The most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While there are times your roster may allow for snoozing on sleepers, it’s always beneficial to keep tabs on emerging trends and players. This weekly column is for those who understand the satisfaction of digging deep.
All of the listed players are rostered in under 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks … but that’s what makes them so intriguing. Last week Jeff Wilson found the end zone twice and Allen Lazard led the Packers’ WR corps in targets, posting career highs in receptions (6) and yards (146). On the other hand, Mitch got benched (which, as a Bears fan, is a different sort of win), Josh Kelley fumbled, and Drew Sample went back to blocking (which is probably for the best).
Let’s see what fantasy damage we can do in Week 4!
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins (12% rostered — $31) (vs SEA)
After three games, Fitzpatrick is inside the top-20 fantasy producers at the position, averaging more FF points per game (18.7) than Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, and Drew Brees. Comfortably reunited with Chan Gailey, Fitzpatrick has demonstrated ace efficiency, completing more than 71 percent of his throws (QB7) and averaging over 7 YPA. He’s also logged 15 rushing attempts (QB6) for 68 yards (QB11) and a score.
This Sunday he’ll try to keep pace with MVP front-runner Russell Wilson, who’s been “cooking” at a rate of 34 attempts, 308 yards, and 4 passing scores per contest. Given that the Dolphins defense has allowed nearly 800 passing yards on the season, Fitz’s arm figures to be sore come Monday morning. Vegas clearly agrees, as 54.5 is the current over/under for this magical matchup.
Brian Hill, RB, Atlanta Falcons (10% rostered - $13) (@ GB)
A physical runner who doesn’t shy away from contact, Hill demonstrated his knack for getting, well, downhill, in Week 3. Carrying the ball 10 times (9 totes and 1 reception on 3 targets) for 80 total yards and a score, the former Wyoming Cowboy produced just two fewer yards than Todd Gurley on five fewer touches. While his involvement in the offense has grown since the start of the season, Gurley still out-snapped the 24-year-old by a ratio of 35:23. But given his fresh legs and obvious burst, Hill may be in line for a larger role … starting this Sunday.
In Week 4, he’ll travel to Green Bay to take on a Packers defense that’s allowing 5.5 YPC and an average of 178 scrimmage yards per week to opposing RBs. Noting Hill’s ability in the passing game (he out-targeted Gurley in Week 3) in tandem with various injuries to the Falcons’ receiving corps, Hill could garner additional opportunities via the air. Gurley is in a spot to produce, but Hill figures to eat into the vet’s workload and might have the juice necessary to convert for fantasy purposes in a solid matchup. Even if you don’t need to start him on Sunday, you should definitely try to stash him.
Randall Cobb, WR, Houston Texans (13% rostered - $16) (vs MIN)
He’s not the safety valve any of us were envisioning for Deshaun Watson, but Cobb has been the most consistent and productive (177 yards) of Houston’s pass-catchers. Third in team looks behind Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks — each of whom has struggled to stay on the field due to nagging injuries, which have caused their opportunities and subsequent production to fluctuate — Cobb is gifting Watson with a QB rating of 144.4 (WR9) when targeted. He’s additionally padded his stats with an impressive 79 total yards after the catch (WR14).
Coming off of a top-17 fantasy performance (4-95-1) in Week 3, Cobb is in a good spot to produce again this Sunday versus Minnesota. The Vikings secondary has struggled to contain opposing WRs, giving up the third-most receiving yards (899) on the season and allowing an average of 12.1 YPR. Vikings DBs have additionally been smoked on 14 passes over 20 yards and 4 passes over 40 yards. Cobb is likely to draw primary coverage via rookie Jeff Gladney, who has labored to defend the pass, allowing a QB rating of 107.6 when targeted. Cobb is a flex option in PPR friendly formats.
Mo Alie-Cox, TE, Indianapolis Colts (24% rostered - $14) (@ CHI)
I had MAC on my initial Week 3 Deep Sleepers list but took him off after Jack Doyle was deemed healthy enough to play. Big mistake. Corralling all three of his looks for 52 yards, Alie-Cox was on the receiving end of Philip Rivers’ lone score. Over the past two weeks, the VCU product has cleared 100 yards or found the end zone, posting top-10 fantasy numbers in back-to-back efforts.
Given the injuries to Parris Campbell (knee) and Michael Pittman Jr. (calf), the former basketball standout remains Indy’s most explosive receiving weapon. He’s also attached to a QB who leans heavily on the position, which is good news for fantasy managers when he takes on the Bears — a defensive unit that’s given up 2 scores to the position over the past three games — in Week 4.
Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers (3% rostered — $12) (vs ATL)
If Alie-Cox has been scooped in your league, give Tonyan a look. A converted wide receiver, the Indiana State product owns good speed (4.63) and impressive burst. At 6-foot-5 and 236 pounds, he’s also an imposing figure, particularly in the red area of the field. Leading all Packers’ TEs in snaps (131) and routes run (averaging of 21/week), Tonyan has scored in back-to-back outings.
In Week 3, he additionally converted all 5 of his looks for a career number of grabs and 50 yards. A stickler for efficiency, Aaron Rodgers could zero in on the fourth-year TE this Sunday when the Packers host a Falcons squad that’s allowed the most scores and the second-most fantasy points to the tight end position.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF