7 Deep Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 3
It's never too early to start streaming. Gamers who had the misfortune of drafting Andrew Luck or Lamar Miller are already looking for roster help. Additionally, those riding out the holdout of Melvin Gordon could be looking for an early-season option, too. There are also owners who have made unbalanced player swaps opening up a streaming spot on their roster.
Regardless of the motivation for turning to the waiver wire/free agent pool, this is the place to find streaming options -- even for gamers in leagues as large as 14 or 16-team formats. Every week in this piece, you'll find a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, and a flex. All of them are low-owned options in Yahoo! leagues and offer plug-and-play appeal.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Yahoo Ownership: 17%
The Indianapolis Colts haven't asked too much of Jacoby Brissett through the first two games of the year. He attempted 27 passes in the opener and 28 in the second contest, and he's averaging a thoroughly underwhelming 168.0 passing yards per game. On the plus side, he has tossed five touchdown passes compared to only one interception, and he has completed an excellent 69.1 percent of his passes. Brissett has also added 34 yards on the ground.
It appears that as long as the Colts aren't forced into a negative game script, their preference is to let Brissett manage the game as opposed to him slinging the ball all over the field. That limits his fantasy scoring ceiling, but he has at least demonstrated the competency to make the most of his limited chances this year. Furthermore, whether it's a product of better play calling by his current coaching staff or improvement from Brissett processing things (it's likely a bit of both), he's doing a much better job of getting the ball out in a reasonable amount of time.
Brissett's 2.89 seconds to throw in 2017 was the sixth-slowest among qualifying quarterbacks, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. This year, he's cut that down to 2.67 seconds, which is in the middle of the pack at 17th-fastest to get rid of the ball. His glacially slow time to get rid of the ball in 2017 resulted in him taking an NFL-high 52 sacks on 520 drop backs. He's been sacked five times on 60 drop backs this season, shaving his sack percentage on drop backs down from 10 percent in 2017 to 8.3 percent this year.
This week, he and the Colts have an implied total of 24 points that's tied for 13th-highest this week. Our algorithm projects Brissett to finish as the 17th-highest scoring quarterback this week. That projection puts Brissett firmly in the streaming mix, making him a viable option for those who have been streaming all year or those scrambling to replace one of the signal-callers injured last week.
Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots
Yahoo Ownership: 14%
The New England Patriots handled their business and spanked the Miami Dolphins last week. That part of the Rex Burkhead streaming tout went according to plan, but Sony Michel was fully unleashed to the tune of 21 carries for 85 rushing yards and a touchdown. So much for Burkhead soaking up the bulk of garbage time touches. The versatile back wasn't a total dud, though.
Burkhead played 17 snaps (24 percent of New England's offensive snaps), per Pro-Football-Reference. The team wasn't shy about getting the ball in Burkhead's hands when he was on the field, feeding him 5 carries for 21 rushing yards and 2 receptions on a pair of targets for 47 receiving yards. His 68 yards from scrimmage and 2 catches made for a passable week as a deep streamer, and it puts him at two for two on games besting 65 yards from scrimmage.
The Patriots have the second-highest implied total at 33.5 points, which is a good starting point when scouring for a streamer. They're a week-high 23.0-point favorites against the visiting New York Jets. If things go according to plan, Burkhead could be in store for some garbage-time touches to salt away a big win. Regardless, his multifaceted skill set should net him touches throughout the game.
The matchup against the Jets is favorable. They've yielded 14 receptions for 115 receiving yards on 16 targets to running backs this year, per Pro-Football-Reference, and they've also surrendered 160 rushing yards on 36 carries (4.44 yards per carry). Our projections call for Burkhead to finish as the RB36 in points per reception (PPR) formats. That'll play as a streamer.
Jeff Wilson, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Yahoo Ownership: 3%
With Tevin Coleman out in Week 2, the San Francisco 49ers split up their backfield work between Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida and Jeff Wilson. The former two backs are better fantasy options, but Wilson's case for streaming is that of a traditional goal-line, touchdown-or-bust play in the mold of Mike Tolbert or Moe Williams.
Last week, the 49ers attempted three runs and one pass from within the Cincinnati Bengals' five-yard line. Mostert toted the rock on one of those four plays and failed to score, while Wilson produced two touchdowns on two carries. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has hinted that Wilson getting work in the red zone was the plan.
For fantasy players curious about Jeff Wilson Jr. "vulturing" TDs at goal line, this is what Kyle Shanahan said on Monday: "I wouldn't say he's our designated red-zone back, but that was how we planned going into the game... We tried to do that when we got down there.”
— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) September 18, 2019
In all, Wilson rumbled for 34 rushing yards and a pair of scores on 10 carries in last week's blowout win in Cincinnati. Having said that, expecting another double-digit carry performance might be unwise. Seven of Wilson's carries (including his second touchdown) came in the fourth quarter of the lopsided win. It's probably best to view Wilson as a touchdown-or-bust streamer, and his chances of scoring are decent with the 49ers tied for the ninth-highest implied total at 25.0 points.
Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Yahoo Ownership: 21%
The committee approach in San Francisco isn't limited to the backfield. Shanahan is also mixing and matching his receivers, with burner Marquise Goodwin leading the position in percentage of offensive snaps played at 51 percent. The speedster was targeted 3 times and hauled in each for 77 yards and a touchdown.
.@MarquiseGoodwin goes uncovered for the 38-yard @49ers TD! #SFvsCIN
NFL app // Yahoo Sports app pic.twitter.com/HUXLBFMWCm
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
As you can see in the tweet above, Goodwin was left uncovered on his touchdown reception. He's not always going to have the luxury of running free, but he's previously demonstrated chemistry with Jimmy Garoppolo.
When Garoppolo appeared in six games (five starts) with the 49ers in 2017, he targeted Goodwin 43 times on 178 pass attempts. Goodwin parlayed those targets into 29 receptions for 384 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 0.44 Target Net Expected Points (NEP) per target. To put his 0.44 Target NEP per target with Garoppolo passing in perspective, out of the 96 receivers targeted a minimum of 40 times in 2017, it was tied for 20th-best.
Goodwin has a plum draw for his 4.27-second 40-yard dash speed. Ten long passes (defined as passes of 16-plus yards) have been attempted against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they have ceded 5 completions for 177 yards and 3 touchdowns. Notably, Josh Gordon hauled in a 44-yard reception on a long pass, D.K. Metcalf secured one of three long passes for a 28-yard touchdown, and Phillip Dorsett embarrassed them for a pair of touchdown receptions on 2 long passes for a combined 83 receiving yards.
Goodwin is equipped with the ability to take the top off the Steelers' D and pay off as a streamer.
Devin Smith, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Yahoo Ownership: 6%
Goodwin is not the only home-run hitter worth a look for streamers. Devin Smith was a second-round pick of the Jets in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he has yet to fulfill his promise in large part due to injuries. Smith has suffered a pair of ACL tears in his pro career, and you can read a bit about those injuries as well as quotes from his current teammates about him in Todd Brock's piece for Cowboys Wire of USA Today.
Smith has tantalizing measurables that you can see on his PlayerProfiler landing page. His elite speed was on full display on a 51-yard touchdown grab in Washington last week.
Devin Smith’s 1st catch of the year is a 51-yard #DallasCowboys TOUCHDOWN! @dsmithosu @dak #DALvsWAS
NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
Watch on mobile: https://t.co/y8YLGKmeTf pic.twitter.com/AEpeVq8fkJ
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
Michael Gallup will be out for a few weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus. Gallup's injury paves the way for some extra targets and touches for everyone in the offense, including Smith. The 27-year-old receiver will have an opportunity to build on his 3 receptions on 3 targets for 74 receiving yards and a touchdown from last week in a Charmin-soft matchup this week.
The Miami Dolphins have allowed 102 points through two games. They've thrown up all over themselves defending long passes, surrendering 9 completions on 12 attempts for 278 yards and 3 touchdowns. Smith is fully capable of adding to Miami's headaches defending long passes. I'm completely enamored with him as a streamer as well as the prospect of exposure to the Dallas Cowboys' week-high implied total of 34.5 points.
Hayden Hurst, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Yahoo Ownership: 1%
Last week, Hayden Hurst was my favorite streamer at tight end. He avoided a total dud by reeling in his only target for a one-yard touchdown. Whew. He's not my preferred streaming option at the position this week, but he's a more widely available option than the three I touted earlier in the week.
Hurst is nowhere near the same class of a receiving option at tight end as teammate Mark Andrews, but PlayerProfiler credits him with 31.7 percent route participation and a 22.9 percent slot rate thus far this year. That might be enough to produce fantasy-worthy numbers against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs are tied for the most receptions allowed to tight ends this year (17), according to Pro-Football-Reference. They struggled mightily defending the position in 2018, too, coughing up the fifth-most receptions (87), third-most receiving yards (1,067), and second-most receiving touchdowns (10). Hurst is a matchup-driven option for gamers in need of help at tight end this week.
Damiere Byrd, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Yahoo Ownership: 0%
According to Sharp Football Stats, the Arizona Cardinals have run 64 percent of their plays in 10 personnel (four receivers). They have run 87 plays in that personnel grouping, and the rest of the league has used that personnel grouping only 64 times. Kliff Kingsbury's reliance on 10 personnel has created fantasy value for receivers on the Cardinals beyond their top two, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.
Case in point, Damiere Byrd has been targeted exactly seven times in each of the first two games, and he's turned his 14 targets into 10 receptions for 87 receiving yards. Even with Michael Crabtree joining the mix in Week 2, Byrd was on the field for 93 percent of Arizona's offensive snaps.
Byrd isn't just piling up meaningless grabs, either. His 0.47 Target NEP per target is highest among players with double-digit targets on the Cardinals this season -- better than Fitzgerald's 0.22 Target NEP per target and Kirk's 0.20 Target NEP per target. The former member of the Carolina Panthers will have a chance to stick it to his former team in a game that has sneaky shootout potential that belies the game's over/under total of 44.5 points, per FanDuel's sportsbook.
Cam Newton is dealing with an aggravation of a foot injury he suffered in the preseason, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that things are trending toward Kyle Allen starting this week. With that in mind, the following nugget of info should be taken with a grain of salt since it remains to be seen how the Panthers will run their offense if Newton sits.
According to Football Outsiders, the Panthers are the fastest team in pace taking only 22.02 seconds between plays, and they rank sixth-fastest in pace in seconds per play when the situation is neutral. The Cardinals rank second-fastest in pace and in seconds per play when the situation is neutral. If Carolina sticks to their uptempo pace, there's potential for lots of plays and fantasy scoring for players on both teams.
To sum things up -- Byrd's on the field a ton, and he's played an important role in Arizona's offense thus far. This week's matchup has the potential to feature a ton of plays for both teams. He's basically universally available, and Byrd is quietly tied for 32nd at the position in targets, with 14. Furthermore, while he hasn't really ripped off long gainers since reaching the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016, he does have eye-popping speed. Don't be shy about taking the dive into the free-agent pool to scoop up Byrd if you're in need of streaming help at receiver or flex this week.