Free Agent Sleepers Week 3 and Onward
Welcome back fantasy football fans! Welcome to Free Agent Sleepers Week 3! We’re two weeks into the NFL season and trends are starting to form. Last week I offered up a few guys for you to grab that might end up paying off in the long run. Samaje Perine ended up being a great grab, but mostly because Rob Kelley injured his rib cartilage on Sunday. Still, if you did get Perine, he could run away with the early down work if he performs well with this opportunity.
From here on out, I will be using a new format. This will highlight what a player’s current ownership percentage is in ESPN fantasy leagues. Also, one of my free agent sleepers will be a guy who may have been dropped during this most recent waiver period. A reminder that these are guys that you could pick up to fill an empty bench spot or replace an injured player, I don’t recommend dropping significant fantasy assets for most of these players. Anyway, here are some of my favorite free agent sleepers!
Low % Owned Free Agent Sleepers (<10% owned)
Ricardo Louis WR CLE (0.2% owned)
Last week Corey Coleman, the top WR for the Cleveland Browns, suffered a hand injury and has been placed on IR. Filling the gap for the remainder of the game was second-year WR Rashard Higgins, who turned 11 targets into 7 receptions for 95 yards. Higgins was one of the hot waiver pick-ups of the week because of this. However, there is one more guy that might be intriguing on this offense. Ricardo Louis. Both Louis and Higgins are sophomore receivers, with Louis being drafted in the 4th round and Higgins in the 5th round of the 2016 draft.
Ricardo Louis has a much better athletic profile than Rashard Higgins. He is 1 inch taller, but 25 pounds heavier. He was touted by the Browns coaching staff this offseason for making big improvements to his game from his rookie season. Louis has a second gear that Rashard Higgins does not have, and runs fairly clean routes. The Browns could look at using him for screens and bubbles with rookie QB DeShone Kizer needing to improve his WR connection and completion percentage.
Read Kevin’s thoughts on the Higgins/Louis situation in this week’s waiver rankings.
Matt Breida RB SF (0.5% owned)
Another running back lottery ticket this week, this time in Matt Breida. Carlos Hyde is in no danger of losing his job. I want to make that clear before I continue. Kyle Shanahan is making the most of Hyde this season, as many fantasy analysts were hoping. So then why is Matt Breida on this list? Well, first of all, you can almost certainly go scoop him up right now at no cost. Second, we are aware of Hyde’s inability to stay healthy.
Carlos Hyde still has not completed an entire 16 game season. He is also currently on pace for 264 touches this season, which would be the most of his career. Last season he was pacing for 300 touches but got injured after 234. We are seeing the value of being a RB in a Kyle Shanahan offense, Matt Breida is the next guy up for the 49ers. He showed flashes in week two, so the possibility of him in a full-time role is exciting.
DeShone Kizer QB CLE (5.2% owned)
Yes, Kizer has struggled in the first couple weeks of his NFL career. Yes, he just lost his top WR in Corey Coleman. With that being said, there are some signs of promise. His schedule opens up a bit (next three games are @IND, CIN, NYJ) and this could be a good opportunity for him to build confidence in his game and rapport with his receiving corps.
As for his migraine that caused him to exit week 2’s bout, it seems to be a non-issue. He got back in the game and continued playing. Kizer has also said that these migraines are not very common and that the team knew about his history of sporadic migraines. Kizer will only have value as a streamer or borderline QB2 in superflex leagues, but his future could be bright.
Medium % Free Agent Sleepers (10-50% owned)
Coby Fleener TE NO (35.5% owned)
If you streamed Fleener in week two, you were probably pretty happy that he caught a TD. He may have only gotten 4 targets last week (10 targets on the season), but his red zone usage is quite promising. Through two weeks, Fleener has 4 red zone targets and has converted all of them into completions, two of which were TDs. Only three receivers have more red zone targets so far with 5: Emmanuel Sanders, Amari Cooper and Dez Bryant. That’s good company to be in.
The Saints have played against two solid defenses so far, with the Panthers on deck. Right now is the window to grab Fleener before his price rises against weaker matchups. The tight end position has been difficult to predict so far, so finding a guy with Fleener’s TD upside is hard to come by.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins TE NYJ (0.5% owned)
Pre-publish edit: Honestly, I wrote this article expecting fantasy players to snag ASJ off of waivers Wednesday morning, if not just to stash on the bench. His ownership was lower than I expected, but anyway…
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, or ASJ if you hate saying the forty syllables in his name. Ok, it’s eight syllables, whatever. ASJ is a guy who could be very promising on the Jets offense. Yes, the Jets, you heard me right. This offseason, ASJ cleaned up his act and went to rehab for alcohol abuse. He’s reportedly lost 15-20 pounds and is much more fit than when he played for the Bucs. His two-game suspension is now complete and ASJ can practice and play with the team as normal.
The New York Jets offense has expectedly been one of the worst offenses in the league this season. Last week the top receiver was Jermaine Kearse, a player who most fantasy owners have grabbed on waivers. Kearse is by no means a great player, but he had the opportunity. With ASJ coming back into the fold, I believe that Josh McCown will strongly utilize the big bodied (ASJ is 6’5″ and about 260 pounds) receiver very quickly. In 2015, Josh McCown made Gary Barnidge a 1,000 yard and 9 TD receiver. You might want to avoid the Jets, but ASJ has upside that you might need in your TE slot. If there is one free agent sleeper that you need to grab for week 3, it’s ASJ.
Drop Watch Alert: Hunter Henry TE LAC (63.1% owned)
Antonio Gates scored a touchdown in week 2 and became the #1 tight end for receiving TDs in the NFL record books. So, you might be thinking to yourself, “Gates is clearly still the top TE there. Why would I want Henry?” Well, hopefully, you aren’t actually asking that because Henry’s prowess is immense and he will have a bright future in the NFL. But as for this season, you still want to grab Henry. Now that Gates got the #1 sealing TD, it’s time for him to take a backseat to the sophomore TE and mentor him.
After week one, many people dropped Hunter Henry. Then in week two Hunter Henry received 7 targets and caught all 7 of them for 80 yards. However, his seven-day trend in ESPN leagues is still -1.1% ownership. In Henry’s rookie season, he caught 8 TDs. The only rookie TE to get more than that since the year 2000? Rob Gronkowski, you might have heard of him. Henry will be one of Rivers’ favorite targets going forward now that Gates has passed the torch.
So that was free agent sleepers week 3! These are guys that I’m grabbing now that the waivers have settled. Keep The Fantasy Authority on your favorites bar, as we have tons of awesome weekly content this season! I’ll be back next week with a new batch of free agent sleepers for you to scoop up. Impress your league-mates by grabbing a sleeper a week before he goes off!