Sleeper is a nebulous term in fantasy football. There is never one size fits all for every column.
My goal with this article is to help you consider fantasy options that may be overlooked or underrated, whether as temporary additions, possible depth grabs, or perhaps the impetus for a prop play or DFS slot. As always, your mileage may vary and you know your league – and your specific needs – better than an outsider ever could.
Last week was one of the better sleeper weeks, with Joshua Dobbs, Baker Mayfield, Noah Brown and Rico Dowdle all exceeding their projections. Let’s see if we can keep the good mood going into week 11.
WR Jayden Reed vs. Chargers 30% on roster)
TE Luke Musgrave vs. Chargers (38% on roster)
It’s the time of year when inexperienced pass catchers often start to spread their wings as the game slows down for them. Both Reed (5-84-1) and Musgrave (2-64-0) were heard against an impressive Steelers defense last week in Pittsburgh. The task is much easier this Sunday, at home against a Chargers defense that struggles to cover both the edges and the seam. All your passes seem to be working against the LAC.
Of course, to trust a recommendation from Green Bay, you also have to sign Love, who was no easy task this year. But he’s met or exceeded his fantasy expectations in three of his last four starts, and perhaps he deserves the late-developing Polaroid story, too, considering it’s his first year starting. Even if you don’t imagine Love being a long-term answer for the Packers, the weaknesses of the Chargers defense will likely hobble the Packers offense this week.
RB Ty Chandler at Broncos (45% on roster)
Things change quickly in the NFL. Both the Vikings and Broncos looked shipwrecked about a month ago, but they have recovered well. Somehow, Minnesota is on a five-game winning streak despite losing Kirk Cousins at the helm, and Denver has pulled off three straight upsets, a successful comeback by a team that was defeated 70-20 in Miami in late September .
To be fair, Denver’s rushing defense has struggled all year. The Miami blowout is the outlier, but Denver ranks 32nd in rush defense DVOA for a reason. And maybe Chandler can get away with that here. He’ll likely be in action for the second straight week in Minnesota, with volume particularly certain given that Alexander Mattison (concussion) is likely out. And maybe Chandler can take the job from Mattison either way – Mattison is averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 4.1 yards per touch. Chandler’s efficiency wasn’t significantly better, but it’s still better. Maybe Sunday at Mile High will be the turning point.
WR Curtis Samuel vs. Giants (31% on roster)
Samuel returned from a toe injury last week and the results weren’t exciting – two short catches. But he was targeted six times by Sam Howell, at the expense of several other players (Jahan Dotson only saw two targets, both incomplete). Now Samuel returns home against a Giants secondary that was good at wide receiver (third most points allowed) and especially leaky in slot coverage. Samuel had been in lower WR3 territory before the injury, totaling 25 catches and three total touchdowns over a five-game span. It’s a good place to start if you need to dig deep during the bye week.
RB Rico Dowdle at the Panthers (13% in the squad)
Most of Dowdle’s production last week came late, but it did come cleanup as the Cowboys finished a blowout loss to the hapless Giants. And that game script could easily land again as the Pokes are double-digit favorites over the Panthers. And we can’t ignore that in each metric per opportunity, Dowdle is better than Tony Pollard this year – per rush, per catch, per touch, per target. The Cowboys could start mixing Dowdle in as more of a proactive runner and not just limit him to closing time. Also take heart for Carolina’s run defense – it’s the worst in the NFC according to DVOA.
It’s easy to blame the Jags for that ugly loss to the 49ers, but perhaps that result was more because San Francisco was great than because Jacksonville was lousy. Clearly, Jacksonville’s passing game has some issues that need to be ironed out, and everyone who drafted Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley isn’t happy right now. But let’s not miss the opportunity that is presented to us.
When I think about D/ST streamers, the first thing I look at is the point spread – I want a team that is favored by a significant margin. Jacksonville checks that box, a 6.5-point favorite against Tennessee. And while Will Levis had exciting moments in his first two starts, he definitely looked like an inexperienced rookie last week in Tampa Bay (four sacks, one pick, no touchdowns, just 5.1 YPA). Maybe the Jaguars can control the flow of the game and make Tennessee one-dimensional for the second straight game.