It’s time for a TGIF addition of Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains. I made good on two of my three picks last week. Let’s try to improve on that this go around.
To review… all of these players are owned in less than 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 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.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns ($14)
I’m not convinced that the Crow will fly through the winter, but for now, he’s the goal line back in Hue Jackson’s run-friendly scheme. He was had the Browns’ lone TD in Week 1, touching the ball 14 times for a total of 78 combined yards. A player with an impressive amount of burst and power, Crowell received the 10th-most red-zone carries in Week 1, at three in Cleveland’s season opener.
When examining Jackson’s offensive philosophy and history with the running back position, Crowell’s heavy usage figures to be a trend. After all, even with stud receiver A.J. Green leading the Bengals’ receiving corps, Jackson called up the seventh-most rushing plays in 2015 and the fifth-most in 2014, while serving as the team’s offensive coordinator. With Josh McCown acclimating to life under center, Crowell will continue to get fed. FF: 66 yards and 1 TD
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions ($15)
Used more like a slot receiver than a traditional running back, Riddick came up big for Detroit in the team’s Week 1 victory over the Colts. Grabbing all five of his targets for 63 yards and a score, the ultra-efficient pass-catcher averaged an impressive 12.6 YPR. On the ground, Riddick appeared to eat into Ameer Abdullah’s totes, carrying the ball seven times for 45 yards and another TD. It’s worth noting that Abdullah’s lone score of the day came while Riddick was on the sidelines getting checked out by trainers.
The second-most targeted player at the position in 2015, Riddick has earned a prominent place in Detroit’s offense. In fact, he received more looks last season (94) than either Calvin Johnson (88) or Golden Tate (90). Additionally, in 2014 he ranked third in team targets, garnering 46 opportunities, which ranked him among the top 20 RBs for that statistical category.
Certainly, the team drafted Abdullah with a large role in mind. But with Jim Bob Cooter calling the plays in rapid-fire succession, and Matt Stafford’s average depth of target reaching a miniscule 6.8, Riddick will continue to thrive in short-yardage packages. Yes, he’ll lose red-zone opportunities to both Abduallah and Eric Ebron, but from a PPR perspective, Riddick will retain studly status. Facing a Titans defense that allowed Vikings slot receiver Adam Thielen to catch four of five for 54 yards, Riddick could likely haul in six balls for over 50 yard and another receiving score.
Mike Wallace, WR, Baltimore Ravens ($15)
I promised fantasy fans that Wallace would start the season hot and I’m not backing away just yet. Establishing obvious chemistry with next-door-locker-neighbor Joe Flacco over the summer, Wallace was second in team targets last Sunday. Never a particularly efficient player (Wallace averaged a catch percentage below 60 during his four years in Pittsburgh, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball), he hauled in three of six looks for 91 yards and the Ravens’ only TD.
With 37-year-old Steve Smith shaking off a considerable amount of rust and Breshad Perriman exhibiting the fragility of an iPhone screen, Wallace figures to come up big in Week 2. His matchup at Cleveland is a dream, as the Brownies allowed the most fantasy points to opposing WRs in Week 1. That’s really saying something, considering they were facing off against a 23-year-old signal caller in his first pro action. Still available in nearly 50 percent of Yahoo leagues and at only $15 in DFS, Wallace is a high-end WR3 boasting tons of big-play appeal.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings ($13)
Having been burned by the “Red Zone Reindeer” plenty of times in the past, I understand fantasy fans’ reticence to this pick. With a new signal caller under center, however, things are different in Minnesota. Last Sunday, Shaun Hill targeted Rudolph eight times, making the TE the team’s second-most popular passing option. Closing out Week 1 as fantasy’s 10th-most productive player at the position, Rudolph and Hill connected four times for 65 yards.
This week the Vikings will host the Packers, whose secondary gave up a 5-64-1 stat line to Julius Thomas in the season opener. With most of the defensive attention focused on bottling up Adrian Peterson, Rudolph figures to be heavily involved again. On the field for the same number of passing plays as No. 1 WR Stefon Diggs and working as a security blanket for either Hill or Sam Bradford, the 6-foot-6 and 258-pound TE projects to have another four-plus catch outing.
Virgil Green, TE, Denver Broncos ($11)
A guy who emerged over the preseason, Green is a player with good size (6 feet 3 and 249 pounds) and freakish athleticism. On the field for nearly 75 percent of the team’s snaps, and active for one-third of Denver’s passing plays, Green caught four of five balls for 28 yards in last week’s Super Bowl rematch. It’s worth noting that the one ball he wasn’t able to secure was artfully broken up by Panthers DE Kony Ealy in the end zone.
The play appeared to be a carbon copy of one run in the third week of the preseason, in which Green and Broncos QB Trevor Siemian successfully connected for six. Expect more of the same from a Colts defense that allowed Eric Ebron to catch all five of his targets for 46 yards and a touch. With Demaryius Thomas fighting a sore hip and Siemian shaping up to be nothing more than a game manager, Green has a better shot of scoring on Sunday than Ben Affleck does at an Irish pub in Boston any day of the week.
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.