We’ve paid our dues and endured an entire offseason full of rumors, transactions, high hopes, and analysis. Now it’s time to find out where that will lead us as Week 1 of the NFL season is finally upon us!
Every week, there are inexpensive players on the board who have the potential to break out or exceed expectations this week. Here are three fantasy football sleepers to round out DFS rosters and flex in deep seasonal and dynasty leagues based on advanced stats, metrics, and analytics-based player profiles.
Cole Beasley, Wide Receiver, Cowboys
Last season, Cole Beasley saw two of his most productive games against the New York Giants. Coincidentally, Dez Bryant saw two of his least productive games against New York. During those games, Beasley saw 19 total targets, hauling in 12 receptions for 106 yards. On the other hand, Bryant managed just 14 total targets and astonishingly 2 receptions for 18 yards. Beasley posted 22.6 fantasy points over those two contests.
Bryant’s 2016 struggle against the Giants was due in large to New York’s shutdown corner, Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins shadowed Bryant in those two games, and is expected to do so again this week. Jenkins was the best cover corner in 2016, posting a +0.56 Coverage Rating (No. 1), while also allowing a 46.2 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks (No. 3) and a 46.4-percent catch rate (No. 3).
The Giants also improved their offense with the additions of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram this offseason. Potentially facing shootout conditions and a negative game script, Beasley is all set up for a significant target share in Week 1.
Coby Fleener, Tight End, Saints
Willie Snead missed one game in 2016. In that game, Coby Fleener converted 11 targets in seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown, capping off a top-5 fantasy tight end performance that week. Yes that’s a tiny sample size, but the identical situation is upon Fleener in week 1.
Check out Coby Fleener on the Updated PlayerProfiler Weekly & Dynasty Rankings:
Vacated targets from 2016 will fuel Coby Fleener’s upside early this season. Snead leaves his 104 targets from last year, and Brandin Cooks vacated 117 targets. Back-of-the-napkin math says 221 targets are now available, and Fleener will capitalize in Week 1 by leveraging his 96th-percentile athleticism.
The Vikings top cornerback Xavier Rhodes finished No. 6 among NFL cornerbacks last season in Coverage Rating (+0.45) and passer rating allowed (46.9). No metric was more impressive than Rhodes’ 45.7-percent catch rate allowed (No. 2). Strong outside cornerback play should funnel targets to Fleener in the middle of field. Look for Drew Brees to lock onto Fleener providing a high floor with major upside on Monday night.
Fleener is a strong be to return value in Monday night DFS contests and is a sneaky tight end streaming option in seasonal leagues.
Bruce Ellington, Wide Receiver, Texans
The most common fantasy players know that a team’s matchup is crucial when deciding who to start and who to sit. This week, the Houston Texans find themselves with favorable opponent in the Jacksonville Jaguars. One of the repercussions of vulnerable defense is the potential for fantasy upside.
This week, one of the prime candidates is receiver, Bruce Ellington. In addition to Jacksonville having a poor defensive unit, most of their attention will be on star wideout DeAndre Hopkins. As a result, Ellington will have plenty of opportunities to make his mark in this week 1 matchup. If you are in a pinch for one more receiver who isn’t expensive, Ellington is the way to go.
Bruce Ellington has exceptional athletic ability with a 97th- percentile Agility Score and a 84th- percentile Catch Radius. These assets will prove to be a huge advantage over the Jaguars’ secondary. While quarterback Tom Savage is not a quarterback who can elevate a receiver’s game, he is a solid pro who will put the ball where it needs to be. If Savage is not able to establish a connection with Hopkins early, look for him to build a rapport with Ellington on Sunday.
Bruce Ellington is the ultimate Hail Mary flex option in deep dynasty leagues.