Week 8 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

These guys have either been super-efficient or have matchups that allow super-efficient scorers, and Tyler Loechner says to use them.

| 8 months ago
(Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Week 8 fantasy sleeper candidates and guys who could exceed expectations

Using our unique fantasy points per opportunity data continues to help us uncover some breakout players before they have a huge game. Last week’s column correctly predicted strong performances for Mike Evans, Jacquizz Rodgers, LeGarrette Blount, Jack Doyle and others.

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.

We’re going to attempt to identify some players who will break out in Week 8. Below are some of the players who have been making the most of their opportunities or who have great matchups.

Wide receivers

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

I’m not worried about Marcus Peters covering Hilton. For starters, Hilton lines up all over the field, including in the slot over half the time. Peters has only gone into the slot on fewer than 10 percent of his routes defended. Overall, the Chiefs have given up the eighth-most fantasy PPO to opposing wideouts so far this season. Hilton is primed for yet another big game. Hilton currently ranks third among receiver in fantasy points scored through Week 7.

Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders

Cooper has been a strong player so far this season, but he hasn’t quite met expectations, mostly due to the fact he has only scored one touchdown. This week he plays against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have given up the seventh-most PPO to wideouts this year. We also have the Raiders-Buccaneers game projected to be the highest-scoring game of the weekend, so you’ll definitely want to get in on some of the action.

Cooper ranks in the top 10 in targets (62), receptions (40) and yards (614), but he ranks tied for 58th with only one touchdown. I think he adds to the touchdown category this week.

Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals

This one definitely qualifies as a sleeper. Floyd has been a huge disappointment this year, and he has seen his playing time significantly decrease starting in Week 4. Floyd’s snap rate so far this year: 95.1, 80.3, 89.2, 45.5, 33.8, 48.1 and 81.1. His snap count rose above 80 percent last week because of injuries that have decimated Arizona’s receivers. However, that leaves the door open for Floyd to see more playing time again in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers, who have given up the sixth-most PPO to wideouts this year.

Running backs

Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs

It’s time to fully trust Ware and consider him a tail-end RB1. In fact, this week, he’s a bona fide RB1.

Ware’s playing time didn’t really change once Jamaal Charles returned to the fold, and he’s still seeing more than two-thirds of Kansas City’s snaps. Some of that is definitely due to Charles being slowly worked back up to speed, but it is also undeniable that Ware is a strong football player in his own right, and will have a role even with Charles fully healthy.

And up next for Ware is the Indianapolis Colts, who have given up the third-most PPO to running backs this year. Another 15-20 touches seem to be in the cards for Ware this week, and the matchup makes him a fantastic play.

Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks

Michael has had some big games, and some down games. I’m predicting a big game in Week 8. Michael and the Seahawks play against the New Orleans Saints, who have given up the second-most PPO to running backs so far this year, including the most PPO to running backs on rushing attempts.

One has to think Seattle will try to keep the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands in the Superdome as much as possible this week, and they’ll need to lean on Michael to make that happen. He has logged 15-plus touches in five of six games this year, and I think he’s set up for a 20-plus touch game this week.

Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos

Booker and C.J. Anderson teamed up against the Houston Texans in Week 7. But with Anderson likely out this week (and possibly beyond) with a knee injury, it’s Booker all by himself in Week 8 against the San Diego Chargers, who have given up the ninth-most PPO to running backs so far this year. The Chargers have also given up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs.

Last week, Anderson carried the ball 16 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. Booker had 17 carries for 83 yards and a score of his own. Atlanta’s running backs gained 122 yards on 23 attempts and one touchdown last week against the Chargers, and San Diego has given up seven rushing touchdowns to running backs in their past five games. You can’t exactly pencil in Booker for all the production he and Anderson combined for a week ago, but even a chunk of Anderson’s touches going to Booker would make the rookie a must-start.

Tight ends

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

I wrote up why I like Kelce in DFS earlier this week, and it largely boils down to the matchup. Kelce draws the Indianapolis Colts, who have given up the seventh-most PPO to tight ends so far this year. By comparison, the Colts are the fourth-stingiest team in terms of PPO ceded to wide receivers. So if Kanas City is going to have success throwing the ball, it will likely be out of the backfield or to tight ends (Kelce).

Kelce has only seen six targets over the past two weeks combined, but he saw exactly seven targets in each game from Weeks 1-4. I’d expect him to be in the 6-8 range again this week, which should give him enough chances to do some serious damage against the Colts.

C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans

Fiedorowicz has quickly risen to fantasy relevance, and while he’s certainly not a weekly starter, he’s definitely a streaming option in Week 8 against the Detroit Lions. The Lions have given up the third-most fantasy PPO to tight ends so far this year.

For his part, Fiedorowicz ranks tied for eighth among tight ends (with Delanie Walker) with 0.30 PPO scored. He has caught 21 or 28 targets for 236 yards and two scores, and virtually all of that production has come in the previous four games.

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

Ertz has been bad this year, and he has been one of the least-efficient tight ends out there (tied for 40th among tight ends with just 0.10 PPO). However, he has a chance to get on the right track on Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, who have given up the sixth-most PPO to tight ends so far this year. If Ertz doesn’t break out in Week 8, he might not have a breakout game this year.

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
Tyreek Hill WR 0.67 Damien Williams RB 0.72 Austin Hooper TE 0.81
Russell Shepard WR 0.63 John Kuhn RB 0.63 Rob Gronkowski TE 0.48
Julio Jones WR 0.45 Mike Gillislee RB 0.6 Martellus Bennett TE 0.43
Cole Beasley WR 0.38 Tevin Coleman RB 0.59 Hunter Henry TE 0.34
A.J. Green WR 0.37 Jay Ajayi RB 0.57 Greg Olsen TE 0.32
Mike Evans WR 0.37 LeGarrette Blount RB 0.52 Jack Doyle TE 0.32
Sammie Coates WR 0.37 Ryan Mathews RB 0.51 Levine Toilolo TE 0.31
Danny Amendola WR 0.37 LeSean McCoy RB 0.5 Delanie Walker TE 0.3
Andre Holmes WR 0.37 Jeremy Hill RB 0.48 C.J. Fiedorowicz TE 0.3
Antonio Brown WR 0.33 Isaiah Crowell RB 0.46 Vance McDonald TE 0.29
Marvin Jones WR 0.33 Ezekiel Elliott RB 0.45 Anthony Fasano TE 0.29
Michael Crabtree WR 0.33 Spencer Ware RB 0.44 Jimmy Graham TE 0.28
Cordarrelle Patterson WR 0.32 Jalen Richard RB 0.44 Ed Dickson TE 0.27
Davante Adams WR 0.31 Terrance West RB 0.42 Josh Hill TE 0.27
Kelvin Benjamin WR 0.31 Latavius Murray RB 0.42 Kyle Rudolph TE 0.26
Brian Quick WR 0.31 DeMarco Murray RB 0.41 Marcedes Lewis TE 0.26
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR 0.31 Melvin Gordon RB 0.41 Jordan Reed TE 0.25
T.Y. Hilton WR 0.3 David A. Johnson RB 0.39 Vernon Davis TE 0.25
Odell Beckham Jr. WR 0.3 Devonta Freeman RB 0.38 Trey Burton TE 0.25
Demaryius Thomas WR 0.3 Matthew Jones RB 0.38 Brandon Myers TE 0.25
Emmanuel Sanders WR 0.3 Robert Turbin RB 0.38

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.

  • Bob Bace

    If Ertz doesn’t break out this game he might not have a breakout game this year? Maybe Ertz just isn’t any good. And the Dallas Cowboys, who have given up the sixth-most PPO to tight ends is such an over rated stat. Miller had a big game and Reed had a decent game. That’s it. You know how often that line of thinking works? Hardly ever. If I recall, Oakland was the worst last year v. TEs and everyone would roster a tight end vs them near the end of the year all to their discontent. You must analyze each game on a match-up v. match-up basis. Yeah Ertz may get targets, but it because the Philadelphia receivers, despite your ratings, are all below average. I wouldn’t recommend Ertz, plus he’s overpriced on DK. Also, IMO, the league finally has enough tape on Wentz. That coupled with their glaring holes at RG and Center, their 4 RB timeshare, and Wentz willingness to spread the ball around, makes all Eagles unrosterable.

    And the PPO leaders, who the heck is going to roster John Kuhn? Or Levine Toilolo. Great you play 25% of snaps get an opportunity and get a TD. Whipdee do! Tyreek HIll has had 17 target in 7 games. Take out the 7 target anomaly v Pittsburgh and its 10 in 6. Who wants that?

    Oh and: “Last week’s column correctly predicted strong performances for Mike Evans, Jacquizz Rodgers, LeGarrette Blount, Jack Doyle” They were all chalk and obvious plays. Especially Evans w/ no Vincent Jackson.

    All the players you write up her all all chalk and obvious, and I’d recommend pivoting off most; save Michael Floyd. But Palmer is not himself this year and I wouldn’t roster any Arizona receiver. I really like Cooper though. He and Crabtree are tied with Red Zone Targets at 6. Crabtree has caught all of his while Cooper has caught 0. That will change. Cooper is the better play. Higher price will lead to lower ownership. And IMO has a bigger upside. But they’re both good receivers and honestly, one of the only duos you can roster each week and feel pretty good about it.

    I was eyeballing Russel Shepard before reading this, he is the only one who may bust out. No Vincent Jackson and his targets went from 0, 0, the previous two weeks, to 6. He’s worth a flier, but still down on the depth chart.

    In closing its all about match-ups and Target Share on that particular week. Injuries play such a vital role in that.

    • Tyler Loechner

      Hey Bob, thanks for the long and thought out comment. I’ll try to break it down paragraph by paragraph:

      For starters, it seems you are a DFS-focused player, which is awesome, but I should note that this article is not DFS-focused. It’s just general fantasy insight. So while it can be applied to DFS, none of this commentary takes into account player salaries, expected ownership rates, etc. More nuanced, DFS-focused content can be found in the DFS section of our site.

      So yes, many of these players are “chalky” in DFS — but that’s because they are expected to have a breakout week. If you’re looking for contrarian picks, check out Scott Barrett’s weekly piece (published on Saturday). Also, in my defense, I wrote up Booker before news of CJA broke. So while he looks painfully obvious now, that wasn’t the case just a few days ago.

      Regarding Ertz, I could have written that sentence as: “This is the last week I’m giving Ertz a chance. He has the potential for that breakout game we’ve been waiting for thanks to a plus matchup against the Cowboys. If it doesn’t happen his week, maybe we should just accept that it never will happen.”

      I’m sorry you don’t see the value of points per opportunity data. I’ll try to do a better job in the future of explaining how and why it’s so helpful. Regarding the “top 20″ list — you are definitely correct in noting that the list, in and of itself, is not enough to make picks. Snap rates, target share, etc. all need to be taken into account as well. The list does, however, show who has been the most efficient with their opportunities. Hill hasn’t seen a ton of volume, but he has certainly made the most of it.

      I agree with your on Shepard. I have him in several DFS lineups this week. (Also note that he ranks second in terms of PPO.) So, he has been very efficient with his opportunities already, and now the door is open for even more opportunities. That could lead to a huge game for him.

      Thanks for reading!