Week 4 Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar starts for Week 4

QB

Andy Dalton (vs Miami) - Dalton has been solid to open the season, save for a down game against the Broncos that we will excuse because of the opponent. The Dolphins have been generous to Jimmy Garoppolo, allowing 232 yards and three scores in basically a half, and they made Cody Kessler look like he belongs on an NFL field. More than half of the Miami defense is questionable or worse. The only worry about Dalton’s fantasy outlook this week is Cincinnati opening up a huge lead on the back of Jeremy Hill and then shutting down the passing game.

Trevor Siemian (at Tampa) - Siemian broke out last week against a decent Bengals defense. This week, he gets a defense that made Case Keenum look like a good downfield passing threat last week. A defense that made Mohamed Sanu a top fantasy play. A defense that made Carson Palmer look young. Siemian will be throwing to Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, who should win most one-on-one battles. The Tampa run defense is their strength, so that should just encourage the Broncos to call passes to their talented wideouts. Siemian is a top streamer option this week, with the Bucs giving up at least two passing scores in every game and over 300 yards in two of three.

Alex Smith (at Pittsburgh) - Smith and Andy Reid’s penchant for the short passing game should mesh well with a banged up Steelers defense that really struggled to slow down the Eagles screen pass game last week. The Steelers have allowed at least 300 yards through the air in each of the first three games, and they should do enough on offense to keep Smith from resting on his laurels. Smith has a high floor and a higher ceiling than we think if the Chiefs can’t corral Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

Brian Hoyer (vs Detroit) - If you have to go to the wire for your quarterback this week, Hoyer isn’t a terrible option. The Lions have already allowed ten passing scores in three games, with no fewer than two allowed in any game. This on only 104 attempts, including four to Aaron Rodgers on only 24 attempts. Even Marcus Mariota had a good fantasy day against them. The Bears defense won’t do Hoyer any favors, as a comeback game script gave him the opportunity to put up over 300 yards and two scores, mostly in the second half last week.

RB

Matt Jones (vs Cleveland) - Jones’ involvement in the Washington offense has been going up every week, with 17 carries in the win over the Giants last week. The offense should stay on schedule at home against a Cleveland defense that has allowed three running back scores, including two to the four-way committee replacing Arian Foster in Miami last week. Jones could even get a chance to rack up carries against a tired defense if Washington can build a lead against Cody Kessler.

Jordan Howard (vs Detroit) - Howard is a good example of how we need to give any running back in line for 15+ touches consideration as an RB2 only four weeks into the season. Howard has been strong on his limited touches so far this year, but with more volume, his efficiency should go down like Jeremy Langford’s did. The upside here is that Detroit has been giving up over six yards per carry to running backs over the last two games and Chicago is at least at home against a weaker opponent than the Philadelphia team they hosted in Week 2.

Isaiah Crowell (vs Washington) - What if I told you that Crowell is leading the league with over six yards per carry? That means even you take his best run away, he’s still averaging over four yards per carry on the rest of his carries on a team that has had four different players take snaps at quarterback already this year. Crowell is facing a Washington team that has allowed two rushing scores to backs in each of the first three games. There’s a risk that Cleveland falls behind and has to abandon the running game, but if they can hang, Crowell has a good chance for 70+ yards and a score.

Dwayne Washington (at Chicago) - Washington was clearly the better running back between the tackles for the Lions last week, and they should rectify the split in the backfield to reflect that against the Bears this week. Chicago has allowed opposing backs two scores on the ground in each of the last two games, and two different backs have rung up 28 or more carries against them in this young season. If Detroit can move the ball consistently against the Bears suspect pass defense and open up a lead in Soldier Field, Washington will have a showcase for his high level size/speed/athleticism combination in the second half. He should also get any goal line carries the Lions can generate in Week 4.

Cameron Artis-Payne (at Atlanta) - Artis-Payne led the backfield in touches in Week 3, and while his fantasy line wasn’t impressive, he still averaged a shade off of four yards per carry against a very stout run defense. Atlanta has a little more give to them, and they have already allowed three scores to opposing running backs. Let’s also remember that the Panthers have faced the two toughest defenses in the league and San Francisco. They put 46 on the 49ers despite four turnovers. Scoring opportunities could come in bunches, and you never know when one might land in Artis-Payne’s lap.

WR

Terrelle Pryor (at WAS) - Pryor’s value has come full bloom with Josh Gordon entering rehab and Cody Kessler yielding quarterback snaps to Pryor to keep the defense off balance. His ball skills and run after catch mode look very natural, and the route running coming into focus for the Browns new #1 receiver. Corey Coleman will be back in 3-4 weeks, but until them Pryor will be a target hog. He’s not just a sleeper, he’s nearly a must play against a defense that has allowed an opposing wide receiver to go for over 100 yards in each of the first three games.

Tyrell Williams (vs NO) - Williams’ involvement has been ramping up in each of the first three games. He topped out at six catches last week, and Williams has consistently been turning his signature shallow crossers into long gains after the catch. This week he gets a Saints pass defense that allowed five different opposing wide receivers to go for at least 86 yards in the first two games before the Falcons just let their running backs run the show in Week 3. Williams’ arrow is pointing up and he has one of the best matchups in fantasy this week.

Jamison Crowder (vs CLE) - Crowder probably shouldn’t be in the sleeper column because he has already arrived, but I suspect he is still not getting the respect he deserves. He has gotten at least seven targets a game, and that won’t change with Josh Doctson’s achilles flaring up. Jarvis Landry and Jordan Matthews have already had big games with their slot receiver skills against Cleveland, this week it’s Crowder’s turn.

Cole Beasley (at SF) - Dez Bryant looks highly unlikely to play this week, so Beasley becomes the de facto #1 receiver for Dak Prescott in a matchup that should produce fantasy points. The 49ers gave up three wide receiver scores in Week 2, and Doug Baldwin had a 164-yard game last week even though Russell Wilson left the game injured. Beasley has at least eight catches and 65 yards in every game this year, he should get even more looks from Beasley with Bryant likely on the sidelines. The extra opportunity the fast-paced but inept San Francisco offense allows only helps Beasley’s case as a sleeper this week.

Steve Smith (vs OAK) - Smith has his swag back, which is bad news for opponents. This year, Oakland’s corners have already given up five touchdowns to wide receivers, and that was with one game zero WR touchdown game against exotic smashmouth last week. Smith has been looking better by the week, and the Ravens running game is still stalling out, so Joe Flacco should throw a ton against Oakland, with a good share going to Smith.

TE

Coby Fleener (at SD) - Fleener was a lowlight reel for the first two weeks, but in Week 3 he was the best thing going in the Saints pass offense. This week, the Chargers’ excellent trio of corners and injuries at inside linebacker should encourage Drew Brees to lean on Fleener in the passing game to take advantage of the best matchups on the field. The Chargers have allowed opposing tight ends to post at least 88 total yards and six total catches in each of the first three games. The majority of whatever they give up this week should go to Fleener.

Hunter Henry (vs NO) - Henry’s fumble at the end of the game cost the Chargers a chance to win, but his solid play in place of Antonio Gates up to that point was a bright spot for the San Diego pass offense. This week brings the Saints, an abysmal pass defense that hasn’t allowed a lot to tight ends this year, only because wide receivers and running backs have taken them to the woodshed. Henry should still have a lot of opportunity against this defense as part of a quality pass offense piloted by a good quarterback.

Jack Doyle (at JAX) - When Donte Moncrief went out, Philip Dorsett was promoted to the starting lineup as the #2 wide receiver, but Doyle was the biggest fantasy beneficiary, as the two tight end set became the default offense, and Doyle filled in the short-intermediate “possession” hole in the passing game vacated by Donte Moncrief. He has led the Colts tight ends in fantasy production in each of the first three weeks, catching 13 of 15 targets, including two of three end zone targets. The Jaguars pass defense is still a work in progress, so Andrew Luck should have some success with Doyle in London Sunday.

Zach Miller (vs DET) - Miller caught two scores in the red zone from Brian Hoyer last week. All signs point to Hoyer starting this week, and against the best tight end matchup in fantasy football. The Lions have allowed a tight end score in every game this year, including three to the Colts. Miller was the Bears leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns last week, and without DeAndre Levy, the Lions don’t really have anyone to reverse that trend this week.