Looking ahead to this weekend's action, there are 10 sleepers I like to outperform what the masses expect from them in Week 2.
Colonel Sanders' Super Secret Sleeper
The Falcons defense was better than we expected going in to the NFL season. It's not uncommon for a high-energy defensive head coach to boost the quality of his stop unit right off the bat. Dan Quinn appears to have his men playing at a league average rate in his first season at the helm, rather than the near league worst level displayed last season. However, their secondary still has holes. Fellow Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews carved them up for 10 catches. The one place the Falcons don't have a back seven hole is Desmond Trufant's side of the field. Trufant is not one of the cornerbacks who shadows top wide receivers, rather he mostly sticks to playing left cornerback. Nelson Agholor played almost the entirety of his snaps at right wide receiver, which meant he almost exclusively did battle against Trufant. A first game rookie facing a cornerback whose play rivals some of the very best in the NFL is a rather tilted mismatch. Now we know why Agholor let down fantasy owners in Week 1.
In his upcoming game, if the Eagles still play him at the right outside receiver position, Agholor can expect to see a lot of Cowboys corner Brandon Carr. After getting a $10 million-a-year contract, Carr has been mostly a disappointment. Agholor should find the going much easier against Carr than he did facing Trufant. Agholor still has the skills to separate from coverage, and the explosiveness demonstrated in preseason.
I like Agholor as a sneaky bounce back candidate this week. Some of his owners are so frustrated with him, they're asking whether to drop him or not. That would be a big mistake. He could start returning value as soon as this week. He'll be a staple of some of my more bold daily fantasy lineups.
The Jets second game of the season sets up as a much better outlook for Fitzpatrick. Against the Browns, the Jets won with relative ease. Chris Ivory was the catalyst for the victory, and the team largely sat on the ball in the second half. Fitzpatrick's 24 pass attempts were the fourth fewest among quarterback starters who played throughout the entirety of their Week 1 games.
On Monday night, the Jets will face much stiffer competition when they travel to Indianapolis. The Colts will certainly keep the score tighter with New York than the Browns did. Targeting passers playing against the Colts could prove to be a season-long solid option. Their offense is too good for teams to get out far ahead on them, but their defense has enough holes to pick at. Sounds like the perfect marriage of volume and efficiency.
If you're in need of a cheap streaming option off the waiver wire, Ryan Fitzpatrick makes a good play this week. He's also a good bargain target for daily fantasy, and he has good wide receiver stack candidate (see below).
Deep fantasy truthers have been waiting for this player's ascension for awhile now, and I think it might finally be here. An accomplished pass catcher throughout his career, Lance Dunbar came out in Week 1 and looked to have finally locked down the Dallas receiving back role. Dunbar saw nine targets, catching eight of them, against the Giants and averaged 8.8 yards per reception. He compares favorably to an early career Pierre Thomas.
Dunbar saw all that work in the passing game before Dez Bryant went down with an injury, and the assumption would now hold that his role in the passing game is set to increase. The team trusts him on third down, and Tony Romo has long enjoyed having reliable dump off targets, especially as his career has gone on. While most will assume Terrance Williams become the No. 1 target hog of the offense, it's more likely the work gets spread around. Dunbar will be one of the top beneficiaries.
Much like Dion Lewis was last week, Dunbar could be a sneaky PPR flex start as soon as this week. The Dallas-Philadelphia showdown will be one of the highest scoring games of the week. You want players from those kinds of games in your fantasy lineups, especially in DFS. If you're in a bind at running back, Dunbar is a good play this week in PPR. He should be plucked off every waiver wire.
With Andre Ellington on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time, owners are rushing to the waiver wire to acquire one of the backup Johnsons in Arizona. Chris Johnson is the more widely-known name, and the masses will get tricked into him. The declining veteran averaged a meager 5.7 fantasy point per game last season, and it's hard to come up with a real reason he'll top that rate this season.
The savvy owners will pick up the rookie David Johnson instead. He's not exactly a secret either, after he jetted 55 yards for a touchdown on his lone touch Sunday. If there's a season-changing addition out of this backfield with Andre Ellington sidelined, it's David Johnson. He faces a great matchup against the Bears who gave up .81 fantasy points per touch to Eddie Lacy.
While the Jaguars as a team might not fare much better this week against the Dolphins, there is reason to hope Yeldon takes a step forward. Unexpectedly, Washington pushed Miami around in Week 1. Despite their addition of Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins still ceded a steady 121-yard day to Alfred Morris. If Jacksonville is able to establish the run like that against the visiting Dolphins, Yeldon could bring surprising flex numbers.
We saw Torrey Smith's frightening fantasy floor in San Francisco come to reality on Monday night with a one catch for 11 yards outing. As much as he's always been, Smith will epitomize boom or bust this week. Some owners will rush to drop Smith if they're in a bind, but they may be about to miss out on one of his bigger weeks.
The Steelers were eviscerated by Tom Brady and the New England offense in the season kickoff game. They looked like one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, giving up 8.8 yards per pass play. This is even more disturbing considering the Patriots dink-and-dunk natured offense (only 4.7 air yards per pass attempt). Colin Kaepernick looked more composed on Monday night than last we saw him. He won't be able to turn loose against this secondary like Brady did, but he should have a successful passing day.
Torrey Smith is not only familiar with Pittsburgh from his days with Baltimore, but has the deep speed capable of tearing through their backend defenders. He's a candidate for a sneaky blowup day.
We've already covered why the Jets passing game is intriguing this week in the Fitzpatrick section. However, that optimism does not extend to fellow receiver Brandon Marshall. It appears the Colts will now use Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis as a shadowing defender; he trailed Sammy Watkins throughout their Week 1 matchup. If anyone will get that treatment on the Jets, it will be Marshall. With the senior receiver locked up with Davis, Decker will see favorable matchups all over the field. He mostly played in the slot in Week 1, and the Colts do not carry a reliable slot cornerback. We can fully expect more receptions this week, and likely another score.
Brandon Coleman's sleeper status may be waning after he caught a touchdown in Week 1. He was one of the top waiver-wire targets of the week. However, we may be underselling just how large of a role Coleman is set to inherit in this offense. Despite Marques Colston's starting status, Coleman out-snapped him 58 to 46.
In Week 1, all the other Saints weapons saw soft coverage with the defense primarily gearing up against Brandin Cooks. Coleman was able to take advantage of that, and should be able to again this weekend. The Buccaneers showed us nothing against the Titans to convince us that they've made any strides towards improving their defense. If you're a Dez Bryant owner, or in a similar bind at wide receiver, Brandon Coleman can help tide you through.
While the public obsessed over what kind of bump Markus Wheaton would get in the wake of the Martavis Bryant suspension, it appears we missed the forest for the trees. Ben Roethlisberger went right back to old reliable, Heath Miller. The veteran tight end took more snaps than any Steelers pass catcher in Week 1, and recorded 16 PPR fantasy points. Quite the boost for the annually overlooked Miller.
For tight end streamers out there, Miller makes an attractive option. His target level appears safe, and the Steelers should move the ball against the 49ers at home. San Francisco allowed five catches to Kyle Rudolph, and there was room for more had the Vikings protection unit held up. Eight catches might be his season-high mark, and most of his value will be derived from touchdowns, but this feels like a good week to go gold-mining for one.
The Washington tight end went undrafted in many 12 team season-long leagues, and promptly reminded us on Sunday how foolish that was. Jordan Reed caught seven passes and scored one touchdown against the Dolphins in Week 1. He split out from the formation frequently and caught more than a few of his passes from the slot.
We shouldn't be so surprised, as Reed historically performs better when Kirk Cousins plays. Reed averages seven receptions and 112 yards in games with Cousins, as opposed to four catches for 70 yards in games he does not. The way each plays the game jives well with the other. We can expect Reed to be a top 12 tight end as long as he's healthy.