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Fantasy Football: Week 1 sleepers

Some sleepers candidates to consider, if you’re stuck in an early-season bind

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Fantasy Football decisions can be difficult, especially when there’s no pre-season to put usage into any sort of context. Here at Big Blue View, we want to provide the readers with fringe roster players who can have a solid fantasy outing for your squad; these players are typically called sleepers. The players listed below should NOT be started over the players that you drafted to carry your team, rather they are options for you to consider with some of your last starting spots, or maybe in the flex. Start your studs, but here are some sleeper options if you’re in a bind.

Quarterback

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy G. isn’t someone I would typically recommend for fantasy football. He’s on a run dominant team that wants to embarrass the opponent through the ground game. However, in his two matchups last season against the Cardinals, Garoppolo averaged 29.5 fantasy points (in 4 points per touchdown leagues). He was trusted to attack the secondary of the Cardinals and abuse the fact that they were just giving points to the tight end position. Yes, the Cardinals drafted Isaiah Simmons in the first round, but tight end George Kittle will prove to be a tough task for the young linebacker. Arizona was also a team that allowed the most YAC last season (yards after catch), so I expect Kyle Shanahan to get his playmakers the ball in space. Rookie Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are still questionable but did not practice on Wednesday. If you have a Roethlisberger or Matt Ryan, start them, but if you punted the position, Garoppolo can be an option, as well as Gardner Minshew.

Gardner Minshew

There should be a lot of chasing points from the Jaguars on Sunday against a Colts secondary that is still somewhat suspect. Jay Gruden is now the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville and he typically gets the most out of young quarterbacks (Kirk Cousins, Andy Dalton), so I expect Gruden to simplify things for Minshew this season. Much like the early years of his Jaguar predecessor, Blake Bortles, I expect solid fantasy production from Minshew on a bad team in Jacksonville.

Running back

Boston Scott

Miles Sanders is still dealing with an injury, although he is trending towards playing. This is going to lead to more carries and opportunities for Boston Scott, a player that was used pretty heavily down the stretch of the season last year. Through week 14 into the wild card game, Scott had 26 catches and 44 carries in that time. I believe Scott will have stand-alone value through the season, as a situational passing back, but he should be in for more usage in week one.

Tarik Cohen

In any sort of PPR format, Cohen should return value at his late ADP. David Montgomery is still battling back from a groin injury, which will limit him in week one if he even plays. This leaves Cohen and converted WR Cordarrelle Paterson as the only realistic running back options. Last year, the Lions gave up 8 receiving touchdowns to the running back position. John DeFilippo, the former offensive coordinator for the Jaguars, who targeted Leonard Fournette just under 100 times last season, is now the quarterbacks coach; Cohen should be a PPR machine with at least 6 targets in this game. Last year he averaged 5 catches a game, and you should feel comfortable starting him as a flex in 3 WR PPR leagues for week one against the Lions.

Chris Thompson or James Robinson

The Jacksonville running back situation has become less murky over the last week. Leonard Fournette was shipped out of town, Ryquell Armstead lands on the COVID-19 list, and reports have not been positive about his camp, and now Devine Ozigbo lands on the I.R. This leaves Thompson and Robinson, a player who is being raved about right now in camp, as the two running backs well ahead of Dare Ogunbawale, who they just signed off the street. Robinson is the only traditional, early downs, RB out of the three, and although the game script may not favor running the football, I still believe Robinson may be able to fall into the end-zone. Due to the game script, and the presence of Laviska Shenault, who will be used creatively, I would choose Thompson in .5 PPR leagues over Robinson, but both are inexpensive players that can be found on the waiver wire. I wouldn’t burn much FAAB (free agent acquisition budget) on either right now though.

Wide receiver

Jamison Crowder

The Jets pass catchers have all been dealing with injuries throughout camp, but it seems like Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman may be on the field Sunday. I don’t feel this will affect the PPR target monster of Jamison Crowder, who will avoid the coverage of Tre’Davious White in the slot. Sam Darnold targeted Crowder a ton last season, and I expect a similar fate for Crowder this season; it should start early in week one. He’s looking at possibly receiving 8-10 targets, in a favorable passing game script, so starting him in the flex of a 3 WR PPR league is a viable option.

DeSean Jackson

Remember last year when he opened up the season with 9 catches for 153 yards, and two touchdowns to mount a comeback against Washington? That is a realistic outcome again for Jackson, due to all the injuries that the Eagles’ wide receiver room is going through. Philadelphia can’t catch a break with the injury bug; their offensive line, Miles Sanders is banged up, and wide receivers Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffrey will not be available for week one. This should lead to more opportunities for Jackson in a good secondary matchup. My worries with the matchup are the Football Team’s pass rush against the Eagles banged-up line, but Jackson’s ability to create separation vertically may lead to some deep bombs from Carson Wentz.

Tight end

Blake Jarwin

Dak Prescott has a proclivity to target the tight end position, and Jason Witten took his 82 targets to Las Vegas. Last season as the backup tight end, Jarwin had 43 targets, secured 21 of them, with an aDot (average depth of target) of over 10 yards. Jarwin’s much more athletic than Witten and I believe he’ll be used in a fantasy-friendly manner in the short-intermediate parts of the field. There’s a lot of mouths to feed in Dallas, but Jarwin will be a good safety blanket that defenses will not be focused on. The implied points total for the Cowboys is 27 and the game has the second-highest over/under according to Vegas. Jalen Ramsey will be on one of the three star receivers, and the middle of the field will be more open for Jarwin to make his fantasy imprint on Sunday Night Football.

Jack Doyle

I like Eric Ebron as well against the Giants, but Doyle may be safer in PPR formats with old man Phillip Rivers throwing him the football. It seems like Rivers’ ability to push the ball vertically has declined which coincides with the short passing attack that Doyle has had success operating within. Plus, Rivers loves to target the tight end position; according to PFF, since 2007, Rivers targets the tight end position an average of 114 times for 82 catches, with 986 yards and 9 touchdowns a season. Doyle will be an underneath sure-handed option that is more than likely available on the free agent wire.