We have made it to the first of the bye weeks, which means lots of fantasy managers will be hitting the waiver wire heavy to find replacements for holes in the lineup. When you combine the missing bye week players with guys who are injured or have underperformed, the pickings could be slim. If you're needing extra help finding quality free agents, be sure to check out Matt Okada's waiver wire column.
In the meantime, I've got a list of guys who might be sitting on your bench just waiting for an opportunity. That's the point of a sleeper, right? A player who is chilling in one of your reserve slots waiting to produce for you. So without further ado … here are some names.
There seems to be a vastly different opinion of Garoppolo from 49ers fans compared to the rest of the NFL world. While many observers see Jimmy G as a competent quarterback who was instrumental in helping the team to a Super Bowl and multiple NFC Championship Games, the 49ers faithful remember the wide-open overthrows and costly interceptions. Good thing past isn’t always prologue in fantasy football.
This week, Garoppolo stands as a quality streaming option. With bye weeks beginning and the Falcons next on San Francisco’s schedule, this is a potentially prosperous matchup. The Falcons have allowed the fourth-most passing yards this season, in part because they’re struggling to get pressure on the quarterback. Atlanta has the league’s sixth-worst pressure rate with a paltry eight sacks. If Jimmy G isn’t the most mobile but against this defense, he won’t have to be.
Speaking of mobile quarterbacks … hello, Justin Fields! The second-year quarterback is Chicago’s second-leading rusher. In fairness, David Montgomery missing a game has a lot to do with that. Fields nonetheless is running a bit more in 2022 than he did in his rookie season and is fifth in rushing yards among quarterbacks. You love to see it. You also love to see him throwing the ball more. He’s logged more than 20 passing attempts with double-digit completions in each of the past two games. Fields also played his best game of the season last week against Minnesota, albeit in a loss. Maybe that sounds like a backhanded compliment. But from where he began the season, it’s definite progress.
This week, he faces a Washington defense that has been a soft target for opposing quarterbacks all season long. The Commanders have allowed multiple passing touchdowns to three of the five signal-callers they’ve faced. Teams are also not afraid to go vertical against Washington. No team has allowed more air yards per attempt than Washington this year (per Next Gen Stats). Fields isn’t afraid to take his shots with 42% of his attempts (37 of 88) travelling at least 20 yards downfield. If he can connect on a few of those on Thursday night, it could be a good week.
Two weeks ago, there was talk that the Bucs wanted to get more running backs involved. I was skeptical. Then White played a season-high 24 snaps and had eight touches against the Chiefs. Just in case you thought that was a fluke, White played 32 snaps and earned eight more touches last week versus the Falcons. He’s not threatening to supplant Leonard Fournette anytime soon, but it’s apparent that Tampa is going to give the rookie some of Fournette’s workload to keep the veteran fresh for a postseason run.
This week, White could see plenty of work based on the potential game script. The Steelers defense has been incredibly forgiving lately. Pittsburgh has surrendered 91 total points and nearly 1,300 yards of offense over the past three weeks. That’s bad news against a Bucs offense that is getting healthier and hitting its stride. It also hasn’t helped that the Steelers offense has been punchless all year long, tallying just 77 points – the NFL’s third-lowest total. If this game script goes as expected, look for White to get plenty of opportunities in second-half mop up duty.
When Andy Warhol dropped his famous quote about everyone being famous for 15 minutes, I don’t think he was envisioning fantasy football Twitter. Regardless, the artist was on to something. Over the course of the summer, nearly every offensive skill position player projected to get a decent number of snaps will have someone somewhere advocating on his behalf. Benjamin is no different.
It appears Benjamin’s time has arrived. The third-year back was already making a strong play to be Arizona’s No. 2 running back behind Darrel Williams. But with injuries to Williams and starter James Conner, Benjamin should get his chance in the spotlight. What better matchup than the ever-pliable Seattle Seahawks defense? Seattle’s defense is ranked 31st overall and dead last against the run. If this turns into a high-scoring game (which is possible with how potent Seattle’s passing game has been), Benjamin has the luxury of being an efficient pass-catcher and staying on the field in passing down situations.
After years of playing third fiddle in Minnesota behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, Boone moved to Denver to … play third fiddle behind Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. Thanks to Williams’ unfortunate season-ending injury, Boone now gets a chance to shine. Previously, Denver employed a 60/40 split between Williams and Gordon. Last week, that continued with Boone in Gordon’s old role while Melvin moved up a rung.
The Broncos have one of the slower paced offenses in the NFL, but they are running at a league-average clip. That should give Boone a solid number of chances to touch the ball. Facing a Chargers defense that allows more fantasy points per game to running backs than any other team, Boone should be set up for Week 6 success.
I was high on Moore as a sleeper prospect entering the season. Then he injured his hamstring and was forced to miss the first three games. Greg Dortch stepped in and was a nice waiver wire piece for a couple of weeks. I take that to mean Moore would have done as well – or better – in the same spot. I know that’s not really how it works. Let me have my dreams.
The good thing for Moore is that he’s earned nearly 19% of the targets in the two games since he’s returned. That should continue for at least one more week while DeAndre Hopkins finishes his suspension. After that, fantasy managers might want to wait and see. This week, however, there should be little trepidation against a Seattle defense that is tied for most touchdowns surrendered to slot receivers.
Fantasy’s biggest chaos agent struck again last week. Just ask anyone who started Alvin Kamara. You can’t really plan for Taysom Time. Taysom Time just happens. But if there’s ever a week for it to happen, it’s this one. Hill is hard to pinpoint because he lines up in so many different spots. But he has lined up as a tight end more than anything else. There’s also talk that the Saints could find more opportunities for him – especially if neither Michael Thomas nor Chris Olave can go this week.
The Bengals have been mediocre against fantasy tight ends this season, but Hill could succeed if he gets a little more volume than we normally see for him. Understand that the floor is frighteningly low for Taysom, but, as we saw last week, the ceiling is incredibly high. Besides, who else are you going to stream at TE this week?
Well, you might want to consider streaming Engram. Engram had been left for irrelevance by the fantasy community years ago. A move to Jacksonville has sparked something. Through Week 5, Engram is the TE15 and has more fantasy points than Kyle Pitts, Dawson Knox, Cole Kmet, and George Kittle. He’s a streamer when the matchup is right. This week, the matchup is right.
Engram is coming off his best game of the season, a six-catch, 69-yard effort against the Houston Texans. His previous season high? Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts when he caught seven balls for 46 yards. This week, Engram and the Jags pay the Colts a return visit. Indy has fared slightly better against tight ends since Week 2. But the Colts also haven’t faced any real threats at the position. No one will confuse Engram for Travis Kelce. But he’s a better option than Chig Okonkwo or Eric Saubert.
Without looking, do you know what the DST6 is after the first five weeks? By virtue of the header on this paragraph, you probably figured out that it’s the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are tied for fourth with seven interceptions and have collected at least one sack in every game. On the flipside, the Colts offense has bordered on being a disaster with Matt Ryan unable to take care of the football. Indy has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Jacksonville could be the answer to your defensive struggles.
The Bears defense isn’t the formidable fantasy option it once was. Chicago enters Week 6 ranked just 18th among fantasy stop units. After a big first week against the 49ers, there’s been a steady drop-off in weekly production. That could get a spike this week against Washington. The Commanders have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this season. Much of that is owed to Carson Wentz being Carson Wentz. Regardless, that should be enough to consider giving the Bears some run this week if you’re in need of a defense.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy analyst for NFL.com and a man who didn't miss the stress of playoff baseball. Send him your anxious moments or fantasy football questions on Twitter @MarcasG or TikTok at marcasgrant.