel returned from injury for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 4, but it was Aiyuk who stole the show with a highlight hurdle and score. For the most part, Aiyuk took over the role Samuel played a year ago, leading San Fran wideouts with a 88% snap rate to Samuel's 34% rate. It seems like the latter will be brought along slowly, meaning there's an opportunity for Aiyuk to serve as the top guy out wide for whoever is under center. He gets an even bigger boost if Jimmy Garoppolo is back this week in a cushy matchup with Miami. While the Dolphins have been competitive, they have been hit up for 27.2 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts, and are in the bottom-six in both average depth of target (aDOT) against and air yards allowed through the passing game.
Olamide Zaccheaus (0.7%) - In case you missed it, it was not Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley who led the Falcons in receiving on Monday night -- it was Zaccheaus. The second-year wideout converted 9 targets into 8 catches for 86 yards in Atlanta's loss to Green Bay. He had three more targets than the next-closest pass-catcher, including a gap of four between him and Ridley. Jones, who finished with four targets, left the game early and is not looking good for Week 5 availability after re-aggravating a hamstring injury. Zaccheaus is poised to step in again and produce. His 92% Reception Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of carries that lead to positive NEP for a team’s offense) is 12% higher than Jones' and nearing Ridley's 95% mark to boot. He could very well be featured on the outside versus a Panthers team that FanDuel Sportsbook expects to give up 28 points on the road in Atlanta.
Eric Ebron (33%) - The Philadelphia Eagles have flown a little under the radar as one of the league's worst at defending the tight end spot. That is, until last week, when George Kittle popped off to the tune of 15 catches, 183 yards, and 25.1 fantasy points. Per JJ Zachariason, Philly has allowed 25.21% of their receiving yards to tight ends, and their five touchdowns surrendered position them in a tie for second among all teams. The last time we saw Ebron, all he did was turn 7 targets into a touchdown and 11.2 fantasy points. Pick him up and feel confident streaming him if he's still available in your league.