I’m taking a celebrity shot in this week’s edition of Stancil’s sleepers, filling-in for the man himself. My Week 4 list features under-the-radar players that are not being started in a majority of fantasy football leagues. These players could produce good fantasy numbers this week due to a favorable matchup, injury, or other circumstances. With that in mind, here are our top fantasy football sleepers for Week 4.
Carson Palmer is probably never going to get his “mojo” back that qualified him as a top five fantasy quarterback two years. With that said, Palmer put up very respectable numbers in the Cardinals loss to the Cowboys on Monday Night. Playing without John Brown and a hobbled J.J. Nelson limited the options in the Arizona offense, but that seemed to force Palmer to do what he should have done over the first two weeks – get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald. The future Hall of Fame wideout reeled in a ridiculous 13 of 15 targets for 149 yards and a score, proving once again that father time hasn’t caught up to him yet. With the Cardinals hosting the hapless 49ers this week, the Cards will look to duplicate the Rams success from last week, when San Francisco made Jared Goff look like Johnny Unitas. With Nelson a week healthier and John Brown a possible Week 4 return, Carson Palmer should have no problem exploiting the San Francisco secondary this week in the desert.
After two embarrassing weeks to open the season, Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense showed signs of life during Week 3’s loss to the Packers. The Red Rocket completed 21 of 27 passes to go along with 212 yards and a pair of scores. Up next is a cupcake matchup in Cleveland who was just shredded by Jacoby Brissett and a below-average Colts offense. Look for the Bengals to target A.J. Green early and often for the second straight week, as the Browns defense has nobody in its secondary who poses a threat to contain him. Dalton’s floor should be about 15 fantasy points this week, in a game that projects to be the Bengals first win of the season.
It’s fair to critique any write-up that has Jay Cutler’s name attached to it. I certainly agree that it’s pathetic the Dolphins managed only one touchdown against the league-worst Jets last weekend in the Meadowlands. Yet, it’s a new week, in a new country, and there’s fair reason to expect a different ‘Fins offense to show up this week across the pond. For starters, the Dolphins will be doing battle with the train wreck known as the Saints secondary. The New Orleans defense has allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks this season and that takes into consideration Cam Newton’s flop from last week. With Jay Ajayi continuing to fight through a knee issue, it wouldn’t be surprising if Head Coach Adam Gase erred on the side of caution in regards to Ajayi’s workload, forcing Cutler to air it out more. Throw in the fact that Drew Brees should have no problem picking apart the back-end of the Miami defense and this one has all the makings of a shootout. Cutler has been an awful real life quarterback for the vast majority of his career, but even if he throws a pair of picks on Sunday, fantasy owners should expect a bare minimum of 250 passing yards and 2 TDs. He’ll be an especially solid DFS play this weekend.
As aforementioned in regards to Andy Dalton, the Bengals offense made some headway in Week 3’s loss at Lambeau. One of the most important takeaways is that new Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor deployed a heavy dosage of Rookie RB Joe Mixon. The Oklahoma product totaled a season-high 18 carries, which was one more than he received in weeks one and two combined. To go along with his 62 yards on the ground, Mixon demonstrated his receiving chops by adding three receptions for 39 yards. With the Bengals committed to integrating their talented rookie more into the offense moving forward, I’m going on record to predict he scores his first NFL touchdown this week and posts the most fantasy points of his young career. Fantasy owners should be confident in rolling with Mixon as a legitimate flex play in Week 4.
One of Stancil’s Sleepers just a week ago, I recognize Chris Carson’s rising stock has taken him out of traditional sleeper status, in the sense that he’s very much on the radar this week. That said, I felt it was appropriate to include him as a breakout candidate who carries a massive fantasy ceiling for Week 4. With C.J. Prosise battling an ankle issue, the only legitimate threat to usurp Carson’s snaps on passing downs has now been ruled inactive. With the Seahawks desperate to get into the win column, I fully expect their defense to suffocate Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis offense. This should allow the Seahawks to play with a cushion, enabling them to attack the Colts susceptible front-seven with Carson and his physical running style. With Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy combining for one snap last week and Prosise set to be inactive, fantasy owners should be moving all in on Carson for Sunday Night. Who knows, maybe Carson will do his best Jonas Gray impression, who turned in a historic 37 carries, 201 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns when the Patriots trounced the Colts on Sunday Night Football during Week 11 of the 2014 season. Alright…that might be a bit of a stretch, but the point is the sky is the limit for the Seattle rookie this week against Indy.
One of the Titans’ biggest offseason acquisitions, Eric Decker has disappointed to meet his somewhat lofty expectations in the early going. Although, I’m not completely giving up on the veteran wide receiver as there’s plenty of room for optimism. Decker continues to get acclimated to the Tennessee system that features a heavy dosage of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry alongside a spread-the-wealth passing attack that relies on a multitude of pass catchers. With that said, the Titans will be one pass-catcher short this week, as Rookie Corey Davis has already been ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Not that Decker’s performance last week was anything to write home about, it was still his best game on the young season, as he hauled in four of his five targets for 49 yards. Despite the pedestrian effort, Decker owners should feel encouraged that it came against Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom Seattle secondary. A date with the Texans a week after the New England offense had their way with the Kevin Johnson-less Houston secondary is a recipe for continued improvement this week by the veteran receiver. Given Decker’s red zone resume over the course of his career, I’m feeling confident this could be the week where he finds paydirt.
For much of Zach Miller’s career, he has defined the terms “safety valve” and “security blanket.” Nothing too flashy, but he’s always been a reliable target underneath for quarterbacks who have struggled to push the ball down the field. This season is no different with Mike Glennon under center and Cam Meredith/Kevin White on season-ending I.R. Miller saw his targets take a slight step back in Week 3, which can mainly be attributed to the fact the Bears stunned the Steelers and were clinging to a lead for much of the afternoon, thus the team relied more on clock control and the running game. With the Bears traveling to Green Bay on Thursday Night, it should be more of a conventional all hands on deck approach when it comes to the Chicago passing game. The only problem with that sentiment is that the Bears receivers have been non-existent and have continued to exhibit drop issues through the early part of the season. With Randall Cobb and others primed to return this week for the Packers, it’ll likely be a situation where the Bears are forced to sling it all throughout the second half. I expect Glennon to rely on a short to intermediate passing game that features a healthy dose of Miller. At the very least, the veteran tight end should improve on the three targets he saw from last week.
Despite a defense missing their polarizing edge rusher in Vic Beasley Jr., the Atlanta Falcons return home to their new stadium this weekend to take on a middling Buffalo Bills offense. Let me remind you that when the defending NFC Champion Falcons debuted their new stadium in Week 2, the defense held Aaron Rodgers in check for most of the evening and recorded a defensive touchdown. This is a defensive unit whose talent stretches far beyond just Beasley and comes well-equipped with speed and impact players across the board. Defensive guru Dan Quinn will obviously put all of his resources into LeSean McCoy, but I fully expect the Falcons to make life difficult for Tyrod Taylor and the defunct Bills passing game. The Falcons defense is a sneaky play this weekend at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.