It’s time for another TGIF addition of Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains. I made good on three of my five picks (Isaiah Crowell, Mike Wallace, and Kyle Rudolph) last week. There’s a lot to sift through after the carnage that was Week 2. Let’s see how things go in Week 3.
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.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears ($10)
I wrote about Howard’s upside and the potential for a shared Bears backfield back in May. Throughout the summer, however, the rookie was running with the twos, and Langford appeared to be the team’s near every down option. Yet, after watching Jeremy Langford crumple against the Eagles on Monday night, it’s evident that a change needs to be made.
Despite scoring on a goal line carry (in which the Bears line miraculously delivered a better than average sized hole), the Michigan State product averaged a yawn-inducing 2.5 YPC and just 2.0 YAC. Over two weeks it’s more of the same from Langford, who is as inefficient as he is powerful (note: in 2015 Langford averaged 3.6 YPC and 1.8 yards YAC).
While Howard notched just three carries in the game’s second half (after RB2 Ka’Deem Carey exited with a hamstring injury), his burst and strength added a visible jolt of energy to the otherwise languid offense. Touching the ball seven fewer times, Howard managed nearly the same number of total yards (31) as Langford (34).
Coach John Fox’s “rookie hate” is well documented and painfully evident. But this is a team that will likely have Brian Hoyer starting under center. The need to rely on the run and to hide one’s quarterback has never been greater (except for, maybe, in Cleveland). With both Carey and Alshon Jeffery banged up, Fox will have to turn to the rookie (whom he drafted) before he finds it entirely comfortable. While his workload may not be flush, Howard does have the skills necessary to produce against a Dallas run defense that allowed Matt Jones into the end zone last Sunday and has given up an average of 4.8 YPC over the past two weeks. Whether it’s this week or down the line, savvy owners will stash the brutish rookie, who is still available in over 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles ($13)
Yeah, I’m going back to the well on this one. Here’s the thing: the Eagles are trying so hard to get Sproles involved. After giving Ryan Mathews the ball 22 times in Week 1, his carries (against a similarly subpar run defense) dropped to just nine in Week 2. Meanwhile, Sproles saw a massive uptick, notching seven more carries than he did in the team’s season opener.
Whether the choice was made because of Mathews’ health or because the coaching staff was trying to get its rookie QB reps against a beatable secondary, no one knows for sure. What can be determined, however, is the staff’s zeal for Sproles.
His cross-state matchup vs. the Steelers is tough. It’s worth noting, however, that RBs used in the passing game have converted all but four targets when facing Pittsburgh. Additionally, Giovani Bernard smoked the Steelers in Week 2, racking up 100 receiving yards and breaking off a 25-yard TD. It’s exceedingly possible that the Eagles will look to utilize Sproles in a congruent fashion. This may not be a perfect pick, but it’s a deep one.
Tyrell Williams, WR, San Diego Chargers ($13)
How Williams is still available in 40 percent of Yahoo leagues is beyond me! An athletic freak with ideal size, Williams became a buzzy waiver-wire pickup after Keenan Allen went down in Week 1. Last Sunday he rewarded bold managers with a 3-61-1 stat line.
Having been talked up by Philip Rivers heading into Week 2, Williams saw just one fewer target than Travis Benjamin. While Benjamin had the bigger day with two scores, Williams has the higher ceiling and projects to be the team’s No. 1 wideout. In a matchup against the Colts undermanned secondary, Williams is a top-25 play. FF: 5 catches for 79 yards and 1 TD
Qunicy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets ($17)
After snatching a score in the season opener, Enunwa followed up his Week 1 performance with another solid outing, converting all six of his targets for 92 yards. A physical player with ideal size, the Nebraska product is proving to be more than fantasy fools’ gold. On the field for over 80 percent of the team’s snaps, Enunwa saw a target share of over 20 percent. His involvement in the offense is only growing, especially as Brandon Marshall continues to deal with an MCL issue.
Traveling to Arrowhead, the WR/TE hybrid will face off against the Chiefs’ formidable defense. Assuming Marshall dresses and is used in large part as a decoy, Enunwa figures to benefit from softer coverage. Having reeled in more balls (13) than either of the Jets’ more senior receivers (Marshall = 9, Decker = 8) and taking into account a potential scaling back of Matt Forte’s already obscene workload, Enunwa possesses top-35 fantasy appeal.
Jared Cook, TE, Green Bay Packers ($11)
In late August I jumped on the Cook bandwagon, figuring if the team were so enamored with Richard Rogers they wouldn’t have spent nearly $3 million (league average for the position is $1.8 million) acquiring the athletic marvel. While Cook’s start has been far from hot, he has seen an increased workload over the past two weeks. Despite being less productive than Rodgers in Week 1, Cook received four more opportunities than the incumbent TE in Week 2, converting 4 of 6 balls for 31 yards.
That’s far from a stellar stat line, but the uptick in looks (and snaps) is promising. Furthermore, the matchup this week could not be better for the former Ram. Unable to cover the middle of the field due to injuries to DE Ziggy Ansah and LB DeAndre Levy, Cook will have plenty of room to roam. The Lions have allowed four TDs to the position over the past two weeks, making Cook’s chances of emerging as a red zone weapon in Week 3 all the more likely.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts ($10)
No, I’m not chasing his two-TD outing in Week 1, but I do think there’s something fantasy owners can glean from the surprising performance. Over the past two weeks, the UDFA out of Western Kentucky has been targeted the same number of times as Dwayne Allen. Yet, in the red zone, he’s seen three opportunities to Allen’s one.
With Andrew Luck trying to stay upright behind one of the leagues softest offensive lines, the team needs all the blocking help they can get. Due to his superior blocking skills, Allen was under utilized in the passing game for years while Coby Fleener let balls bounce off his hands. While the current situation doesn’t appear as clear-cut, it makes sense that the team would rely on Allen for a skill that they need and know he can provide.
Given that Donte Moncrief is expected to miss 4-6 weeks due to a shoulder injury, the Colts are lacking in red zone targets. Assuming that the offense utilizes more two-TE sets as a result, the immediate thought is that Allen would be the favorite ahead of Doyle. But after dissecting the data, I think Doyle sees more action in the red area of the field. Facing a Chargers squad that has given up the fifth most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, it’s entirely possible that Doyle sneaks into the end zone and gobsmacks fantasy fans for the third time this season.
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.