Fantasy football in 2020 requires patience, flexibility, and a whole lot of woooooosaaaah. The most dedicated and passionate managers get that, since they continue to find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While there are times 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 below 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. A lot of those aforementioned risks bit me in Week 6, but Frank Gore finished the week as fantasy’s RB24 and Irv Smith managed 55 yards (and dropped a touchdown). Everyone else, however, stayed asleep.
Let’s get back to doing some proper damage in Week 7!
Kyle Allen, QB, Washington Football Team (4% rostered — $22)
Is this gross? Yes. Should you only do it in a break-glass sort of situation? Obviously. If Justin Herbert (63% rostered) or Teddy Bridgewater (45% rostered) are available in your leagues, then start them over Allen. But if you’re looking for a true deep sleeper … then this your dude.
I’m not going to try to convince you that Allen is a world-beater. You can make bad decisions — along with the former Carolina QB — by firing up his 2019 tape. But what you can’t do is deny that he’s the starter in a familiar system with an exploitable matchup. In Week 6, undeterred by an early deficit and a key turnover (that’s part of the Kyle Allen experience), the 24-year old led numerous 70-yard scoring drives. His 280 passing yards and 2 TDs weren’t enough to get the W, but did earn the former Panther a top-12 fantasy finish.
This Sunday, he’ll face a Cowboys defense that’s allowed 14 passing scores (third-most) and forced just one INT. A top-16 finish (ahead of more highly rostered players like Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield) is not out of the question.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers (26% rostered — $17)
Despite drawing the *yawn emoji* ire from TB12 stans, last Sunday Williams ripped off the longest run (25 yards) the Bucs defense has yet to allow. It didn’t matter much, but it is a reminder that Williams remains an active part of Green Bay’s backfield. Last year, when both backs were healthy, Aaron Jones and Williams were both on the field for about 50 percent of the team’s snaps. That trend is carrying over in 2020, as Williams has recorded over 50 percent of the team's snaps in back-to-back games.
Touching the ball an average of just under 10 times per contest, Williams certainly remains the backup. His Week 7 matchup at Houston, however, is too juicy to ignore. The Texans have struggled to defend the run, giving up the most rushing yards (1,065) and allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing RBs. Houston isn’t going to get stomped by King Henry every week, but it’s worth noting that Titans backup RB Jeremy McNichols logged 61 scrimmage yards on 7 touches, closing out the week as fantasy’s RB30. Williams is currently averaging 5.7 YPT (RB10) and a top-nine (6.1%) breakaway run rate. He’s on the RB3 radar heading into the weekend.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (42% rostered - $17)
The fifth wide receiver selected in the 2018 draft, Kirk was initially expected to thrive as the heir to Larry Fitzgerald’s slot-throne. After a few injuries, a QB change, and a regime shift, however, Kirk’s ability as an outside receiver is being noticed. DeAndre Hopkins is the Cardinals' clear alpha, but the team needs a consistent No. 2 to step up.
Lining up on the outside for over 71 percent of his plays, Kirk has emerged as that complimentary option. The volume isn’t wholly there yet, but the former Aggie has either scored or cleared 75 yards in each of his last three outings. After a top-three fantasy performance in Week 6 at Dallas, the opportunities figure to grow in a potential shootout (56 O/U) versus the division rival Seahawks. Seattle went into their bye allowing an average of over 376 receiving yards per game, and have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Fire up Kirk as a potential ceiling flex in the WR30 range.
Tim Patrick, WR, Denver Broncos (18% rostered - $16)
Losing an ascending talent like Courtland Sutton so early in the season is obviously a massive blow, but Patrick has stepped up admirably in his stead. Undrafted out of Utah, the 6-foot-4, 208-pound wideout has brought trademark physicality and just enough underdog grit to the Broncos receiving corps. Leading the team in targets, Patrick has scored in three consecutive efforts and topped 100 yards in back-to-back games. It’s worth noting that his 4-101-1 Week 6 state line came at New England while drawing primary coverage from Stephon Gilmore.
In Week 7 the Broncos will host the division-rival Chiefs. (Ironically, Patrick managed his first career score while facing the Chiefs back in Week 8 of the 2018 season.) Drew Lock figures to be chasing points early, which means a good number of looks for Patrick, who has drawn a total of 15 over his past two contests. On the road for a second straight game and in a short week, Kansas City’s defense might be loose enough to give up some yardage to Patrick, who typically fights for every inch. Additionally, Noah Fant and KJ Hamler’s potential absences should keep Patrick producing.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Chicago Bears (58% rostered)
Some of you might balk that Graham isn’t enough of a sleeper — and were Dawson Knox healthy, I might have gently suggested you throw a dart his way — but with the landscape looking like something out of DUNE, this is where we’re at. Recording a total of four TDs over six games, Graham has endured as a big body in the end zone for either/both Chicago’s QBs.
While he didn’t score in Week 6 at Carolina, he did draw a season-high eight looks (it was Cole Kmet, the team’s rookie TE, who recorded Nick Foles’ only passing touchdown). Not only is Graham second in team targets, but he’s also the TE1 in red-zone looks with a total of 10 on the season. With Aaron Donald set to devour Foles on Monday night, Graham could get a decent number of short shots flipped his way. He’s definitely TD dependent, but at least he’s been dependable about scoring (and the Rams have given up four TUBs to opposing TEs on the season). He’s the Yahoo consensus TE10 heading into Week 7.
Dig deep with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF.