7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5
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.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Carolina Panthers
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 32%
In his first season with the Carolina Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater hasn't lit it up, with only one game passing for more than 300 yards. However, he's been extremely accurate, completing 73.0 percent of his passes, and he's added some value on the ground, rushing for more than 25 yards in two contests and adding a score on a scamper last week. Basically, he's performed adequately from a reality perspective and unexcitingly from a fantasy perspective.
The latter could change in a great matchup this week. The Atlanta Falcons are on a short week after playing in the second game of the Week 4 Monday Night Football doubleheader, and they rank third-worst in pass defense, according to the numberFire power rankings. The Falcons have coughed up the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this year by a wide margin, as you can see on the defense versus quarterback stats on Pro-Football-Reference.
numberFire's algorithm is all about Teddy Two Gloves this week, projecting him to finish as the QB9 in scoring. It's an aggressive projection, but I'm in agreement and love his fantasy outlook in Week 5.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 24%
A hamstring injury appears set to cost Austin Ekeler a few weeks and open up touches in the backfield for the Los Angeles Chargers. Joshua Kelley is the guy generating most of the buzz, but Justin Jackson has shown well with chances in the past. To that point, there were 87 running backs who toted the rock a minimum of 25 times last year, and Jackson's 0.25 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry was the best mark. In 2018, 90 running backs hit the 25-carry threshold, and Jackson's 0.06 Rushing NEP per carry was tied with the identical mark totaled by James Conner, Damien Williams, and Kareem Hunt for 28th. That's good company to keep.
Last week, Kelley played 56.6 percent of the snaps while Jackson lagged a bit behind at 39.62 percent, as you can see on our snap count page. A 60 percent to 40 percent snap allocation favoring Kelley would still leave the door open for Jackson providing emergency fill-in running back or streamer value. Additionally, Kelley could be just one more lost fumble from finding himself in the doghouse after losing a fumble in back-to-back weeks. numberFire's projections have Kelley finishing as the RB27 and Jackson finishing just a few spots lower as RB34 in point-per-reception (PPR) formats.
Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 22%
Ranking a couple spots higher than Jackson in PPR formats this week is Duke Johnson, who is projected to finish as the RB32. The Houston Texans have fired head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien, and that creates some uncertainty for how interim coach Romeo Crennel will use players. For instance, perhaps he won't feel inclined to lean as heavily on starting running back David Johnson to justify an ill-advised blockbuster trade that shipped stud DeAndre Hopkins out the door for a package headlined by DJ. That's not to say that's what O'Brien did, but Crennel could opt to use Duke Johnson more.
Regardless, Duke returned from a two-week absence and proved healthy enough to touch the ball eight times (five carries and three receptions) for 45 yards from scrimmage in Week 4. He's a talented pass-catching option at running back, and he has a favorable matchup for that facet of his game this week. The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed 28 receptions to running backs this year, the seventh-most receptions allowed to the position this season, per Pro-Football-Reference. The floor's low for Duke Johnson, but he's a viable option for gamers scrambling for running back help in PPR leagues.
Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 37%
Hunter Renfrow has been peppered with targets over the last two weeks in negative game-script losses for the Las Vegas Raiders. He's amassed 17 targets and parlayed them into 11 receptions for 141 receiving yards and 1 touchdown grab. The Raiders are 13.5-point underdogs this week, making them the biggest underdogs in Week 5.
Renfrow's largely used in the slot, playing there 71.0 percent of the time, according to Player Profiler. With that in mind, Renfrow could benefit in two ways from the expected negative game script. First and foremost, obviously, there should be more passing volume if the Raiders spend most of the game playing catch-up. Second, they should do so in more three-receiver sets, allowing Renfrow to play the slot more, rather than being lined up outside more frequently in two-receiver sets.
When tied or leading, the Raiders have used three-plus receiver sets on just 29 percent of their plays this year, per Sharp Football Stats. When trailing, they've used three receivers or more 61 percent of the time. Renfrow projects as WR41 in PPR formats this week, putting him in the WR3/flex mix.
Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 29%
I've touted Laviska Shenault before in this space, and he's back after the best receiving showing of his young career. He matched his single-game highs of six targets and five receptions that he set in Week 3, while setting a new best with 86 receiving yards. He also carried the ball a single time for five yards. Shenault's carried the ball at least once in all four games for the Jacksonville Jaguars this year, and he's touched the ball six or more times in three of the four games.
The steady diet of touches is the primary motivating factor for including him in this piece. However, a matchup with the Houston Texans is a plus, too. The Texans check in as the seventh-worst run defense, ninth-worst pass defense, and second-worst overall defense in our power rankings. Shenault ranks a little lower than the aforementioned Renfrow in PPR formats, as our models project him to finish as the WR49. However, if picking between the two, I'd lean in Shenault's direction.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 21%
Like Shenault, Curtis Samuel receives touches in a variety of ways and has carried the ball more than once in three straight contests. The touches haven't resulted in a great deal of fantasy success, with him exceeding 50 yards from scrimmage just one time and failing to reach paydirt at all this year. Despite the lack of success, his varied usage in the offense and plus matchup make him a streamer-worthy option this week.
As I noted in Bridgewater's write-up, the Falcons have the third-worst pass defense. In addition to being outright bad in pass defense, they yield big plays routinely. The 21 passes of 20-plus yards they've coughed up to the opposition this year are the most, according to NFL.com. Furthermore, their 12 percent average explosive pass rate allowed this year is tied for the second-highest mark, per Sharp Football Stats. Interestingly, while they're a tough run defense, they're also prone to surrendering big plays on the ground. Their 14 percent average explosive run rate allowed to the opposition is tied for the sixth-highest mark.
Samuel has the jets to exploit Atlanta's susceptibility to allowing big plays, as evidenced by his blistering 4.31-second 40-yard dash time. Of the three receivers featured in this piece, numberFire's models like Samuel best, projecting him to finish as WR37 in PPR formats this week. As his inclusion here suggests, I like Samuel's outlook this week. However, I'd rank him sandwiched between Shenault and Renfrow at receiver for Week 5.
Eric Ebron, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 34%
The Pittsburgh Steelers were on an impromptu bye last week due to the Covid outbreak on the Tennessee Titans, and they return to play this week against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. It's possible Eric Ebron was cut loose for a streaming alternative last week, so gamers should check their free-agent pool to see if he's available. The free-agent addition was quiet back in Week 1 when I touted him in this space, catching just 1 of 2 targets for 18 yards. Since then, however, he's woken up.
In Week 2, he reeled in 3 of 5 targets for 43 receiving yards. In Week 3, he caught 5 passes on 7 targets for 52 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. Beyond the ascension in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, Ebron's playing time and usage are fantasy-friendly, too.
He's played 73.22 percent of snaps this year and hit or exceeded the 75 percent mark in back-to-back games. Ebron's not out there blocking, either. The Steelers are playing to his strengths, as he has a 78.0 percent route participation percentage and has played in the slot 15.4 percent of the time, per Player Profiler.
numberFire's algorithm projects him to finish as the TE13 in PPR formats, putting him right in the starter mix at the position. I'm a bit more bullish on his outlook and believe he'll finish as a top-10 scorer at the position this week.
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.