7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 6
The most important factor in fantasy football can often be opportunity.
No matter how good a player is, he can't post fantasy points if he's on the sideline.
That's not to suggest that the only reason that Devonta Freeman is performing well is sheer volume -- that's a situation I can't explain after considering how he performed in 2014. It also doesn't suggest that a player with opportunity will produce fantasy points: Riley Cooper saw seven first-half targets last week and caught two of them.
But opportunity matters, especially for players who aren't hyper-efficient and who can perform with limited chances.
Of course, opportunity also comes in the form of enticing matchups, a recipe for making a struggling player good again if only for a week.
So who are some players with opportunity from a volume standpoint or from a matchup standpoint (or both) and who are going to fly well under the public radar in Week 6?
Here are seven of them.
Week 6 All-Deep-Sleeper Team
Quarterback: Teddy Bridgewater (Started in 5.2% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 26.9% of ESPN Leagues)
Bridgewater's early season could be summed up with a garbage can emoji, honestly. He's topped 235 yards passing just once, and he's been under 10 fantasy points twice, including a 2.7-point showing in Week 3 against a middle-of-the-road pass defense (San Diego). Bridgewater's Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) of -14.28 indicates that he's taken more than 2 touchdowns off the board in terms of expected scoring compared to what a replacement-level passer would have secured in the same situations he faced. He ranks 33rd among 35 passers with at least 75 drop backs in Passing NEP. Only 38.38% of his drop backs have led to NEP gains for the Vikings, a mark better than only Nick Foles (38.00%) in that same group.
His ownership has plummeted, and he went from fringe QB1 to deep-sleeper eligible. If not for this matchup, it'd be hard to recommend him. But the Vikings are 4.5-point home favorites against the Chiefs, who lost Jamaal Charles, rank 32nd in fantasy points to quarterbacks, and are 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. If he can't produce in this matchup, then he'll be hard to trust for quite some time.
Running Back: Javorius Allen (Started in 1.8% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 9.7% of ESPN Leagues)
Buck Allen could be the kind of player who is more than just a one-off, deep-sleeper recommendation -- given his circumstances. Allen is 6'0, 221 pounds, and ran a good-not-great 4.53-second 40-yard dash. Anyway, the reason he's in play this week is because Justin Forsett left the team's Week 5 contest with an ankle injury. He hasn't practiced yet this week, and he's heading toward a game-time decision.
If Forsett is limited or can't go, then Allen's spot is too good not to mention here. The 49ers rank 27th against fantasy running backs and are 30th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. The Ravens are two-point road favorites, so they could be playing with a lead and perhaps limit Forsett later in the game if things get out of hand.
Running Back: Toby Gerhart (Started in 0.8% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 1.7% of ESPN Leagues)
No, this isn't a joke recommendation, and it's not a good sign that I need the disclaimer, but Gerhart is the only healthy running back in Jacksonville right now. Well, in fairness, Denard Robinson returned to practice for the first time since Week 2 earlier this week. That could really be the end of the analysis, but I'll go on just a bit.
Houston is 25th against fantasy running backs and 17th in Adjusted Rushing NEP per play. It's not a stingy defense right now, and if either Robinson or Gerhart are expected to be a clear starter on Sunday, then it's hard to justify sitting them where you need running back help.
Wide Receiver: Ty Montgomery (Started in 5.3% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 12.5% of ESPN Leagues)
Montgomery is probably going to be a fixture in this column, much like Davante Adams was last year. Speaking of Adams, his absence is a big reason why Montgomery has started to see the field. Adams' status is still up in the air, but rushing him back in a game in which the Packers are 10.5-point favorites doesn't seem like a very smart call. Sure, Adams could suit up and play, but against the Chargers, who are 15th in pass defense and 22nd in overall defense per our metrics, his services may not be necessary.
Montgomery has played more than 60 snaps in three straight contests. Even if he sees a reduced role, he should still play enough to have a chance at solid production, as the Packers have an implied team total of 30.5 points, second-highest on the weekend.
Wide Receiver: Cecil Shorts (Started in 0.9% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 6.0% of ESPN Leagues)
Look, nobody wants to play Cecil Shorts, but the dude has been producing even while DeAndre Hopkins is going nuclear (or is it Nuk-lear?). In the four games he's played, Shorts has caught at least four passes and has caught at least six in three straight. When he's played, he's seen at least 60 snaps and 8 targets. Whew!
Sure, some of that has to do with the fact that Arian Foster was out, but Houston leads the league in drop backs (251). Shorts is still nursing a shoulder injury, so if he can't go, then consider either Jaelen Strong or Keith Mumphery.
Tight End: Kyle Rudolph (Started in 12.1% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 30.1% of ESPN Leagues)
Much of what was said about Bridgewater can also be said about Rudolph, only the Rudolph hype spans a few seasons. Rudolph has seen 7, 7, 5, and 4 targets in his four games but has topped 2 catches just once (in Week 2 when he had 5). That's not a lot of confidence from a production standpoint, but Rudolph has seen a red zone target in consecutive games. In Week 2, he saw three and had two targets within the 10.
With an implied team total of 23.75 points (rather solid compared to the rest of the slate), the Vikings could be near the goal line more than usual, meaning the man with nearly limitless touchdown-scoring potential from a physical standpoint could cash in on an opportunity for a change.
Flex: Phillip Dorsett (Started in 0.5% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 3.9% of ESPN Leagues)
This depends entirely on the status of T.Y. Hilton, who popped up on the injury report on Thursday with a groin injury. Dorsett got plenty of hype in the preseason, but he has done practically nothing through five games. Dorsett has played more than 17 snaps just once and maxed out at 24. He's seen three or fewer targets in four of five games, maxing out at six targets in his second game. Last week, he played a paltry six snaps but did get two targets.
This is a longshot even for a deep sleeper, but he could be the man to play the Hilton role in a game the Colts need to win. You're banking on Dorsett beating the Patriots, 10th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play, with a big play, as 2 of his 8 catches have gone for 20 yards so far this season.