7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 4
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.
Teddy Bridgewater (28%) - Bridgewater's stellar start to the season has been a pleasant surprise after beating Drew Lock out for the starting quarterback job on the Denver Broncos in the preseason. The level of competition the Broncos have faced hasn't been the most challenging. However, that's not necessarily going to change for Bridgewater specifically this week.
According to our Power Rankings, the Baltimore Ravens are the second-worst pass defense. They've also struggled mightily with explosive passing plays. According to Sharp Football Stats, Baltimore's ceded the sixth-highest average explosive pass rate (12 percent) through three weeks.
Finally, the Broncos are leaning pass-heavy in neutral game scripts. According to Sharp Football Stats, when the offensive scoring margin ranges from trailing by seven points to leading by seven points, Denver's passing at the fourth-highest rate (65 percent). Everything adds up for a Week 4 QB20 finishing in our projection model. But I'm more bullish on his outlook and view him as a fringe top-15 option.
Chuba Hubbard (26%) - Hubbard's likely the top waiver add in most leagues this week. However, he should be. The rookie running back was used as a workhorse in the wake of Christian McCaffrey's injury. He handled 11 carries for 52 yards and hauled in 3 of 5 targets for 27 receiving yards. Comparatively, Royce Freeman toted the rock only five times for 17 yards with one reception on his only target for 8 yards.
Further, Hubbard trounced Freeman in passing-game usage. According to Pro Football Focus, Hubbard played 21 passing snaps, running 19 routes. Meanwhile, Freeman played only six, running five routes. Hubbard's usage suggests he'll be a bell-cow while CMC is injured. As a result, we project him to finish as RB10 in full-point point-per-reception (PPR) formats this week.
Peyton Barber (8%) - I never expected to write positively about Barber in the year 2021. Yet, here we are. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas Raiders play on Monday night, so gamers might not have a clear picture of Josh Jacobs' status for this week's contest. If he returns, Barber isn't a viable option.
However, if Jacobs is trending toward being inactive again this week, Barber's coming off a monstrous showing against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. The veteran bruiser rumbled for 111 yards and a score on 23 carries. In addition, he added three receptions for 31 yards on five targets. Barber surprisingly rivaled Kenyan Drake in passing-game usage, playing 20 passing snaps with 15 routes compared to Drake's 27 passing snaps and 23 routes. Thus, he might be more than a two-down banger.
As for the rushing side of the equation, the matchup is fantastic. We rank the Los Angeles Chargers as the third-worst run defense. According to Pro Football Reference, they've coughed up an NFL-high 415 rushing yards to running backs at a gaudy 5.46 yards per rush attempt. Again, you'll need to monitor Jacobs' practice reps and playing status, but I view Barber as a top-30 running back if Jacobs is out.
Sanders checks a pair of exciting statistical boxes for continued strong showings. Specifically, according to Sports Info Solutions, he has the eighth-most intended air yards (341) and has a robust 26.6 percent target share. Also, not all target share percentages are created equal.
Sanders' target share is all the more impactful in the Buffalo Bills' offense. The Bills have passed at the fifth-highest rate (63 percent) when the scoring margin ranges from trailing by seven points to leading by seven points. In addition, Football Outsiders credits Buffalo with playing at the second-fastest situation neutral pace. The passing-game lean and speedy pace results in the Bills attempting the fourth-most passes (128) this year.
Finally, according to our Heat Map, Buffalo's implied total of 32.25 points is the highest mark this week. Our projections rank him as WR43 in full-point PPR this week, but I view him comfortably in the top-40 at the position.
Tim Patrick (23%) - Patrick makes sense as a stacking option for gamers streaming Bridgewater or a nifty standalone play, too. He's the number-two option in Denver's passing attack, ranking second on the team in routes (81) and receiving yards (174), tied for second in receptions (12), third in targets (13), and first in touchdown receptions (two). Additionally, a season-ending injury to speedy wideout K.J. Hamler narrows the target distribution tree, bumping up Patrick's floor and ceiling.
Beyond the box-score numbers, his 2.15 yards per route run is a rock-solid mark. Further, his average depth of target of 11.1 yards downfield, per Pro Football Focus, meshes well with Baltimore's aforementioned struggles with defending explosive passing plays. We rank him as WR40 in full-point PPR projection this week, and my outlook is in alignment.
A.J. Green (15%) - I viewed Green as completely washed-up entering the year. After Week 1, I felt validated in harboring that belief. After Week 2 and Week 3, I believe I've prematurely written Green off.
He's tied for the lead on Arizona Cardinals in targets (18), ranks second in passing snaps (102) and routes (99), third in receiving yards (181) and yards per route run (1.83 Y/RR), and tied for fourth in receptions (10). Beyond his numbers, I'm encouraged by Arizona's offensive outlook as a whole in a potential shootout with the Los Angeles Rams this week.
The Cardinals are 4.5-point underdogs in a game with a total of 54.5 points facing an up-tempo Rams squad. In fact, the Rams are playing at the fastest situation neutral pace. Conversely, Arizona ranks 14th in situation neutral pace this year, but they ranked fourth in 2019 and first in 2020 with Kliff Kingsbury as the head coach then as well. Therefore, I think there's potential for them speeding things up and making this an offensive bonanza. Green is squarely in the flex mix this week.
Dalton Schultz (4%) - I highlighted three of the forthcoming honorable mentions in this week's 3 Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming Options for Week 4. In addition, I added Hunter Henry to the mix. Still, Schultz deserves a shoutout after showing out on Monday Night Football.
Schultz and fellow tight end Blake Jarwin ran an identical 20 routes this week. Yet, Schultz distanced himself from his contemporary by hauling in six of seven targets for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns compared to Jarwin's modest two receptions on two targets for 14 scoreless yards. For the year, Schultz has run three more routes than Jarwin, but he's dominated targets (15 to 9), receptions (14 to 8), receiving yards (143 to 71), and touchdowns (2 to 0) compared to Jarwin.
I expected Jarwin to be the more productive tight end entering the year. However, Schultz has outclassed Jarwin, and I don't see a reason for that to change at this time. As for this week, the Dallas Cowboys theoretically have an incentive to utilize Schultz heavily again. Pro Football Reference credits the Carolina Panthers with the most quarterback pressures (48), and Pro Football Focus grades them as the fifth-best defense generating pressure. Therefore, quick-hitters to Schultz at his modest average depth of target of only 5.9 yards downfield should protect Dak Prescott and avoid inviting more hits and throws from under duress than necessary.
We have Schultz ranked as TE10 in our full-point PPR projections. His ranking is ahead of all four honorable mentions. Still, I have him on relatively even footing with all four. As a result, they're all borderline starters in 12-team leagues, and I don't advise breaking the bank to secure any of them. Nonetheless, Schultz is my favorite option for the five touted tight ends.
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.