In Week 4, many players had great games. But many players who were owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN Fantasy leagues had breakout performances. In other words, these guys were sleepers.
One of those players was Tennessee Titans wide receiver, Nate Washington. Washington had four receptions on eight targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He alone scored more points than the turnover-happy New York Jets team. In standard formats he scored 22 Fantasy points, 26 in PPR leagues.
Another player who had a startling week was San Diego Chargers running back, Danny Woodhead. Woodhead had five rushes for 32 yards, but he dominated in the receiving game. The backup halfback also had five receptions on seven targets for 54 yards and two touchdowns. He was a huge factor in the Chargers win over the Dallas Cowboys, as he scored 20 Fantasy points in standard leagues, 25 points in PPR leagues.
And who can’t forget the return of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell suffered a mid-foot sprain in the preseason and finally returned in Week 4. In his monstrous rookie debut, Bell had 16 rushes for 57 yards and two touchdowns. He also had four receptions for 27 yards. Despite the Steelers offensive line struggling, the young back out of Michigan State didn’t seem to be fazed, as he plowed right through the Minnesota Vikings defense. The Steelers lost their fourth straight game, but Bell had a field day, as he put up 19 Fantasy points in standard leagues and 23 in PPR formats.
Looking forward to Week 5, there are several players with the potential for similar unexpected breakout performances.With that thought in mind, I present my Week 5 Sleepers.
Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs @TEN – The Kansas City Chiefs have taken the NFL by storm, as they are currently undefeated. The Chiefs have adopted a West Coast-style offense led by head coach Andy Reid. But the Chiefs success wouldn’t have happened without Alex Smith. Smith averages 18 points per game in standard leagues, but is just 53.4 percent owned. If Smith is available in your league he should be added.
Smith has returned strong with the Chiefs after he lost his job with the San Francisco 49ers to Colin Kaepernick. He has seven touchdowns in four games and has only thrown two interceptions.He has played well while Kaepernick is beginning to struggle. Smith will go up against the Tennessee Titans, who have done well against quarterbacks. Even with a hard matchup, Smith should be able to lead the Chiefs to another win, as they will advance to 5-0.
Rashad Jennings – Oakland Raiders vs. SD – With Darren McFadden doubtful and Marcel Reece questionable for Sunday’s game, it seems as though running back Rashad Jennings will get most, if not all of the carries. After McFadden went down last week against the Washington Redskins, Jennings amassed 14 carries for 45 yards. He also had eight receptions for 71 yards. Jennings is owned in 10 percent of ESPN leagues and is a great sleeper from Week 5 on because McFadden is so injury prone. The Raiders will face the San Diego Chargers this week, who are the 10th ranked defense against running backs.. Although that seems solid, when you look closer it isn’t that impressive. The Chargers have given up an average of 89.3 rushing yards per game, but have never given up a touchdown. If they gave up one or two touchdowns, they would not be top 10 against running backs. Jennings will have a solid day, rushing for his first touchdown in 2013.
Justin Blackmon – Jacksonville Jaguars @STL – After serving his four-game suspension, wide receiver Justin Blackmon is ready to become a regular Fantasy option. Owned in fewer than 20 percent of ESPN leagues, Blackmon is likely still on the waiver wire or free agent market. At the end of his rookie season in 2012, the young wide out from Oklahoma State was a solid start at the WR2 position in Fantasy leagues. In his last seven games of the season, Blackmon averaged around 88 yards per game and scored four touchdowns. If you take out his dismal week of nine yards against the Buffalo Bills, Blackmon would’ve averaged around 100 yards per game. This week he will go up against the St. Louis Rams, who are ranked the 24th best defense against wide receivers. Blackmon is the go-to guy for Jacksonville and Blaine Gabbert will rely on him for goal line throws.
Charles Clay – Miami Dolphins vs. BAL – After just four weeks into the NFL season, Charles Clay along with Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas have emerged as Fantasy Football sleepers at the tight end position. Clay is the seventh ranked tight end in standard leagues but only owned in around 25 percent of leagues. In four games, Clay has 245 yards with just one touchdown. He also has 20 receptions, proving that Ryan Tannehill targets him often. This week, Clay will face the Baltimore Ravens, who are ranked 21st against tight ends. Other than their awful week against Denver Broncos tight end Thomas, the Ravens haven’t been atrocious against tight ends on defense. However, Clay is very mobile and can repeat what Thomas did to the Ravens on opening night.
Carolina Panthers Defense / Special Teams @ARI – Two weeks ago, the Carolina Panthers shut out the New York Giants, putting together 21 points in standard leagues. After a bye, the Panthers will have another opportunity to have another great game, as they will face the Arizona Cardinals. Carson Palmer has had an awful 2013 season, throwing six interceptions and fumbling twice. With Luke Kuechly and the rest of the defense rushing Palmer every play, there will definitely be some miscues leading to turnovers, and plenty of Fantasy points for the savvy Fantasy owner.