Fantasy Football Week 4: Biggest Sleepers at Every Position

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2020

Fantasy Football Week 4: Biggest Sleepers at Every Position

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    Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

    Week 4 projects as the perfect time to pick up rookie wide receivers and veteran quarterbacks who may have let you down in the past.

    Although mobile signal-callers provide the most fantasy value because of those extra rushing yards and possibly a score on the ground, three pocket passers at the bottom of your free-agent pool could push your squad over the top. Take advantage of their favorable matchups against leaky pass defenses this week.

    In Week 3, we saw first-year wideouts make a significant impact. While most managers swarmed to Justin Jefferson on the waiver wire, two other rookie options deserve consideration. 

    And many of your teams have unexpected spots to fill, as according to ESPN's Dianna Russini, the league postponed the Tennessee Titans' home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a makeup date yet to be determined.

    The Titans had three players and five personnel who tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero. According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, another player tested positive Wednesday. As a result, we've omitted potential selections for Tennessee and Pittsburgh.

    With a focus on offensive positions, we've selected the biggest sleepers available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Wednesday 11:59 p.m. ET.


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    Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
    Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan FitzpatrickPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Kirk Cousins vs. Houston Texans (27 percent rostered)

    Because the Minnesota Vikings hosted the Titans in Week 3, they had to suspend activities at their facilities. 

    Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the league may reschedule the Vikings' matchup with the Houston Texans this week, though both clubs have proceeded as if the game will go on as planned Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Managers who want to take advantage of a decent matchup for Kirk Cousins against the Texans' 29th-ranked scoring defense should keep that caveat in mind. 

    Cousins clicked with Jefferson, who hauled in seven passes for 175 yards and a touchdown last week. Although the Texans have allowed the third-fewest passing yards, they've surrendered six scores through the air. 

    The Vikings could have plenty of scoring opportunities. Adam Thielen and Jefferson may finish multiple drives for six points. If Minnesota plays, plug Cousins into your lineup if you need a streaming option at quarterback.


    Derek Carr vs. Buffalo Bills (19 percent rostered)

    Derek Carr hasn't thrown for 300 yards in a game this season. However, he's averaging 261.3 passing yards per contest with six touchdowns and zero interceptions.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Bryan Edwards will miss Sunday's game because of an ankle injury, and Henry Ruggs III seems doubtful with a hamstring issue. That's not ideal, but Carr had his best game without much contribution from either player in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. Ruggs and Edwards combined for three receptions and 46 yards.

    Carr distributes the ball well among his pass-catchers. Behind tight end Darren Waller, any of the Raiders' wide receivers can become a solid secondary option in Gruden's offense, though Hunter Renfrow would have the best shot if Ruggs also sits out.

    Carr will face a Bills pass defense that's taken a step back from last-year's top-five status. The group has allowed the sixth-most yards along with five touchdowns.


    Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Seattle Seahawks (13 percent rostered) 

    Rookie first-round quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should expect to ride the bench a little longer. After recording three interceptions and zero touchdowns in the season opener, Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for four touchdowns over the last two outings. He also ran for a score in Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

    Perhaps the 37-year-old has some FitzMagic left in him under Chan Gailey, who served as the signal-caller's offensive coordinator in previous stints with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

    Fitzpatrick will face the Seattle Seahawks, who've allowed the most passing yards and an average of 28.7 points through three weeks. Jamal Adams exited the previous contest with a groin injury. He didn't practice Wednesday. If the All-Pro safety suits up, don't expect him to play at anything close to 100 percent, which bodes well for Fitzpatrick's fantasy potential.

Running Backs

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    New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead
    New England Patriots running back Rex BurkheadAssociated Press

    Carlos Hyde vs. Miami Dolphins (41 percent rostered) 

    Seahawks running back Chris Carson suffered a minor knee strain last week, though he logged a limited practice Wednesday.

    Seattle had a rash of injuries at running back late last season, which prompted a call to Marshawn Lynch, who took his first 2019 snap in Week 17.

    In looking to avoid a similar situation, the Seahawks may dial back Carson's workload if he plays Sunday—especially since they don't want to further deplete depth while fellow running back Rashaad Penny misses at least the first six games because of a torn ACL.

    In May, the Seahawks signed Carlos Hyde, who recorded a career-high 1,070 rushing yards with the Texans last season. He's more than capable of taking on the majority carries if Carson misses time or handles a lighter workload. 

    If you need a short-term rental in the RB2 or flex spot, Hyde has value.


    Rex Burkhead vs. Kansas City Chiefs (36 percent rostered)

    In Week 3, Rex Burkhead had one of his best games, logging 98 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage against the Raiders' porous defense. He carved out a pass-catching role in the Patriots offense while running back James White missed two games (bereavement). 

    Since Week 2, Burkhead has converted 16 targets into 11 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. His role could take a hit with White back on the practice field and fellow running back Damien Harris off injured reserve after a hand setback.

    Burkhead isn't likely to have another hat trick in the upcoming contest, but the Patriots must push the tempo against the Chiefs, who rank fourth in scoring. Expect quarterback Cam Newton to look for Burkhead in the short passing game for a third consecutive week as White gets up to speed. The eighth-year running back has upside in point-per-reception leagues.


    Jeff Wilson Jr., vs. Philadelphia Eagles (29 percent rostered)

    Without Raheem Mostert (MCL sprain) and Tevin Coleman (knee), 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan featured Jerick McKinnon (17 touches) and Jeff Wilson Jr. (15 touches) in the backfield for Week 3.

    Neither ran particularly well, each averaging less than 2.8 yards per carry. On a positive note, Wilson caught three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Shanahan can rotate tailbacks in and out of his scheme and still move the ball on the ground or in the short passing game. 

    San Francisco placed Coleman on injured reserve, so he'll miss at least two more games. Mostert's status for Week 4 remains unclear. As a result, the 49ers will likely roll with the McKinnon-Wilson combination again. If you missed out on the former (83 percent rostered), take the latter this week.

Wide Receivers

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    Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins
    Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee HigginsEmilee Chinn/Associated Press

    Brandon Aiyuk vs. Philadelphia Eagles (44 percent rostered)

    With his size (6'0", 200 lbs), speed and ability to extend plays after the catch, Brandon Aiyuk looked similar to Deebo Samuel on the field against the New York Giants.

    Last week, Aiyuk accumulated 101 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. In addition to five catches for 70 yards, he rushed for 31 yards and a score. Even if Samuel returns to the field this week, he'll need time to work into game shape after a summer foot fracture. Expect Aiyuk to play most of the offensive snaps. 

    Managers can appreciate Aiyuk's big-play ability. He recorded a 20-yard reception and a 19-yard run in his previous outing. Tight end George Kittle (knee) may return to action Sunday, but the Arizona State product should still have an important role in the game plan as a starting wide receiver.


    Tee Higgins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (23 percent rostered) 

    On the subject of rookie wide receivers, Cincinnati's Tee Higgins flashed in his third game. He saw the second-most targets on the team (nine) and caught five passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Since Week 2, Higgins has leapfrogged 2017 first-rounder John Ross III on the depth chart for a spot in three-wide receiver sets. The rookie has seen an increase in offensive snap percentage for each game leading up to Week 4.

    Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has employed a pass-heavy attack. Quarterback Joe Burrow lists second in attempts (141). The club ranks 28th in carries.

    Within a featured aerial attack, Higgins could be fantasy-relevant for the remainder of the season. In Week 4, he'll face the Jaguars' 19th-ranked pass defense, which has allowed seven touchdowns.


    Hunter Renfrow vs. Buffalo Bills (23 percent rostered)

    The Raiders will go into Sunday's game short-handed at wide receiver, with Edwards out and Ruggs unlikely to suit up. As a result, Renfrow should see an uptick in targets. 

    Last week, Ruggs didn't play and Edwards exited in the third quarter. Renfrow caught six passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, though his score came with the game out of reach late in the final quarter. Nonetheless, he'll likely start the contest as the No. 2 pass-catching option behind Waller. 

    Renfrow's experience in the offense coupled with the Bills' 27th-ranked pass defense could lead to a solid day for him.


    Greg Ward vs. San Francisco 49ers (5 percent rostered) 

    In a frustrating trend that's carried over from 2019, the Philadelphia Eagles have a cluster of injuries at wide receiver. Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc), Jalen Reagor (torn UCL in thumb) and DeSean Jackson (hamstring) are all battling health issues.

    The Eagles expect Reagor to miss extended time. Since last week, Jeffery has practiced, but he doesn't have a return date. Jackson isn't a lock to suit up after exiting the previous contest. 

    Managers should target Greg Ward, who has a rapport with quarterback Carson Wentz that dates back to last season. In Week 3, he hauled in eight of 11 targets for 72 yards and a touchdown. 

    The 49ers defense held both the Jets and Giants to fewer than 278 total yards, though those clubs field the league's lowest-scoring offenses.

    With his potential target volume, Ward has a shot to score as San Francisco deals with injuries at cornerback. Richard Sherman (calf) is on injured reserve. Fellow cornerback Emmanuel Moseley exited last week's game with a concussion and didn't practice Wednesday. 

Tight Ends

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    Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox
    Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-CoxAJ Mast/Associated Press

    Dalton Schultz vs. Cleveland Browns (36 percent rostered)

    Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin tore his ACL in the season opener, and Dalton Schultz has replaced him in the starting lineup. In a pass-heavy offense, the latter lists fourth in targets (20) with 14 catches for 147 yards and a touchdown.

    Quarterback Dak Prescott has plenty of playmakers to feed, including a talented wide receiver trio that features Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb, but Schultz carries upside. 

    Prescott leads the league in pass attempts (143). Head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore employ an aggressive attack that can keep three to four pass-catchers on the fantasy radar every week. 

    The Cowboys will go against the Browns, who've surrendered three touchdowns to tight ends. Schultz slides into flex territory for Week 4.


    Jimmy Graham vs. Indianapolis Colts (30 percent rostered) 

    The Chicago Bears benched Mitchell Trubisky for Nick Foles, who will start Sunday. The quarterback switch may benefit the team's pass-catchers. 

    Jimmy Graham has caught two touchdowns from Trubisky and one from Foles. In Week 3, he had his best, most active outing, catching six of 10 targets for 60 yards and two scores. 

    At 33 years old, Graham doesn't have any more 1,000-yard receiving seasons in him, though he can help you rack up some points in certain spots. 

    He has a tough matchup against an Indianapolis Colts defense that's surrendered the fewest points and yards through three weeks. On the other hand, he ranks second on the Bears in targets (18) and leads the team in touchdown receptions (three). 

    Because of Graham's volume and red-zone targets, he's a viable play at tight end or in the flex spot.


    Mo Alie-Cox vs. Chicago Bears (25 percent rostered) 

    Mo Alie-Cox leads the Colts in receiving yards (181), averaging 18.1 yards per catch. 

    In Week 3, Alie-Cox emerged as the Colts' lead pass-catching option at tight end. He caught all three of his targets for 50 yards and a touchdown, while Jack Doyle didn't see a target. 

    With Trey Burton on injured reserve because of a calf injury, Alie-Cox draws some fantasy intrigue in head coach Frank Reich's tight end-friendly offense. Keep in mind, as an offensive coordinator for the then-San Diego Chargers (2014-15) and Eagles (2016-17), Reich featured Antonio Gates and Zach Ertz, respectively, in his schemes.

    Alie-Cox will have more competition for snaps once Burton returns. For now, he should see plenty of targets, with wideouts Parris Campbell (MCL and PCL) and Michael Pittman Jr. (calf surgery) sidelined for an extended period.