Football is back! And with it comes the joy of overseeing one’s virtual team. The most dedicated and passionate managers find zeal in exploring the concepts and happenings occurring under the radar. While some weeks 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 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.
Marvin Jones was the only sleeper who woke up last week. Let’s definitely kick it up a notch in Week 2!
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Denver Broncos (14% rostered, $29)
He may not be a gunslinger but he is always poised. Completing 28 of 36 passes and managing a respectable 8.6 air yards per attempt (QB13), Bridgewater stayed calm and carried on (despite losing Jerry Jeudy) in his Denver debut. Efficient (top-three true completion percentage) and clean (0 INTs), the win over the Giants was trademark Teddy.
He’s unlikely to find much resistance in Week 2 from a Jacksonville squad that gave up nearly 300 passing yards to Tyrod Taylor last Sunday. With the Broncos 6-point favorites, there isn’t much upside to Bridgewater in Week 2, but his floor makes him a solid play in Superflex formats (particularly for managers looking to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick).
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (76% rostered, $14)
Hines is rostered in over 60 percent of leagues but he was started in just 15 percent of them in Week 1. Plus, his DFS price tag is nearly the minimum. So, he’s worthy of some sleeper shine.
As expected, Jonathan Taylor led the backfield in totes (17:9), but Hines out-targeted the second-year back in the passing game. Displaying a quick connection with Carson Wentz, Hines led the Colts in looks, converting 6 of 8 for 48 yards while running 20 routes (RB8) in the team’s loss to Seattle. With T.Y. Hilton sidelined another week, Hines’ volume figures to hold, particularly in a matchup versus the Rams. LA’s defensive front is likely to force Wentz into plenty of check downs. And if last week is any indication, Hines should convert on those opportunities. The Rams gave up five (of six) catches to the Bears’ RBs last Sunday night. Feel free to flex Hines in PPR-friendly formats.
BONUS RB: Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles (29% rostered, $14)
A fifth-round pick out of Memphis, Gainwell enjoyed a platitude-filled summer. He confirmed the rumors in Week 1, out-snapping Boston Scott and logging just eight fewer touches than Miles Sanders. This Sunday, he’ll face a 49ers squad that got run over by Detroit's backs, both of whom closed out the week as fantasy’s RB4 and RB5, respectively. The assumed No. 2 to Sanders, Gainwell has top-40 appeal in Week 2.
Tim Patrick, WR, Denver Broncos (18% rostered, $17)
A physical receiver with good size (6-foot-4, 208 pounds) and even better hands, Patrick stepped up for the Broncos last year after Courtland Sutton went down, recording a 51-742-6 stat line. He closed out the year as fantasy’s WR40 overall … which isn’t too bad when you consider Denver’s QB struggles throughout 2020.
This go-around, he’ll be subbing in for a different talented receiver. Jeudy’s absence figures to boost Patrick’s volume. K.J. Hamler could also see an increase in opportunities, but Patrick was ahead of Hamler on the depth chart heading into the season and logged the second-most snaps (46, just behind Courtland Sutton) in Week 1. This Sunday, he’ll take on a Jacksonville secondary that could, again, be without CB Tre Herndon (knee) and gave up 200 yards to the Texans’ wideouts.
Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (24% rostered, $18)
Talk about leaving your past in the past. After a rookie effort that had Philly fans mumbling “Bust,” the former first-round pick appears revitalized. Building on the momentum of a buzzy offseason, Reagor converted all six of his looks for 49 yards and a score. Second in snaps (50) and targets behind only DeVonta Smith, Reagor showed off his explosiveness in space, recording 41 yards after the catch (WR10).
He won’t get the Falcons every week, but in a home matchup with a projected point total of 50 versus a 49ers squad that will be without CB Jason Verrett (ACL), there should be plenty of opportunities for the 22-year-old to fly.
The upside here is big. Flex him if you figure to be chasing points.
Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers (32% rostered, $13)
I want #ParhamSZN to be a thing, too. Right now, however, Cook is still, well, cooking. Third in team targets (8, behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams), the former Saint posted a 5-56-0 stat line last Sunday. Running 28 routes (TE7) and drawing a target share of over 17 percent (TE12) on a fantasy-friendly offense, the vet offers managers a solid floor at a volatile position.
He’ll host a Cowboys squad in Week 2 that was dominated by Rob Gronkowski (8-90-2). Cook is not going to spike like Gronk, and Micah Parsons looks legit, but this matchup figures to be a points bonanza, carrying the second-highest projected point total (55) of the week, per Bet MGM.
I want a piece of that, plain and simple.
BONUS TE: Pharaoh Brown, Houston Texans (0% rostered, $10)
I know that Brown isn’t completely unrostered (maybe 0.25%) because I dropped Eric Ebron in a 14-team Superflex league to scoop the Texans’ TE. Houston’s talent pool is epically shallow, but those targets have to go somewhere. In Week 1, five of them went to Brown, who corralled four grabs (including THIS one!) for 67 yards. That was four grabs more than fellow TE Jordan Akins, who posted a bagel on two looks. Akins did run five more routes (19) than Brown (14), but Pharaoh logged more snaps (59).
Had Brown not (out of nowhere) showed up on the team’s injury report (shoulder, ankle) I’d have him highlighted ahead of Cook. I’m including him here because I think he’s going to do everything in his power to go big on Sunday at Cleveland. Not only is Brown a Cleveland native, but he also played for the Browns from 2018-2019 (he was cut in 2020 just ahead of the season opener).
Cleveland allowed the third-most points to opposing TEs last year (and were flamed by Travis Kelce in Week 1), making this an absolutely perfect play — if Brown is healthy.
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