It’s baaacccckkk! Not just football, but a regular dose of my Deep Sleepers and DFS bargains. Every Friday I’ll continue digging for gold and doling out five under-the-radar grabs.
To review… all of these players are owned in less than sixty 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 why they’re so cheap and available! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup.
Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks ($10)
Call me a sucker, but I believe in the #Awakening. In fact, I’d argue that it didn’t begin this offseason, but in the final weeks of 2015. Returning to the team that originally drafted him in the second round (2013, Pick No. 62 overall); Michael carried the load for the Seahawks and lit up defenders in the process. Between Weeks 15 and 18 of last season, the late bloomer didn’t find the end zone, but he did average nearly 16 touches per contest and racked up three 80+ yard performances.
Continuing to fill in for a hobbled Thomas Rawls (ankle), Michael appears to have picked up where he left off. Drawing rave reviews from coaches, teammates, and beat writers, Michael remained solid throughout the preseason and enters Week 1 listed as the team’s No. 1 running back. With Rawls expected to see limited action and facing a Miami run defense that was the fifth least effective in 2015, Michael figures to kick off his fourth pro campaign in true 12th man fashion… loudly.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles ($12)
Over the draft season, I heard a lot of folks pounding the table in favor of Bilal Powell, claiming he was a proven PPR threat behind a fragile RB1. That may be true, but Sproles’ situation is astonishingly similar… and he was going two rounds behind the Jet. I like value and I love Sproles, both this season and in Week 1.
Apparently, I’m not the only one. Philly’s offensive coordinator, Frank Reich openly admitted his desire to manufacture plays for Sproles’ benefit. It should be noted that Reich was the OC in San Diego last year, where Danny Woodhead notched a career-high eighty catches. With a rookie QB under center, Sproles figures to get a lot of looks, acting as a safety valve for Carson Wentz. Plus, he’ll host the Cleveland Browns’ dumpster fire of a run defense on Sunday, bettering his chances of starting hot. FF: 8 total touches, 69 combined yards, and 1 TD (via the air)
Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans ($11)
I’ll admit that I wasn’t initially high on Fuller, believing him to be a one-dimensional player. And that still may be the case, but there’s no denying that the kid has crushed it over the last month. Absorbing the playbook at an impressive rate and reportedly improving his hands technique, Fuller worked with the first-team through much of camp and appears to be the Texans No. 2 receiver.
The speedster gets a cupcake matchup in his first pro action, facing off against the Bears’ injury riddled secondary at home. The deep threat apparently tweaked his hammy in practice earlier in the week, but his availability for Sunday does not seem to be in jeopardy. A high-risk/high-reward play, Fuller’s status should be closely monitored. Even at less than 100 percent, the youngster is more likely to boom than bust considering his coverage.
Eli Rogers, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($10)
Remember when Sammie Coates was expected to be Martavis Bryant 2.0? That didn’t happen. And while Coates and Bryant boast similar frames and freakish athletic profiles, Eli Rogers – an undrafted player who measures just 5-foot-10 inches and boasts an unimpressive 4.6 forty time – will open the season as the Steelers No. 3 WR.
Expected to man the slot, Rogers appears in line for a heavy workload. With Le’Veon Bell suspended for the first three weeks of 2016, Rogers figures to get a lot of looks in the short to intermediate passing game. Additionally, he’ll benefit from softer coverage as Washington’s newly acquired stud CB Josh Norman does his best to give Antonio Brown fits on Monday night. Having established a solid rapport with Ben Roethlisberger – who praised Rogers’ “toughness, quickness, and desire” – the self-proclaimed “illusionist” is a sneaky start for PPR enthusiasts.
Clive Walford, TE, Oakland Raiders ($12)
After leap-frogging Mychal Rivera last year, the sophomore tight end is reportedly in line for a bigger role this fall. Coming off of a rookie season in which he started only two games, but still managed a 28-329-3 stat line, the Miami product offers breakout appeal. His preseason numbers are underwhelming on paper, as he failed to connect with Derek Carr during the Raiders’ regular season dress rehearsal. But that was because Carr overthrew the Miami product… in the end zone.
At 6-foot-4 and 251 pounds, the former Hurricane is a big-bodied red zone target for the young and developing Derek Carr. He’s also a versatile athlete who can catch and block, which means he should stay on the field for plenty of snaps. In Week 1 he’ll face off against a Saints defense that allowed the most fantasy points per game to the tight end position. A solid red zone presence in a great matchup, and who’s owned in just 15 percent of Yahoo leagues? That is an ideal TE stream! FF: 3 grabs for 33 yards and 1 TD
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.