Week 3’s top five fantasy football sleepers have me excited!
5- Matt Cassel (MIN), $9,100 @ (NO)
After looking solid in Week 1, Cassel was a turnover machine against his former employer, the Patriots, in Week 2. No Adrian Peterson will spell further problems for the offense, but it should lead to heavy usage from Cassel, and against a bad pass defense that makes him a high upside play. When I say bad pass defense, I’m understating the Saints struggles. Football Outsiders ranks the Saints 31st defending the pass and Pro Football Focus ranks them dead last in pass coverage. Part of the reason for the Saints struggles is an inability to force interceptions. Pro-Football-Reference has the Saints having defended the fourth most passes (84), and they’ve yet to tally an interception. The bar isn’t high for Cassel to return value on his price as a second quarterbacks.
4- Justin Forsett (BAL), $4,350 @ (CLE)
Forsett came up just short of making me look like a genius last week when he was stopped a teeny bit short of pay dirt. Regardless, even in a game where Bernard Pierce took on the role of bell cow and looked good, Forsett was stellar carving out a significant role for himself. Pro Football Focus credits Forsett with playing 29 snaps to Pierce’s 39, and Forsett received eight carries while running 14 pass routes and reeling in all four of his targets for four receptions and 16 yards receiving. In all, Forsett finished with 72 yards from scrimmage. At a full point-per-reception (PPR), Forsett has value in a flex spot as a pass catching target of Flacco. The upside isn’t through the roof, but he’s getting enough touches to make himself well worth spending such a small portion of your budget on.
3- Austin Davis (STL), $8,700 vs (DAL)
A lack of touchdown passes, as in zero for Davis, mask that he’s been quietly good. One of the more shocking stats I stumbled upon this week is that Davis has the third highest Pro Football Focus QB Rating trailing only Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson. Davis has been very efficient completing 73.1% of his passes, and he’s done so on big pass plays. Per Pro Football Focus, Davis has the highest percentage of yards passing accumulated through the air as opposed to after the catch. In other words, he’s not dumping it off to guys and relying on his receivers to do the work for him. Shaun Hill remains day-to-day and was a limited practice participant Wednesday. With the Rams bye week in week four I’m inclined to believe they give Davis another start and assess things during the bye. The Cowboys defense shouldn’t provide a ton of resistance to Davis as Pro Football Focus ranks them 25th in pass coverage and Football Outsiders grades them out as the 18th ranked pass defense.
2- Chris Ivory (NYJ), $6,100 vs (CHI)
Another week, another Ivory tout. He is far and away the best running back in the Jets backfield. His value is cut down a smidge only based on Rex Ryan’s insistence to get Chris Johnson and even Bilal Powell in the game. Against the Packers in week two both Ivory and Johnson saw an identical 27 snaps, and Powell inexplicably was on the field for 17. Add in the week one snap counts and Johnson leads the way with 61, Ivory has 57, and Powell has 30. Even as frustrating as the splits are, given Ivory’s injury history, reducing his workload some isn’t a bad thing. What Ivory is doing with his work is remarkable, as he leads running backs that have 25% of their teams carries in Pro Football Focus’s signature stat, Elusive Rating. The bulldozing back is tied with a few backs for fifth in missed tackles forced while running the ball with nine, and he leads runners in yards after contact per attempt. His impressive running is an extension of what he did last year with the Jets, and the beauty of buying a back as talented as Ivory whose price is reduced due to a time share is that if Ryan gets wiser and Ivory gets even a few more touches, his point scoring total will blow by his cost.
1- Davante Adams (GB), $4,000 @ (DET)
It doesn’t appear that it took very long for a changing of the guard in the Packers’ wide receiver pecking order. The club spent a second round pick on Adams, but he entered week one behind Jarrett Boykin on the depth chart and serving as the fourth wide receiver. Against the Jets, though, Adams played 37 snaps to Boykin’s 35. It’s possible Mike McCarthy goes back to playing Boykin more, but it’s not as if the third year receiving has been such a standout that it should be assumed he’ll be given the job as third receiver back. Also, Adams quickly endeared himself to Aaron Rodgers hauling in five of seven targets for 50 yards. As I noted in the quarterback write-ups earlier in the week, the Packers/Lions game projects to be a treasure trove for fantasy points. Vegas Insider still has the total as the highest on the board at 52.5, and even as 2.5 underdogs, that leaves plenty of scoring to be done by the Packers. Anyone catching passes from Rodgers has a chance to provide value to DFS teams, and with a lack of a talented pass catching tight end and a running back that’s utilized heavily in the passing game, the third wide receiver spot could prove very fruitful for fantasy value.