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.
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.
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.
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)|
|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|