Fantasy football in 2020 requires patience, flexibility, and a whole lot of woooooosaaaah. The most dedicated and passionate managers get that… since they continue to 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 fantasy 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.
I peaked. Week 15 was IT. My wins included: Jalen Hurts (QB1), Jeff Wilson (RB25), Russell Gage (WR15), and Tyler Higbee (TE7). Only two misses... and one of them led his team’s receiving corps in looks. Lynn Bowden drew seven targets, but didn’t do much with them (6-37-0). Irv Smith, on the other hand, dropped a ball in the end zone.
Onwards to Week 16!
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins (21% rostered — $27)
Jalen Hurts is the best value in DFS ($28), but he’s hardly a sleeper anymore. Baker Mayfield (53% rostered) has been on a hot streak, but is unlikely to pass much against the Jets (-9.5). And, as a Bears fan, I’m contractually obligated to refrain from hyping Mitchell Trubisky… even when he’s facing the Jaguars.
That leaves Tua as an overlooked streamer with top-15 upside. Given Coach Flo’s background, it makes sense that he’d lean on his defense and the ground game. While Tua is only averaging 26 attempts per contest, he’s been impressively efficient, recording a true passer rating of 100.8 (QB12). With four starters out of the lineup in Week 15, the rookie played a relatively mistake-free game (save this blunder), completing 20 of 26 passes.
He only threw for 146 yards, but he also ran in two scores and beat a division rival. Assuming DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Jakeem Grant, (all of whom practiced on a limited basis heading into last week) and Myles Gaskin (who has been activated off of the reserve/Covid-19 list) suit up on Sunday, Tua could post some points at Las Vegas. Between the soft pass rush (16 sacks) and the generous secondary (seventh-most passing yards allowed), the rookie is in a spot to gain reps in a confidence-building spot.
Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (11% rostered — $15)
I wrote about Todd Gurley’s lack of explosiveness and a potential changing of the guard in the Falcons backfield ahead of Week 14. Smith had flashed at various points over the past two years, and is clearly the most electric option in Atlanta. After Gurley recorded just three touches in Week 15, Raheem Morris announced the obvious, stating that Judge Ito would now rule atop A-town’s depth chart.
Gameflow didn’t allow for Smith to do much last Sunday versus Tampa Bay, but he did average 4 yards per carry against a stout Bucs run defense. He also drew three looks in the passing game. With Gurley’s time in Atlanta drawing to a close, it’s Smith’s time to shine in a potentially fast-paced outing at Arrowhead. The Chiefs are a defense that will let opponents run on them, allowing the tenth most fantasy football points and a YPC of 4.6 to opposing rushers. Fearless Forecast: 16 touches for 86 scrimmage yards
Bonus: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Kansas City Cheifs ($19)
I probably don’t have to tell you this, but with CEH sidelined, Bell is a top-24 play in Week 16. Fearless Forecast: OVER 90 scrimmage yards
Chad Hansen, WR, Houston Texans (3% rostered — $20)
Since Will Fuller’s suspension, Hansen has MMMBopped his way to three straight fantasy relevant performances. While Brandin Cooks’ absence certainly boosted his target share, the Cal product has either scored or cleared 100 yards in two of his last three games.
A member of #teamtallreceiver with plus athleticism and strong hands, the 6-foot-2 Hansen has filled a massive void in Houston’s receiving corps, retaining a snap share of 92 percent and a top-17 dominator rating (28%). With Houston’s defense consistently putting Deshaun Watson in a position to chase points and facing a Bengals squad that’s allowed the seventh-highest YPR (11.5), Hansen’s big-play ability should be on full display.
Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns (53% rostered — $15)
Managers may have rostered Hooper, but they’re not starting him. And, by the way, that’s proven a prudent decision. Since returning from a midseason appendectomy, his usage has been suspect at best. From Weeks 10-13, he averaged just two receptions per contest. After missing his third contest of 2020, Hooper rolled into Week 15 like Ben on the Bachelorette, getting plenty of unforeseen love. Second in team targets, Hooper converted five of six balls for 41 yards and a score against the Giants last Sunday. With Baker feeling himself — and facing a Jets squad that’s allowed the most fantasy points to opposing TEs (remember that Tyler Higbee call last week?) — Hooper enters the fantasy finals with top-12 appeal.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars (6% rostered — $14)
We’ve been here before and we’re going back again. The change in QB doesn’t appear to have affected Eiefert’s volume, as he was third in team looks last week. Converting three of four balls, Eifert recorded his highest yardage total (51) of the season with Gardner Minshew under center in Week 15. This Sunday he’ll face off against a Bears defense that’s allowed the second-most points to the position (77.5 yards per week and a total of 4 TDs over the last four weeks) ... and got lucky to give up another score with an Irv Smith drop last week.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF
Note: This is the final piece in this season’s sleeper series. Thanks to everyone for reading!