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Weekly Surprises

Week 4 Sleepers

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

With bye weeks starting to kick in, this is the time of the season "sleepers" start coming into play. We have six teams on their respective open dates: the Bengals, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks. There are plenty of lineup holes to fill. Everybody knows the drill by now with sleepers. It's a self-explanatory concept. To qualify for this list, a quarterback's FanDuel salary has to be below $8,000, while $6000 is the limit for running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.

QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Bucs ($7700): While Le'Veon Bell has been running wild as a sophomore, Big Ben has posted pretty average numbers as fantasy's No. 21 quarterback. He simply hasn't had to do much with Bell playing so well. The Steelers have also faced three respectable/underrated pass defenses in Cleveland, Baltimore, and Carolina. Roethlisberger is still averaging a healthy 7.7 YPA. He now gets a Tampa Bay defense that has been picked apart by the likes of Derek Anderson, Austin Davis, and Matt Ryan to start the year. The Bucs have also lost LE Adrian Clayborn for the year. RE Michael Johnson and DT Gerald McCoy are banged up but will likely play. Tampa has seen the fourth-fewest passes against its defense in the NFL, yet have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points. CB Johnthan Banks is really struggling on one side of the field, while Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron may be the most overrated safety duo in football. Big Ben is comfortably on the back end of the QB1 radar.

QB Tony Romo vs. Saints ($7500): Romo has been a real disappointment. But just like Roethlisberger above, Romo hasn't had to do much with DeMarco Murray carrying the mail. Romo is QB24 through three weeks of action. With the highest projected over-under of Week 4 at 54 points, Romo may be forced to sling the ball around the yard to keep up with the Saints. I'd be more than happy with Romo as my bye-week fill-in if I owned a Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, or Andy Dalton.

QB Blake Bortles at Chargers ($6500): It's officially Bortles' time in Jacksonville. He dominated the preseason, and in one half against the Colts last week, Bortles managed 20.5 fantasy points. Of course, they don't come any more meaningless than that, but in fantasy football, we don't care how we get the points. The Jaguars will travel cross-country to take on the Chargers. Bortles could have another garbage-time half to play some pitch-and-catch with his receivers against a prevent defense late in this one, as the Jaguars (+14) are this week's biggest underdogs. Ideally, we'd wait a week to see Bortles in his first NFL start before plugging him in lineups. But he's just so cheap, and could easily finish as a top-six quarterback on Sunday. Playing Bortles in DFS would allow us to load up at running back and receiver.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $350,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 4's games. It's only $10 to join and first prize is $30,000. Starts Sunday, September 28th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.

RB DeAngelo Williams at Ravens ($5700): Jonathan Stewart (knee) is out indefinitely, and Mike Tolbert (leg) is on short-term I.R. With just UDFA Darrin Reaves on the depth chart behind him, Williams is going to get the vast majority of the work. The Ravens play the run reasonably well. But when searching for running backs, we want touches. Williams is going to get them, and could see upwards of 18 carries in this one. With Stewart and Tolbert sidelined, he's also likely to get the red-zone work. Williams is a high-end RB2.

RB Khiry Robinson at Cowboys ($4900): I'm going back to the Robinson well. Although he was vultured of a goal-line touchdown by Pierre Thomas last week against the Vikings, that's not going to happen often. Thomas got that carry because of game flow. Robinson is going to get the bulk of those with Mark Ingram (hand) out. He saw 18 carries total last Sunday. The Dallas defense is playing over its head right now. We'll see how it performs against one of the league's most high-octane attacks. Robinson is so cheap that it's hard not to play him when he's a near-lock for 15-plus carries.

RB Denard Robinson at Chargers ($4600): These next three running backs are more for our re-draft friends; I'm not using any of these guys in DFS lineups because of their unpredictability. With Marshawn Lynch, Montee Ball, Ben Tate, Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell, Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill, Zac Stacy, and Andre Ellington all on bye or injured, there's going to be some digging to do in deeper leagues. Robinson played a 33.3 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 3, and coach Gus Bradley said he'll continue to see more reps. Shoelace may be the best athlete on the team. He can do some damage in space. Toby Gerhart has no wiggle to him, so the Jaguars simply need to get Robinson more involved on offense. As mentioned above, this game could get out of hand, leaving plenty of dumpoffs and garbage-time reps for Robinson to gobble up. There are worse options than Robinson on the waiver wire.

RB Branden Oliver vs. Jaguars ($4500): After playing just six snaps against the Bills, Oliver is going to have to play more this Sunday with Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead out. Oliver is expected to be the No. 2 behind Donald Brown. Brown isn't an every-down workhorse; he's going to need breathers. And with this game a potential blowout in San Diego's favor, the Chargers might want to lighten Brown's load in preparation for a Week 5 grinder against the Jets. Oliver averaged 4.6 YPC in the preseason, and the Jacksonville defense is hemorrhaging points to running backs. He's a sneaky play. Our own Evan Silva is actually starting Oliver ahead of Bernard Pierce in the Rotoworld Dynasty League this week.

RB Jerick McKinnon vs. Falcons ($4500): McKinnon played just 17-of-57 snaps last week against Saints, getting out-touched 15-4 by Matt Asiata. McKinnon did nothing to earn more snaps, rushing for minus-one yard and dropping two passes, but he's an athletic freak. The Vikings need to just let McKinnon loose. Letting Asiata plod his way to 2.2 YPC isn't doing the team any good. The Atlanta defense has been destroyed by running backs, and McKinnon has the talent to shred it. The Vikings know they need to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers like Cordarrelle Patterson more often, so hopefully they'll realize the same with McKinnon. He's worth stashing in all leagues.

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WR Mike Evans at Steelers ($5900): Evans has been the forgotten man among his first-round rookie receiver brethren Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, and Brandin Cooks. Evans was the only one of the foursome to be saddled with a 35-year-old, career backup as his quarterback. Josh McCown is now injured, leaving gunslinger sophomore Mike Glennon at quarterback for the Bucs. Evans can run and jump, and he has a decisive edge over basically every corner in the league. This Sunday he gets to face off with Steelers LCB Cortez Allen. Evans runs most of his routes against left corners, and Allen has been getting worked over in coverage through three weeks. Vincent Jackson has a small fracture in his wrist, which could make Evans the go-to guy for Glennon. It's Evans' time to shine after Watkins, Benjamin, and Cooks have already had their breakout games.

WR Allen Robinson at Chargers ($5100): As our pal Davis Mattek put it on Twitter, Allen Robinson is Dez Bryant with a boring name and boring alma mater. He's 6'3/210 with explosive athleticism. He missed most of the summer and preseason with a hamstring injury, which is why the average fantasy player is just starting to hear about Robinson. His snaps have increased each week, and Robinson showed a good rapport with Blake Bortles in the second half of last week's blowout loss. He's likely to run most of his routes against Chargers LCB Shareece Wright on Sunday. Wright is susceptible to the big play. Robinson has plenty of big-play and low-up potential. A Bortles-Robinson stack in DFS isn't a bad avenue to travel.

WR Markus Wheaton vs. Bucs ($5100): I mentioned above how Bucs RCB Johnthan Banks has been struggling badly as a sophomore. Well, the receiver who gets to run most his routes against Banks on Sunday is Wheaton. Quarterbacks have posted a passer rating of at least 100 while throwing at Banks each of the first three weeks, and he's allowed 13 of the 15 balls that have come his way to be completed. Wheaton can run by any cornerback in the league. He's also seeing over six targets per game. After back-to-back quiet games, Wheaton may roast Banks like he did Browns rookie CB Justin Gilbert in Week 1.

WR Jeremy Kerley vs. Lions ($4900): Kerley may be my favorite dirt-cheap play of the week on FanDuel, but I'd like him even more if it were PPR instead of half-PPR. Kerley has seen 17 targets the past two weeks as the Jets' starter on the outside in the base offense and slot receiver in three-wide sets. He spends 77 percent of his time in the slot. That's where the Lions are already on their third nickel corner of the season. After losing Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson to injuries, career special teamer Danny Gorrer is now Detroit's third corner. Kerley should be licking his chops. He already has Geno Smith's trust and a sticky pair of mitts. The Jets also aren't afraid to use Kerley in the red zone. You could do a lot worse than Kerley.

TE Delanie Walker at Colts ($5700): Walker popped up on this week's injury report with a shoulder injury. He missed Wednesday's session before returning Thursday, putting him on track to play Sunday. Walker has found the end zone twice through three games, and gets another cake matchup against the Colts. Indianapolis has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Even if Jake Locker (wrist) misses Week 4, Walker will still be a high-end TE1 option with Charlie Whitehurst making the start. Whitehurst is a checkdown artist who loves dinking and dunking his way down the field. If DFS players aren't trying to buck up for Jimmy Graham, Walker is a fine secondary option.

TE Zach Ertz at 49ers ($5600): Ertz hasn't scored since Week 1 and caught just two balls for 14 yards against the Redskins last Sunday, but he's been this close to breaking some big plays. It's keeping his price down on FanDuel. Ertz, along with Jordan Matthews, will get to run a ton of routes against 49ers rookie slot corner Jimmie Ward. Ward was dominated by Brandon Marshall in Week 2 and is still trying to get his footing in the NFL. This game has the second-highest over-under of the week at 51 points. Both defenses play the run well, but can't stop the pass. Ertz is locked in as a mid-range TE1.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for NBC Sports Edge since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.