This week we take a look at very deep sleepers who could possibly do very big things for your fantasy team this year.
By deep sleepers, we aren’t talking about guys who are owned in most leagues (like Stefon Diggs) or guys who are getting added this week in a majority of leagues (like Alfred Blue). We are talking about legit deep sleepers - players who are available in almost every league out there.
Brian Hoyer, QB, HOU [15% owned]
With Ryan Mallett officially out of the picture, the QB job in Houston now belongs to Hoyer. Due to the Texans offensive struggles and the absence of Arian Foster, Hoyer is throwing a lot to keep Houston in their games. Over his last three starts, Hoyer is averaging 290 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
Chris Polk, RB, HOU [3% owned]
Now that Arian Foster is out for the year, everybody is racing to grab Alfred Blue. But consider that Arian Foster played 13 games in 2014, and averaged 18.1 points in those games. Blue drew the start in the 3 games that Foster missed, but only averaged 10.3 points per game – about 60 percent of what Foster produced.
So, while it’s true that Blue will replace Foster’s role as the starter, it’s reasonable to expect that Blue will only be replacing 60 percent of Foster’s production.
While everybody is chasing Blue, the Texans’ other running back could easily be there for the taking. Not only does Polk offer more in the passing game, but he sits in a potential timeshare in the running game. Last week when Foster was lost to injury, it was Chris Polk who had more carries than Blue (four vs three). And Polk had more rushes in one of the three games when Foster was out earlier in the year. Like most committees, Blue and Polk will likely be feast or famine from week-to-week, but you can get the Polk a lot easier than Blue.
Antonio Andrews [14% owned]
Andrews has emerged as the lead rusher for the Titans, leading the team in attempts, yards, and touchdowns since he was inserted into the lineup. Unfortunately the Titans’ running game isn’t exactly good, and Andrews is only averaging 10 rushes, 35 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game. Those are team-leading numbers, but not good numbers.
While Andrews is the one who gets the few rushing touchdowns the Titans score, he has Dexter McCluster and Bishop Sankey eating into his touches. And, the impending return of rookie David Cobb seems to offer a further reduction in Andrews’ production. If you are desperate for a running back, and want a "starter", Andrews is available in most leagues. The upside seems minimal, but he’s a desperation grab if no better options present themselves. On a side note, McCluster would be worth a look in a 12+ team PPR league.
Orleans Darkwa [3% owned]
Last week against the Cowboys Darkwa looked powerful and decisive in his limited role of 8 carries. On a team with no great RBs, Darkwa could emerge as the guy. But, it's more likely Darkwa will be part of a committee approach. And this isn’t just a two-headed, or even a three-way committee, rather it’s a rare four-running-back committee of Andre Williams, Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings and Darkwa.
Whether it be Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, Andre Brown, or Rashad Jennings, the Giants have been a committee team for about a decade. Tiki Barber back in 2005 was the last running back for the G-men to dominate the rushes, touchdowns, and receptions in a season.
Darkwa could, and should get more opportunities going forward, but it’s just not in the Giants’ DNA to set up one running back as their bellcow. If you are desperate for a running back, he’s not a bad grab to stash and see if injuries thin down the committee. But, he will likely be very feast or famine going forward, with little to offer in the passing game.
Charles Sims [33% owned]
The resurgence of Doug "don’t call me Muscle Hamster" Martin has limited Sims’ role as a rusher, though Sims has still averaged 50 rush yards per game the last couple of weeks. Sims’ biggest contribution is through the air, where he has tallied 210 yards and 2 touchdowns in 6 weeks.
Robert Woods, WR, BUF [5% owned]
With Percy Harvin possibly not playing again this year, or ever, and Sammy Watkins unable to stay healthy, Woods could emerge as the top WR option in Buffalo. He is averaging about 10 points per week over the last couple of weeks. With Buffalo on a bye this week, Woods is one to keep in mind as more emerges regarding Harvin and Watkins.
Connor Barth, K, TB [11% owned]
Quick – which kicker has the highest points per game this year? That’s right, Connor Barth. Granted, he’s only played in two games this year.
Since 2011, Barth has hit on over 90% of his FGA’s (75 of 83), and has never missed on any of his 155 extra point attempts. In other words, he’s a good and accurate kicker.
So why is he only owned in 11 percent of leagues? For starters, he missed all of 2013 and only played in part of 2014, so there is little name recognition. Second, he plays for Tampa Bay. And in 2014 the Bucs were 29th in scoring. And if you can’t score, your kicker can’t generate points. But this is 2015, and Tampa Bay is in the top half of the league in points per game (13th).
Making sense of the defensive madness
Typically, when players start scoring well, they tend to get added, while underperformers get dropped. The one exception to this is usually defense. A perfect example of this is Houston, who is 70% owned, but is ranked in the bottom 3 or 4 in fantasy football scoring. Despite a front line boasting J.J. Watt, a healthy Jadeveon Clowney, and newly acquired Vince Wilfork, the Texans are among the worst teams in points allowed and sacks generated. Part of the problem is an inept offense that can’t stay on the field. And Arian Foster’s injury isn’t going to make that situation any better.
Meanwhile the Giants, Vikings, and Dolphins are all top 10 fantasy football scoring defenses, but each are owned in less than 40% of Yahoo leagues.
Defensive scoring is impacted by good matchups, and lucky defensive touchdowns, so it can be argued that Houston is a better defense to have than the Vikings or Dolphins, but now that we are entering Week 8, it’s probably about time we reconsider our pre-season notions of who the top defenses are in fantasy football, and perhaps adjust our rosters accordingly?
For some reason, the top defense, Denver, is only 93% owned. The Broncos’ defense has been great in real football, and fantasy football. If you are in one of these 7% of leagues where the Broncos are available, be quick to grab a top-end defense who has already passed their bye.