Our weekly rankings have just been updated. And as always, they will provide you with a dependable resource to help with those difficult lineup decisions. Here is a look at some additional players that I believe could provide you with high quality production this week, if you are inclined to utilize sleepers in your starting lineups.
Joe Flacco at Bills
His stock has declined since the season began, and his numbers are far from noteworthy after three contests. But if you own Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton and are searching for a temporary replacement, this is a good week to use him. Flacco can also be deployed if your team resides in a deeper league, because he will have the opportunity to exploit a Buffalo pass defense that has allowed two TDs in all every contest this season. The Bills also just surrendered 331 yards and two TDs to Geno Smith, while failing to register a sack. They are already missing defensive backs Jairus Byrd, Stephon Gilmore, and Ron Brooks, and could also be without Leodis McKelvin on Sunday. Their shorthanded secondary has struggled increasingly with each passing week, and Flacco should produce favorable numbers against them.
Alex Smith vs. Giants
Jacksonville may have less talent than any other team at this point but the disappointing Giants are in the greatest state of disarray. To assert that they failed to handle adversity during their Week 3 roadie with Carolina is putting it kindly. This week, their challenge will be enhanced as they travel to Arrowhead and deal with a talented and opportunistic Chief squad, along with a raucous crowd. All of which will greatly benefit Smith as he spearheads the offense against what could easily become an overwhelmed defensive unit. This does not mean that you should expect KC’s signal caller to suddenly become comfortable with making downfield throws. Even if he has a winnable one on one matchup. But if you need a sleeper QB to insert for one week, he should compile enough yardage to merit using him. Plus, you will not have to concern yourself with turnovers.
Ryan Tannehill at Saints
This is another suggestion purely for those who are in need this week. Tannehill’s inclusion is also a testament to the continual improvement that he has demonstrated, along with the improved arsenal of weapons that are now at his disposal. Because his matchup will be difficult. The Saints were one of my suggested waiver wire defenses this week, and just finished sacking Carson Palmer four times, and harassing him into two INTs in Week 3. They also rank fourth in pass defense, which provides further reason to question how Tannehill can qualify as a sleeper. But his production has been consistent at this point, as he has averaged 276 YPG, while tossing four TDs. While New Orleans will make life difficult at times during their encounter, having Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Charles Clay to target should enable him to supply enough fantasy points for owners who have limited Week 4 options.
Le’Veon Bell vs. Vikings
Bell was the second rookie RB chosen during the last April’s NFL Draft. And even though he remains an unproven commodity, he appears destined to capture Pittsburgh’s feature back role. The Steelers currently rank a meager 31st in rushing, and the collective work of Isaac Redman, Felix Jones, and Jonathan Dwyer has been underwhelming at best. Which should enable Bell to quickly ascend beyond that trio, and capture the majority of touches. For that reason, it appears worth the risk to start him this week, against a Viking defense that ranks 21st versus the run. As Bell will finally begin the process of rewarding owners who selected him during the recent draft process.
Danny Woodhead vs. Cowboys
Woodhead’s value has edged upward ever so slowly, in correspondence with his increased touches since opening day. His workload is still being shared with Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown, and the percentages for each member of that trio can vary each week. But he has actually been allotted the most snaps among that threesome, and his 20 targets easily surpasses the combined total of six for both Mathews and Brown. In the upcoming weeks, Woodhead’s versatility should entrench him even further into the Chargers’ game plan. Not only does that make him a potential roster addition for future deployment as a flex, but creates the potential for owners to use him week. Because as many owners are acutely aware, a large number RBs that were expected to be viable weekly starters, have only supplied uncertainty.
Brandon Bolden vs. Falcons
We now move from the former Patriot, to the current second-year back who could be inheriting a larger portion of Woodhead’s previous responsibilities. After being inactive for New England’s initial two contests, Bolden was allotted eight touches in Week 3. He responded by accumulating an even 100 yards, including 49 that were amassed on five receptions. Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount split 25 carries, and are primary candidates to continue sharing the vast majority of rushing attempts. But neither back has demonstrated proficiency as a receiver, which appears to create a mammoth opportunity for Bolden. Because he appears capable of performing a role in the offense that Shane Vereen appeared destined to fulfill. There is always risk in attempting to forecast how New England’s RB workload will be distributed. But logic dictates that Bolden could now be a viable RB3 for needy owners. Particularly in PPR leagues
Ryan Broyles vs. Bears
If you are getting a sense of déjà vu, that is perfectly understandable. Last October, Broyles became a popular and logical sleeper candidate after Nate Burleson’s season ending injury (broken leg) thrust him into Detroit’s starting lineup. Broyles was fairly productive until he suffered a torn ACL in early December. Now, he has yet another opportunity to became heavily involved with the Lions’ second ranked passing attack, in the aftermath of Burleson’s unfortunate car accident. Broyles becomes an outstanding roster addition who has the potential to deliver some very productive weeks. Despite the formidable nature of this week’s opponent, the Bears actually rank 20th against the pass, and Matthew Stafford will be throwing repeatedly. Broyles can be utilized as a WR3 if you are facing lineup issues.
Alshon Jeffery at Lions
Owners who are scrambling to fill a vacated starting slot due to the one week absence of Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones or Steve Smith, can consider using Jeffery as a WR3. Jay Cutler employed him more extensively in Week 3, as Jeffery’s eight targets tied for the team high. It enabled the second-year receiver to lead Chicago with seven receptions, which established a new season high. His also manufactured his best yardage total of the year (51), as his improved production corresponded with the increased target total. Cutler will continue to utilize his various options. But Jeffery should remain sufficiently involved in head coach Marc Trestman’s offense, to warrant using him this week against Detroit.
Rod Streater vs. Redskins
Most of his value this week will be dependent upon the health of Terrelle Pryor. Denarius Moore is getting more attention at the moment. Because he received far more targets in Week 3, which enabled him to deliver superior numbers. But the tandem of Streater and Pryor have developed a very good rapport, and Pryor most often will look in his direction initially when either his blocking or the designed play itself begins to break down. Conversely, Moore has been very inconsistent, even though he possesses more talent. If Pryor’s concussion issue eventually propels Matt Flynn into the starting lineup, then no Raider can help you this week. But if the former Buckeye is under center, Streater should generate respectable yardage against Washington’s 31st ranked pass defense.
Heath Miller vs. Vikings
The three-catch, 35-yard output that Miller generated during Week 3 certainly does not qualify as a statistical explosion. But he was working amid a snap limitation, and it did represent a successful return to the lineup in his 2013 debut. Now, he should be operating without any workload restraints. Plus, he has the opportunity to line up against a Minnesota pass defense that not only ranks a dismal 29th, but has already surrendered a league worst nine TDs. He collected 71 passes for 816 yards in 15 games last season, while also producing eight TDs. Ben Roethlisberger will undoubtedly be thrilled to have his dependable TE as an option, and owners should benefit from their frequent connections.
Coby Fleener at Jaguars
Fleener was included in this column last week, but ultimately delivered disappointment. He was targeted just twice, and grabbed each pass for a mere 13 yards. So why is Fleener here again? Because his potential to produce extensively remains unchanged in the aftermath of Dwayne Allen’s season ending surgery. Not only does he supply Andrew Luck with a dependable option, but the shortcomings of this week’s opponent have been well-documented. The Jaguars have permitted seven TD passes, including two to Seattle’s Zach Miller in Week 3. If you are a Greg Olsen owner who is searching for a temporary replacement, here he is.