Each week, as we prepare to make some difficult lineup decisions, our team, which includes Rob Willette, Ryan McDowell, and Sal Leto, will bring you a few sleepers and landmines for each position. Our sleeper picks could be on your waiver wire or a low-priced DFS target or could simply be going overlooked this week. On the other hand, our landmine players are getting attention, too much attention. These are players we feel are being overvalued and overpriced and would avoid for this week.
Randall Cobb $5,400
After a huge start to the season Packers slot WR Randall Cobb has had a pair of quiet games. That could change this weekend when Green Bay faces off against the porous defense of the Bills. Despite last week’s shocking win, expectations are still low for the Buffalo defense, especially on the road against the Packers. The Bills have been torched by slot receivers, where Cobb spends a good chunk of his time. – Ryan McDowell
Sterling Shepard $6,100
Shepard looked primed for a big year in the preseason but didn’t have much to show the first two weeks when the Giants had their full compliment of weapons. Then a week ago with the Evan Engram injury it was suddenly less crowded and Shepard hauled in 6-80-1. Much as I stated earlier in the week when selecting Eli as my Sleeper QB the Saints have stopped no one in the passing game this season. In full PPR the Saints are giving up over 62 points a game to wide receivers! They are nearly 14 points more generous than the Bucs in second. We saw second banana Calvin Ridley see a monster 146 and three touchdowns a week ago and with OBJ out there a similar could come from Shepard. – Sal Leto
Antonio Callaway $4,900
College football fans are likely familiar with Antonio Callaway. Anyone just welcoming him into their conscience, however, may not appreciate the type of talent he is. He was a 4th round pick only due to off-field issues. He is a legitimate Day 2 type of talent and we have already seen some of that in 2018. Callaway netted 10 targets in Week 3, and while his 4/20 line is thoroughly underwhelming, the Browns get a boost across the board due to the arrival of Baker Mayfield. The Raiders have zero pass rush and little talent in the secondary. The Browns passing game figures to start clicking and Callaway currently stands as their second best weapon. – Rob Willette
Quincy Enunwa $5,700
Jets WR Quincy Enunwa has become a trendy early pick thanks to the volume he sees as the clear favorite target of rookie QB Sam Darnold. Not only do the Jets face the stingy Jaguars defense this week, but Darnold simply hasn’t been passing the ball enough to make Enunwa or any other pass catcher relevant. Even with a huge market share of targets, I’m avoiding Enunwa this week. – Ryan McDowell
Geronimo Allison $5,400
Hey I actually like this guy and touted him in the off-season. Allison has performed well and checks in at WR 29 on the season. With the help of two touchdowns he has nice numbers but a closer look shows a dwindling target percentage each week from 21.6 down to just 8.9 a week ago. The Bills don’t impress me or really do anything well but have managed to give just one WR touchdown through three weeks. I do believe the Packers will handle them and we could see a lot more from the running game this week where teams have had a lot of success with 448 total yards and three touchdowns. Note: Randall Cobb popped up on the injury report today – Sal Leto
Amari Cooper $7,300
If you care to trust Amari Cooper at this point, that is your business. After being featured against the Broncos, Cooper was shut down by Xavien Howard and the Dolphins. While the Browns have no such shutdown corners, Denzel Ward has been impressive as a rookie and Cleveland has done an excellent job of limiting Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees before completely erasing Sam Darnold. In an offense still finding its way and with what has proven to be an embarrassingly low floor, Cooper is more name brand value than every-week starter at this point. – Rob Willette
Sal Leto (@LetoSal), Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23), and Rob Willette (@RobWillette24) are freelance contributors for the SportsHub Games Network, Inc., Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Games Network and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.
Man do I wish Leonard Fournette would’ve played last week. More about that in the quick recap below. Shoutout to @lecroy84, who easily took down the Week 3 Charch Chase with 218.96 points, finishing 20.7 points clear of second place @JRees13. My paltry 134.2 was nowhere near the money, but the good news is that I, like 926 of you, finished ahead of Charch’s 93.56 to earn another entry into the Week 17 finale with a $5,000 prize. Onward!
I noted in my Week 3 column that I loved Matt Ryan at quarterback, but couldn’t pass up a dirt-cheap Blake Bortles if Fournette was out. Sure enough, Fournette was inactive, and I swapped out Ryan for Bortles. That move also led me to replacing Julio Jones and Alvin Kamara with Zach Ertz and Todd Gurley, losing the huge correlations and many, MANY points.
So yeah, basically the second straight week where following my own advice would’ve been a good idea, but why would I listen to me? Hey, you shut up! No, YOU shut up.
As the week went on I got more and more confident in Will Fuller, who I didn’t note in my story but wish I would have. Kenny Golladay was another must in my lineup, as I did in fact note in last week’s write-up. He was solid, but not Tyler Boyd/Robert Woods solid—two guys I had my eye on but ultimately didn’t have hardly any of this weekend, which was the difference between a profitable and losing weekend. The other guys I mentioned last week—Kenny Stills and Marquise Goodwin—had decent days, each finding the end zone. At running back I went chalk and cheap, which didn’t work out on the cheap end with Corey Clement and Latavius Murray, but I don’t regret all that much because they were just so inexpensive with high ceilings. Plus, they let me spend money at the TE position, where I settled on Kelce before adding Ertz to the WR/TE position later.
The Vikings defense—well, what can you say. I knew they’d be highly owned, and paying up for defenses is almost always a bad idea, but I’m a glutton for punishment.
Join the Week 4 Charch Chase challenge now for your shot at $500 in total prizes – including $50 to the winner, all for FREE. Everyone who beats Charch earns a ticket to the Week 17 Chase Charch Championship, where you can win your share of a $15,000 prize pool.
Percentages continue to climb through three weeks, with injuries and data leading more and more people towards the chalk. Latavius Murray was 43% owned. Corey Clement was 39% owned. Golladay was 38% owned. The Vikings defense was 32% owned. Meanwhile, week winners like Boyd and Calvin Ridley were both at 6%. There was reason to like both players (and the aforementioned Woods) but it required ignoring the urge to plug and play the cheap guys at running back, which I noted above that I couldn’t.
But consider: You could’ve rostered Fuller, Woods, Ridley and Boyd, then fit in Kamara, Gurley and Ryan, and had a nice little day for yourself with a unique lineup because everyone else was playing Murray, Clement and Giovani Bernard (who had a nice day). That’s why it’s important to note these ownership trends: When the chalk hits, your tournament teams are sunk—but that’s why you play the chalk in cash games like head-to-heads and double-ups. If you have the right mix, you’ll break even or better on those days. When the chalk fails, if you have a contrarian tournament lineup, you take home all the money. Keep that in mind this week.
Speaking of this week…
Andy Dalton’s off to a pretty solid start, and his schedule in the coming weeks makes me think he’s going to keep it up. He’s got plenty of ceiling this week going against a Falcons team allowing the fourth most fantasy points in the league and now with three Week 1 starters on IR. It is a road game and the Bengals have just the 9th highest Vegas implied point total, but that doesn’t give me enough pause given Dalton’s low $6,700 price tag.
I’m not a fan of Charch’s Austin Ekeler pick at running back—not because he isn’t a solid player or because he can’t have a big game against San Francisco or even because he’s expensive (he’s only $5,600). It’s just risky. Ekeler’s averaging 10 touches a game and coming off a season-low seven. Sure, I can tell a story where the Garappolo-less 49ers get down big and the Chargers decide to rest Melvin Gordon and give Ekeler all kinds of work. But I can just as easily tell a story where the game is close and Ekeler gets seven touches again. If you want to spend down at RB this week, why not instead take Sony Michel for $400 less in a get-right spot for the Pats without Rex Burkhead against a Miami squad that’s faced the league’s easiest schedule and is down two starters on the defensive line? Or bump it up to $6,00 and pay for James White.
Hard to argue with JuJu Smith-Schuster at $8,000 at home against the Ravens matched up against Tavon Young—in fact, there are only five matchups this Sunday that Pro Football Focus likes better in its matchup advantage chart. I don’t think Smith-Schuster is a stone-cold lock, but if you’re at that price point filling out your lineup, there isn’t a receiver I like more.
At tight end Charch is taking a gamble that Mitch Trubisky rights the ship against the lowly Bucs and gets Trey Burton his first big game as a Bear. This is another positive matchup on paper, as Tampa Bay has allowed the most fantasy points and devastating stiff-arms per game against the position. Given the $5,200 price tag, this is a good time to bet on Burton—though if Jack Doyle sits again, Eric Ebron for just $100 more is just as viable (I can’t go a week without talking about Doyle and Ebron. It’s literally not possibly. I’m sorry.)
As for my picks…
There are some nice values at all price ranges this week. If Smith-Schuster has a big game, his quarterback likely will as well. And with Ben Roethlisberger a relative value at $7,700, I like him if I can’t afford the extra $500 to pay up for Brees. If Roethlisberger is too much and you’re not into Dalton, DeShaun Watson at Indy for $7,300 looks to be a great value. Eli Manning at $6,500 shouldn’t be low owned, but should have to throw plenty to keep up with Brees. Joe Flacco at $5,900 against the terrible Pittsburgh secondary is in play, and Trubisky is dirt cheap at $5,600 against a terrible Tampa Bay defense. On the other side of the ball, I think the Fitzmagic runs out in Soldier Field, so am fading Ryan Fitzpatrick despite his $6,700 price tag.
At this point you almost have to get Alvin Kamara in your lineup no matter the cost. I’m not shying away despite the $9,300 price tag. Outside of the still AWOL Le’Veon Bell, the rest of the top end guys are more or less fairly priced. The real value lies in the second tier, where Tevin Coleman is $7,600 and Giovani Bernard is $300 less. Assuming Devonta Freeman and Joe Mixon, respectively, continue to miss time with knee injuries, both are in great spots. A Kamara/Coleman/Bernard lineup is very much in play for my squad this week. Carlos Hyde is a solid under-the-radar option at $6,800 if you’re looking for low ownership, low price and top 10 upside, with LeSean McCoy also fitting that bill for $100 less. If you’re really penny-pinching at RB, the aforementioned Michel and White work, as might Kerryon Johnson at $6,100 against a Sean Lee-less Cowboys defense. Definite fades for me include Chris Carson at $6,800 (I’m not betting on last week’s workload carrying over) and Jay Ajayi at $6,700 (I don’t trust a running back with a broken back until I see it).
JuJu’s huge role makes it tough for me to pay $9,200 for Antonio Brown, though sooner or later he’s having a blow-up game. But I’d rather play Thomas at $9,100 or Beckham at $9,000. Both would be nice, but that’s a spendy game stack. I could make a case for any of the next dozen or so receivers, with TY Hilton and Amari Cooper the notable exceptions. Not that either can’t have big games, but Andrew Luck’s shoulder and Derek Carr’s miniscule average depth of target present too much risk for the cost. Allen Robinson is interesting because of his target share, but with Anthony Miller’s shoulder to keep him out this week, I almost prefer taking a shot on Taylor Gabriel and his presumed increased workload at $4,200. I’m really liking Sterling Shepard’s $6,100 price tag with his matchup and Evan Engram’s injury, and John Brown at $5,900 is a sterling value as well. Throw in Tyler Boyd at a criminally low $4,700 and you can afford to pay up at RB and TE while still getting a ton of target potential.
It’s rare to see Rob Gronkowski NOT in the top salary position, but here we are. And frankly, Zach Ertz at $7,300 ($400 more than Gronk) is plenty reasonable, too. There are reasons to be bullish on Jared Cook at $5,900, George Kittle at $5,700, and the aforementioned Ebron and Burton. Heck, Tyler Eifert at $4,300 and David Njoku and $4,200 are in nice spots, too. In tournaments where I’m making multiple lineups I’ll have exposure to many of these guys. But in a single-entry tourney like this one, I’ll likely start with Gronk and work my way down the salary list only if I need to.
I will NOT pay up for defense. I will NOT pay up for defense. If I say it enough times maybe it’ll come true. But man, those top six options are all tempting for various reasons. If I happen to build a lineup that has extra dollars available, sure. I’ll bite. But I’m starting with the Arizona defense at home for just $3,100 against that awful Seattle offensive line. Dallas struggled against the Seahawks last week, but the Cardinals have better pieces. I also like the Packers for $100 more against Buffalo despite the Vikings defense having all sorts of problems against the Bills a week ago.
OK, Week 4 is when I get back in the money. That’s the plan, anyway. And, of course, let’s all beat Charch, too. Good luck to you all, and if I don’t take down this week’s tourney, I hope you do!
Anthony Maggio (@MplsMaggio) once threw a chair at a bar and is co-host of The Fantasy Football Party at ZoneCoverage.com. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher or anywhere Android podcasts are given away for free. He is a freelance contributor for the SportsHub Games Network, Inc., Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Games Network and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.