7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 10
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.
Ben Roethlisberger (27%) - I puked in my mouth a little bit putting together the quarterback sleepers this week. It's a gross collection of options.
In fact, I listed Taysom Hill as an honorable mention in case he's announced as the starter later in the week. As JJ Zachariason discussed eloquently on the Fantasy Football: The Late-Round Podcast, 15 Transactions for Week 10 podcast this week, the opportunity cost is low for scooping up Hill now and waiting to see if there's a change at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. If more than one of the listed quarterbacks in this section is available in your league, I advise snaring Hill.
However, if you are in a desperate spot and need a definite starter for this week who is widely available, Big Ben is my pick.
Roethlisberger is a context-driven pick. First, according to our heat map, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a fantasy-friendly implied total of 26.0 points. Second, the Detroit Lions are terrible defending the pass, ranking as the fourth-worst pass defense in our power rankings.
Third, according to Sharp Football Stats, when the offensive scoring margin is between trailing by seven points and leading by seven points, Pittsburgh passes at the league average rate (58 percent). Finally, Roethlisberger's treated to a big-play friendly matchup, as the Lions permit the highest average explosive pass rate (14 percent), per Sharp Football Stats.
I don't have high expectations for Roethlisberger this week, but he's unlikely to kill your fantasy team. This week, that's the low bar a quarterback needs to clear to be a viable sleeper.
J.D. McKissic (54%) - I'm breaking my self-imposed rule of featuring only players on under 50 percent of Yahoo! rosters to include McKissic. First, he fits the spirit of this article. Second, he may have been cut in many leagues since the Washington Football Team was on their bye in Week 9. So, I'm willing to bend the rules to include him as the headliner of a lackluster group of running back sleepers.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are stout defending the run, ranking as the sixth-best run defense in our power rankings. As a result, teams avoid running against the Buccaneers. The Bucs have faced the fewest runs this year. So, teams are passing at a 64.7 percent clip against the Buccaneers. It makes logical sense for the Football Team to use McKissic more often this week.
The team's pass-catching back can provide pseudo-rushing production through shallow passing-game usage. According to Pro Football Focus, among running backs targeted at least 20 times this year, McKissic ranks 14th in routes (172), 8th in targets (40), tied for 6th in receptions (33), 4th in yards per route run (1.93 Y/RR), and 3rd in receiving yards (332). In addition, he faces a Tampa Bay defense that's tied for the fifth-most receptions (58) ceded to running backs in 2021, per Pro Football Reference.
Our projections peg McKissic as RB33 in FanDuel's half-point point-per-reception (PPR) scoring format this week. So if you need a running back this week, McKissic is a good fill-in option.
Devonta Freeman (22%) - The Baltimore Ravens' backfield is a clustered mess, and Lamar Jackson steals valuable carries. However, Freeman has nudged his way to the top of the pecking order with Latavius Murray out the previous two games, netting a 39.73 percent snap share in Week 7 and 58.16 percent snap share in Week 9, according to our snap counts. During that two-game stretch, Freeman ran 45 routes to 25 for Ty'Son Williams and 15 routes for Le'Veon Bell. In addition, Freeman leads the team with 17 rushes for 93 yards and a touchdown in those games,
Are Freeman's marks the last two weeks exciting? No. Still, the Ravens are 7.5-point favorites with a juicy 27.0-point implied total against the Miami Dolphins' below-average rush defense. Between the game script, matchup, and Freeman's current usage, the variables are enough to warrant using Freeman as a sleeper at running back this week.
Van Jefferson (42%) - Over the last three weeks with DeSean Jackson phased out of the Los Angeles Rams' offense, Jefferson's 124 routes are only 3 behind the 127 for the co-team lead recorded by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The second-year receiver has parlayed his routes into 20 targets, 10 receptions, 132 receiving yards, and a touchdown. Further, he has 6 or more targets, 3 or more receptions, and bested 40 receiving yards in each of those contests.
Jefferson has sewn up the third spot in the passing-game hierarchy of a high-powered offense. The Rams rank fifth in scoring offense (29.0) and second in net yards per pass attempt (7.9 NY/A), according to Pro Football Reference. Therefore, the offense can support Jefferson's fantasy value.
He ranks as WR41 in our Week 10 projections, making him a usable WR3 or flex this week.
Rashod Bateman (37%) - Bateman ranks precisely one spot ahead of Jefferson in our projections as WR40 for Week 10. The rookie wideout has quickly made his presence known, earning 20 targets, resulting in per-game averages of 4.0 receptions and 53.7 receiving yards. In the three games Bateman has played, he ranks second on the team in routes (100).
Sammy Watkins has missed all three games Bateman has played in. He's practiced in a limited capacity both days this week. So, he could return as soon as this week, muddying the receiver room. Still, Bateman's talent might keep him entrenched as one of the top options in Baltimore's passing attack.
Finally, taking a chance on his role remaining meaningful is worthwhile this week because of a mouthwatering matchup against the Miami Dolphins. They rank as the sixth-worst pass defense in our power rankings. In addition, Miami's coughed up the second-most receiving yards (1,735) to wideouts this year, per Pro Football Reference. So, even if Watkins is active this week, Bateman is a viable sleeper.
Deonte Harris (15%) - Harris is an undersized receiver. Fortunately, it appears the Saints recognize that and are maximizing his usage when on the field while limiting his snaps. Over the previous two weeks, Harris ranks fifth on the Saints with only 37 routes. However, he's second on the team in yards per route run ( 2.35) and first in targets (14), receptions (9), and receiving yards (87).
In addition, Trevor Siemian has attempted 70 passes this year, directing a team-high 13 to Harris for 8 receptions and 68 yards. Also, Harris adds value on the ground with a 22-yard carry over the last two weeks, and he provides long-shot special teams touchdown potential as a kick return and punt return specialist.
Finally, Harris gets a lift from facing the Tennessee Titans this week. They've permitted the most receptions (153) and receiving yards (1,962) to wide receivers this year. Harris is my third favorite streamer at receiver when looking specifically at this week.
If you're making an addition through the lens of a longer-term asset, snag Donovan Peoples-Jones from the honorable mentions section.
Pat Freiermuth (41%) - I admit, I sandbagged by not including Freiermuth in 3 Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming Options for Week 10. Still, I'm making up for that by including him in this space. He's my second-favorite tight end sleeper this week behind only Dan Arnold. The Pittsburgh Steelers spent a second-round pick on the rookie tight end in this year's draft, and he's blossoming lately.
In the last three weeks, he has had 20 targets, 16 receptions, 145 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns. Yes, Eric Ebron has missed the last two games, potentially aiding Freiermuth's breakout.
Nonetheless, I'm not overly concerned about Ebron's probable return this week. In the linked piece, head coach Mike Tomlin spoke glowingly about Freiermuth, and -- perhaps naively -- I'm expecting rationale coaching to prevail, and Freiermuth to retain a prominent role in the offense.
Freiermuth ranks as only TE22 in our projections this week. However, I'm more bullish on his outlook, expecting a top-15 finish at the position.
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.