Week 5 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

Finding efficient performers, and defenses that allow efficient performers, is a key fantasy move. Tyler Loechner names a few.

| 3 weeks ago
(Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

(Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Week 5 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

The unique fantasy points per opportunity data we have at PFF is one of the best tools you can use to find potential breakout players, which is why we run this weekly article to identify some of the players who could bubble to the surface in fantasy this week.

An opportunity is defined as a rush attempt or a pass route run, so PPO is calculated by dividing total points scored by carries plus routes run. This stat can help you uncover which players are too reliant on volume, and which players could become fantasy studs if they get more opportunities.

Looking at PPO data to find potential breakout players has proven useful so far this season. Last week’s article highlighted Steve Smith, DeMarco Murray, Greg Olsen and others as players who would break out. All players ended up finishing among the top seven at their position in terms of points scored last week. (We also highlighted Amari Cooper because the Ravens secondary is so bad — but it turns out it was Cooper’s teammate Michael Crabtree who had the big day.)

We’ll once again try to identify players who will break out in Week 5. Below are some of the players who have been making the most of their opportunities or who have great matchups.

Wide receivers

DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins

Up next against the Baltimore Ravens: DeSean Jackson. The Ravens have given up the fifth-most fantasy PPO to opposing wideouts this season, and they just got torched by Michael Crabtree to the tune of three touchdowns. Jackson has been quiet this year (just 0.23 PPO — ranked 43rd), but last season, he was 17th among wideouts in PPO. Jackson’s big game is coming.

Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers

Benjamin currently ranks 13th among wide receivers with 0.36 PPO, tied with Marvin Jones. And that includes a Week 3 game in which Benjamin was held without a catch. Other than that poor Week 3 showing, Benjamin has been strong this season, having caught at least one touchdown in the other three games. Benjamin draws the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5, who have given up the most fantasy PPO to opposing wideouts so far this season (0.31).

Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

Beckham Jr. has been getting annihilated in the press, but we’re going to give him some praise here. He has only scored 0.19 PPO so far this season, but the fact he has been held without a touchdown is a big reason why. He has a chance to bounce back in a big way in Week 5 against the Packers, who have given up the sixth-most PPO to wideouts so far this season. It’s a definite matchup upgrade for Beckham.

Running backs

LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

People may be hesitant to start Blount this week because it’s Tom Brady’s triumphant return, but that’s precisely why people should be all-in on Blount. The Patriots are huge favorites, which means Blount should be plenty of work as the game progresses, and scoring opportunities will be present throughout the contest. Not only will Blount get a hefty amount of opportunities this week, but the Browns have been giving up the fifth-most PPO to opposing running backs this year, and Blount has scored the 10th-most PPO at the position. Set it and forget it.

Matt Forte, New York Jets

Forte has been quiet in recent weeks, but then again, so has the entire Jets offense. But Forte should bounce back in Week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have given up the seventh-most PPO to running backs this year. Forte currently ranks 26th among running backs (out of 73) with 0.36 PPO scored. Our weekly projections also like Forte in Week 5.

Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens

I’m going out on a big of a limb here, given that Dixon is coming off an injury and joining a likely backfield-by-committee as the No. 2 — but I’ve been a Dixon fan since before the season even started. The matchup against the Redskins gives Dixon a prime platform to jumpstart his career. The Redskins have given up the second-most PPO to opposing running backs this season.

Tight ends

Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

Walker has been severely impacted both by health and Marcus Mariota’s regression, but he has a nice opportunity to regain favor in the fantasy community in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins, who have given up the 10th-most PPO to tight ends through four weeks. And despite his slow start, Walker has still scored the 13th-most PPO among tight ends (out of 51). Walker also saw a healthy eight targets last week, so assuming he gets a lot of looks again in Week 5, he should do plenty of damage.

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

Ertz is coming off an injury, so some people might shy away from him. Not me. I’m starting Ertz in every league I have him this week. The Eagles are playing against the Detroit Lions, who have given up the most fantasy PPO to tight ends this season. The Lions have given up at least one touchdown to a tight end in every game this season, and have ceded six total. Ertz is also supposedly fully healthy — he doesn’t even have an injury designation. Start him with confidence.

Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brate has emerged as a favorite target of Jameis Winston’s, and he gets a better-than-it-looks matchup against the Panthers in Week 5. Carolina has given up the second-most PPO to tight ends so far this season, and they have allowed four passing touchdowns to tight ends — all in the past three games.

Below is a chart showing the top 20 players at each position in terms of fantasy PPO scored so far this season (minimum 25 percent snaps).

2016 Season PPO Leaders (min. 25% snaps)
WR   RB   TE
Player Tm. PPO Player Tm. PPO Player Tm. PPO
Aldrick Robinson ATL 0.71 John Kuhn NO 0.71 Austin Hooper ATL 1.11
Danny Amendola NE 0.57 Isaiah Crowell CLV 0.62 Vance McDonald SF 0.49
Tyreek Hill KC 0.53 Orleans Darkwa NYG 0.59 Martellus Bennett NE 0.37
Julio Jones ATL 0.51 Jalen Richard OAK 0.57 Jimmy Graham SEA 0.35
Jordy Nelson GB 0.44 Tevin Coleman ATL 0.54 Kyle Rudolph MIN 0.33
Corey Coleman CLV 0.44 Damien Williams MIA 0.54 Marcedes Lewis JAX 0.33
Andre Holmes OAK 0.41 Ryan Mathews PHI 0.53 Trey Burton PHI 0.33
Antonio Brown PIT 0.4 Mike Gillislee BUF 0.52 Jack Doyle IND 0.32
Demaryius Thomas DEN 0.39 DeMarco Murray TEN 0.51 Greg Olsen CAR 0.29
Brian Quick LA 0.39 LeGarrette Blount NE 0.46 Jordan Reed WAS 0.28
A.J. Green CIN 0.37 Robert Turbin IND 0.46 Jacob Tamme ATL 0.27
Michael Crabtree OAK 0.37 Melvin Gordon SD 0.44 Zach Miller CHI 0.26
Marvin Jones DET 0.36 LeSean McCoy BUF 0.44 Delanie Walker TEN 0.25
Kelvin Benjamin CAR 0.36 Devonta Freeman ATL 0.43 Hunter Henry SD 0.24
Emmanuel Sanders DEN 0.36 Danny Woodhead SD 0.43 C.J. Fiedorowicz HST 0.24
Willie Snead NO 0.34 Carlos Hyde SF 0.42 Vernon Davis WAS 0.24
Stefon Diggs MIN 0.32 Jeremy Hill CIN 0.42 Cameron Brate TB 0.23
Doug Baldwin SEA 0.31 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 0.4 Richard Rodgers GB 0.23
Mike Evans TB 0.3 Terrance West BLT 0.4 Travis Kelce KC 0.21
Jarvis Landry MIA 0.3 Matthew Jones WAS 0.39 Garrett Celek SF 0.21
Will Fuller HST 0.3 Latavius Murray OAK 0.39 Virgil Green DEN 0.21

Tyler Loechner is a lead writer at PFF Fantasy. He has played fantasy football since 1999 and has been a part of the PFF Fantasy staff since 2010. Tyler was also previously a fantasy football featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

  • BlueNSilver

    DeSean’s big game is coming? Really, well I for one am not one to gamble on getting a stink bomb every week. He is literally boom or bust, and can cost you every week. There are better more consistent options out there with good matchups that you can rely on. Instead of trying to “Hope” for that big game by Djunk.

    • Tyler Loechner

      Hey BlueNSilver, thanks for reading. I definitely did not just type that I’m “hoping” for a big game by DeSean Jackson. There’s reason behind him as a breakout candidate. As noted, the Ravens have given up the fifth-most fantasy PPO to opposing wideouts this season, Crabtree just scored 3 touchdowns agains them, and Jackson was one of the more efficient WRs in terms of fantasy points per opportunity last season.

      You are correct in noting that Jackson is a boom or bust type player, and I don’t have a crystal ball, but there’s more reason to like Jackson this week than dislike him. I’m not just randomly guessing that this “feels” like a good week for him.

      • BlueNSilver

        Hey had a great matchup last week as well vs Cleveland who has given up 8+ TD passes, DJax had how many targets? and 1-5? I hear what you’re saying Tyler, and appreciate your research but there is noway anyone in their right mind should trust Djax regardless of matchup.

        • Rob Tori

          Haden was on him…not sure how that’s a good matchup

        • BlueNSilver

          HUGE Game for Djax!!! HUGE!!! #sarcasm

  • Andy

    I’m new here, what is ppo?

    • Tyler Loechner

      Hey Andy – thanks for reading! It stands for fantasy Points Per Opportunity. “An opportunity is defined as a rush attempt or a pass route run, so PPO is calculated by dividing total points scored by carries plus routes run.”

  • Jason Hovis

    Thanks for the article, very insightful!
    I’ve found individual players PPO, but where can I find the defensive rankings for PPO, such as ” TB ranks last vs WR in PPO”

    • Tyler Loechner

      Hey Jason – thanks for reading! The defensive PPO rankings are my own creation.