7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 6
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.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 33%
This might turn into a running theme when the Atlanta Falcons face a quarterback on a low percentage of Yahoo! rosters. Last week, Teddy Bridgewater was touted in this space, and he delivered the goods against Atlanta's basement-dwelling pass defense, per our schedule-adjusted numbers. This week, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings will have an opportunity to be the latest offense to steamroll the Falcons, and they have the highest implied team total at a robust 29.50 points, according to our Heat Map.
Being the trigger man on what is projected to be highest-scoring offense in a week is a plus, and despite Minnesota's run-heavy offensive philosophy, which has led to them passing at the fourth-lowest rate, per Sharp Football Stats, Cousins projects for a top-10 finish at quarterback this week. The numberFire projection algorithm calls for him to finish as the QB9 in scoring this week. Cousins is a matchup-driven suggestion who also gets a pace bump in this matchup. The Falcons are playing at the fourth-fastest situation-neutral pace and the second-fastest overall pace, according to Football Outsiders.
Frank Gore, RB, New York Jets
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 13%
If you're looking to hit a home run streaming a running back this week, Frank Gore is unlikely to provide you the outcome you're looking for. Having said that, the free agent running back pool doesn't offer much in the way of upside. Gore likely offers volume, and sticking with the baseball analogy, he should be good for a single. Adam Gase continues to inexplicably be employed as the head coach of the New York Jets, and the release of Le'Veon Bell has to be a dream come true for Gase's fetish of feeding touches to inefficient players.
Gore's the inefficient player in question in this case, and double-digit carries are a highly likely outcome this week. With Bell out in Week 2 through Week 4, Gore tallied offensive touch totals of 21, 16 and 14. He also bested 60 yards from scrimmage in two of those three games.
Are those exciting numbers? No. However, they're better than the numbers the vast majority of running backs who are available in 65 percent or more of leagues -- my self-imposed cut line for qualifying as a deep sleeper -- will provide gamers this week. We project Gore to finish as RB28 in point-per-reception (PPR) formats this week.
Mike Boone, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 0%
Last week, Dalvin Cook exited the game early with a groin injury. He didn't practice on Wednesday and is taking this week "day-by-day," in his own words. The Vikings are on bye in Week 7, and it seems likely Cook will miss this week's contest and have the next two weeks to get healthy. The primary beneficiary is Alexander Mattison, but it's possible Mike Boone could see enough work this week to make a fantasy splash.
Boone rushed for 19 yards on two carries last week, and he was excellent on a small workload last year. Out of 73 running backs who carried the ball at least 40 times in 2019, Boone's 0.11 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry ranked tied for seventh-best. When Cook was healthy for the first four full games of the year, he left enough meat on the bone for Mattison to tally seven or more touches in three games.
If the Vikings scale back Mattison's workload just a pinch from a healthy Cook's workload, Boone could hit double-digit touches for the highest-projected-scoring offense for Week 6. That would play for running back-needy gamers. The floor's extremely low for Boone, but his ceiling exceeds that of the aforementioned Gore. For gamers who'd be better served embracing volatility in their fantasy matchup this week, Boone's the better streaming option -- only if Cook is ruled out, though.
Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 35%
Laviska Shenault has been a mainstay in this space, but after another strong week in Week 5, this could be the last time he qualifies for this piece. Last week, he set new highs in targets (8), receptions (7) and percentage of snaps played (69.33 percent) as well as number of routes run (35), according to PlayerProfiler. He's run more routes week after week this year. Also, prior to last week's zero carries, he'd notched at least one carry in each of the first four games of the year.
Shenault's varied usage and growing role in the offense for the Jacksonville Jaguars makes him a stellar deep sleeper option this week. Further, he's tied to a fantasy-friendly implied total of 25.50 points and facing a Detroit Lions defense that's yielded 14.06 yards per reception to receivers, per Pro-Football-Reference. Our algorithm ranks him as WR40 in PPR formats for Week 6, putting Shenault in fringe WR3 and flex territory, and my outlook for him is in alignment with that projection.
Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 31%
Projecting a few places higher as WR35 in PPR formats this week is Cole Beasley. The Buffalo Bills are coming off of a butt whooping handed to them by the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, and they'll need their offense to turn around things on a short week in order to keep pace with the explosive offense of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are coming off of a loss themselves in which they were picked apart by Derek Carr.
Josh Allen's playing at a significantly higher level than Carr this year and should cause fits for Kansas City's defense. Beasley is his reliable safety blanket from the slot and has parlayed a steady diet of high-percentage targets into bankable production on a week-to-week basis.
Beasley's been targeted at least four times in all five games played this year and hit six or more targets four times. He's also caught at least four passes in four of those games and surpassed 50 receiving yards in each of those contests. In the one outlier he was targeted under six times and failed to surpass 50 receiving yards, he made up for it by reeling in a touchdown.
Beasley offers a reliable floor and a WR2 ceiling, as well.
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota Vikings
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 6%
When hunting for sleepers, picking from the team with the highest implied total is a decent move. With that in mind, Irv Smith Jr. represents a third trip to the well with the Vikings. Also, borrowing from a daily fantasy strategy, he's an intriguing stacking option with Cousins for gamers chasing ceiling and in need of help at quarterback and tight end. Of course, the floor is lower using a stack, too, since a dud from Cousins probably amounts to a dud for Smith -- save for a touchdown salvaging a quiet showing.
Smith is the third option, at best, in the passing attack of a run-heavy offense. It's not an ideal gig for fantasy production. However, after totaling a paltry 6 targets, 2 receptions and 14 receiving yards in his first four games of the year, he snagged 4 receptions on 5 targets for 64 receiving yards last week. Smith's relative outburst accompanied a surge in routes run from a previous season-high of 17 -- which he amassed in both Week 2 and Week 3 -- to 31 last week. He also played a season-high 67.82 percent of the snaps in Week 5.
After Smith made the most of his opportunities last week, the Vikings would be wise incorporate him into the offense similarly against Atlanta's leaky pass defense. The Falcons have been rocked by tight ends this year, tying for the third-most receptions (33) allowed to the position, ceding the fifth-most receiving yards (336), and coughing up the most touchdowns (7), according to Pro-Football-Reference.
Smith's first four weeks illustrate he's far from a sure thing to help fantasy teams, but last week could represent a turning point for him and puts him in the streaming discussion.
Andy Isabella, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 3%
Andy Isabella is a deep-league special. Teammate Christian Kirk is on only 34 percent of Yahoo! rosters, too, and has a stronger case for usage in fantasy lineups this week, but Isabella gets the nod as a suggestion for gamers in large leagues or leagues with deep benches where the pickings are slim. The second-year receiver has yet to play even 50 percent of snaps in a game for the Arizona Cardinals, but after falling short of 20 percent of the team's snaps in Week 1 and Week 2, he sat at 40 percent in Week 3, 41 percent in Week 4, and 31 percent last week.
He's earned some snaps, and he flashed his upside against the Detroit Lions in Week 3 -- when he secured all four of his targets for 47 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. He's also cleared 65 receiving yards in a game with two grabs for 67 receiving yards in Week 2. Since getting completely blanked in the season opener, Isabella's caught at least a couple passes in four straight games.
The low volume creates a low floor, but Isabella's blazing speed, usage and matchup in Week 6 award him an opportunity to help fantasy squads this week. The speedster's a field-stretcher and has an average depth of target of 12.2 yards, per Sports Info Solutions. As for the matchup, the Dallas Cowboys rank as the eighth-worst pass defense this season. They've been gashed for big passing plays, tying for the 10th-highest average explosive pass rate allowed at nine percent, according to Sharp Football Stats.
Isabella's tailor-made to provide the Cardinals a boost in a likely shootout between the two fastest-paced offenses in neutral situations (Dallas ranks first and Arizona ranks second).
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.