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The NFL Sleeper Cell: Week 2 Picks!

It’s Week 2 in the NFL, which also means it’s Week 2 in the SLEEPER CELL FANTASY LEAGUE! We’ve got you picks and more! Check it out!

NFL Field by Erin Costa is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The NFL Sleeper Cell: Week 2 Picks!

Estimated Reading Time: 11 Minutes



The first week of the 2017 NFL Season was a wild one. We saw things we didn’t think we’d see at all this season! Things like Le’Veon Bell getting ZERO touches in the first quarter, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams Defenses actually showing up to play, a New England Patriots loss, and a relatively successful performance by a New York Jets Quarterback! SO MANY SURPRISES!

At the end of the day, if you’re not excited for the rest of the season after this past week, you’re going to need some medical assistance, because this was an action-packed weekend. Week 1 was a triumph, but since it’s over, we need to shift our sights on Week 2.

AND WE WILL! Right after we rehash all of the NFL Sleeper Cell Week 1 action! But first, a refresher course on what the NFL Sleeper Cell is!


Each week our writers will make one sleeper pick each, in the hopes of that guy pulling through and exploding for a big week. We’ll note reasons why we like that player over another so on and what not. Each writer will accrue points every week from their pick, but there’s a catch.

Since it’s about sleepers, we’re going to take the DraftKings ownership percentage and subtract that amount of points. For example, if you select Drew Brees as your pick and he scored 50 points, but his ownership is at 50%, you’ll only score 25. If your player’s ownership is under 5%, your points will multiply accordingly (i.e. 5% is multiplied by 1.5, 4% by 2, 3% by 3, 2% by 4, 1% by 5, and less than 1% by 6). At the end of the season, the top 2 writers with the most points will split a $100 prize pool.

Do you follow that? Picking a sleeper is the most important thing you can do for a DFS lineup, and low ownership allows you to score those points and no one else! So without any further adieu..




Ryan Kelly

Braxton Miller, WR – Houston Texans

0.0 Points – 0.30% Ownership


First things first, Ryan crushed this pick with the exception that Braxton Miller scored zero points. Miller’s ownership was so low that were he to have caught 1 ball for 1 yard, he would have essentially scored the same amount as a TD. With .3% ownership, were Miller to have gone off, your lineup would have been unstoppable.

However, the Houston Texans decided to start the game without a Quarterback or any semblance of a game plan. After Tom Savage gave way for DeShaun Watson, it was clear that the Texans have more issues than spreading the ball around. Both Watson and Savage were pressured more than any other quarterbacks in Week 1. This would probably be why Houston didn’t look down field too much and instead threw to 2 running backs, 2 tight ends, and DeAndre Hopkins, who was the only wide receiver thrown to. While Hopkins saw 16 balls tossed his way, which ties him for the most targets in Week 1, he was only able to haul in 7 of those for catches. Miller is still a great play going forward because the Texans will need options downfield who don’t have “Hopkins” on the back of their jersey.


Charlie Forray

Ted Ginn, Jr. – WR, New Orleans Saints

9.8 Points – 7.1% Ownership


Ginn has been the #1 guy people have been talking to me about since the season began. As Charlie mentioned in his original pick, Ginn has nasty, nasty speed and has proven himself to be an asset to any team he plays for. HOWEVER, what we saw on Monday night was the plethora of assets for Drew Brees to throw to all getting a piece of the action.

Ginn was lost in the shuffle of open receivers downfield for New Orleans, and while that’s a lovely thing for Saints fans, it’s what makes Ginn a less than desirable DFS option. The Saints have two top-tier Running Backs, a solid Tight End, and Michael Thomas, and after that is when we get to Ginn. That’s going to make him a risky play, but to every risk lies a solid upside. I’m looking for Ginn to be a solid option against teams who have a wide range of talents in the secondary. I’m taking Ginn and banking on a mismatch

Ginn is gonna play spoiler at some point, he just needs the matchup to go his way.


Joanna Krupnick

Christian McCaffrey – RB, Carolina Panthers

12.50 Points – 21.7% Ownership


Christian McCaffrey had a fine showing in his first NFL game. And while he always seemed poised to make a big play, the issue lies with Jonathan Stewart. What we saw in Week 1 from the Panthers was a lot of Stewart in the Red Zone, which means that if McCaffrey is going to hit pay dirt it’s going to be on a long play. None of this is bad, I just think it’s too early to bank on McCaffrey getting the ball on snaps where you can really do some fantasy damage.


Ned Donovan

Brian Hoyer – QB, San Francisco 49ers

5.22 Points – 2.9% Ownership

10.44 POINTS

This is possibly the only place that will have Brian Hoyer helping someone’s fantasy team, but that’s what happens when sleepers are the main focus. This is yet another case of a guy underperforming, but still coming up big due to his low ownership. If Hoyer had been average at best, he would have been a great pick, but instead, he had two turnovers and only threw for 193 yards. The turnovers killed him. Plain and simple.


Andrew Wilhelm

Marvin Jones – WR, Detroit Lions

11.7 Points – 7.9% Ownership

10.78 POINTS

Matthew Stafford came to play last Sunday, sharing the love with all of his wideouts. Stafford threw 4 touchdowns to 3 different Lions, two to rookie Kenny Golladay. With Golden Tate and Marvin Jones taking a lot of heat from the Cardinals secondary, this opened up opportunities for Golliday to get open downfield. Does that continue? No, I doubt That makes Jones a solid sleeper pick pretty much every week. As long at Stafford is tossing the ball downfield and the Lions have threats it’s only a matting of time until Jones goes off.


Justin Colombo

Evan Engram – TE, New York Giants

8.4 Points – 4.8% Ownership


This would have been a home run had Eli Manning remembered how to throw a football.


Meg Schneider

Marcus Mariota – QB, Tennessee Titans

18.84 Points – 9.20% Ownership

17.11 POINTS

Mariota was a solid pick and has been a solid pick every week of his young career, but given that he had a great matchup and still managed to perform alright, makes him an undesirable sleeper. What really stifled Mariota’s performance was how outstanding the Raiders defense was, specifically their cornerbacks and defensive line. Mariota had all the pieces to be successful, he just ran headlong into a sea of silver and black.


Andrew O’Neill

Joe Mixon – RB, Cincinnati Bengals

5.40 Points – 1.8% Ownership


The Mixon Administration got off to a slow start in this game, but so did the Bengals offense. Joe Mixon is stuck in a crowded backfield that frankly has been crowded for the past two seasons. With Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill both strong options for Andy Dalton, Mixon appears to be third in line… for now. This is something that is going to change on a game by game basis and depends on how the Bengals new Offensive Coordinator redirects this offense. Mixon saw more rushing attempts than both Bernard and Hill in their Week 2 matchup against Houston, but Mixon still falls in between them in total rushing attempts, despite seeing the ball more often. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for Cincy, but if I’m a Bengals coach, Mixon is my guy.


Jake Bridges

Jared Goff – QB, Los Angeles Rams

19.44 Points – 1.20% Ownership

48.6 Points

To say that Jared Goff performed above expectations would be an understatement. Goff threw for 306 yards, the first time he has ever passed the 300 yard mark in his NFL career, and the first time since his last game for California Golden Bears in 2015. His 117.9 passer rating was the first time he has cracked 100, since his second start for the Rams. So yeah… the real Jared Goff stood up for the Rams last Sunday.

This is a great sign for the Rams considering how many offensive weapons they now possess. With Todd Gurley on the up and up and Sammy Watkins out of Buffalo, the Rams have the offense they wanted, a powerful, speedy and high-octane one. How will Goff play against a solid NFL offense? We’ll have to see, but his first week performance should be a preview of his abilities moving forward.

I would like to take a moment to talk about the Indianapolis Colts. They are bad. They are very, very bad. It’s going to be rough watching this team play unless something turns around. With that in mind, I’m looking for anybody playing the Colts to have an incredibly high ownership moving forward. That’s something for you to exploit or pick against, but either way, it’s going to be a bloodbath, especially considering how the Rams spread the ball around against them. Four Rams receivers had over 50+ yards receiving. That’s not the mark of a solid, dependable, remotely up to snuff defense.

And now we head into Week 2 with some new faces and some old faces! It’s a whole new slew of sleepers! Let’s dive in!


Kevin Moran

Javorius “Buck” Allen, RB – Baltimore Ravens

With Woodhead out, West underwhelming, and the Cleveland defense being the Cleveland defense I think Buck can maximize his touches as a solid 2nd RB.

Ryan Kelly

Blake Bortles, QB – Jacksonville Jaguars

Ok, zero points, not so bad. Just trying to give everyone a headstart!

If last week taught me anything, it’s that I should probably pick players who actually get to touch the ball. QBs tend to do that, so let’s go with a QB this time around. Blake Bortles had a mistake-free game last week and wasn’t sacked once, so I like him to ride a confidence boost into this weekend and put up some solid numbers.

Joanna Krupnick

Charles Sims, RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’m looking for the Bucs to switch things up in their backfield a lot this weekend and that’s why I’m going with Charles Sims. While Jacquizz Rogers is the #1, Sims has been a stalwart member of the Bucs offense for some time now, and I don’t think they’ve forgotten that. Atlanta was able to throw to their backs against Chicago last week and I have a hunch that Jameis Winston will do the same, and who’s got a lot of yardage out of the backfield? That’s right. Charles. Sims.

Andrew Wilhelm

Jamies Winston, QB – Tampa Bay Bucaneers

Coming off an Irma induced bye, and playing against an abysmal Bears team, Winston should have a huge game. He played fanatic against the Bears last season and with the addition of DeSean Jackson, he should have an even bigger game this year.

Justin Colombo

James White, RB – New England Patriots

The Atlanta Falcons lead the Patriots 28-3 in last years Super Bowl. James White exploded in that game. I’m looking at his matchup versus the Saints are the Super Bowl 2.0. Looking at what Dalvin Cook and Jerrick McKinnon were able to do out of the backfield against the New Orleans Defense is why I’m big on White this Sunday. With everyone looking at Hogan, Cooks and Gronk, I’m shifting my sights to White.

Ned Donovan

Carson Palmer, QB – Arizona Cardinals

This pick is making me nervous. Here’s why. Last week the Colts made Jared Goff look like Brett Favre in his prime (nicely done, Bridges). Because of that, I expect a lot of people to think that therefore picking the quarterback playing the Colts is a good move every week. So this may bite me in the ass because this might be a common play in Daily Fantasy, and lose me those ownership points, but here we go.

The Colts were bad. I mean holy crap, I was not ready for what happened to them by Jared Goff, and by the way, please don’t think we’re in for a monster season out of him. But the Colts? I mean damn. And when you take David Johnson out of the backfield and give me a running back by committee of backs who are better pass catchers than they are running between the numbers, and I think you see a day where Carson Palmer rebounds quite a bit. I think expectations on him for the whole season should be tempered, he looked really rough in week 1, but I don’t think we’re at Peyton Manning’s final season decline yet, and he should post some solid numbers against that abysmal pass defense in Indianapolis, while his week 1 numbers give most people caution and leave him off their fantasy teams.

Andrew O’Neill

Brandin Cooks, WR – New England Patriots

Get loose, Brady!

Jake Bridges

Joe Flacco, QB – Baltimore Ravens

Back to defend my crown….

After the success of last week’s Jared Goff call, I’m going back to the QB well. This time, I’m going with the Ravens signal caller Joe Flacco. It’s not sexy. It’s usually never flashy, but Joe Flacco gets it done. He was second in the NFL in passing attempts last season and always finds himself in the top half annually. He can be frustratingly inconsistent in fantasy, but this week, he gets to face off against a Cleveland Browns squad that lost arguably their best secondary option in Joe Haden.

Last week, Big Ben was able to throw for 263 yards and 2 TDs, and while Flacco doesn’t have the depth or weapons that the Steelers do, I still believe Flacco will still be able to get his.

Don’t be scared off by his underwhelming Week 1. The Ravens controlled the game against the Bengals in every aspect, so Baltimore leaned on the run heavily. I expect the new and improved Browns offense to make it more competitive, which should force Joe to sling it more often. Bonus points if you stack Flacco with Wallace and/or Maclin in your lineups! Someone has to catch those deep balls!


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