7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 2
Week 1 of just about every football season always brings out the best in some deep sleepers.
Nate Washington topped 100 receiving yards with 6 catches. Percy Harvin showed a fantasy pulse. Jerricho Cotchery and Eric Ebron each scored a touchdown. I can keep going down the list, but the fact of the matter is that unheralded players can produce fantasy points if given the chance.
Here are seven deep sleepers who could do it this week based on their matchup or team situation. (If your league isn't super deep, consider these 10 guys as well.)
Week 2 All-Deep-Sleeper Team
Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Started in 1.6% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 5.3% of ESPN Leagues)
Fitzpatrick doesn't exactly have a fantastic matchup, but I've already combed through a few other deep sleepers when discussing quarterback streamers for Week 2. Still, if you really want to go off the cuff, there's some merit to rolling out the Fitzpatrick train in Week 2. One of those reasons isn't Brandon Marshall. That's because Vontae Davis is going to cover Marshall on Monday night.
In case you don't know why that matters, he's a big reason why Sammy Watkins posted a whopping zero in every category except targets (he saw two) in Week 1. But that wasn't because the Buffalo Bills passing offense was stymied entirely. Rather, the Colts gave up a solid fantasy outing to Tyrod Taylor, and he didn't have to pass much in the second half, limiting his workload. Taylor finished the game with 195 yards and 1 touchdown on just 19 attempts.
Fitzpatrick doesn't have many weapons in this one -- it'll basically be just Eric Decker if Marshall is stuffed by Davis -- but if you really have to dig deep and can't target many others (like Nick Foles -- just keep reading), then Fitzpatrick is worth a start even if it's a low-ceiling proposition.
Running Back: Khiry Robinson (Started in 1.2% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 13.0% of ESPN Leagues)
When looking for deep plays at running back, a solid place to start is in blowout games. This week, the largest point spread belongs to the New Orleans Saints, who are 10-point home favorites against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Robinson played 33 snaps last week, according to FantasyData.com, which was only 12 fewer than Mark Ingram. Robinson got 14 opportunities (8 carries and 5 receptions on 6 targets) on those snaps.
One key situation to monitor is C.J. Spiller's health. Spiller says he's feeling good, and odds are he could play in Week 2, but it might be a pretty safe assumption to expect a limited workload for the injured dual-threat back if the game is out of reach early. To start Robinson is to expect Spiller to be out or to expect a limited workload from him in a blowout. Robinson could pay off if even one of those go his way.
Running Back: Matt Jones (Started in 0.4% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 17.0% of ESPN Leagues)
Conversely, Washington is a home underdog, as the St. Louis Rams are favored by 3.5 points. Jones saw just 21 snaps in Week 1. That was four fewer than third-stringer Chris Thompson. However, Jones could be more heavily involved than he was in the opener, when he saw just 6 carries for 28 yards. In Week 1 Washington fed Alfred Morris 25 carries, and he made things work against the Miami Dolphins, despite the presence of Ndamukong Suh. Last season, The Dolphins ranked just 21st in Adjusted Defensive Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play (0.01), which is how we measure how a team performs compared to expectation level. Suh apparently didn't turn them into a top-tier run-stopping unit in one week.
The Rams will be a tougher test, as they ranked 8th in the metric last year (-0.05), still have Aaron Donald, and brought in Nick Fairley from the Lions this offseason. Yeesh. Given that really hard-to-beat matchup and the fact that they should be playing from behind (based on the spread), Jones and his dynamic receiving skills could be put to the test in Week 2, as Morris' inefficiencies as a receiver are well documented year after year.
Wide Receiver: Kenny Britt (Started in 0.4% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 4.4% of ESPN Leagues)
Last year, Washington ranked last in the league in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play by a significant margin (their 0.27 score was well off the mark of 31st-ranked Tampa Bay at 0.18). That was also the third worst score of any team since 2000. Things might change now that they brought in Chris Culliver, but Culliver has been suspended for the Week 2 contest for an off-field incident from 2014. Further, Duke Ihenacho, the team's starting strong safety, was placed on Injured Reserve earlier this week because of a wrist injury.
That's a good spot for just about any receiver, and that's the case for even a guy like Britt. Britt saw just 3 targets (for 2 catches and 37 yards) against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, but he did play 46 snaps, trailing only Tavon Austin's 52 snaps (and 5 targets). Now, I won't lie. I love me some Stedman Bailey, but with just 4 targets and 33 snaps in Week 1, he's harder to recommend. The fact is that there's opportunity against this secondary, and somebody should realize it.
Wide Receiver: Tyler Lockett (Started in 4.0% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 22.4% of ESPN Leagues)
The secret might be out on Lockett -- as if it wasn't during the preseason. He returned a punt for a 57-yard touchdown against the Rams last week, and St. Louis started keeping the ball away from him. He saw just 4 catches for 34 yards as a receiver, and if Green Bay kicks away from him Sunday night, then his electrifying return game could be mitigated.
But this game has an over/under of 49 points, so there should be scoring, and there should be subsequent kickoffs to try to return. If Green Bay doesn't give Lockett any chances at return yards, then it's probably not a stretch that Seattle will try to give him some extra looks in space on Sunday -- especially if they need to score in bunches to keep pace with Green Bay.
Lockett is the kind of player who can return a solid fantasy day with just a few touches, and it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Seattle is content with a limited role from him in this game.
Tight End: Crockett Gillmore (Started in 0.5% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 1.3% of ESPN Leagues)
Tight end recommendations are risky enough, but digging deep sometimes comes down to finding a player who might score a touchdown. Gillmore had a quiet game against Denver (what Raven didn't?) in Week 1, but he did play on 58 snaps. That tied him for 18th at the tight end position. He did, though, play on 94.8% of Baltimore's snaps, which ranked 10th at the position. He also got a last-play target in the end zone, but it wound up an interception.
Gillmore is going to be on the field -- assuming no radical changes from Week 1. Though Gillmore got only 4 targets (for 2 catches and 23 yards), Baltimore is a 6.5-point favorite with an over/under of 43.5, so they should put some points on the board. All you need is one successful red zone target to make this dart throw worth it.
Flex: Dion Lewis (Started in 8.1% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 38.5% of ESPN Leagues)
Okay, so Lewis isn't as under-the-radar as he was before Week 1, but that was a hard performance to predict. It's not like Lewis never had talent, but he's never really been given much of a chance. Two key players are returning in this Week 2 game that really should hurt Lewis as a runner, similar to what might be expected for Matt Jones in Week 2. The first is teammate LeGarrette Blount, who should probably take over a significant portion of carries. That's not good.
However, the New England Patriots are one-point road favorites against the Bills, who ranked 9th last year in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play (-0.05). The second returning player is Marcell Dareus, whom the Bills just gave a massive $95.1 million deal. So, New England likely isn't going to be establishing the run up the middle early and often, and that could favor Lewis, who saw five targets in Week 1. Lewis played on 50 snaps, and that was 19 more than teammate Brandon Bolden. His snaps could come down, but he could easily be a factor in the passing game in Week 2.