7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 8
Sometimes, the hero isn't the only hero.
Samwise Gamgee was much more of a hero than Frodo Baggins was in the events deciding the fate of Middle-earth.
And yeah, Luke Skywalker was great and all, but he couldn't have destroyed the Death Star if Han Solo didn't come back to help.
But it goes beyond that.
Without the deep literary sleepers like Treebeard and that random pilot who flew too close to Darth Vader and knocked him into a wacky spiral, some of the best stories ever told would not be complete.
You know. Exactly like your Week 8 fantasy football lineups.
Which guys can help your story be one that ends in victory?
Week 8 All-Deep-Sleeper Team
Quarterback: Jameis Winston (Started in 4.2% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 17.2% of ESPN Leagues)
Winston's rookie season hasn't exactly gone as planned for Buccaneers hopefuls. He's been passable if not for the microscope that is the first overall pick in the draft. As far as fantasy points go, he's been fairly reliable, posting at least 12 points in each game to date. The Buccaneers are 7.5-point underdogs in Atlanta, so that's not exactly prime territory for the rookie. He's also potentially playing without Vincent Jackson, and their implied team total is just 20.5 points.
So what's to like again? Well, the Falcons are fifth in fantasy points allowed to passers (I'm getting to the point), but those games were skewed by some Brandon Weeden, Sam Bradford, and Kirk Cousins clunkers. No, Winston isn't incapable of a bad game, but the matchup is beatable, especially if Mike Evans' recent form sticks around. In terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP), which compares a team's performance to expectation-level and is adjusted for schedule strength, the Falcons rank just 22nd on a per-play basis. He can likely give you a decent floor even with turnovers, and the ceiling is high if it's a shootout.
Running Back: Dexter McCluster (Started in 11.2% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 19.7% of ESPN Leagues)
McCluster's snaps aren't great, and he's topped 40 snaps just once -- way back in Week 2. But when he's on the field, he's generally involved. He's totaled at least six touches (carries plus receptions) in five straight games, and that number has been eight in three straight games. He's coming off an eight-target week against the Falcons, as well.
Antonio Andrews is expected to see an uptick in workload this week, but that doesn't mean McCluster won't keep seeing his passing-down work. It's probably just that Bishop Sankey will be phased out. In PPR formats, McCluster makes sense, and with his dual-position eligibility, he can fill in as a receiver if necessary. Houston ranks 22nd against the run and 24th against the pass, per our numbers.
Running Back: Khiry Robinson (Started in 8.1% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 20.4% of ESPN Leagues)
Robinson was a recommendation here last week, and I really never say that to tout. It's just reassuring to see that the logical process can pay off. Robinson scored twice last week near the goal line and saw 14 carries. Like last week against the Colts, the over/under is high for the New Orleans game (49). As 3.5-point home favorites, the Saints are pegged for an implied total of 26.25 points and should be ahead, which could lead to more carries for Robinson.
While both he and C.J. Spiller are flirting with 20 snaps per game, it's Robinson who is getting the carries when Mark Ingram needs spelled. Given that they're favored, it's more likely they'll be handing off to Robinson without Ingram in the game than passing to Spiller out of the backfield.
Wide Receiver: Nate Washington (Started in 15.6% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 32.5% of ESPN Leagues)
Washington, like Robinson, sounds a bit like chasing points, but that's not the approach -- not by a long shot. Yes, Washington outperformed DeAndre Hopkins last week with a 9-catch, 127-yard, 2-touchdown game, but it's the 16 targets that are intriguing. Houston is one of five teams to attempt more than 300 drop backs this year and currently top the league with 341 intended pass plays. The volume is there for this team, and surprisingly, not all of it can go to Nuk.
Washington had 11, 9, and 8 targets in his first three games, and aside from his 12-snap Week 4, he's seen at least 65 snaps and 8 targets in four games. You already know Arian Foster is out for the season. That's just even more reason to trust the volume in the Houston passing game.
Flex: Chris Conley (Started in 0.3% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 1.2% of ESPN Leagues)
Conley has seen seven targets in three of his past four games, and that's some pretty solid volume for such a low-owned player. Buying a piece of the Kansas City offense isn't very fun, but he's got a pretty insane athletic profile, he's getting looks, and he's got a matchup with the worst pass defense in the league in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play (Detroit) and the 25th-ranked defense in terms of fantasy points allowed to receivers in Week 8. I can go on, but I won't belabor things.
Tight End: Jacob Tamme (Started in 2.4% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 4.8% of ESPN Leagues)
The good thing about Tamme is that you know what you're going to get. The bad thing about Tamme is that you know what you're going to get. Tamme is going to play 50-plus snaps, see roughly 5 targets, and catch about 3 passes, benchmarks he's met in four of his five healthy games. However, he's topped 4 catches just once and 40 yards just twice. In a huge PPR league, that's not awful because the alternative is often praying for a fluke touchdown from a tight end.
Flex: Tyler Lockett (Started in 3.7% of ESPN Leagues | Owned in 12.6% of ESPN Leagues)
With no more than five targets in any game this year, Lockett's fantasy production will continue to rely on big plays. He had one last week, a 43-yard touchdown catch. Perhaps that can knock some sense into Seattle to use their best receiver more.
Of 88 receivers with at least 20 targets this year (Lockett has 24), he ranks 14th in Reception NEP per target (0.84). Jermaine Kearse (0.83) is actually 17th, and Doug Baldwin (0.67) is 51st. Lockett has the best Reception Success Rate -- the percentage of receptions that lead to NEP gains -- of the trio by a wide margin. Lockett ranks 28th, Kearse is 58th, and Baldwin is 75th. Good things happen when Lockett is involved, and they face an average defense this week: Dallas is 17th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.