7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 15
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.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 31%
Last week, Jalen Hurts made his first start for the Philadelphia Eagles and helped guide them to an upset victory over the New Orleans Saints. More importantly for fantasy purposes, he finished as QB13 in fantasy scoring, according to FantasyPros. The rookie signal-caller left something to be desired as a passer, completing just 17 of 30 passes for 167 yards and 1 touchdown, but his legs were the story with 18 rushes for 106 yards.
His running ability raises both his floor and ceiling, and they help fuel his QB15 projection this week, per the numberFire projection algorithm.
A matchup with the Arizona Cardinals should be a boon for his rushing skills, too. The Cardinals have yielded the sixth-most rushing yards (316) to quarterbacks this year, according to Pro-Football-Reference. Hurts' still shaky passing skills add some volatility to his outlook, but, in addition to adding points with his legs, his mobility opens the door to big-play potential by extending plays and giving his receivers and opportunity to shake coverage deep downfield.
There's bust potential here, but the boom potential is enough to get him the nod as this week's quarterback deep sleeper for the fantasy football semifinals in most leagues.
Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 40%
I'm taking some minor liberties including Gus Edwards as a deep sleeper. Typically, I try to find a defensible option who is on 35 percent or fewer rosters, but I'll cut myself some slack since the pickings are so slim -- beyond my forthcoming favorite deep sleeper at running back.
Enter Edwards and the heavily favored Baltimore Ravens in a cake matchup. The Ravens are the second-largest favorites this week, laying 13 points to the Jacksonville Jaguars, as you can see on the heat map. As for the cake matchup, the Jaguars check in as our third-worst run defense in the team power rankings.
Edwards is part of a multi-prong rushing attack, but he's managed to carry the ball seven or more times in three straight games and 10 of 13 games played this year. If this game turns into a laugher as the spread suggests it could, there's a reasonable chance he hits double-digit carries for the first time since a three-game streak of doing so from Week 6 through Week 9 (Baltimore had a bye in Week 7).
The projection algorithm has him receiving roughly 9 carries for 42 rushing yards, but I think he'll hit the over on both totals, and if he scores a touchdown, that would be gravy for running back needy gamers.
Lynn Bowden, RB/WR, Miami Dolphins
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 28%
Lynn Bowden Jr. has the distinction of being eligible at running back and wide receiver, but it's his receiving work that nets him a spot in this space.
The Miami Dolphins are dealing with a number of injuries to key contributors on offense, and Bowden is coming off of his best game as a pro. In Week 14, he parlayed 9 targets into 7 receptions for 82 yards, added a 2-yard rush, and even attempted a pass that went incomplete. His varied usage gives him multiple avenues to scoring, but, again, it's his receiving work that stands out.
The week prior, Bowden hauled in all 4 of his targets for 41 receiving yards and added an 11-yard rush. He's emerging as an intriguing part of the offense at a time the Dolphins need reinforcements. Further, Player Profiler credits him with a slot snap percentage of 59.1 percent and a new high in routes run set last week at 44, putting him in position to receive some low-difficulty, high-completion percentage throws in that role.
While picking running backs as deep sleepers has left an uneasy feeling in my stomach most weeks, Bowden fits the profile of a rock-solid option thanks to his receiving prowess.
Keelan Cole Sr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 24%
Gardner Minshew will start this week after relieving an ineffective Mike Glennon and chucked the pigskin up 31 times. Out of his 31 pass attempts, Minshew directed a team-high six to Keelan Cole. Cole also led the Jacksonville Jaguars with 40 receiving yards and 75 air yards as well as a touchdown on Minshew's passes. The sample obviously isn't large, but it sheds some light on Minshew's target preference.
Thankfully, we also have a larger sample going back to before Minshew was hurt. For the season, Minshew's attempted 298 passes. Cole's tied with D.J. Chark for the team lead in targets (46) on Minshew's passes, ranks second in air yards (515), and leads the team in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions (31, 414, and 4, respectively).
The Jaguars are the second-biggest underdog this week, getting 13 points. The expected game script should lead to ample opportunities for receptions and receiving yards for Cole -- albeit with a lack of projected touchdown potential with the Jaguars staked to an implied total of just 17.25 points.
Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 21%
As I noted in Hurts' write-up above, most of the rookie's fantasy value is tied to his running ability. The Eagles would almost certainly prefer to play a close game in which they can limit the number of times Hurts has to air it out. The potential for low volume makes all of his pass-catching options risky. However, Hurts' ability to extend plays with his legs opens the door to some big passing plays potentially, and that's where speedy fellow rookie Jalen Reagor fits in.
Among receivers and tight ends targeted at least 35 times this year, Reagor's average depth of target of 14.2 yards is tied for the ninth-deepest mark, according to Sports Info Solutions.
Looking specifically at what he's done with Hurts since the rookie quarterback relieved Carson Wentz in Week 13 is somewhat promising, too. Hurts has attempted 42 passes in that time frame, and Reagor's 91 air yards are second to Greg Ward's 98. He's reeled in 3 of 5 targets from Hurts for 80 yards.
Reagor's a boom-or-bust option reliant on a big play or two in order to help fantasy rosters, but he's a viable option for gamers who need to eschew a high floor in favor of chasing a higher ceiling.
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 20%
Dalton Schultz is essentially the polar opposite type of fantasy option than Reagor, but a high floor has much more appeal at a tight end position bereft of much in the way of upside. Schultz has been a model of ho-hum consistency. In four games with Andy Dalton under center following the Week 10 bye, he's registered between three and six targets and between three and five receptions in all four games. He's also provided receiving yardage totals ranging from 24 to 44 with a touchdown grab sprinkled in.
His numbers aren't going to bowl you over, but they play at a weak position. Further, he's truly being used as a receiving option with a 78.8 percent route participation percentage for the year, per Player Profiler. Unsurprisingly, the numberFire projection algorithm projects him to finish an adequate TE18 in point-per-reception (PPR) formats this week. That'll do.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears
Yahoo Roster Percentage: 10%
Darnell Mooney is back again. Despite matching season lows last week with just two targets and two receptions, Mooney did enough to help fantasy gamers who used him thanks to totaling 22 receiving yards and a touchdown and adding a five-yard rush. In the last three games with Mitchell Trubisky once again starting at quarterback for the Chicago Bears, Mooney is tied for second in targets with 17 and alone in second with 183 air yards.
The erratic play of Trubisky makes it hard to trust anyone who's not named Allen Robinson. Having said that, Mooney is the beneficiary of a cushy matchup that should aid his fantasy outlook this week. The Minnesota Vikings have struggled mightily against receivers and coughed up the eighth-most receiving yards (2,337) and second-most touchdown receptions (20) to them this year. They've also been torched for big plays in the passing game, ranking tied for the highest average explosive pass rate at 10 percent, per Sharp Football Stats.
Mooney's projected for a WR63 finish in PPR formats this week, but I view him as a fringe top-50 option.
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.