7 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 10
We are past the halfway point of the fantasy football season and hurtling towards the playoffs at breakneck speeds. There's no turning back now: let's identify some fantasy football sleepers.
Sleeper is an ambiguous term. For the purpose of this article, we'll define anyone on fewer than half of Yahoo! rosters as a sleeper. Typically, I'll actually aim to feature players on fewer than 40 percent of rosters.
Don't worry, deep-league gamers, this article is intended to help folks in leagues of all shapes and 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 a player on a bye -- or for whatever other reason you're diving into the free-agent pool.
While this article is primarily written through a season-long lens, sleepers are certainly viable as daily fantasy punts in certain builds, too. Keep that in mind when you're looking for cash-game savings or trying to gain cheap leverage in tournaments. That's why you'll see every player's FanDuel salary listed next to their Yahoo! roster percentage this year.
With bye weeks in full swing, identifying sleepers is even more important for your season-long and daily fantasy needs. This week, the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals are all on bye.
Last week was a smash for this column. Justin Fields scored 12 more points than any other quarterback, Isaiah Likely, Cade Otton and Juwan Johnson were all (!) top-nine tight ends, Josh Palmer was the WR11, and Rondale Moore put up a solid WR2 performance. Oh, baby.
Let's aim for strong results in Week 10.
Jimmy Garoppolo (40% | $7,200) - Jimmy G might be sexy off the field, but he's never considered a sexy fantasy play on the field. While he hasn't shown the ideal ceiling to be a QB1, he's provided a really safe floor this year. By points per game, Garoppolo is the QB16 since Week 2 (counting the game he replaced Trey Lance), and he's been remarkably consistent, scoring between 17 and 19 fantasy points in each of his last four games.
The San Francisco 49ers are 7.0-point home favorites with the third-highest implied team total of the entire week (26.25). Christian McCaffrey should be fully up to speed in the offense with two games plus a bye week to study, while Deebo Samuel practicing on Monday is a great sign for Samuel's availability. This should not be surprising given the efficiency of this offense, but Garoppolo ranks fourth among all quarterbacks in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back this season, behind just Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts.
Missing key defensive pieces in Joey Bosa and J.C. Jackson to injured reserve, this Los Angeles Chargers' defense isn't as scary as we thought it might be. Per Pro Football Reference, they rank bottom-nine in the league in both pressure rate and hurry rate.
Garoppolo has a high team total, elite weapons and should have a clean pocket. He's a legit streaming option this week.
But arbitrage Fields has been a staple of this column all year; Marcus Mariota is still this season's QB17 thanks to his long average depth of target and rushing prowess. Don't let last week's dud fool you as all of the Atlanta Falcons touchdowns came through the running backs, and Mariota should've found Kyle Pitts for a 70-yard touchdown.
This week, Mariota gets to face the Carolina Panthers. When these teams met two weeks ago, Mariota put up 43 yards on the ground and 253 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He finished as the QB6 that week. With limited streaming options and a safe rushing floor, Mariota is firmly in play again on Thursday night.
Honorable Mention: Daniel Jones (41% | $7,500)
Rachaad White (34% | $5,400) - Is it finally happening? White has been a mainstay in this column all year while we've scratched and clawed to find anything resembling a viable sleeper at the running back position. Getting six to nine touches per week in a pass-first offense has kept him on the radar, but it hasn't translated into much production so far.
Last week, however, we may have witnessed a changing of the guard. White recorded a season-high 11 touches, registering just one fewer carry than starter Leonard Fournette. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are clearly desperate for anyone to step up as a playmaker on offense, and White is the logical option. He grades better than Fournette in both Rushing NEP per carry and Rushing Success Rate this season, per our metrics. Notably, Buccaneers beat writer Greg Auman predicted "the momentum will likely be with" White by the end of the season.
Regardless of him overtaking Lenny, it's clear White has a solid role right now. Seattle's defense has been better of late but still ranks 23rd in our schedule-adjusted metrics. Stash White now for weekly stream-ability and late-season upside.
Jaylen Warren (14% | $5,300) - This is basically the same recommendation for White above, but with a lower salary and in a worse offense. Throughout the season, this column has highlighted players who were low-rostered and then graduated from the column and became mainstays on fantasy rosters (Gerald Everett, Justin Fields and Rondale Moore to name a few), and here's betting Warren and White eventually make that list. The idea is to pick them up now for weekly viability and then hold for the contingency upside down the line.
Warren was in this column before both ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported he will get more touches moving forward. And why shouldn't he? Warren has been significantly better than Najee Harris in terms of both Rushing NEP per carry and Rushing Success Rate this season, according to our metrics. He's been more efficient as a receiver, too.
Warren is coming off season highs in touches (9) and scrimmage yards (75), and the Pittsburgh Steelers have nothing to lose by evaluating him more. He's a must-stash but also a viable stream this week for desperate squads.
Isaiah McKenzie (38% | $5,200) - Obviously the entire Buffalo Bills' situation is up in the air this week with the status of Josh Allen's elbow still to be determined. While we monitor that, we can peek under the hood at McKenzie's promising Week 9 usage.
Per Dwain McFarland, McKenzie quietly set a season-high in route participation (70%) last week, which is notable considering he's earned targets at a higher rate than teammates Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox have this season. The production just didn't follow as the New York Jets quieted the Bills' passing game, but the usage is promising. McKenzie has also been proactively involved in the red zone this year with four touchdowns on his limited snap counts.
Even if Allen is out, it might not be the end of the world for a shallow aDOT receiver like McKenzie. It's possible Case Keenum would lean on him as a safety valve, and we know this team wants to pass the ball. Against a Minnesota Vikings defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, McKenzie is back on the streaming map this week (and beyond).
Donovan Peoples-Jones (22% | $5,700) - Just going to go out on a limb and say this is my favorite play of the week. It's bizarre that DPJ is available in so many leagues considering he's recorded at least four catches for 50 yards in six of eight games this season, cresting the 70 yards mark four times. He just hasn't yet found the end zone, which means he's a screaming touchdown regression candidate given his yardage numbers.
This week he faces the Miami Dolphins. Miami's offense ranks fifth-best per our schedule-adjusted metrics yet the defense is 26th. Translation: weekly shootouts. Miami ranks fine against the run (15th) but horrid against the pass (29th), setting up a potential pass-funnel situation that Jacoby Brissett can exploit in this revenge game.
This game is tied for the second-highest total of the week (48.5). Here's betting DPJ finally finds the paint and cashes in for your season-long and DFS lineups.
Greg Dulcich (37% | $5,900) - Dulcich's roster percentage may have risen since this is published, but it's criminal that he is available in nearly two-thirds of Yahoo! leagues. Per Dwain McFarland, Dulcich ran a route on a season-high 91% of the snaps in Week 8, an elite number for a tight end. He's recorded a target share over 20% in back-to-back games and is coming off his bye week, which can be a time when we see high-performing rookies take a step forward.
This game certainly looks ugly on paper, but defending tight ends is the weakness of Tennessee's defense. They've allowed the eighth-most PPR points to tight ends this season despite facing only Travis Kelce of note. Dulcich is firmly a TE1 and needs to be rostered everywhere.
Eli Weiner is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Eli Weiner also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Eweiner2. 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.