It’s time for a TGIF edition of Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains. I made good on two of my picks last week (Cooper Kupp, WR9 and Coby Fleener, TE4). Let’s try to improve on that this go around.
To review … all of these players are owned in less than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks, but that’s why they’re so cheap and available! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup.
Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings ($28)
Bradford won’t draw the Saints every week, but if he plays as deftly as he did in the season opener he has a shot of consistently putting up top-15 fantasy numbers. Getting the ball out fast and firing downfield with ace accuracy, Bradford showed poise in the pocket and confidence in his downfield weapons.
Averaging 12.7 yards per attempt, Bradford didn’t play the check-down game. In fact, six of his 32 attempts went over 20 yards, which was the third-highest total among QBs in Week 1. Willing to utilize the solid receiving talent at his disposal, the Vikings signal-caller managed two money throws and an elite true completion percentage (87.1). He’ll face a steeper challenge on the road this week. While the Steelers defense boasts some impressive young pieces (what’s up T.J. Watt?!?), they remain a unit that gave up 222 yards and two scores to rookie DeShone Kizer last Sunday.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals ($12)
The Cardinals are absolutely going to employ a committee approach while attempting the fill the crater left by David Johnson’s absence. But if you’ve missed out on Tarik Cohen or Buck Allen on the waiver wire and you’re in a pinch, Ellington might be enough to get you through the week.
Kerwynn Wiliams, who scored after Johnson’s exit in Week 1, figures to work on early downs and near the goal line. However, Ellington, who logged more snaps than Williams in relief of Johnson, is expected to work as the team’s pass-catching back, which makes him viable in PPR formats. Bruce Arians clearly has an affinity for backs who can catch … and he likes to use them. Last year, Johnson reeled in the most catches of any RB in the league (80), averaging five receptions per week. This week the Cardinals will host a Colts defense that gave up exactly five grabs to Todd Gurley in the season opener. Given Ellington’s pre-Johnson usage (2013 and 2014) it’s reasonable to expect he’d handle 8-10 carries and 5-7 targets per contest. That means that in this matchup he’s easily a top-20 PPR play.
Shane Vereen, RB, New York Giants ($12)
With Odell Beckham sidelined, Vereen led the Giants receiving corps in looks, converting 9 of 10 balls for 51 yards. He also led the team’s RBs in snaps. And while he didn’t record a single carry, his work via the air was enough to earn him top-16 standing in PPR leagues. It may not be pretty, but there’s a good chance we see that same formula on Monday night.
Under constant duress and consumed by an oft-crumbling pocket, Eli Manning played the role of Captain Checkdown last Sunday. Attempting just two passes beyond 20 yards, Manning force-fed Vereen in drives at the end of the second and fourth quarters. With Brandon Marshall struggling to get on the same page, and OBJ still less than 100 percent, Vereen should continue to work as a safety valve for Manning. The two are likely to hook up frequently as they attempt to keep pace with the Lions’ up-tempo offense on primetime for the second straight week.
Michael Campanaro, WR, Baltimore Ravens ($10)
This isn’t just a sleepers article, it’s a deep sleepers article. So for those of you who like a challenge beyond 10-teamers, I invite you to entertain my favorite dart throw of the week. A former running back (didn’t the Ravens just lose one of those?), Campanaro is a nervy slot man who, when on the field, has made some highlight worthy plays (his first catch as a pro was a 19-yard score back in 2014). The problem is, he’s never healthy enough to stay on the field, playing in just 11 games over three seasons.
The Ravens, however, clearly believe in their former seventh-round selection, signing him to another deal this past April. While Buck Allen figures to be the most likely beneficiary of Danny Woodhead’s targets, it’s noteworthy that Joe Flacco immediately mentioned Campanaro as someone who could step in the veteran RB’s stead. In an offense with over 300 targets up for grabs, it’s entirely possible the Wake Forest product shows up on Sunday, especially in a matchup at home against the Cleveland Browns.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($19)
O.J. Howard may be the future, but Cameron Brate is the NOW. Despite being uninspiring from a metrics standpoint, Brate owned the red area of the field in 2016. Catching eight balls (and then promptly falling over) in the end zone, Brate recorded the most TDs of any TE in 2016. Given the addition of DeSean Jackson, it’s unlikely the Harvard alum will top his last-season stats, but he’s clearly earned the trust of Jameis Winston near the goal line. Facing a Bears squad that was torched by Austin Hooper in Week 1, Brate should be open early and often come Sunday.
Fantasy Football advice on Yahoo Sports
Dig Deep with Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.