7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3
Sleeper is an ambiguous term. I'm defining anyone on less than half of Yahoo! rosters as a sleeper in the interest of providing clarity. Typically, I'll aim to feature players on fewer than 40 percent of rosters. However, this provides me some wiggle room.
Don't worry, deep-league gamers, this piece is intended to help folks in leagues of all sizes. With that in mind, I'm following my predecessor's lead, including honorable mentions. If the featured players are already rostered in your league, the honorable mentions should provide you with players to consider filling in for an injured starter or player on bye on your roster -- or for whatever other reason you're diving into the free-agent pool for a sleeper.
While it should go without saying, the featured players at each position are my favorite sleepers for the given week. The honorable mentions are listed in descending order of the percentage of rosters they're on.
Derek Carr (27%) - Carr is playing sensational football. Among quarterbacks with double-digit dropbacks this season, he has the sixth-highest Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.39). The traditional statistics are jaw-dropping, too. He leads the NFL in passing yards (817) by a whopping 128 yards, averaging an eye-popping 408.5 per game.
Circling back to the advanced measures, Carr checks out as a high-level performer thus far. According to Pro Football Reference, he ranks eighth in adjusted net yards per pass attempt (8.34 ANY/A).
One area he shines this year and shined last year is on the deep ball. He's earned Pro Football Focus' third-highest passing grade on deep passes (20-plus yard passes) in 2021, following up ranking second among quarterbacks with at least 10 deep passes in 2020. Further, he's tied for the fourth-most deep passes with a dozen of them, completing seven.
The days of Carr playing like a check-down Charlie are over. He appears to be the real deal, and our projections rank him as QB14 this week. That puts him in the fringe starter mix in 12-team leagues, making him a fantastic streamer.
James White (43%) - Go ahead and dismiss White's underwhelming 2020 with duel-threat quarterback Cam Newton at the helm. Instead, immobile rookie, Mac Jones, is peppering his pass-catching back with targets. White's 13 targets are second on the team, leading to team-highs in receptions (12) and receiving yards (94). In addition, he's added nine carries for 32 yards and a score. The result is an average of 6.0 receptions and 63.0 yards per game from scrimmage.
Obviously, White's receiving chops make him a better fantasy option in full-point point-per-reception (PPR) formats. To that point, our projections rank him as RB30 this week in that scoring format. Still, he's tallying enough yards from scrimmage with his usage to warrant consideration in standard and half-point PPR formats, too. The numberFire projections peg him as a still-useful RB37 in the latter.
Cordarrelle Patterson (16%) - After an intriguing Week 1, I shouted out Patterson in this space. Now, I'm fully endorsing him as a streamer in leagues as shallow as 12 teams. According to our snap counts, he's a distant second to Mike Davis's 76.06 percent snaps at only 33.8 percent. Regardless, head coach Arthur Smith is utilizing him when he's on the field.
The running back/wide receiver hybrid has exactly seven carries in both games this year, bumping his targets and receptions up from two and two to six and five, respectively, in Week 2. In all, he's averaging 68.0 yards from scrimmage with 3.5 receptions per game, finding paydirt twice for good measure.
Further, he's been highly efficient. Among running backs targeted five or more times, he ranks fourth in Reception NEP per target (0.73) and third with 2.96 yards per route run.
Also, Smith's moving him around the formation. According to Pro Football Focus, he's played 30 passing snaps, running 24 routes, lining up inline twice, three times in the slot, and nine times wide, leaving 16 snaps from the backfield.
Patterson's role can probably be described as a souped-up gadget-player. Given his explosiveness, maintaining his usage -- which doesn't feel unrealistic -- thrusts him into the emergency RB2 or flex range. He projects as our RB32 this week, supporting my assertion of his present fantasy value.
DeVante Parker (40%) - Parker will face more competition for targets with the return of Will Fuller -- assuming no more surprises with the speedy wideout. Nonetheless, he leads the team in targets (16) and receiving yards (123) and ranks tied for second in receptions (9).
Of course, there's an unanswered question about who will play quarterback this week with starter Tua Tagovailoa reportedly day-to-day with a rib injury. On Tagovailoa's 31 pass attempts, Parker ranked third in receptions (4), second in targets (7), and first in receiving yards (81) and air yards (84). Comparatively, Parker ranked second in air yards (30), tied for first in receptions (5), and first in targets (9) and receiving yards (42) on Jacoby Brissett's 40 pass attempts in relief of Tua.
Regardless of who plays quarterback, Parker's an integral part of the passing attack. Fuller's return dampens my enthusiasm a bit. Still, Parker's a viable streamer.
Rondale Moore (35%) - There are positives and negatives to Moore's first two weeks as a pro.
I'm a bad-news-first person, so let's get that out of the way first. Unfortunately, Moore ranks a clear fourth in routes (38) at receiver on the Arizona Cardinals behind DeAndre Hopkins (74), A.J. Green (67), and Christian Kirk (52). Fortunately, as far as the bad news, that's all of it.
Moore's run a route on every passing snap he's played. He's also been force-fed the ball when on the field, pacing the team in targets (13), receptions (11), and receiving yards (182). The electrifying rookie has also been hyper-efficient, evidenced by ranking 18th among receivers targeted at least five times in Reception NEP per target (0.96) and second in yards per route run (4.82 Y/RR).
He's making a case to usurp snaps from Green. However, even if he remains fourth, the Cardinals regularly run four-receiver personnel groupings and should see an uptick in plays in a mouthwatering pace matchup. According to Football Outsiders, the Cardinals are playing at the fifth-fastest situation neutral pace. This week's opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is playing at the second-fastest situation neutral pace.
Finally, according to our Heat Map, the Cardinals have the second-highest implied total at 29.75 points. Moore projects as WR37 this week, and he's my favorite highlighted sleeper.
Henry Ruggs (35%) - Part of the reason for Carr's success on deep balls carrying over from last year to this year is Ruggs stepping up. Out of 73 receivers targeted at least five times, Ruggs has the 14th-deepest average depth of target (16.1 yards). In addition, he's parlayed his deep usage into 2.45 yards per route run.
Also, I'll give Jon Gruden credit for moving him around the formation. Ruggs has played 54.3 percent of his passing snaps wide and 45.7 percent from the slot. Unfortunately, as good as Ruggs has been, he's far from safe.
The second-year speedster's vertical usage creates volatility. In addition, he's third on the team in targets (12), and Darren Waller is a target hog as the top option in the Las Vegas Raiders' passing attack. Thankfully, his game-changing speed can result in a useful fantasy week on just one play. Ruggs is a boom-or-bust sleeper.
Dan Arnold (4%) - I wrote about my three favorite streamers at tight end earlier in the week -- all are highlighted below as honorable mentions. I prioritize the three honorable mentions before Arnold, but the Carolina Panthers' tight end is a viable option, as well.
The veteran tight end is the fifth option in the passing game. Yet, he offsets his rank in the pass-catching hierarchy to some extent by essentially functioning as a jumbo wideout. He's played 41 passing snaps, running a route on 39 of them. Further, he's lined up in the slot on 70.7 percent of his passing snaps and wide on 12.2 percent of them. Arnold's played a modest 17.1 percent of his passing snaps lined up inline.
He's served as an intermediate target for Sam Darnold, sporting an average depth of target of 8.1 yards. That role could lend itself to fantasy value against a Houston Texans defense that's been giving to tight ends through two weeks.
According to Pro Football Reference, they've allowed the third-most receiving yards (177), tied for the second-most targets allowed (21), and coughed up the second-most receptions (18) to the position. It's also worth noting they haven't faced a murderer's row of tight ends, facing the Jaguars' motley crew, and the Cleveland Browns' trio of Austin Hooper, David Njoku, and Harrison Bryant.
If you're playing the tight end streaming game, then there's no such thing as a safe option. However, with some squinting, I can see Arnold providing gamers fantasy value 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.