And like *that* we’re on to Week 3. That means 15 more weeks of overseeing one’s own virtual team. The most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks 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 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.
Teddy Bridgewater passed for 328 yards and 2 scores last week. One of those went to fellow sleeper, Tim Patrick. The Eagles didn’t have as much luck in the end zone, as Jalen Reagor and Kenneth Gainwell had TDs called back. Meanwhile, .
Let’s hope the fates are more favorable in Week 3.
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants (36% rostered — $25)
Not on my 2021 bingo card: Still living through a global pandemic, mom jeans as #fashun, and top-five fantasy QB, Daniel Jones.
The tilt is real.
Jones has scampered his way to an astounding 122 rushing yards over the first two weeks of the season. For context, that’s the third-most rushing yards recorded at the position, behind only Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts, and ahead of Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. The 24-year-old has been sneaky mobile since college, where he compiled 1,300 rushing yards and 17 rushing scores over his three years at Duke. With Saquon Barkley running less, Jones has used his legs more.
Over 30 times per game, in fact.
Danny’s matchup on Sunday against the Falcons should allow for plenty of running and passing. Two weeks in, Atlanta has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. While Brady’s Week 2 beat down certainly inflated those numbers, it’s worth noting that Dean Pees’ unit has yet to record a single interception. Jones deserves top 12-14 consideration on Sunday.
Peyton Barber, RB, Las Vegas Raiders (6% rostered - $13)
At least Jon Gruden is a man of his word. He told us he was going to run Peyton Barber … and he did.
With Josh Jacobs sidelined, Barber led the Raiders backfield, notching 13 totes to Kenyan Drake’s 7 in the Raiders’ nine-point win over the Steelers. Jacobs’ toe and ankle injuries are likely to keep him out again in Week 3, which paves the way for Barber. He may be a plodder and he won’t see any work in the passing game (those opportunities belong to Drake, who offers flex appeal in PPR), but as four-point favorites in a matchup against the Dolphins, there should be plenty of volume. Miami has given up the fourth-most rushing yards to opposing RBs so far this season and the Phins got lit up by the Bills’ ground game (143 rushing yards and 3 TDs) last Sunday. FF: 13-57-1
Bonus RB: James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals (77% rostered - $17)
Conner isn’t considered a “sleeper” because he’s rostered in over 60 percent of Yahoo Fantasy leagues. However, he’s being started in under 10 percent of them. Chase Edmonds has outshined Conner in nearly every metric. That doesn’t mean, though, that Conner can’t have his moments. Vegas is predicting a blowout win for the Cardinals (-7.5) at Jacksonville. That could mean lots of clock-eating for Conner in the final quarter (half?) of the contest. He’s a top-40 flex-and-pray option for managers affected by injuries and/or Shanahanigans.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears (45% rostered - $12)
To the Mooney, baby! The Justin Fields era is about to lift off in Chicago.
Drawing a target share of nearly 24 percent (12.5% RZ), Mooney has recorded at least 7 looks in back-to-back games with red-zone opportunities in each outing. After Andy Dalton exited last Sunday’s tilt versus Cincy, Fields peppered Mooney with targets. The second-year WR led all Bears’ pass-catchers with 8 looks (5 of which were delivered by Fields) drawing a 46 percent share of the team’s Air Yards (WR13).
He also recorded a cushion of 8 yards (WR8), which might be part of the reason his rookie signal caller was so locked in. That kind of space is inviting to a young passer, even if Mooney’s target separation dipped to around 3 yards. Defenses are obviously keying in on Allen Robinson, which is freeing up Mooney in a fantastically narrow passing tree. That’s a recipe for fantasy success in a matchup against Cleveland’s vulnerable secondary that gave up 227 receiving yards to the Texans last weekend.
K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings (21% rostered - $13)
Predominantly deployed out of the slot at Miami, Osborn excels in space and has awesome hands. He’s flashed as the Vikings’ No. 3 WR over the first two weeks of the season, recording 68 yards after the catch (WR9) and a true catch rate of 100 percent (WR10). With Irv Smith (knee) sidelined for the year, Osborne has stepped up and drawn 15 looks since the start of the season.
There won’t always be enough volume available to make him fantasy relevant, but as long as the Vikings' defense is banged up and the team’s offense faces high-powered opponents, Osborn is going to be in the mix. The second-year receiver figures to see plenty of action this weekend in what’s expected to be a high-scoring affair (O/U 55.5) versus the Seahawks.
Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers (46% rostered — $16)
Yup, I’m running it back. Cook nailed the process in Week 2 but got unlucky in the end zone when his 2-yard score was called back. He’s drawn 13 looks (TE6) over the first two weeks of the season with three of those targets occurring in the red zone (TE5). Save last week’s penalty-fueled effort, good things generally happen to big bodies targeted by Justin Herbert in the red area of the field.
Cook figures to find redemption in Week 3 at Arrowhead. The Chargers are entering Sunday’s game as 6.5-point underdogs. With Herbert likely playing catchup — and in a matchup that carries a projected point total of 55 — Cook’s fantasy appeal is *chef’s kiss*.
Bonus TE: Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers (7% rostered — $12)
Week 3 is probably too early, but keep an eye on Freiermuth. I profiled the Penn State product in my preseason Rookie Fliers piece earlier this month. Since then he appears to have leapfrogged Eric Ebron, out-targeting and out-producing the vet.
Converting all 5 of his looks, Freiermuth’s involvement in the passing game markedly increased from Week 1 to Week 2, as the rookie’s snap share went up by 10 percent and he ran 11 more routes. He could emerge as a safety blanket for an aging Big Ben, particularly in a week in which Diontae Johnson is banged up and against the below-average Bengals linebacking corps.
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