We’re back to the four-team bye weeks this week, so many of you are likely looking for replacement options in your lineup. For those in deep leagues, finding competent fill-ins is quite the chore. Hopefully, we can make that task a little easier. Here are a handful of deep sleepers available in the vast majority of fantasy leagues that can help get you by this week.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
OK, OK… I get it. But hear me out. There are only nine starting quarterbacks out there this week owned in fewer than one-third of both ESPN and Yahoo leagues. It’s slim pickings. You likely already know that New York Jets QB Sam Darnold has a juicy matchup against the Miami Dolphins this week. But what if he’s not available? You might need a little FitzMagic to get by.
Fitzpatrick has scored 41.7 fantasy points in his last nine quarters since taking over for Josh Rosen late in Miami’s Week 6 game against the Washington Redskins. Over his last two weeks as a starter, his 17.5 average fantasy points per game rank 17th among all QBs. Those numbers aren’t spectacular, but if you’re desperate, getting top 20 production is nothing to sneeze at. The Jets are one of the 10-worst passing defenses in the NFL, rank in the middle of the pack against fantasy QBs, and just allowed 329 passing yards and 3 TDs to Gardner Minshew. Turnovers are always an issue with Fitzpatrick (he just had three on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers), but this is a winnable game for Miami, and the 36-year-old still has plenty of decent WR weapons at his disposal.
RB Dare Ogunbowale, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Everything is set up nicely for a shootout in Seattle. Tampa Bay is a desperate team that loves to throw the ball. They rank 7th in the NFL in average pass attempts at 37.6 per game. The Seahawks want to run the ball, but no one runs on the Bucs. Tampa Bay is the only team in the NFL, allowing fewer than 70 rushing yards per game on average. Conversely, only the Detroit Lions allow more passing yards per game than Tampa Bay. In short, Seattle will be forced to throw, and the Buccaneers are predisposed to throw and will likely need to play catchup on the road.
Why does that matter? Because the passing game is where Dare Ogunbowale thrives.
While the fantasy world has pulled their hair out over whether to start Ronald Jones or Peyton Barber, many have failed to notice that Tampa Bay’s backfield snaps leader since Week 3 has been Ogunbowale. He did not have a great game last week against Tennessee, but before that, he was averaging just under three catches per game. You have to be in a PPR format for it to matter, but if you’re desperate, he may be able to get you 5-6 points with a decent shot at a touchdown.
RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Do you think the Cowboys blow out the Giants on Monday Night Football? If you do and need RB/FLEX help, you might want to get Tony Pollard in your lineup. A little bit of a pattern has emerged in the first half of the season. When the Cowboys win by more than two touchdowns, Pollard gets significant touches. In three such games this season, Pollard has 13, 16, and 8 touches, respectively. He has anywhere between 3-5 touches in all other games. He’ll need a TD to work his way into FLEX territory, but he’s got a very good shot at double-digit touches this week, which can’t be said for many players owned in fewer than 15% of leagues.
WR Chris Conley, Jacksonville Jaguars
Chris Conley has found fantasy success by taking advantage of some weak secondaries the last couple weeks and has the opportunity to do that again this weekend in London. The Houston Texans give up fantasy points to anyone and everyone in the passing game, ranking in the bottom 10 in receiving yards allowed to both WR1s and WR2s. Houston is also very banged up in the secondary, with three CBs listed on the injury report in some capacity. There’s a chance Dede Westbrook misses this game too, which should only increase the amount of looks Conley — who is already leading all Jacksonville WRs in snaps this season — gets.
WR Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
Sometimes success is all about opportunity. Cole Beasley has been given plenty of opportunities to succeed over the last few weeks. Averaging nearly eight targets per game over his past five games, Beasley is a reliable fill-in option at home against the Redskins. Washington allows the highest completion percentage in the NFL to WRs, so maybe Beasley can extend his touchdown streak to three games and finish with double-digit points in PPR formats for the sixth time in his past seven games.
WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
I’m not jumping off the A.J. Brown train just yet. Sure he only had a pair of receptions on three targets in what was a great matchup last week, but I’m willing to roll the dice again in a matchup that is somehow even better this week. No team in the NFL has allowed more yards to WR2s so far this season than the Carolina Panthers. He’s a boom or bust option every week going forward, but let’s hope his target share looks a lot more like it did in Week 7 instead of Week 8.
TE Ryan Griffin, New York Jets
Keep an eye on the injury report to see if Chris Herndon is active, but if not, pull the trigger and start Ryan Griffin this week — he might even be a top-10 option at the position. Like seemingly every TE, he’s been a boom or bust candidate, but he has three TDs over the last three weeks and out-snapped every Jets pass-catcher in Week 8. Griffin has caught all but two of his targets this season, and the Dolphins rank in the bottom 10 for yards allowed to the TE position.